Sunday, July 31, 2011

Just being lazy

The kabuki goes on in Washington. We have the circuses, but not the bread, apparently because the Vandals Republicans carried it all away when they looted Rome Washington. The only question is who plays the role of incompetent Valentinian III in this play, and who played the role of Pope Leo I and opened the gates to the barbarian hoard.

I am unmotivated to report on the decline of the empire. What can I say. So listen to some music. Meanwhile I'm going to go play a videogame or something mind-deadening like that.

-- Badtux the Unmotivated Penguin

Strange Candy

Lisa Germano, "Candy" off of her 2003 album Lullaby for Liquid Pig. Yet another creepy song where she whispers strange lyrics to haunting backing.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Yellow flight

The Innocent Mission, "Bright as Yellow", off their 1995 album Glow. They had temporarily moved a bit away from dream pop towards a more rock sound. That didn't last too long though, they retreated to a more eclectic sound afterwards.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Oh crap

Just changed the rear diff fluid in my Jeep. Managed to slice my finger open in the process. Fuck.

-- Badtux the Bloody Penguin

Shared sacrifice

So I got an email from a supposedly "progressive" member of Congress saying that any deal to raise the debt ceiling should include "shared sacrifice". Excuse me? You raise my taxes by 5%, that's not a shared sacrifice -- I'm in the top 10% of taxpayers, I plop a big chunk of change into savings every month because I have way more money than I need to live on. You cut an old person's Social Security benefits, that's not only shared sacrifice, that's lying and theft -- that person worked all his life paying into the Social Security fund expecting to get that money, and now you're yanking it away from him?

Funny how when folks talk about "shared sacrifice", it's only about how much the *poor* will sacrifice, because the supposed "sacrifice" that the rich would have to make is not one. I mean, if I can only put $2800/month into savings rather than $3000/month... some "sacrifice". Oh wah! Yeah, right. Meanwhile, you yank away old people's Medicare and make them wait for 2 more years to get it, and people *die*. But Republican lizard people apparently don't have a problem with that. They, like, get woodies the size of fucking TREES just thinking about dead corpses in the morning. All them old prunes just clog up the highways as they poke along in their old cars anyhow, right?

Meanwhile, as The Onion so accurately points out, Congress continues the debate over whether the country should be economically ruined. Oh joy.

-- Badtux the Unsacrificing Penguin

Friday, July 29, 2011

News Corp *really* pissed w/News of World reporters

... is now offering them plum positions in Siberia and similar shitholes vacation spots. Butte, Montana is the FBI's Siberia for disgraced agents, and it makes sense that News Corpse would have a similar place to send reporters it really, really wishes would resign but who for some reason aren't doing so. So now we know what News Corp's Siberia is for its reporters who land in its bad graces is. It's... uhm... Siberia ;).

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Desert cross

"Making A Cross", from The Desert Sessions #8. The vocalists here appear to be Alain Johannes and Mark Lanegan, both of whom met through Queens of the Stone Age, no idea who the musicians are. The Desert Sessions are basically a giant jam session where musicians came together just to jam and wrote songs on the spot, so I'd have to look at actual album credits on the actual physical album (which is rare and hard to get) to figure out who is who.

- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Righteous angel

Martha Scanlan is usually categorized as "Newgrass" or "Bluegrass", but that's a rather odd categorization. This is old-time country. OLD-time country.

"Guardian Angel", off her new series of songs Tongue River Stories that presumably will be on an album someday but right now appears available only via digital download. Hmm. Lot of that goin' around recently...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Israel faced with housing crisis

Young Israelis riot demanding housing.

The core problem is that the Palestinians built most of the modern infrastructure of the Middle East, including most of Israel's current housing. Palestinians are to construction in the Middle East what Mexicans are to farm work here in the United States -- they dominate the field. When the Israelis let a few Palestinian terrorists stampede them into shutting out the local Palestinians behind "security fences" that look an awful lot like concentration camp fences, they not only did not make Israel appreciably safer, they also shut out their main construction force. The result for the Israeli construction industry was pretty much like if you deported all the Mexicans from the American fields -- the amount of work they're capable of doing basically collapsed, because the supply of non-Palestinians experienced in construction was minuscule by comparison.

My take: If these young Israelis want housing, they best quit with all that university BS and study carpentry and masonry and roofing and other construction fields, because the internment of the Palestinians behind concentration camp fences and the resulting radicalization of Palestinians who were the previous construction work force means there ain't gonna be much buildin' going on otherwise. But wait, these are the same young people who whine and evade the draft because they might have to get dirty... hmm. Yeah, like they're going to get their lilly-white hands dirty in Israeli soil by doing something MENIAL like construction work? Puh-LEEZE!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Another right-wing terrorist attack

It didn't really make the news because there wasn't a body count like with the right-wing Norwegian terrorist, but the right-wing jihad against Planned Parenthood continues. Fire-bombing clinics barely even makes the news nowadays, it's so routine. Yet these are terrorist attacks. Not terribly effective ones because right-wingers tend to be morons, but terrorist attacks none the less.

-- Badtux the Terror Penguin


52% approve of God's job performance.

That's what passes for journalism in today's media. What next, a poll asking whether people approve of the Easter Bunny's job performance? Siiiiiigh.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Portentious ones

The Walkabouts, "The Last Ones", off their 2006 album Acetylene.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Pink explosion

The rose bush apparently likes the combination of fertilizer and water that it's getting, because it's literally exploded with pink flowers.

The star jasmine next door to it seems to be doing pretty good too. I keep having to hack it away from the rose bush though because it wants to totally take over the place...

-- Badtux the Gardening Penguin

Where the young people aren't

Some of the old-time Pacific Crest Trail hands are getting baffled about a new mystery: Where have all the young people gone? They say that you get more than a couple of days from any trailhead and all you see is old grey-bearded farts like them. They especially remark on the almost total lack of twenty-somethings.

Well, it's simple enough. This economy has been brutal to young people, especially young people with the job history of "trail trash". These young people used to take casual jobs for long enough to get a nut to hit the trail for a few months, then go back to work in the restaurant or outdoors industry when their nut ran out and do it again six months later. But the layoffs in other industries mean that employers have a huge pool of potential employees, most of who have experience and a job history that does *not* have a lot of gaps in it. So the twenty-somethings are at home, looking for even menial restaurant jobs, they're not at work or on the trail. It's gotten to the point where a lot of them are complaining that the Boomers rolled up the economic carpet behind them, leaving younger people only with the carpet lint, because there just aren't any jobs to have if you're a twenty-something who isn't spawn of one of our elite feudal overlords.

And for the thirty and forty-somethings, they have jobs and they have kids and they'd prefer to keep their jobs thank you very much, which means they aren't taking their vacations because then their boss might realize that they are not, in fact, indispensable. Leaving fifty-somethings. Who if they lose their job are in the same position as twenty-somethings except that they'll likely *never* have another job because employers apparently believe that grey hairs force all the brains out of your head into your Depends. So you got a buyout at work, you have a too-big house that you can sell for $100K or so more than you owe on it, you got another hundred thou in your retirement account, you're healthy, you have ten years to wait for retirement and $20K/year to do it with, and you've always liked backpacking and wilderness camping but never had time to do much of it... why *not* sell everything you own and hit the trail?

Of course, this is no way to run an economy. If nobody can afford recreation yet there's a surplus of unemployed people, there's not going to be any demand, and it's demand that creates jobs, not rich people. Because businesses aren't charities. They hire the people they need to meet demand for their goods or services, no more, no less. No demand, no hiring. Give'em a tax break and they'll pocket it, so tax breaks aren't going to make them hire. People buying stuff is going to make them hire. Recreation is one of those areas where people buy stuff, but if nobody has any money for it other than a buncha grey-beards waiting out their time to Social Security... well. How is that going to create jobs?

-- Badtux the Economics Penguin

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Passionate road

Adrienne Young and her band are on for this rendition of her song "River and A Dirt Road". Not referencing the album it first appeared on because this isn't the album version, it's a more recent live arrangement that was optimized for the lineup of her band at that particular point in time. Sometimes I like the live arrangement better than the album arrangement. Like for most of Townes van Zandt's songs, which really worked better live IMHO. So it goes.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Moderation turned on

Hopefully temporarily, but got tired of deleting nonsense after the fact. The upside is that anonymous comments are enabled for those who don't feel like logging in.

-- Badtux the Spammed Penguin

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ghosts in the walls

One of the things about network servers is that you don't really think about where they are. Okay, so I have a source control server that I use at work that keeps our source code. Where is it physically located? I know what subnet it's connected to, but that subnet serves two whole labs plus a storage area. Where is the machine physically located?

Sometimes this is hilarious, like when a university discovered their most reliable server drywalled into a wall four years after it had been last seen. But one thing I'll note is that virtualization has given us an even better way of doing things. Now we can lose virtual machines in a whole cloud of hosts! Which host is a virtual machine on? Only the Shadow knows :).

-- Badtux the Geeky Penguin

Oh the drama

Anybody else sick of those drama queens on Capitol Hill hamming it up on the whole debt limit thing? Jeezus. Sir Orange Boner is chewing up more scenery than a hoard of Oompa Loompas high on sugar cookies. Then there's the rest of the Capitol Hill gang doing their best to hog as many cameras as the King of Oompa Loompas does.

It's as if they don't realize that, uhm, there's some real problems that are going to happen if they don't get their asses back to work and fix this shit for another few years. Like, checks are gonna stop going out on August 2. Like, Social Security checks won't go out. Medicaid and Medicare checks won't go out to providers. The entire Federal Government pretty much shuts down, because there's only enough money coming in for around 40% of what the government does -- there isn't even enough money in that pot to fully fund the military, the only thing the right-wingers admit is acceptable for government to do. Do these drama queens really think they're gonna come out smellin' like roses when Granny doesn't get her check and hoards of prunes with plenty of time on their hands descend on Capitol Hill and start clogging the halls with their Hoverrounds? WTF?

-- Badtux the Baffled Penguin

Teh Crazy, it burns, it burns...

Glenn Beck compares the dead in Norway to Hitler Youth.

I don't get it. What's his point? That it was okay for a tall blond Norwegian to kill all those kids because they were liberals? That's the only thing I can figure from what he said.

We see where eliminationist rhetoric gets you -- it gets you Timothy McVeigh and Anders Behring Breivik and a lot of dead children. But Beck apparently has no problem with that, from what I can tell.

-- Badtux the Unsurprised (if appalled) Penguin

A prayer in the deep

Leonard Cohen, "If It Be Your Will", off of Various Positions.

Religion has been a plague upon this planet since its first invention by elites intent upon controlling the people via the power of rank superstition. Yet the fundamental urges addressed by religion -- the mystery of being, the mysteries of the human heart and of human existence -- lead to some religious art and music being profound and deep. I need not be religious to appreciate this somber prayer. I need only be human.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A seduction

Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan with "Come On Over" off their album Sunday At Dirt Devil. Just more on the R&B/jazz inspired pop deal, given yesterday's tune.

- Badtux the Music Penguin

Saturday, July 23, 2011

No good

Amy Winehouse, "You Know I'm No Good", off of 2006's Back to Black. Just a bit of re-programming of today's music for obvious reasons...

- Badtux the Music Penguin

Not surprised

Amy Winehouse dead at age 27.

Ten years from now, nobody will even remember her name, unlike Janis Joplin or Jimi Hendrix, both of whom also died at age 27. If anybody does remember her, it will be for her prodigious crack habit, not her music. So it goes. Just another dead body that the music industry has sucked up then spit out the dried-out husk at the end.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, July 22, 2011

Flightless in America

Yay, the Senate goes home without re-authorizing the FAA.

Nice time to be a flightless waterfowl. If this shutdown of the FAA continues, you're *all* going to be flightless. Yeah, ATC is still gonna be up and running, and TSA is run by Homeland Security so isn't affected, but things like pilot certifications, aircraft worthiness tests, and so forth won't be happening. If you don't have your check ride and ticket from the FAA, you don't fly -- period. And that needs to be renewed *yearly*, so in a month or so a large number of airline pilots are suddenly not going to be rated to fly the jet they're flying -- and they won't be able to legally fly. And won't fly. And neither will you.

Just another gift from the Republican refusal to govern...

-- Badtux the Flightless Penguin

Gangster blue

There's a Greek gangster series, sort of the Greek version of The Sopranos, which has a really cool soundtrack. Sorry, I don't know how to render its name in the Roman alphabet, but you've already seen one of the tracks from its soundtrack -- the Walkabouts' "A Life full of Holes". This is another one. Madrugada was a Norwegian band active from 1995 to 2007, and this is "Strange Color Blue" off their 1999 album Industrial Silence.

- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday Cat Blogging

The Mighty Fang naps.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Final days of a crumbling empire

The last Space Shuttle lands for the last time, putting an end to the ability of the U.S. to put men into space, probably forever. If we ever want to aim high again, we'll need to hitch a ride with the Russians, Chinese, or maybe even India (which is working on their own manned rocket).

Meanwhile, the U.S. slides ever-so-closer to default as Congress refuses to authorize the President to borrow the money that Congress authorized (*and required*) the President to spend, just as Congress refused to authorize the President to raise taxes for the things Congress authorized (*and required*). So basically Congress has put the President into a position where whatever he does is illegal -- if he doesn't spend the money he's in violation of the law (which requires him to spend the money), if he borrows the money to fulfill the requirement to spend the money he's in violation of the law (which prohibits him from borrowing the money after August 2). Yet Obama doesn't seem to understand what the Republicans are trying to do to him and keeps pretending they're being reasonable by making it illegal for him to be President. Unfathomable...

It is one of the oddities of empire that as entrenched elites become wealthier and the common people become more impoverished due to the concentration of wealth, the elites suddenly decide that they don't have to pay taxes. Various Chinese dynasties fell because of this, as did the Roman empire -- Rome fell because Rome's elites decided they no longer wished to pay taxes for the support of the legions that protected them from barbarians, and the legions responded, when not paid, by marching on Rome and installing one of themselves as Emperor for a while until the elites could figure out how to get him out of there. Or by deserting under the "no pay, no play" rule. It got to the point where they assassinated their last competent general for making the mistake of coming to Rome *without* his legion to ask for his pay. The end result was that Rome went from being a city of over 1,000,000 in 300 AD to being maybe 40,000 people huddled in a heavily-armed camp in the ruins by 500 AD. Where did everybody else go? The smarter ones moved to the country and learned how to be subsistence farmers. The rest died, including most of those elites who thought they were immune to reality by virtue of their wealth and birth. Didn't quite work that way. Duh.

So it goes, as our own elites go down that same damned path to mass extinction. Taking the rest of us with them, alas, the way it usually goes.,

- Badtux the Gloomy Penguin

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Old Rockabilly Dude still rocks

He may be old, fat, and playing for mostly-empty small clubs, but Dex Romweber still rocks.

This is the Dex Romweber Duo, playing their single "The Wind Did Move". The version you can get from iTunes includes Jack White adding additional guitars and howls.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

The difference

So the latest right-wing meme is, "there's no difference between what the Murdochs did and what Wikileaks did."

Uhm, excuse me? First, let's look at what the Morlocks did. They hacked into the voice mail of a child kidnapping victim so that they could create a more sensationalist story to use to scare people into accepting tyranny in order to "keep the children safe". They also hacked into the personal phones of the Royal Family, attempted to hack the phones of 9/11 victims, and otherwise hacked into the phones of ordinary people. Furthermore, all this was being done for profit. Profiting from the tragedies of others is what jackals, hyenas, and vultures do -- and you'll note that none of those critters have good PR.

Meanwhile, whoever leaked those cables to Wikileaks leaked information that already belonged to We The People, that was being kept from us by people who had no right to keep that information from us. Those cables were between government officials who were supposedly representing We The People. Furthermore, whoever divulged these cables did so not for profit, but because he believed that We The People deserved to know what our government was actually doing, as vs. what it said it was doing. Divulging information that we already own as a public service is a quite different thing entirely from invading the privacy of ordinary people for profit.

Why do right wingers continually bring up these false equivalencies? It's as if you're talking about cars, and suddenly they say "it's not true that a Jeep is the best offroad vehicle, because a burro will go places that a Jeep won't go." Uhm, yeah. But we were talking about cars, not critters. Just as, with the Morlock stuff, we're talking about spying on ordinary people, not about divulging information already owned by We The People. Apples. Bicycles. Just sayin'.

-- Badtux the Equivalencies Penguin

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Random rant

Toddlers in restaurant... allowed to feed themselves, the table, the floor, and everybody at the surrounding tables. Look, folks. Toddlers do what toddlers do. You don't hand an arsonist a match and a gas can, and you don't hand a toddler a saucer with chocolate pudding heaped on it. It just isn't responsible. At the very least, think about the poor minimum-wage wage slave who's going to have to clean up that shit. Do you have a maid at home or somethin'? 'Cause that's the only thing I can figure, if you're gonna do stupid shit like that.

And don't get me started on the ginormous baby SUV's that clog up the sidewalks today. My mom got by with a standard folding stroller and a diaper bag (a *real* diaper bag, remember, no disposable diapers back then in the neolithic). What's with these fucking *tanks* complete with built-in toys for your precious spawn? Uh... people. Did you know that even the dumbest fucking retard in the State Home for the Mentally Feeble can pop out babies? Did you know that? You think you're special 'cause you managed to do something that a half billion other women do every fucking year? Get over yourself, already, 'kay?

-- Badtux the Misanthropic Penguin


Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions, "Blue Bird", off their album Through the Devil Softly.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Geek fail

Okay, I've been playing with Fedora 15 Linux and their brand new ultra-cool Gnome Shell, which re-imagines how you interact with windows and virtual screens. It's really neat. It's got lots of cool ideas that Apple and Microsoft are ripping off for their next releases. Too bad I can't read my email on Linux.

I mean, c'mon. This is just ridiculous. You got this ultra-cool user interface and then you can't even read your fucking EMAIL?! Talk about pathetic! I mean, the three things that *everybody* does on a computer are... browse the Web (okay, Google Chrome does pretty well there), write documents (OpenOffice/LibreOffice does okay there), and read email. So what does Linux have for reading email? It has Thunderbird -- a re-implementation of the Netscape circa 1998 mail reader (as in, today's college graduates were in THIRD GRADE when it was created!), and Evolution, a clone of Microsoft Outlook 2003 -- gosh, *only* eight years obsolete. Evolution, as befits its creaky vintage, won't connect properly to any version of Microsoft Exchange email server later than Exchange 2003 (and our corporate email is Exchange 2007 -- too bad for me, huh?), while Thunderbird says "Exchange? What's that?" because, doh, Microsoft hadn't even invented Exchange at the the time Thunderbird was invented, back in the days when Larry and Serg were geeky college students at Stanford University rather than filthy rich multi-billionaires, there was no such thing as, and Yahoo was the way you searched the web.

So what's the response of the Linux types when I ask, "dudes! Where's my email?" Well, it's, like, "why would anybody want to read corporate email from Linux?" Just complete and utter bafflement that anybody would want to do such a thing. And if you say "but Linux is useless on the corporate desktop if you can't read your corporate emaiL!", then they pull out their ultimate trump card: "If you want a great email program for Linux, write one yourself!" Uhm, yeah. Right. Look. You give me a budget of $2,000,000, four of the most gifted engineers that I know, one of the most gifted QA types that I know, and one of the most gifted IT types that I know, and I will have you a world-class email reading program in 18 months. Guaranteed. But the days of one single person writing a world-class GUI-based program in his back room are over. You do the math. That's 90 man-months of work. That's 7.5 *YEARS* of work for one person. Err... yeah. Not happening. If I could interest other Linux geeks in the problem that'd be one thing. But Linux geeks appear more interested in making sure that Linux runs fast on 1024-core processors. Apparently they're fine with using to read their email, because they're sure not reading it on their Linux systems.

- Badtux the Geeky Penguin

Bubba lived

This is one of Patterson Hood's "story songs" about a real person, Atlanta musician Greg "Bubba" Smalley, who didn't wear a rubber once, got AIDS, and responded by playing a show every night for the next year and a half until he dropped dead on stage.

This is "The Living Bubba", from the Drive By Truckers' first album, Gangstabilly. By and large not their best, but Patterson Hood considers this to be one of his best songs and almost always plays it during one of DBT's sets.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin


I don't owe any money on anything for the first time in my adult life. Feels odd. Almost un-American. Guess that means I need to go out and borrow a lot of money to buy a house or something, so I can be a debt slave like every red-blooded American is supposed to be ;).

-- Badtux the Naked Penguin

Monday, July 18, 2011

The march of progress

Above: President Obama comforts a woman in the aftermath of the Missouri tornados

Fifty years ago, they would have lynched any black man who dared hug a white woman.

Think about that. Yeah, the regressives have made a ton of political progress over the past fifty years, but on the social front? They're losing. They're losing big. Homosexuality is no longer a disease to be cured, women work outside the home and have careers and some even choose to not be wombs on legs (gasp!), and it's no longer acceptable to use the N-word in polite company. Why, one of those darkies can even be elected preznit of teh United States!

Is it any wonder why the right-tards are blowing fuses and trying their best to blow up the country? Their ideas have largely been relegated to the dust-bin of history. They're just trying to make sure the rest of us end up there too.

-- Badtux the On-the-positive-side Penguin

An angel

Albeit a misguided one...

Cowboy Junkies, "Misguided Angel", off their 1988 album The Trinity Session.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Thoughts on Bastille Day

Bastille Day, July 14, was the beginning of the end for the French Monarchy. It was also the start of a bloody revolution that ended up with millions dead. The dictatorship and mass murder that followed was typical of the dismal aftermath of every single such armed revolution that I’ve ever studied.

That’s why right-wingers disgust me so much, because their policies of “let them eat cake” and dismissive sneers at the plight of the poor always lead to such bloodshed because, here’s a clue: human beings do not voluntarily just sit down and die just because right wingers think the poor are excess population if they can’t feed themselves. They will do anything — ANYTHING — they think will increase their chances of survival. Including following the sorts who always end up in charge of these violent revolutions — sorts who are not, as a rule, nice people.

My opinion of this aftermath of violent revolution is irrelevant, because reality simply is, and doesn't require the approval of myself nor the approval of right wingers. Reality is that if you treat your population with disdain as they starve, your population will rise up and bloodshed will happen. It’s called CAUSE AND EFFECT. If there’s lots of humidity in the air and a cold front comes through, it rains. If there’s lots of poverty in the population and the royalty says “Let them eat cake”, bloodshed happens. Whether I or right wingers approve of it or not is irrelevant, it rains (water or blood) just as hard. Reality simply is.

-- Badtux the Reality-based Penguin


The Walkabouts, "Sweet Revenge", off their 1993 album New West Motel.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Exhausting work

Over at Moto-Tux, I modify my exhaust pipe to deal with trail damage from last week. Still left to do is to fix my right front fender flare, where a tree jumped in front of me last week and crumpled it a little. A bit of work with a heat gun and leather gloves should fix that.

Meanwhile I'm washing clothes. Here's The Mighty Fang sleeping on the mighty Warm Vibrating Catalounger, just barely cracking his eyeballs to look at me because he heard me walk in over the sound of the catalounger (which doubles as my clothes dryer):

Hmm, maybe I should take a nap myself on this sunny beautiful Caturday afternoon...

-- Badtux the Busy Penguin

Friday, July 15, 2011

Bad fairy tale

Some punk grrll band called Babes in Toyland, with "Handsome + Gretel". This is the demo of a song in 1991 that later ended up on the 2000 compilation album Viled.

Kat Bjelland taught Courtney Love how to scream. But Kat was more interested in being in a band than in being famous, so they had a falling out. We all know what happened after that -- Courtney became famous, and Kat... well.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What is a bank?

Over the years I've seen a lot of confusion about what a bank is. Some of this is deliberate on the part of banks -- they'd prefer that customers not know what a bank is. Some of this is just pure ignorance on the part of the general public, which simply doesn't spend any time wondering, "what is a bank?".

So, first of all, let's talk about what a bank is not:

  • A bank is not a safety deposit box. When you deposit money in a bank, it doesn't stay in a vault somewhere, it gets loaned to someone or otherwise invested.
  • A bank is not a charity. They pay you interest on the money you deposit because they've loaned out that money for higher interest, not out of the goodness of their heart.

So let's talk about "deposits". Banks intentionally use that term to imply that your money gets put into a vault. But the actuality is that you are loaning money to the bank. The bank is paying you interest because that's what happens when you loan money to someone -- they pay you interest. Otherwise, why loan your money? The bank is then taking all of these loans that they got from thousands of people, and then lending out the sum total (minus some reserves) to thousands of other people at a higher interest rate. The bank then makes its living on the spread between what it pays for money ( the interest they pay you ), and what they earn on their loans (the interest their borrowers pay).

At this point, the question becomes, if the bank is lending money at 14% to credit card customers, and is paying you 1% for your deposit, why don't you just lend the money directly yourself and earn that 14% yourself? Well, uhm... because 20% of credit card customers default in the course of a year, and if you lent your money to Joe Deadbeat, you'd be out of 100% of your money? By aggregating the money from thousands of people together, each individual only loaned a few pennies to Joe Deadbeat. In short, a bank is a risk aggregation mechanism that reduces the individual risk of your lending money by aggregating your money and spreading it across thousands of loans, so that any single loan defaulting affects you very little (basically a few pennies less interest next month).

Now, note that I'm talking about an idealized version of banks. So... why are banks in trouble now? It's because they diverged from that idealized version of banking, and instead started gambling with your money. Instead of looking for credit-worthy borrowers, they started buying and selling risky securities on the open market. Amongst other risky securities, they bought trillions of dollars worth of collateralized AAA-tranche "liar loans" from non-bank 3rd parties like Countrywide Financial gambling that residential housing was going to increase in value so that when the foreclosure happened, the houses could be sold for more than the value of the loans. They gambled big, *TRILLIONS* of dollars big. And they lost their gamble -- the housing market ran out of willing suckers to overpay for houses, the price of housing plummeted as houses came on the market with nobody to buy them and sat there and sat there and sat there until foreclosure and dump, and they lost their shirts when the liar loans went bad and those collateralized AAA-tranche liar loans became worth pennies on the dollar.

So anyhow, that's the deal. You're not "depositing" your money in a bank. You're loaning your money to a bank. Banks don't tell you that because they want you to think your money's going into a big vault. But of course that's not where it's going -- it's going to buy bundled liar loans. Or was, anyhow -- not anymore, now it's going on deposit at the Federal Reserve because with consumption at modern lows and regulators no longer allowing them to lend money to deadbeats, there's a shortage of credit-worthy people borrowing money.

-- Badtux the Economics Penguin

Giving, Taking

Mojave 3, "Give What You Take", off their album Out of Tune. Which isn't. Just some country rock, y'all, from the world's most unlucky band...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Long day at work

Just got home. I hate, hate, HATE it when critical infrastructure goes down and you're the only one who knows how to fix it...

-- Badtux the Tired Penguin


Yesterday's song reminded me of Portishead. So here we are, Beth Gibbons singing a trip-hop torch song, "Humming", off their self-titled second album (Portishead, duh!). No idea what the video is about. Beth isn't dark-haired and is rather wispy, so that's not her... just listen to the music, 'kay?

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Theory of the Grifter Class

Thorstein Veblen would have a field day today. All the conditions he mentioned in his 1899 book Theory of the Leisure Class are back again -- except today's grifter class is even more rapacious in their grifting than the class that he described.

The deal, the deal... see, here's the deal with grifters: They don't make anything. They don't create anything. They don't produce anything. They are consumers of wealth, not producers of wealth. Every bit of wealth they have was created by someone else.

I've mentioned this before -- about how the wealthy are a drag on the economy because they produce income with their wealth at less than half the rate of the rest of us, about how they don't produce anything but, rather, steal the produce of other people's labor. People like Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines, who isn't rated to fly an airliner, who would have no airline if not for the pilots and mechanics and stewards and stewardesses who staff his airline, but who gets the profits of their labor? Not the people who make the planes fly. Rather, Richard Branson, who simply sits back and grifts the wealth produced by the labor of others. Similarly, real estate developers. They don't build houses. Framers and roofers and concrete men and plumbers and electricians and HVAC people build houses. All that real estate developers do is sit back and grift the profits of the wealth created by their workers, but if it wasn't for the framers and roofers and etc., there would be no houses for real estate moguls to profit from.

Of course, the ultimate grifters are on Wall Street. These people don't even have the decency to hire people who actually create anything. They simply stand in the middle of the movement of wealth from point A to point B and grift little bits of it into their own pockets. Yet how many banksters are going to jail? None. Because in Griftopia, the grifters rule and often grift a million a dollars per day of the wealth that we workers create, and those of us who are actually workers -- who actually go to work every day and create something, build something, provide some service that people actually want and need, who actually create the wealth that the grifters are profiting from -- will never see a million dollars in a year no matter how hard we work to generate things that are actually useful.

Welcome to Griftopia, citizen. Report to your nearest feudal overlord ASAP to be given your serfdom assignment, thank you very much.

-- Badtux the Serfin' USA Penguin

Forgotten torch

This is Devics, "Birdback", off of If You Forget Me. Some gorgeous dark film noir...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, July 11, 2011

Libertarians and the Internet

Once upon a time, ladies and gentlemen, the Internet did not exist. I know, hard to believe, but true, there was at one point in time no such thing as the Internet!

Indeed, until 1993 it was actually illegal for private individuals to hook up to the ARPANET/NFSNET. The notion was that this would be unfair competition to the private networks, folks like Tymshare, Telenet, Compuserv, AOL, and so forth.

At which point you say, "Who?!" Exactly. See, the deal is that private industry didn't see any profit in connecting individuals together. All of the technology we use today for the Internet existed back then, and these networks had that technology -- the long haul T1 / T3 lines, the modem pools, and so forth. But they wouldn't connect to each other. If you had a Tymshare account, you couldn't talk to someone who had a Telenet account. Someone who had a Telenet account couldn't talk to someone who had a Compuserve account. Someone who had a Compuserve account couldn't talk to someone who had an AOL account. And so on and so forth. After all, they could lose customers to Compuserv if Compuserv customers could still send email to all their friends on AOL. Where was the profit in that?

The reality is that if Al Gore had not opened up the NFSNET to interconnection so that private ISP's could connect their own networks to the NFSNET backbone, there would be no Internet today. The problem that kept the private networks from interconnecting was the deadbeat problem. Smaller ISP's would benefit more from interconnecting to larger ISP's than vice-versa, so why would larger ISP's do so? But by providing a means for the smaller ISP's to communicate with each other, the Clinton Administration created a large enough "pseudo-ISP" that the larger ISP's *had* to interconnect with the nascent Internet. The magical Free Market Fairy simply would have never done it -- remember, the technology of the modern Internet was TEN YEARS OLD by the time the Clinton Administration opened up the NFSNET interconnection exchanges. The Free Market Fairy had ten years to create the Internet out of all those independent networks -- and failed. Because, see, fairies are IMAGINARY. Duh! And there simply was no PROFIT in connecting these independent networks -- until the Clinton Administration let all the smaller networks hook together via the NFS interchange points and created such a large mass that the big ISP's had to join too or be rendered irrelevant.

SO: The Internet would not exist without government. There simply is no profit motive that would have created the Internet without the government intervention of providing that initial interconnection backbone. So my Libertarian infestation is using a government creation to.... criticize government. That's such a hilarious bit of hypocrisy that it takes the breath away, but not particularly unusual. Libertarians tend to be blind that way.

-- Badtux the Technology Geek Penguin

A drive through the woods

Highlights of Saturday's excursion into the Sierras, with emphasis upon the obstacles that are enough to keep the idiot tourons from getting back there and trashing the place, but not hard enough to tempt the idiot hardcore 4x4 types to drive back there and trash the place. By and large it's just a nice drive through the woods with a pleasant picnic and camping area at the end.

-- Badtux the Jeepin' Penguin

Breaking Paint

WTF?! The first time I mentioned Warpaint on this blog, they were an obscure female-fronted indy band that nobody had ever heard of. When did they get big enough to get 1.5 million hits on YouTube?!

This is "Elephants", off their EP Exquisite Corpse from 2007. They recently released their first album, The Fool. I'm going to have to program something off of it.

- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Nothing worth anything

Mazzy Star, "Take Everything", off of their last album, 1996's Among My Swan.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Back in town

Took a nice little Jeep expedition. Managed to drag a tow hook and bring home a big glop of mud, found that my tailpipe is hanging too low and is too long with the new gas tank tuck (it got a divot on its top from my *other* tow hook), managed to hit a tree with one of my front fender flares when I didn't compute my cut just right and put a wrinkle into it as well as popped out one of the screws holding it. I found out that my tow hooks are now what limits my departure angle since the gas tank is no longer hanging down. Nothing not fixable with a sawzall, a heat gun, and removing those stupid tow hooks, which really aren't necessary because I have a receiver hitch D-ring...

I see I got a Libertarian invasion while I was out of town. Like rats, those Libertarians are, constantly moving in and trashing lesser blogs with their incessant prattling about how the solution to all problems is Santa Claus (oops, "Free market", same thing), how pink unicorns shitting rainbows will solve the problems that Santa doesn't solve (oops, "charity", my bad), and their whining about how paying their share of what it takes to keep a civilization running is "slavery" (a whining that they do using a network originally created by tax money, astoundingly enough). I guess I'll need to dust out the place and spray a little of the insecticide of reality and facts around here, that usually keeps the infestation down to the point of reasonableness. I swear, you spend a day enjoying yourself with a bunch of fellow Jeepers and come back and the children have trashed the place. Siiiigh!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Hurtful drugs

This is Drugstore, with "Baby Don't Hurt Yourself", off their 2001 album Songs for the Jet Set.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, July 08, 2011


Sarah Jarosz, "Run away", off her new album Follow Me Down. The album version adds electric guitar and drums to this acoustic version, but it's a great song either way. Call it "Newgrass" I suppose, or just call it music.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

The War on Social Security and Medicare

Well, we hear now that Obama might "compromise" on these. Uhm... say wha? Is he wanting to be a one-term President? If so, a simpler way might be to do a LBJ and simply resign, yo! Because Social Security and Medicare are wildly popular for a simple reason -- *everybody* will eventually get old and receive them. And their problems are easily solved by simple mechanisms -- simply removing the income cap will keep Social Security solvent beyond the lifespan of every American living today, and Medicare can be kept solvent for at least the next 20 years via simply changing the drug program to have it administered via the same process that the VA's drug program is administered (i.e., competitive bidding), rather than the current "pay anything the drug companies demand" process. There's no need or reason to cut benefits on *either* of them.

I honestly don't "get" what the libertarian and GOP types and their sycophants are thinking when it comes to Social Security and Medicare. Everybody eventually becomes old and feeble and unable to work and has medical problems that exceed their income. Everybody. Old age and death are the fate of everybody living today. What that means is that every single one of these people trying to destroy Social Security and Medicare are trying to destroy something that they themselves will benefit from in the end. It's as if they're holding a loaded pistol to their own head and saying "Your money or your life"!

So... what's the deal here? Are libertarians convinced they will never get old and thus will never need Social Security and Medicare? Given the suicidal and defeatist nature of their philosophy I suppose that's possible -- they appear to be the sort of ideologues who would voluntarily do a Hunter S. Thompson and take a pistol through their head if they got to be too old and feeble to work anymore -- but for the rest of us, it looks like they're nuttier than a bag full of peanuts, yo.

-- Badtux the Baffled Penguin

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Life in an Indian call center

Mother Jones goes undercover to reveal what's *really* happening when you're talking to "Marty" who happens to be in an Indian call center.

One question I'd like to answer, asked by one of the Indian call center workers: "I have experienced some Americans—please don't mind—they don't like Indians. They act rude as soon as they come to know I am Indian. Why is this?"

Well, it's simple. Until the past 15 years or so, call centers were located in places like Phoenix and San Antonio, places with a low cost of living and a large supply of skilled labor that migrated to them from surrounding regions. Call center jobs provided the first jobs for a lot of folks who didn't graduate from a top-ranked university with the best grades but were more than qualified to talk to other Americans in an understandable and comprehensible way to solve their problems.

So now the call centers have largely moved to India, and where are those workers? Many of them went back home, and they're bitter that their jobs were filled with Indian call center workers. Furthermore, they perceive the Indians as doing a worse job than they did -- Indian call centers rarely have the ability to escalate problems to people who know enough to actually resolve them, and the calls are so scripted that they seem insulting to many Americans. It all boils down to, "that Indian has *MY* job." It's got nothing to do with you, Shail. It's all about the process you represent -- the process of disemploying Americans for the benefit of a powerful elite who care nothing about America and Americans, and everything about extracting as much money as they can from America by any means possible.

-- Badtux the Mercenary Penguin


Staying on the Austin singer-songwriter theme, here's Slaid Cleaves, "Sinner's Prayer", off his album Wishbones. A fine performance, fine songwriting, why hasn't anybody heard of this guy?!

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Libertarian solutions

So there's big social problems. Things like drug abuse, hungry children, handicapped adults with no family to care for them, elderly people no longer capable of working who need care, poor and unemployed, the homeless, so forth. So a Balloon Juice commentator says, "What's the Libertarian solution to all this? They're silent on all these social problems!"

Err.... no. I beg to differ. Libertarians do have a solution to the problem of, say, the homeless... to shrug and say “they’ve always been poor, they always will be, there’s nothing to be done.” I.e., Libertarian philosophy at its base is a defeatist philosophy that insists that there are no solutions to large social problems, so we shouldn’t even try to solve them as a society.

As such, Libertarianism is a foreign import to the America that once was, a can-do America where it was simply presumed that America and Americans could do anything they put their mind to. Dig a canal across Panama despite the fact that two other nations had attempted to do so and failed. Can do! But that America is, apparently, dead, leaving us with this defeatist Libertarian philosophy that is fundamentally a can’t-do philosophy. So it goes.

– Badtux the Can-do Penguin

A small voice

Betty Soo with Randy Weeks, "Still Small Voice". Some nice gee-tar and singin'.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Protecting the children

Turns out the Aussies are as big on criminalizing grannies and granpas as Texans are. So they're taking a granny to trial for having a baggie of weed in her purse, just like Texas is taking Willie Nelson to trial for having a sack of weed on his tour bus. Australia is like Texas, except bigger and with a stranger accent. Who coulda know?

But we must protect the children from the horrors of pot-smoking grannies and granpas or... or... they might get mellow! (Because to smoke enough pot to OD on it, you'd have to smoke your body weight in pot within a 12 hour period, and it turns out pot is less carcinogenic than 100% legal cigarettes, so clearly there's no health reason to make it illegal). But of course Puritans everywhere labor under the fear that someone, somewhere, is having a good time, and insist that this must be stopped. Alrighty, then!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Life in prison for a miscarriage?

Whenever someone says "there's no difference between Republicans and Democrats", I want to rub their nose in things like this. Yes, the Democrats suck. But at least they're not trying to put 15 year old girls into prison for murder because the girl miscarried (well, she's 21 now, but she was 15 when she miscarried). As sucky as the Democrats are, they're right now the only thing that stands between us and the Republic of Gilead, where women are chattel useful only for their vaginas.

-- Badtux the Practical Penguin

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Gospel according to Westboro B.C.

Okay, not exactly, but the Austin Lounge Lizards snark about all the self-righteous jerks who claim that if you're not exactly like them and don't believe exactly like them, you're gonna fry.

This is "Jesus Loves Me But He Can't Stand You". Enjoy ;).

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

This is just mean

Texas judge refuses plea deal in Willie Nelson marijuana case. Judge Becky Dean-Walter of Hudspeth County, Texas says that Willie ought to get the electric chair for his crimes against the nation. Or something like that. Because, y'know, smokin' some weed on the ole' tour bus hurts so many people...

Meanwhile, a child killer in Florida walks free... gotta have priorities, folks, everybody knows that getting mellow is a worse crime than killing your own child! Alrighty, then...

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Monday, July 04, 2011

Panoramic Valley

Click on the image to embiggen it. Note that this is a downsized version of the original, which was 4912x1090 pixels.

This panorama is courtesy of my new Sony DSC-HX100V camera. You set the dial mode switch to "Intelligent Panorama", hit the button, and sweep it slowly but steadily across the scene, and it automagically stitches multiple images together into a panorama.

Oh yah, it was cooler today than yesterday, but I went out to Point Reyes anyhow.

-- Badtux the Vacationing Penguin

The once-great U S of A

James McMurtry "We can't make it here".

One of the most bitter songs about the current state of the USA that I've heard in a long time...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, July 03, 2011

White kids

The only way they could be whiter would be if they got spraypainted with white house paint.

Yeah, I'm back from the beach. Now chillin' in 70F weather here in Santa Clara, after a day that hit 95 or so at my place. It was 65F at the beach, BTW. Nice and pleasant as long as you wear sleeves...

-- Badtux the Chillin' Penguin

Rockets red glare

Most of Chan Marshall's early songs were angry, alienated, sad, and/or disturbing. This is one of the few that is actually somewhat wistful.

Cat Power, "Rockets", off her first two albums Myra Lee and Dear Sir (which were recorded in the same two-day recording session). Tim Foljahn is the second guitar (Chan's guitar is the jangly one, a characteristic sound of her old Silvertone), Sonic Youth's Steve Shelley is the drummer.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Parboiled Penguin

Yesterday was friggin' *HOT* here in the Silly Cone Valley, and I was out in my driveway most of the day installing a new gas tank skid plate on my Jeep. Hard to be a shade tree mechanic when you don't have a shade tree -- my driveway is full sun :( .

I had a blog post in mind that I wanted to write yesterday, but given that the weather forecast for today is "Bake" too, I'm heading to the beach instead. 'Bye!

-- Badtux the Parboiled Penguin

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Paranoid trash

This is "Paranoid", off of Garbage's second album Garbage 2.0. And Shirley Manson may be a paranoid red-head, but this isn't trash, that's for sure!

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, July 01, 2011

Curved Link

Early 90's British group Curve, with "Missing Link" off their 1993 album Cuckoo. Supposedly after spending all day getting dowsed with water during the shooting of this video Toni Halliday and crew all came down with the flu...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Yet more mission creep

U.S. Marine Corps wants world's finest rock crawling area so they can train for a mission that's never been in their organizational goals.

The Corps wants a training area for large-scale, live-fire exercises where three battalions could simultaneously practice assaulting a fixed location. Gen. James Amos, the commandant, considers the expansion "absolutely essential to providing the requisite training area for preparing Marines to meet the challenges of the future security environment."

At which point, I say, "whaaaaaa?!". The future security environment is small scale wars where small teams of soldiers fight guerillas, not large-scale unit maneuvers where multiple battalions maneuver armored units through desert terrain. As usual, the Marines are fighting the last war, no, not even the last war, the war BEFORE the last war. There are no -- zero -- enemies that the United States is going to fight over the next twenty years that have any tanks or any weapons bigger than a Soviet-era RPG. There are no (zero) enemies we're going to fight over the next twenty years that require three battalions of Marines to assault a fixed position. The EU, Russia, and China are the only three nations with significant military forces, and they have no (zero) interest in attacking America -- why should they, when we're doing such a good job of doing that to ourselves?

The last time the U.S.M.C. fought a large-scale tank engagement was... err.... NEVER. Not. Ever. Not ever in the history of this nation. Not during WW1, not during WW2, not during the Korean War, not during Vietnam, not during Gulf War 1, not during Gulf War 2, not during any action the USMC has ever been involved in. That's why we have a U.S. Army, to handle that sort of thing. The closest the USMC has ever gotten to a tank battle is during Gulf War I, when they were still armed with the M60 tank, when they were sent into Kuwait to hand-hold the Saudi military units (the fear was that the Saudis would turn tail and run if not bucked up with real soldiers) while the U.S. Army was holding a tank battle (more like turkey shoot) at the Kuwait-Iraqi border a hundred miles away. No USMC tank has ever fired a round of AP in anger. Plenty of HE in support of small unit battle groups, but the sort of mass maneuvering of armor that would need Johnson Valley has never been done in USMC history, and there's no reason to start now. Not that this is going to stop USMC generals who are lusting for mission creep...

That said, soldiers are trained to be paranoid, and I suppose that with news that the Mexican drug cartels are now building tanks (actually, more armored trucks with machine guns), we might need to invade Mexico with large armored columns and, err... what? Remember that we've invaded Mexico multiple times over the past 200 years (the last being Black Jack Pershing's invasion in 1914) and never stayed for long because the place is a total armpit.

Or maybe the Marines are prepping for the invasion of Canada so we can put an end to the threat of poutine, universal healthcare, and William Shatner. Except if that's the case, Johnson Valley's the wrong place to do it. I suggest Nome, Alaska.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin