Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Oops, almost forgot...

Laura Dekker finished her 'round the world trip last week at the age of 16 years and 123 days, meaning she's probably the youngest person to ever do so. You might remember that she was the young lady who Dutch authorities seized from her parents when she announced her plans to circumnavigate the globe, and who allowed her to sail only after over two years of legal wrangling and widespread criticism. Dutch authorities are unrepentant, saying that it was for the best interests of the child that they wanted to crush her dreams like a cockroach.

Of course, whenever a young person does something extraordinary at an early age, the question then becomes "What now?" I mean, if you're a sailor, which this young lady is, what do you do to top sailing around the world? Granted, she didn't sail non-stop, she was never at sea for more than two weeks at a time and had a huge support network of fellow boaters helping her every step of the way, but still. Sailing around the world *again* would be pretty dull.

Some folks go all Glory Days, spending the rest of their life reliving the one time they were something special. Others are like one young local woman who holds one of these records, where she doesn't even mention it unless you directly ask her about it because she's moved on to other things. So I guess it all depends on her, in the end. Huh, who woulda thunk?

-- Badtux the "My glory days are now" Penguin

Austerian dreams

The Austerians have been driving economic policy in Europe lately, cutting government budgets dramatically in order to eliminate "crowding out" and thus spur economic growth. So has economic growth increased? Erm... No. In fact, much of Europe now is seeing economic collapse on a scale that exceeds the Great Depression, with enormous increase in unemployment and sizable declines in economic output.

So what's the retort of the Austerians? Well, their retort is to lie -- to say that despite huge budget cuts, their retort is to claim that there is no austerity in Europe because the unemployed are receiving unemployment insurance. At which point it's, WTF? Are the unemployed supposed to simply drop dead in the streets from starvation and exposure?

The Hayekian response seems to be, "yes". Or, rather, the actual argument of Cafe Hayek is that the unemployed workers are voluntarily unemployed, they’d have jobs if they only lowered their wages to the point where their value to employers exceeded their wages. I.e., the Great Vacation explanation for the New Great Depression, same one they use for the Old Great Depression. This of course ignores two points: a) that there is a bottom to wages imposed by survival (i.e., people will not voluntarily accept wages that are insufficient to provide basic food, shelter, and clothing), a point explicated further on Angry Bear where it's pointed out that when machines replaced horses for many tasks, the result was mass slaughter of horses whose feeding costs now exceeded their economic worth (i.e., Hayekians want humans whose feeding costs now exceed their economic worth to be slaughtered? Soylent Hayek?) and b) employers won’t hire additional employees at any cost above $0 if there is no demand for their product, because employers are in business to make money, which means having as few people on payroll as possible to meet current demand, which means the only way they’ll hire *at any wage above $0* is if demand increases.

But of course these unpleasant realities don’t happen in the bubble universe that Hayekians live in, where basic biological needs don’t exist and employers are charities. Of course, in *our* universe, neither of those statements are true…

- Badtux the Reality-based Penguin

Dreamy inside

Mazzy Star, "Fade into You", off their album So Tonight That I Might See. This was an unlikely hit for the band back in 1993.

It occurred to me that I had never played the album version of the song here, just the live version. So here's the album version.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, January 30, 2012

Failure to complete

Have you ever had to quit watching a movie or reading a book because it was too good?

With me it's tragedies that, if the characters have grabbed me, I just can't keep going on after I realize that this can't end well. Steven King's Pet Sematary is one such book. After the guy's kid gets hit by a car and he starts dreaming about digging up the kid's body and taking it to the pet sematary, I just had to quit reading. I couldn't go on. I didn't want to see what was going to happen to these characters that I'd grown to love, because I knew it wasn't going to be anything good.

Latest instance of that is the movie The Professional. A young Natalie Portman's damaged character of an abused and orphaned girl who acts out sexually and violently in a way I've seen in real life from abused children raised under similar circumstances, and Jean Reno's equally damaged Leon the hit man, are played brilliantly by their respective actors. But Matilda has the poor impulse control of youth and the wild emotional swings of an abused youngster, and there's no way this can end well. In the end someone dies, and I know it's going to be one of these two complex and conflicted characters because there's no other way it can end, and I just don't want to watch any further because I'm just a softy and those two actors have sold me on their characters. Too bad Natalie Portman's recent roles have basically been as eye candy, because this movie shows that she totally has the skill to own a movie. Or at least she did as a thirteen year old kid.

So what about you? Any such instances of "too good to finish"? Or am I just a big ole' plush softy penguin?

-- Badtux the Softy Penguin

Bloody floor

I don't know how it is that, given my desert wanderings, I've never programmed anything here by Tucson's Calexico. This is "Ghostwriter" from their somewhat atypical 2005 album The Book And The Canal, atypical in that usually they mix some Mexican sounds -- some accordion, some flamenco guitar, etc. -- into their music. This is more of a straight-up murder ballad in the folk tradition, down on the border, in the borderlands where life is cheap. Enjoy (?).

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Our "allies", Pakistan

Pakistan is trying the doctor who helped catch Osama bin Laden for treason. Which doesn't surprise me, given that Osama bin Laden was killed basically in the Pakistani equivalent of West Point and there's no way that the Army didn't know he was there on their doorstep.

These are our "allies". Yeah, right. If Pakistan didn't have dozens of nukes I'd say just get the hell out of Afghanistan and Pakistan and cut'em off and let'em rot. Unfortunately, having dozens of nukes they can give to terrorists or lob via missiles at our call centers across the border in India sorta makes it difficult to ignore Pakistan...

Shorter: WASF.

-- Badtux the Gruntled Penguin

Bad luck

Townes van Zandt's old drinking buddy Blaze Foley, with "Clay Pigeons". This song is almost indescribably sad when you think about Blaze's short sad life of nothing but bad luck and troubles and how it ended.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

SOPA, piracy, and the lunacy of copyright hoarders

This explanation from down in the comments on this article is awesome on top of awesome:

Let me address your question as a content provider whose products (DVDs) are heavily pirated, who at one time was a computer games programmer whose games were heavily pirated.

I used to get very upset about piracy, and spent a lot of time and effort fighting it. But I eventually realized that it didn't cost me much money in the long run.

The reason is simple: thieves don't buy. If they can't get it for free, they won't buy it. They do not represent lost sales.

The real target shouldn't be individual infringers (stealing for their own use) but bootleggers; those that steal to sell to others. Because those guys are actually costing you money. Alas, usually it is not cost-effective to sue them.

Technological fixes like cutting off their DNS are pointless; there are multiple examples in recent history of technological arms-race failures (copy protection wars, for example). It becomes a giant game of whack-a-mole, similar to the problems with fighting bootleggers on eBay... sure, you can get the auction taken down, but another one pops right up again.

The only long-term solution is to make the product cheap and as easy as possible to get.

Amen on that last one. Look, I was one of the early Napster users back in the day. I used Napster (and its successors) not because I was interested in stealing, but, rather, because it was the only way I could get digital downloads of music I was interested in. Once everything became available via iTunes and Amazon mp3, I quit using those services because the industry was now providing me with what I wanted: music that didn't take up space in my tiny cluttered apartment (since it lived on my hard drive).

The music videos that I showcase here? I've bought most of those songs on iTunes. It's easy, takes a few seconds to find in iTunes, then a single click and 99 cents later I have a song to share with my iDevices so I can hear my music anywhere. So now here's the MPAA whining that movies are being pirated and thus they should be allowed to take down any site anywhere based on just a simple complaint... uhm. Look. If I could buy a movie via iTunes for $9.99, or an episode of a TV show for 99 cents, like I can buy an album or song on iTunes, I'd probably do so. But I *can't*. Meaning, if I want to buy a movie I end up having to go to a retailer web site, select physical media, and wait (since most of what I want isn't in any retail store locally). Bah humbug on that, I'll just rent it from Redbox(which has a machine across the street from me in a drugstore) if it's a recent release or Blockbuster-by-mail if I gotta actually get outta my seat and do something. I'm a busy penguin. I just don't have *time* for that BS.

-- Badtux the Reality-based Penguin

Saturday, January 28, 2012

What Google thinks about me:

What Google thinks about me (click the link to see what Google thinks about *you*):

Your categories

Below you can review the interests and inferred demographics that Google has associated with your cookie. You can remove or edit these at any time.

  • Arts & Entertainment - Music & Audio - Rock Music - Indie & Alternative Music
  • Arts & Entertainment - Music & Audio - Urban & Hip-Hop - Rap & Hip-Hop
  • Autos & Vehicles - Vehicle Brands - Jeep
  • Computers & Electronics
  • World Localities - North America - USA - Rocky Mountains - Colorado
Your demographics

We infer your age and gender based on the websites you've visited. You can remove or edit these at any time.

Age: 35-44
Gender: Male

Okay, they got my gender right, but: I detest hip-hop music, I've never even *visited* Colorado, and that is *not* my age bracket.

Sorry, Google, but You Suck.

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin


This is the Dex Romweber Duo with some thrashing rockabilly: "Jungle Drums", off their new album Is That You In the Blue?. Dex and his sister are who inspired the White Stripes to start their thing. Jack and Meg are famous, and Dex is, like, "Dex who?"

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Netflix and the definition of "fail"

So anyhow, as some of you know, I switched to Blockbuster By Mail when Netflix started messing with their pricing structure. Blockbuster's okay, but the disks take a lot longer to arrive than with Netflix, and they don't have some of the more obscure foreign films. So I decided I was going to go back to Netflix's Disk by Mail service. Except....

Except they don't offer it anymore!

Yep. The service that basically defined Netflix... no longer available to new customers. Instead, you have to buy their Streaming service for $8/month, then add on the 1 disk plus Blu-Ray service for an additional $10/month. $18/month for disk-by-mail, vs. $10/month for Blockbuster.

Way to go on your slide to irrelevancy, Netflix! Netflix is showing all the signs of a company in a death spiral, complete with massive flailing about where they can't stick with one business model for more than a few months. I think I'd rather sign up for a Hulu+ subscription at this point and stick with the Blockbuster for the movies, thank you very much -- I have enough drama in my own life, I don't feel like dealing with Netflix's too.

-- Badtux the Head-shakin' Penguin

Friday, January 27, 2012

What's the matter with a Moon base?

Right now we have a lot of unused resources here in the United States. We have bright scientists unable to find work, brilliant engineers idled because there are no massive engineering projects requiring their skills, thousands of skilled machinists idled, and so on and so forth. This is in addition to the millions of Americans whose skills are more rudimentary. If we did a WPA-type project, the Americans without skills could be put to work picking up trash by the roads, doing trail maintenance in the national parks, and otherwise doing things that haven't been done for decades as funding dried up for anything other than corporate welfare. But what about the smart people? It would seem to me to be an utter waste of talent to put someone with a degree in biochemistry in charge of digging outhouses at a WPA camp.

So Newt Gingrich, in my opinion, actually hit upon a viable economic stimulus project with his "to the moon!" rhetoric the other day. Remember, even the ugliest dirtiest pig can sometimes turn up a truffle. This wouldn't be astoundingly expensive like back in the Apollo days because we aren't developing the technology from scratch. Rockets are increasingly a mature technology -- we know how to build'em, they're not all that expensive to build anymore, though of course still not cheap. And the same applies to space capsules and the various environmental systems needed to keep them operational. There would still be a large amount of original science to do regarding how to utilize the Moon's resources to build an actual base (as vs crash a bunch of modules into one location like we did with the International Space Station), not to mention that we'd have to go ahead and man-rate some large rocket in the first place to get our guys into space (we have rockets bigger than Soyuz that could boost people into space but none of them are man-rated, they all have too much vibration and too much acceleration for squishy biologicals to tolerate, but that could be fixed at some expense to payload), but we have hundreds of thousands of unemployed scientists in this country right now. We don't lack for the talent to solve these kinds of problems.

Which is why I am baffled at why so many so-called "leftists" are laughing at Newt proposing a stimulus program that would dwarf Obama's. Granted, he did it in the context of *also* saying he was going to balance the budget -- i.e., it's simply mathematically impossible for him to do both, and we *should* point and laugh at *that* -- but the idea of a huge moon program? Dude. It's just an infrastructure project, just like the ones Obama touts and that leftists say should have been bigger. Well, Gingrich's program *would* be bigger. The only way to dismiss Gingrich's program as "silliness" is if you dismiss Obama's program as "silliness"... which is just plain silliness.

-- Badtux the Space Penguin

Saying Goodbye

Leonard Cohen's new album, Old Ideas, comes out on January 31. This is his last album, because he's reached that point where he is becoming too frail to continue for long. He knows it. He knows it well. At age 77, he's preparing for his end. This album is his discussions with God about that subject. But Leonard being Leonard, there's plenty of sly wit and self-deprecating humor to leaven the darkness. And women. Can't forget the women. Leonard does like his women.

There's nothing new here, but then neither is Leonard Cohen. This is "Darkness". Enjoy.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A matter of jurisdiction and standing

So birthers in Georgia filed complaints with the Georgia Secretary of State that Obama wasn't eligible to be President because he wasn't natural-born (apparently he was born artificially in a test tube?), and the Secretary of State sighed and put the matter in the hands of an administrative law judge to decide. Now, administrative law judges aren't exactly criminal or civil judges. Really, they're not judges at all in the traditional sense of the word. Instead, they make decisions about whether state regulations are being properly applied or not. They are, in essence, clerks, not judges in the traditional sense of the word.

So anyhow, O'Really Taitz was one of the complainants, and promptly subpoena'ed Obama to testify at the hearing via filing service on Obama's Georgia lawyer. Said lawyer than complained that this was nonsense, you couldn't subpoena a sitting President into what's essentially an administrative proceeding internal to the Georgia state government that should simply review the last two dozen court rulings against Taitz and dismiss the complaint out of hand, there was no jurisdiction to subpoena Obama because Obama was not a citizen of the state of Georgia and thus not subject to the jurisdiction of the state of Georgia. The administrative law judge said "Oh yeah? Well I'm going to uphold the subpoena anyhow!"

So there it stands. Obama's lawyer basically said "Screw this, you have no jurisdiction and we will not participate, you've stamped your subpoena, now enforce it." Which is going to be problematic, because see, the Constitution sort of foresaw this problem, and made the President a citizen of the District of Columbia and thus subject only to Federal law for actions he takes as President. The only court with jurisdiction is the Federal District Court in D.C., not some podunk administrator in Atlanta. The only court that Obama must answer to as President is that court, not some clerk in Atlanta. And the lawyer for Obama *couldn't* participate, because participating would implicitly imply that this over-titled clerk had jurisdiction to issue a subpoena, which would open the flood gates to every clerk in every city hall who had a beef against the President issuing a subpoena to their own dog and pony fiasco.

Which, BTW, is an apt description of what actually happened when the hearing actually got underway. No lawyer for Obama. No Obama. Just a circus side-show of freaks and lunatics that were so ridiculous that even the administrative law judge, who is apparently a hard-core Republican but not an insane one, started cutting them off while rolling eyes and sighing heavily.

And no ruling, of course. I'm sure he wants to be well away from that collection of lunatics before he issues a ruling, probably via having a courier deliver it rather than announcing it in person. Because by this time it *has* to be obvious to him exactly what kind of people he's dealing with and that ruling any way other than the obvious (that a dude born in Hawaii is a natural-born citizen as defined by the Constitution) will result in the sort of circus that will consume his life.

-- Badtux the Law Penguin

Okay, this is fugling crazy

I just got an email from Costco. They're offering me discounted tickets to the Super Bowl for the low, low price of -- get this -- $3,000.

Yes, that's right. $3,000 to go watch a buncha fat millionaires play a children's game. Uhm, yeah. Maybe Mitt Romney can afford to blow three grand to watch a buncha fat millionaires play a children's game, but I got better things to do with my money, like, well, anything, actually...

-- Badtux the WTF Penguin

High road

The Trishas, "Clockwork". This is thus far an unreleased song. Enjoy.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

On the border

The Walkabouts, "Bordertown", off their album Watermarks.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wal-Mart slaves pay more taxes than Romney

Left unmentioned during all the fuss and furor about Mitt Romney's 13.9% tax rate in 2010 is the fact that Wal-Mart slaves laboring for minimum wage pay a higher percentage of their income as taxes than Romney does. Yes, they don't pay *income* taxes, but they most definitely pay *payroll* taxes, which currently stand at 15.3% if you combine the employer portion and paycheck portion together, which you want to do if you're talking about taxes, as well as pay an average 9.7% sales tax on the percentage of their income that goes to non-shelter items, for an effective tax rate of around 20%.

So is it fair that Mitt gets to pay lower taxes for sitting around and letting his investment advisers move his money around than is paid by someone who works for a living? Uhm... do you need *me* to answer that question for you?!

-- Badtux the Snarky Numbers Penguin

Google's new slogan...

BE EVIL. Not only are they going to invade your privacy in a massive way, but they are not going to allow you to opt out of this invasion of your privacy -- which, I might add, means they will be violating a new law soon to be passed in the EU to give you the right to be forgotten (i.e., in the EU it shall shortly be *illegal* to not give an opt-out option).

And that's not the only way they've been evil lately. Their stance against freedom of speech in the matter of the Google+ social network is well-known. As an experiment, a researcher used a privacy relay tool often used by people who live in repressive countries and created a Google account. This privacy relay tool routed his Internet requests through a server in France (he didn't choose the exit server, that was chosen by the privacy relay tool in question), at which point he was using Google's French servers. He told Google that he was a male born in 1957 who lived in Iran, and for the telephone number gave the phone number of the Iranian embassy in America (note that he's using Google's French servers from a French IP address to do all this). Then he attempted to sign up for Google Plus with a pseudonym that would protect him from being killed by his government if he were truly an Iranian attempting to set up an account where he and his fellow dissidents could communicate with each other. The results were... err... see for yourself (click on the picture for full size, and the language was reset to English before the snapshot because I'm sure you don't want to read French):

Yep, Google is against Freedom.

Evil. Just sayin'.

-- Badtux the Freedom-lovin' Penguin

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The state of the onion...

Is tears.

Just sayin'.

Didn't watch, listen to, or read the State of the Union address or its response. If I want bullshit, I'll head up to one of the local ranches and frolick in their barn.

Instead, I cooked corn tortillas and had Mexican-spicy beans, jalapenos, and salad. Penance for the sinful cookies, I suppose, since all of this was basically no-fat and fairly low in calories. As for the cookies, I took them to work and they didn't last 15 minutes. Like piranhas, I tell ya!

-- Badtux the "What smells?" Penguin


This is WarPaint, "Undertow", off their album The Fool. And I am quite baffled by the fact that these women's music is getting millions of views on YouTube, given that two years ago they were utterly unknown and even today you'll never hear their stuff on the radio, at least not on *these* shores...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, January 23, 2012


From this recipe:

And on the cooling rack (yes, this is an old refrigerator rack, why do you ask?):
Awefully unhealthy, given that it's two sticks of butter. Oh well, I didn't want to live forever anyhow :).

PS: How did I get those so round? Simple: Ice cream scoop. F*** that "spoon onto cookie sheet" nonsense :).

-- Badtux the Baking Penguin

France outlaws Holocaust denial

One of the notions that those squishy Yurpeens and Canucks have decided upon is that freedom of speech stops at the point that a) it's false, and/or b) it incites hatred against groups of people. Truth is always a defense, but once truth has been established beyond a reasonable doubt, denying the truth is not a free speech right.

So France has passed a law now stating that publically denying a particular historical fact is illegal in France, and in response, Turkey has thrown a hissy fit. Wait, Turkey? Yes. Because the historical fact in question is the Armenian Genocide, and despite the fact that this is established historical fact, with well-established research showing it happened, Turkey continues to act like a Nazi sympathizer that says "the Holocaust never happened!".

What is baffling to me is why Turkey even cares. This happened years before the modern state of Turkey was created. I can see why they wouldn't want to dwell on it -- just as U.S. history books don't dwell on the genocide of the Native Americans that happened as us white people stole their land -- but this is ridiculous. The Armenian Genocide happened. Denying this is ridiculous and makes you look like an idiot to the rest of the world. If Turkey is trying to impress the EU in order to get entry into the EU, this isn't how to do it -- it just makes them look like a bunch of hot-headed neo-Nazis denying the Holocaust, and makes most Europeans wince and quietly make jokes behind Turkish diplomats' backs unfavorably comparing them to skinheads and other right-wing Holocaust deniers.

-- Badtux the News Penguin

Google: Still evil.

Google + is notorious for not allowing pseudonyms. Today, Google said they'll allow some pseudonyms. But only under very specific circumstances.

They don't get it. Using your real name on the Internet is fine if all you're doing is sharing recipes with your grandkids. But if you're engaging in political discussion on the Internet, using your real name can be dangerous to your health and safety. In repressive fascist regimes, using your real name on the Internet and espousing politics that are not sanctioned by the heads of the fascist brownshirts can result in your child's cat being cruely murdered, your car windows smashed and tires slashed, or even being shot and killed.

It's as if they want to shut up all us political types. Evil. Simply evil. That is all.

-- Badtux the Pseudonymous Penguin

An armed society is...

*NOT* a polite society.

According to the Murky News: "Six people, including several teens, were rushed to the hospital Saturday night after an argument at a sweet 16 party led to gunfire. Investigators said 30 to 40 partygoers were in the home's garage when an argument started. The dispute escalated to the point that people pulled out guns and began firing. Police said "multiple" guns were involved and "numerous" shots were fired."

Folks: Robert Heinlein wrote *FICTION*. Heinlein himself admitted that the intention of his works was to get beer money, not to create any grand philosophical statements. Libertarians who view his works as gospel are viewing works that the author admitted were just paid lies as gospel, which makes those libertarians, well, either gullible or stupid. Reality is that an armed society is no more polite than any other society. It's just that in an armed society when folks get irate, they start plugging at each other with firearms rather than with fists.

- Badtux the Reality-based Penguin

Yucky heart

This is British indie band Yuck, with their song "Stutter" off their self-titled debut album.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Italian drivers

I haven't said much about the Costa Concordia shipwreck. The Italian driver jokes pretty much tell themselves, as do the jokes about the unlucky captain's excuse for abandoning ship before everybody was off (he "slipped" and fell into a lifeboat, how lucky!). But this satellite photo of the Costa Concordia from orbit gives you an idea of just how friggin' big that ship really *is* -- and shows you exactly how close it was to land when it ran aground. That ship had no business being anywhere near that island...

-- Badtux the Orbital Penguin

Girl eyes

I guess if you've managed to release two albums, you're no longer a novelty band.

This is Dum Dum Girls with another of their 60s-girl-band-inspired songs, "Bedroom Eyes", off their new album Only in Dreams.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Trying a new biscuit recipe...

I'm still trying to get rid of that whole wheat flour. It just doesn't act right. If you've dealt with whole wheat flour you know what I mean, it's not as sticky as regular all-purpose flour and it doesn't have the right texture and it's heavier and etc., so I'm trying to substitute it for half of the flour in regular substitutes and it's not turning out right.

So now I'm trying biscuits with half the flour substituted with whole wheat. And it's not acting right, my biscuits ended up a bit heavier than usual, though they're still nicely buttery and flakey enough and certainly *taste* like biscuits are supposed to taste, even if they aren't quite right...

Ah well. I still have a bunch of whole wheat flour to go through, so I'll have to play with this some more. The amount of butter is what made them flaky (though a bit denser than usual), but they're a bit *too* buttery because of the greater density caused by the whole wheat flour. So maybe I'll substitute a couple tablespoons of shortening for a couple tablespoons of butter. Or maybe try the vodka trick that someone mentioned here a while back, for getting a good consistency without activating the glutens (these biscuits aren't tough so the glutens didn't activate, but they definitely are denser than my regular biscuits!).

-- Badtux the Cooking Penguin

No recipe, because it's not quite right, more experiments are needed.

The new George Wallace

In 1976, George Wallace won the South Carolina primary on a platform of race-baiting and bigotry. It was pretty much George's last hurrah, he didn't win any other primaries that year, and soon retired from politics.

Today, Newt "the Grinch" Gingrich appears to have won South Carolina based on a similar plan of attack. Apparently folks in South Carolina liked his race-baiting and his constant attacks on the negro err President, sorta like back when they voted for George Wallace in the '76 primary 'cause George hated him some black people too.

All of which says more about South Carolina than anything that's going to be relevant to the rest of the race...northern Florida is also full of racists, but southern Florida isn't, so I doubt racism is going to stir as many people to vote for the Grinch there. Still, the Grinch is back, bitches! And the Republican dwarf race is still up in the air, with each of Frothy Dwarf, Sleazy Dwarf, and Grumpy Dwarf having won a state. None of them are going to beat the camel in the dwarf vs. camel race, but they're definitely all chugging away as fast as their tiny little legs can propel them!

-- Badtux the Dwarf-watchin' Penguin

Joyful noise

The Joy Formidable, "I Don't Want To See You Like This", off their debut album The Big Roar.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, January 20, 2012

Gripe of the day

What's with these people who don't flush the toilet? Are they so impressed by the fact that they managed to produce a turd that they want to preserve the evidence so that *we* can be impressed too? Dude. It's shit. We're not impressed. Flush it down. If your feeble little head can figure out how. If not, how did you manage to make it to a public toilet under your own power in the first place?

Which reminds me -- public art here in the SillyCone Valley sucks. Down in LaLa Land, they get silly public art like this:

So what do we get here in the Silly Cone Valley? We get a drunken wife-beater whose statue spent ten years in a warehouse because he loved killing Mexicans and the Hispanic community was outraged that a statue of this dude was gonna be in a public park, we get a statue of drunken schmoos schmoozing:

And let's not forget the crowning accomplishment of public art in San Jose: An 8 foot tall pile of dog poop:

Compared to a giant silvery head of Lenin with a tiny Chairman Mao balancing atop it, We Suck.

-- Badtux the Random Penguin

Noisy Danger

The inimitable Scout Niblett does "Ripe with Life" off her recent album The Calcination of Scout Niblett while in her natural environment -- a small night club.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Baffling Carolina

So we had Dopey Dwarf drop out of the dwarf-race, and now it's Grumpy Dwarf leading over Sleazy Dwarf in South Carolina? WTF?

Poor Sleazy just can't get a break. First we learn that Frothy, not Sleazy, won Iowa. Now Grumpy is poised to win South Carolina. Of course, the core problem is that while Sleazy is skeezy, he's also Mormon. Mormons tend to *not* be fat stupid ignorant devout welfare whores, thus can't be *real* conservatives, right? Right?!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Torch Hate

Devics, "With the voice of a girl who still hasn't learned", off their torch pop album If You Forget Me.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Great Blackout of 2012

Today if you went to Wikipedia, you discovered it wasn't there. Why? Because they, like tens of thousands of other sites, were protesting copyright bills in Congress that basically would allow anybody to take down any web site at any time (via redirecting their web site's domain name in the global name registry so that you get a FBI warning instead) by making a spurious claim that said web site was "hosting or encouraging the hosting of copyrighted material". No trial. No jury. No recourse to get your domain name back other than suing the person or entity who made the complaint, which isn't practical for most people, since it's generally law firms out to extort money from ordinary civilians that will be engaged in this sort of conduct (that's true in Germany where such a law is already in place, and there's no reason to think it wouldn't be true here too).

In short: We're talking about a law that would be good only for lawyers, not for anybody else on the planet. It wouldn't even be good for the Hollywood studios pushing it, since all that happens if the global domain name service goes black for accused copyright violators is that alternate distributed name services that are much harder to shut down will go into service, much the same way that the shutdown of the centralized Napster service led to the current Bittorrent decentralized system.

Lawyers. That's the only people who will benefit. Bah humbug!

-- Badtux the Practical Penguin


The Waco Brothers, "Walking On Hell's Roof Looking At The Flowers". Not exactly what I'd be doin' if I was walking on Hell's roof, but the bro's make it work.

- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A joke gone wild

So anyhow, a bunch of lefties over on Twitter were joking around that since Romney's daddy was born in Mexico, that meant Romney was no more (or less) a "natural born citizen" than Obama is. At which point someone said, "quick, someone tell Crazy Joe over at World Nut Daily!" and sure enough, this morning I got an email blast from Joseph Farah, owner/editor of World Nut Daily, with the Cavuto, "Is Mitt Romney a Natural Born Citizen?"

Dear Crazy Joe: We were JOKING. We weren't being serious. In fact, we were making fun of *you* and your demented crusade to overturn the will of the American voters via legalistic mumbo jumbo about how someone born on American soil might not *really* be a "natural born citizen" (what, he was artificially born?!). I realize that right-wingers have no sense of humor but dude. Get a grip!

- Badtux the Head-shakin' Penguin

A treasure

Ray Wylie Hubbard does a gospel honkey tonk song after about 2 minutes of the funniest banter I've heard in a *long* time. If I ever get to spend a while in Austin, I'd love to see him perform in person... looks like a real fun time.

This is "When She Sang Amazing Grace".

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, January 16, 2012

Happy Token Perfect Negro Day!

As with most Americans, I spent MLK day at work. Because hey, it's only a holiday for a *darkie*, not for a *real* American, so get into those cubicles and onto those assembly lines, wage slaves, and punch out some product for us!

But anyhow, this is the day when we celebrate Token Perfect Negro, who was this nice kindly non-threatening well-dressed black man who, like, wasn't scary and shit like those scary black people demanding social justice and jobs. Token Perfect Negro wasn't one of those scary criminal Negros who did scary criminal shit and such, he wasn't a rabble rouser, he was non-violent and non-threatening and who could hate him, after all?

Of course, the real Martin Luther King Jr. was quite adamant in his demands for social justice and jobs for all Americans, was non-violent but non-violent in a quite intrusive way that got into people's faces and made them pay attention, and there was one helluva lot of bigots, racists, and all-around nasty people who felt threatened by his very existence, to the extent that the FBI had a file on MLK Jr. that was a foot thick. And yes, he spent time in jail for crimes, though the crimes he was put into jail for were crimes of violating the apartheid laws, but still, if the definition of a criminal is someone convicted of a crime, MLK Jr. was a criminal.

And the world is all the better for that. But of course MLK Jr. isn't the person we're not-celebrating today, the person we're not-celebrating today is Token Perfect Negro. Alrighty, then!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

A song for George W. Bush

Okay, so Iris Dement wasn't talking about Republicans. But the deal is, I feel the same way about folks who betrayed the nation by putting us into two unwinnable wars and causing the deaths of thousands for the profit of Vice President Halliburton's company. Their invisible sky demon that they worship might forgive them. But I won't.

This is "God May Forgive You (But I Won't)".

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Those darkies are just savages

They're uncivilized and ignorant and not as good as us, so it's okay to do drone strikes on their villages and kill lots of women and children.

Incidentally, the young programming prodigy who was at nine years of age the world's youngest MCP (Microsoft Certified Professional) recently died after an epileptic seizure and coma. She will be buried near where she was born, near Faisalabad, Pakistan. Her name was Arfa Karim Randhawa, and she died in Lahore, Pakistan, after complications in the ICU.

Yeah, those darkies are all ignorant savages.

-- Badtux the Darkly Sarcastic Penguin

Beautiful assassin

The Musician Known As Beck wrote an album for French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg and got her to record it in his home studio. The result was the 2009 album IRM, which contains this song, "Time Of The Assassins".

-- Badtux The Music Penguin

Disgusting racists

Pretty much every nation has a law that says if a citizen of that nation marries a foreign national, the foreign national can get a visa to live in the home country and can eventually get citizenship. So, what would you say about a law that said you could marry anybody you wanted to marry and bring them home to live as long as the person you want to marry isn't a Jew? You'd be outraged at such a racist law, I hope, and make comparisons to Hitler and maybe even mention that Hitler's propaganda referred to Jews as "cockroaches" and thus Nazi Germany outlawed marriages between "Aryans" and Jews because, really, who marries a cockroach?

But this is just a theoretical question, you say, because surely no modern nation would pass some racist law that singled out a single ethnicity for special discriminatory treatment. The international outcry would be deafening. Uhm, except a supposedly modern nation did pass such a law. I'm still waiting for the outcry, though, because the nation is Israel, and the ethnicity being discriminated against is Palestinians. Yeppers, if you're an Israeli citizen and marry an Italian, you can bring your spouse home. But if you're an Israeli citizen and marry a Palestinian... forgetaboutit!

So waiting for the international outrage in... oh wait. I forgot. Condemning racism means you're anti-Semitic. Alrighty, then!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The French conspiracy

So Newt Gingrinch's SuperPAC is running ads in South Carolina blasting Romney because Romney can... speak French?

But hey, maybe the Grinch has a point. If not for France helping us out during the French Revolution, we'd have an actual real national anthem that can be sung by mere mortals, rather than the screech-inducing ode to fireworks that is our current national anthem, which trips up far too many pop tarts who attempt to scream it out at the beginning of football games. Not to mention that football would be played with round balls, kicked with your foot, rather than being some bizarre mashup of rugby, wrestling, and line-dancing. And if not for the French, we'd all speak English.

So thanks for nothing, France. Seriously.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Wright Noise

Before Shannon Wright tried to get all arty Tory Amos piano bar chick on us, she did a lot of raw noisy hard-driving stuff with just guitar and drum. This is "The Path of Least Persistence (Figure II)" off her 2001 album Dyed in the Wool.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, January 13, 2012

Zombie Jerry Falwell endorses Newt Gingrich

Yes, for true! From beyond the grave, Jerry Falwell endorses Newt "The Lizard" Gingrinch! Because Mitt Romney has a likability problem (as Mike Huckabee put it in 2008, "Mitt doesn’t remind you of the guys you used to work with, he reminds you of the guy who laid you off"). So clearly the GOP needs a candidate far more likable than Mitt Romney.

Of course, pretty much any flattened armadillo they found on a Texas highway would be more likable than Mitt Romney... oh wait. No, that was Rick Perry. Nevermind!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Bad travels

Cracker with "Eurotrash Girl", off their 1993 album Kerosene Hat.

- Badtux the Music Penguin

War crimes

The four Marines urinating on corpses have been identified and now Hillary Clinton is calling for War Crime charges.

So let's get this straight: Pissing on dead people -- who don't give a shit whether you're pissing on them or not 'cause they're, like, dead -- is a war crime. But making hundreds of thousands of people dead in the first place by sending U.S. troops into some place they have no business being based on lies? Why, NOT a war crime. So Darth Cheney and his puppet minion GWB aren't war criminals, 'cause the buck stops... well, down there with the grunts, yo!

I can't condone this sort of conduct, but I can understand why it's happening -- and that it doesn't make a damn bit of difference to the outcome. We've already lost in Afghanistan. Everybody understands that except the politicians who sent the troops into Afghanistan. Crap, we lost the moment we sent more than a few platoons of Special Forces into Afghanistan, that's a landscape that has chewed up pretty much every invader that's ever dared it. This is the sort of shit that happens when a defeated military is bitterly nursing its wounds after being put into a no-win situation. It's a pisser that something like this happens (literally in this case) and the troops involved should be disciplined (too bad we contracted out the mess halls, these are some grunts who need to peel a *lot* of potatoes), but WAR CRIME? Oh puh-leeze, the real war crime is sending our troops into a no-win situation in a first place. Duh.

-- Badtux the Reality-based Penguin

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Matt Drudge wants you to read his web site...

unless you're a government employee, at which point I guess you give up your right to read his web site.

Look. There are times when I post things that have folks from unallocated IP addresses stop by. (That is, there is no official entry in the ARIN reverse lookup database for these IP addresses, there's No Such Address, read the initials ;). It's called GOOGLE. Some of those folks are dropping by because it's their job. Some are dropping by because they're on their lunch break. Either way, they typed in something like, say "B-1 crash afghanistan" to Google and came to my blog. That's how the Internet works. That's how it's always worked, all the way back to the early webcrawlers that required you to be really creative to actually find things.

So we are left with two options here: Either Drudge really believes that becoming a government employee means you lose your right to use Google to find articles of interest to you or your employer, or Drudge is a cretin. I report, you decide.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Thought for the day

If the GOP could get away with digging up embalmed Ronald Reagan and running him for President again, they would. Embalmed Ronald Reagan would probably appear more life-like than Mitt Romney anyhow (dude is almost as robotic as his wife, the killbot from Andromeda Galaxy).

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Guess that eatin' right stuff didn't last

Tonight I steamed some potstickers made of the flesh of the mighty tofu beast, and ate some kimchi'ed Korean vegetables. I followed it up with some yogurt for desert.

All of which is to no avail, because cooling on top of my stove is a pan of fresh-backed chocolate fudge brownies, which I topped with some 60% cacao chocolate chips as decoration.

Sigh. First there was the cheesy crackers (well, sorta-crackers anyhow), now this? I need to start baking things a bit more healthy than this!

Update: Chocolate overdose. OMG. Is it possible to have a mouth orgasm? These things are *soooo* rich and, well, chocolaty...

-- Badtux the Fat Penguin

Cruel Rain

Rocky Votolato, "She Was Only In It For The Rain" from his 2006 album Makers.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Gingrinch PAC releases anti-Romney movie

The fascinating thing is that, unlike most of what Romney says, the facts I tried checking out in this video actually checked out. Romney's group of corporate raiders was all about stripping assets out of profitable companies that they took over in hostile takeovers and turning them into bankrupt shells, as Romney's group walked away with millions of dollars from stripping the assets and the workers of the former profitable company were thrown out on the streets.

Yesterday while driving home I caught Gingrinch being interviewed on CNN Radio. You got the sense it's not about votes with the Grinch now. This is personal. His distaste and disdain for Romney was so visceral that you almost expected spittle to come out of the radio speakers.

-- Badtux the Dwarf-race-watchin' Penguin

And we pay money for this?

Intelligence report says Taliban still want to rule Afghanistan.

And water is wet. Duh.

-- Badtux the Duh Penguin

Evil expression

I love this photo of Frank Zappa and one of his cats. They both have this same wicked expression in their eyes, like they're trying to figure out how to shred something that needs shredding ;).

-- Badtux the Cat-blogging Penguin

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Eerie science

The Black Angels, "Science Killer", off their 2008 album Directions to See a Ghost.

Interesting how such minimalist instrumentation can be sent thru sufficient reverb to get some eerie effects...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

New Hamster

I suppose I should post something about the dwarf race. Creepy Dwarf won, as expected, but 60% of GOP voters still don't like him and voted for someone else. Goldy Dwarf came out with a surprising second place finish -- apparently New Hamster *likes* cranky old septuagenarians who yell "you darn kids, smoke my grass!", probably something to do with too many fumes from the grass. Oily Dwarf's oil millions apparently worked good enough for a third place finish, followed by Grumpy Dwarf, Frothy Dwarf, and basically out of the race, Dopey Dwarf with basically 0%, who is going to give it one last Texas try in South Carolina then go home to tend his chattel.

I was going to extend the allegory to dwarf vs. camel but at this point we're already too politically incorrect towards the little people so I'll let you watch that race and create your own allegory. Heh.

- Badtux the Dwarf-watching Penguin

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Cheese crackers

That's what I'm trying right now. Rough recipe:

1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, grated (sorry, I didn't measure, I just grated into the mixing bowl until there was the amount of butter I wanted ;)
1/2 cup (more or less) grated mild chedder cheese or some other mild cheese or cheese mix (I had some "mexican mix" in the 'fridge from making burritos which was pretty smooth)

Mix ingredients (flour, butter, cheese first, then milk until the dough is the right consistency to hold together as a ball but not be sticky), slap it on some floured wax paper and flour the top slightly to help keep it from sticking, slap another piece of wax paper on top, roll it out into a fairly thin sheet. Fold/cut/relocate edges until rectangular. Use pizza cutter to cut the result into crackers. Put on lightly floured cookie sheet, sprinkle top with more grated cheese to give it a nice texture on the top, bake at 350 degrees for around 20+ minutes until golden brown.

We'll have to see how it tastes, but it certainly *smells* good ;).

-- Badtux the Cooking Penguin

Update: 24 minutes after putting them into the oven, they're cooked, but the texture is wrong. The texture is sort of like a very good pie crust. A *cheesy* pie crust, and a *good* pie crust, but definitely not crispy. Maybe I need to let them cook a little longer... okay, slid back in...

Update #2: 30 minutes they had to come out or become overcooked. Letting them cool but the one I tried again has the consistency of a very good pie crust.

Update #3: I think I know where I went wrong. After I rolled it out the dough needed to rest in the refrigerator for a while to let the gluten relax, it's holding on too tight. I was just impatient.

It appears that this attempt to make crackers failed, though the results are still delicious (as in, most of them are gone within 20 minutes of taking them out of the oven!). I have a good pie crust if I want to make a cheese pie though ;).

Collective punishment

100 soldiers under house arrest since January 4 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State. Virtually all of them are innocent of any misdeed, but military investigators are trying to pressure them to "narc" on whoever stole around $600K in military gear. My suggestion to investigators: You'd have more luck looking for the gear on eBay rather than imposing collective punishment in contravention of the UCMJ.

UPDATE: The more I read on this thing, the more it stinks. The stuff was stolen from an unlocked room *outside* the locked alarmed area where it was supposed to be stored? Who gave the order to move the stuff there? It wasn't a grunt, that much is for sure! And the equipment stolen wasn't stuff that could be hawked on eBay, it is stuff that can only be hawked by someone with connections -- someone likely *not* a grunt. This is sounding more and more like the USS Iowa turret explosion incident where the officers involved covered up their own malfeasance by blaming it all on the (conveniently dead in the Iowa case) grunts.

UPDATE#2: According to Public Affairs, as of 5:45PM today the lockdown is now lifted. Hmm...

-- Badtux the WTF Penguin

Simply amazing

I've featured Sarah Jarosz singing "Run Away" off her new album Follow Me Down before, but not like this. She gets a helping hand here from Alison Kraus on fiddle and backing vocals, Jerry Douglas on dobro/steel, and Danny Thompson on upright bass.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Note: *STILL* nowhere near the end of cool music for this blog. Spent about 2 hours last night exploring the nether regions of YouTube and ended up programming ten days straight of music plus have a half dozen more sitting in browser windows to sort through that band's songs looking for what would be the most interesting introduction to their music. There is a *lot* of good music out there, folks -- Lady Gaga is *not* the sum total of modern music!

Monday, January 09, 2012


When Libertarians drone about state's rights and how government shouldn't interfere with private decisions, what they're actually defending is, as Rand Paul (R-States Rights) explains, the right of states and residents of said state to treat fellow Americans as second-class citizens and/or property.

'Nuff said on that. I believe people are more important than property. Libertarians, apparently, believe property is more important than people. So it goes.

-- Badtux the Civil Rights Penguin


Chunky chicken noodle soup and fresh-fried bannock soda bread. (At 1/4th the amounts of that recipe!). Yeppers, trying a slightly different bannock recipe this time, one with some oil in it. Also added a teaspoon of sugar for a bit smoother flavor. It seems to have fried up into something that resembles a somewhat-dense biscuit. Tastes fine tho.

As far as I can tell, all the oil does is make the dough a bit easier to work (and no, you don't work it for 12 minutes, you work it as little as possible, maybe 12 *kneads*). 3/2 cup of water doesn't divide easily by four, so I had to sort of guestimate the last bit of water, so for the last bit I just sprinkled a little water in until the last bit of flour could be worked into the dough and the dough held together. Seems to have worked, it turned into a nice little cake.

My original intention was to have crackers with my soup. But no crackers. But had everything needed to whip up a quick soda bread. So I did.

- Badtux the Culinary Penguin


Kaki King, "Sunnyside", off her album Junior. Uhm, Kaki is gay, as this song should clarify if you had any doubts. Not that it matters, other than the unexpected gender pronouns in certain places.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Evolutionary advantage

-- Badtux the Easily Amused Penguin

Sunday, January 08, 2012

I guess they thought I wouldn't notice

Compost, my Internet provider, did their usual Comcraptastic job and raised my Internet bill by $3 this month. I had looked at the rate hike sheet and had not seen a rate hike for Internet-only service, but apparently I was looking at it wrong, because Comcast certainly raised my rate.

Because I'm now paying more for Internet service without receiving any better service, I guess it's time for me to switch to the competitor, uhm... err... what competitor? Comcast has a monopoly on Internet service in my area! Not a government-enforced monopoly, mind you -- our local government has encouraged AT&T to expand DSL availability, for example, and has been very helpful to ClearWire in getting towers up and encouraged a WiFi startup too -- but none of these have "taken" for the reasons that I discussed earlier in this blog -- i.e., that the primary cost of providing Internet service is infrastructure, infrastructure is a fixed cost regardless of how many people use it, and there just aren't enough customers to pay for twice the infrastructure given that the current rates are already less than that. A competitor simply wouldn't be able to recoup their investment in duplicating Compost's infrastructure, so they won't do it.

So I will take my bitter pill of an unregulated monopoly up the ass without lube, just like a good American, because what choice do I have? No Internet? Yah, this Libertarian "no regulations" thingy is workin' out *real* good...

-- Badtux the Sore-bum Penguin

Gothic ghost

The Handsome Family, "Your Great Journey". Southern Gothic from California, from their 2006 album Last Days of Wonder.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Giving the consumer what he wants

So we should make more stuff in America, you say? So here's the question: Are you willing to put your money where your mouth is?

Look. Shit didn't start getting made overseas because it was better. It started getting made overseas because it was cheaper. I mean, c'mon. Ya got slave labor in Vietnam making underwear, and they're paid a few pennies a day in rice and fish. That's *always* going to be cheaper.

But you say you are willing to pay 50 cents extra for a package of American made underwear? Dude. That experiment's been done. Fruit of the Loom tried it. It didn't work. They went bankrupt and Warren Buffet moved all their production overseas when he took them over.

Same deal with those hard drives made in Thailand, the ones that caused a world-wide shortage when Thailand was hit with flooding. They're about $20 cheaper than if they were made down the street from me in the Western Digital plant that used to make consumer drives back in the early 90's. It might as well be infinity, because once again, people weren't willing to pay a price premium to buy an American made consumer drive. Businesses still happily pay the price premium to buy American-made server-grade SAS drives because they care about quality and reliability as much as they care about price and the American-made drives are simply better quality, but consumers won't buy American-made consumer drives because they cost a sawbuck too much.

Given all this, why *should* business give a shit about America and Americans? I mean, c'mon. American consumers quite clearly have said they don't give a shit about America and Americans, so if the consumers don't care, why should businesses care? It's not as if businesses are charities, after all. They're in business to make money, and if consumers say "we want low prices and don't care that the goods are made in Vietnam", why *should* businesses care? They're just giving consumers what consumers want!

Which is just another reason why WASF...

-- Badtux the Contrarian Penguin

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Transient tone burst

This is Stereolab, "tone burst" off their album Transient Random-Noise Bursts with Announcements. French can be so musical...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, January 06, 2012


So I hear the Beach Boys are getting back together and are going to go on tour. At which point... WTF?! They're fucking SEVENTY YEARS OLD! Being seventy years old is fine if you're a folkie like Leonard Cohen or Pete Seeger, or a country icon like Willie Nelson. Those folks never sung celebrations of being young in the sun, they were always serious adults. But the Beach Boys made their rep on songs about *surfing* and cars and shit, for cryin' out loud. That's young people stuff, what are they gonna do, come shuffling out on stage in their walkers and sorta jerk spasmodically around while "playing" their instruments (as session musicians play behind the scenes) and "singing" (lip-synching to recordings made when they were young)? WTF?

Maybe the prediction that December 21st, 2012 is the end of the world aren't so far-fetched after all. If septuagenarians can get together and sing "fun fun fun fun surfin' usa!" while jerking spasmodically in their walkers, *anything* is plausible, yo!

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Greek terror

The band Is Tropical is out of France. This is their song "The Greeks", as played by a bunch of French kids re-enacting the War on Terror with some very... graphic... animation of the actual results. I don't know what it is, but watching kids depict what their parents are actually doing seems to bring the horror home in a way that all the dry ink on paper never does.

- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Know your dwarfs

I thought it might be helpful to have a guide to the Republican dwarf-tossing contest oops "primary" contest with the main contestants err candidates. So here we go...

#1: Creepy Dwarf. Creepy Dwarf is best known for his creepy fudge packing exploits. Also for putting his dog on top of his car while on a long vacation trip and exporting several hundred thousand jobs to India and China, which endears him greatly to voters in India and China. Hobby: Whining about people who point out he's running against his very own Obamneycare health care plan.

#2: Frothy Dwarf. Of the various candidates in this dwarf-tossing contest, spends the most time proclaiming how much he loves God and thus is most likely to rape your boy-child if left alone with him in an empty room. Hobbies: Fantasizing about man-on-dog sex, and making children cry.
#3: Goldy Dwarf. Goldy Dwarf is kinda old and stiff and does a lot of ranting at kids about how the only real money is gold coins, which totally baffles them because if you try spending gold coins at a supermarket the clerks just look at you as if you're deranged. The kids like him though 'cause he's, like, totally down with smoking pot. Hobby: Running for President.
#4: Grumpy Dwarf. He's grumpy. He's vindictive. He's ugly. He's best known for shutting down the government because the President made him ride in the back of the bus, and divorcing one of his many wives for the character flaw of having cancer. And for his current wife, Caligula the Impaler, a cyborg kill-bot from the Andromeda galaxy, best known for her helmet of gold disguised as "hair". Hobby: Putting coal in children's Christmas stockings.
#5: Dopey Dwarf. He's not the sharpest tool in the tool shed. Best known for wearing Heath Ledger's jacket while ranting about the evils of Teh Ghey, and having totally MAH-velous hair. And oh, he's not gay. Really. Not at all. No way, no how. Rumors about the size of his closet are just totally wrong, yessiree. Hobby: Looking at self in mirror.

#6: Crazy Dwarf. Along with Frothy Dwarf, spends much of her time talking about voices in her head that told her to run for office, and has the crazy eyes to prove it. Like Dopey Dwarf, spends much time ranting about the evils of Teh Ghey. Married to a man by the name of Marcus, who minces and prances and wiggles his hips when he walks and who is totally not gay. Really. Hobby: Holding conversations with the voices in her head.

#7: Oily Dwarf. His family's oil company has bankrolled his campaign. Also wears magic underwear like Creepy Dwarf and is former leader of Utah, a theocratic nation somewhere in the Middle East between Iran and Iraq that like Iran is ruled by an unelected religious elite that uses elected officials as figureheads to disguise their power. Hobby: Politics.
#8: Flaky Dwarf. Failed one-term governor of a small corrupt banana republic somewhere in South America, where he lost his re-election primary campaign to a dude who capers around in the woods wearing a white bedsheet. Biggest highlight of his gubernatorial career: receiving foreign dignitaries in the governor's mansion while wearing bathrobe and fuzzy slippers. Hobby: Making passionate speeches to an audience of three in supporters' living room.

And finally, gone but not forgotten:

Doughy Dwarf. Best known for taking a mediocre pizza company, and making it into a mediocre pizza company. Hobby: Feeling up women.

These, apparently, are the best men that a major political party can find to run for office here in the USA. Or as Jazzbumpa is so fond(?) of saying: WASF.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Young grass

Youngster Sierra Hull from Tennessee plays "From Now On" at a bluegrass festival. She's now attending Berklee on scholarship getting the other half of her music education, the half where she learns WTF it is that she's been doing by ear for the past ten years of her life, though she could probably play the bluegrass circuit full time and make a decent living at it. But she and Sarah Jarosz aren't interested in doing the burn out quick and stupid thing that the pop tarts like Britney do. I guess bluegrass don't make ya dumb like pop, yo.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Inflation targeting in a 0% realm

There has been a proposal floated to set a Fed inflation target tied to unemployment. The upside is that this could be done simply via a vote of the Federal Reserve board, since this is within the purview of the authorizing legislation for the Federal Reserve. The downside is that it wouldn't work.

Look: I can see why the idea appeals to some people. It completely side-steps the legislative log-jam in Congress. The problem, however, is this: How is the Fed going to create inflation when it already has reduced real interest rates to 0%? Once you hit the 0% boundary, you're basically stuck -- you can't reduce real interest rates below that, because people simply aren't going to pay banks to keep their money in the bank. They just won't. They'll stash their money under mattresses instead, and at that point you're talking about bank collapses and a massive deflationary spiral and a world of hurt.

Now I hear the acolytes of Milton Friedman crying, "what about helicopter drops?!" But what we've seen over the past three years is that helicopter drops -- the Federal Reserve printing money with all the abandon of a Wiemar Republic finance minister -- only accomplishes creating inflation in China and in oil prices. That's because the money gets into the consumer's pocket and the consumer either spends it in China -- since pretty much all he wants to buy is in China -- or he spends it on gasoline to get to work -- since demand for gasoline is inelastic (you don't have any choice but to burn it to get to work) the oil companies can simply increase their prices to suck that money right back out of the workers pockets, and there's nothing that workers can do about it, if they want to work they *have* to drive in the 98% of America that has no functional mass transit system. Then once the oil companies get it, what do they do with it? Well, they either spend it overseas -- which is no help at all to America and Americans -- or they stash it under (virtual) mattresses where it effective disappears from the economy -- again doing nothing to employ the 20%+ real unemployed Americans, and until you get a significant number of those Americans re-employed you *can't* see significant wage inflation, because there's simply too much supply and not enough demand for workers.

So you can't lower interest rates right now, and you can't print money, so how could the Fed create a realistic expectation of inflation? Answer: They can't. All that would happen if the Fed made such an announcement would be widespread laughter, because anybody who's serious knows that Keynes may have been wrong about a lot of thing, but he was utterly correct about what happens at the 0% boundary -- at the 0% boundary monetary policy becomes utterly ineffective, and you must then rely on fiscal policy (i.e., the government directly buying or hiring to create employment in America for Americans) to soak up the surplus workforce, trigger wage inflation, and get things to the point where monetary policy *could* be effective.

Which, given that we're currently in the grips of an Austerian religious ideology which holds that fiscal stimulus is evil, means we are seriously, totally fucked.

-- Badtux the WASF Penguin

Who is this dude?

Obama finds his balls, makes recess appointments to NLRB and CFPB.

But having done this, I'm sure he re-pawned his balls to Joe's Pawn Shop, where they'd been sitting in a back room since his inauguration in January 2009. We'll see, though.

-- Badtux the Baffled(*) Penguin

(*) Baffled by a Democrat showing more courage than a limp waffle, that is, since this is an event that happens perhaps once per decade.

Many crosses

Tom Russell, "Crosses of San Carlos", off his 2009 album Blood And Candle Smoke. The voice of a man who's been around the block a few times and is reporting back to us what he found out there.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The dwarfs

Well, it appears that Creepy and Frothy are the winners in Iowa, with Goldy slightly behind. Grumpy, Crazy, and Dopey are well behind. And of course Doughy already dropped out.

Frankly, I wouldn't leave my boy-child alone with Creepy *or* Frothy. They both have that deranged look to their eyes that makes me think leaving my kid alone with them would be about as safe as leaving my kid alone with a Catholic priest. As for Goldy, I think he'd just bore the kid to death talking about how gold is pretty and should be the only thing accepted as money. Wow, so now I'm evaluating potential Republican presidential candidates on the Pedobear Scale? Wow. Just wow.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Done him wrong blues

The band is HoneyHoney, a sleazy-lookin' dude from Massachusetts and a beauty from Ohio making some honkey-tonk soundin' music that Hank Williams Sr. coulda smiled and nodded at. Thing is, they really didn't set out to make country music, they were going to be an indie band like the White Stripes. It just sorta happened, except what they do isn't Nashville so country doesn't want them any more than indie wants them.

This is "Angel of Death" off their brand new album Billy Jack. Enjoy.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, January 02, 2012

Religion and the end of empires

One of the interesting things I note, looking through history, is that the end of empires corresponds with a huge resurgence in religion. As the Roman Empire was winding down, you had a tremendous religious fervor that resulted in Arianism, Nestorianism, Pelagianism, Macedonians, and other sects/cults, and the reaction of the Church against them, and the entire empire became embroiled in the question of what was acceptable doctrine and what was heresy. The Byzantines, the Russian Empire, even the Soviet Empire if you consider Soviet Communism to be a religion (which I do, since it was faith-based rather than fact-based and became even more faith-based as the empire crumbled towards the end), in all of these reason gave way to faith in an ideology and the worse things got, the more people double down on that whole faith thing. Whether it was praying for God to smite the Vandals at the gates or fervently believing that the next five year plan would surely bring Soviet industry to a higher level than Western industry despite the fact that Soviet industry couldn't even build a crappy 8085 yet, much less the snazzy new 80486 that Intel had just shipped, wishful thinking replaced any realistic assessment of what was happening and what to do about it.

So, did it work? Uhm. Do you need to ask? Instead of drilling with spears and shields and then marching out and smiting Vandals, the citizens of Rome instead huddled inside their city and prayed to God to smite the invaders. Yeah, that worked out well for them, didn't it? Instead of dumping their crufty ideology and opening up their economy, the Soviets doubled down on ideological purity -- a friend who was an engineer in their missile program during the 1980's noted to me that he wasn't even able to read Western scientific journals unless they'd been vetted for ideological purity by Communist party monitors and half the time so many pages were missing, cut out by the censors, that the journal was useless. Yeah, that really worked out well for them, didn't it?

So now I note another empire devolving into religious fervor -- I mean, what else can you call the collection of religious nutcases that are the so-called "serious" candidates on the Republican side of the aisle? Santorum surging, indeed (giggle!). Thing is, it was predictable. When the American Empire lost its first war in Vietnam -- defeated by a buncha pajama-wearin' gooks in flip-flops, for cryin' out loud -- the rise of something like Reaganism, a faith with no factual backing, was as sure to happen as the shocked withdrawal of the Roman citizenry into religious fervor after the disaster of the Battle of Adrianople. When events seem too huge and horrifying for people to confront and do something about, for some reason they react by withdrawing from the realm of reason and descending into the chasm of wishful thinking, where faith substitutes for fact. And alongside secular Reaganism that rejected reason arose a Christian fundamentalism that in turn rejected reason (despite the fact that no main-line religion rejects reason, even the Catlicks give lip service to reason). The merger of the two was inevitable -- when you have two religious beliefs with such power to explain why things are wrong (i.e., you just haven't prayed hard enough to God / the Free Market Fairy, an explanation which can be used *FOR ANY PROBLEM* with no reasoning required), it became inevitable that the two would end up co-opting each other and breed a mutt offspring that would become even more nasty and vicious due to hybrid vigor.

So anyhow, that's where we are today. The crumbling of the empire has become even more apparent after a buncha Arabs in Iraq beat our noses bloody (and don't say they didn't, why else did our last troops in that country have to creep out in the middle of the night?!), and what that means is that the religious nutcases are just gonna double down on the crazy. Which ain't gonna help a whole lot -- if the Roman citizenry had armed themselves, trained themselves to fight, and taken the fight to the barbarians rather than huddling with their rosaries babbling Hail Marys we'd all be speaking Latin right now, and that's pretty much what Reaganism and Christian fundamentalism consist of, babbling meaningless prayers like late-era Romans rather than doing what it takes to perpetuate the empire. But they have faith, faith I say, in their magical great sky demon and His son, the magical free market fairy, and no amount of reason will ever shake that faith and for some reason people who live in crumbling empires seem to prefer faith to reason so... (shrug). Hang on for the ride, folks. It's gonna be a wild one.

-- Badtux the Reality-based Penguin

Suburban nightmare

As you know, I don't usually do mainstream stuff here. But this video was chilling.

Arcade Fire, "The Suburbs", off of their 2010 album by the same name.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Dumbass of the year, Texas edition

Bumper sticker on a Texas pickup truck: "Capitalism rocks! Socialism sucks!".

Seen in a government-run socialist rest area (which sucks?) alongside a government-operated socialist Interstate highway.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Sunday, January 01, 2012

The Punishment

The kittehs apparently didn't like me leaving them alone for a week.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

The new year

Azure Ray, "The New Year", off of 2002's Burn and Shiver. A sad song for an upcoming year that all indications say will be quite sad itself...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin