Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mittens has a secret plan for uninsured

The Romneybot clanked and computed and spit out to Jay Leno that his health plan was going to take care of the uninsured who were uninsured through no fault of their own, but the uninsured who were uninsured by choice would just have to die. He did not / could not reveal details of his secret plan, but it exists, he claims, because he said so and robots cannot lie, right?

Of course, we already know the Romneybot's secret plan for the uninsured:

  1. Don't get sick
  2. If you do, die quickly.

Alrighty, then!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Dunno how I missed this one...

Scientists have proven that cats train humans to feed them upon demand. I always suspected that. But now we have scientific proof :).

- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Misery and tears

Eilen Jewell "Sea Of Tears", off her album by that same name.

Old dude with the orange axe rocks :).

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

I'm not dead!

Just sayin' ;).

Here, have a cat:

Mencken on his throne.

- Badtux the Busy Penguin

Friday, March 30, 2012

Everything dies in the end

Slaid Cleaves "Temporary" off his recent album Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bullshit talks

And that's all that ideological bullshit does. It don't solve problems. It don't get shit done. It just makes some assholes feel good about how righteous they are 'cause their ideology is, like, so perfect and shit.

So let's take the individual mandate that's in the Obamacare bill. Right now, I'm not only paying my own health care bill when I pay my health insurance. I'm paying for deadbeats too. Some of these deadbeats are deadbeats for no fault of their own, and I ain't got no problem with helpin' those folks out. Others are just young and dumb and figure that they ain't ever gonna get sick so why the fuck should they get insurance, whatever, and then they fall off their hipster fixie bike and break their arm on the fucking sidewalk and whose insurance pays for that ER visit? You guessed it, *MY* insurance pays for that ER visit.

So how do we solve the deadbeat problem? Well, by requiring everybody who can afford health insurance, to buy health insurance. The individual mandate. That's one way. It ain't the only way. But any way that actually works has to force deadbeats to pay to *someone*, whether that's to the government as taxes or to insurance, else they stay deadbeats and are sucking offa *my* health insurance. And I tella ya, I'm fucking tired of paying for the health care of deadbeats who can goddamn well afford to buy their own fucking insurance, yo.

So what do the Libertopians say about this whole mandates thing? They spew a buncha bullshit about freedom and yada yada. Yeah yeah, bullshit talks, but what's *your* solution, Libertopians? I mean, sure, hospitals can sue folks. And probably even win. And collect fuck-all, 'cause the whole point of insurance is to pay for shit you can't afford yourself by pooling the money of a buncha folks, of whom only a few are gonna fall off their goddamned hipster fixies and break their arm. Like when that dumbass ran the red light and smacked the corner of my Jeep damn well and good. He was responsible for that damage, and he had $20 to his name. 'Cause we have mandates here in California and they work pretty damn well (you don't get license plate stickers unless your insurance is paid up and current), his insurance paid for the fixes to my Jeep. If not for insurance, I coulda sued his ass, sure. And got $20 for my trouble 'cause that's all the dude had in the bank. Fuck that, I wanted my Jeep fixed, and the mandate did that, it got my Jeep fixed 'cause the dude's insurance company paid. What the fuck use is a goddammned lawsuit when I need my Jeep fixed -- or when I need deadbeat hipsters to pay their fair share of the health care of hipsters so that *I* don't gotta pay when they break their motherfucking arm falling off their hipster bikes?!

You got a solution that don't require mandates? 'Cause I'm all ears. All I gotta say is that it has to work in this universe, not some fictional universe with unicorns and cotton candy trees. I ain't got no fucking cotton candy trees in this universe, and if your so-called "solution" requires cotton candy trees for it to work... bogus, yo!

-- Badtux the Practical Penguin

TSA scared of critic

Cowards refused to testify to Congress if Bruce Schneier was allowed to testify at the same Congressional hearing.

Y'know, I gotta say this: If the TSA is scared of Bruce Schneier, one of the *good* guys, then they'd wet their pants and burst into tears if they ever encountered a bad guy. Not that they ever will, because the TSA has caught a grand total of, err, *NO*, terrorists, in its entire ten-year existence...

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Rust Belt Blues

No one remembers your name just for working hard.

Rodd Picott, "Rust Belt Fields", off his album Welding Burns.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

More incompetent than Comcast

Un-fucking believable. So I wait for the U-verse installer this morning. No-show. So I call them. They're, like, "gosh, I don't have any record that you had an appointment this morning." "Err... you guys sent me an email saying I had a *confirmed* appointment this morning!" "Well, we can schedule one for another day..."

Fuck that shit. I cancelled the order. And they'll probably fuck *that* up too. Sigh.

Y'know, I rag on Comcast, but while they aren't the world's sharpest tacks, at least they *try*. But AT&T can't even get rule #1 of sales right -- "don't fuck up the order process, that's money in the bank." Fuck that shit.

And just because I'm feeling pissy, I'm going over to the Verizon store and trading in my tired old AT&T iPad on one of those brand new Verizon iPads. Blthhhhht!

-- Badtux the Annoyed Penguin

Wolf Tales

Lera Lynn covers TV On The Radio, "Wolf Like Me". Righteously.

The original:

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Assholes at Google

"Blogger is getting a new look in April. Upgrade Now!"

Uhm, no, you dumb fucks. I'll upgrade when you force me to, and not one minute before. 'Cause see, I *tried* your fucking upgrade, and it sucked more than a male prostitute at a Republican convention. Wordpress is lookin' better day by day, except that they don't allow most of the plugins I run in my margin, like the Twitter plugin and the Blogroll plugin (which is automatically managed by my Google Reader account), which pisses me off too...

-- Badtux the Grouchy Penguin

Slobbering

I will not buy the latest iDevice. I will not buy the latest iDevice. I will not...

-- Badtux the Impulse Control Penguin

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Why ObamaCare won't solve denied claims problem

Okay, let's say that you have a choice of two insurance policies, policy A and policy B. Policy A charges $500 a month, and policy B charges $600 a month. Which one are you going to buy?

But wait. Obamacare caps profit margin that an insurer can make. So how can insurer A sell insurance for cheaper than insurer B? Well, either insurer A has healthier people -- but because Obamacare allows you to pick a cheaper policy regardless of pre-existing conditions, so why wouldn't the sicker people decide to go to insurer A? -- or insurer A is doing something nasty and evil -- they're arbitrarily denying claims.

So why would they arbitrarily deny claims? Because that's the only way to make more profit if you're required to take everybody and your profit margin is capped. The way to make more profit is to have more customers. The way to have more customers is to have lower rates. The way to have lower rates is to deny claims. It's a vicious cycle because insurer B will then decide that *they* have to arbitrarily deny claims too, in order to get back the customers they're losing to insurer A... repeat all over the industry, and you get denied claims galore.

But wait, I hear you say. There is a medical review panel mandated by Obamacare too, they can't just deny claims arbitrarily! Well, you show me a government regulation, I'll show you a dozen lawyers rubbing their hands with glee figuring out some way to get around it. My guess is that they'll either dump so many people on these medical review panels that there's no way to review all those denied claims, or drag out the proceedings for so long that people die before their claims get reviewed, or they may not even do any of that -- they may simply hope that a percentage of the people whose claims they deny don't know about the medical review panel and won't appeal the denial of the claim. And before I hear you say, "but... but... that's unethical..."... bwahaha! Ethics? These people have only one ethic: Making money. The Almighty Dollar is their God. Their notion of ethics is "greed is good".

So what's going to happen? Well, what eventually happened in *other* nations that have tried this scheme is that the insurance companies were eventually either nationalized and became branches of the federal government (see: Germany, prior to recent re-privitizations), or they became heavily regulated utilities with rates and profit margins both set by the government, meaning no incentive structure to deny claims beyond what's necessary to preserve their profit margin (since they can't reduce rates to steal customers from other insurers). Well, actually, there's a third possibility: Medicare For All, with the insurers relegated to the role of Medi-gap providers. This is what Taiwan did. But this is usually the end game of heavily regulated insurers deciding that health insurance isn't profitable enough to be worth their time -- that's why Taiwan's insurers didn't fight Medicare For All there, they were already so heavily regulated that they could make more money selling Medi-Gap on the unregulated market than by selling the core insurance as heavily regulated insurers.

Because one thing is certain: A continued spiraling downward of the services paid for by insurers won't be tolerated by either the general public or by regulators. If Republicans try to push that mule harder, they're gonna end up with the imprint of a horseshoe on their forehead. Just sayin'.

- Badtux the Health Care Economics Penguin

Yay! My Comcast is back!

Normal posting should resume this evening. The technician hooked me back up and tightened everything up at the pole, and now I'm getting the best signal I've ever gotten -- around 3-4db higher SNR than what I was previously getting. So even if things degrade again in the rain, it should still be higher than the 30db floor below which my modem can't scrape sufficient signal out of the noise to properly function.

-- Badtux the Now-Internetted Penguin

Monday, March 26, 2012

Yes

World Nut Daily asks, "has America been duped by Hitler-style propaganda?"

Yes, Joseph "Crazy Joe" Farah. The "Big Lie" works, as you very well know with your birth certificate Hitler-style propaganda campaign, which has the majority of Republican voters convinced that there are Communists, Muslims, and labor unionists under every corner trying to overturn the Reich, much as the average German during Hitler's regime believed such thing (except substitute "Jew" for "Muslim"). Sheesh.

-- Badtux the "You Suck Crazy Joe" Penguin

Sunday, March 25, 2012

You aren't going to believe this...

This morning my Comcast cable Internet came back to life with a nice strong signal, but I couldn't get anywhere. So I got on the chat line with a Comcast technician and she apparently did some magic involving re-provisioning and I went to a couple of web sites and it was, like, BAM BAM BAM! Just *SO* quick, the quickest it's *ever* been. I was about to close the chat session with the Comcast technician... and then my Internet went dark and my cable modem reported, "No Signal".

Turns out that my next door neighbor in the unit next door is moving out, and a Comcast technician disconnected "their" cable service. Which turned out to be *my* cable service, since all utilities come in at the corner of the other unit in this duplex. Unfortunately, by the time I realized what had happened said technician was already a couple of blocks down the road and accelerating away rapidly.

Unbelievable. Un-fucking-believable. And now they just say "a technician will call you"... they won't even give me a frickin' time window for when a technician will show up and re-connect my Internet!

Comcraptastic. Yo.

-- Badtux the Almost-Internetless Penguin

UPDATE: I put in the order for AT&T U-Verse service about 5 minutes ago. I also did it technician install so that their technician can figure out which of the ten phone lines that enter this unit (yes, TEN, a prior denizen ran a business here) is the best and use that one for the service.

Update #2: A technician called me. The soonest they can come out to replace the service they mistakingly cut is Tuesday morning at 7:30AM to 8:30AM. So I go online via my dial-up tethered Internet to check my appointment status to make sure they entered the information correctly and this is what I see:

Your appointment is scheduled for:

Date       Day       Time

03/27/2012    Tuesday 61:00PM - 71:00PM     Reschedule | Cancel

**FAIL**.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

My status

My high speed Internet connection has gone completely down. Compost is sending a technician out early Monday morning to figure out what's wrong with it. Until my Internet is fixed daily music is at a halt since it's impractical to attempt to do that over a slow-speed modem connection. And no, I'm not going to use my employer's bandwidth to browse music videos during the workday.

-- Badtux the Almost-Internetless Penguin

Friday, March 23, 2012

Sad cat

Cat Power, "Nude As The News", off of What Would The Community Think. A very young Chan looks terrified but hits her lines.

Yeah, another repeat. What can I say, my Internet sucks today, so I pulled up random songs from my iTunes archive and chose the first one that I liked.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Comcast officially sucking bad tonight

I can't even get the Friday music up :(.

The problem is that every time I contact Comcast, the problem goes away by the time someone comes by to check on things. They have an intermittent connection somewhere between my house and the local POP, but they have no idea where, and the guy in the Comcast truck cruising the neighborhood looking for it is stumped too.

AT&T just put a POP in my neighborhood for their U-verse service, which is fiber to the neighborhood POP then copper to the individual houses. Maybe I need to try them out, sigh...

- Badtux the Bummed-out Penguin

What ain't right ain't right

Tom Morello, "The Fabled City", off his album by that name.

Yeah, I know I've done this one before on the blog. But I've been playing it over and over for the past few days. By "playing", I mean actually making music, not listening to it. You won't see that, for legal reasons (Tom is probably cool about me covering it, but it'd technically be a copyright violation). So you get the real thing, which is far better than anything I do anyhow :).

- Badtux the Music Penguin

So who cares if he's Hispanic?

The Faux News personalities are whining that George Zimmerman, the cracker who stalked and murdered Trayvon Martin, couldn't be a racist because he self-identifies as Hispanic (despite the fact that Faux News' inbred white trash racist viewers apparently approve of what Zimmerman did). At which point I say, WTF? Look, people. Hispanics and blacks hate, hate, HATES the other. Hispanics view blacks as lazy indolent ghetto thugs, blacks view Hispanics as interlopers who came to America and stole all the jobs that blacks traditionally did. Sort of how the NorteƱos and SureƱos view each other, now that I think about it (the former being the American-born Hispanics, the latter being the Mexico-born Hispanics).

So anyhow, it doesn't matter whether Zimmerman self-identifies as white or Hispanic, the fact that he muttered "fucking coons" under his breath on the 911 tape pretty much seals that case. Despite which, the local PD continues to insist that their investigation or lack thereof was quite appropriate given Florida law which basically allows you to kill anyone, anywhere, who makes you feel threatened even by just standing there and making no moves towards you. Luckily the Feds aren't constrained by Florida law when investigating hate crimes... heh. Zimmerman better have $100K handy like *now* or he's going to be spending some time in Club Fed.

-- Badtux the "Hispanics can be racists too!" Penguin

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

TMF killed my Mac :(

Grr! He jumped right up on it and knocked it off the music table!

Luckily it was my spare Mac that I used only for music. I can probably get all my data off of it. Not that there's much there that I don't have elsewhere. TMF can NOT manage to kill my big server, after all -- it weighs 80 pounds and could probably withstand an elephant!

So in other news I've been really, really, really busy at work. As in, from Friday afternoon to now, working 11-12 hour days getting a complex project to the point where I can breathe. As in, there were a dozen other people depending on me getting this done so they could do their own work. So if you're wondering why you're getting really short personal things rather than commentary on the economy, GOP thuggery, and so forth, this is it -- I *finally* got to leave the office on time today. Phew!

-- Badtux the Busy Penguin

Dem white trash blues

Justin Townes Earle, "Halfway To Jackson", off of Midnight at the Movies. Just some white trash blues, yo.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Right-wing thugs

Right wing thugs love to use violence against their opposition. Because, y'know, violence is manly and all that, and anybody who isn't a right wing thug is just a wuss and, like, fair game, y'know, just another animal, right?

So when I hear that left-wing Texas representative Wendy Davis's office was firebombed, I'm not surprised. I'm not surprised at all. This is the kind of thing that right-wing fascists are always doing, from Mussolini's Blackshirts onwards.

In November, what kind of people do you want to vote for? The people strutting around measuring their penis by how violent they can be against "the opposition" and who relish the thought of imposing their rule upon others at gunpoint, or people who wish to live in a civil society where there is rule of law, not rule of thug? Sadly, there's a big enough minority who want to be thugs that I fear for the safety of all Democratic politicians... I hope Obama's Secret Service detail is better than any Secret Service detail has ever been in the nation's history, because they'll have to be. Because right now Obama looks like the winner in November... and there's a lot of blackshirts frothing at the mouth about that.

-- Badtux the Civil Penguin

If you run a blog via Blogger

[Note: Promoted to the top for a while. See below for actual posts.] Teh Google has made some evil moves and completely broken the stand-alone comments page. It no longer lets you enable email for replies, so if I post on your blog, I never see your reply. *BUT*, the "embedded" comments page -- like what you see if you click on the title of this post -- now works, and *does* include the link to subscribe to email replies by the participants in the thread.

So, how do you enable the "embedded" comments page? Pretty simple.

  1. Click on that there little Blogger symbol at the top left of your screen.
  2. Click "Settings" on the blog you want to fix
  3. Click "Comments" under "Settings"
  4. Select the button that says "Embedded below post"
  5. Scroll way-ass down to the bottom and click "Save Settings".
And that's that, assuming you're using a standard Blogger template. Which I am, 'cause I was fucked over the *last* time Blogger fucked with their interface 'cause I was using a non-standard template then, and ended up having to dump everything template-wise and go back to a standard Blogger template (just with a different picture behind the header compared to the "stock" template).

-- Badtux the Blogging Penguin

Music Religion

Indie icon Mark Lanegan lends his voice to a lot of projects. This one is Soulsavers, "Revival", off their 2007 album It's Not How Far You Fall It's the Way You Land.

- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, March 19, 2012

Terrorist searched @ Chicago airport

Well, in fairness, many three year olds are a terror, but not ones in a body cast with a broken leg. Because his wheelchair set off the beeper, the poor little tyke was taken aside -- parents not allowed to come with him -- and searched.

If seeing a child like this being patted down like a convicted criminal checking into a prison makes you feel safe, you don’t belong on board an aircraft, you belong in a psychiatric hospital. Really. Get some help.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

H/T

Taxes are too high?

We can't raise taxes because then companies couldn't spend to invest. Only problem: big American companies like Apple Corporation are sitting on literally hundreds of billions of dollars that they've simply piled under giant mattresses. Sayyyyy... why can't we tax that big hoard of cash? I mean, if Apple was going to spend it, they woulda spent it, right, so clearly they don't need it, right? And it's not as if they're paying huge amounts of taxes on the dough -- they paid a whole 3%, yes, THREE PERCENT, on the cash they got from overseas, and are whining that bringing that cash here to America would mean they'd have to pay SEVENTEEN percent tax. Oh wah! The majority of Americans only wish they paid only 17% tax -- crap, I pay 7.5% sales tax on everything I buy in the first place, nevermind income tax, Social Security and Medicare tax, and all that!

Yet you still have tools whining American companies can't afford tax hikes, even though the taxes are primarily on mattress money like what Apple is dumping on its shareholders today -- i.e., the taxes will basically take money out from under mattresses and put it back into circulation in the economy where it can do some good. Unbelievable. Truly unbelievable. But not surprising. After all, we can't expect corporations today to pay the 1/3rd of taxes that they paid in that horror that was America under that socialist President Dwight D. Eisenhower, instead of the under 10% of taxes that they pay today... why, that'd be Communism!

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Trucker cop

Drive By Truckers, "Used To Be A Cop", off of their recent album Go-Go Boots.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Learning to love the rain

Well, no, not really. It seems to have taken out my "real" Internet service again, leaving me on my iPhone :(.

-- Badtux the Wireless Penguin

Trying to get home

Lee Renaldo, once of the Sonic Youth, is releasing his first "real" solo album, i.e., one that is *not* just noise experiments. This is "Off The Wall", off of Between The Times and The Tides which is available on March 20.

- Badtux the Music Penguin

What an arrogant asshole

NYPD rapist cop Michael Pena smirked as his attorney basically said "yeah, my client assaulted the victim at gunpoint, but he didn't rape her." I don't know why he's smirking. Even if he didn't penetrate her (and witnesses say he did, as does the victim), he's still going to jail, and for a cop even jail is hard time -- usually in solitary for their own protection. But when you're an arrogant asshole, I guess you don't think of things like that, you just think "boy, I'm gonna get away with something" and that's that.

-- Badtux the "Throw the book at him" Penguin

Cold, damp, miserable

The Silly Cone Valley has been cold damp and miserable this weekend, plus I've been working (sigh!) so that's been a downer too. I handled that yesterday by going out for a big bowl of chicken pho, the perfect dish for when the sky is spitting occasional bursts of water and the temperature is hovering in the low 50's. The kittehs deal with it like this:

Yay, a kitty pile!

-- Badtux the Bad Weather Penguin

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Wasted

Bailey Cooke, "Wasted Time". Apparently not available on any album, as far as I know the only thing she has available is on iTunes and Amazon mp3, and that's her album Tennessee.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, March 16, 2012

What a lucky man

Iraq vet suffering PTSD snaps, takes out sister, mother, self.

Army Spec. Abel Gutierrez. That was his name. George W. Bush is responsible for these three deaths just as he's reponsible for so many others. And there is no hell after he dies, just darkness, just like for the rest of us. There is no hell, other than the one George W. Bush created on Earth for our soldiers (amongst many other man-made hells), and GWB as a fortunate son will never experience that.

-- Badtux the Cursing Penguin

Noise

Last night after putting the new strings on the Duo-Sonic, I took it for a test drive.

-- Badtux the Musical Penguin

Lucky Pat

They recently held a Pat Tillman Memorial Run here in San Jose, and for some reason that reminded me of this song. The bullet that found him was one of his own side's. Oh, what a lucky man he was.

This is Emerson Lake and Palmer, "Lucky Man", off their 1970 self-titled album.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Re-stringing my Duo-Sonic

Yay fun.

[For those who don't know, the Duo-Sonic has what is known as "classic" tuners. This means that the new strings must be cut to exactly the correct length *before* being run through the holes in the bridge and over the saddles to get to the tuners. Tedious work, sigh.]

Anyhow, I use the best strings around -- Elixir Nanowebs Lights (.10 size) which are nicely slinky on this short-scale guitar -- but while they're long lived, they don't last *forever*. So it goes.

- Badtux the Musician Penguin

Question

How many newspapers in Texas do you think are running the current Doonesbury cartoon making Texas look like fucking morons by mandating that abortion doctors sexually assault rape victims prior to aborting the fetus implanted there by the rapist? Not many, I suspect...

-- Badtux the "The GOP is the Taliban" Penguin

Powder

Tenderloud was a Scandinavian band based in Copenhagen, Denmark. This is "White Lines" off their one and only album Shadow Red Hand released in 2004.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Math is hard

But J. Brad Delong proves that the math behind deficit spending in a down economy works. That is, money in a depressed economy is seeking safe havens to hide in. What's safer than the full faith and credit of the United States of America? Nothing. What to do if bond buyers drive bond rates to effectively negative? Sell more bonds, duh -- I mean, if you're *making* money selling Treasuries, why the hell not?

So anyhow, that's just mathematical proof of what we already knew -- the proper role of government in a consumption-slump-caused recession is to be consumer of last resort, taking the money that would ordinarily be spent on consumption (but is now looking for a mattress to hide under) and putting it to use doing something useful rather than just sitting under a mattress effectively being pretty-colored toilet paper from the perspective of the economy.

Which brings to mind something that JzB and I have been hashing about in emails, about the nature of money and how do you measure the amount of effective money in an economy (i.e., the money actually in use to buy and sell stuff). Some thoughts: 1. Consumer consumption is money. 2. Government purchases is money. 3. Consumer and government wages are money. 4. Capital improvement purchases are money. All of these involve money changing hands in exchange for something of real value (money itself has no real value, it's just toilet paper with pictures of dead people for, it's the fact you can exchange money for things of real value that give it effective value despite no intrinsic value). If you add up all of these money flows in a month, you should have a good notion of the effective money supply in a given month. If you compare this number to the inflation rate, what do you see? I don't know. Maybe JzB will do one of his pretty charts and show us :).

-- Badtux the Random Economics Penguin

Welcome to Pi Day

Given the attachment of Southern legislators to objective reality, I am awaiting the introduction of a bill in some Southern legislature to define pi legislatively as exactly 3.14. Because all those other digits after the 4 are just liberal lies intended to confuse our innocent little school children.

- Badtux the Snarkily Cynical Penguin

Half slave, half free is an oxymoron

Of all the various versions of this song, I like Solomon Burke's straightforward gospel-style cover of this song the best. Add in the Blind Boys of Alabama as the backing singers, and everybody else's version is just lame.

"None Of Us Are Free", Solomon Burke, off of the 2002 album Don't Give Up On Me.

Solomon died at age 70 a little over a year ago in Haarlemmermeer, Netherlands, where he collapsed and died at the airport. The old-time gospel singers are pretty much all gone now, and their like will not be seen again, for the culture they came out of -- the Southern black praise song culture transplanted to the North with the black workers who moved North to work in the factories that built the tanks and bombs that won this country's wars -- no longer exists.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Cracker kills black kid for strolling while black

... and gets away with it, claiming he felt threatened by a black kid walking around in his all-white gated community (kid was half-white and was visiting his white father). Because that's all ya gotta say under Florida law to justify killing someone, and the all white jury would agree, so what are the cops supposed to do -- arrest him and charge him with murder? When the only other witness to the incident, a black kid armed with Skittles of Mass Destruction (omg!), is, well, *dead*?

This reminds me of some incident that would have happened back in the Civil Rights era if a black kid had tried walking around in a white neighborhood. Yah, things sure have changed a lot since then -- nowadays they don't bother caperin' round in the woods wearing pointy hats and bedsheets, that was just sorta cosmetic frippery anyhow and looked vaguely ridiculous. But that's pretty much the *only* difference in some parts of the nation.

-- Badtux the "Yay, progress" Penguin

Surging Santorum in Alabama and Mississippi

Sorry, just had to type in that title, because we know all about Santorum, heh ;).

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The end of print

Last edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica was printed two years ago, there will be no more. After 244 years, Britannica Inc. is calling it quits in the print encyclopedia business. They sold a couple thousand copies of the 2010 edition to libraries, but that was pretty much it -- nobody else was willing to pay the price for information they can look up online as easily.

I am conflicted. I must admit that I rarely look up things in books nowadays. On the other hand I spent many a lazy summer evening picking up a random encyclopedia at a friend's house and opening it at random to some page about some topic I knew nothing about, and trying to figure out what they were talking about. In a way this gave me an education that the crappy schools of the desegregation-era South, which were all about trying to keep white boys out of the same schools as them uppity nigras and nothing about providing an education, could not have hoped to give.

And now that's gone, forever. There will be no more children on lazy summer evenings picking up an encyclopedia and turning it to a random page. I suppose it was inevitable anyhow, given the plethora of entertainment options that today's children have -- in my childhood there was one television, showing a black-and-white picture, in a large wooden piece of furniture in the living room, and if the grownups were watching a show that was not appropriate for children we were sent elsewhere to entertain ourselves. And we did, because we had no choice. And in homes full of books, naturally we picked up books. Today... that'll never happen again. Books are becoming obsolete. When I needed a new reference book on Microsoft Powershell, for example, I bought an e-book from O'Reilly, not a paper book. I have limited space on my bookshelves, and I save that for reference books I *can't* get as e-books... which is increasingly few nowadays.

-- Badtux the Wistful Penguin

Sonic Replicant

Well, Sonic Youth is officially disbanded, since Thurston and Kim have divorced and that's pretty much half the band no longer interested. But Steve Shelley always has a gig, and he brings the noise here too.

The band is Disappears, and the song is "Replicate", off their new EP Pre Language.

Hmm, I notice that I just moved from quiet nu-grass to noisy indie-rock. Funny how that works...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, March 12, 2012

Randomness

You've already heard about the U.S. soldier in Afghanistan who went postal on a village. Not much I can say there. There's an easy way to make sure it never happens again: Leave. 'Nuff said.

I finished the red beans and rice. Four meals straight of red beans and rice? Just call me Toots McPenguin ;).

This bloody daylight savings time has walloped me good. So I'm going to wrap it up and head to bed.

-- Badtux the Tired Penguin

Whispery sleep

Crooked Still, "Did You Sleep Well", off their 2008 album Still Crooked.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Too many blows to the head

In today's World Nut Daily, famed economist Chuck Norris says President Obama is behind the recent surge in gas prices, because it's part of his secret Kenyan plot to not get re-elected in November. Or something like that. Hey, it's Chuck Norris. If you're Chuck Norris you don't have to make sense, reality bends to fit *you*. Or something like that.

-- Badtux the Snarky Wingnut Watching Penguin

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Love song

Suzanne Vega, "As You Are Now", off her 2007 album Beauty and Crime. Which album, alas, disappeared in the winds after Suzanne was criminally dropped by her label immediately after its release, meaning no support in getting it airplay or any other recognition.

Your guess as to what she's singing about. Suzanne Vega has a daughter, Ruby Froom. Just sayin'.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Full penguin

Cooked some Cajun-style red beans and rice today. You can't make a *small* batch of these, a pound of red beans makes a *huge* batch.

Came out okay despite the fact that I can't get the right ingredients here. I substituted a small hunk of salt pork for the tasso, and some kielbasa for the andouille, and fiddled with the seasonings to try to get some of the flavors that the andouille and tasso usually add. It sufficed. (Tasso is basically pepper-cured salt pork, andouille is basically a highly spiced kielbasa).

Now I have to figure out what to do with all these beans... do you think I can convince people at work to eat them? Otherwise I'm going to have beans and rice, rice and beans, for the rest of the week...

-- Badtux the Culinary Penguin

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A day in the life of a nutty right winger

Today I got an email blast from World Nut Daily trying to sell some of the books they publish. One of the books is by famed birther book author Jerome Corsi. It is entitled Atomic Iran, and it details how Iran is on the verge of creating an atomic bomb because of the misdeeds of the Clinton Administration. This book boldly predicts that Iran would have a bomb within five years.

Pretty scary, eh? That means that we need to work hard to keep Iran from getting an atomic bomb, maybe even to the point of launching bombing raids on Iran to keep them from building a bomb. There's only one problem with that bold prediction and prescription for action: This book was published in 2006. Today is 2012. Which is, erm... *six* years after Jerome Corsi made that prediction. Oops! Yet Crazy Joe Farah of WND.com actually *included* the publication date in his email blast, even though the publication date *proves* that Corsi is either an idiot, a moron, or a liar!

Fail.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Tired gardener

Spent most of the day doing major cleanup in the yard, had to clear the underbrush away from the sprinklers and remove the buildup of dead ferns and prune or tie the fuchsia a bit here and there and weed-whack here and there with my widdle electwic weed whacker.

So foo. Anyhow, here's my computer screen this morning. The Macbook is in lozenge mode (that silvery thing over to the right). The big server that runs Windows 7 and Centos 6.2 (in a VirtualBox VM, it handles the RAID arrays because Linux is the universal solvent of networks, capable of providing filesystems to both Windows and Mac systems in their native protocols) is that big black box below it. That's a 25" monitor. The keyboard is an Apple Bluetooth wireless keyboard, and the trackpad beside it is an Apple MagicPad multi-touch thingy that I like because it lets me go swipe-swipe-swipe and do all sorts of things depending on how many fingers and what direction I'm swiping (and the whole trackpad is a button -- it has two little feet that also serve as buttons below it). Atop the sound system on the shelf above the desk are the keyboard and mouse for the big server, I usually RDP in from the Macbook using Microsoft's Remote Desktop Connection client for MacOS (I have the Linux VM set to start up in the background so I RDP to it too). To the right, out of picture, is the big HP printer-scanner-copier that I barely use nowadays.

Just feeling geeky. Something to do while tired, heh.

-- Badtux the Tired Garden Penguin(*)
(*) Not to be confused with a garden gnome, penguins are much more handsome!

Bright Amphetamine Sky

Madrugada was a Norwegian band active from 1995 to 2007. This is "Salt", from the album Industrial Silence.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, March 09, 2012

Austerity has a human price

Mother of 22 year old autistic son kills son, herself.

I've worked with autistic kids in the past. It's hard enough dealing with them when they're little, they don't respond like normal kids, and they get overstimulated very easily at which point they usually respond with self destructive, self-mutilative, or just plain destructive behavior. But they were little kids, and we had special facilities, so we could deal with them. Dealing with a non-verbal autistic adult who has full adult size and strength... no family can do that alone. It just isn't possible. That way lies a nervous break down, depression, and... well.

Public health programs such as respite centers, day centers, and visiting nurses aimed at people with cognitive disabilities aren't just a good idea. They're the only alternative to stories like this one. Thing is, funding for all of these has been slashed to the point where the state-run programs here in California are all shut down and the ones getting Medicaid money are turning away people because they really don't have the money for the clients they already have. And don't think that charities will take up the gap, they have to do the math and put their limited funds where it gets the most bang for the buck. They're having a hard enough time keeping the soup kitchens and food pantries open, a few thousand dollars will feed hundreds of people for a week, while it will barely serve one severely disabled autistic adult for a week. Feed hundreds, or day care for one. That's the unpleasant choice that charities are having to face this time of reduced giving, and they're choosing to feed the hundreds, not provide day care for the one. And who can blame them, really?

So the austerity that Washington has dictated to the states by refusing to give them community block grants the way Nixon did during the '73 recession is killing people. That's the choice that our Representatives, Senators, and President in Washington have made: the genocide of the handicapped on the altar of austerity. I seem to recall a short German dictator who had the same idea about the handicapped(*)...

- Badtux the "Can we call it fascism?" Penguin
(*) The short German dicator at least made it quick, rather than making the handicapped suffer like the Representatives, Senators, and President are doing to them...

Cat space

The Mighty Fang disappeared. I couldn't find him anywhere. Then I noticed that the closet door in the music room was just barely open, so I slid it to the left and peered in -- into a furry face. Here it is when I slid everything wide open to the light of day:

I disturbed his grooming, so in the next pic he's basically saying, "pet me, you moron":

Just another day in a cat-owned penguin's life, heh!

- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

The Romney Flipflops

In computer clustering we have an issue we call "ping-ponging", where system A comes up and assumes mastership of the cluster, system B comes up and becomes secondary, system B looks at system A and says "uh oh system A is sick" and reboots system A and assumes mastership, system A comes back up and becomes secondary, system A looks at system B and says "uh oh system B is sick", then reboots system B and assumes mastership. The cluster ends up ping-ponging between A and B as master, with a brief service interruption each time it ping-pongs due to the amount of time needed to transfer services.

So anyhow, this reminds me of the way The Romney switches between positions. A few weeks ago, The Romney supported an increase in the minimum wage. Today... not. Ping. Pong. Position A. Position B. Position A. Position B. Wash, rinse, repeat.

My personal belief is that The Romney is based on an early version of Windows 95 which gets a blue screen of death regularly and has to be re-installed from scratch because you can never get it to boot up again once it's blue-screened like that. That is why The Romney never seems to remember what The Romney said last week -- it's because the current install of the Romneybot 2.0 software didn't *exist* last week.

Hey, it's a theory ;).

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

No forgiveness

Ray Wylie Hubbard, "The Last Younger Son", off of 1997's Dangerous Spirits.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, March 08, 2012

The economics of employer-paid health insurance

There's a wide variety of folks who claim that employer-paid health insurance was a side-effect of wage freezes during WW2. The claim is that employers couldn't raise their employees' pay due to the Federally-mandated wage freezes, so they instead started providing health insurance.

The thing is, this is unadulterated balderdash. If it had been a response to the wage and price controls, then employers would have immediately dropped the health insurance plans once wage and price controls were lifted after the end of the war and instead raised wages by that amount. But the reality is group health insurance is cheaper than individual health insurance, and that's why it became standard even for employers where 100% of the cost was paid by employees. The tax break is one reason, but by far not the only reason -- until recently, the cost of health insurance simply wasn't big enough to make the tax deduction a big deal, I paid something like $40/month for health insurance when I was a young adult for example, back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and penguins lived in Antarctica rather than in the Silly Cone Valley.

So anyhow, why do I say that group health insurance will invariably win out over individual health insurance in a free market for health insurance? Let us list the reasons why:

  1. Reduced marketing costs. There are 10 million businesses in the USA. There are 115 million households in the USA. You do the math -- group plans have 1/10th the marketing costs.
  2. Reduced billing and collection costs. Again, 10 million bills, 10 million checks to process, rather than 115 million bills and 115 million checks to process.
  3. Increased reliability of collections. Businesses tend to pay their bills on time due to having automated processes for collecting the money out of people's paychecks then cutting a check to the insurance company (or e-paying them). Individuals pay when they pay, and you have to deal with late pays, missing pays, and all sorts of other billing issues if you're billing individuals.
  4. Homogenization of product. Individuals would want all sorts of different insurance policies and you'd need to provide all of them or your competitors would win the business for the ones you want to provide. But by selling to businesses, you can sell one of a very few insurance products, which greatly reduces your cost of selling and administering insurance plans, because businesses are primarily interested in getting the cheapest insurance acceptable to their employees.
The reality is that in countries that have evolved a universal health care system, a large number of them started from the viewpoint of having businesses pay for and administer the plans. For example, traditionally in Germany the only time you got health insurance provided by the government was if you and everybody else in your family was unemployed -- otherwise your employer handled registering you and your otherwise-uninsured family members with the health insurer for your region and employer type, and sending them the check for your health care costs. Japan works like that too -- employers handle the collection and registration part of providing health insurance. Given that in today's capitalist countries virtually everybody is employed, it's simply easier/cheaper to have the employer enroll you and take the money out of the paycheck and send it to the insurer, rather than to directly bill or enroll individuals.

In short, in virtually every country that doesn't have centralized socialist healthcare where everybody is automatically insured and automatically gets the money taken out of their paychecks as taxes, you'll find employers directly involved in the enrollment and provision of insurance, because it's simply cheaper. There is only one Switzerland (where insurance is provided on an individual basis rather than group basis), and even Switzerland has been Switzerland for less than twenty years (before that the primary funders of healthcare were employer-based group plans like the USA) and individual insurers haven't been driven out of business by cheaper group plans there only because group plans have been banned by government fiat. When you have group plans and individual insurers in the same system, people buy individual insurance only when they're self-employed... because otherwise, it's simply cheaper to buy it through your employer, even if you're paying 100% of the cost out of pocket.

-- Badtux the Healthcare Economics Penguin

It's International Women's day!

Yes, that's right, 50% of the human race has a *whole day* all for itself!

A dude at work asked, "so when's International *MEN'S* Day?". And I replied, "That's the other 364 days a year." Just sayin' ;).

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Herbal remedies

Toby Keith, "I'll never smoke weed with Willy again", at Willy's 70th birthday party.

And the story behind the song:

I'm not much of one for Toby Keith, but hell, this is a funny-ass song ;).

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Congratulations to the Romneybot

Romneybot 2.0 managed to get over 50% of the vote for the first time in any Republican primary. Of course, one of those states is the state he was formerly governor of, and one of them he was the only major candidate on the ballot, meaning that he really managed over 50% only in two states -- Idaho and Wyoming -- where the sheep outnumber the human beings, but hey. It's still better than he's ever done, there's actually two states where the majority of Republicans like him!

This is a great day for robot-Americans. Just sayin' ;).

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Snowy death

Chris Knight, "North Dakota", off of 2001's A Pretty Good Guy. A song as bleak as the countyside it is set in.

Chris is four years older than me, and worked as a mining engineer before he heard Steve Earle on the radio and decided to write songs. Mostly he's written songs for other folks, because his bleak voice isn't really suited for stardom. Sample comment from YouTube: "Chris Knight is every welder I've ever known wrapped up in a song writer."

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

NYPD competence

It took five years for them to find a prostitute in Manhattan. In another five years they may actually be able to find their ass to wipe it without assistance.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Random news blasts

Vladimir Putin won election as President of Russia again in elections blasted by the opposition as "corrupt" and "unfair". Thing is, opinion polls and exit polling by independent organizations seem to say that Putin has the support of around 55% of Russians, so in a fair election he'd win anyhow. Pumping up the total to 65% is just habit or arrogance on his part, apparently. You know how it goes, you're a secret policeman, there's some things you do just because that's how you've always done it, even if you don't need to do them anymore...

In other news, thanks to recent tuition hikes at the University of California system, it is now cheaper for the average middle-class student to attend Harvard or Princeton than to attend UC-Berkeley. WTF?! This is just fucked up. But what can you expect from a state that spends more on prisons than on higher ed? Of course that's not why the state is bankrupt -- the state is bankrupt because of Medicaid costs combined with a tax code that is one loophole after another for the Ciscos and Intels of the world so that corporate taxes flowing to the Franchise Tax Board today have plummeted to almost nothing -- but still, it just goes to show California's priorities. If I didn't have to live here to work... SIGH!

And finally, Comcast is being Comcraptastic again. Sigh! They had it fixed for a couple days, then it went right back to crap again. Thus why no links to the stories above, I just don't have reliable enough Internet to do the web searches for the right links (those stories came out of the dead trees).

-- Badtux the News Flash Penguin

Sad pain

Holly Miranda, "Joints", live. I actually prefer this to the overproduced studio version on The Magician's Private Library, Holly originally wrote the song on acoustic guitar and when you try to tart up a song written like that, sometimes you can just go too far trying to make it sound like something other than what it is.

Holly is working on a new album. This time she's going to have complete creative control because she's funding it via PledgeMusic. Hopefully it won't get overproduced in hopes of turning her into a mainstream artist this time... she's far too raw -- and too good -- for that to work with her.

- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, March 05, 2012

The Reverse Plant Rustler

The neighbor in the unit on the other side of the duplex now has flowers and fresh mulch in his flower bed. I dunno how that happened, they just sorta appeared there in the middle of the night :).

-- Badtux the Gardening Penguin

The neighborhood where I was born

The Offspring, "The Kids Aren't All Right", off their brilliant 1998 album Americana.

I was born on a street about four miles long that started at the front halls of an elite private Methodist university, went for a mile or so with large and spacious homes on the hill and, across from them, the smaller homes of the college professors, and ended in the most abject segregation-era black poverty at its far end, where the streets were tar dirt and the smell of raw sewage permeated the air as beat-down black faces looked out the windows and small children played in dirt yards with sticks and rocks. My childhood home was on the dividing line between the college professors and the working class neighborhood of plumbers and cops and factory workers that was in the middle of all of this, and my childhood friends were from from both sides of that line.

What happened to them? Life happened to them. The son of the college professor that we all envied for his muscular build and swift intellect that got an "A" in every course he took at the college-prep magnet high school... he ended up a drug addict, living on the streets, spotted from time to time digging food out of dumpsters when he's not in jail for breaking into people's homes to steal stuff to use to buy drugs. The son of the rich doctor? He married his childhood sweetheart then abandoned her with their kids to live in abject poverty, and spends his days living on the road in a minivan to avoid process servers, occasionally popping up from nowhere to get his latest trust fund check. The cop's kid? He ended up being institutionalized when he had a psychotic break, then nobody knows what happened to him after he was released. The skinny tow-headed kid from down the street who lived with an abusive grandfather, who everybody assumed was going to be a criminal because he was always getting in trouble? He moved to the West Coast and learned how to handle boats and recently got his pilot's certification, and married a girl and has two kids and they are all spectacularly ridiculously happy. The weird drugged-out kid who lived in the run-down ghetto house and ran with the cops' kid and the doctor's kid and the professors' kid? Erm. He grew up to be a well-paid engineer in the Silicon Valley.

But for the few success stories, by far the majority of stories from that street are the stories in this song, the stories of kids of all sorts who ended up with broken lives and shattered dreams in the land once known as the land of the free(*) and home of the brave(**)...

-- Badtux the Reminiscing Penguin

(*)Prior to Patriot Act
(**)Prior to "cower! cower in fear!" message beamed into everybody's mind by 24/7 news channels, and subsequent cowering in fear and willingness to give up freedoms by majority of Americans.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

So since the dishwasher is out of play...

... I spent the day gardening. I removed the old bark from the flower bed out front and started digging holes to plant flowers. Ugh. Disaster. Turns out that at some point in the past a tenant had ornamental rocks in the flower bed out front, then at some *later* point soil got put on top of the ornamental rocks, then bark got put on top of the soil... so anyhow, ended up moving a lot of dirt around to get most of the rocks out. But I got about half the flowers planted today and fresh bark spread amongst them, it looks good, a lot better than tired old bark with weeds growing inbetween, hopefully will be able to finish planting the rest later.

Off to go grocery shopping...

- Badtux the Tired Penguin

Hopeless emptiness

Townes van Zandt, "Nothing", off his 1971 album Delta Momma Blues. The footage is from the movie Heartworn Highways, well worth having for a lot of music and footage from that era of "alternate" country.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

... and also...

Oh yah, and while I'm at it, hey yo, World Nut Daily, I do *not* want to know the day of Jesus's return. If you're a Christian ya oughta live as if today is the day that Jesus comes back and judges ya, i.e., that ya can't just fuck over a buncha people like a real-life Gordon Gekko on crack, wait 'till Sunday, bend the knee at the pulpit to "wash your sins away in the blood of the Lamb", and go to Heaven, 'cuz five minutes from now before you get your chance to bend the knee Jesus, like, levitates from the sky like some skinny-ass kinky-haired olive-skinned big-nosed dress-wearin' Jewboy angel without wings and booms in a big scary voice "you're going to HELL Mr. Sinner for that evil shit you just did" and foosh, down ya go, burning in Hell with folks like Mark Twain and George Carlin whose ass you hate, now ya gotta have them haranguing ya in person, like, forever. If you claim to be Christian and you *don't* live like Jesus is coming back five minutes from now, you ain't a Christian -- you're just some poser liar pretending to be Christian. So don't give me that shit about "knowing when Jesus comes back", if you're a Christian the whole point is not knowing when Jesus comes back, 'cause otherwise why bother tryin' to act like, well, Jesus woulda wanted ya to act?

And for folks who aren't Christian, we don't give a shit when you think some zombie-ass Jewboy is gonna start, like, lurchin' around moaning "brains.... BRAAAAAIIIIINS...." cuz, like, we're already sick of all that zombie apocalypse shit. Zombies are overdone. Jumped the shark, tragically unhip, as over as vampires now that we got fuckin' sparkle vampires (what the fuck? Vampires aren't suppose to fuckin' sparkle!), I mean, we got zombies driving fuckin' Honda Civics, for cryin' out loud. Over. Just sayin'.

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Marines are pussies? Who coulda known!

So World Nut Daily sez the U.S. Marines need to be "more of a fighting force and less of a social experiment" 'cuz of a photo of two male Marines hugging and kissing at a base in Hawaii? WTF? Has Crazy Joe lost his fucking mind? The Marines have been kicking ass left and right in Trashcanistan and the World's Biggest Catbox for the past eleven years, they been fucking enemy's shit up like no other fighting force in history has fucked enemy's shit up, has he been on fucking Quaaludes all that time and sorta, like, forgot about that? Oh wait, that's right, we don't call him Crazy Joe Farah for nuttin'.

Way to go supportin' our troops, right-wing asshole. My suggestion to you: Do *not* go to a bar outsida Camp Lejeune and proclaim that Marines are pussies just 'cuz a coupla Marines groped each other. Your ass goin' to da *HOSPITAL* you try that shit in the presence of Marines that ain't got their commandin' officers around to order'em not to. Just sayin'.

-- Badtux the Known-a-few-Marines(*) Penguin
(*)Male, Female, gay, straight, don't matter, they were all kick-ass.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Saturday lazying around

Well, not exactly. First, I went to Costco and cashed my American Express cashback check and bought a bunch of stuff that I needed (ink and paper for my printer, toothbrush refills for my sonic toothbrush, kimchi noodles, tissues), then went to the hardware store and got a new soap dispenser for the sink to replace the one with the broken stem. I also looked at the dishwasher and did a Dr. McCoy on it -- "she's dead, Jim", i.e., fixing it would require a new pump and new racks and that would cost more than a new dishwasher. Unfortunately it appears the dishwasher is pretty much tiled in... there's a half-inch lip where the subflooring for the tile was put down and there's not half an inch above the dishwasher to pick it up over that lip. It looks like some subflooring will have to be ripped out to make enough room to get the dishwasher out and a new one in, though maybe you could replace the pump and racks with it in place. Oh well. I'm not going to deal with that mess right now, I'll tell the landlord when I move out that it's broken, and he can fix it (or not) then (I don't need a dishwasher, given how few dishes I dirty hand-washing them is quite viable). In the meantime I unplugged it and disconnected the water to it so that nobody tries to run it and ends up making a mess.

TMF is still psycho. One moment he's curled up against Mencken warming his nose in Mencken's fur, a minute later after he jumps down from my bed to follow me to the kitchen he looks back at the sound of Mencken jumping down from my bed and lets out a gut-curdling howl and screech at this strange cat in *his* territory. Mencken's starting to get a bit of a dazed look to his eyes, like, "I'm living in a madhouse!". I don't blame him. TMF was curled up against me in the music room purring, Mencken came in, and... err. You know the rest of that story.

- Badtux the Tired Penguin

What Jesus can't forgive

The Austin Lounge Lizards with some of that good ole' gospel music: "Banjo Players in Heaven", lamenting the poor state of gospel bluegrass music in Heaven.

Sample lyrics:

"It's hard to find a banjo player up in heaven,
There's some things even Jesus won't forgive."

Bwhahaha!

-- Badtux the Easily Amused Penguin

Friday, March 02, 2012

Government spending and production

One thing that the Austerians are fond of saying is that government spending doesn't increase production in an economy, it just retargets production from the private market to the government market. They have an accounting formula that "proves" this -- an accounting formula that conveniently disappears slack resources, unemployed people and idle factories (or, rather, their formula claims that such are impossible to exist -- ignore our lying eyes, those unemployed slackers aren't unemployed, they're just taking a long vacation!).

Of course, this ignores the fact that we only count as unemployed those who are looking for work -- i.e., people who are *not* taking a long vacation (they wouldn't be looking for work if they were vacationing!) -- and that the current stats show a *lot* of idle resources all over that could be put to productive use if there was demand for the goods. Joe the Sandwich Shop owner, looking gloomily at his empty shop, isn't making sandwiches. But if someone came in and wanted a sandwich, he'd make one for that person. Duh.

So what creates demand? Well... money, and the willingness to spend it. And it doesn't matter, from the viewpoint of the economy, whether that money is "government" money or "corporate" money. If Joe the Sandwich Shop Owner sees someone come in his shop with the money to buy a sandwich and the desire to buy a sandwich, he's going to make a sandwich for that person -- a sandwich which did not exist until Joe produced it. And Joe's going to do this regardless of whether the guy who wants the sandwich was paid with "government" money or "private" money, money is money, from Joe's perspective -- he's a businessman, not a theologian or ideologue, he's in business to sell sandwiches, not to query people about where they got the money to buy his sandwiches.

Now, one argument is that the government can only spend by taking money away from other people that would otherwise be used for consumption. That ignores the fact that the Fortune 500 has literally stuffed $2 *TRILLION* under a mattress -- it's just sitting there, consuming *nothing* -- that could be taxed without reducing consumption by one iota, but also ignores the fact that the government possesses this wondrous invention the printing press and thus could actually print the money that it intends to spend. Now, mind you, this has to be done cautiously since hyperinflation can cause Joe to not sell sandwiches too (because he can't haul wheelbarrows full of cash to his suppliers fast enough to get the stuff to make sandwiches before it inflates to worthlessness), but hyperinflation is a worry only under certain circumstances that don't exist at present.

So the government *can* increase consumption without reducing consumption elsewhere, and thus *can* increase actual production of goods and services. Joe the Sandwich Shop Owner produced one more sandwich because the bridge builder who had been paid with freshly printed government stimulus money bought a sandwich there. That sandwich is increased production of goods and services that otherwise wouldn't exist. And if you say otherwise, Joe will just look at you like you're some crazy-ass lunatic and point you at the fresh green in his cash register and say "what, are you a fucking moron? You think that government dude gave me this money just 'cause he liked my fucking face? Get outta my shop, asshole!" Multiply by thousands of Joe the Sandwich Shop Owners, not to mention steel mill workers now working because of all the steel needed to build that bridge paid for by government money, and so on and so forth, and you have a significant difference. *IF* the government consumption is big enough to make a significant difference. If not... (shrug). You get today's economy, where increases in federal government consumption have been offset by a collapse of state and local spending as their tax revenues dive. Just another reason why WASF.

-- Badtux the Economics Penguin

Sharp whisper

Slowdive, "Dagger", off their album Souvlaki. Beautiful album, too bad nobody seems to like that style of music. The three main members of Slowdive went off and founded Mojave 3 after Slowdive disbanded and did another kind of music altogether -- more of an Americana kind of sound -- but got no traction there either. TANJ.

- Badtux the Music Penguin

Heat-seeking missile

If there's heat involved, The Mighty Fang is on it like a missile. I had just finished cleaning the oven, was allowing it to cool so I could wipe away the ash (it's a self-cleaning oven), and had taken all the stuff off the top to clean the still-warm top. Bam. Heat-seeking missile. The heat under the bathroom vanity warms up the lavatory bowl. Bam. Heat-seeking missile. Kick him out of the lavatory bowl, well, the hot air from under the lavatory is heat-soaking those tiles... bam. Heat-seeking missile. Sometimes I think the only reason TMF puts up with me is because I'm something warm to cuddle against in the evening after I turn off the heat...

-- Badtux the Warm-blooded Penguin

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Republican generosity in Michigan

Republicans in Michigan are cutting families off of food stamps and assistance programs, with this result:

Last week, while working on a documentary about hunger in Michigan, Russ Russell had an experience that left him speechless.

I was visiting with this family and one of the little boys said he wasn’t going to eat,” said Russell, development director for Forgotten Harvest, a Detroit-based nonprofit that rescues and redistributes fresh food. “He said, ‘Oh, I’m not eating dinner because it’s my brother’s turn tonight. Tomorrow is my night.’”

But the GOP in Michigan generously does provide GED programs. I'm sure this little boy thanks Republicans for their generosity in providing GED books every time that he goes to bed hungry. Or maybe not, since little boys need food, not GED books, the little ingrates.

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Oh boy what a day

Let's see, first we had Sheriff Joke Arpaio of the Maricopa County Sheriff Department call a re-election rally err press conference to declare that Mitt Romney's VIN number and bar-coded Factory of Origin certification were questionable err, no, that was Obama's birth certificate, my bad. Then there were the dead people. There was that Andrew Breitbart fellow who was famous for being a lying asshole, of course, but really, the less said there the better. I liked Ken Houghton's long obituary for David Thomas "Davey" Jones best of those I've read today. Davey Jones added something to the world, however little some people think of what he added to the world, fact remains that there was more in this world when he left than when he got started. That other guy... well, he was a destroyer, not a maker. Let's leave it at that.

Oh wait, forgot one last piece of news. Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, and Birgitta Jonsdottir have generously signed up to be detained indefinitely without trial as terrorist sympathizers for having the audacity to sue the U.S. government to stop enforcement of a new law allowing any American to be detained indefinitely on nothing more than the say-so of the President that the person being detained is a "terrorist". Remember, one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. By fighting for freedom, these three have proven they're terrorist, right? Right?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Great smile

Lisa Marr, who was lead singer for Cub and for yesterday's Beards song, can sing, is cute as a button, has written all kinds of songs from cuddly pop songs, pop-punk songs, and country-tinged songs, and seems to genuinely enjoy making music for her massive audiences of, uhm, dozens at best. This is The Lisa Marr Experiment with "Slaughterhouse Ceiling" off the album American Jitters. She went in the direction that her friend Neko Case went, but five years later, and that was way too late. Not to mention that Lisa simply can't bring up the air of Gothic Americana that Neko Case brings to her own music, she's just too much a happy person for that.

Ah well, those of us who know who she is can enjoy what she brings, and everybody else... (shrug). I guess that's the breaks.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin