Monday, October 31, 2011

I always wondered about that inane grin

And on a more serious note...

-- Badtux the Picturesque Penguin

Why are so many engineers anarcho-capitalists?

I supposed I'm supposed to be talking about Herman Cain's sexual harassment problem right now, but c'mon. Everybody knows that white women throw themselves at black men 'cause they're curious to see whether black men's, err, instrument, is as big as reputed, and if the black man doesn't reciprocate then they file these bogus sexual harassment charges in retaliation, right? (Note: Sarcasm intended).

So anyhow, back to something more interesting to me. Anarcho-capitalism makes no rational sense if you know anything about human psychology and human history. Anarcho-capitalism is extremely inefficient -- for example, anarcho-capitalism requires that all roads be turned into toll roads, but collecting tolls is far more expensive than simply collecting taxes at the gas pump -- and does not deal with the freeloader problem of externalities. That is, if I pay a security company to catch the burglar who burglarized my house, and pay them to put this burglar in jail, I'm not the only person benefiting. Every other person that this burglar would have burglarized in the future is also benefiting. Unless they're paying part of the cost of catching and imprisoning him, they're free-loading off of me. Anarcho-capitalism has no solution to that free-loading problem, whereas democracy does -- in democracy, everybody who benefits pays (which is pretty much everybody to some extent, since a burglar in jail is no longer a threat to your own home and thus putting him in jail at least provides a mental benefit to you). I.e., *taxes* are the solution democracy has to the free-loader problem.

So, why do so many engineers, who are supposedly logical thinkers, fall prey to supporting anarcho-capitalism ("libertarianism")? In my opinion it's because they fall prey to the fact that the society that engineers live in, by and large, is a very circumscribed one filled only with like-minded people who behave in a way that ordinary people simply don't behave, and they then extrapolate from that to believe that society at large behaves that same way.

First things first. Engineers are a very special people. First of all, by and large engineering operates on anarchist principles. That is, engineering teams operate via consensus and engineers who are not capable of operating in that environment don't last, they leave or get fired. So engineers soon fall into the trap of believing that *everything* can operate via consensus that way. After all, if designing a huge software system can operate via consensus, why not society as a whole?

Secondly, there are very few Wallys out there -- Wally being the free-loading engineer from Dilbert. Engineers who don't enjoy their work don't last. They move into sales or marketing, or they move into management, or they end up in customer support somewhere, or they end up delivering pizzas or working as a "sandwich artist", but they don't stay in engineering. So the average engineer has very little experience with freeloaders in the workplace, the only society he really knows.

Finally, engineers generally are not... how should I put this? Engineers are typically not social creatures. They don't have many hobbies outside of the workplace, they don't socialize with non-engineers very often.

The end result is that engineers operate in a bubble, a bubble filled with like-minded people all of whom are devoted to creating good product, a bubble that has no freeloaders and where everybody is able to reach consensus on major issues and where everybody operates in good faith. And in this bubble anarcho-capitalism would work just fine, because there would be no freeloaders and everybody would agree on the final solution to the problems faced by the society and there would be nobody gaming the system for their own benefit at the expense of everybody else.

The problem is that real society -- the society outside the bubble -- just doesn't work like that. In real society, there are people who will never agree on anything. There are people who will game the system for their own benefit. There are violent people who will use violence to get their way. There are externalities that almost guarantee freeloaders unless you have taxes, which anarcho-capitalists declare is "slavery" and thus evil, thus meaning that society collapses under the weight of the freeloader problem. Anarcho-capitalism ("libertarianism") simply doesn't work when faced with actual reality, which is why there are no examples of anarcho-capitalism on the face of this planet right now (unless you count the warlordism of Somalia as anarcho-capitalism, which I don't). Anarcho-capitalism in the face of reality simply doesn't work. End of story.

Yet engineers insist upon believing that it does work, because it does, in the little bubble universe of their engineering departments... and so it goes, when people observe a small bit of human behavior then think that applies to all humans, everywhere, the end result is generally stupid. Like anarcho-capitalism.

-- Badtux the Democracy Penguin

Punk choral

The first 1:15 of this video is a Southern religious musical style called shape note singing, which is new to me despite the fact I'm decidedly from the Bible Belt. But then, our folks were Southern Baptists with their piano-based Broadman Hymnal or Catholic with the organ-based music typically associated with the Catholic Church, I never wandered over to the Church of Christ or one of the various "primitive" churches, it would have never occurred to me that there was an a capella religious music tradition out there that I was missing.

The remainder of the video is one of those "shape note" religious songs set to a punk rock musical backing, but it works much better than it sounds.

This is the band Cordelia's Dad in their mid 1990's configuration. The bald dude is Tim Eriksen, a music historian better known as the music consultant for the movie Cold Mountain. The skinny kid on the right is actually a girl, that's a very young and slender Cath Oss (now known as Cath Tyler who makes music with her English-born husband Phil Tyler and not being so young and slender anymore, sigh, but she still has some pipes on her). The guy with glasses behind the drums is Peter Irvine. I have no idea what albums the two songs in this live video were on, if you're interested in further exploring this interesting fusion of musical traditions you'll need to do that detective work yourself. I just found this particular video oddly compelling for reasons probably not of any interest to you.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Alright already

Halloween costume of the year.

Me, I'm going trick-or-treating as the invisible bond vigilante. Since nobody can see me, that way I won't take any candy away from children, despite what Very Serious People insist.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin


Indie band The National with "Anyone's Ghost", off their 2010 album High Violet.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

The law is for the little people...

not for the cops of the NYPD.

Just following orders? Dude. The NYPD's union is fucking'a righteous. If cops were being ordered to do illegal shit that the cops didn't want to do, you better believe that the union would file grievances out the yinyang. Which they didn't. Why? 'Cause fixing tickets was just fine with the rank and file of the NYPD. Duh.

But let's not forget, the law is for us little people, not for the jackboots. Rule of law? In what country? You mean in Soviet America? Puh-LEEZE....

-- Badtux the Sovok Penguin

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Trippy dance

This is a San Francisco group called Silver Swans, with a song called "Let Me Know". Their first album is supposed to be coming out in December. Sort of danceable dream pop (?)....

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Herman Cain's new campaign commercial

Beware the big potato moths... BIG potato moths.


-- Badtux the Amused Penguin

Friday, October 28, 2011

When did justice become a dirty word?

That's my question. Whenever you talk about economic justice, the Republican lizard people sneer about winners and losers in capitalism -- despite the fact that the so-called "winners" they defend actually got their money by cheating. Whenever you talk about how the workers that create the actual wealth for companies are getting peanuts and the executives who produce nothing but bullshit and hot air are stealing all the wealth for themselves, they whine about class warfare. When you talk about the fact that millionaires pay a lower percentage of their income as taxes than teachers do, the lizard people stick their hands over their ears and whine "I can't hear you, na na na!". When you talk about how a small set of wealthy Wall Street banks stole the retirements of millions of Americans by selling bogus liar loans that they *knew* were going to go bad as "AAA investment-grade securities" then got the taxpayers to bail them out, thereby reaping any profits from risky business but putting the costs when risks went bad onto the taxpayers, they literally change the subject and start whining about how America just hates the rich. When you talk about the fact that a small set of absurdly wealthy plutocrats control more wealth than the other 299 million Americans -- COMBINED, they call you an anti-capitalist Communist.

And the sad thing is that when you start talking about economic justice, they *still* call you a Communist, even if you're absurdly capitalist like Nick Kristoff or myself. For the record, you cannot have capitalism in the absence of economic justice, because eventually it decays to crony capitalism (a.k.a. "fascism") and oligarchy -- the dictatorship of the many by the few who control all wealth, who literally have power of life or death over individuals.

So what would economic justice look like?

  1. Bank of America gets free money from the Federal Reserve and is told they can repay it, well, whenever they feel like it. I want my free money.
  2. When I don't pay my bills, my credit rating goes down and it costs me more to borrow money. When Bank of America doesn't pay their bills, they whine to the government for a bailout and get government-guaranteed loans, and their credit rating goes *UP*. I want that deal too.
  3. When I do something stupid like buy a house I can't afford, I lose my house and all the money I invested in it. When Bank of America does something stupid like loan me money to buy a house I can't afford, they whine about "personal responsibility" -- for me, not for them, because they got a bailout from the Federal Reserve via "trash for cash" (i.e., sold the worthless non-performing loan *AT FACE VALUE* to the Fed for cash).
  4. Warren Buffet released his tax information, we learned that with taxable income of $39 million, he paid $6.9 million in taxes last year, a tax rate of about 17.4%. Me, I'm paying 15.3% in payroll taxes alone (if you count the employer part), plus roughly 20% of my gross income as income taxes (after deductions), meaning that I'm paying around 35% of my gross income as Federal taxes (and that's not even beginning to count state and local income taxes, property taxes, and sales taxes). I want Warren Buffet's deal -- or better yet, let's trade, let's let the millionaires have my 35% effective income tax rate and the teachers have Warren Buffet's 17% effective income tax rate.
  5. HP CEO Leo Apotheker destroyed millions of dollars of stockholder value yet got paid $25 million for being fired on top of his $1.5 million salary and huge signing bonus and relocation bonus. Meanwhile, hundreds of HP employees are being laid off through no fault of their own, and getting $0. Economic justice is when the Leo Apothekers get the exact same separation pay as the hundreds of low-level people who got laid off due to Apotheker's incompetence.
All of which, I suppose, is why economic justice has to be a dirty word. Because fairness for ordinary Americans would hardly be fair to the lizard people who, like, deserve to own everything, right? Right?!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Gold lining

Rilo Kiley, "Silver Lining", off of their final album, 2007's Under the Blacklight. Jenny Lewis is cute as a button and while she's not "on" for this particular performance, when she's in good form she's got a set of pipes on her too... not bad for someone best known before her music career for being a child star in bad movies.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Unemployed DFH's

Everybody knows that all those Occupy Wall Street thingies are just a buncha unemployed slackers with nothing to do. Like this one dude who was at the protests a couple of nights ago, who's clearly just a loser who needs to get a job. I mean, c'mon. You don't call a probably six figure salary as a network engineer at a startup a JOB, do you?! And nevermind Scott Olsen's previous job, as a U.S. Marine who received 7 medals over two tours of duty in Iraq and received a promotion to Lance Corporal over that time. Clearly he's just a lazy slacker who needs to get a real job... maybe one where he gets to wear another nifty uniform and says "will there be fries with that order sir?" all day long.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Non-event of last night

Various folks outside various SFPD police stations were watching to see the SFPD gather. Approximately 400 cops ended up crammed into six buses and a collection of patrol cars and motorcycles and left the Portello Hill station a little before midnight. And... and...


Perhaps the fact that several of the mayoral candidates including the one most likely to win the election were down at the street party that Occupy SF had become had something to do with that -- arresting your future boss is probably bad juju. Or maybe the cops never had any intention of moving in unless things got out of hand, and since the atmosphere from the live cams was more one of a big street party than anything ominous, they shrugged and just kept on driving. Or maybe it really WAS just a training exercise as SFPD is claiming today. I'm sure that there's some news stations disappointed that they didn't get yet more spectacular footage of protesters being gassed, beaten, and critically injured like former Marine Scott Olsen (who apparently is guilty of destroying police property by stopping a tear gas grenade with his head, funny that he survived two tours of Iraq just fine but the Oakland PD puts him into the ICU), but any sane person should be glad that, for once, sanity reigned.

-- Badtux the No-news-was-good-news Penguin

Drugged spy

From Kaki King's spy album Junior, this is "Falling Day".

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Thank you, Obama

President Obama today announced a plan to help young people who can't meet the payments on their student loans due to the shitty economy we have right now. Obama's plan lets these young people refinance their loans into a single loan at current interest rates.

Thank you, Obama. Now our young people, rather than having FIVE loans they have no hope in hell of paying back, will only have ONE loan they have no hope in hell of paying back. Hip hip hoooray!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Quote of the day

A former police officer says, regarding the Oakland police riot yesterday evening and the video of the Oakland PD taking out former Marine Scott Olsen because, apparently, it's okay only to fight for our freedoms, not to use them:

Seeing those cops standing around while someone is injured, laying in the streets, really pisses me off. That is not how a professional police officer reacts, that is how a gang reacts. The Oakland PD is just another California gang.

-- Badtux the Can't-say-it-better Penguin

The saddest song in the world

A dying man sings the saddest song in the world.

Townes van Zandt, "Marie", live in 1993, shortly before the end.

BTW, this song isn't fiction, it is true every day. The cause of death on the death certificate is always "natural causes". As if starvation and dying due to exposure when supermarkets throw away tons of food every day and millions of houses stand empty is somehow "natural".

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

So if this isn't capitalism, what is?

Lately I've been pointing out that what we have in America today is not capitalism but, rather, neo-feudalism, with corporate owners in the place of the lords of the manor of old and the majority of Americans as serfs dependent upon their overlords for their every need. There are trappings of capitalism, sure. There are still markets, there are still a few small businesses bravely struggling along as chain stores and big box stores take over everything thanks to regulatory capture and monopolization of capital markets, there are still a few people who manage to create new and innovative businesses that make it. But by and large, this is feudalism, not capitalism.

Capitalism, fundamentally, is not markets. Markets can exist in the absence of capitalism, indeed, even in the absence of money, though money tends to be invented relatively rapidly because barter is such an inefficient way of handling trade. Rather, capitalism is, fundamentally, a method of time travel.

Wait wait, I hear you say. Time travel? Yes. Time travel. In pre-capitalist economies, businesses adapt to consumer needs very slowly. If Acme Widgets is selling Wurtzingers and the tastes of the general public changes towards demanding Furblacknitzes, Acme Widgets in a pre-capitalist economy must slowly accumulate the income to buy the equipment and hire the people necessary to produce Furblacknitzes. So pre-capitalist economies respond very slowly to changes in consumer tastes or desires. But in a capitalist economy, the money supply of the entire nation resides in banks as deposits (i.e., as loans to banks that banks then pool and loan out to businesses and individuals), and Acme Widgets gets a loan from the bank then pays that loan back at some future time using the money earned from selling Furblacknitzes. In short, Acme Widgets has TIME TRAVELED -- they slowly accumulated the money needed to tool up for Furblacknitzes *today* to satisfy the demand for Furblacknitzes *today*, but they did this in the future and the money traveled back in time to when they needed it!

Note that this requires a functioning financial system -- banks that provide loans to deserving businesses that need money for expansion, financial markets that sell bonds and partial ownership in businesses to similarly provide money for expansion, and so forth. And that's what we're lacking today. Banks aren't performing their job of risk aggregation -- that is, pooling the excess income of the nation and splitting it between millions of borrowers so that any one borrower failing does not cause a loss of any one depositor's entire funds. They lent out money to borrowers who they *knew* could not afford to repay the loans, and now aren't loaning out money at all. And capital markets have turned into just a giant ponzi scheme where stockholders and bondholders compete to scam each other into buying each other's overpriced stocks and bonds. If you are a small business wanting to respond to changing consumer needs today, you literally can't get money. Which is impossible in a capitalist economy, but we don't have a capitalist economy, because a capitalist economy requires there to be access to capital -- and unless you're one of the Fortune 500, that just isn't true in America today, at least not at any interest rate short of ursory.

-- Badtux the Capitalist Penguin

Dreams of revenge

Sara Lov, "A Thousand Bees", off her 2009 album Seasoned Eyes were Beaming.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, October 24, 2011

Occupy Wall Street in one picture

60% of Americans own less than 5% of America. I.e., they're flat broke, lacking the fundamental capital to do anything at all to improve their economic position.

Meanwhile, 5% of Americans own 59.4% of America. The top 5%, and especially the top 1%, have set up an anti-capitalist system where they are the rulers, and the bottom 60% are their serfs. This isn't capitalism. This is neo-feudalism. This is a return to the economic system of the Dark Ages, where the lords of the manor owned everything and you depended upon them for your very existence.

This is not sustainable in a democracy. It isn't. OWS is just a canary in the coal mine here. The amount of pressure building down below is enormous and when it blows... nothing good will happen, guaranteed. Nothing good. Which is why it is in the interests of the top 5% to restore capitalism to the global economy and make sure that the bottom 60% have access to the capital needed to make something of themselves, whether that be via education, access to grants and loans for small business incubation, whatever. Otherwise... uhm. I'm in that top 20% that owns 83.4% of everything, and I tell you, I *like* my neck and would prefer to have it continue keeping my head attached to my body. I am astounded that the top 1% think that the laws of physics don't apply anymore, that they can let pressure build up below and nothing bad is going to happen. Because that's insane. That's literally insane. And self-destructive, in the end, because the oligarchs are going to end up getting their cold-blooded lizard hearts ripped out and thrown onto the streets if this keeps on like it is, but our lizard overlords appear to be DUMB as well as greedy...

-- Badtux the Capitalist Penguin

Capitalism and the myth of job creators

So a small business owner says to me, "I took over a failing furniture store chain with 100 employees, and made it thrive again, saving 100 jobs." At which point, I say "Uhm, no."

See, here's the deal. Capitalism is all about matching supply and demand and when properly functioning, the fate of any specific business is of no relevance. If this guy's furniture chain had failed because of mismanagement and stocking furniture that people didn't like, some other furniture company would have arisen or expanded to provide the furniture that customers wanted. The 100 people would have gone to work for that other furniture company, because furniture doesn't sell and distribute itself, yo -- people would need to be hired to do it.

In short, capitalism, where it exists, basically insures that the furniture sector will have pretty much a constant number of employees because the number of people buying furniture in a given year is pretty much constant. In other words, it's the customers who created those jobs, and unless the number of customers somehow takes a dive -- like, say, in a depression -- the fate of any specific furniture company is irrelevant. A company fails, there is still demand for furniture, and in capitalism some other company will adapt or arise to fulfill that demand and will hire the people laid off by the failed company. In short, all that one company failing does, in a capitalist economy, is shift people around to some other company where they can best fulfill consumer demand. It's just a game of musical chairs in the end -- in a capitalist economy.

Of course, what we have here in America today isn't a capitalist economy, it's what's called "crony capitalism", where a small set of very wealthy businesses use various tactics such as regulatory capture and monopolistic practices to make sure they don't have to compete in a free market. But I'll discuss that in a further discourse on, "What is capitalism, and why don't we have it in America?"

-- Badtux the Capitalist Penguin

Air Farce spends $150M apiece on paperweights

F-22 fighters still suffocating their pilots. As a result, most of the F-22 fleet is grounded *again* and pilot training has ceased. But never fear, the Pentagon assures us that the fleet could fly at a moment's notice if needed. Of course, that isn't happening, because there's a term to describe untrained pilots in $150M jets in combat situations: Skeet. And believe it or not, the Pentagon is *not* going to send out $150M jets to get shot down like overgrown clay pigeons, yo.

Meaning: If we have an enemy that requires the F-22 to counter it, my advice to pilots is to stock up on slingshots and rocks. That's pretty much all that's gonna be flyin', yo.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Finding places

Portland band Dolorean sounds sort of like 70's pop, but didn't even form until 2003. This is "The Destruction" off of their 2004 album Violence in Snowy Fields.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A word of advice to the lady doing the yogi

Okay, let's say you're doing the yogi in a rest area. You spot a potential mark -- some dude driving a dirty Jeep with what looks like half his possessions in plastic bags in the back. So you go up to him and apologetically say "I hate to bother you, but my car is out of gas... it's that brown car over there..."

At that point, SHUT UP. Let the mark think helping you out is HIS idea. Especially if it's a guy in a Jeep, Jeepers are notoriously generous and usually are carrying at least 5 gallons of gas on them in that red can that's on the back of their Jeep, so if you really ARE needing gas, you're likely to get a significant bunch of gas. If the next words out of your mouth are, "do you have some money I could buy gas with?", the next words out of *his* mouth are going to be, "I see", and he's going to shut his door, start his engine, and drive away. Because, look. You're in a rest area. Not in a truck stop. There is no place in a rest area to buy gas. Duh. Jeepers may be generous, but they're not idiots. Just sayin' :).

-- Badtux the Not-THAT-stupid Penguin

Back in town

Was out exercising the new Jeep in its natural environment -- remote areas of the Inyo Mountains and northern Mojave desert. More later.


A dirty Jeep is a happy Jeep. This is a happy Jeep:

Once we got above the treeline, there were awesome views of the Owens Valley and Saline Valley:
That is all for now...

-- Badtux the Tired Penguin

Pickpocket bells

School of Seven Bells, "Windstorm", the lead-off song off their 2010 album Disconnect from Desire. Alejandra Deheza is cute as a ladybug and has some pipes on her, yo.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Romantic bikes

Wild Flag sings "Romance". You might recognize the lead singer -- Carrie Brownstein -- and the drummer -- Janet Weiss, 2/3rds of Slater-Kinney. You might also recognize Mary Timony, former lead singer of the band Helium. This is the lead-off song of their just-released album Wild Flag (released September 13). Nice to know that the ladies didn't just go off and bake cookies when their former bands imploded.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, October 21, 2011

Joyful bikes

The Joy Formidable with "Buoy", off their 2011 debut album The Big Roar. Those bicycles are getting serenaded, eh?

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The lucky duckies

The above sign carried by one of those crazy OccupyWallStreet hippies with only vague complaints explains why we're seeing friction in our society. The 1% has done ridiculously well over the past thirty years. The top 20% has done quite well. The rest of America... not so much.

Oh those crazy kids and their notion that the gains of economic progress should go to everybody, not just to the 1%'ers... I mean, look at that kid above. Clearly has no demands. That button she's wearing saying "Tax the 1%"? Not a demand, nosirree. The fact that the 1% has an effective tax rate of around 17% while my effective tax rate is around 39% when you account for SSA, sales taxes, property taxes, etc.... gosh, why should I think the 1% aren't paying their fair share? Only silly people would think that, right? Right?!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Disclaimer: I am one of the 20% who have done fairly well over the past 30 years, so I guess that disqualifies me from being a crazy hippy. Unless you're a right-wing moron. Oh wait, that was redundant redundancy in terms, wasn't it? :)

A tour of Hell

Ray Wylie Hubbard takes a detour through Hell and has a conversation with the Devil and looks around at the fellow travelers in hell, like all the TV preachers. Which, uhm, is the title of this song -- "Conversation With The Devil" from his album Crusades of The Restless Knights.

- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

230 years ago today...

On October 19, 1781, General Cornwallis surrendered to the combined forces of George Washington and the Comte de Rochambeau at Yorktown, Virginia, thus ending the armed warfare period of the American War of Secession. The British Army still had over 100,000 troops in North America and still held New York City, but effectively the war was over.

So the question is, *why* was the war over, if the British still had more than three times as many men on American soil as Washington and Rochambeau combined? The answer is simple: The British Crown had been bankrupted by a Parliament that was run by the same sort of anti-tax people as the Teabaggers, who had refused to raise taxes to pay for the expensive wars the United Kingdom had fought over the past thirty years thus forcing the Crown to borrow more and more money to cover those costs, until the Crown finally arrived at the point where the bankers said "No more!" and refused to loan more money because the Crown wasn't even able to make the interest on the loans.

The net result was that yes, there were over 100,000 British soldiers in North America, but they were half-starved due to the massive expense of provisioning them across a vast ocean and hadn't been paid in months, and thus were useless for purposes of waging war. The vast expense of outfitting the Cornwallis expedition had pretty much been the last gasp of the Royal Treasury. The Crown was bankrupt, pure and simple. Which, after all, had been the original cause of the war -- the Crown had attempted to raise taxes on the colonials to repay their debts because they didn't need permission of Parliament to do that, and the colonists balked at paying taxes that the British public didn't have to pay. Sort of like our 99%'ers are currently protesting in the streets because they pay a higher effective tax rate than the 1% multi-millionaires (remember, the majority of multi-millionaires do *not* pay income tax at 28%+, they pay capital gains tax at 15% due to the way they structure their compensation to evade income taxes... and they do *not* have 7.85%*2 taken out of those paychecks for SSI/Medicare either, it's a flat 15%).

So anyhow, the biggest difference between us now and the British Crown then is that we're not on the gold standard, and can thus just *print* money, which will cause inflation (in China) but means it's effectively impossible to default on our debt. Still, it shows that waging expensive foreign wars without raising taxes to pay for those wars is a loser's game in the end, otherwise our national anthem would be "God Save The Queen" rather than "The Star Spangled Banner".

-- Badtux the History Penguin


Austin indie singer-songwriter Sarah Jaffe sings "Swelling" off her 2010 album Suburban Nature.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Nice hat

From the Brooklyn Bridge OWS arrests.

Folks, you attend these things, you, too, can meet cool girls wearing Gir hats who smile for the camera while being arrested :).

-- Badtux the Wistful Penguin


Beautiful anchor

Trespassers William, "Anchor". A version (not necessarily this one, which I think is a bonus track on some releases of Different Stars) is on their album by that same name. Trespassers William is a sadly underappreciated Seattle band that needs to dress their lead singer like a condom and have her hump dolphins while claiming she has both a vagina and a penis in order to get the attention they deserve. Do I sound cynical? Do I? Huh?

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, October 17, 2011

Light posting

Getting ready for my first trip in the new Jeep (and no, Stu, I don't have a winch on it yet, but I do have a Hi-Lift jack and a strap and a chain that can be used for that purpose, and am not going anywhere that I'll need a winch). I'd comment on the banks calling the cops on people closing their accounts as part of the OWS movement, but I'm not in a position to put sufficient time into it to do the subject justice.

I do have music queued up for your enjoyment. So enjoy :).

-- Badtux the Busy Penguin

Another great American dies

You will have never heard of her. But for sixteen years, she took on the federal government over probably $1 TRILLION stolen from Native Americans over the past hundred years where the Federal government collected trillions of dollars in mineral and ranching lease royalties from Indian lands over the course of over a hundred years, and then didn't forward it all to the Indians that it was supposedly being held in trust for.

Today I got this message in my inbox:

Elouise Cobell, an enrolled member of Montana's Blackfeet Tribe who led a 16-year landmark legal fight to get the federal government to pay an estimated 500,000 Native Americans for mismanaging their trust accounts, died Sunday at Benefis Hospital in Great Falls, Mont.

A great granddaughter of Mountain Chief, one of the legendary Indian war chiefs, Elouise had been diagnosed with cancer a few weeks before her class-action lawsuit was given final approval by Judge Hogan in Washington, D.C. on June 20, 2011.

Born on the Blackfeet Reservation on Nov. 5, 1945, Ms. Cobell was one of eight children.

Her survivors include: her husband, Alvin Cobell of Blacktail, Mont., a son, Turk Cobell and his wife, Bobbie, of Las Vegas, two grandchildren, Olivia, and Gabriella, a brother, Dale Pepion of Browning, Mont., and three sisters, Julene Kennerly of Browning, Mont., Joy Ketah of Seattle and Karen Powell of Browning, Mont.

Ms. Cobell will be remembered as an extraordinary person as well as a warrior and uncommon leader. Ms. Cobell drew the line in the sand and told the government "no longer, no further, and no more." Against seemingly insurmountable odds, Ms. Cobell never backed down in her selfless fight for justice for the most vulnerable people in this country and concluded this long-running case for the largest settlement involving the government in American history. A true hero is gone today and everyone should be thankful for her sacrifice and enduring spirit. We may never see the likes of her again. And, while Elouise did not live to see the fruits of her labor, she saw over the horizon to a better world for all individual Indians.

Condolences and remembrances may be sent via email to

-- Badtux the Obituaries Penguin


Australian group The Jezebels with "Endless Summer". They recently released their first album, Prisoner.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tired penguin

I'm getting the new Jeep ready for its first offroading trip. This weekend I installed a Hi-Lift jack mount on the tailgate hinges, a CB radio, and a Tuffy Security deck. That's all it needs so that's all it's getting, now it's just pack all the luggage so I can scoot out of town after getting permission from the boss :).

In the process, I baked in the sun, I got sunburned, I had to do some sheetmetal work to make the Tuffy fit, I had to figure out how to get wires from inside my Jeep to the battery so I could power the CB, etc. etc. etc., so I am *tired*. So you'll get no nice post tonight, sorry!

- Badtux the Tired Penguin

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Be careful out there

Bryan, a former New York cop, is annoyed by the NYPD brass blatantly ignoring New York State law and their own policy handbook. He especially points out that pepper-spraying someone in the eyes and hitting someone on the head with a truncheon are both actions that can result in permanent injury to the victim and thus are explicitly prohibited both in the NYPD policy manual and in New York state law.

I suppose what surprises me is just how blatant the NYPD is when it comes to committing illegal actions. It's not as if they have to do anything illegal in order to deal with the protests and protesters. They have plenty of experience with handling these kinds of things in a manner that complies with both the law and with their own policies that end up with protesters *not* having a nice day. So why the senseless violations of law and policy? It doesn't make sense, unless they're trying to gain support for OccupyWallStreet, which if that's what they're trying to do, they're doing a heckuva job, Bloomie.

-- Badtux the Law-and-order Penguin

Tropic of strange

The band is Is Tropic, a band so obscure and enigmatic that they don't even have a Wikipedia page. They perform with bandanas over their face and their MySpace page doesn't list the members of the band. What little press does exist about them refers to them as a "European" band, and yes, this is definitely a Euro-pop sound, but that singer sounds almost... American. Odd...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Coming Epidemic, redux

If you search the box at the top left of the screen, you'll find I've already talked about the coming epidemic multiple times. We're making a lot of poor people and forcing them to live under horrific living conditions with poor nutrition and in jobs that pay no sick leave so they go to work sick all the time and spread their contagion. But the biggest reason we're going to have an epidemic is not because of the poor living conditions and poor nutrition of our poor. The poor in hundreds of other countries have it even worse. It's because we give them just enough healthcare to stay sick, whereas in other third world countries they die. This provides an incubator for mutation of germs to resist antibiotics and antivirals, since the poor cannot afford a full course of either and thus breed resistant germs.

This is a problem. It's a problem that needs solving. So how do various groups solve this problem?

  1. The GOP solution: If you're sick and you're poor, die quickly.
  2. The Democratic solution: If you're sick and you're poor, patch the current broken system with band-aids and rube goldberg contraptions and pretend it works, except it won't and can't, so nothing changes.
  3. The solution if you're not a sociopathic lizard person: Free access to healthcare for all, paid for by a payroll and/or income tax dedicated to healthcare. This solves the problem of access, mostly.
But we are ruled by cold-blooded lizard people from Planet Sociopath, so that last one -- the solution that any caring human would support -- will not happen.

And lest the rich think they can simply stock up on antibiotics and antivirals and survive the epidemic -- the whole point is that the epidemic bug will be resistant to any existent antibiotic and antiviral. So they'll get sick and die just like everybody else. But because lizard people have lizard brains, apparently they think being cold-blooded sociopaths will save them. It is to laugh.

- Badtux the Warm-blooded Penguin

Someday smile

Beirut -- "A Sunday Smile". Ukelele and horns? How does Jules Holland get all these... interesting... bands to appear on his show?

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Our national values

One of the principal innovators and inventors of the 20th century died recently. You are reading this message courtesy of his inventions. From his office in a major corporation's R&D lab, he created or oversaw the creation of the innovations that made pretty much everything in today's computer world possible. Whether you are using a Windows PC or a Mac, you're using a descendent of one of his inventions, and if you're viewing web sites or receiving email you're using even more.

So of course this man dying is major news. I mean, we're talking about a man who was to computers what Thomas Edison was to lightbulbs. And of course the San Jose Mercury News, the "Newspaper of Record of the Silicon Valley", would devote the majority of the front page to covering this man's life and career because, well, he was a legend, okay, right?

So I take the newspaper out of its bag and open the front page and... uhm... nothing. Indeed, the only mention of his death is a short obit on the obituaries page.

Meanwhile, the death of a marketing con artist and fashion icon got front page news in the Murky plus pages upon pages of section A space over the next few days. But then, Dennis Ritchie actually created stuff, while Steve Jobs was a celebrity pitchman for fashionable items. And being a celebrity is more important than, like, actually inventing the "C" language whose descendants power all current PC's, inventing the Unix operating system that MacOS and most of the Internet is based on, and so forth.

Dennis Ritchie, Sept 9, 1941 - (yesterday?). In a better world, in a better nation, his death would be front page news, and the death of a marketing con man with good fashion sense would have been buried on the obituaries page. So it goes.

-- Badtux the Geek Penguin

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Why Helicopter Ben's choppers are grounded

I've been spending a bit of time wondering why Ben Bernanke's choppers are grounded. Why isn't "Helicopter Ben" out there throwing bales of $100 bills out of helicopters over the inner cities and working class suburbs of our nation? After all, Keynesian economics maintains that if you have slack resources in your economy, it's because people don't have enough money to buy all the output that the economy is capable of producing, and thus printing money is the correct thing to do. And Friedman's monetarism pretty much says the same thing even more clearly -- it was Milton Friedman, not Ben Bernanke, who originally proposed money drops as the solution to a down economy.

So why doesn't Ben do it? Thinking on an article at Ranger's place, and slotting in an additional piece of information -- the Chinese ambassador begging Bernanke not to crank up the presses -- and then it clicks: Money drops wouldn't do a thing for employment in America, because all the stuff we'd buy with that freshly dropped money comes from China. It'd do wonder for employment in China but would do fuck-all for employment in America.

In short, we're more fucked than I thought. This also explains why the Chinese ambassador was begging Bernanke to not print money: We're trading freshly-printed dollars for these Chinese goods, so we're actually exporting our inflation to China as well as our jobs. And if Bernanke started doing money drops, it'd create a virtual typhoon of inflation -- in China, not in America, because all those freshly printed dollars would end up in China, not in America.

In short: We are fucked, good and hard. De-industrialization and the transition to a "service" economy has serviced us, alright. Like a stallion services a mare, that is. If you ain't waddling, it's just a matter of time. Just sayin'.

-- Badtux the Economics Penguin

Hiding place

Recoil -- "Don't Look Back", an extra track from the 2000 album Liquid. Recoil is Alan Wilder (formerly of Depeche Mode) and various collaborators. The singer/lyricist on this one is apparently Sonya Madan, mixed with I don't know what...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The criminal enterprise that is News Corpse

Hot on the heels of the scandal where Rupert Murdoch's papers wiretapped the Royal Family (bad show, wot -- those limeys seem to like their inbred snooty royals, go figure), now it appears that Sir Rupe's criminal enterprises have extended to circulation fraud -- basically defrauding advertisers. Senior executives in New York, including Murdoch's right-hand man, Les Hinton, were alerted to the problems last year by an internal whistleblower and apparently chose to take no action. The whistleblower was then made redundant.

In short: News Corpse committed a crime -- fraud -- against its advertisers by claiming it had one circulation, when it actually had a (much smaller) one. Looking for Sir Rupe to go to jail in 3... 2.... 1... *NEVER*. Because it's always a "few bad apples" who do these criminal things, right?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Slave labor: The new cool

One county in Georgia has a solution for those outrageous salaries that firefighters are getting: Convict them of crimes, send them to prison, then assign them back to firehouses as prison laborers. Pure genius! If only the good colonels of the Old Confederacy had been so ingenious, they coulda kept slavery going in the South, like, forEVAH!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

(Who doesn't look good in stripes, thus is glad he's not in Georgia).

Lonely man

Mark Lanegan, "Sleep With Me" from his 2003 EP Here Comes That Weird Chill

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Just got home

Oof, I'm tired...

- BT

Hmm, appropriate...

Given the way our thief overlords are ripping us off...

"Soda Pop * Ripoff" from the 1994 album by that name, by Slant 6, an early 90's grrl punk band. (The Chrysler Slant 6, incidentally, was a great engine, but that's a different tale, heh).

- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Scam

If Randians are looking for the “parasites”, “looters”, and “moochers”, they should look on Wall Street.

Wall Street is the most successful scam in human history. Wealth is *stuff* — goods and services — but Wall Street has convinced a whole lot of people that wealth is pieces of toilet paper with pictures of dead people on it and that the way to be wealthy is to have a lot of that toilet paper. Which, conveniently, their job is to move from point A to point B while letting a lot of it stick to their own fingers. Wall Street produces nothing, consumes very little, actually contributes very little to the economy other than that small service of moving money from point A to point B (something just as doable by a high school dropout security guard thanks to modern computers), yet has somehow convinced a significant number of people that they — who produce nothing — are the “producers”, and that the people who actually produce *stuff* are the “parasites, moochers, and looters”, and thus it's only right that they're entitled, entitled I say, to stick 40% of America's corporate profits to their fingers despite doing, well, maybe 3% of the work of corporate America (and that's being generous). It is to laugh.

Especially hilarious is how it seems that there’s a never-ending supply of people willing to make excuses for giant mega-corporations behaving in immoral and unethical manner. It’s as if we have national Stockholm syndrome, where we feel compelled to suck up to and defend the people who are holding us hostage. Huh. What a world.

-- Badtux the Scam-spottin' Penguin

Back to the riot...

Sticking with the 90's riot grrrl thing, here's Bratmobile with "Do You Like Me Like That?" off their 2000 release Ladies, Women and Girls.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Why we're fucked

Quick, where does any money that Ben Bernanke prints go? Here's a hint:

There will be an exam in the morning. I expect you to have the answer then.

-- Badtux the Professor Penguin


Between getting the old Jeep ready for sale (wash, wax, remove the stuff that doesn't go with it when it leaves) and getting the new Jeep ready for its first big trip (better headlights, CB install) I am *tired*. So now you know why there's no updates today, not even music.

Note to self: Wall Street is the world's most successful scam, like, evah.

-- Badtux the Tired Penguin

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Carnival girls

Bikini Kill goes to the "Carnival", off their debut album. Heh.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, October 07, 2011

Oh crap

I choose to buy a new Jeep two to three weeks before a global economic collapse as the Euro crashes and burns. Fuck. I'm always doing shit like that. My sense of timing is surpassed only by my lust for boy toys. Siiiiiiigh!

-- Badtux the Kicking-himself Penguin

No cat picture for you today

Here, have a Jeep.

Nothing like that new car smell, heh :). And yeah, that 285 horsepower engine fucking rocks in that little thing. The CJ folks always sneered at us YJ and TJ folks 'cause we were stuck with the straight 6 engine instead of having a manly V8 like them. Well, this little 3.6L V6 makes their manly AMC V8 engines look like 98 pound weaklings, yo. Makes a nice GRrrrrrowl when you lay into the gas pedal too, heh.

-- Badtux the Now-poorer Penguin


Is there anything better than a cute chick doin' the howlin' shufflin' blues and doing it justice?

This is Sonia Leigh, a singer-songwriter from Atlanta, with "Long Gone Now". She appears to have a recording available on her self-published album Angel On My Shoulder from 2008, check iTunes or amazon mp3 for it, since that seems to be the only place it's available.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Protest chic vs. getting things done

Let's face facts: #OccupyWallStreet isn't going to accomplish anything unless somehow the movement starts costing our lizard people overlords money. LOTS of money. Because money is all that our lizard people overlords from planet Sociopath care about. Not ethics. Not morality. Not fairness. Not human decency (remember, they're LIZARD people, they view humanity as PREY, not as fellow travelers through the brief flash of time we call "life"). Money. That's it.

This is what has bothered me about protest chic for quite some time. Protests are flashy and reporters love them. But let’s not forget that what took down segregation was not morality, was not protests, but, rather, that it was bad for business (same reason the Vietnam War ended). Mega-corporations only care about one color — green — that’s it, and being told they had to leave 20%+ of their profit on the floor in the South because of legally or socially enforced segregation forcing them to turn away black patrons had always chapped their ass in the post-WW2 period. The purpose of the Civil Rights marches and such was primarily to give them cover to do the right thing (for their profits).

And yes, MLK Jr. understood this. Economics was something he used both as a carrot and a stick when he was talking with elites. Remember that the whole point of getting Rosa Parks thrown in jail was to give the black community a rallying point for a strike against the bus companies that enforced segregation, it was never about being arrested as an end in and of itself, the way it is with today’s protest chic street theater.

Similarly, Mubarak got kicked out by the military not because the military agreed with the protesters, but because of a general strike — the entire economy was basically shut down for weeks, costing the military (which owns a lot of the Egyptian economy) a lot of money. The protests were important in rallying support for the general strike, but in and of themselves were just theater.

So anyhow, do Americans have the balls to shut down their economy to get rid of these cold-blooded lizard people from planet Sociopath who are in charge right now? I’m not seeing it. Things just aren’t bad enough for that yet. You’d have to see 1933 levels of misery that forced FDR to do his “New Deal” or be overthrown in a Communist revolution.Though if the Austerians continue their nonsense, that might well happen, and quick, either peacefully or by violent revolution… unfortunately, revolutions are won by the organized. And what’s organized in America is the religious right. You’d think that the lizard people would realize that the religious right with all their “thou shalt not”‘s is bad for profits too, but our modern-day lizard people seem to be a bit stupider than their 1950′s/1960′s counterparts. Too much inbreeding, I guess, since over 50% of them inherited their wealth and are thus the offspring of other lizard people…

- Badtux the Practical Penguin

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Rich ego

From 1995, here is "Devil", by Drugstore, off their self-titled debut album.

Isabel Monteiro doesn't sound so great on her latest album (released earlier this summer), but this track is proof that it's not old age catching up to her -- this whole album from 1995 is proof that her singing was *never* all that great. But the rest of the package around it makes up for any deficiencies in her singing.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

This just in: Steve Jobs was God

When it was pointed out that she was using one of Apple's products to diss Apple's founder, Marge then responded, "Rebels mad cuz I used iPhone to tell you Steve Jobs is in hell. God created iPhone for that purpose! :)".

There you have it, folks, straight from the God-botherers at Westboro Baptist Church: Steve Jobs was God, and God is dead.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin


White shirts

Tony Baloney rides again:

White shirts on a NYPD officer means that he's a supervisor-level political appointee. The blue shirts are the street cops, who get their jobs via civil service exam. Apparently somebody yelled something at this white shirt that he didn't like, so he jumped the police line and started whaling at people with his nightstick, followed by a couple of his other white shirts (this remind you of the stereotype of four Streets Department supervisors watching one man Streets Department worker digging a ditch? Is NYPD padded by a huge layer of political appointees above the street cop level? Is water wet?). Apparently his hope was that they'd hit back and he'd get to issue the order to clear the street. They didn't, they just YouTubed him, and eventually the blue shirts basically jumped the police line to rescue him from his own stupidity.

The white shirts are all owned by Mayor Bloomberg, so it's not coincidence that they, not the blue-shirted civil service street cops, are the ones who are being caught on camera doing this shit. Bloomers wants a riot so he can paint the protesters as violent evil people, and is trying to provoke the crowds into giving him one. Thus far the white shirts are not succeeding, they're just pissing off the folks who see these videos and causing the crowds on Wall Street to grow bigger. People see that the Wall Street bankers who crashed our economy via fraud and outright theft are up there on the balconies drinking champagne and laughing while the people the Wall Street bankers made homeless are down on the street getting whaled on and arrested, and the justice -- or lack thereof -- of the situation is so blindingly obvious that anybody who's not a Fox News viewer can "get it".

On the plus side, Bloomers is doing *wonders* for the NYC tourism industry :).

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

I never met Steve, or actually saw him in person. But his philosophy of what computers should do, how they should work, has irreparably affected my own opinions of how computers should work. Some things Steve taught me: 1) A beautiful design is one that is simple, straightforward, and solves the customer's problem without bothering the customers with details he doesn't care about. 2) The point is to solve the problem of the majority of customers, not to appeal to the 1% of customers who need just this one more feature that would make the problem less usable by the other 99% of customers. 3) Focus on quality, not quantity. If you put out garbage at the low end to appeal to the bottom 25% of your customers, you will get a reputation for garbage and be forever condemned to producing low-margin garbage. In the end, quality builds its own quantity. 4) The customer is NOT always right -- indeed, the customer usually doesn't even know what he wants, he just knows the problem he wants to solve and *thinks* he knows what he wants. Solve his problem in the best way possible while ignoring his suggestions of how to solve the problem, and you will win the world.

Steve by all accounts was not an easy person to work for or to know in his personal life -- various people say he was arrogant, opinionated, and difficult to sway. Supposedly Apple engineers worked for SIX YEARS, producing one prototype after another that Steve rejected, before he finally signed off on the first iPhone. But that seems to be what's needed sometimes to change the world, for better or for worse. And that's what Steve did, in the end, even though he never wrote a line of code or designed a single computer card in his entire life, by simply knowing what he wanted computers and devices to be -- and brow-beating his engineers until they produced it.

-- Badtux the Computer Penguin

Grow up?

Canadian indie band Metric with "Grow Up And Blow Away" from the album by the same name.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

A thought on Amanda Knox

Some people think she literally got away with murder, that she actually did kill Meredith Kercher and it's just the incompetence of the Italian cops that freed her. But I know she's innocent. Here's why:

The Italian police say she killed Meridith Kercher in a drug-addled rage. The Italian police say she admitted to indulging in illegal drugs with her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, and that the drugs caused an otherwise mild-mannered American student to flip out and participate in murder.

So what was this eeevil drug that the prosecution say caused Amanda Knox to kill Meridith Kercher? Was it crack? Meth? Uhm, no: the drug that the prosecution say caused Amanda Knox to fly into a rage and kill Meridith Kercher was... uhm... marijuana.

Dude. Bogus. I've been around a number of marijuana users over the years, and I'll tell you this much: About the only way you could get them to fly into a rage would be if you got between them and the pizza delivery boy when they got the munchies, and even then it'd end immediately after they got that hot steaming pizza pie into their hands. Marijuana makes you mellow. As well as hungry. If the Italian cops said that marijuana caused Amanda Knox to kill a pizza, I'd believe it. Otherwise... dude. Not happening.

-- Badtux the Not-drug-addled Penguin

And in the news today....

  • Francisco Franco is still dead.
  • Chris Christie is still not running for President.
  • Apple released details of the new iPhone 4S. The "S" stands for "Suck".
That is all.

-- Badtux the Snarky Newsflash Penguin

Sleep deprivation experiment

So Sunday night I was excited about the new Jeep and about going to get it registered the next morning, and slept very fitfully. Maybe got four hours of sleep all night.

Monday night, I slept a *little* better. Got to sleep around 1AM. Then at 6AM... a fucking thundering HERD of cats came roaring down the hallway, over my bed, over *ME*, then back out of my bedroom again. And this thundering herd of cats, I mean must have been twenty cats or more, did it *AGAIN*! Uhm, except it musta been only two cats, but maybe they cloned each other to be able to make that much noise and furor? So anyhow after all the cat fits were over, then TMF parked himself on my chest and started purring and kneading, kneading and purring. Have you ever tried to sleep with a fucking cat shredding your chest? An *EIGHTEEN POUND* cat, with needle-sharp claws? Have you?!

Finally after around 30 minutes of that shit I gave up and got up. So anyhow, now operating on 9 hours of sleep over the past 48 hours. Glad I'm not operating heavy machinery!

-- Badtux the Groggy Penguin

Another instrumental

And talking about instrumentals, how the fuck can you put up videos of instrumentals and leave out Michael Hedges?! This is "Ritual Dance".

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, October 03, 2011

So the Koch brothers are criminals?

Color me unsurprised.

If you or I sold something to Iran, we'd be spending 25 to life in Club Fed. But to people like the Koch brothers, the law is for the little people, not for them.

Especially annoying is the fact that they bribe their way into contracts with governments and large corporations worldwide. This is illegal for two reasons: 1) it's unfair to small businesses, and 2) it's completely antithetical to the operation of markets. It's unfair to small businesses because small businesses don't have the resources for big bribes and thus get shut out of contracts they could otherwise fulfil. It's antithetical to the operation of markets because functioning markets depend upon buyers choosing the best solution, not the one paying the biggest bribe to the contracting officer. Remember, the whole purpose of markets is to match buyers and sellers according to best match (i.e., best deal for buyers, best performing sellings). When you short circuit that with bribes, you don't have markets -- you have crony capitalism, basically fascism with another name.

But of course to the Koch brothers, free markets, like laws, are for the little people. Oh sure they talk the talk. But talk is cheap. What counts is actions, and what the actions of the Koch brothers show is that they have as much disdain for properly operating markets matching supply and demand as they have for the law.

-- Badtux the Criminality Penguin


Since Jill and Dcap are talking about instrumentals, here's Kaki King with "Night After Sidewalk", one of her Michael-Hedges-inspired instrumentals off of her first album Everybody Loves You. This album was all instrumentals along the same lines. It wasn't until her second album, Legs to Make Us Longer, that she slipped the Michael Hedges sound and went wild and crazy (though still instrumental at that time).

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Too damned late


-- Badtux the Multi-Jeep (temporarily!) Penguin

Powerful love

I was driving down the highway, thinking about getting some gas because I'm at half-empty, and this came on the radio. I immediately stopped thinking of anything as I listened in rapt attention, pulled in by the powerful words and music. By the time the song was over, I realized I'd passed the gas station long ago.

I don't care that the words are Edgar Allen Poe's (mostly) and that Sarah had access to one of the best producers and top collaborators to make this cut. It takes real talent to put a song around those words that matches their power. In the hands of a lesser musician and songwriter you can end up with pretentious drivel, but Sarah did it -- there were chills going up and down my spine as the song hit its climax.

This is Sarah Jarosz, "Annabel Lee", off her 2011 album Follow Me Down.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Alright folks, dissuade me

Go to and look at a 2006 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited with 55,000 miles. I just did a Craigslist search and can assure you that the dealer list price, at least, is exactly what claims it is for that Jeep -- around $20K. This is apparently a much-in-demand Jeep amongst hard-core offroaders because it's long enough to climb well, but short enough to handle tight courses well. The private party price is around $17K.

Okay, now look at the invoice price of a 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, the regular one, not the Unlimited model. Right now it appears that only automatic transmission ones are available, at an invoice price of around $32K. That's okay though, I'm tired of shifting anyways.

So -- for around $15K, I can upgrade to a 285 horsepower engine, a more comfortable car , and about 7mpg more fuel economy (I'm currently getting 10 in the city and 15 on the highway, the new one is rated at 17/23). Hmm....

The other possibility: Buy some Korean crapbox car for $18K, and then make my current Jeep a project car. Thing is, while it's a great project car, being much easier to work on than the new Jeeps with all the computerized shit, I just don't do hard-core offroading. My offroading is mild to moderate, mostly to get to historic ruins and shit, and even the stock Jeep Rubicon with *no* modifications can do it right off the dealer floor. I know that because the stock Jeep Rubicon with *no* modifications is pretty much what my Jeep's configuration was until recently (when I added the rocker guards). So anyhow, the Korean crapbox would end up costing around $80/month extra insurance too. And I end up with two vehicles in my driveway, one of which gets driven only a few times a month. But the Korean crapbox gets 30mpg city, 40mpg highway. Almost twice the fuel economy, in other words. But I'm only spending $200/month on gas. So it'd cost me about as much to insure it as it'd save me on gas.

Then there's the final option: Just stick with my current Jeep for another five years as my only car. Problem there is that 1) it gets terrible fuel economy, 2) reliability is going to be an issue with the 2005-2006 Jeep Wrangler series due to OPDA/cam sensor drive issues 3) They only made around 38,000 of the 2004-2006 Unlimited body style so getting accessories and body parts is going to be an issue in the future, for example I can't buy an aftermarket soft top or hard top for this Jeep because of its rarity so if the OEM ones get damaged I'd need to pay for the very pricey OEM ones. And the OEM ones are *not* going to be available forever.

None of that matters to hard-core offroaders, because they tow their Jeep to the trailhead and they don't run a top and they're quite capable of fabricating anything they want to fabricate. But my current Jeep just isn't ideal going forward as a daily driver due to those issues.

So anyhow... opinions?

-- Badtux the Pondering Penguin

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Been busy

I'm working on a cargo shelf / cargo cover for my Jeep. Just lots of drilling and measuring and cutting and drilling and grinding and shit. I'm the world's slowest fabricator, sigh!

I would gladly buy one of these things. But nobody makes one. Siiiiiigh!

-- Badtux the Handy (but slow!) Penguin

Remote torch

Another sad and lonely song from Sara Lov and the Devics. This is "Distant Waves" from their 2006 album Push The Heart. You can almost hear the sound of a young girl at night, huddled around a shortwave radio, listening for sounds of the homeland she was kidnapped from years before...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Running a web site is a dangerous business

Now, once upon a time, running a web site could get you sued, or get you fired from your job, or could cause your ISP to blacklist you, but that was pretty much it. I mean, look at the Nuremberg Files case. Neal "I Love Mule Sex" Horsley put up a web site advocating killing abortion doctors and got sued by Planned Parenthood, but because he was foresighted enough to form a dummy group "ACLA" to own the web site, "ACLA" is the group that got the $100M judgement against it -- and note that the 9th Circuit said PP could *not* force Horsley to take the web site down. The web site is still up, hosted in Outer Slobbonia somewhere because no American web host will host such a vile site. And Horsley is still alive and kickin'.

But see, that was in the old days, when Americans believed in courts and stuff when folks advocated killing Americans. Nowadays, well. not so much. If you're running a web site that says Americans are fair game 'cause they're killing little children in Iraq and Afghanistan, well. Death from the sky, dude!

The funny thing is that Anwar al-Awlaqi, an American, had actually filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government demanding a trial. The government killed the lawsuit by saying al-Awlaqi had to show up in NYC personally to file the lawsuit -- despite not being able to fly to NYC because he was on the no fly list (duh!). Then they killed al-Awlaqi, a dude who had never fired a shot at any other American, never personally done anything except run a web site. A nasty web site, certainly, just like the Nuremberg Files web site that Horsley runs. But just a web site, in the end.

So anyhow, remember, boys and girls. Running web sites no longer is just fun and games. If you start blogging something that says America needs to be overthrown because it's full of cruel people who want to kill Americans, a visit from guys in black suits is the least of your worries. Hey, what's that sound outside my window, is it