Thursday, March 31, 2011

Idiots

CNN discovers, to their horror, that atomic weapons are easy to build. If you have access to weapons-grade uranium, that is. Which sorta like saying that becoming a billionaire is easy if you have access to a billion dollars. Weapons-grade uranium or plutonium is the whole *point* of a nuclear weapons program, not the actual mechanical construction of the bomb, which is ridiculously easy if you enrich the uranium enough. If you have the enriched uranium, sure, building a bomb is easy -- crap, you don't even need a detonator if it's enriched enough, just have your poor sod suicide bomber pull two lumps of U-235 out of separate lead caskets, slap'em together, BOOM! But pulling enough U-235 out of uranium ore, which is mostly U-238 (i.e., useless for weapons purposes) so that you can build a bomb... now *that* is a chore, and ain't no trucker gonna be doing *that* anytime soon.

But CNN breathlessly proclaims "The sky is blue!" in a yellow journalism haze of exuberance, and then acts like it's news. No wonder Ted Turner is disgusted with today's CNN and says "I should have never sold it"... it's turned into total bullshit.

-- Badtux the Scientific Penguin

Misery

Yesterday's sniffles have turned into a miserable cold today. I'm going to embibe some chicken soup and then head to bed. Y'all entertain yourselves, y'hear?

- Badtux the Icky-feeling Penguin

Green Grass

I've featured a song by Sarah Jarosz before. This one is "Song Up In Her Head", off her album by the same name. In this performance she is all of 17 years old. And that's some mighty fine bluegrass pickin', she'll get better as she goes along but she's already as competent as probably 3/4ths of the bluegrass pickers out there and she writes her own songs besides, including this one.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Crazy weather

It was in the 50's yesterday. It got up to 80 today. Still have my fans going to move air around and out of the house. WTF?

-- Badtux the Globally Warm Penguin

Working on economics post...

... and alas, ran out of time today due to end-of-quarter crunch at work. Anyhow, your homework: Answer these questions:

  1. What is money?
  2. What is a market?
  3. What is capitalism?
  4. Why are banks necessary for capitalism to work well?
  5. When you deposit your money in a "savings account" at a bank, what are you actually doing?
That should get you started :).

-- Badtux the Busy Penguin

And a pony

Aussie Casey Chambers sings her song Pony. Her father is Bill Chambers, a steel guitar legend at least Down Under, and is right there beside her playing the steel.

The closest that she's gotten to any recognition over on this side of the pond is when one of her songs ("The Captain", written when she was 17 years old) was featured on The Sopranos.

Yes, nowhere *near* running out of music...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Joe Bageant and the death of dreams

One of the things that infuriated Joe Bageant was liberals. Specifically, urban liberals. He considered them a bunch of wusses who talked the talk, but when time came to walk the walk and actually get out there and make a difference, instead settled for shallow PR stunts like Jon Stewart's farcical march on Washington, which sent him into guffaws of absolute astonishment. Because see, the great-great grandpappies of folks like Jon Stewart were out there on picket lines busting knuckles with the strike breakers of the American Legion (which started out as a right-wing paramilitary made up of WW1 veterans financed by right-wing industrialists) and risking getting their head busted. While today's liberals... oh my. Can't do anything like that. That's for the vulgar common folk, not for white middle class professionals. Why, getting arrested would look so bad on the criminal background check for job applications to Megacorp Inc. and I might not get the job! Go on strike? Do without a paycheck for several months shutting down the country to protest the fact that 30% of income taxes paid by corporations in 1950. 7% today, and you and I now pay that other 23%? Why, think what that'd look like on my credit report! Horror!

Wusses. Useless as tits on a bull. As I mentioned in 2006, Democrats haven't done jack shit for poor white trash since at least 1960, instead focusing upon the urban (black) poor if they talk about poverty at all. And unions haven't been a damn bit better. Ever since Truman busted the unions' chops in the 1946-1952 timeframe, the unions have been by and large content to feed like pigs on slop at the corporate trough, instead of standing up for workers whose jobs are being exported or standing up against unfairness such as trillions in bailouts for Wall Street and nothing for Main Street. When Reagan busted the PATCO ATC union in 1981, that was the end of unions as a real force for labor in America -- the unions could have done just that, *united*, and shut down the entire federal government with a general strike where the Teamsters refused to deliver anything to any federal unit, all Federal workers walked off, mail didn't get delivered, yada yada until the federal government was *forced* to give in and re-certify PATCO, crap, the unions could have shut down the entire fucking *country* the way the French unions often do. Instead they went whimpering off into the sunset like whipped dogs, tail stuck between their legs, useless, irrelevant, and futile.

So you want to know why unions are irrelevant today and why things get worse for ordinary Americans every year as things get better and better for the rich... well, look in the mirror. Joe Bageant held it up for you. Joe and I disagreed on economics -- he was an outright socialist rabble-rouser, I'm a capitalist (albeit not one who worships it but, rather, someone who believes it is the best way to handle matching supply and demand for things with complex inputs and/or where choice matters, i.e., it's a tool, not a religion). But one thing we did agree on was that the whole problem with liberalism in America today is that today's liberals have lost their way and in their haste to condemn Red State America, have forgotten why the so-called Red States are that -- i.e., that liberals haven't done a goddamned thing for them since at least 1960, so why the fuck *should* they vote liberal?!

And so it goes...

-- Badtux the Southern Penguin

Milky Garbage

The singer is Shirley Manson, the year is 1995, the song is Milk off of Garbage's first (self-titled) album.

She has the sun shining into her face and looks somewhat annoyed for most of the song, and gratuitously changes the song up here and there just because she feels like it. But damn, she was one sexy singer...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, March 28, 2011

Diversity

According to the San Jose Murky News, the zip code I live in is one of the most diverse in the Silicon Valley -- if you pick any two random people, there's an 80% chance they'll be of different ethnicity.

Last weekend one of my neighbors had a birthday party for her daughter, complete with one of those bouncy thingies in the driveway. The party guests were white, Hispanic, Indian/West Asian, and East Asian. My neighbor (and her kids) is Chinese. Her next door neighbor on the other side is Hispanic. The neighbors between them and me is white. My next door neighbor on the other side is Hispanic. And nobody thinks anything of it. Because this is Santa Clara, CA, a sleepy suburban city of about 110,000 people where the entire murder rate in 2009 consisted of one laid-off Indian tech worker going nuts and killing his entire extended family and then himself (yep, every single murder that happened in the city that year was that one single event). My particular street is a bit downscale, but what that means is that the people on my street are mostly the book-keepers and salesmen rather than the tech workers. We ain't talking ghetto gang-bangers by any means.

But mention the fact that you live in a multi-ethnic community to someone in the so-called "Heartland", and what's the first thing they do? Why, they counsel you that you should move to a safer neighborhood! Uhm, excuse me? Unless I happen to marry a crazed laid-off Indian tech worker, somehow I can't think of any safer place to live :). But these self-proclaimed "small government libertarians" simply cannot conceive of any possibility that brown people aren't evil vicious beings out to kill all white people. It just doesn't fit into their neat little culture of perceived victimization where "they" (anybody not a tighty rightie whitie) are out to "get" those poor victimized tighty rightie whities...

So it goes. And the tighty rightie whities will swear up and down that they're not racists. But if that's true, why aren't any of them living on my street?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Whites only

Canadian band The Dears with "Whites Only Party" off their 2006 album Gang of Losers. Yes, Murray Lightburn is black, though most people don't know it just hearing his voice because he doesn't "sound black" whatever the fuck that means...

Which, I think, may be part of the point of this song. But you be the judge.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Goodbye, Joe

You were a by-god Man, with a capital M. I didn't always agree with your ornery ass, but you had a keen eye and intelligence to go with it, and weren't shy about saying what you thought about what you saw.

Joe Bageant, 1946-2011. Another one of the good guys gone. R.I.P. Too bad there ain't a Heaven or a Hell, I'm sure you'd be having a high time with Molly Ivins right about now if there was...

-- Badtux the Obits Penguin

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Some folks are just vicious

Libertopians always amuse me when they spout the nonsense about an armed society being a polite society. No. An armed society is a scared society, where normal people are terrified that any day might be their last day if one of the vicious arrogant savages who enjoy killing people happens to decide they need killing for no reason at all.

You want proof of the viciousness of some human beings? Rolling Stone's expose of The Kill Team should be frightening enough about the depths of viciousness that some people will descend to. And don't say it's because these guys got trained to be killers yada yada. These guys were vicious *before* they joined the military, indeed, probably wouldn't have been allowed to join prior to the War on Brown People Everywhere and the resulting issues with recruiting that the Army has been having.

My best guess is that the typical pasty cheeto-stained-fingered Libertopian wanking off to photos of dead brown people in Mommy's basement would be scared shitless if these folks were walking down the streets of his city in full battle rattle with rules of engagement basically letting him shoot anybody he feels need killin'. As in, we'd need some adult Pampers big-time, yo.

-- Badtux the Reality-based Penguin

A typical Libertopian prepares for the War on Brown People in his mommy's basement.

Busy day

Changed my oil, lubed my Jeep, then bought a SSD for my travel laptop and am currently installing Windows on it (yeah, yeah, I know, but I need it for talking to my ham radios and GPS's and such and all that software is Windows-based, not Linux or Mac based). I was going to change the fluid in my front differential too, but I discovered that my tube of black silicone had burst at the bottom of my toolbox (too much slamming heavy hammers around in there I guess), meaning I had a sticky gooey mess but nothing to seal the differential cover with. By the time I got more goo, it was dark outside and I'm not interested in working on my Jeep in the dark. (Excuses, excuses ;).

Talking about which, the TuxJeep is 5 years old now. So I'm in the process of doing the 5 year maintenance. Next up is going to be to change the radiator fluid, I got some of that very pricey Chrysler-certified Zerex HOAT coolant (same stuff that Mercedes Benz cars use, i.e., not your run-of-the-mill green crap from the discount store) to do the job. Then comes the transmission and transfer case fluids. I figure changing them every 5 years is a good policy regardless of what the official service manual says...

-- Badtux the Busy Penguin

Dreamy in black

This band hails from way out. This is Intimate Stranger, with their song "In The Black" off their album Life Jacket. They recently moved to Austin, but are originally from Chile...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Busking bar band

This is a bar band from McAllen Texas called The Scarlet Effect singing a cover of Emiliana Torrini's "Ha Ha". They showed up in Austin at SXSW and of course as a new band from the sticks they didn't have a gig, so they started busking on the street:

Within 20 minutes or so they had a gig. And why not? Meagan Hofstetter has the perfect voice (and personality, based on her videos!) for a bar band, after all -- loud, gin-soaked, and exuberant.

- Badtux the Music Penguin
Image courtesy of JWZ

Thought for the day

Hayek thought socialism was the road to serfdom. Hayek was a fool. Feudal lords didn't need socialism to reduce their serfs to abject poverty and subjugation. So it was then, so it is now.

-- Badtux the History Penguin

Raining raining raining

The only good news on the weather front is that Fergie the Fuchsia appears to have gotten over her transplant shock quite well due to all the water reaching her roots, she isn't even wilting anymore. They say the rain will stop tomorrow. We'll see.

Last night Mencken was on my lap getting his evening belly rub, and The Mighty Fang colonized Mencken's bed in his absence. So after I was finished with that and brushed my teeth and so forth, Mencken followed me into my bedroom and jumped up on the bed then over to the top of the drawers... and glared at TMF. TMF didn't get the hint. Mencken got onto the pillow and nudged TMF with his nose. TMF didn't get the hint. Mencken gently opened wide and grabbed on a flap of TMF's neck blubber and sort of wiggled it. TMF didn't get the hint. Mencken then started gnawing for all he was worth. TMF got the hint *then*, let out a squall of dismay, and fled. Ah cats :).

BTW, I have discovered that cat puke doesn't do well for leather belts. Mencken apparently decided that my old belt was getting too ratty, and puked onto it. The belt actually *melted* where he puked on it! Man, I knew cat's stomach acid was set up to digest raw critters, but seeing the results was impressive, in a sickening sort of way.

Time to go, lunch awaits. Rice platter with vegetables and pork at a local Vietnamese fast food place...

-- Badtux the Busy Penguin

Quote of the day

"American borders are porous by design, just as other countries’ borders are routinely violated by the U.S.A. There is a huge difference, however: when Americans enter another country illegally, it’s never to empty foreigners’ bedpans or to wash their dishes, but usually to kill them." -- Linh Dinh

Americans per capita kill more of each other than any other nation on the planet. That is truth, easily verifiable by looking at murder statistics. Americans in the history of the planet have killed more of other peoples than any other people, indeed, glorifies it with several movies every year celebrating Americans killing unseemly uncivilized brown people. Every inch of America used to belong to other people and was seized at gunpoint or fraud from the previous owners.

In short, Americans are the most violent people on the planet -- and proud of it. That is reality. Only in America do young girls pose proudly with murder weapons...

-- Badtux the Reality-based Penguin

Friday, March 25, 2011

Not-so-silent

Austin (TX) synthcore band Silent Diane with "Juliet The Painting". Calling their music "synthcore" is perhaps a misnomer, since Christine Apprille and Eli Welbourne have as much emphasis upon the lyrics and vocals as upon the synths, but so it goes.

- Badtux the Music Penguin

Bonus: A live version, recorded in the boxy confines of a bicycle shop. The sound quality sucks, but this at least lets you see how they replicate their sound live< and what they actually look like.

Heat Slut

The warm air vent from the furnace blows out from under the bathroom cabinet, across the tile floor, making it nice and toasty. The Mighty Fang demonstrates how to properly enjoy it.

- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Thursday, March 24, 2011

This is what a Democrat with balls looks like

Grover Norquist demanded that Gov. Jerry Brown debate him. Gov. Jerry Brown didn't grace this demand with a personal response, but his press secretary responded with an offer to have Jerry's Corgi debate Grover Norquist. He notes that this really wouldn't be a fair debate -- for Grover -- since his dog probably has more ideas relevant to real problems facing California and Californians than Grover does.

-- Badtux the Snark-appreciatin' Penguin

A fever

Danish group The Raveonettes, "Veronica Fever". Sort of like you took indie drums and guitar and overlaid dream pop vocals on top of them...

See, I *said* I'd eventually get away from the dance tracks. Oh wait, I still have a few more to come in the queue...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

The King on his throne

There was a laundry basket on top of this drawers set. When I was changing my sheets one night, I tossed a pillow up against the laundry basket, sort of half hanging off onto the top of the set. Mencken jumped up, pushed off the laundry basket so the pillow would lie flat, and colonized it.

I am now using a different pillow (one of the spares from my closet, intended for visitors who sleep on my futon) on my bed, since it is clear that this is now H.C. Mencken's pillow, not mine.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Endings

I had a dream last night. I was having an argument about something with my father, and then he went into another room and I left. And then he died.

It was because I read Fixer talking about his father-in-law, I think. His father-in-law who is dying slowly of Alzheimer's, who once was deputy comptroller of New York City and now can't add 2+2.

Reality is that my father's ending was far slower and more hellish. At the end Alzheimer's had reduced him to a shambling mass of twitches and paranoia. The end came when he ran away from the VA nursing home, hitchhiked in the rain to a town several hundred miles away still wearing his pajamas, was taken in by Catholic Services' emergency shelter after the police found him wandering the streets babbling nonsense, and eventually Catholic Services' social worker found out who he was and where he needed to be and returned him to the nursing home, already sick with pneumonia. The reality is that he died a slow miserable death, gasping for breath into a respirator, a husk, a shadow of the man he had once been. He had never been deputy comptroller of New York City. But at one time before his slow cruel decline, he had been a successful small business owner, he had worked multiple jobs to support his family, he had, despite his limitations in other ways, been a for-real man. And the Alzheimer's took that all away from him, and he did not go quietly, he went raging and ranting and violent.

Our society doesn't have anything for that. The violent part is what allowed my mother to get an involuntary commitment order for him to force him into the nursing home, after he smashed windows and attacked a home care nurse and was clearly a threat to himself and others, but that was near the end when he could no longer carry a coherent conversation -- he had been a man who loved to talk, he was non-stop talk all day long in his shop as he talked to his customers, and he couldn't get four or five words out before losing track of his train of thought. But the slide to get there was long and hard and there wasn't anything that our society cared to help us with in dealing with it.

Given the family history, I'm likely to die of "natural causes" too, just like my father and his father before him. At least I won't be dragging a family into that misery with me, though. Just another reason to be a bachelor penguin...

I went to the grocery store this evening, the shabby rundown one that's part of the local chain that's losing to the big guys. It was 10 pm, and the homeless were out in force, doing their morning shopping. There was a toothless lady who looked 70 years old in front of me, buying various small items and paying cash. She put the items into a grubby pink backpack. I noticed that her sandaled feet were muddy too. She reeked of gin and perspiration, and was so drunk she almost fell backwards onto me as she launched herself from the counter. She was probably actually around fifty years old. And I thought, I'm lucky right now. But I've been down. Somehow I managed to get back up and do something else and eventually make it, but there was probably as much luck involved as anything else. But if anything else happens, at my age... would I end up staggering drunk looking twenty years older than my years, staggering out of a grocery store with a few odds and ends shoved into a grubby pink backpack? Soon enough she'll be dead. Of "natural causes". Of hunger, or alcohol poisoning, or whatever, but her death certificate will say "natural causes". And any answer to that would require a humane society that valued all its individuals, where people tried to help one another and did their best to make sure that everybody around them was okay. Some other society, in other words. Not ours. Not ours.

- Badtux the Nightmare Penguin

Icelandic Arms

Icelandic band Bloodgroup with their song "My Arms".

If it seems that I'm programming mostly club/dance music this week, it's because these particular bands were at SXSW, and the person who went there and listened to them and photographed them is into that kind of music. I'll get back to my normal indie / alt-country fare soon enough, don't worry about that... remember, variety is good for the musical palate :).

- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

AT&T, T-Mobile, and the Dance of Death

So T-Mobile is being bought by AT&T. Well, uhm, not exactly. T-Mobile, the mobile phone branch of Deutsche Telekom, is the largest provider of cellular service on the planet. They have more customers than AT&T knows exists. What AT&T is buying is the much smaller US subsidiary of T-Mobile. Which is *NOT* T-Mobile. It's just a subsidiary, s fairly small one. Sort of a fingernail on the body of the giant Deutsche Telekom.

Look. I know Americans don't realize there's a whole wide world out there outside of the USA. But there is. And there's more people out there, with more cell phones in their hands, than exist in the entire USA. Saying that AT&T is "buying T-Mobile" is as ridiculous as saying that Joe's Autorama is buying Chrysler Corporation -- it just doesn't make sense, it's like saying that a gnat is swatting a hairless ape, rather than vice-versa. Deutsche Telekom is that much bigger than AT&T.

So anyhow, back to T-Mobile USA and why DT is selling it: In a word, the problem is bandwidth and spectrum. T-Mobile USA is basically the remains of provider VoiceStream, which pioneered digital service in the USA, long before 3G. While T-Mobile picked up some spectrum in 2006 to do 3G, they don't have enough to deploy the 4G LTE technology. In desperation they've deployed 3G HSPA+ technology and claimed it's 4G, but it's not -- it's a bag on the side of the existing 3G HSPA technology, and when a node is heavily used it degrades to the speed of existing 3G HSPA technology. AT&T and Verizon, on the other hand, are either deploying real 4G networks right now, or plan to do so shortly. Once that happens, T-Mobile's existing U.S. customer base will be stuck with an obsolete technology that will not be supported by the end of the next decade when the entire world migrates to LTE.

So what to do, what to do? First, T-Mobile tried buying some spectrum from Sprint's Clearwire subsidiary. But despite the fact that they hold a huge amount of spectrum yet are using less than 10% of it for WiMax, neither Sprint nor their other partners in Clearwire were interested in selling, they're hoping that they'll get enough customers in the future to use all that spectrum. Next, T-Mobile thought about just buying Sprint. But Sprint has some pretty bitter poison pills in place against hostile takeovers, and Sprint wasn't interested in selling. Then T-Mobile thought, well, let's sell our US subsidiary to Sprint and bill it as a LTE failsafe in case WiMax fizzles out or Sprint can't get CDMA gear anymore for its network. Sprint *almost* nibbled on that one, but then eventually came to their senses and decided that if they wanted to do LTE, they could do it themselves for far less money than it'd cost to buy T-Mobile USA.

So that's why T-Mobile is trying to sell their US division to AT&T. They would need more spectrum to remain competitive in the future, and there doesn't appear to be enough spectrum coming available for that to happen. If there was government intervention to reallocate spectrum from users who aren't using it (like most of Sprint's Clearwire spectrum) to users who need it (like T-Mobile), then they could likely have stayed in the U.S. market. But there isn't, and won't be, because we have a Republican administration in the White House. A moderate Republican, true, but Republican all the same, with a Republican's native distrust for government intervention...

-- Badtux the Geek Penguin

Dancing City

UK indie punk dance band (???) Viva City, with "Pretty City Life".

- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, March 21, 2011

State of Texas inadvertently supports socialized medicine

The free market types say that private business will always work better than government, despite the many examples to the contrary (for example, does anybody believe that mall cops are anywhere near as competent, well-trained, and well-equipped as your city's police force?). So what about medicine? Same deal there.

Well, except that the State of Texas is getting whanged big-time for neo-natal ICU care, and... claims it's because hospitals are money-grubbing capitalists who are ripping people off (including the State of Texas's Medicaid program). They didn't use those exact words, of course. But that's what they basically said: That capitalism doesn't work for medical care, because hospitals will suck you dry for every dime they can, regardless of whether it's warranted or not.

Waiting for wingnut heads to explode... err... never. Because they'll just say "Nuh-uh, not so!" and petulantly stamp their feet and put their hands over their ears and say "nyah nyah nyah I can't hear you!", then call you a Communist for daring suggest that capitalists could ever be, well, evil. Uhm, sorry, honeys. That wasn't me saying it. That was the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, a division of the Texas state government.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Dancing illusion

Los Angeles band Nite Jewel ( Ramona Gonzalez plus friends )doing one of their trippy dance tunes, "Chimera". I'd mention an album, but the album was recorded in a basement and was mixed like mush. But if you can catch them live they do a pretty good live show, though you'll probably need to do the club scene in Los Angeles (with an occasional foray to San Francisco) to catch'em.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A death, and a birth

So last night we had some really wild weather here in the Sillycone Valley. Somewhere around midnight I heard a loud CRASH, from the side of the house. I figured probably something in the trash area had blown over.

So today I head to the side yard with a piece of hose, a screwdriver, a couple of wood screws, and a piece of baling wire, intending to better secure one of the fuchsia bushes whose wire tie had started getting loose, and... the cause of the crash was the fuchsia bush at the end, whose tiedown had snapped and the whole thing had fallen over against the house, uprooted. So I sighed and cut it down all the way to the twigs coming off from the base, hoping that there's enough roots left to support them... and discovered that my layering of those twigs, as they ran along the ground, had actually *worked*. Yes, they had *rooted*.

I hadn't even known that fuchsia would do that. I just saw those branches rambling sideways across the ground last year, and figured, "maybe they'll do like fig trees and root if I dig a little trench and cover part of them." The fuchsia bushes were old and semi-rotted, clearly not healthy, so propagating new fuchsia bushes to take their place was clearly a good idea.

So anyhow, there was three of these twigs that had rooted. I left two of them in place because they were close enough to the fence that the survivor will be in the right place. I cut off the third and buried it deeper further down the fence row, to extend the fuchsia line closer to the back yard. I will water it a couple times a day for the next week in hopes that it actually survives, then taper that off to once a day for the rest of the spring and summer. But I think the chances are pretty good that at least *one* of these will survive.

So my former big pretty fuchsia at the end of the row is no more... but it looks like there will be one, maybe two, to take its place. The cycle of life continues...

-- Badtux the Gardening Penguin

Not a bad idea in some ways...

Racist Republican candidate for Congress suggests deporting illegals, busing blacks from Compton to take their place.

Congressional candidate Jack Davis was of course condemned roundly by both Democratic and Republican leaderships for his statement. But there's a bit of history to show that there's a grain of a good idea there.

So... how did all those blacks get to Compton anyhow? The answer was that, by and large, they moved to Los Angeles from the American South in order to work in the war-time weapons factories during WW2. When WW2 was over there was no need for so many factory workers in Los Angeles... but they couldn't go back home because the sharecropping plantation system had been busted by WW2 also, never to return. So there they sit.

Now, one of the things I've mentioned in the past is that I taught at two different all-black schools during my teaching career. One thing I *haven't* mentioned is this: The black community hates, hates, hates them some Mexicans. The reason is because after WW2, they couldn't go back home, so they tried to get into the fields in California instead. But the braceros had been brought in during WW2 and the California plantation owners prefer the Mexicans, because the Mexicans work hard, die willingly, and have no civil rights since they're not U.S. citizens. Whereas if they hired black Americans, they'd have to pay minimum wage, they could have OSHA on them if they mistreated their workers, and they would have the possibility of a walkout if they tried to make their workers work without pay (*yes*, they do that to their Mexican workers... if the plantation owner blew too much money on beer last weekend, well, the beaners didn't need the money after all, right?).

In short: The problem with illegal immigration is not that the workers are illegal. It's that they are slaves, with no civil rights, and no ability to complain if illegally mistreated by the plantation owners that hire them. And there does happen to be a large pool of workers who *could* take their place, and in the past expressed a *willingness* to take their place, right there where that racist numbnuts suggested sending his bus to pick up those non-existent "lazy Negros" that his watermelon-stereotyped bigotry thinks lives there. But who would hire a free man, if you could have a slave instead?

And that, in the end, is the tragedy of illegal immigration when it comes to the black community: It really did take away their jobs. And they're pissed about it, and have been for decades.

-- Badtux the Multicultural Penguin

This is fucking hilarious

From a thread on a review of an iPhone ad (seriously! Yes, a review of an AD!):

by Grigsby_51 March 17, 2011 6:50 AM PDT
 How about, "If you don't have an iPhone you might have a normal sex life"

by AdonisLUV March 17, 2011 7:00 AM PDT
 Only if you consider abstinence a normal sex life.

by make_or_break March 17, 2011 7:09 AM PDT
 "Only if you consider abstinence a normal sex life..."

 So tell us AdonisLUV...what other love devices besides the iPhone do you need
 to get it on? Oh wait...never mind...we don't need to know, or even want to
guess. Definitely that would be too much information...

by OniOokamiAlfador March 17, 2011 7:29 AM PDT   How about, "If you don't have an iPhone you might have a normal sex life"

  -or-

  Only if you consider abstinence a normal sex life.

 ------

 I'm trying really hard to figure out which of these comments is more
 ridiculous. If having a certain phone affects your sex life one way or
 another, you have way more serious issues than that, on a deeply personal
 level.

Heh. Yeah. Exactly.

-- Badtux the Easily Amused Penguin

Schools more segregated today than in 1965

In comments below, JzB asked what my source for that data was. Well, the source is a U. Cal. study published in late 2009, which Project Censored notes as one of their top censored stories of 2010.

The primary reason why schools are segregated today is housing segregation, combined with the "independent school districts" in Texas and the West. That is why school segregation is worse in Texas and the West than in the South -- in the South, school districts are principally county-based, with the school district lines being the county lines. In Texas and the west, by contrast, it's possible to create "independent school districts" that encompass only the white neighborhoods and not the neighborhoods inhabited by brown-skinned people.

Thus for example in San Mateo County California, if all students in the county were in the same school district, the school district would be 51% white, 22% Asian, 22% Hispanic, and roughly 5% African-American and other. Instead, Palo Alto Unified School District, which excludes primarily-Hispanic East Palo Alto, had these demographics in 2005-2006: White, 52.2; Asian 25.1; Hispanic 7.9; African-American and other, 4.7%.

Meanwhile, just across the US101 freeway in East Palo Alto, the Ravenswood ISD has these demographics: Hispanic 70%, African-American 20%, Pacific Islander 9%, and other (including white) 1%. Note that Ravenswood is a K-8 district, East Palo Alto's high school students attend Sequoia Union high schools in Redwood City -- despite the fact that Palo Alto's high schools are closer. But wouldn't want *those* people in the very exclusive Palo Alto schools, right?

So anyhow, that's how it goes. We pretend that America is a racism-free land where everybody of every origin goes around hand in hand singing kumbaya... but the reality on the ground is anything but.

-- Badtux the Racism-smellin' Penguin

Stolen belonging

Beth Orton, "Stolen Car", off her album Central Reservation. Pretty much the anti-waif...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Because only black people loot

That's why, according to Faux News, there's no looting going on in Japan right now, while there was looting in New Orleans after Katrina. Oh, they don't outright come out and *say* that. There's a lot of winkin' and noddin' goin' on. But you don't have to be a psychic to figure out what they're *really* saying.

Of course, it's not true. There *IS* looting going on in Japan. But Faux certainly isn't going to let little things like "facts" get in the way of a perfectly good racist meme, right?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

If lefties want to be taken seriously about guns...

... they need to know what they're talking about. Case in point: Utah designating the Colt M1911 autopistol as their state handgun, due to the fact that it was designed by John Browning, a practicing Mormon and a native of Utah.

Read the comments at the above link. They're pathetic. Some people there apparently think John Browning is still alive and will somehow personally benefit from this endorsement (he's not -- he died in 1926). Some people there apparently think Browning Arms Company made the M1911 ACP (they didn't -- Browning Arms Company was formed in 1927 by Belgian arms manufacturer FN and Browning's survivors to finish the design of and manufacture the Browning Hi-Power 9mm handgun for the French and Belgian military, never sold 1911-pattern handguns, and has been owned outright by FN since 1977 when FN bought out the last of the Browning survivors).

Some people even think there's some "M1911 company" that is going to give kickbacks to the Utah legislature for designating the M1911 as their official state handgun. Uhm, who would this be? China's Norinco? Armscor, which makes them in the Philippines? PA, SA, STI, Taurus, Fusion, Caspian, Kimber, SAM? The thing was designed in *1911*, for cryin' out loud! It fell out of patent protection long ago, and can be made by anybody -- and is.

Come on, people. If you don't know what you're talking about, just keep your mouth shut when it comes to guns. It just makes you look ignorant and defeats any purpose you thought you had when you opened your mouth.

-- Badtux the Gun Penguin

Traditional grass

Not *that* kinda grass, duh! This is Adrienne Young with her song "Hills and Hollers" off her 2005 album The Art of Virtue. Just some new country, y'all.

- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, March 18, 2011

Blow-dry face

Mencken blocks the furnace air vent. The Mighty Fang merely relaxes beside it, letting the register blow warm air across his face. Who gets warmer -- TMF, or Mencken? Curious penguins are... curious.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Original ruins

Marlene Dietrich was of course the person who first made "The Ruins of Berlin" famous, as she sang it in the movie A Foreign Affair...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Department of Obvious Obviousness

New Orleans Police Department corrupt, incompetent, abusive of civil rights.

This is a story about as unusual as "Dog bites man." The real story would be if ever the NOPD was *NOT* corrupt, incompetent, and abusive of civil rights. Because that's never been true as long as I've been alive, at least...

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

In the ruins

The Dex Romweber Duo cover "The Ruins of Berlin" off their album by the same name. Sara's using a beat box rather than her usual drum kit, but it fits this song just fine.

- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Is there a doctor in the house?

In a credible mainstream news publication, a famous physician with top credentials from the best medical school in the nation counsels us not to worry about the possibility of Curly-san, Larry-san, and Moe-san managing to melt down their reactors and catch the uranium on fire (thus emitting tons of heavy isotopes that will be radioactive for decades). This walking encyclopedia of medical knowledge, gained from years of study at top universities, advises us that radiation is actually good for us.

Oh wait, no, that was clownhall.com and that was Our Lady of the Skanky Black Cocktail Dress, Ann "The Man" Coulter. Whose only medical degree is her temperature once she gets into full vitriol rant mode.

Hmm.... anybody else think Ann's stinky little cocktail dress that she's been wearing for the past few decades has maybe cut the flow of blood away from her brains, which apparently reside in her testicles? Hmm?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

And for the record: Burning uranium *bad* for people and critters both, 'kay?

Gotta be evil, that's how

The Austin Lounge Lizards with "Too Big To Fail". What a commentary on how America works today!

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A message?

So Glenn Beck asks, "Is God sending us a message with the Japan earthquake"?

Err... let me get this straight, Glennbo. Your invisible almighty great sky spirit is omnipotent and all-powerful and shit, but he's not capable of, like, just picking up the fucking phone if he wants to send us a message, and instead, like, decides to just make things shake and waves crash and people die and shit? So you're saying your invisible sky spirit can do all this, but he can't even make a simple fucking phone call like millions of pimply hormonal 14 year olds manage to do every single day? Dude. Bogus. Your magic undies must be cuttin' off the flow of blood to your brain. Just sayin'.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Helium breath

Mary Timony and Helium were an alternative band in the mid to late 1990's. When this album, The Dirt of Luck, was released in 1995, many believed that Helium was going to be the Next Big Thing. Unfortunately it didn't sell particularly well, and the next album, The Magic City, changed their sound entirely and their label dropped them. Mary Timony then went on to have a similarly-unsuccessful solo career. She's still crazy enough to make music though, apparently working on a new album with yet *another* band...

This is "Honeycomb", off of Helium's first album The Dirt of Luck. '

- Badtux the Music Penguin

Gunfight at the Denny's Salad Bar

Ah yes, Florida, where crazy gets issued at the border. In Orlando, a Floridian by the name of Frederick Louis Sims responded to slow service in Denny's by firing his gun. Good thing the server wasn't packing, or we coulda had the Gunfight at the Denny's Salad Bar in Orlando! Okay, doesn't have quite the cachet of "Gunfight at the OK Corral", but hey, modern times, right?

Mr. Sims then raced off from the Denny's in his Cadillac Escalade (undoubtedly with spinner wheels and blacked out windows), until the local cops stopped him and cited him for creating a public nuisance by firing his weapon into the air (those bullets can come down, y'know?). They were probably also laughing at Mr. Sim's choice of weapon at that time -- a .22 caliber pistol, the favorite weapon of diminutive damsels everywhere (geez, the amazing thing is that anybody even noticed he fired that little pop gun!). Nobody's saying, but it was probably blinged out all pimptastic too.

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Monday, March 14, 2011

Devastation

Before and after photos of the earthquake and tsunami disaster area. It's like an atomic bomb went off.

They're talking about tens of thousands of dead now. Thousands of bodies have already washed ashore. At least 200,000 people are homeless, their homes too damaged to return to, or simply not existing anymore.

Meanwhile, some nuclear reactors are threatening to melt down. Indeed, probably already have partially melted, thanks to incompetence on the part of its operators, Curly-san, Larry-san, and Moe-san, who, for example, let the diesel engines on their fire suppression system (what they were using to cool the reactors down) run out of fuel because, apparently, it didn't occur to them that the engines needed fuel (doh!). Just one example of the incompetence of the plant operators (letting hydrogen build up in the containment buildings so that they could explode was another one). The good news there is that these reactors have killed no (zero) people, and are unlikely to do so -- every passing hour they're that much cooler, as the more intense radioisotopes decay leaving less intense ones behind. The reactors are scrammed -- their control rods are in place, stopping the U-235 from actively fissioning -- what you're seeing now is residual heat that will eventually all be dissipated.

Which makes me wonder why there's such a focus on these reactors -- which have killed nobody, remember. I guess it's because of that word "nuclear" scares the crap out of people, because they think of explosions, mushroom clouds, that kind of thing. But in this case there's not going to be any explosion -- the uranium inside these reactors is not capable of exploding. It's only 5% enriched at most, which won't even fizzle. What you could get out of these reactors *if* they completely melted down would be radioactive steam (with short-lived isotopes from the radiation interacting with H20) as the melted control rods fell down onto the concrete floor of the containment building... because they were light-water reactors rather than graphite-moderated reactors like Chernobyl, you won't get the plume of heavier longer-lived radioactive carbon compounds that Chernobyl generated.

Back in the real world, on the other hand, some people in the far north of Japan are still cut off and rescuers haven't gotten there yet and are in *real* danger. Let's hope for their safety. This is winter in Japan, and Japan is pretty far north, in case you haven't noticed...

-- Badtux the Disaster Penguin

More pizza reviews

This one is the "Freschetta PizzAmore' Hand Tossed Style Crust Pepperoni Duo Pizza".

This is a Schwan pizza brand, and Schwan generally has good crusts, sauce, and pepperoni, but tends to be a bit weak on the cheese. So how does this one turn out?

The pizza slid out of the box in a little black cardboard tray. The directions say to put the tray into the oven with the pizza on it. I usually cook pizzas on a pizza stone nowadays because it provides a much more even temperature, but I was okay with skipping that for the purpose of this exercise. Looking at the pizza, it seemed a bit scant on the pepperoni, but seemed to have plenty of cheese. So I put it in the preheated oven and waited for it to be done.

Upon sliding it out, there was a pool of grease in the middle of the pizza. Apparently I underestimated how much pepperoni was on the pizza, I guess there was some hiding under the cheese. So the first thing I did was sop up some of the grease with paper towels. And the verdict is...

First off, the pepperoni and sauce are typically peppy Schwan. The cheese on this pizza would be rather lackadaisical, except for one thing: Schwan has put some parmesan cheese into the mix. It adds a pep that works well with the pep of the sauce and pepperoni. I think a smoother cheese would have made for a better balanced pizza, but if you like a peppy pizza, you'll like this.

The only real downer is the crust. It's not a *bad* crust, but it doesn't rise up above the pedestrian. The peppy nature of the toppings really call for a bready crust with a hint of sweetness to balance out the peppy toppings. This crust, however, is a fairly neutral crust that keeps the toppings off the bottom of the oven but otherwise doesn't contribute much to the pizza. The only good thing about it is that the texture is better than I expected given the thin cardboard "baking pan" that it was cooked in. Still, it could have been better.

So my final verdict is that this thing is one star short of excellent. I rate it four out of five -- if you see it on sale at your local grocer, get it. But it definitely will not surpass any good home-made pizza with a nicely bready home-made crust - though it's certainly better than the soggy atrocities you get delivered.

-- Badtux the Pizza Penguin

Unusual James

This is Thurston Moore's "Honest James", off his 2007 solo album Trees Outside the Academy. It's almost pretty, sounding little like his main band, Sonic Youth.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The father of Nirvana

The Wipers were a Portland-area punk group in the late 70's and 80's headed by Greg Sage. They pioneered the notion that you didn't have to move to LA or New York City to play music, you could do it in the Pacific Northwest. Their raw gritty sound was one of the inspirations for Kurt Cobain when he was forming the band Nirvana...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Nuclear power, Fukishima, and incompetence

Back in the 1980's, America's elites were running scared of Japan. It was stated that Japan would be the #1 economy in the world by the end of the 20th century, that America needed to learn from the Japanese, yada yada yada. Yet in the 1990's, Japan's economy stumbled. And in the 2000's, Japan's vaunted reputation for quality took multiple hits as coverups of faults in Mitsubishi, Nissan, and Toyota vehicles came to light.

So what happened? Well, what happened was that the Japanophiles were looking at the strengths of Japan's society, but not at its weaknesses. And the biggest weakness is that Japan is a consensus-based shame-based society where nobody will make hard decisions because they will bring shame upon the decision-maker or cause a disruption of social harmony within the company or within society as a whole. As a result, when Japan faced a depression caused by a collapse in housing and land prices in the 1990's, they were unable to make the hard decision to close down the bankrupt banks and fund new ones or to provide a massive bailout restoring the solvency of the bankrupt banks. Instead, they pretended they still had a credible banking system because admitting their banks were bankrupt would have brought shame upon various decision-makers in their society, thereby cutting off credit to large parts of the Japanese economy. And credit is the lynchstone of capitalism. Credit is what allows capitalism to be the most nimble system for creating goods and services ever invented, because credit is what allows a company to swiftly adjust to changing consumer needs by paying for the capital equipment needed to meet those needs with the future sales thus generated. Without a functional banking system, you must wait and slowly accumulate capital to make that capital investment. Japan's banks basically ceased to exist from an economic point of view in the 1990s, pulling one of those legs off the three-legged stool of capitalism, and as a result their economy went sideways -- and has stayed sideways.

The fact that Japan is a shame-based society that values social harmony above all else especially is problematic when you have managers who are drunk, incompetent, or both. And there are such managers scattered all through Japanese industry. And Japan's nuclear industry appears especially prone to that. TEPCO (the utility which owns the Fukishima power plant) has in particular a long and sordid history of mismanagement including submitting fraudulent inspection data to the Japanese government and covering up previous nuclear accidents. Unfortunately the problem is that if a boss is drunk and incompetent, said boss will remain in power pretty much forever, because firing him would be an admission that you made a mistake hiring him and thus bring shame upon you. And there’s far too many of these roadblocks to competence scattered in halls of TEPCO…

So, is the result going to be another Chernobyl? Well... no. There were no safety features at Chernobyl. It didn’t even have a reactor containment vessel, and it was a graphite-moderated reactor, where the graphite would burst into flames if you poured water onto the reactor fuel to cool it down. Completely different design from an old-school boiling-water reactor like Three Mile Island or Fukushima.

Indeed, Fukushima is almost identical in design to Three Mile Island, and almost identical in its operation — i.e., incompetence rules. TEPCO in fact had its operating license yanked for several years in the early ‘oughts for submitting fraudulent inspection reports to Japan’s nuclear regulator. It’s the flip side of the problems caused by America’s “at will” employment system… in Japan, if you have a job, it’s pretty much for life even if you’re incompetent and drunk all the time. And if you happen to be the manager of a nuclear power plant and incompetent and drunk all the time… well. You still have a job for life. Because to fire you would bring shame upon your manager for hiring someone who is drunk and incompetence, and shame-based societies like Japan just can’t deal with that.

That said, there *ARE* designs that will automatically shut down if they lose cooling, like pebble bed reactors. What we should be doing is replacing all these old boiling water reactors (which were designed by the military to power friggin’ NUCLEAR SUBMARINES, not generate electricity, and they’re inherently designed to be compact enough to fit in submarines, not safe) with reactors that are far, far safer. To shut down a pebble bed reactor in an emergency, for example, you *stop* cooling it -- energetic particles then become too energetic to stay in the fuel pellets and stop causing fission, there by preventing the reactor from melting down. This is just one example of reactors which have passive safety systems, which most of today's reactors do NOT have, instead relying upon pumps and other such active devices (devices that require external energy to operate) to prevent them from melting down.

As for “alternate energy”: Energy density. I’ve talked about this before. But you basically cannot maintain technological society with the energy density possible with solar, wind, and geothermal power. And I *LIKE* technological society. Amongst other things, it makes this blog possible… as well as making alternate energy possible. Without technological society, you can't have solar panels or efficient distribution of electricity from wind or geothermal power. Just doesn't work. Wind, solar, and geothermal will be important in the future, but simply will not provide sufficient energy to maintain the kind of technological society needed to create and maintain such an infrastructure. We'll need some kind of more energy-dense power source for that... and right now, unless you want to continue contributing to global warming by burning more hydrocarbons, nuclear power seems to be "it".

-- Badtux the Energy Penguin

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Original taint

So let's set the Wayback Machine to 1964, and Gloria Jones is a girl singer for Uptown Records, a label set up by Capitol Records to compete with Motown. And she records this song, "Tainted Love"...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, March 11, 2011

Shaking in Japan

There’s two nuclear power plants with a declared state of emergency now and one has released some radioactive gas. We got the tsunami here but it was more a swell, unless you happened to be in one of the coves that concentrate the force of oncoming swells, like the morons were who gathered on the beach to watch the tsumani and got washed out to sea for their trouble. Incidentally, in a meeting this afternoon I was told that some of the security camera footage from one of the stricken nuclear plants was likely courtesy of a product I worked on. Cool. Not so cool is that our hardware doesn’t work so well once melted into a radioactive lump, which seems like far too much a possibility right now .

Earthquakes scare me. You can prepare for a hurricane — you can stock up on supplies, you can tape or plywood your windows, you can head out for the interior where it’ll just be a strong gale. You know a hurricane’s coming. An earthquake, on the other hand… eep! It happens when it happens, and you're never as prepared as you'd like to be. I’m just glad that I’m 80 feet above sea level now, rather than below sea level like I was for the prior six years (protected by a leaky dike built to protect salt evaporation ponds, not people — eek!), because it should at least mean I won’t drown if an earthquake hits here. Though given the fact that my house was built in 1961 and is about as earthquake-proof as an eggshell, as vs. my below-sea-level-apartment which was built to withstand earthquakes, I don’t know how good that should make me feel.

My boss, who is Japanese, is going to try to contact our people in Japan this evening. Immediately after the earthquake and tsunami was of course hopeless and he didn’t even try. Hopefully they’re all okay, just getting around by bicycle at the moment because the trains are stopped and the streets are closed off.

- Badtux the Shaky Penguin

Disturbing taint

I earlier posted My Brightest Diamond's cover of "Tainted Love", a song originally written back in the Motown days but first made famous by this version by Soft Cell in 1981.

Marilyn Manson tried to make a disturbing video based on this song. Marilyn's over-the-top goth drivel, though, did not get anywhere near as disturbing as Soft Cell's original video for the song, which due to its insinuations of pedophilia never appeared on MTV or any other major video outlet even though the song was everywhere during the early 80's. The hilarious thing is that the singer in this video, Marc Almond, is gay, quite flamboyantly so, and would have had absolutely no real-life prurient interest in the little girl in the video.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

GOP Senator proposes "Final Solution"

Ever wonder what the GOP wants to do with all the mentally ill people once served by the mental health programs that their policies have gutted? Well... wonder no more. State Senator Martin Harty (R) of New Hampshire has the solution for that problem -- the *FINAL* solution. As in, the same solution as Hitler's for "defective people": Exterminate them.

Sad to say, the rest of the GOP is likely to publicly cluck in horror, while privately laughing and agreeing with him. How *dare* those defective mentally ill people use *our* tax money to keep themselves somewhat functional and alive! They should all be exterminated, because Jesus said that anybody who wasn't perfect like Him was, like, an untermenschen and stuff, and not worth living. Or somethin' like that. I'm sure I'll find that verse somewhere in my Bible, hmm, maybe in Leviticus 25:35 ... yeah, that's the one :).

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Note: Have now been informed he's a state representative, not a state senator. Mia culpa, I should have checked out a few more links before posting...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wishy-washy feel-good nonsense

Preznit Hopey-Changey talks about bullying. It's bad, he says. Lots of people agree it's bad, he says. Missing, however, from all that wishy-washy feel good talk in his speech is anything that even vaguely smells of effective action. Coat drives and values education aren't going to change the fact that there are some children who are just plain mean and vicious, and who will viciously bully anybody who they feel they can get away with bullying, just because they can.

I'll listen to Obama speak about bullying once he starts dealing effectively with the Republican bullies that have been bullying him ever since his election. His strategy thus far for dealing with Republican bullies appears to be to surrender and meekly hand over his lunch money, then mouth wishy-washy platitudes about hope and change. Yeah right. Like that's ever worked to stop bullies from bullying...

-- Badtux the Practical Penguin

The latter days of a once-great nation

Discovery landed for the last time yesterday. About its landing, astronaut Michael Barratt said earlier this week, "they've lived a very long time, they've had a fabulous success record, they've built this magnificent space station, they've given us lots of science and a tremendous amount of experience of just how to operate in space. More than anything, we look forward to seeing them retire with dignity and bringing on the next line of spaceships."

But the United State cannot, of course, replace the Shuttles. There will be no next line of spaceships. The United States is no longer the kind of nation capable of building big stuff like spaceships anymore. We couldn't build anything like the Space Shuttle today even if we wanted to -- not because of a lack of technology, but a lack of capability and will. We no longer have the industrial base to build things on that kind of scale, we no longer have the talent pool to design things on that kind of scale, we just can't. Can-do America turned into can't-do America at some point in the past thirty years, and we're all the poorer for it.

- Badtux the Sad Penguin

He was a liar

A lot has been said about David Broder due to his recent death but I have just one thing to say: He was a liar in the service of Republicans. His lie about Senator Edmund S. Muskie of Maine supposed breaking down in tears helped Nixon win in 1972, and his vicious attacks upon Democratic politicians over the years helped the election efforts of many a Republican. He was, in the end, a lying hack. And, alas, not unusual as such.

- Badtux the Media Penguin

Feelin' good

A week ago I posted My Brightest Diamond's version of the song. It was a cover of Nina Simone's version here, which was originally recorded in 1965, of course.

Not much I can say about Nina Simone that you shouldn't already know. Go Google her if you don't know who she is, your jazz education is sorely lacking...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Arizona's legislature is unpatriotic

They have now selected an official state handgun: The Colt 1873 .45 caliber single-action revolver. Which is an utter disgrace, because the 1873 Colt was not a significant weapon in the history of America -- unlike the M1911 ACP which celebrated its 100th birthday this year and served in more of America's wars than any other handgun ever made.

Here is an 1873 Colt revolver, official Army issue:

But the last hurrah of the 1873 Colt in military service was the Moro War in 1899-1904, when they were hurriedly retrieved from storage when the .38 caliber revolvers that were then standard issue, the the Colt M1892 in .38 Long Colt caliber, did not have enough stopping power to take down Moro rebels in the southern Philippines.

The M1911 ACP was standard service issue for the U.S. military until the DoD decided in the mid 1980's as women made up an increasing part of the military that women were too wimpy to shoot big .45 caliber handguns and bought a bunch of wimpy 9mm Italian designer handguns instead. Like, really. Italian designer handguns. Fuck, might as well send'em into battle wearing a pair of fine Eye-talian pumps, for cryin' out loud. In case you're counting, that's over 70 years that the M1911 was standard military issue, as vs. less than 20 years for the M1873 Colt.

So it's clear that by choosing the 1873 Colt over the M1911ACP, Arizona's legislature has proven themselves both ignorant, and profoundly unpatriotic. But hey, we already suspected that, right?

-- Badtux the Gun Penguin

After the Gulch

Thinking about it, I was rather unfair to the denizens of Galt's Gulch, the richest 400 people in America. After all, they have 50% of the assets of America, they can certainly afford to bring with them all the materials and farm tools they would need in order to make a nice home for themselves in Galt's Gulch. A few of them even have theoretical knowledge of how to use these, and a few of them -- in the technology industry, mostly -- have even used a few small hand tools themselves, though not recently. For example, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos has actually used a screwdriver. Granted, he was only 18 months old at the time, but at least he knows what a screwdriver is, unlike Cindy Walton.

Still, the end result will be starvation and death for the denizens of Galt's Gulch. Even with all the farm tools in the world, if you've never farmed before the likelihood of managing to grow a crop is pretty slim. And the 400 have no practical skills in how to repair farm equipment, not to mention that they can't even fuel their tractors and bulldozers without paying money to the hated peasants outside the Gulch, which they have foresaken doing because the peasants are just leaches and dimwits beside their obvious brilliance. So it might take six months, or a year, or two years, but eventually the last denizen of Galt's Gulch shall perish from hunger, likely after gnawing the last shreds of meat off the raw carcass of the next-to-the-last denizen of Galt's Gulch (raw carcass because, again, the 400 richest people in America may have a *theoretical* notion of how to light a fire and cook meat over it, but the number of said richest people who've actually done so is not likely to be very high).

So anyhow, enough of Galt's Gulch. So what happens to the rest of the world once the denizens of Galt's Gulch go into hiding in their hidden valley? Well..

At your local Wal-Mart, the trucks come in with merchandise as usual, and the workers unload them and stack them on the shelves as usual. The store managers walk their stores as usual and approve hiring of workers and accept resignations of workers and the store's computers send the day's sales to Walmart Bentonville every day, and the computers at Walmart Bentonville issue orders to their suppliers every day. The supplier relations specialists in Bentonville keep contacting their equivalents at their suppliers to negotiate pricing and availability as contracts expire. At suppliers, the product managers continue developing new products and getting approval from the VP of Marketing to put them into production, and selling these products to Wal-Mart.

Then one day, it's time for the monthly board of directors' meeting, and neither Jim Walton nor Robson Walton show up. The CEO asks, "Has anybody seen Jim or Rob?" Nobody has. "Oh well, we don't need them for a quorum, let's get the reports from our operating units and make any decisions we need to make." And they do.

Ten months later, it's time for the annual shareholder's meeting, where the board of directors has to be re-elected by the shareholders and... err... the biggest shareholders, every single one of the Walton family, are missing. Neither hide nor hair has been seen of them for almost a year now. The board shrugs, and renominates themselves as well as two more people to take the board positions of the two Waltons who are no longer around.

At some point someone asks, "Sayyyy.... nobody's seen the 400 richest people in America recently. Is something going on? Have they been kidnapped or something?" The FBI goes to the homes of the top five people on the Forbes 400 list, and manage to badge their way past the guards and ascertain that the guards have not seen their employer in over a year and that their employer's business manager continues signing their paychecks as usual. Said business manager says she hasn't seen her employer either but assumes said employer is at one of their other homes. The FBI gets a court order to search the home under reasonable suspicion that a murder or kidnapping may have taken place, and find clues to where the Galt-goers have gone. They go to Galt Gulch and find all 400 corpses plus the corpses of their spouses and heirs, many horribly mangled due to cannibalism. The world is agoggle about how horrible it was that the 400 went to such extremes to remove themselves from the presence of their "inferiors" yet came to such a terrible end. And then...

... the world goes on, as it's been going on for the past year without these "masters of the universe". The 400 took their spouses and heirs to Galt's Gulch with them and there were no survivors and they left no wills, so the ownership of the properties and corporate shares that they owned devolves to the unclaimed property division of the states the 400 resided in, which then auctions them off and has plenty to pay off their state's entire debt plus any deficits caused by recessions. New owners take over and let the employees continue running the companies, as has been true for the past year that the owners were nowhere around. In the end, all that happens is that the 400 proved just how little they contributed to the economy, which didn't even notice they were missing until the FBI found the gory evidence of a Donner Party Event in Galt's Gulch.

-- Badtux the Fiction Penguin

Brooding mouth

The band Bush's second album was the brooding guitar-driven Razorblade Suitcase, released in 1996 and produced by Steve Albini. It definitely has some of the hallmarks of Albini's sound: It's raw, slow, starts and stops as the emotional flow of the songs demand. Listen to this album, and listen to Albini's production of Scout Niblett's raw and noisy later albums a decade later, and Albini's contribution to the sound of both becomes even more obvious.

While Bush was contemporary with early Nirvana and Nine Inch Nails, and their heavy guitar-driven sound decidedly owed some credit to the grunge movement, they had their own sound. They weren't trying to imitate grunge, they were just appropriating the parts of grunge that they wanted for their own purposes. This particular song is "Mouth" off of Razorblade Suitcase. It's interesting that the single version of the song was quite different from the slow and brooding album version, the single version was popped up with a drum machine track and some electronica doodlings and sped up to 90mph in an attempt to give it more Euro-pop appeal. I guess the album version is just too slow and brooding for radio. Well, and 8 minutes long. That's a problem too. But this, the album version, represents Bush's sound on Razorblade Suitcase quite well. Great album. Get it if you can find it.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Missive from Galt Gulch

"There are two novels that can change a bookish 14-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs." -- John Rogers.

So the top 400 richest people on the planet decide they're sick of dealing with the little people, and retire to Galt Gulch.

Day one: Four hundred people wander around Galt Gulch. "Where's my mansion?" Christy Walton asks. "I think we're supposed to build our own shelters," Larry Ellison replies. "I'll just hire some Mexicans to build me a new mansion," Charles Kotch says. Bill Gates mutters, "Do you see any Mexicans here?" Jim Walton says, "Just go to the nearest Wal-Mart and shout 'La Migra!' at the top of your voice, and stand outside. You'll see plenty of Mexicans to hire." "There's no Wal-Marts here," David Kotch says in an irritated voice. Alice Walton looks shocked, and says "What do you mean there's no Wal-Mart here? There's Wal-Marts like, everywhere!"

Warren Buffet sighs. "We have rocks and we have trees. All we have to do is pile up rocks into walls, and cut down the trees to use the wood to make roofs." "But I might break my nails!" Christy Walton screeches, a look of horror on her face. Michael Bloomberg interjects, "First things first. I'm hungry. What's for dinner?" Larry Page wanders by, a confused look on his face. "Just go onto Google Maps and look for nearby takeout restaurants and order something," he says. "Dolt!" snaps Sergey Brin, "We don't have computers here, and there are no restaurants, this is Galt Gulch, not Galt Silicon Valley!" Sheldon Adelson says, "I have a candy bar. I'll bet you this candy bar that nobody knows how to cook in this gulch." George Soros snarks, "I'll take that bet, because my fellow rich people are dolts, morons, and idiots, helpless without their serfs to do their every bidding." Michael Dell irritably says "That's mean, George. Anyhow, the answer is clear. I'll just use my credit card to buy that candy bar from Sheldon, and sell it on the Internet." "Monkeys! Monkeys! I see monkeys!" Steve Balmer shouts, and Paul Allen looks around, "hey, maybe we could eat those for dinner." Jeff Bezos says "Sure, just order a barbecue grill and a cigarette lighter from Amazon.com and we'll have barbecue monkey for dinner." Ann Chambers asks, "has anybody seen my nurse? I feel a fainting spell coming on." John Paulson snaps, "We don't need those little people. We are the masters of the universe. We own everything." "That's okay," Donald Bren says. "I'll just hire some contractors to bulldoze all this and put up a McMansion tract housing plot." Abigail Johnson helpfully says, "I think if we provide a mortgage-backed security for that application, we can obtain a significantly higher profit." Phil Knight says "so do you know how to drive a bulldozer, Donald?" and Donald looks at Phil with a look of horror that says "what, me, get my hands dirty?" Carl Icahn then says "let's do a leveraged buyout of bulldozer drivers." Ron Perelman yells, "Does anybody here know how to drive a bulldozer?" Silence follows.

As darkness falls, the 400 denizens of Galt Gulch huddle, hungry and cold, under the marginal shelter of the sparse trees populating the gulch. But they do not huddle in silence. As they huddle, they talk excitedly about new kinds of CDO's, leveraged buyouts, Internet search algorithms, optimal investment strategies, and the advantages of computerized inventory control. Over the next few days, the denizens of Galt Gulch slowly fade away, until in the end there are only 400 corpses, doomed by their inability to, like, actually do anything for themselves, as vs loot things from other people.

The End.

The above is, alas, a work of fiction. Oh well.

-- Badtux the "Too Bad" Penguin

Knowing drugs

Drugstore, "I know I could", off their 1998 album White Magic for Lovers. I miss the 90's, music-wise I mean...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

The bottom line

Michael Moore says that America is not broke but, rather, that 400 individuals have managed to loot half the wealth of the nation and are holding us hostage. Is he right? Well, let's look at a couple of nice pictures. Here is the situation in 2007, before the massive bailouts transferred even more wealth to the top 1% (click the images to make them bigger): So in 2007, the top 1% had 43% of the wealth. It's well within the realm of possibility that after the hundreds of billions of dollars of bailouts, the top 1% could have more than 50% of the wealth. So whether Michael Moore is 100% correct or not, he's right that the top 1% owns an obscene amount of America.

So what are the repercussions of allowing the top 1% to hold this gun to our head and say "your money or we crash your economy"? Well, EBM points us to this nice little picture showing the consequences of tax breaks for the rich and what they say about the priorities of our so-called leaders:

Any questions?

As Jazzbumpa is fond of saying: WASF.

- Badtux the Waddling Penguin

Enablers of fraud

In my previous post I had a throw-away line about the pension funds suing the folks involved in the sub-prime scandal, including the credit agencies that fraudulently rated the toxic junk as "AAA+ investment grade". At which point the argument "Free speech! Free speech!" comes up.

But: There is no free-speech protection when it comes to matters of fraud. It is already known fact obtained via discovery of internal documents in current lawsuits that the ratings agencies were awarding investment grades to bonds that even analysts in the company thought were risky. It's hard to describe that as anything other than fraud.

The ratings agencies have spent a large fortune these past two years fending off legal and political attacks upon their fraudulent ratings. Fraud -- willful deceit -- is not free speech. Fraud is crime -- a crime in all 50 states of the United States. There are numerous lawsuits by pension funds -- including the massive CalPERS pension fund -- against the credit rating agencies for their complicity in fraud. The sad thing is that we're not seeing criminal prosecutions too. . The notion that credit agencies should be immune to prosecution when they are clearly complicit in fraud by awarding investment grades to investments THAT THEY KNEW WERE NOT INVESTMENT GRADE is as daft as the notion that a con artist should be immune to prosecution because the mark shoulda known that it was a con.

- Badtux the Legal Penguin

Monday, March 07, 2011

Raw Scout

Okay, so I already recently did a Scout Niblett song. Just wanted to bring up one of her early songs from her second album, I Am, and compare it to yesterday's early Cat Power song. The difference between the two is that Scout's music has remained consistently raw since this album (in 2003) to her 2010 album The Calcination of Scout Niblett, where she is clearly more skillful at getting sounds out of her guitar and drum kit, but still has the same basic goal of sounding raw and noisy. Chan's music, on the other hand, got more polished and "pretty" as it went along and pretty much jumped ship to schmoozy and samey with 2006's The Greatest and 2008's Jukebox, and it's dubious that the new album she's supposed to be doing shortly will be any better.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

50 little Hoovers

When calculating from December 2007 -- the month that the National Bureau of Economic Research determined was the start of the Great Recession -- state and local government employment has fallen by 703,000 jobs amid a downturn that cost the nation more than 8 million jobs overall. In other words, almost 10% of unemployment is caused by state and local governments firing people. Wow. That is scary.

That's one of the tidbits from an excellent McClatchey article that speaks truth to talking points. It turns out there *isn't* an immediate pension crisis -- as with Social Security, if not a single thing were changed about state and local pensions, they're solvent for the near future and can pay at least 80% of benefits in the far future. And unlike Social Security, state and local pension funds will gain value as Wall Street goes up again and as they win their lawsuits against the bond rating agencies for rating trash as AAA securities, meaning that even that pessimistic take on their solvency probably isn't true.

-- Badtux the Fact-based Penguin

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Cold as ice

Cat Power, "Ice Water", off of the raw, sad, angry, and enigmatic album Myra Lee.

Chan did try to drink herself to death... and came out on the other side having pushed her demons deeper enough to make her music all schmoozy and samey, vs. the rawness of her early stuff. Why is it that some artists cannot create unless they are utterly miserable? I don't know... I guess there's just a sadness to this world, that's all, that can overwhelm some people to the point they have to write or sing about it, and once they find their way out of it they have no more reason to write or sing.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Are they made from real girl scouts?

Been in deep geek mode for most of the weekend, doing a major rebuild of my home network computing infrastructure. Details are at my professional blog, which I won't link to from here, but it involved a number of bleeding-edge technologies that help insure that I have no trouble getting another job if my current employer craters.

I just got back from the store. My neighborhood store is a shabby little local independent chain where the air of defeat is prominent in the air. Their prices are good, but they don't carry everything I want, so I went to a bigger regional chain to get a couple of things I needed. And standing outside the doors were those evil green-wearin' elves again... so now I have five boxes of Thin Mint cookies that need eating. See ya later :).

-- Badtux the Hungry Penguin

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Gothic clover

A creepy Southern Gothic Americana tune from a band of youngsters in Nashville, Buffalo Clover. This is "Simon Said". No idea if they've managed to get it on an album yet, check iTunes if interested in these youngster's stuff.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Crazy cat ladies come in the male variety too

Just sayin'.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Friday, March 04, 2011

Yummy heart

Scout Niblett, "Yummy", off her album This Fool May Die Now. Scout found a cellist!

Most... disturbing... love song I've encountered in a while.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Those patriotic Republicans

The Orange Boner refuses to let Frank Buckles lie in state at the Capitol. What's he afraid of, that other living WW1 veterans would want the same honor? Oh wait, that's right, there ARE no other living WW1 veterans!

The Rethugs talk a good game about being "patriotic real Americans", but when it comes time to put their actions where their mouth lives, well...

-- Badtux the Hypocrisy Penguin

Thursday, March 03, 2011

What's the matter with education?

So a student wasn't paying attention and the teacher picked up a desk, startling her. So what did she do? She ran to the loo and called 911, of course! She reported that her teacher was out of control, rampaging around the room throwing furniture around and cursing out students, and she was "scared". The cops arrived, found that the teacher was teaching to a quiet room with no rampaging maniac in sight, concluded there was no crime, and left.

Now, back when I was a kid, if I would not only have been eating dinner standing up that night because have been spending the next few days in my room -- *without* Nintendo, television, or any other entertainment. The teacher would have received an apology from me shortly thereafter, with my father pointedly hooking his thumb into his belt as his hand guided me by my neck to the proper spot to issue said apology. The school might or might not have suspended me. But that was before the days of touchy-feely "education", when it was expected that we would go into classrooms and behave like students, or else. Today? Not so much. The point of schools today, apparently is to make students feel "safe" so that we don't harm their "self esteem". And so a teacher who apparently is a fine teacher ends up suspended, and I'm sure the little actress who faked hysterics for 911 is smiling that she "got" the teacher who yelled at her.

-- Badtux the "Sometimes progress ain't" Penguin

Secrets

BettySoo, "Secrets", from her album Little Tiny Secrets. The lady can wail. From the most... un-Texas-looking... Texas singer-songwriter you'll ever come across.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Short answers to easy questions

When Mike Huckabee (R-Huckleberry) says that Obama grew up in Kenya, is he an idiot, or a liar?

Answer:

  • Yes.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Spoiled cats

Somehow I came across this motorized cat condo / tower / scratching post combination. I guess the reason I was Googling for cat accessories is because of Earthbound Misfit buying a heated cat bed for one of her cats.

No, I'm not going to buy one for my cats. Seriously. They might have a platinum water fountain and a motorized cat feeder, but they are *not* getting a motorized cat condo. No way, no how.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Shorter Bobo Brooks

Bobo Brooks, the "conventional wisdom" editorial page guy at the New York Times, in an editorial today said that we as a nation simply cannot afford to take care of the young, the vulnerable, the disabled, or the poorest of the poor anymore. Too bad for them. They don't have bread? Well...

Messenger: "Sire! The peasants are starving because they have no bread!"
Bobo: "Let them eat cake."

Just call it another attack of the Marie Antoinette Republicans, and leave it at that...

-- Badtux the "Anybody remember what happened to Marie?" Penguin

A bright torch

My Brightest Diamond with a three-song mini-concert, "Feeling Good", "Inside A Boy", and "Tainted Love"... forty years ago, she would have been singing jazz standards in small clubs as a pianist played. Today she plays small clubs too but they're a different kind of club... and a different kind of backing for Shara Worden's torch songs.

- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Sex obsessed

As I've previously pointed out, there's only one kind of person who obsesses about gay sex all the time, and that's someone who's gayer than the gay mayor of gaytown. Scratch a rightie who spends all his time obsessing about gay sex, find a gay person in a closet the size of a fucking ocean liner.

Similarly, there's only one kind of person who's obsessed with sex all the time, who talks of sex incessantly, who constantly pesters people about sex. And that's a pervert. Da Fixer at Alternate Brain points out a couple of right-wing perverts recently caught -- Juan Carlos Amaya who raped a 12-year-old girl who was in the church youth fellowship that he led, and Rev. Grant Storms, the Christian fundamentalist known for his bullhorn protests of the Southern Decadence festival in the French Quarter, who was caught jacking off as he watched children play at the playground.

It's interesting that religious ministries attract this kind of person, but not surprising. Any place that puts you in a position of power over young people, and where supervision is rare or non-existent, would attract these kinds of perverts. Religious ministries just happen to be the easiest way for these people to gain access to their fetish objects, who happen to be children in many cases, who happen to be forever scarred by what was done to them in many cases, but these kinds of predators don't really see their fetish objects as people, they don't actually believe any of the shit they spew about Christian love and shit, they're just in it for the strokes of their pistols...

-- Badtux the Sickened Penguin

In the night

Suzanne Vega, "Night Vision" off her best-selling album Solitude Standing. The world is darkness, and only night vision can let you see.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Joke going around

I have to do it too, because it's so true:

A unionized public employee, a member of the Tea Party, and a CEO are sitting at a table. In the middle of the table there is a plate with a dozen cookies on it. The CEO reaches across, takes 11 cookies, looks at the tea partier, and says, “Look out for that union guy, he wants a piece of your cookie.”

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin