Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Blame Canada!

So the United States Army shot up a Canadian diplomat's car. What next? Bomb Canadian soldiers? Oops, been there, done that.

Seems like the most danger a Canadian is ever in overseas comes from the U.S. military... I wonder if they're trying to tell the Canadians something? What next? Invade Canada? Not that it worked out so well the last time...

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

MARS, sucker...


Remember that? No?


Anybody who actually listened to the State of the Union address ought to be laughing their head off at all of Bush's "plans". And anybody who actually believes a single word the lying jerk says ought to be sent to remedial kindergarten class to learn the difference between truth and fiction.

MARS, bitches. MARS. Dig?

-- Badtux the Laughing Penguin

Cindy Sheehan!

Wandered by a right-wing circle-jerk discussing Bush's State of the Union address. It went something like this:

WingNut 1: "Cindy Sheehan!"
WingNut 2: "Bwhahahahah!"
Wingnut 3: "Left-wing hates America!"
Wingnut 1: "Hahahhahaha! ROFL!"
WIngnut 2: "Grief whore!"
Wingnut 3: "LOL!"

Man, the jizzum was just a'collectin' on the floor in the middle of these dudes. I left'em a bit of advice, but I doubt they'll listen to it. They're having too much fun standing in a circle yanking each other's knobs.

So here's basically what I told them: I don’t get it. Why mention Cindy Sheehan at all? She’s the mother of a soldier who died in Iraq. That’s all I know about her, and frankly, all I want to know about her. Having lost her son gives her a right to have an opinion about whether the loss was worthwhile or not, and whether I agree with her opinion or not is irrelevant. (For the record, I’ve never talked to her to find out her opinion, so I have no idea whether I’d agree with it or not… and no, I’m not going to take some 3rd party’s word about what her opinion is).

Every time these guys try to run down the mother of a deceased veteran, it makes right wingers look bad. But boy, these guys sure seem to have fun jerking off in a circle… “Cindy Sheehan!” “Hahahaha!” “Bwahahahah!” “Cindy Sheehan!” “ROFL!”. I let'em know that making fun of grieving mothers, no matter how laughable their opinion is, is not the way to win friends and influence people. It just makes people think you’re a bunch of jerks.

But what the hey, these guys never listen to Libertarians anyhow, except to confuse us with liberals… so keep on circle-jerking away, Wingnuts. “Cindy Sheehan!” “Hahahahah!”. Sheesh.

– Badtux the Libertarian Penguin

Computer glasses redux...

As I mentioned, my bifocals are not my preferred way of looking at a computer screen. I basically ended up taking the pedestal off of my flat-panel monitor and leaning it against my computer down low and near on an adjustable desk so that I can see it through the bottom of my bifocals without craning my head back too much. So I'm thinking of getting a pair of "computer glasses" -- a single-prescription set of eyeglasses to use solely when working on the computer. That way my neck can get a break.

A bit of research turned up 39 Dollar Glasses. They appear to be located physically within the United States and get your glasses to you in a timely manner, unlike the other two places I looked at, which were physically in Hong Kong or Pakistan.

Has anybody out there used this place? $39 for a pair of "computer glasses" sounds like a pretty good deal, if they actually work!

-- Badtux the Myopic Penguin

Monday, January 30, 2006

The fundamental flaw of American politics

72 miners in Canada were trapped in a mine that was on fire. A few weeks back, that killed 13 miners in Sago, WV as they ran out of oxygen and suffocated. But these miners in Canada weren't ever in any danger. They simply retreated to safe-rooms that had 72 hours of oxygen, and chatted on the phone with their wives while waiting for rescue.

So why do Canadian mines have safe rooms and American mines do not? Well, in the end, it is because of a fundamental flaw in the American system of government: America is a semi-monarchial Republic, not a parlimentary democracy.

Canada is a parlimentary democracy. The United States is a semi-monarchial Republic, explicitly designed that way. The Presidency was designed to give George Washington semi-monarchial powers because George refused to be monarch. This inherently dictates that we will have a two-party system where any other party is powerless.

That explains a lot about why Canadian politics and U.S. politics have gone in such different directions since the Commonwealth was declared. Even their current “conservative” government doesn’t have a majority in Parliment and thus is forced to rule by consensus, rather than via fiat. When forced to rule by consensus, you can’t ignore the wishes of the minority parties, including the minority parties that represent workers. If you do that, the minority parties can band together and force a no-confidence vote and force new elections, something that no self-respecting party leader wants to see happen.

There is a reason why every strongman dictatorship-pretending-to-be-a-democracy has a "strong President" type of government, while virtually every functioning democracy on the planet has a parlimentary type of government -- parlimentary democracies are simply more effective at giving everybody, not just the majority, a voice in the governing of the nation.

This is a fundamental flaw in the American system, and one which will be fixed when cows fly. Australia and Britain, despite having no Bill of Rights, still have as much freedom as the United States because their form of government has built-in checks and balances to protect minority views that the U.S. "strong President" form doesn't have.

So what does that mean regarding the circus of the spineless that is the current Democratic Party? Well, amongst other things, it means we can't simply form a 3rd party. The tyranny of the majority is inherently built into the American system, a tyranny which insures that 3rd parties, unlike the Bloc Quebecois and NDP, have no voice in government. While Prime Minister Harper cannot govern without the support of the Bloc Qubecois and NDP in Canada, President Bush can govern quite well without the support of the Greens and Libertarians, thank you very much.

So for the moment, I suggest that the best thing to do is take over the Democratic Party and make it the majority party. A third party simply isn't going to work, because we live in a semi-monarchial republic, not in a democracy.

In the long term, it might be a nice thing to have democracy in America. And no, voting doesn't mean democracy. People voted in Saddam's Iraq, too. If you have no real choice regarding who you're going to vote for, that's no more democracy than Saddam's Iraq was democracy. People didn't have a real choice there, either.

As I said, I expect it to happen about the time that cows fly.

- Badtux the PoliSci Penguin

Testing 1 2 3...

If this is successful, you should be transferred to my new domain, BadTux.net, shortly (if you're not already here!). Please do *NOT* re-adjust your bookmarks yet, this is an experiment to see if this server can support the blog. If the JavaScript failed to transfer you, you may wish to go over to BadTux.net to see if there's any new content over there yet...

Hmm, trying again...

-- Badtux the JavaScript Penguin

But they're desperate

The Democrats, proving that the term "Democrat" is synonymous with "spineless pussy-wimp", failed to unite behind an attempt to filibuster Judge A-Lie-oh.

They don't get it. The Democrats just don't get it. They've got the Republicans about as desperate as the Iraqi insurgency, yet continue to deny reality.

Here's a hint, Democrats: These SOB's want to KILL you. That Republican neighbor I mentioned in my Kitten-off poll? The one who wants to kill you with a hammer? The one who thinks a kitten's life is more important and more valuable than a liberal's life? He's not alone. These bastards are just working up to the Final Solution to the problem of Democrats, liberals, and anybody else who doesn't support their moron Commander in Chief with full sycophantic tail-wagging slobbering adoration.

And you're letting them do it.

Morons. Spineless pussy-wimp morons.


-- Badtux the Pissed Penguin

Saturday, January 28, 2006

No longer "Meals Refused by Ethiopians"

In the aftermath of Katrina, I resolved to lay in a supply of MRE's for dealing with the aftermath of any natural disaster that hit my own iceberg. I sort of shuddered at the thought, because the last time I ate MRE's it was a horrible experience -- the taste of lard was the predominant taste. They were referred to as "Meals Refused by Ethiopians" back then, with such choice entrees as Four Fingers of Death (really aweful weenies) and Alpo (supposedly "beef with spiced sauce"). And let's not forget Chicken a'La Death (supposedly "Chicken a'La King", but so redolent of lard as to invoke nausea).

So I headed out to eBay and got case B, which includes the "Louisiana Menu." Military retirees with PX priviliges buy MRE cases from base PX's and sell them on eBay, a practice which the Department of Defense discourages (since it encourages pilfering amongst the ranks if they can hawk pilfered MRE cases on eBay amongst the legit ones), but which they have thus far proven unable to stop. The case arrived today, nice and fresh (four months old is fresh in MRE terms, the stuff keeps for years). I popped out my camping gear and tried the jambalaya first... hmm, put this over a half cup of cooked instant rice (a large box of which is also in my disaster kit), add just a dab of hot sauce, and not bad at all! It's not "real" shrimp and ham jambalaya like you'd get in Louisiana, but it's definitely edible and close enough. I wouldn't mind eating this on a regular basis at all. There's the very faintest lard undertaste from the processing, but it's not obnoxious.

Next, the cookie. And peanut butter. I remember the cookies as being hard as a rock and tasting of lard. I remember the peanut butter as being a substance that was more akin to tasteless grease than butter. Well, the cookie is still hard as a rock. Guess it has to be, to survive a parachute drop. But it tastes like an actual oatmeal cookie, and the peanut butter is creamy and tasty. Spread the peanut butter on top of the cookie, and ... yum!

Next, something a bit harder to get right: Spaghetti. Freeze-dried pasta dishes generally are pretty good (about the only thing freeze-dried that *is* any good... everything else freeze dried that I've tried tastes horrible), but canned ones are typically horrible, whether canned in a can or in a retort pouch. So I heat it up and... okay. So it definitely tastes like canned spaghetti. But it doesn't taste any worse than Spaghetti-O's or any other canned spaghetti you'll find in the supermarket. Just a tiny bit of the lard aftertaste, not the "OMG I just ate a mouthfull of Crisco!" that I remembered.

My congratulations to the folks at the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center in Natick, MA, who have managed to do what I thought was impossible: Make army rations that taste good. This penguin gives them two flippers up!

- Badtux the Impressed Penguin

PS: Natick is continually on Rummy's base closure list, though thus far it has been spared. The very fact that Natick was on the 2005 base closure list to begin with just goes to show how much the Bush administration really hates our men and women in uniform, as if we needed any more proof of that, what with the Bushies sending soldiers into battle with inadequate armor, feeding soldiers rotten foods cooked in disease-ridden waters out of filthy rat-and-roach-infested kitchens, etc...

Friday, January 27, 2006

Terrorizing America one ham at a time

Look at the face. This face is the face of evil. Pam's House Blend fills us in on the horrid vegan threat to homeland security. Why, if we don't spy on anti-meat activists protesting outside of Honeybaked Hams, these non-violent vegetarian anti-meat activists will KILL US ALL with their evil Carrots of Mass Destruction, Tomatoes of Terror, and Horseradish of Horror! Well, maybe not, but I'm sure they'll do something bad, really! Like, hurt someone's feelings, or somethin' y'know?!

Meanwhile, Osama still hasn't been caught. But that's okay, we know who the REAL threat to America is: radical vegetarians. These people are obviously anti-God and thus anti-American. Why, if God had intended for man to be vegetarian, He wouldn't have created meat counters at supermarkets!

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

An innocent victim of vegan terrorism shudders in fear on its platter


This is just demented. Devo. 1980's prog-rock nerd group famed for flower-pot hats, yellow jumpsuits and, err, "suggestive" songs. Reincarnated as telegenic pre-teen Disney Mouseketeers singing an album full of Devo classics plus a couple of new Devo originals in a new album for children on the Disney label. With not only the permission of the original members of Devo, but with their full support -- the original members played the actual instruments on the album while the kids of "Devo 2.0" sang.

If it is a gag, it is a wonderfully delicious one. Devo managed to get Disney to bankroll the gag, even to the point of making videos (directed by Devo's bassist, Gerry Casale) where twelve-year-old kids who obviously have no idea what they're singing about dance around and pretend to play instruments while singing "whip it, whip it good!". Heck, these kiddies aren't even old enough where whipping it would be fun (ehheheheheheheh!). And DISNEY bankrolled this. DISNEY! BWAHAHAHAHAH!

Duty Now For The Future! Devolve Or Die!

- Badtux the Amused Penguin

The Investigator of Open Drawers

The Investigator of Open Drawers performs his duties.

- Badtux the Appreciative Penguin

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Fighting them here so we don't have to fight them over there

Operation Yellow Elephant continues to berate our brave men and (and token women) of the 101st Fighting Keyboarders for not signing up to go fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some of those nasty liberals even berate conservative "media personalities" for not urging their listeners or watchers to enlist.

Oh dear me. These nasty liberals ought to stop insulting our brave patriotic yellow elephants. Why, you know they provide such a great national service, blogging with cheeto-stained fingers from their Momma's basements protecting American from those evil Liberals of Mass Destruction. Why, if they weren't there to educate all us right-thinking people about why liberals were evil and should all be exterminated, those nasty liberals could EXPLODE in massive peace marches and KILL US ALL with kindness! The horror, oh the horror!

No no, it's much better that they stay in their basements protecting us from those nasty liberals, rather than signing up to fight the terrorists who've killed thousands of Americans. Remember, terrorists aren't the real enemy of America. Liberals with their horrific Weapons of Mass Frenchification are. Why, every time a liberal speaks, one of our brave fighting men or women in Iraq clutches his chest, and cries "Medic! Medic! I've been hit! I've been hit! Some liberal didn't speak loudly enough in support of our Dear Leader's war and my feelings are hurt!" and expires. It is clear that those nasty liberals are far, far more dangerous than terrorists, and thus our brave yellow elephants are far more important here on the home front than fighting terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq.

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Newsflash: Loonie Moonies continue to insist Iraq had WMD

For true!. Yes, wingnuts continue to insist that, despite all the evidence, there were WMD in Iraq!

Let me get this straight. Two straight groups of arms inspectors—one under Hans Blix before the war, and one hand-picked by George W. Bush (the Duelfer group) after the war—independently reported that Saddam Hussein neither had weapons of mass destruction nor any credible program to produce such, yet right-wing tools still insist, despite the fact that experts actually on the ground found no such thing, that such weapons must exist?

Astounding. Simply astounding.

As for those who insist that we had no way of knowing in March 2003 whether Saddam had WMD or not, two words: Hans Blix. We had CIA assets embedded with Blix (and if you don’t believe that, you’re stupider than you look). These CIA assets were reporting the same thing that Blix was reporting—that Saddam had no WMD, and that they could find no credible program on Saddam’s part for producing such. Yet the CIA, Blix, and Duelfer, all of whom were actually on the ground in Iraq, all of whom inspected every square inch that could reasonably be used to hide weapons of mass destruction, all of whom inspected every facility that could possibly be used to produce weapons of mass destruction, are all wrong, and some right-wing publisher who’s never set foot in either Syria or Iraq is right. Astounding. Simply astounding. Some people’s ability to engage in self-delusion is simply beyond belief.

But what the hey, they're Republicans. Doesn't that say it all?! That they can be members of a purported "Party of Small Government" while their Congress and President are expanding government by more than any President since FDR... well, if that hasn't caused their head to explode yet, what will?!

– BadTux the Snarky Penguin

Hey, it was only darkies, so what's the big deal?

The Bush Administration is stonewalling attempts by Congress to find out what went wrong with the Katrina response. After various failed attempts to blame the mayor of a bankrupt city for not finding billions of dollars to fix the levees before they broke and various failed attempts to blame the governor of the poorest state in the nation for not having enough National Guard troops or resources to help the city after the levees broke, apparently the Bush Administration's response to requests for info about the federal response is "Nyuh uh, we don't have to!" Like a petulant 3 year old refusing to go to bed, I expect at any moment that the Bushies will be caught on camera throwing a full-bore toddler tantrum while crying on the carpet, "wah! Congress bein' MEAN!"

In the meantime, Louisiana has 160,000 uninhabitable or destroyed homes, while Mississippi has 65,000 uninhabitable or destroyed homes, yet Louisiana is going to get $6.2 billion dollars to repair those homes, while Mississippi is going to get $5.1 billion dollars to repair far fewer homes. Even Louisiana Republicans are astounded at the sheer mean-spiritedness of the way Louisiana is being treated. And worse yet, most of New Orleans is excluded from receiving assistance. Nevermind that it was federal levees that were defectively designed by the Corps of Engineers that failed and flooded these homes. The federal government isn't going to rebuild the homes they destroyed. Those people are just darkies anyways, so it isn't as if they matter, right? They don't even vote Republican (GASP!). How *dare* they not vote for our Lord and Savior, George W. Bush, and His holy administration?! No, no, they obviously are not deserving of any assistance rebuilding, for they are heretics and sinners against His holy white order!

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Am I being too hard on John F. Kerry?

In the past, I've commented on JFK's endless attempts to be "relevant" to the Democratic party with comments along the lines of, "he should just quit trying to be the front-runner for the 2008 election and unite behind a real leader."

Mimus Pauly reminds us of JFK's past accomplishments. But in the end, the only past accomplishment that counts today is in the recent past, when Kerry let a weak President win a second term of office, thereby condemning America to a generation of being ruled by vile, evil men with no morals and no shame.

I can admire Kerry's past accomplishments, while still feeling dismayed and betrayed by his more recent actions. As I noted back when the Shrub was re-selected, Kerry did not even appear to try -- it was a campaign of going through the motions, punctuated by a final surrender. I don't know what happened to his gonads between his bravery in Vietnam and his Presidential run, but I believe that today, Kerry is irrelevant -- he has proven (in the only crucible that matters) that he doesn't have the "right stuff" to take on the Bushevik machine. Not that many people *would* have the right stuff to take on that cesspool of evil... but it's time to find someone who does have that "right stuff" and unite behind him.

So as much as I appreciate what young Kerry did for our nation, the fact of the matter is that he's washed up and irrelevant, and none of this PR posturing is going to change that fact. Today John F. Kerry is like a 40 year old baseball player who has lost his best stuff yet continues to insist he's still got major league talent, even as he struggles in the minors. Kerry's best use, at the moment, is as an example -- an example of what happens if you take a Democratic knife into a Republican gunfight. That's it. That's all.

- Badtux the "Let's be real" Penguin

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A message for America

Law students at Georgetown University turn their backs on Attorney General Abu Gonzales in silent protest as he spits out the administration's feeble justifications for spying on Americans without a warrant

Now let's look at that thing called "The Constitution of the United States of America" that Abu is wiping his ass with as if it were toilet paper:

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

'Nuff said.

-- Badtux the Appreciative Penguin

Why doesn't he get a warrant?

Scottie the Inept Lying Mouthpiece dances around the question of why Dear Leader doesn't simply get search warrants through the FISA secret court for the folks he wants to spy on.

Since Scottie won't answer the question, I'll answer the question for him. Bushie baby and His holy appointed snoops don't seek a warrant because they're spying on Halliburton protesters, Quakers, grannies, and journalists , where they knows they couldn't get a FISA warrant. I mean, doh. What do you think this is, a democracy or somethin?! Dear Preznit must be allowed to spy on the Grannies, Reporters, and Pacifists of Mass Destruction at will or we'll ALL DIE!

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Bizarre phone calls

I've been receiving bizarre phone calls from a robot on my cell phone. They start out with, "This is Michelle Thomas. I am contacting you about an important business matter. This is NOT a sales call ..." at which point I hang up because any time someone says it is NOT a sales call, it's a sales call (heh heh heh!).

A reverse phone book lookup turns this up for their caller ID:

Truelogic Financial Corporation
7100 E Belleview Ave
Greenwood Village, CO 80111-1632
(720) 974-0386

A Google lookup turns this up for Trulogic Financial Corporation: "TrueLogic Financial Corporation (TFC) provides enhanced receivables management services for post charge-off collections, and for purchasing client accounts receivables." I.e., they're debt collectors.

Since I don't have any overdue debts (indeed, have a significant sum of money in the bank), it appears that they're calling some deadbeat who *used* to have my phone number. I've had this phone number for two years, but (shrug) some of the debts these guys are buying are a decade old. And of course my phone number is unlisted, so it's not as if they looked up "Bad Tux" in the phone directory and picked my number from amongst all the other "Bad Tux"es in the area (something that happened to me when I lived in another city on the opposite coast from where I live now).

The next question is this: How the heck to get these folks to stop calling me, without giving them information they can use to further harass me for Joe Blow's debt?

- Badtux the Collectable Penguin

Note: Comments are now closed on this post. Please see the latest update, where they change tactics in their efforts to trick people into paying debts they don't owe.

Agh my aching eyes!

Well, it finally happened. This aging penguin's eyes got to the point where they couldn't focus on stuff near to the face, like books and newspapers.

The answer: Bifocals. Sort of. Oh my poor aching neck! Either I have to look up to see the entire computer screen through the bifocal part (and have to move the screen closer to me too), or I have to look down to see the entire screen through the top part of the bifocals (and move the screen further from me). I was better off with plain glass lenses for everything but reading... agh!

I guess it's time to look into that laser eye stuff... at least if that works, I'll just need reading glasses.

Sigh, getting old sucks. The alternative, of course, sucks worse, but...

-- Badtux the Middle-aged Penguin

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Today is Beer-In-Cans Day

Courtesy of the blogger formerly known as G.D. Frogsdong, I am proud to announce that today is National Beer-In-Cans Day. On this day in 1935, beer was first sold in cans. I will, of course, do my part to celebrate this historic event...

- Badtux the Appreciative Penguin

Outsourcing Halliburton would save $30B

In the wake of Halliburton's scandals in Iraq -- serving rotten food from filthy kitchens, contaminated water containing four times the fecal coliform bacteria considered safe, etc. -- Halliburton's defenders continue to insist that their company is the only company with the capability to feed and water soldiers in the Iraqi environment. Apparently, before Halliburton, our soldiers died of thirst and hunger because nobody else could do it.

What? You say that cooking food and supplying drinking water is not rocket science? You say that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was originally created to provide potable water to our troops? You say that in the old days, GI's did KP duty to peel potatoes, and the cooks were GI's too? Whoa! What a novel idea -- the U.S. Army feeding and watering itself, instead of having someone else do it for them! Why aren't we doing that today?!

Err, you wanna know why we aren't doing that today? Guess. Vice President Halliburton. But, you say, the Vice President doesn't tell the Pentagon what to do or not? No, but the Secretary of Defense does -- and Dick Cheney was Secretary of Defense under President George H. W. Bush, and the man who originally outsourced the Army's mess halls and water supply contracting to Halliburton. In exchange, Halliburton gave him a cushy million-dollar-per-year salary to work for them as CEO once he "graduated" from government work -- typical Republican culture of corruption, in other words.

During peacetime this wasn't such a big deal. But we're at war, as the Busheviks are fond of reminding us. And people don't want to work in a war zone. You have to pay them big bucks to work in a war zone -- $150K or more, compared to $25K/year for a GI. And it takes the same number of people to peel a spud whether you have a GI doing it or a Halliburton employee doing it, so this basically means we're paying five times more money to Halliburton than would be required if this were un-outsourced back to the way it was during the Vietnam conflict.

Let's face it: a combat zone is no place for a civilian. We need GI's providing these services to GI's, not some sole-sourced monopoly. Not only are GI's paid less, but they are also trained to be able to shoot back when they get shot at. Sure, you don't want cooks and mechanics and stuff in combat if you can help it, but what part of "combat zone" do you not get?!

Oh, why I say we could save $30B/year in Iraq by un-outsourcing food, water, etc.: our tooth:tail ratio in Vietnam was approximately 1:12 (i.e., 1 combat soldier for every 12 support people making sure he had food, water, uniforms, etc.). Today, thanks to modern technology (which reduces the need for file clerks), it would be approximately 1:10. We have approximately 30,000 combat troops in Iraq, and a tooth:tail ratio of 1:4. That means the other 6 people are outsourced. So figure that we have 180,000 Halliburton employees in Iraq making sure that our guys are getting fed and watered and clothed (or not). 180,000*150K/year is 27 billion dollars. 180,000*25K/year is 4.5 billion dollars. So if we outsource Halliburton's job to the U.S. Army, we could save $22.5 billion per year in payroll alone! (And don't forget that Halliburton is skimming profit on top of that too, not to mention ridiculous markups on procurement items). $30 billion dollars is a MODEST estimate of what we could save if we outsourced Halliburton's job to the U.S. Army.

But I forget, that would require, like, actually caring more about our nation's well-being than about Halliburton's well-being. Gosh, what a heretical notion! Remember, you and I as taxpayers pay our taxes to make sure that Halliburton has nice profits, we don't pay our taxes to, like, benefit the United States of America and its people. Boy, glad we cleared that up!

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

The Dead Kitten Poll

August J. Pollack over at XOverboard is running the Dead Kitten Survey, a survey based around his Kitten-Off cartoon which goes something along these lines: Would Bush supporters quit supporting Bush if he was killing kittens with a hammer?

I asked this question of the local right-wing Bush supporter. He said "I couldn't support Bush if he was doing that. Now, if he was killing liberals with a hammer...". So I persisted. "What if it was necessary to prevent terrorism?" And he said "I'd need proof of that. I wouldn't just take his word for it."

So I guess Bush supporters DO have a limit to their support for Bush -- even if it is pretty far out there. Killing liberals with a hammer is okay with them. Killing kittens... well, they'd have to think about that.

- Badtux the somewhat-amused Penguin

Rant of the day: Teensy columns and fonts

Okay, blogging dudes and dudettes. WTF is this nonsense about, like, making your blog into ONE TINY LITTLE COLUMN in the middle of the vast real estate of the browser window? That's, like, so 1999 dot-com BS.

Then there's the nonsense about changing your font to the teensiest, tiny little font around to try to fit enough prose into that teensy little column so that your blog page isn't five million miles long. Hello? Some of us don't have 20 year old eyeballs anymore, y'know?

Then there are the guys who fuck with their Blogger header so that you can never, ever get back to the main page if you somehow followed a link in to a sub-page of their site. Hello? It's called *navigation*, dumbasses!

Look at my blog. I use all the screen real-estate, and I don't fuck with your fonts. And you can always get back to the main page by clicking on the blog name at the top of the page. Yeah, it ain't fancy. I use plain old vintage 1997 table tags in my template, don't have a graphic behind my text, don't use layers, and otherwise don't do anything high-tech. But you can read the shit. And that's the point, right?

Some folks just like being purdy more than they like bein' read. Just sayin', y'know??

- Badtux the Bleary-eyed Penguin

Monday, January 23, 2006

Bizarre car posting of the day

This one is for Da Fixa: Click'n'Clack ask, what kind of cars do gay guys and lesbian chicks drive?. Some of the entries will not surprise you -- for example, the Survivor:Texas game consists of two gay guys driving through Texas in a VW New Beetle with a bumper sticker that reads "I'm Gay and I'm Here To Take Your Guns", and Subarus are the ultimate lesbian magnet. Others... well, let's just say that the rugged Western outdoors types are likely to be surprised to find their favorite vehicle high on the list (heh heh heh!).

- Badtux the Car Penguin

Happy No Fuckin' WMD Day

Brother Driftglass reminds me that January 13, 2006 was the first anniversary of No Fucking WMD Day, the day when the Bush Administration's hand-picked arms inspector in Iraq threw in the towel and admitted there were no WMD's and no program to produce them in Iraq.

Three years ago, President Bush stood up in front of the American people and said Iraq was in possession of 26,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, 500 tons - which is one million pounds - of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent, 30,000 missiles to deliver the stuff, mobile biological weapons labs, al Qaeda connections, and uranium from Niger for use in a robust nuclear weapons program. He said all this three years ago, during the State of the Union address, and all of it was a lie. And no amount of hysterical historical revisionism is going to change that fact, no matter how much the 101st Fighting Keyboarders whine and pout with their cheeto-stained fingers while frantically blogging from their mommy's basement. They can shout "Iraqi Freedom! Saddam! Osama! Liberation!" all they want, but where's those million pounds of VX nerve agent? Where's those 30,000 missiles? Where's those mobile fucking biological weapons labs, assholes? Liar, liar, pants on fire.

Anybody who believes anything that this Administration says today -- *ANYTHING* -- is just a pathetic fool whose head is stuck so far up George W. Bush's ass that all he can see is George's small intestine. And the fact that the Democrats continue to have their heads stuck so far up their own assholes that they're not able to see this and take advantage of it, well, right now I pretty much have The Fixer's opinion of the gutless, spineless sycophantic ass-lickers who are the majority of the Democrats in Congress today. They aren't about to grow a spine. They're still too busy being invertebrates who should be submitted as entries to the Circus of the Spineless.

So the question of "What next" comes up. The Busheviks have been in power for five years now. There is no effective opposition to their rule. Right now, it appears that concentration camps for American citizens do not exist only because there aren't any American citizens willing to effectively resist the Bush junta that has thus far stolen two straight elections by scrubbing tens of thousands of black voters off the voter rolls in Florida and throwing away tens of thousands of votes in Ohio. Indeed, if you even mention the fact that George W. Bush was selected, not elected, you are automatically a raving frothing-at-the-mouth lunatic. People do not want to hear it. They don't want their pathetic little lives of defecation and mastication and fornication and accumulating shiny baubles of no import to be disrupted by having to, like, actually do something.

That, in the end, is why the Democrats are behaving like the spineless invertebrates that they are. They've talked to their voters. They realize that most of their voters simply don't want to know the truth -- that the country has been hijacked and held in thrall by a bunch of un-American liars and thieves who are looting the country blind and who will, once they finish looting the last few dimes from the empty husk of the nation, then move on to enjoy their loot in some Caribbean paradise somewhere. Most people still want to believe that their public officials are actually ordinary politicians, no different from any other and thus nothing to get alarmed about. It's not true, but truth is not what most people want. Lies to justify their apathy and ignorance is what most people want. And the Busheviks give them this. We will never wake these people up with the truth, because they don't want to hear the truth. Only lies -- bright and shiny lies -- can penetrate the defensive shell of the average American.

The question, then, is how to deal with purveyors of lies -- the Bush administration and their hoard of ass-licking sycophants -- without yourself being corrupted and becoming yet another corrupt bunch of purveyors of lies. I do not know the answer to that question. But knowing the answer to that question is the only way to create a viable opposition to the Bushevik regime. Otherwise we are stuck in the position of Sophie Scholl, exhorting our fellow Americans to stand up against those who would take our liberties and freedoms from us, and getting uselessly executed as our reward when the Busheviks finally take absolute power and can deal with their opponents as they wish.

In the meantime, the lies pile up in vast reeking drifts of flying monkey shit. Sooner or later, you'd have to think, "Surely the stench will get to be too much for the American people to tolerate?". But perhaps they are getting used to the stench, like people downwind from a stockyard... in the meantime, I hope you had a happy No Fuckin' WMD Day!

- Badtux the Holiday Penguin

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Stuffed Penguin

Officer, officer! I've been assaulted! Pulled out of my car, shoved into a room where I did not want to go, and forcibly stuffed. STUFFED, I say, with brisket and baked potato and barbecue sauce and french toast and peach cobbler.

Officer, I demand that you arrest that restaurant right now for forcing me to eat until I can barely waddle!

What? You say I should exercise self-restraint and quit blaming the restaurant for the fact that I stuffed myself with barbecue until I could barely waddle back to my car?

Darn. For a moment there, I almost thought that, with my whining about how restaurants force barbecue upon poor innocent penguins, I could be like a Republican whining about how liberals are forcing homosexuality upon America!

Gotta go, time to sleep it off...

- Badtux the Stuffed Penguin

Friday, January 20, 2006

3200 still missing in New Orleans

That's not counting the 1383 *official* dead, or those who had no family to report them missing. 3200 people. Just gone. And, *finally*, somebody is going to search for a few of them.

Remember, we honor our dead here in America. Unless, of course, they're black. Or poor. Or both. In that case... well... y'know.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

How conservatives argue

Too true.

Remember: Facts are just liberal propaganda. Why do facts hate America?

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

The cat looks up

Look at this cat. This cat is happy. This cat has a good master, gets fed well, and has his own throne to sit upon. He's not free, I (his master) do not allow him to go out, don't allow him to get on the dining room table while I'm eating, etc., but all in all he realizes that he's lucky to be living as a pet in my house rather than free upon the streets. Freedom is scary, lives of free cats are short and tend to involve a lot of misery, and I'm not such a bad master, after all. I feed him every night, and I change his litter box at least once a week, and what more could a pampered house cat want?

This cat is an American cat. A pampered house pet, happy to have a master.

And now for a bonus cat:

Alrighty then!

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Thursday, January 19, 2006

U.S. helicopter crash kills over 40 Iraqis

Security measures put into place by U.S. soldiers investigating the crash of one of their helicopters funneled travellers into an insurgent-controlled area, where over 40 were killed.

But that doesn't matter, because the people killed weren't really human. They were Iraqis. Darkies. Unseemly brown people. They weren't real people, God's people, by-god American (oh boy, my li'l soldier salutes just sayin' that!). So they don't count. Dead Iraqis is no different from dead chickens in a chicken rendering plant, just animals put out of their misery. So we don't need to worry ourselves about killing 40 innocent Iraqis in order to protect American soldiers who signed on to be shot at, anymore than we need to worry ourselves about how many cockroaches we kill every year.

In other news, the Republican Party has announced that racism is dead in America.

Alrighty, then!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Why Americans don't deserve democracy -- and don't have it

What has been astounding over the past five years of the Bush junta is the lack of any action to restore democracy in America. There is ample evidence that major elections were stolen by crooked pols in 2000, 2002, and 2004, yet either said evidence is dismissed because it's not reported by Faux News or in major newspapers (or reported on page A-28 if it is reported at all), or folks just whine. The proper response when a crooked politician steals an election apparently is to either stick your head in the sand or wring your hands and make tut-tutting noises. After all, democracy isn't worth fighting for, it's only worth making tut-tutting noises about.

Of course, the Ukrainians don't agree, when their election was stolen by crooked politicians they went out on the streets and demonstrated until they got democracy but what do they know, they're just some suspiciously dusky wogs. They're not fine upstanding freedom-loving fellers and gals like God's people, the Chosen people, Americans. God bless America!

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

All your searches are belong to us

Watch it when you Google for search terms like "preteen penguin porn". Big Brother is watching. Or wants to, anyhow.

BTW, typing that above Google search term and clicking through a couple of links took me to this site advocating adoption of Little Penguins . Oh dear, I wonder just what kind of "adoption" they're talking about, anyhow?

-- Badtux the Porno Penguin

Update: Also don't miss this article on penguin prostitutes, especially if you are in Pittsburgh...

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

He vants to drink your blood!

From Minnesota, home of Jesse Ventura, comes the latest and greatest candidate for governor: A vampire. It appears that, given that the nation is already run by blood-sucking monsters, this candidate, Jonathon The Impaler, wants to make it official.

Guess you gotta give him credit for being an honest politician, at least. In the meantime, I leave you with this other picture of a blood sucking monster:

VP Dick Cheney preparing to bathe in the blood of virgins

Alrighty, then!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

You are in a maze of twisty passages, all alike

If you know where the title of this post comes from, go read the Defective Yeti's new Zork text adventure game sequel, Iraqi Invasion: A Text Misadventure.

Prepare to laugh.

- Badtux the Amused Penguin

Al Gore: Traitor to democracy

The left blogosphere went ballistic a couple of days ago about some speech that Al Gore made. It was "passionate", they said. "Best speech I've ever heard", they said. "Heartfelt", they said. "Moves him into the front running for the 2008 Presidential election", they said.

"Bullshit", I say.

Doesn't matter how good the speech is. It's still just a bunch of hot air. When we needed Mr. Gore to be a man of action, he chose to be a "statesman" and let Bush steal the 2000 election. No amount of hot air can make up for that crime against democracy on the part of Gore.

We need action, not words. We need change, not blather. People who push Gore as the Democratic Presidential candidate for 2008 need to find someone with a spine. We need a real leader, not Gore.

- Badtux the Realist Penguin

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Why do motorcycle riders wear black?

I have the answer to that question.

Motorcycle riders wear black because motorcycles are cantankerous beasts, always spurting oil, grease, and grime all over their rider, and black doesn't show oil, greast, or grime.

What, you thought it was because of a desire to look cool or somethin'? Silly you!

Oh, BTW, I found this out the hard way, when nice safety-yellow riding gear ended up being more grime-blotch-grey... and that sh*t don't wash out, either, it soaks into the threads and permenantly stains them. Bummer!

-- Badtux the Motorcycle-Ridin' Penguin

Bush authorized domestic spying before 9/11

Yep. Before 9/11. Not after. And it didn't stop the terrorists before 9/11,probably for the same reason that, according to the New York Times, it was ineffective at finding terrorists after 9/11 too.

Can we just quit pretending that we live in a free nation, and face up to reality? Or are we going to have to keep going through this bullcrapola year after year where we find out that one freedom after another that we thought we had, doesn't actually exist? Right now, the only "freedom" we have is whatever "freedom" our Dear Leader and His holy appointed regime want us to have, mostly because they know that it just plain isn't necessary to crack down on things like us bloggers babbling to ourselves in order for them to consolidate and maintain their power. We are talking about a regime that has unilaterally decided that it can do whatever it feels like doing, regardless of little things like "law" and the Constitution (viewed as "just a goddamned piece of paper by Dear Leader and his cronies), and any delusion that we have government of the people, by the people, for the people in the United States of America is just that: a delusion.

Of course, I realize I'm preaching to the choir. Dear Leader's minions realize that too, which is why I'm not hauled off to Gitmo and given a close up and personal view of waterboarding and "stress positions" and all the other tortures-that-aren't-tortures-because-dear-leader-sez-they-aren't-tortures that happen there. It's not as if any of us here are effective at anything other than telling each other things we already know. We aren't going to affect the views of the majority of the sheeple, who just want to go about their pathetic lives of masticating and fornicating and defecating and accumulating shiny baubles of no import without the necessity of hurting their heads with, like, that "thinking" stuff.

In a land of frightened and timid sheep, who want nothing more than a Great Shepherd to lead them somewhere, even if it's off the edge of a cliff, bold thought is ignored and dismissed as the rantings of deranged radical lunatics. In the end, there is nothing that you or I will do that will stop the slide of the United States of America into neo-fascism or pseudo-fascism. As with the tired and confused population of Germany in 1934, the tired and confused population of the United States will happily follow their Great Leader, whether this one or some future one, to their doom no matter what we try to do about it. Does that mean giving up? No. Even if the struggle against neo-fascism in America cannot be won, it is still a worthwhile struggle. If we can even just slow down the neo-fascists for long enough for the rest of the world to realize what is happening, if we can give the rest of the world even the briefest of respites in order to prepare for what is coming, that is enough to make it worthwhile. We may, in the end, be condemned to live in a neo-fascist regime, but that does not mean that the rest of the world should be so condemned also. And who knows, like the Marines at the Chosin Reservoir, we might even take enough of the bastards down with us to make to make it worthwhile.

-- Badtux the Apocalyptic Penguin

Where is Patrick Henry when we need him?

Shorter Michael Kinsley: Freedom is over-rated.


-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Monday, January 16, 2006

Searching for the Promised Land...

And they were telling me, now it doesn't matter now. It really doesn't matter what happens now. I left Atlanta this morning, and as we got started on the plane, there were six of us, the pilot said over the public address system, "We are sorry for the delay, but we have Dr. Martin Luther King on the plane. And to be sure that all of the bags were checked, and to be sure that nothing would be wrong with the plane, we had to check out everything carefully. And we've had the plane protected and guarded all night."

And then I got into Memphis. And some began to say that threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?

Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. -- The Promised Land.

Shortly thereafterward, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. met the Lord up close and personal.

His people, all who have been oppressed, all who have had their fundamental human rights denied, all who have been downtrodden, are still looking for that Promised Land.

-- Badtux the History Penguin

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Bachelor's Cookbook: Shrimp & Ham Jambalaya

MRE cases can be purchased on EBAY for as little as $5 per meal. If you want some long-lasting food for camping and are tired of pouch tuna and ramen noodles, this is one possibility.

One of the Menu B options this year is Louisiana Jambalaya. Here is how we cook it in one pot at our campsite:


One MRE pouch marked "Jambalaya"
One zip-lok snack sack with 1/2 cup of instant rice
One small bottle Tabasco(tm) sauce.


Place rice in pot
Put 1/2 cup of water into pot (if lazy don't bother measuring, put just enough to cover top of rice).
Bring to boil
Remove flame, cover, and let sit for five minutes.
Remove lid from pot, fluff rice with fork or spoon and taste a few grains to make sure it's cooked. Add MRE pouch contents and a dash of Tabasco.
Turn flame back on (may require re-priming the camp stove depending on the weather), mix well until mixture is nice and warm.
Remove from flame, carry pot to picnic table, eat.

And that, my friends, is some tasty camping food... with only one dirty pot!

Oh sure, if you close your eyes you can still taste a little bit of the lard taste that all MRE's are rendolent of. But the dash of Tabasco does a pretty darn good job of masking that.

In general, for anything with rice or noodles or meat, I prefer the MRE version to the freeze-dried version. For anything pasta, on the other hand, the freeze-dried version is much better -- the MRE version tastes too much like lard. But hey, what do I know, I'm just a good ole' boy from Louisiana, and we don't know nuthin' bout cookin' in Louisiana (heh!)...

-- Badtux the Camping Penguin

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Parties of Mass Destruction!

Well, it seems that our latest attempt to zap the #2 guy of al Qaeda (which one? The 4,324,432'th #2 guy we've tried to zap, or the 4,324,433'th #2 guy we've tried to zap?) was about as accurate as George W. Bush's pre-war statements on Iraq. Didn't get the dude, but sure bombed that party flat.

Yeppers. Similar to our Brave Leader's "decapitation strike" upon Saddam Hussein that took out the Restaurant of Mass Destruction, our airedale SecDef, Rummy the Crabfat Fishhead, was trumpeting that we got Osama's #2 (who was formerly Osama's shoe-shine boy, before we got the 4,324,420th and 4,324,421st #2 guys for al Qaeda, who were formerly his beautician and his manicurist respectively). Except, apparently, it didn't happen, any more than the "decapitation strikes" got Saddam.

You'd think that after four years of futily bombing random restaurants, weddings, and parties, the Secretary of Defence would put down his rum bottle and figure out, "sayyy... bombing doesn't work at dealing with terrorism, only intelligence and boots on the ground do!". After all, it was intelligence and boots on the ground that got Saddam -- not bombs. But that would require, like, uhm, not being rummied to the point of talking nonsense and demonstrating oriental fighting techniques at news conferences. Not happening. Especially after the alien brain-eating vampire masquerading as George W. Bush got through with the Rummy...

Of course, maybe all that is beside the point. I mean, we're talking about an administration that long ago launched a War on Fun. And what in the world could be more fun than a party?

Mission Accomplished!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Bonus snark: Tbogg takes on the Cellphones of Mass Destruction!

Friday, January 13, 2006

March of the Penguins ends at eye surgeon

Well, they weren't exactly marching, since they were hauled to the eye surgeon in plastic garbage cans, but now they can see.

Man, the thought of surgeons being able to do cataract surgery on those beady little eyes... go check out the picture. It's pretty, uhm, how the f*** do they do that?!

- Badtux the Appreciative Penguin

Where y'at?

Okay, so I've been tied down getting a new server up and going. Do you know just how difficult it is to move a production EMAIL server from one platform to another? I had to move it off an ancient box running Sendmail on Red Hat 7.3 Linux to a modern box running Exim on Debian 3.1 Linux. This was *not* trivial, and required doing a lot of work between 11pm and 1am last night to do the final little bit of the migration (down the sendmail, migrate the data, redirect all mail to the new server in the sendmail config, update all dns to reflect that, up the sendmail to handle any dribbles that continued coming in on the old IP). Getting the webmail up and going similarly was/is not trivial (still have a little bit to go there... I want the webmail to only be accessible via https, right now it's accessible via both http and https).

Maybe now that I have a new, modern server, I can think about moving this blog off of blogspot.com...

-- Badtux the Computer Penguin

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

If today's American populance had been around 230 years ago

April 18, 1775, Lexington, Massachusetts:

The scene: A grubby bar and grill. Several men are watching a basketball game while discussing who they think will win the championship this year, the Boston Tea Men or the Philidelphia Oat Men.

Suddenly, the door opens, and Paul Revere enters the bar:

Paul Revere: The British are coming, the British are coming!

Man 1: Maybe we should hold a protest march.

Man 2: No, they'd just ignore us or maybe even arrest us and we'd lose our jobs. There's nothing to be done about it.

Man 3: Look, King George is King. You're a traitor if you don't agree with King George.

Man 4: Shuddup, you idiots, look, the Tea Men are about to force the game into overtime! Watch Samuel Adams drive on Patrick Henry, woot!

Barkeep: You! Hollerin' about the British are comin! Quit disturbin this heres bars or I'm gonna have Vinny the Bouncer kick you out!

Paul Revere: But... but... we need to get the militia out to meet the British! Else they'll trample all our rights!

Barkeep: I'll gives ya yous rights! Vinny, get rid of this bum!

[Vinny the Bouncer lurches upright to his full 6'8" height and his 300 pounds of muscle and dense head meat start lurching towards Paul Revere]

Paul Revere: Okay, okay! I'm leaving! [Exits]

Barkeep: Stupid liberals. Always whining about their "rights". Hah!

Cut to: Boston, Massachusetts, July 1, 2006:

A reviewing stand is set up on the Boston Common. Union Jack flags and red-and-white Dominion of North America flags with their turkey emblem are flying all around. Queen Elizabeth stands atop the reviewing stand, watching red-coated soldiers marching below her. A band plays "God Save the Queen".

Television Announcer 1: And on this, day, 150 years after the British colonies of North America joined together as the Dominion of North America within the British Commonwealth, we celebrate the Queen!

Television Announcer 2: Jolly good show, that. After she leaves here, she will speak to the House of Commons in Dominion Hall on Harvard Square.

Television Announcer 1: And then come the hangings! I understand that several members of the House of Commons voted against contributing to the Commonwealth's War Against Funny-Talking Wogs. Which member of parliament do you think will be hung first?

Television Announcer 2: We will just have to see, won't we? By God, it must be great to be the Queen!

Television Announcer 1: Indeed! God Save the Queen!

-- Badtux the Alternate History Penguin

Notes: King George III's pursuit of the conflict against the American colonies in defiance of Parliament greatly reduced the power of the British monarchy. By the end of the war, the Crown was deeply in debt, incapable of raising the money to hire new soldiers to replace the armies that had been destroyed by French and colonial actions in the Americas, and no longer possessed the ability to do much of anything without the consent of Parliament. The Napoleonic Wars were largely funded by Parliament via direct taxation because the credit of the British commonwealth had been ruined, and was conducted largely on Parliament's terms. Speculation as to what might have happened if George III had managed to break the will of Parliament is just that -- speculation -- but the notion of regular hangings of MP's by a royalty ruling with absolute power is not too far out of the bounds of reason.

New plan for New Orleans: Give it to the developers

A bunch of "city fathers" -- prominent real estate and business executives in New Orleans, led by one of their own, Mayor Ray Nagin -- today unveiled parts of their plan. Amongst the proposals: Build a 50-mile light rail network, and have developers build new homes and businesses along the light rail routes. Neighborhoods that could not get sufficient developers to come in and take their property for those homes and businesses would be turned into swamps or parkland.

Needless to say, the majority of New Orleans citizens in the "townhall meeting" did not approve of the plan, which basically would require them to sell their property at bargain basement prices to developers and which would turn them into unlanded servants rather than homeowners. New Orleans was a city where even a majority of the poor owned their own homes. The "blueprint" calls for a New Orleans where only those making above the median U.S. family income could own homes, with no place for the poor other than in projects or on the streets homeless. In short, the majority of New Orleans city would be relegated to the status of zoo exhibits.

In the end, however, the Golden Rule shall apply. I.e., "he who has the gold, rules." And he who has the gold is not some homeowner who lost his life's possessions as well as his job and life's savings to the floods of Katrina. He who has the gold are the same elite thugocrats who've always had the gold -- in Louisiana and elsewhere. Remember, we don't have government of the people, by the people, for the people in the United States. We have government of the people, by the elite, for the elite. And that is how it will be in New Orleans, too.

-- Badtux the Cynical Penguin

TR and chickenhawks

Teddy Roosevelt's slogan was, "talk softly and carry a big stick."

The chickenhawk's slogan is, "talk loudly due to a small stick."

I.e., the size of one's gonads can be derived from how tough one talks about war and making war... the tougher the talking, the smaller the gonads. Woot!

By that standard, George W. Bush's gonads must be, like, microscopic....

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Medical Care Tuesday: Emergency care needs 911 call

In keeping with my motif today of "all health care, all the time", comes the latest report on the miserable state of the U.S. emergency health system.

Basically, in some states, you better hope you don't get hit by a drunk driver during flu season. For example, every hospital in Phoenix has gone to diversion for as long as four hours at a time at some points last year, meaning that your ambulance could be driving around in circles for as much as FOUR HOURS before finally making it to an emergency room. For critically injured patients, that means they are dead.

Health care that kills people isn't. Most of the problems with emergency medicine today are actually problems of insurance -- because of the fact that 45.8 million people lack health insurance and that these people clog emergency rooms because doctors refuse to see them if they don't have health insurance, real emergencies cannot be properly handled. Thus my proposal to expand Medicare eligibility to all Americans. The other alternative -- expanded government spending on public health clinics -- does not work well because government is lousy at providing actual services. Government does okay taking money from one pocket and putting it into another pocket, but when it comes to actual services, does a poor job compared to a free market. Government should only provide services where the free market has failed, such as the highway system. The free market does a pretty decent job of providing health care, it is the insurance system that has failed, not the medical system. Thus it is the insurance system, not the medical system, that we should look at when trying to do something about the 16% of our national income that is sucked into the medical black hole... we cannot be competitive with other countries when we are spending twice as much on health care as most of our competitors!

- Badtux the Medical Penguin

Why not Medicare for all?

Right-wingnuts whine about how national health insurance would be this great big tax yada yada yada. But what they don't point out -- indeed, do their best to disguise -- is that healthcare in America is *already* a huge tax on every American. A dollar out of my pocket going to health care is a dollar out of my pocket whether it's going to a private insurance company or a government-run insurance company.

What we *should* be talking about is the fact that our competitor nations spend, on an average, 7.5% of their GDP on health care -- and we spend twice that much, and don't get as much health care for the average American. We are, in effect, *ALREADY* paying a 15% tax for health care. Why not make it official, rather than hidden in the closet? Given that 5% of that money is going for health insurance administrative expenses and other such waste, we could have a 10% payroll tax for health care plus a participation fee and *STILL* end up with less money out of pocket than we have with the current system, with the same quality of care. And because we'd have more money to spend on *productive* things rather than on paper-shuffling and profit for insurance companies (for example, General Motors and Ford would both be making a profit instead of losing money and could invest that money in new car designs and etc.), it would be of enormous help to the entire economy.

For those who say "but socialized medicine doesn't work", one word: Medicare. Ask any old person whether he wants Medicare eliminated. Once he finishes banging you over the head with his cane until you're a bloody pulp on the floor, he'll then note that Medicare allows him to see the doctor of his choice, pays for any major medical expenses he runs into, and costs him less than private insurance with the same coverage would cost because Medicare's administrative expenses are less than 5% of what private insurers' administrative expenses + profits are.

In my opinion, there's a simple way to handle national health care: Expand Medicare to cover *ALL* Americans, not just Americans who are 65 and older. Doctors already know how to deal with Medicare. The manpower, policies, procedures, computer systems and computer software are already there to deal with collecting the Medicare tax and disburse it to doctors and hospitals. Adding a few more mainframes to the Medicare admininistration's data farm and a few new incoming data lines for processing the additional claims is probably all that would be needed, and that's a lot cheaper than ramping up some new insurance program. About the only thing needed to turn Medicare into universal health care for all Americans would be a few new treatment codes (I doubt, for example, that Medicare has a "prenatal care" treatment code!). If Medicare is good enough for older Americans, why wouldn't it be good enough for the rest of us?

- Badtux the Practical Penguin

Monday, January 09, 2006

FEMA cuts off rent checks for NOLA survivors

FEMA: Meet the F*ckers.

One of my co-workers said, "Haven't they cleaned up and re-opened New Orleans to the survivors yet?" and I had to tell him, "No, only the tourist areas are habitable." I had to tell him, "Nothing's been done -- the levees are still a shambles, the trash and debris is still in the streets, nothing's happening." I had to tell him, "No, New Orleans has been abandoned. Nothing is being done. Nothing."

Read the Rude Pundit's 5-part series, where he recently visited New Orleans:

New Orleans is gone. Nobody is going to do anything. Nobody. A great American city has been abandoned. We lack the will to do anything else. Don't want to interfere with watching American Idle and Survivor:Iraq while we receive our daily Soma from the tube that is the centerpiece of our living rooms, after all...

-- Badtux the Depressed Louisiana Penguin

Strange post of the day, wingnut division

Curious penguins want to know: how, exactly, does right-wing blogger John Cole get hairballs? And why is he dining on his kitty's kibble to deal with his hairball problem?

- Badtux the Curious Penguin

Used car salesmen

After my trip to Death Valley on my KLR, I've decided that a KLR isn't exactly a good ride for those conditions, due to the limited amount of water that it can carry. Thus I am looking for a used/cheap Jeep.

Looking at a supposed low-mileage Jeep at a dealership, it was obvious just by looking at the front brakes that this Jeep either had a lot more miles on it or someone had driven it around with their foot on the pedal. While pondering this, I came up with the ultimate insult to use against a crooked used car dealer:

"You're as crooked as a Republican congressman."

Hmm, except that may be a little too hard on used car dealers...

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

The problem of power

The fundamental issue with government is power. That is, some people have it, and they use this power to dictate unto others who do not have power. Government codifies this and turns the whole process of meeting common needs into an adversarial process of "us" vs. "them", where "us" is the group currently possessing more power, and "them" is the group currently possessing less power. Truth, justice, and the common good become lost in the fray. It becomes survival of the most powerful, by any means, without any consideration of what is best for America and Americans.

One solution that has been proposed is to abolish government altogether -- anarchism. There are two main branches of anarchism. Left-anarchists believe that private property itself is the basis of power, and simply eliminating government is not enough to deal with the problem of power, private property must also be abolished. Right-anarchists(called "capito-anarchists" by the left-anarchists and "radical Libertarians" by most others) believe that private property is a fundamental right of human beings and thus cannot be abolished, but, rather, would be regulated by the fact that the majority of people would be well armed and thus capable of eliminating via "lead poisoning" those who would use the power granted by their property to rule over other people.

And both are wrong, because both forget the one and only method by which power is enforced: Violence.

Chairman Mao once stated that "power grows from the barrel of a gun". In that much, he was correct. The reason wealthy people have more power than poor people is not because of money, which, after all, is only toilet paper with funny drawings on it. Rather, the reason wealthy people have more power than poor people is because of the guns they can buy with that money. Especially, in our current United States of America, the guns of the government, which allows them to, e.g., have a government grant of limited liability when they form businesses, suppress competition using government power, etc., all enforced at gunpoint by government goons.

But what he did not state, because it would have been self-evident to him, is that the power growing from the barrel of a gun only works if you are willing to use the gun. Most people are horrified by violence and killing. There are, however, those who are physically more powerful, or who are more aggressive, or more ready to kill or harm others. The latter, people who enjoy killing and harming other people, we call "sociopaths". Eliminating the only currently-known external controls upon these people -- government -- therefore does not eliminate the problem of power. It simply means that those who are not horrified by violence and killing, i.e., sociopaths, will be those who have power. You are, in effect, moving the power from the unelected elites who currently control the majority of the goons, to the goons themselves.

And the results are not likely to be good.

Take East L.A... please. This is basically a lawless area. The only "law" is the street gangs. Ordinary people, rather than coming together and taking out the gangsters, instead huddle in fear within their homes. This is because for most people, violence is nerve-shattering. The very thought of violence makes them start trembling. This isn't a matter of cowardice or not. This is a matter of basic personality makeup. Most people are not sociopaths. They like other people. They like helping other people. The thought of hurting other people makes them physically ill. They could do it if properly conditioned (such as, say, by the military) or if necessary in the heat of the moment to protect their children or spouse from harm, but when it comes to violence, they are not going to be the ones to instigate the violence.

The result is that when there is no government, no rule of law, sociopaths who like violence rule over them. That, in the end, is why anarchy as a viable system of (non) government cannot exist. As with the anarchist syndics of pre-Franco Spain, the (non) system cannot survive the advent of evil people willing to do anything for power. Franco's fascist goons destroyed the anarchist syndics and the fledgling true democracy that they had established (true democracy = system where all the members, not just a priviliged elite, make decisions for the community). The same has happened to all other attempts to create an anarchist utopia. By disregarding the fundamental fact that there are evil people on this planet, anarchy fails.

So if our government as currently existing is evil, and if no government would be equally evil, what next? That, I'm afraid, is a topic for another posting...

-- Badtux the non-anarchist Penguin

Friday, January 06, 2006

Friday cat-killer blogging with Bubba

Howdy, Bubba the Suthern Penguin here, fillin' in fer my cousin BadTux.

Now, last night I wuz out fer a bit of cat-killin' with my ole' buddy Bill Frist, and then I got home around one am or so and there wuz Darlene, just a screechin' at me, "You was out seein' that hussy Eliza, wasn't ya? Wasn't ya!" Well, I was a tryin' ta tell her I was just out cat killin' with my buddy Bill, but next thing I knew she was pullin' out that ole' iron fryin' pan and screechin' "Get out! Get out!" and I wuz runnin' fer my life.

Now, luckily, I keep a blanket in my ole' pickemup truck, but the fellers at work, when I got in, they took one look at me and started a'laffin'. And that's why I got so much sympathy fer them poor fellers at the NSA, who has all them folks laffin' at them fer saying "we didn't spy on Christiane Amanpour".

Now, I gotta say, I ain't believin' them either. I mean, have you seen that Christy Amanpour? She's a dish! Oh sure, she's one of them commie Bush-haters at CNN, but rooowwwr! If I could spy on her, I'd spy on her too! But look: that ain't no caul fer LAFFIN at that poor NSA guy. You know and I know that he couldn't say nuthin, NUTHIN', 'cause if'n tha terrists know who we is and is not spyin' on, why, they could KILL US ALL! And besides, maybe they got themselves one of them thare tips, maybe about microphones of mass destruction or sumthin', and had to save us from a threat that coulda KILLED US ALL! Why, c'mon, now, fellers, you don't want ta be killed by microphones of mass destruction, do ya? Do ya?!

So alls I gots ta say is, c'mon, fellers. Have a li'l sympathy fer them fellers at the NSA. Oh sure, it's sorta funny that they're sayin' "We didn't spy on Christy", sorta like a bank robber sayin' "I didn't do it!" while hidin' the bag of money behind his back, but look. NSA dudes are people too. And it just ain't right to be a laffin' at folks like that.

-- Bubba the Suthern Penguin

The Sago mining disaster: What does it mean?

Mining in general has become much safer in recent years. It has become far more mechanized, with fewer miners underground and more open-pit mining ("mountain-topping").

However, regardless of whether mining in general is safer or not, it is clear from this particular mine’s safety record over the last couple of years, with hundreds of safety violations of which dozens were detirmined “critical”, that it was a disaster waiting to happen. The question of what happened in this specific incident is of disinterest to me mostly because regardless of whether this was an act of God or an act of negligence, that does not change the fact that the mine was unsafe and needed far more attention than the handslaps that the mine operator received.

For those who claim that the WV mine regulators wouldn’t allow an unsafe mine to continue operation, have you ever lived in WV? The mining companies, whenever the regulators threaten to come down hard on a mine, go to the workers and tell the workers that they will close the mine if the regulators keep wanting to do their jobs. The workers are given a choice of working in an unsafe mine, or working nowhere at all, and express the same to their legislators, who then intervene to save the miners’ jobs. The mining companies have all the power here, the miners have none. They can either work in an unsafe mine, or starve to death.

For those who state “well, okay, but that still doesn’t need overnment intervention, let the free market decide”: This situation is already the result of massive government intervention in the free market, specifically, the government grant of limited liability, the most massive government intervention ever. Since due to this government intervention the owners of the mine are no longer held personally and severally liable (i.e. no longer face the threat of prison for negligent homocide) if a man is killed due to the negligence of the mine management, they thus have every incentive to order the mine management to cut corners.

The fact that the majority of mine owners and managers resist that temptation according to the statistics posted elsewhere in this thread does not change the fact that some will not. Every government intervention has unintended consequences that often require further government intervention, and this is no exception. As long as we have the government grant of limited liability exempting owners of a company from personal responsibility for the actions of the company, we will need government oversight of corporations in order to protect the lives and safety of their workers and customers. The only alternative is to remove the government intervention (the grant of limited liability) and go back to the English common law situation, where the owners of a business were personally responsible for all consequences of a business’s operation, including the possibility of going to jail for negligent homocide if a worker or customer died due to the negligence of their management. Without consequences, a true free market does not exist and cannot work, and we get situations like unsafe mines that require yet more government intervention to handle.

Given this, regardless of whether the mine disaster happened due to an act of God or because of negligence, we cannot simply say "so what, it's free enterprise in action." We must have firm government oversight of mines -- the alternative is that mining companies have absolutely no (zero) incentive to protect their workers and customers, since their owners can't be jailed for negligent homocide due to that *other* massive government intervention (the grant of limited liability). And noting that President Bush apparently disagrees with this notion, having cut mining safety budgets drastically during his Presidency, isn't partisanship -- it is simple fact.

– Badtux the Libertarian Penguin

The chow hound, before and after gorging

One of these cats is from before my vacation. The other of these cats is from after my vacation, after eating 12 days of food in 6 days time. Which is which? (Answer in the comments).

And remember, he's not big-boned. He's fat.

- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Bonus cat: This guy, interrupted while he was reading the newspaper, demonstrates that the black cat wasn't the only cat eating like, well, a dog, during my vacation...

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The U.S. military never kills women and children.

Never. And anybody who says otherwise is, is, an America-hating DOODY-HEAD!

-- Badtux the Freeper-channeling Penguin

Who cares if there was a guy called "Jesus Christ"?

Bloggers on both the left and right are going nuts over the notion that an Italian court is about to decide whether Jesus was an actual historical person or not thanks to a lawsuit claiming that the Church is committing fraud against the Italian people by claiming there was an actual person named Jesus Christ. This lawsuit is as ridiculous as one against Stephen King claiming that a historical person named Carrie never existed. It sort of misses the author's intent in the whole affair.

There is significant evidence that there was a large number of wanna-be prophets named "Joshua" ("Jesus" is Greek for "Joshua") during the first two centuries AD. Judaea was undergoing rebellions and turmoil during this time, resulting in the destruction of the Temple, destruction of the Temple culture, and ultimately in the ethnic cleansing of Judaea as a whole with its population scattered to the winds by the Romans. Given the variety of internal and external evidence, it seems apparent that the Gospels were written after the post-135AD destruction of what remained of Jewish Israel, over 100 years after the supposed death of Jesus Christ, by people who never saw Jesus in real life, based upon oral traditions that had been passed down over the years. So it’s not as if they are themselves viable history texts. Indeed, there is significant evidence that the Biblical Jesus never existed as an actual human being. The Gospels are, at best, a documentary of a philosophy that developed over the course of decades amongst an offshoot sect of the Jews (the Nazarenes, an offshoot of the Essenes) that eventually broke away from Judaism to be the largest religion in the world after Paul had his revelation that “Hey, we could convert everybody, not just Jews!”. It's historically viable to consider them to be multiple parables starring a composite Messiah character.

But in the end it does not matter whether there was an actual physical Jesus and an actual physical resurrection. It’s sort of like that whole evolution thingy. Evolution is science. The fact that evolution occurs and appears to be the most plausible scientific explanation for the existence of life on Earth is a matter of science, not of faith, and of supreme disinterest to those who read the Bible as a guide to faith, not as a guide to science. The fact that historians no longer believe there was an actual person named Jesus Christ is similarly of supreme disinterest for someone interested in the Bible as a guide to faith rather than as a history book. If more people were interested in the Gospels as a guide to faith—as a guide to a religious philosophy as to how to live one’s life—the world would be a much better place.

Your beliefs in the physical existance of Jesus Christ have little to do with whether you philosophically accept the teachings of the Gospels, as the numb-nuts at Westboro Baptist Church (of “God Hates Fags” fame) go to show (Jesus taught “Love thy neighbor”, He didn’t teach “Go parade outside your neighbor’s house with offensive signs while hurling curses at them”). The sad and simple fact is that even the majority of those who believe there was an actual historical Jesus and profess to be Christians don’t follow His teachings. That, not any bogus history issues, should be the biggest cause of concern amongst true Christians.

- Badtux the Christian Penguin

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Can flightless waterfowl fly?

Once upon a time, there was a penguin. This penguin was for sale in a pet store in Tennessee. A man came in, and said "I need me a carrier pijin, you got one of them?" The proprieter allowed as to how he didn't, but he had this nice penguin for sale.

"Will that thare penguin carry a message?"

"I reckon he will," said the proprietor. So the man carried the penguin home and put him in a bird cage and fed him the penguin food the pet store owner had given him, and after a few days, decided to test out his new carrier penguin.

So he put the penguin in the passenger seat of his pickup truck, drove out a few hundred yards from his house, and stopped and tied a message to the penguin's leg. Then he picked up the penguin and threw him out the winder of his pickemup truck. "Fly, litttle penguin!" the man cried. "Fly away home!" The penguin, of course, being a flightless waterfowl, merely fell to the ground with a meaty thunk and didn't move.

"Now what is that?" hollered Cousin Cooter from next door.

"Darned carrier penguin bein' lazy," the man replied.

"Well, give him a good switchin'!" Cousin Cooter said.

So the man got a good limber branch from a nearby tree, and swatted the penguin. "Fly!" the man said. "Fly away home!" But the penguin just sat there, beady eyes glazing over.

"Darned critter is *still* being lazy!" the man cried. "What should I do now?"

"Well, guess you better use a bigger stick," Cousin Cooter said. So the man got a bigger stick from a nearby tree, and swatted the penguin. "Fly!", the man said. "Fly away home!" But the penguin just sat there, beady eyes glazed over.

"Kick his butt," Cousin Cooter suggested. "That always makes my young'uns behave." So the man kicked the penguin. The penguin flew a few feet toward the house!

"Why, I guess that might work!" the man said. So he kept kicking the penguin, and every time he kicked the penguin, the penguin flew a few feet, until finally the penguin was on the front porch of the house.

The moral of the story: If your penguin refuses to fly, you're just not kicking him hard enough.

Them's the Tennessee rules, apparently!

But just as punishing a flightless waterfowl hard enough to make him fly ends up with, well, dead bird, the only way to punish an alcoholic enough to make him stop drinking is to punish him so hard that he ends up, well, dead. What next, the death penalty for alcoholics in Tennessee?

Alrighty, then!

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Monday, January 02, 2006

Sleeping in cars in Seattle

These are the hidden homeless, those well off enough (have a job) to keep gas in their cars, but not able to afford an apartment on wages of $7 per hour or less, and making too much money for the homeless shelters. So at night they drive around, find a place to park their car where hopefully nothing will happen to them, and go to sleep.

And it's not news.

Which, perhaps, epitomizes the supposed "economic recovery" that the Busheviks have been touting lately. It's an "economic recovery" if you are a millionaire business owner. If you're a kid in Mandeville, or a guy working at a coffee shop in Seattle, why, you don't count in Bushevik America... heck, you don't even exist. After all, you've never attended any of George W. Bush's campaign fundraisers, so who are you, anyhow?!

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

3rd World USA

We're the United States of America, the wealthiest, most powerful nation on the planet. So why, oh why, are school children in Louisiana going to school in tents?!

Since the above link will disappear shortly (NOLA.com disappears them behind a for-pay wall after a time), I will excerpt parts of it:

St. Bernard Unified School, operating in tents, trailers and the second floor of the flooded Chalmette High School, allowed the family to reunite and return from exile. For Larry and Elizabeth, as for most of the 640 students, the school -- a single campus for preschool through high school -- has become an oasis of calm in their shattered lives. Neither they nor their parents had expected St. Bernard Parish, where almost no home or business escaped floodwaters, would have a school for months, if not years.

FEMA and our can't-do federal government was a whole lot of help:

After more than a month of frustrating and fruitless negotiations with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has yet to deliver the first dollar of aid to the school system, Voitier and her minuscule staff designed and opened the school in just three weeks. FEMA officials could not be reached for comment Friday evening.

Even as Voitier and her staff have filled the campus with students, little has changed in the way of federal aid. To date, FEMA hasn't contributed one dime or one hour of labor to the project beyond endless administrative meetings, Voitier and her staffers said.

"I find it almost comical that we've started a school here while the federal government, with all its resources, still can't get a post office running," said Lyall Barwick, an information technology administrator and baseball coach whom Voitier pressed into service to coordinate cleanup and construction of the campus.

But to even get a tent school going, they had to break the law and spend money they didn't have:

Along the way, Voitier bent or ignored many of the federal guidelines requiring layers upon layers of design and procurement procedures, which would have pushed the opening of school back for months. She said she broke more rules in three weeks than she's broken in her life.

"I'm going to jail," she said, with a sharp, nervous laugh. On Nov. 14, St. Bernard Parish opened a public school in a community suffering some of the worst damage in American history two weeks before New Orleans officials opened their first public school in the dry environs of Uptown.

Yes, there's that famous "Louisiana corruption" in action. I've dealt with Louisiana governments all over Louisiana as a computer consultant. By far the majority of the local government officials I've dealt with are dedicated public servants who are trying to do what they can with inadequate resources, cutting corners and bending rules as necessary in order to serve their communities. The Federal Government regularly comes in and whangs them for not dotting all the 'i's and crossing all the 't's, but when you have a school district whose entire central office staff consists of four people, it's just plain impossible. So these people put their own careers and possibly even their on freedom on the line in order to do what it takes to provide necessary services to the people of their community.

But the payback?

Students poured in that morning, many arriving from temporary homes more than an hour away, hugging and screaming at the sight of one another.

"This is the first time since the storm I've had a reason to smile," one father told Warner that morning.

Another student, at lunch that first day in the white tent now serving as a cafeteria, seemed thrilled at the prospect of a school lunch.

"Oh look! Real food!" he exclaimed when he got his plate.

Note that at this time of year, even in St. Bernard Parish (amongst the most southerly places in the state) the morning temperatures are in the upper 30's/lower 40's. A tent is not the most comfortable place to be in those kinds of temperatures. But a tent is what they have, and probably will have for some time, because the school district is bankrupt:

Sitting in that same tent three weeks later, Voitier beamed with pride over the happy children that now filled the school's campus, but wondered aloud how she would pay for it all.

Under the best-case scenario, FEMA will reimburse 90 percent of most of her emergency spending, but Voitier concedes she can't even come up with the remaining 10 percent.

"We're in a severe -- I mean severe -- cash-flow crisis," she said. "I've fronted all the money I can. Contractors aren't getting paid, and FEMA hasn't paid us."

So the tent is "it", for the foreseeable future. There is no money to do anything else. But for the majority of the students, that is no different from what they're living in at "home" -- the back seats of cars, tents, old trailers salvaged from the floodwaters, whatever shelter they can find in a parish where virtually all homes were destroyed, in a scene reminiscent of 3rd world countries such as Nicaragua where people live in the destroyed rubble of their homes for years after they were destroyed by an earthquake:

As Larry Rush, 15, ate a hot Sunday meal at the FEMA tent city on the site of the old Kaiser Aluminum plant the week before school let out for Christmas, he pondered the meaning of it all.

"Everybody keeps telling me it's a lesson," he said. "Well, I'm tired of the lesson."

Outside, his mother made another exasperating call to FEMA, asking about the promised trailer they had said would arrive a month ago. She hung up with no satisfaction, struggling to hold back tears.

The next morning before school, Larry looked over two one-page essays he had been assigned for homework. For one titled, "Something I Worry About," he'd written:

I really don't know where I'll be on the next day and the next, because my family and I have been going from place to place to stay or sleep at night. . . . I been a little worried about school, because what I don't know is how I'm going to be able to keep up my work and everything else.

Larry was assigned another essay titled, "Something I'm Happy About."

He managed only one sentence.

I'm happiest when I'm with friends and family, when everything is forgotten about what happened with the storm.

"How do you write that you're happy when you're living in the cold in a truck?" his sister said.

This is America? Really? This is America?

- Badtux the not-snarky-at-the-moment Penguin