Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Las Vegas showgirl of Christmas trees

It has plumes. It has feathers. It has glittery decorations. What else has plumes, feathers, and glittery decorations? Hint:

Except this tree is such overkill that it makes Vegas showgirls look sedate by comparison. Just sayin' ;).

-- Badtux the Christmas Penguin

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

As usual on Christmas, here is (a very spastic) Lady Gaga!

-- Badtux the Snarky Music Penguin

Saturday, December 24, 2011

No posting December 24-January 1

Taking a break... well, other than my Christmas tradition ;).

-- Badtux the Christmas Penguin

Friday, December 23, 2011

California blues

Canadian singer-songwriter Kathleen Edwards, "Goodbye California", off her 2008 album Asking for Flowers. She's supposed to have an album, Voyageur, out in January. I'll try to track down some songs from it and feature them here.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hot rock

Sonic Youth, "Incinerate", off of their 2006 album Rather Ripped. Pay attention to Steve Shelley's drums back there -- not your standard rock drums, he's every bit as innovative as the guitar players, yet Lee and Thurston got all the notice...

Sadly, Sonic Youth is no more. Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon divorced in October, and plans for an album are pretty much over too.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

'Tis the Season

Today was the winter solstice, where the day quits dying and starts rising from the dead again. I am decorating my Jeep with evergreen branches as we speak, evergreen branches (or entire trees) being a symbol of the rebirth of the year long-predating Christianity on this most holy of days, when the day quits dying and starts growing again. Well, actually they’re plastic “Christmas” wreaths zip-tied to the grill and spare tire on the rear tailgate, but same difference, right?

Oh yeah, that whole year being born thing is why the Christians decided to celebrate the birth of their Christ on the same day despite the fact that there would be no flocks in the fields of Bethlehem at this time of year (too dang cold!). Birth of sun in the new year = birth of Christ, dig? But the holiday long predates Christianity, as any Wiccan could tell you :).

-- Badtux the Holiday Penguin

Too little, too late

One of the most important jobs of a central bank in possession of a printing press is to act as a lender of last resort when there is a run on the other banks in the nation. I.e., it is literally physically impossible for a central bank to run out of money, so if a bank with typical reserve ratio of 20% suddenly has 40% of its customers show up wanting their money, it's the central bank's job to trade freshly printed cash for the long-term loans on the member bank's books, then soak the cash back up as the long-term loan gets repaid.

The Federal Reserve, to its credit, did that in the 2007 credit crisis here in the United States. The Fed accepted trash for cash to the tune of over $1.5B, or roughly 6% of the outstanding loans in the USA. But the European Central Bank did not. The Fed did an indirect bailout of some of the most important European banks by trading cash for trash, but nowhere near what would be necessary to re-float those banks -- only enough to keep U.S. insurers of those banks solvent, because the Federal Reserve's charter is to serve the USA, not Europe.

The end result in Europe is deflation, and as I've mentioned here before, deflation is the same thing as debt inflation -- that is, your debts are rising and rising and rising in value until they finally reach the point at which they cannot be repaid, a point which has arrived for far too many Europeans and even entire European countries. There's a term for what happens after that: circling the drain, as debtors default, banks collapse, cause further deflation, causing *more* debtors to default, wash, rinse, repeat, swirling down down down with less and less currency in circulation (it's disappearing under mattresses) until entire economies are reduced to barter, probably the most inefficient method of conducting business, like, evah.

So it's good that the ECB *finally* is stepping forward to do their own trash for cash to keep European banks from collapsing. On the other hand, the ECB is run by Germans, and a good percentage of the banks owed money by the countries on the verge of default are German banks, so it may be that they finally simply didn't have a choice but to do the minimum needed to keep the whole Eurozone from circling the drain into the Barterzone.

But note the *size* of this loan program: less than half the size of the Fed's loan program in 2007, despite the fact that the Eurozone's combined economies are approximately the same size as the USA's economy. Too little. And four years too late.

My suggestion to Europeans (other than the British, who avoided the Euro madness): Turnips. Seriously. When the Soviet ruble collapsed with the nation that created it, turnips were the currency of choice for much of Russia because they're durable, useful (if you have too many turnips you can ferment them to make vodka, even!), and not dependent upon a central bank to make the decision to create them. What, you say this is daft? Well, no more daft than those silly people who collect shiny-colored metal in hopes that it will have value after the Euro collapses. You can eat turnips. You can't eat gold.

-- Badtux the Snarky Economics Penguin

Coal miner's lament

The trio of women is Red Molly. They're singing "Coal Tattoo", a song by country songwriter Billy Edd Wheeler who, like yesterday's artist, Guy Clark, never managed to sell many of his own albums (1964's Memories of America is his only album that charted) but wrote one helluva lot of songs over his lifetime. The youngsters do it justice.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Quick hits

Tiny Kim apparently has the support of the security services, which has now sent a number of senior Party officials tiptoeing through the tulips. Seems Tiny Kim ain't as dim as he might have seemed from his early appearances and isn't going to be tiptoeing through the tulips himself anytime soon -- or turnips either, given the abysmal yield of North Korean agriculture over the past couple of decades.

Gratuitous video of new North Korean dictator:

In other news, Newt the Gingrinch appears to think he's running for President of North Korea, what with basically proposing to take judges who rule in ways he don't like out behind the barn and shoot'em in the head or somethin'. The sad part is that there's a large contingent of Americans who break out in giant shit-eatin' grins at the very thought, who have no problem with the notion of living under a North Korean style dictatorship, as long as it's *their* dictator.

Who are the 1% and what do they do for a living? Hint: It ain't work in the way you and I think of work.

Regulations are not a huge jobs killer. Like, duh. If there's demand for my product I don't give a shit about what regulations I have to comply with, I'm gonna hire folks to produce more product.

50% of Americans are too poor to pay Federal income taxes, but they still pay plenty of other taxes, starting with the 15% payroll tax that the 1% (who don't work for a living, they "invest" for a living and don't earn income, they earn "capital gains") don't pay.

The wealth gap, graphically. It ain't a pretty picture.

Why haven't any of these Wall Street fraudsters gone to prison yet, again? Oh wait, because they're "job creators" in some alternate universe where unicorns are pink and cotton candy grows on trees. Alrighty, then!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Happy birthday, Guy

Most people have never heard of Guy Clark, but in the music business he is a legend. His own albums never sold, but he has built a reputation amongst musicians as a songwriter's songwriter. And now he is 70 years old.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, December 19, 2011

Quick hits

71-year-old man drives 225 miles with dead wife in passenger seat beside him. He didn't know what to do without his wife to tell him what to do.

How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake? Apparently you just order him to go out on patrol, and he follows orders. So now John Kerry knows the answer to his question.

Over the past four years, the monetary base has been tripled. According to Austrian economists, this means we should be going Weimar, and should have been going Weimar for at least a couple of years. According to Keynesian economists, tripling the monetary base when you're in a liquidity trap will have no (zero) effect. So, uhm... who's right? (Hint: Krugman is right. Of course.)

Soldiers are having trouble feeding their families, and can't find jobs after they're mustered out of service, having a harder time than non-veterans even. America supports our troops, woot!

Yet more evidence of the shrinking middle class. Soon there will be only the filthy rich and the abjectly poor. Serfin' USA, dude!

- Badtux the Hits Penguin

Cat sauna

The bathroom is the warmest room in my house because that tile floor has an old-fashioned grout base and thus absorbs / radiates the heat that's coming out from under the vanity. Some of that heat from under the vanity also manages to waft its way upwards in the cabinet and heat up the bowl of the bathroom sink. The result: Well, you see the result here.

Especially note the decorative help that The Mighty Fang (for I know it was him, even though I didn't see him do it) lent his sauna. Every cat sauna needs shredded paper confetti to give it a festive look, right? Right?!

But that's okay, TMF is so ridiculously adorable that I can't be angry at him. Here's proof of how adorable he is:

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Raging sea

This is Laura Marling, "All My Rage", off her new album A Creature I Don't Know. Laura is a British singer-songwriter who is part of a London scene sometimes called "nu folk". She tries for an Irish sea shanty here and manages something interesting.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Idiot of the Week, War on Christmas edition

San Jose city manager Debra Figone, who said to city council members who wanted her to send a Holiday greeting to city workers thanking them for their hard work over the past year, "don't send an image of the City Hall Christmas tree, we try not to favor one religion over another."

Uhm, say what? The evergreen tree as a symbol of the rebirth of the year at winter solstice predates Christianity by centuries. WTF is with Figone having a problem with it? None of my Jewish friends have a problem with "holiday trees", harumph! The Holiday being celebrated is winter solstice, where the days start growing longer instead of growing shorter and the rebirth of the year is celebrated. The holiday long predates Christianity and is celebrated by most major religions on the planet in one form or another. Christianity decided to celebrate the birth of Christ (according to their scriptures actually born in summer while sheep were in the fields) on this holiday (birth of year = birth of Christ, dig?) but they're a johnny-come-lately on the scene.

-- Badtux the Baffled-by-ignorance Penguin

Why banjo players are always tuning

This lament from a beginning banjo player: "I ordered the clawhammer for complete ignoramous book (apparently I am one) and this book which I thought was a beginner book and would use standard tuning starts out with 10 songs in double C tuning followed by 10 more in Sawmill tuning and then six in G tuning (four of which I already know) then on to C minor tuning cumberland Gap tuning (can't it be played in G?) and on and on. Really?"

So now you know why any bluegrass band seems to spend more time waiting for the banjo player to tune up than they spend playing and why banjo players spend half their life tuning and the other half playing out of tune ;).

-- Badtux the Tongue-in-cheek Music Penguin

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Little Kim and the Jeep

I spent most of today getting my ham radio installed in my new Jeep, which involved pulling the antenna wire from the back of the Jeep to the front of the Jeep, finding a place to mount the amp unit, then getting power to it. Then I spent most of the evening rearranging my garage because doing the electrical work showed that my electrical tool/supply box was completely out of control (as in, it ended up all over my garage because I had the stuff to do the work but it was buried in this box full of *stuff*), only to come in and find that Dear Leader has died. Not to be confused with Hopey Changey.

One wonders what the new leader of North Korea is going to do. The only long term hope for North Korea is reunification with South Korea, but the South Koreans are scared to death of such a thing... it took a decade for Germany's economy to recover from the reunification with East Germany, and East Germany was in far better shape than North Korea, which is a complete and utter basket case.

-- Badtux the Busy Penguin

Dark side

Eliza Gilkyson, "Dark Side of Town", off her 2007 album Your Town Tonight.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin


We won in Iraq. Which is why our last troops in Iraq sneaked out to Kuwait at 2AM without telling anybody.

So victory is celebrated nowadays by sneaking out at night, not by a big celebration and victory parade as you exit triumphantly? Gosh, things sure have changed over the last 70 years!

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

If this is what victory looks like, what would defeat look like? Just askin!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I need to learn how to read Korean

The English translation on the bag of potstickers said "Kimchi potstickers". I assumed they were stuffed with some pickled Korean vegetables. Instead, it's a tasty mix of some sort of meat with tasty Korean vegetables. What kind of meat? I dunno, I can't read the Korean labeling!

So anyhow, that was my supper tonight -- steamed "kimchi potstickers" and tasty Korean veggies. Yum!

-- Badtux the Potstickered Penguin

Spirited Love

Noisy London indie group The Duke Spirit with "Lassoo" off their 2008 album Neptune. Oh alright, I gotta say Liela Moss is a stunner as well as being a better-than-decent singer. What can I say, I'm male.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Rats are more empathetic than Republicans

When a rat hears another rat in distress, that rat will immediately go to help the rat in distress. Furthermore, if they had a chocolate treat, they'd share that treat with the rat that they helped.

So what happens when a Republican sees someone in distress? Well, the first thing they do is ignore the person in distress. See previous post. Next, if they're feeling particularly generous, they might install a switch to allow the person in distress to escape his trap -- a switch which is *outside* the trap, which the person caught in the trap can't reach (e.g., offering mental health services to the mentally ill... out of reach of the person *inside* the trap of mental illness). But that's the end of any empathy. Past that point, it's "get a job, bum!" or "it's your own fault you got caught in a trap, don't whine to me for help!" and a shrug of the shoulder and move on. And if the cries of distress on the part of those caught in the trap become too disturbing, they dispatch the popo to beat the shit out of those in distress in order to shut up that annoying whining from people who are dying. Because as far as lizard people from planet Sociopath are concerned, human beings are just another kind of vermin, and if vermin makes untoward noise, well. Beat it until it's no longer capable of making noise, right?

Sad, isn't it, that rats are more empathetic than a large percentage of Americans?

-- Badtux the "Guess I have more in common with rats than I thought!" Penguin

It's that time of year again

61 nameless dead. Often mentally ill, ignored during life, spat upon, despised by all but a few, who died young and early of "natural causes" (I guess starvation, exposure, and disease are "natural" but so it goes). Here this year's dead homeless people, homeless people in one of the wealthiest regions of the country, a region with millions of square feet of vacant commercial space at any given time, are given names (click image to embiggen, and pay attention to the age at which those whose age we know died):

-- Badtux the Sombre Penguin

R.I.P. Hitch

Christopher Eric Hitchens (13 April 1949 – 15 December 2011), dead of cancer, and no, no deathbed conversion to Christianity -- something he'd been worried about as the cancer ate into his body, causing enormous pain. Oddly enough, one of the best obituaries I've read was in World Nut Daily by one of the Christian Taliban true believers who debated him in one of those Christian-vs-atheist debates. Who of course was appalled by Hitch but also somewhat admiring of the way Hitch stood by his principles even to the death when it came to that whole religion thing.

As for Hitch's switch to pro-war political views after 9/11, the less said about that the better, I'm sure most of the lefty blogosphere's all down on that. All I'll say is that the man was a damn fine writer, even at the end and leave it at that.

-- Badtux the Obituaries Penguin

Friday, December 16, 2011

New Mac

I got a new Mac so I'm busy playing with it. There's evil shit happening in the world but I don't feel like talking about any of it right now. Go entertain yourself by playing in the middle of a freeway or somethin', yo!

-- Badtux the Rudely Busy Penguin

Keeping warm

There is a furnace output that comes out under the vanity there and the tile floor is one of those old school ones laid on a mortar base, so it holds the heat well. The weather has been chilly lately and I've been running the heat in the mid 60's to sleep better (I'm a warm sleeper nowadays, is there such a thing as male menopause?!), so the kittehs seek the heat -- the bathroom is the warmest room in the house, a good 5 degrees warmer than everywhere else. Poor Mencken, however, refuses to sleep on the floor. Someone might step on him. TMF don't care, I think he's *trying* to trip people :).

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

No Thanksgiving

Hrm. I'm a bit late with this one. Oh well.

This is Darrell Scott "The Day Before Thanksgiving" off his album A Crooked Road.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Too evil for evil

The Department of Homeland Security ain't exactly the department of fuzzy fluffy puppy dogs. They have a bad habit of groping grannies and little children at checkpoints, doing warrantless searches at "border stops" well inside the U.S. borders, and otherwise generally treating the Constitution like some sorta toilet paper to wad and flush. So why do I bring them up? 'Cause as evil as the DHS is, there's some evil out there so evil that even the DHS don't want to associate with 'cause of the reek of brimstone. And by that, I'm referring to, of course... Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

If you want the scoop on Sheriff Joe, the place to get it is the Phoenix New Times. They've documented Sheriff Joe's jackboots throwing cripples out of wheelchairs to lie on the floor of jail cells in their own feces and urine... refusing to allow diabetics to take their insulin with predictable result (dead diabetics)... repeated beatings of inmates who have died from their injuries, one of those beatings being one of those cripples thrown out of his wheelchair... and other similar atrocities against people who have been convicted of no crime but poverty (i.e, being too poor to make bail while waiting trial).

The man is evil. Pure evil. Yet the people of Maricopa County, Arizona, have re-elected him every year since a long time ago. What does that say about the folks who live in the largest metropolitan area of Arizona? Disgusting. Just disgusting. That's all I got to say about it.

-- Badtux the Brimstone-smellin' Penguin

Dreamy dancing

Beach House, "Holy Dancing", off their self-titled debut album.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Close to 50% of Americans are now poor

A couple of weeks ago, I noted a quietly released and completely unpublicized (except by the official magazine of the Communist Party, WTF is that, that the Communists cover the US better than our so-called "free" press?) Social Security income report which inadvertently pointed out that the median income of the average American was near the poverty line for a family of four, and well under the 133% mark that most experts consider "poor". That is, if you are a single-income family of four in America, you're likely poor. And the Great Recession has made a lot of single-income families of four -- and some no-income ones, for that matter.

Now Census data pretty much confirming the Census data has been released and even our snoozing press had to pay attention to the fact that 1 in 2 Americans are now poor. And mayors are saying that a significant number of people needing food assistance aren't getting any because of cuts to food banks and other social safety networks, but hey, let them eat cake, right? Congratulations, Republicans. Your project, 30 years in the making, to turn America into the world's biggest banana republic with a stinking rich oligarch class and everybody else a poor-ass serf is coming to fruition. Bet you're proud.

-- Badtux the Banana-eating Penguin

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Rick Santorum has seven guns

No, I'm not joking. How... phallic. He also has closets. Very *large* closets. Just sayin' :).

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin


Obama agrees to sign bill saying he can indefinitely detain anybody -- including American citizens -- arrested by the military.

Yay, the land of the, uhm, well, not so free, but home of the, err, well, not exactly brave either, now that I think of it. U S A! U S A! We're number... well... not exactly #1 in anything except body count, but hey, that's okay, right? Right?!

At least the Soviet Union gave you a show trial before disappearing you. Just sayin'.

-- Badtux the Disgusted Penguin


Tedeschi Trucks Band, "Learn How To Love" from their 2011 album Revelator. Some bluesy jazzy by-god *music*. And why the fuck isn't Susan Tedeschi a big name anyhow?

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Just got home, after a looooong day. Going to bed. G'nite.

Oops, some short hits:

The Real War On Christmas: Jewish writers of Christmas songs actually part of a vast conspiracy to destroy Christmas via treacly Christmas tunes guaranteed to drive you insane, bwahahaha!

Blackwater changes their name again. Will now be known as Sparkly Unicorn of Peace And Love.

If you're going to make an anti-gay commercial, it's probably wise to *not* wear the same jacket that Heath Ledger wore in Brokeback Mountain.

-- Badtux the Tired Penguin

Animal parts

Lera Lynn, "Fire & Undertow". Just some jazzy-sounding music from Athens, Georgia, y'all. Can be purchased from her web site as part of the album Have You Met Lera Lynn?.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

A most FAHbulous candidate

Cut out a 'n' and turn it upside down to make a 'u' and paste it in place... and *that*, my friends, is a candidate that could shake up the GOP race. Heh.

- Badtux the Easily Amused Penguin


Monday, December 12, 2011

Conspiracy theory

Heard about the OMG $29 trillion dollar Fed bailout of the U.S. banks? Yes? Congratulations... you've been taken in by yet another conspiracy theory!

The reality is that the Federal Reserve never had $29T outstanding in loans to the banks. During the peak crisis period when the banks could no longer raise money on the open markup due to a complete lockup of equity markets, the peak liquidity lending was about $1.5 trillion, or roughly 6% of outstanding corporate and household debt. The current balance, BTW, is $0 -- that's how much the banks owe the Fed right now, because they repaid everything they were loaned once equity markets unfroze.

Furthermore, this is sort of the purpose of the Federal Reserve, the whole reason it was created -- to provide liquidity by trading cash for long-term assets when there's a bank run. Which there was. The failure of the Federal Reserve to do this job during 1929-1932 is what caused the collapse of over half of the banks in the United States and massive deflation that resulted in over 30% unemployment.

In short, the conspiracy theorists find a conspiracy in the Fed doing its job. Which is just whack. The whole point of the Federal Reserve is to loan money to banks in exchange for long-term assets when the banks need short term cash, otherwise there's no reason to have it. Blasting the Fed for doing what it's supposed to do is either dishonest, idiotic... or both.

-- Badtux the Monetary Penguin

Having nothing

Wye Oak, "Civilian", off their 2011 album by the same name.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Clogged sink

I had trouble shaving and brushing my teeth this morning...

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Newt and the Israelis

There's been a predictable uproar on the left about Newt Gingrich's statement that there's no such thing as a Palestinian. The problem is, to a certain extent, he's right.

See, here's the thing. We're Americans. In America, nationality is what nation you live in. But it is only here in America that lines on a map determine nationality. In most of the world, people identify their nationality by language, culture, and ethnicity. If you speak German, are culturally German, and are descended from Germans, you are German whether you live in Poland, the Czech Republic, or in Germany proper. Your forefathers can have lived on a plot of land in the Czech Republic for 100 years, you can be the 3rd generation born in the Czech Republic, and you are still German as far as everybody in Germany and the Czech Republic are concerned. Similarly if you speak Mandarin, are ethnically Han Chinese, and are culturally Chinese, then you are Chinese whether you live in China, Vietnam, or Indonesia. That is, the nation you live in doesn't define your nationality in most of the world, rather, your language, culture, and ethnicity does. And from that perspective, there isn't a Palestinian people -- there are merely Arabs, who speak the same language as all other Arabs, who have the same culture as all other Arabs, who are genetically identical to all other Arabs.

Now, back to Gingrich's statement. Gingrich was merely paraphrasing Israel PM Golda Meir's statements from the early 1970's. Golda Meir was one of the founders of the modern state of Israel and her statement was typical of the attitude of the founders of Israel. Remember, the founders of Israel were European. From their perspective, there was no such thing as a Palestinian people because there is no distinct Palestinian language, culture, and ethnicity. From their perspective there were Arabs who happened to be citizens of a pseudo-state called "Palestine" that did not exist prior to 1920, a pseudo-state set up by Britain as part of the division of the Ottoman province of Trans-Jordan at the fall of the Ottoman Empire, a pseudo-state populated by people who were no different culturally, ethnically, or genetically from any other Arab, who had a dozen other Arab states similarly created from thin air after the fall of the Ottoman Empire to go to. From their perspective, the "Palestinian Problem" was a problem caused by Arab rulers refusing to take in their Arab brothers as citizens, and had nothing to do with Israel.

From that perspective, what Gingrich said made sense. Gingrich's problem is that the facts on the ground are different than in 1973. Israel agreed to create a Palestinian nationality (which is still not a Palestinian people from their POV, just another fake nationality created by Europeans), and set up a Bantustan-style "Palestinian Authority" on the Gaza Strip and West Bank as part of their peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan. In exchange Egypt and Jordan gave up their territorial claims on the Gaza Strip and West Bank and Yasser Arafat agreed to lead said Bantustan in exchange for stopping attacks on Israel. Gingrich's view is still held by the vast majority of Israelis, who do not view Palestinians as a people, just as a fake nationality created by Europeans as part of their division of the Arab people after WW1, but Israel is not living up to their half of the agreements that they agreed to, which do not allow "settlers" on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. That, and not Gingrich's statements (which to a certain extent are factually true from the point of view of most of the world), are the real issue here.

Note that my explanation of what Israelis think does not mean that I condone or encourage such thinking. Long-term it's a recipe for utter disaster for reasons adequately explained elsewhere. I'm just telling you things you probably don't know because you won't hear them in the left-wing echo chamber -- indeed, that you're unlikely to hear anywhere outside of Israel, unless you are talking to actual Israelis.

-- Badtux the Reality-based Penguin

Lovely cry

Keeping to the country vibe, here's Carrie Rodriguez, "I Cry For Love". This appears to be a new one that isn't on any of her albums yet. Enjoy!

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Busy penguin

Just finished selling my old Jeep plus various bits and pieces, plus had a parade of sorts for Toys for Tots (our club basically stuffed their bus, they were hauling boxes of donated toys away from our column of Jeeps :) and a holiday party. PHEW! Been on the go since 8AM and only *now* having a chance to get my breath!

I see y'all didn't tear up the blog while I was out. Thanks :).

-- Badtux the Busy Penguin

Sleepy inuendo

Nikki Lane, "Sleep For You" off of Walk of Shame. Reverbed-drenched Nashville session musicians gives this one sort of a Mazzy Star Meets Loretta Lynn vibe...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, December 09, 2011


I first introduced Esben & The Witch here in April 2010 when they were an unsigned band playing bars and pubs in the UK. They finally did release their first album -- Lucia, at the Precipice -- and while not knocking Lady Gaga off the top 100, it's gotten them a fair amount of attention from the music press and some sales. This is "They Use Smiles to Bury You" off of that album.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Badtux's Law of Internet Forums

"Any forum good enough to become popular eventually becomes big enough to be dominated by total jerks."

I came to this realization, actually, by viewing Craigslist's flagging help forum and realizing that about 20% of the people asking for help about why their for-sale item got flagged did not have their ad flagged for being scams or otherwise violating the Terms of Service, they were being told, "you're asking too much money for it, that's why you were flagged." WTF? So now CraigsList's crowdsourced flagging crew is the Pricing Police, imposing their own Stalistic vision of what things should sell for upon the buyers and sellers on the site?

Why... YES! And CL apparently sees nothing wrong with this. So why did it seem wrong to me? Then it struck me: it's wrong because these people are total JERKS. They are taking a system that was originally designed to deal with spammers and scammers (and I know this because I was *there* when Craig introduced his original flagging system, back when CL was a small San Francisco board with a few thousand friendly users) and using it to impose their own agenda of how society should be organized onto the rest of the users of CL. And if you mention this to anybody at CL, they get all hostile and angry and say if you don't like it, go somewhere else because, like, CL is perfect and has no problems and yada yada. CL's support forums have become a very angry, hostile place because of the CL defenders constantly attacking the users who come on and ask why their item got flagged even though their ad is not spam, a scam, or a prohibited (under the ToU) item or type of ad.

But why can the jerks dominate things so much? Well, it's for the same reason that HOA's are dominated by the HOA Nazis, who fine you if your grass is 1.1 inches tall when their HOA rules say the grass must be 1.0 inches tall and otherwise make your life misery. It's because having the power to impose your own vision upon other people attracts jerks the way that gay prostitutes attract Republican politicians. And when you have enough of these jerks in one place, it's like they form a black hole of Peak Assholery. And CL, as a very popular Internet forum, has attracted enough users to pass this threshhold, and gives the assholes enough power (via the Flag button) to impose their own vision upon the site.

Unfortunately this appears to be a core problem with voluntary crowdsourcing: Voluntary crowdsourcing generally attracts people who are fanatics, assholes, jerks, or all of the above. This is why the OWS movement degenerated into small gangs of radicals rather than growing to encompass the rest of the 99% -- it is the fanatics, assholes, and jerks who want power, who have the motivation to grasp for power, who force their vision upon other people who then, because most people are *not* assholes, simply go elsewhere. Furthermore, when I was involved in one of the first community sites back in the 90's, back in the days when CL was Craig's local listing of classified ads in San Francisco, we ran into the *exact same* problem -- once our site got too popular, the assholes took over and abused the "Flag" button to downgrade posts that complied with our ToS but did not comply with the ideology of the assholes. The solution? Have both upflag *AND* downflag, so that jerks downflagging valid posts for ideological reasons could be overruled, and give flagging points only to a randomly chosen group of people (different every day) as a *privilege* rather than give everybody the ability to flag. That worked at first because jerks are generally outnumbered by non-jerks, but eventually enough jerks got attracted to this very popular site that it reached Peak Assholery and I had to leave because it just wasn't fun anymore dealing with assholes who wanted to impose their own will on everything.

Which, of course, is the other side of Peak Assholery: when enough assholes get on a site and start shitting all over the place, it causes non-assholes to say, "meh, I'm not going to deal with that bullshit" and leave. Which leaves the assholes dominating everything. Hmm... say, have you noticed that I haven't logged into DailyKOS in, like, *ages*? Just sayin' :).

And now that I think of it... does this describe why the American political system is so fucked up, too? Funny, the connections you can make just by observing how assholes are ruining a popular community site...

-- Badtux the Observant Penguin


Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, "Go It Alone", from his 2011 album Here We Rest.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Empty stores

So this season I've visited two Target stores and one Wal-Mart store. And... uhm. Hello? Helloooo? Anybody there?

The two Target stores were virtually deserted. At one of them, two checkout counters were operating, this during a prime shopping time. The other had four checkout counters operating. And no lines. The place virtually echoed.

Wal-Mart was a little busier, but nowhere near the zoo that it was before the Great Recession. Only half of the checkout lanes were open, and there were no lines. Before the Great Recession, all the checkout lanes would have been open, all the parking in the parking lot would have been filled, and the store would have been so jammed with people you would have had a hard time moving. Now... not so much.

All that happy happy joy news about how great the economy is doing yada yada? Uhm, yeah. Not seein' it. Just sayin'.

-- Badtux the Observant Penguin

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Groovy night

Rose Elinor Dougall, "I Know We´ll Never". I think this version *may* be on iTunes, but it's not on her one and only album. Just some groovy Brit-pop by a gal with pipes.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

I love my credit union

Got a phone call from my landlady asking where her money was. I pulled up my statement on the web, and said "that's funny, bill pay says they mailed it to you on November 18 and took the money out of my account on November 22. Let me contact my credit union and have them call you to see what happened." So I opened a support case on the credit union's web site and soon got a response back that yes, they mailed the check and had the postal receipt to prove it, but it hadn't been cashed. So they called the landlord, verified the landlord hadn't found the check between the time she called me and the time they did their search, verified that they had the correct mailing address and account number on the check, and re-issued the check after verifying with the landlady that no late fees were due since she probably just lost the old check. No reissue fees or check cancellation fees or anything, just plain old customer service :).

Thank the Great Penguin that I wasn't with some Big Bank! They would have just shrugged and said, "not our problem", then charged me fees out the wazoo to resolve the Not Our Problem!

I love my credit union :).

-- Badtux the No-bank Penguin

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Trials are overrated

I mean, they sometimes result in people going free. When everybody knows that the police would *never* arrest an innocent person, and thus this results in dusky fellers walkin' the streets who ought to be in jail, not outside jail leering at our white womens and taunting us good God-fearin' white men with their long... err... trombones.

It just ain't right, ain't right I say! Which is why we need this law that says the military can lock up anybody, any time, without trial, even an American citizen, just by claiming that said citizen is a "terrorist". I mean, I feel terrorized by them dusky-skinned fellers, and by them young hippie folks with their drum circles and shit too, so why shouldn't we be able to lock one of'em up without trial anytime some white person somewhere feels threatened? I mean, it ain't as if they're real Americans, god-fearing white male Americans, after all!

Now, some fellers say, "well, they can pass this law, but the Supreme Court will just say it violates the Constitution and nullify it." You mean a Supreme Court packed with Republican-nominated judges? *SNORT!* All I gotta say is, are you fucking kiddin' me? Really? Alrighty, then!

-- Badtux the Republican Penguin

Remembering a dream

Trespassers William, "In A Song", off their album Different Stars. Just some torchy dream pop...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, December 05, 2011

Voter turnout in Russia exceeds 146%

Russia apparently obeys Chicago Rules. Why should being dead deprive one of the right to vote early and often? ;).

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

The Apprentice Rebooted

Announcer: Welcome to this new season of The Apprentice! Here to my left is Newt Gingrich.

Newt: Hello peoplesssssss....

Announcer: And here to my right, is the star of our show, the fabulous and famous Donald Trump!

[Much clapping and cheering from audience in response to "Applause" sign lighting over the stage.]

DT: Thank you, thank you, I love you all!

Announcer: We have a very special season of The Apprentice for you. Mr. Newt Gingrich came up with an amazing idea for this season...

[Cut to Newt videotape]

Newt: See, it'll be, like, the last season of The Apprentice. Except this year, it will be ten poor kids!

[Cut to DT videotape]

DT: Amazing idea, my good buddy! So many of these underprivileged children have no idea what it means to work, nobody in their life works after all. What's that, Rosie? Time for my shower? Thank you, take away my bathrobe to the laundry please and make sure my pillow is fluffed the way I like it.

[Cut back to live]

Announcer: And now we'll introduce our first two contestants... Ethan Gonzales and Latasha Washington! Come on out, children!

[Two children, a Hispanic boy and a black girl each of which is approximately ten years old, walk out on the stage. Both are dressed semi-formally, the boy in black sneakers, khaki pants and a white polo shirt, the girl wearing black Mary Janes with white ankle socks and a plaid jumper over a white blouse.]

Announcer: Say hello to our audience, children!

Ethan: Hi! [Waves]

Latasha: Hello! [Smiles and waves.]

Announcer: So tell me, Ethan, how do you feel about being on this exciting television show with the marvelous Mr. Donald Trump?

Ethan: I... I'm honored. I hope to learn everything I can from Mr. Trump and make something of myself!

Announcer: And you, Latasha?

Latasha: I'm happy to be here, Donald Trump is a great man and generous to give me this opportunity and I won't let it go to waste!

Announcer: Alright! That's the attitude! And now for your first assignment...

[A helper brings out a mop bucket and a mop, places the bucket at Ethan's feet, and hands the mop to Ethan.]

Announcer: Your first assignment is to mop the floor in the executive washroom! It's right through that door!

Ethan: Wha... what?

Donald Trump: [Walks out with a big grin on his face]: YOU'RE FIRED!

[Ethan breaks down bawling, and is led off the stage, crying and sniffling. The mop falls to the floor during this process and a helper comes out and picks the mop up, while Donald gloats looking offstage as the crying and sniffling slowly fade into the distance.]

Announcer: And are you ready for your big assignment, Latasha?

[Latasha merely glares at him. The assistant attempts to hand her the mop. She folds her arms in front of her and it merely falls on the floor]

Announcer: You get to mop The Donald's dressing room floor!

Latasha: Like hell. [Turns to Donald] Don't bother firing me, asshole. I'm outta here. [Exits stage left].

[Newt walks out on stage]

Newt: Children these days. They just don't know their place.

DT: Yes. Sad, isn't it? No wonder those children get nowhere in life. They simply don't value hard work!

Announcer: Well after this commercial break we'll bring out our next two contestants here on... Child Apprentice!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

[Based upon a true story].

A wreck on the highway

The great Emmy The Great, with "MIA", off her first album First Love.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Cat and Ladder

I had the ladder set up to get a bin of Christmas decorations down from the attic in the garage, and next thing I know, there's a cat up in the attic. So I pick him up and put him down on the ground again, and turn on my video camera to see what happens...

Turns out The Mighty Fang is mighty good at *climbing* ladders, but not so good at going *down* ladders. But never fear, no cat skeletons will be found in the attic. Not this week, anyhow.

- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Average American makes near-poverty wages

Wonder why the bottom 50% of Americans have nothing? Well, it's simple: the median American wage is almost at poverty level for a family of four.

Don't believe me? Really? Well... here's the official Social Security data. There's a lot of interesting things to note in that table. First of all, note that income is really toploaded, and that's been true for a long time. The huge sums of money earned by the top 10%, and especially by the top 1%, skew the averages way up. But over the past twenty years, that's gotten even worse. The median income was 72% of the average income in 1991. In 2010, the last year for which SSA publishes data, the median income was 65.976% of the average. In other words, the share of national income held by the bottom 50% has gone down significantly over the past twenty years.

But we already knew that. So just *how* significantly? Well... the median wage -- which half of Americans make less than -- was $26,363.55 in 2010. The Federal poverty level for a family of four in 2010 was $22,050 in 2010 -- and the 133% mark, which most experts consider the line below which a family of four is living under conditions of extreme financial distress and has difficulty meeting basic needs, was $29,326 in 2010.

In short, it's basically impossible for at least 50% of Americans to make ends meet in a one-income family. And because of the Great Recession, all too many families have become one-income families and are one paycheck away from losing everything. And that's not counting the one-income families where the income earner lost his job -- those families are already out on the streets homeless, or shacked up with relatives, or otherwise living under conditions of dire hardship.

Now, if income were normally distributed -- that is, if the average American made the average income -- the average American would be making $39,959 per year. That's a far cry from $26,364! That amount of money -- $13,595 -- is basically what the top 1% are stealing from the average American worker via claiming ownership of the wealth produced by hard-working Americans, without whom the 1% would have a tiny fraction of their current wealth because they can, at best, produce only 1% of the goods and services of the nation with their own two hands. There is no way that this is sustainable in a democracy. You're going to see continued unrest like the Occupy movement because the situation for over 50% of American workers is simply unsustainable, they work and work and work and the result is poverty while the 1% rejoice in their millions? Something's broken, and if it doesn't get fixed, nothing good will happen. That much I can guarantee.

-- Badtux the Numbers Penguin

Lonely torch

A sad blue girl...

Devics, "Blue Miss Sunday" off their brilliant torch pop album If You Forget Me. Which nobody apparently likes other than me, given that most of the videos I see from it have under 5,000 views :(.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, December 02, 2011

Not convinced

Alabama tomato farmer lets tomatos rot in field due to "lack of labor" caused by "immigration law".

My guess: If he ran a van up to Birmingham and started putting up fliers, he could find plenty of labor, though he'd have to provide transportation to his fields for them. Birmingham has an unemployment rate of close to 40% in some neighborhoods. But that labor would be those (gasp) NEGROS, and he's scared of them darkies since they got all uppity and all (the illegals aren't uppity 'cause they're scared of being deported), so he isn't going to do that.

Talk about not thinking outside of the hood...

Now, I don't agree with Alabama's immigration law because in my opinion it punishes children and it punishes people who've proven they deserve to be called Americans. But this article, combined with what I know about conditions for people of color in Birmingham, just made my blood boil.

-- Badtux the Baffled Penguin

You're a mean one, Mr. (Gin)Grinch

Okay, so Newt Gingrich says poor kids should get started early on their future careers as bathroom cleaners.

And, of course they should do this while hungry, because Newt the Lizard says that food stamps are just like credit cards and should be discontinued. Erm, except of course food stamp ECT cards are not like credit cards. The cash registers at stores that accept them are programmed to accept them only for the food items on the ticket -- all other items checked out must be paid for via some other way. I know this because I see people using these things as I check out at the grocery store, where they slide their card through the ECT machine, and then dig in their purse for random loose coins to pay for the few things not covered by the food stamp program. If Newt the Grinch had ever checked out at a grocery store recently he'd know this. Oh wait, I forget, Newt the Grinch never goes grocery shopping. Like most lizard people, he probably eats flies and live kittens for dinner.

What next, will Newt bite the head off of a puppy on live TV for his next trick? That's about the only way he can top wanting to work to death and starve little children, yo.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

And talking about bombs...

You remember seeing the story here about that bomb in the post office dropbox that got blown up by the San Jose Police Department? No? There's probably a good reason for that. I snorted at the time that story came out and said to one of my co-workers, "I bet somebody's Christmas gift just got turned into confetti." And sure enough... wait a couple of days, and we find out that turned out to be Calendars of Mass Timekeeping. Which, I suppose, are dangerous if you are a Time Lord, but otherwise... uhm, no. Yet we were being told that we had to poop our panties in fear? Really?

Which reminds me, do you remember when I posted that story about the Russian hackers getting into a SCADA system? Oh wait, I already posted the one where it turned out that the "hacker" was actually a contractor on vacation in Russia, and the SCADA system crashed because it was old and simply died of old age. But again we were supposed to be pooping our britches in fear.

Oh wait, I just saw a fly buzzing by. OMG, the terrorists are attacking! Run away, run away!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Demented noise bomb

Scout Niblett, "Cherry Cheek Bomb", off her album The Calcination of Scout Niblett. Just some demented noise...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Right wing economics in a nutshell

Okay, first of all, economies are like magic zoos, see. There are lions and tigers and bulls and bears, oh my, and stuff goes in and stuff goes out and like everybody lives happily ever after and such. So how do these "economy" thingies work? Well, first of all, meet the Free Market Fairy:

Now, the first thing the Free Market Fairy does is, like, jizz magic free market fairy dust all over the place by waving her (his?) magic wand around. This free market fairy dust is then gathered together by the Invisible Hand (no picture, because the Invisible Hand is, like, invisible, like God and Dick Cheney's conscience and stuff like that), which turns it into magical Competition Unicorns which then excrete magical substance called Choice that makes all goods cheap and widely available. Here is a picture of a Competition Unicorn:

Now, as you can see, the magical substance is excreted at the nether end and then consumers get all the benefit of this "Choice" thingy, which is, like, rainbows and sunshine and puppy dogs, oh my, and guarantees that you'll always get great service at a great price, sort of like those TV preachers who guarantee that if you send them a million billion dollars you'll go to a place where magic unicorns live and some hairy old dude has a lot of mansions for everybody to live in.

So anyhow, these magic unicorns poop this "choice" stuff and then we get all the benefits of low prices and good service. Like, at my house, I have a lot of this Choice stuff when it comes to high speed Internet -- I have Comcast, and I have, err, Comcast. Hmm. I must be wrong, because these magic Competition unicorns are EVERYWHERE, even though nobody's ever seen them outside of narrow marketplaces for consumer baubles, and thus there's ALWAYS a choice, just like my choice between Comcast and, err, Comcast, for high speed Internet. The Competition Unicorn *does* exist, like Santa Claus, magically bringing gifts to all the deserving people. And if you don’t get gifts from this magic competition unicorn, why, it just means you’re a bad person and probably deserve to get coal in your Christmas stocking, ho ho ho!

And that's right wing economics in a nutshell. Tomorrow, boys and girls, we'll talk about right-wing biology. That's even stranger than right-wing economics... like, *really* strange, as in, it's a wonder that right-wingnuts ever manage to reproduce. See ya!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Trailer park blues

Paul Thorn "Burn Down the Trailer Park" off his 1999 album Ain't Love Strange. Just some Texas blues, y'all.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin