Wednesday, May 31, 2006

SUV size vs. size of balls

This picture pretty much says it all: the bigger the SUV, the smaller the driver's balls, to the point where the drivers of the very biggest SUV's have no balls at all (see: soccer moms toting an entire soccer team around, or Arnold Schwartzenegger after all those steroids he took during his body-building days).

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Bushit vs Real Life

President Bushit made a little speechy thingy on Memorial Day. President Bushit was nice and clean and happy, and his family is all safe at home. But in real life: People are dying. American soldiers are dying. And for what? . "Democracy". Which apparently involves lots of explosions and dead people. But never fear, Dear Leader will never be caught in the actual presence of one of the soldiers that he has murdered by sending into a war to destroy Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction punish Saddam for supporting al Qaeda seize Iraq's oil for the United States install democracy at gunpoint in Iraq enrich Vice President Halliburton at taxpayer expense. After all, they're mostly unseemly crackers from Tennessee or those unseemly brown people. They talk funny, with one of them thare accent thingies like Dear Leader fakes from time to time (Dear Leader's normal accent is a Conneticut accent -- as you'd expect, since he was born there and spent most of his childhood there). They're just untermenschen, nobodies, plastic soldiers to push around on the pool-table-sized map in the War Room under the White House. They're not real people, rich white people, God's people, the Bush crime family. Thus they don't count. They're not REALLY dead. They're just, like, toy soldiers that accidentally got knocked over into the fireplace -- just slightly melted, y'know.

Fuck President Bushit and the horse he rode in on. If there was any goddamned justice in this world, if there really was a God, then God and the Four horsemen of the Apocalypse would ride down from the heavens and smash the roof off of the White House and pluck that fucking asshole murderer out of his Oval Office by his hair. Then they would take him to New York City and strip all his clothes off and tie him up by his balls in the middle of Times Square. Then they'd flay every strip of skin off his body as he screamed in pain, until he passed out. Then God would heal President Bushit and then start it all over again. And this would happen over and over again, until God finally boomed out to the world, "This is what happens to mass murderers. Repent." Then He would hang President Bushit from the top of the Empire State building, and the crows would peck every bit of flesh from his body, as God kept him alive to see and feel it. Then God would allow Bushit to die, and his body to rot until it crumbled and fell to Earth.

But God hasn't done that, and won't. That is why I know there is no justice, and no God. President Bushit will retire to his cushy penthouse in Houston (the Crawford pig farm is a prop that will be discarded ASAP), and cackle as he revels in his millions. Like Richard Nixon, like Henry Kissinger, like all the other mass murderers who have held power in U.S. history, he will be celebrated as a great leader and a hero of the Republic.

But that doesn't make him any less a murdering asshole who ought to be on trial right alongside his old buddy Saddam Hussein, for the exact same reason -- murdering hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians for no reason other than to retain power. But it won't happen. It won't happen. Because there is no justice. And there is no God.

-- Badtux the Disgusted Penguin

Monday, May 29, 2006

Rappin' on the Potomac

Let's see: Republican pols are interested in easy money, bling, whores, infidelity, theft, gas-guzzling cars, and shooting people in the face.

The proof is clear: Republican politicians are all rappers!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Blast from the past: From September 11, 2002

As I've noted before, I had a few blogs before this one, including one that is probably a direct ancestor of this one. It is no longer available on the Internet for a number of technical reasons, but I still have the data.

This one is from September 11, 2002. In the previous year, the Patriot Act had been passed, and it appeared that Dear Leader was working up to a war against Iraq, a nation which had never attacked us, which had never supported a single act of terrorism against the United States, and which was militarily no threat to us. What I said then is especially relevant on this Memorial Day. Here is what I said:

On September 11, 2001, over two thousand Americans gave their lives for freedom. This is nothing new for America. From the soldiers ofthe Revolution, to the bloody fields of the Civil War, from the shores of Normandy to the freedom marcher's fall, freedom has always had its price, usually buried in the ground with a white cross and flowers to be forgotten as time marches on.

Yet ominous reporters were quick to tell us, "Everything has changed." Nonsense. The world is a dangerous place. It was a dangerous place when we stood up to Hitler and Tojo. It was a dangerous place when we engaged in nuclear standoff with the Soviet Union. It is still a dangerous place, and always will be,because the United States is prosperous and the envy of all, and the barbarians at the gates will do anything to see us fall. Nothing has changed. Nothing.

Yet we hear these calls, "We must give up our freedoms." We must give up our freedom to travel this great nation's airways without presenting our papers and submitting to strip searches(for the females amongst our readers). We must give up the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States -- the right to a grand jury, the right to a trial, the right to a lawyer -- for "we must be safe."

But no number of freedoms we give up will ever make us safe. The barbarians are at the gates, and forever shall they be. Only constant vigilance and, yes, blood, shall preserve this great nation, and there will be further deaths, further examples of freedom's toll. Over two thousand people died on September 11. They did not know that they died for freedom. They were going about their daily lives, and then they died.

But that is how it has always been. All of us, any of us,any time of the day, may find ourselves paying that price. You can either cower in a bunker or stand tall, and try to live the best life you can in full knowledge that tomorrow it may end. Or you can spit on the graves of those who have died, of those who died because this is a free nation and we do not have machine-gun-armed soldiers on every street corner demanding our papers, you can spit on the graves of those who died on the shores of Normandy, on the graves of those who fought this nation's wars, on the graves of those who fought for liberty and justice and equality for our own citizens.

Just don't expect me to shake your hand if you do so. Or to call you anything other than what you are: A coward, a disgrace, a desecrator of the graves of the dead. For in the end, the biggest threat to this nation is not the barbarians at the gate. The biggest threat to this nation is the barbarians within, who would destroy the freedoms that made this nation great in the name of an illusionary safety that will never be attained.

- E.L.G., September 11, 2002

What is Henry Kissinger doing nowdays?

You know. Henry Kissinger? Got a couple million dead people on his conscience? (Heheheh penguin made a funny! Everybody knows Kissinger has no conscience!).

Anyhow, what's he doing nowdays? Well, Bush was going to make him head of the 9/11 commission, but that fell through. So Kissinger has been slumming. His latest gig is as a restaurant reviewer in Moscow.

Also came across some interesting articles about Mexican military might, and the best way to deal with the Russians selling nuclear reactors to Iran -- preventative genocide, i.e., nuke Russia, which would kill approximately 2/3rds of its population and pretty much end any reactor sales from Russia for the foreseeable future, as well as liberating Russia from the evil elected dictator Vladmir Putin.

And if that doesn't work out, well, we can always just blame Canada. After all, it is well known that American society has been infiltrated by those evil Canadians and that the Canadians are massing at our borders (why, 90% of their population is massed within 50 miles of our border!)...

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Old people shocked

Old people are shocked to find that they have genital herpes. Experts blame Viagra.


-- Badtux the Amused Penguin

Needed: A little honest corruption

Over the past two days I've been quartering Louisiana, getting pretty much everywhere except into the New Orleans area (sorry, just not enough time). I've been talking to lots of people in that time.

So I'm sitting there on the front porch of a double-wide, with a bunch of folks recovering from a large potluck. A late-middle-aged farmer with a large belly and a sandy-red pirate's mustache asks a guy from South Louisiana how he got through the hurricanes. "Pretty well", said the guy from South Louisiana, "we didn't even lose any roof because when we remodeled our house, we had them put on a metal roof that was screwed on. But the port didn't do well, it's still pretty much a mess." Pretty much out of the blue, the farmer says "They ought to just give all the money to the parishes and let the local folks do what needs doing." I agreed -- "the locals are the people who know what needs doing, you just can't micro-manage something like that from Washington or even Baton Rouge."

A South Louisiana oil field employee tells me about his local mayor, "Sure, a little money ends up in his side pocket from time to time. But he gets things done. We didn't have a single downed power line in our town when the hurricane hit because he got every town worker out there walking the lines at the start of hurricane season and clearing away any branches and reporting any trees that might fall on them."

Of course, it's not all peaches and cream. The former purchasing manager of a mid-sized city reports, "I saved the city over a million dollars by buying surplus refrigerators, desks, and chairs that the military was selling for pennies on the dollar when they closed the local military base. The moment a new mayor came in, they threw all that stuff out and went and bought brand new stuff from an administration crony for $1.9 million dollars, of which over $190,000 went into his mistress's pocketbook as a 'sales commission'."

So yeah, Louisiana government is corrupt. But for the most part, it's an honest corruption, where you basically are getting the government you're paying for -- the trash is picked up, the cops are on the streets, the fire department is responding if your house is burning down, the sewers work and water comes out the tap when you turn it on (well, except in New Orleans, but when 90% of the city was destroyed and the city has no money, that's what happens). Meanwhile, that Washington D.C. corruption has trash in the streets of New Orleans that's left over from Katrina, because the bozos currently in Washington D.C. try to do Soviet-style central management of what is, in the end, local needs. Just as the Supreme Soviet would decide "For our next five year plan, let's make more steel!" and you'd have shoe-less steel workers for the next five years because, err, nobody thought about shoes in that central plan, central planning of disaster recovery results in "let's talk about housing!" while trash piles up because nobody thought about trash when doing that central planning.

Central planning didn't work for the Soviet Union, and it doesn't work for the United States. When it comes to disaster recovery, give the money to the locals. They'll fix things up. Sure, the local politicians might skim a percentage to their mistresses and Maldives bank accounts. But at least it'll be honest corruption -- the kind of corruption where things are getting done, because the people doing the things are the people who live there and thus have every incentive to get it done. And generally this "honest" corruption will be far cheaper than the dishonest corruption of Washington D.C., where the money instead goes to corrupt cronies of the President or Vice President and maybe, in the end, a few pennies on the dollar actually make it down to the local level to actually do stuff, and the stuff doesn't get done right because the people doing it don't live there and thus don't give a shit.

I find it hilarious that an administration that is the most corrupt U.S. government since the administration of Ullyses S. Grant would lecture the state of Louisiana about corruption... sure, Louisiana is corrupt. But at least their corruption is the honest kind of corruption, the Mayor Daley of Chicago kind of corruption, where sure some money gets skimmed from time to time, but things get done.

- Badtux the Travelin' Penguin

Saturday, May 27, 2006

New slogan for the Republicans

Republican Culture of Life: Offer expires at birth.

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Slogan suggested by a random dog

Friday, May 26, 2006

Dear Leader admits mistakes

Dear Leader had a little speachy on Iraq a couple of days ago. He said that everything is going all peachy-keen and like, but things had gotten kinda harder lately 'cause he'd made a couple leetle teensy mistakes, like being a bit too blustery at times, and letting that Abu Ghraib thingy get out instead of seizing the presses and the CBS tape for 60 Minutes before they could transmit about it. But never fear, Dear Leader has a plan for victory in Iraq, although he can't tell it to us because it's, like, really seecrit and stuff, y'know? It'll just take a little longer, but that's okay, because USA! USA! USA!

Boy, Dear Leader's little speechy thingy sure made me feel better about Dear Leader. Yay! USA!

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Friday Mighty Hunter Blogging

Last week, I mentioned about how cats in the wild were unusual amongst domesticated animals in being able to bring down prey by themselves and survive in the wild. As proof, I showed photos of the Mighty Hunter Fang(tm) bringing down some really big prey in his natural environment: A refrigerator, and a rotund blogger.

Today, the mighty hunter Fang brings down some even bigger prey. Well, sort of.

I don't like the way you're looking at me!

Fang attacks!


The wall fights back:

But the mighty Fang prevails in the end:
Having vanquished that enemy, the mighty hunter Fang uncovers a new enemy: His paw.
You! Yeah you! Whatcha lookin' at, Willis?!

Meanwhile, the World's Laziest Cat (sleeps 23.9 hours per day, eats and poops the other .1 hours per day) looks on. Or doesn't, rather.

Yawn. Who cares?

And that is the end of today's Friday Mighty Hunter Blogging starring Fang!

- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Reminder: Major holiday coming up

A a major worldwide holiday happens *TODAY*, May 25! Yes, it is Towel Day. Except for those nutcases for which it is End of World Day. I will keep watching the skies for Vogon constructor fleets or rogue asteroids.

So long for now, and thanks for all the fish!

-- Badtux the Fish-eating Penguin

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

81000 words

That's what the novel is up to now. My goal was 80000, the minimum to be sellable in today's market. However, I'm not getting excited yet, because there is a huge number of continuity issues in the latter 1/3rd of the novel caused by the massive insertion of material in the middle, so some of those words are going to be leaving. Good riddance, for the most part... the replacement for that material is much better. We learn more about what makes Kathy tick, we learn more about how downright scary she can be (BTW, I modeled that part after an actual kid I once knew -- he was a rather slender and fragile-looking kid who looked as if he ought to be the target of bullies but he scared the shit out of everybody because he was crazy and utterly ruthless, we're talking about the kind of kid who did drive-bys off his bicycle at 11 years old and had a reputation that if you crossed him, you were going to pay, and pay badly), she gets to do some breaking and entry, she even gets to meet Wallace at his apartment in a way that starts out with Wallace pointing his gun at her and ends up with her scaring the shit out of him (and we learn that Wallace has a floral-themed old lady sofa, what a mensch!). Sorry, no love scene with Wallace, you gals wanting some fan service there are just going to have to dream, I did imagine one with Wallace that might make it in at some future draft because it touches upon the relationship between Kathy and her father in a way that's rather revealing and also explains why she hasn't had much sex recently, but it just doesn't fit into the plot as it stands. Still, this means I'm going to have to make a third pass over the material once I get rid of those continuity issues to bring it back up to speed. Maybe Wallace+Kathy could happen then (hah!)...

Anyhow, second draft should be finished shortly. I have a four-day weekend coming up, hopefully that'll help. Unlike Prezniting, writing is hard work. I now have a lot more respect for folks like Stephen King who seem able to churn out good work year after year (and not-so-good work sometimes too, alas).

And oh, I'm still trying to figure out a decent title for the damned thing. This is embarrassing, I have all these great novel titles sitting on my hard drive just waiting for a novel to go with them, and I actually sit down and write a novel to prove to myself that I can, and it's not one of them!

-- Badtux the Writer Penguin

Conservatives love our veterans


Throw them out on the streets hungry and with a four month waiting list for the medical help they need? No problemo!

Remember: The Republican "Culture of Life" stops at birth.

- Badtux the Disgusted Penguin

Wal-Mart goes green

Seems Wal-Mart has realized one vital maxim that so many fundamentalist right-wing capitalist GOPers have so far failed to grasp: The apocalypse is just really bad for business.

This, BTW, also explains why suddenly our corporate overlords are suddenly dumping on Bush. They see an economic apocalypse looming with his borrow-and-spend-and-run-up-the-printing-presses economic policy ("raise taxes? No need! We'll just print dollars, err, government bonds, to pay our bills!"), and that's bad for business.

- Badtux the "Kindergarten Teacher for Businessmen" Penguin

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Our Veterans must be good at holding their breath

"You took an oath to defend our flag and our freedom, and you kept that oath underseas and under fire."— George W. Bush addressing war veterans, Washington, D.C., Jan. 10, 2006

School officials lie? Perish the thought!

School officials would never lie about violence at schools, disciplinary incidents, attendance, dropouts, or anything...

Back in my younger days, I served as a computer consultant to a coalition of school districts. My deal was helping them meet state reporting requirements via database applications for collecting attendance, discipline referrals, etc.

So it's October 1, and time to report to the state. I get a call to a small rural district where the attendance officer is the discipline officer is the bus officer is the school lunch officer with a stack of paper 2 feet tall on his desk that needs to get filled out every month to meet federal requirements for all those various things. He ran my audit against this year's data and last year's data, and it popped out about 200 students who disappeared between last year and this year, which would get flagged by the State, which wants to know where those kids went.

I told him that under state law, he had to contact the principals and attempt to contact the parents and find out where all those kids went, whether they dropped out, etc.

He said, "F*** that, I don't have time to do that with all the other unfunded mandates that have been slammed onto my desk" and marked them all as "Transferred out of state." The state didn't provide funding for a full-time attendance officer, and the state got what it paid (or didn't pay) for.

This school district has a low dropout rate. Hmm, I wonder why? Could it be that "Transferred out of state" rather than "Dropped Out" code? Naw, couldn't be :).

Anyhow, there's a lot of reasons why school administrators lie, but the most important one is because *IT PAYS*. If a school gets paid on ADA (Average Daily Attendance), and already doesn't have enough money to meet all the needs of its students, of *COURSE* the administrator's going to lie. He's going to justify it to himself by saying that the majority of the students at the school shouldn't get punished just because a small minority play hooky. Same deal with disciplinary incidents. If a school will get punished (have money withheld, etc.) for having a lot of disciplinary incidents, of *COURSE* he's going to lie. Same deal -- he's going to justify it to himself by saying that the majority of the students at the school shouldn't get punished just because a small minority are gang-bangers there for lunch and entertainment.

And thing is, I don't know if he's wrong.

Until we get rid of the "punishment" mentality when it comes to children and schools, and instead focus on *what do we need to do*, we'll continue to see lies, evasions, and no better school performance. You can't punish a child -- or a school -- into excelling. At best you can punish them into being passive and sullen victims who excell at nothing at all. You look at the top performers in our society, they're never the kids who got a whipping every day for every day of their childhood for dozens of offences large, small, or imagined. They're always people who came from loving homes with a lot of encouragement to do new things and improve themselves. That's just as true for schools as it is for children. But because of the "punishment mentality" of the Christopaths who control our nation today, it ain't happening. Instead, schools that are already down are punished and become even worse -- which, now that I think of it, might be the point. After all, we wouldn't want their heathen unwashed children to be competing witho ur good white Republican children for those precious slots at Hah-vahd, would we?!

-- Badtux the School Penguin

Every Child Left Behind

So the No Child Left Behind law puts a bunch of unfunded mandates upon school districts? Congress has a solution -- cut education funding!.

After all, why spend money on education, when you can spend money on arresting 8 year old boys and charging them with murder. Not a dime for education, and billions for jails! Yessiree, that's the New American Way -- Prison State USA!.

I mean, c'mon. What would those poor kids do with education anyhow? Why, their children might even compete with our children for those precious spots at Hah-vahd or Yale if we edumacated them! No sirree, we gotta keep'em in their place. Those pesky peasants complain they don't have any bread? Why, let them eat cake!.

-- Badtux the Republican Penguin

Monday, May 22, 2006

Nagin and New Orleans

Mayor Ray Nagin has won re-election as Mayor of New Orleans. Contrary to popular expectations, it was not a straight by-race vote. Nagin received a large percentage of white votes, and Landrieu received a large percentage of black votes. Race was pretty much irrelevant here. It wasn't even about the respective visions for the city's future of Landrieu and Nagin. Landrieu was the liberal in this race, Nagin was (and is) the small-government conservative. It was primarily about leadership, and Landrieu simply did not make the case that he could be a more effective leader than Nagin given the circumstances of a bankrupt city that will go underwater again (due to the defective levees) the next time any reasonable-sized storm starts churning in the Gulf.

Nagin was, unfairly I believe, lambasted for his handling of the evacuation of New Orleans prior to Hurricane Katrina. The City of New Orleans lacked the resources to evacuate New Orleans. The city's bus fleet was evacuating people to the Superdome until it was drowned by the rising floodwaters, and could not have been used prior to the hurricane to evacuate people because the four freeways that are the only way out of the city were jammed with evacuees until the moment the hurricane hit. Over a million people were evacuated over those freeways in the short timespan of 48 hours, an incredible feat but one that kept them packed and moving at a lofty fifteen miles per hour. Sending buses out in the middle of a hurricane onto those exposed bridges over the swamps and rivers and lakes that surround New Orleans would have gotten more people killed than were killed at the Superdome and Convention Center. Regarding using trains to evacuate people, great idea, but Nagin had no power to order the railroad companies to line up cattle cars for a mass evacuation (forget the offer of an Amtrak train -- a typical Amtrak train, with maybe a half dozen cars, can carry a couple hundred people at most), and it is extremely unlike that black people in New Orleans would have voluntarily entered said cattle cars, given the unpleasant connotations that cattle cars have when it comes to transporting people (think "final solution" here, and note that many blacks in New Orleans believe that the white race wants to exterminate them). There is blame to be placed, but it is at a higher level than Nagin -- people who did have the resources, like the government of the United States, refused to deploy said resources until almost a week after it was really needed. People who live in New Orleans understand this, and completely disregarded outside commentators who tried to blame Nagin.

What I can blame Nagin for is his handling of the post-Katrina cleanup and reconstruction. To be fair, the city's resources are virtually non-existent here -- they have no money, most of the workforce has been laid off, and most of the city's heavy equipment that could be used for cleanup purposes was destroyed in the flooding. But Nagin embodies the suspicion of many big-business types regarding volunteer activities. There was a flood of volunteers willing to help with the post-Katrina cleanup and reconstruction. Nagin merely directed them to the American Red Cross, which has nothing to do with cleanup and reconstruction. There was a flood of offers of donations of materials and construction equipment that could have been used, with volunteer labor, to clean up and reconstruct major sections of New Orleans, including repairing the housing that is so vitally needed to house the workers that keep New Orleans working. Mayor Nagin never made any effort to embrace all these people who wanted to help, indeed treated them with suspicion and making no attempt to organize the haphazard volunteer efforts and help them grow, instead spending his time and effort in trying to get federal reconstruction contracts for his cronies in the New Orleans business community.

In short, Nagin has proven to be a typical tool of Big Business, who views the purpose of government as being the steering of contracts to his cronies in the business community, when what is needed is a modern-day Huey Long, who was willing to break the mold of government and turn it into a tool for organizing and helping the people. Landrieu lost because he, too, mostly just talked about how he could get federal contracts for New Orleans-based businesses to aid in the rebuilding of New Orleans, rather than about how he could harness the incredible good will and resources that the American people were and are willing to directly contribute to the people of New Orleans. In the end, when it came to voting for the Big Business crony they knew or the Big Business crony they didn't know, the people of New Orleans chose the Big Business crony they knew. And, for better or for worse, that is what they'll have for the next four years.

- Badtux the Louisiana Penguin

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Supporting the Great Satan

Okay, here's the problem: My truck needs new tires. Now, the problem is that it needs new tires in a weird size -- P205/75R15. Very few truck tires are made in this size nowdays. The tire I wanted to put on here, made by Firestone, has been discontinued. I found a Dunlop at Big O Tires -- for $82 apiece plus $23 (each) installation and balancing. And finally, there's this "Liberator" tire at Wal-Mart -- for $53.95 apiece, with $9.95/ea. lifetime balancing plus road hazard warranty. Looking on the Internets, this tire is made by Michelin/Uniroyal/BF Goodrich (all the same company), and has a reasonable reputation as a good truck tire.

Hmm. Save $160 by going to Wally World. I'd love to *not* support the Great Satan (Wal-Mart). But everybody else has abandoned me or wants to rip me off... you can buy a lot of herring for $160!

- Badtux the Satan-supporting Penguin

How the War on Drugs trashed civil liberties

Many left-wing bloggers have pontificated about how a white couple was arrested for 'trespassing' on a public street after asking for directions home. They whine stuff like, "how can we be trespassing on a public street?" and about how this is proof that the Bush Administration is building a police state.

Oh dear, dear, naive liberals... look. This has nothing to do with the Bush Administration, and 100% to do with the War on Drugs.

In various news sources on the incident, I found out that the street this white couple was driving down is lined with public housing projects. Okay, you do the math. White couple driving through The Projects. Why are they there?

If you guessed "drugs", bingo! At least, that's what any self-respecting cop is going to think, thanks to the War on Drugs and the way it criminalizes the consensual act of buying and selling substances in full knowledge of what one is buying and its side effects.

So what's a self-respecting cop to do? Why, get laws passed that basically make it illegal to pull over in The Projects. It's called "drug loitering", and it's a crime in many major cities and, indeed, in the entire state of California (where a law was passed in 1995 making it illegal). The behavior of driving through an area known to have an active drug trade, pulling to the side of the road, and flagging down people is probable cause enough, under California law, to seize the car and arrest the people in the car for the crime of "drug loitering". My suspicion is that the same is true in Baltimore.

Furthermore, the Supreme's have danced on the question of arresting people for trespassing on public streets. Answer: No problemo, as long as the public streets are first conveyed to, say, the Housing Authority of Greater Baltimore. Again, part of the War on Drugs.

So what does this have to do with George W. Bush? Absolutely nothing. As I mentioned, this law in California was passed in 1995, during the administration of the liberals's Saint Bill Clinton Of The Massive Pecker. What it does point out is that we have lost a massive amount of liberty due to the War on Drugs, a bogus "War" that criminalizes commercial transactions between consenting adults and thus will never be winnable, yet which provides oh so many excuse to keep "them" down (where "them" are dark-skinned people -- whites arrested for the same crime don't get the same penalty as blacks or Hispanics).

Support the War on Drugs? Then you support racism and the loss of civil liberties. Sorry, you can't put the genie back in the bottle, and you can't make marijuana, Ecstasy, etc. go away just by illegalizing them. That dog don't hunt, as they put it back home...

- Badtux the Libertarian Penguin

Kitty theater

A couple of doves are doing their mating dance on top of the light post outside the patio door. The kitties are both scrunched into the 1 foot that the door is slid open, looking out the screen with ears perked, going "brrr? mrrrr?" at each other and at the birds.

Cats entertain easily.

As do penguins watching cats.

- Badtux the Entertained Penguin

Saturday, May 20, 2006

I am a neo-Nazi Jew hater

Now that we've discovered that, uhm, the purported Nazi-like scheme of the Iranians to make all Jews wear yellow stars was actually a fraud -- hey, did you know that Iran has a Jewish member of parliament? -- the heat is on to find some other way to convince the world that Iran = Hitler. I dunno, maybe Mossad can float something on World Nut Daily that the President of Iran is making dresses from the skin of Jews or somethin', what the hey, it doesn't have to make sense, does it?

Meanwhile, on a more personal note, I am pleased to note that Badtux = Hitler. And I want to exterminate all Jews. I know this is true because I read it on the Internets. After all, anybody who points out unpleasant little facts like the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948, the abysmal treatment of Palestinians in the current Occupied Territories, the fact that Israel's economy is trashed because it spend twice as much on its armed forces as all the rest of the Middle East combined yet is surrounded by nations that have no desire to invade Israel anymore, etc., well, obviously any such person hates Jews and wants to exterminate them. I know this is true because I read it on the Internets -- interestingly, on the blog of a woman who explicitly posted that she hates me.

Now, I haven't quite figured out why she hates me, other than the fact that, according to her, I am a neo-Nazi jew hater, but that's irrelevant anyhow. I'm sure her hate just makes her feel, like, so good when she wakes up in the morning and steps in the shower and starts counting off things in her head, "Hmm, who am I going to hate today?". Hate is, like, just so productive, y'know? Why bother adding something to the world when hey, you can hate instead, and some day die a bitter and lonely death happy in that you've added hate to the world rather than love?

Now that I know, thanks to the wonders of the Internet, that I am a neo-Nazi Jew hater, I guess I gotta trade in my preaching of all this "tolerance" and "love" and "peace" stuff for some jackboots and start reading Mein Kampf, which apparently I follow even though I've never read it. At least, that's what the Internets say.

Alrighty, then!

-- Badtux the "Surprised to Find Out He's a Neo-Nazi" Penguin

Escape from Ikea, Part II

Finally got to do the long-awaited full jungle trek. Must... resist... urge... to totally redecorate my apartment in tasteful Swedish furnishings. I already picked out the new dining room table and chairs, and some new book cases to replace my tired sagging ones, and a new recliner/rocker and then after that, I get rid of all of my ornery old pots and pans and replace them with tastefully Swedish designed ones... and oh, my dishes! After seeing the (modestly priced but tasteful) dishes at Ikea, I want to smash all my dishes against the back of the fireplace and start over from scratch...

But I managed to escape with a queen sized sheet set (400 thread count! Woot! This penguin is in the lap of luxury!), a cutting board, some cork pot pads, and a set of large glass tumblers to replace the plastic tumblers that I've had hanging around since my dorm room days...

- Badtux the Poorer Penguin

Friday, May 19, 2006

Give me liberty, or ... err, what was the question again?

Then and now:

1775, Patrick Henry: "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!"

2006, Joe American: "Give me liberty, but first give me 10c/gallon gasoline, an SUV in every driveway, and perfect safety for myself and my children, and oh, eternal life too -- forget that 'death' crap!'

Devolution in action...

- Badtux the Observant Penguin

Yeah, that tough love really worked.

Remember that pudgy low-IQ 12 year old who was sentenced to life in jail for murder after he beat up a little kid and the little kid died? Well, apparently it scared him straight. Err... yeah right! Now he's going to jail for life for, amongst other stupid crimes, sticking up a Domino's Pizza delivery dude at gunpoint because he was hungry for pizza. We the people will be paying over $120,000 per year to keep him in a cage for probably the rest of his natural life.

But spending $50,000 on providing proper prenatal care and nutrition and schooling and medical care when he was a fetus and young child so that he wouldn't be low-IQ was too expensive. Can't coddle those poor people, y'know? Why, if we did... they might turn out to be decent citizens, instead of depraved criminals, and where's the fun in that?!

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Fang preens

Cats are unique amongst domesticated animals in that, in the wild, they can take down prey and feed themselves. Here, the mighty hunter Fang preens from atop the carcass of his latest prey, which can potentially keep him fed for weeks:

BONUS: Here, Fang nibbles on previous prey that he took down in the wild:

- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Thursday, May 18, 2006

What woke me up this morning

Something was moving around on my property. I walk out and hear it. I see something moving by the barn and run out there to see what it is. Then something rustles in the bushes by the barb-wire fence. I reach out and grab a skinny arm, and yank a skinny kid out of the bushes. He's all cut up because of the brambles and barb wire, so I start pulling him towards my trailer house. He's shouting "No! No!" and struggling to get away, and I'm saying "Shut up kid, I'm not going to hurt you, I'm just going to clean those cuts and call your parents." Then a bright light shines on my head from the sky above, spotlighting us. Then it moves off to the oak tree by the well and tightens up like the beam of a magnifying glass when you're frying ants and the leaves start smoking. I'm seriously freaked and run for my trailer house, kid in tow behind me still screaming and yelling about how "they" are out there. As I reach the porch, a hole flares in the roof of the porch, punched right through and smoking like a laser. I get the kid inside and pull the door shut behind me, and try to figure out what the hell just happened, and whether it has something to do with this weird kid who is just standing here shivering. I pull him towards the bathroom and someone knocks on the front door. I open the front door but not the storm door. A weird guy, looks like Jim Carey, says "Can I come in? I have something for you." I say "Hold on a sec, I need to get something first" and slam the door and head down the hall to my bedroom and grab my 12 gauge shotgun, I don't see the kid in the living room as I head for the hallway but maybe he's run down the hall in front of me, is he going to jump out a window or something, I don't know, too much happening. I come back down the hall with and the door is open and the guy is gone and the kid is gone. I'm saying "What the fuck?" and I poke my gun barrel out gingerly -- damned shotgun is too damned long and unwieldy. Nobody there. I jump out onto my front porch and swing the barrel to the right where someone might be hiding. Nobody there. I swing it up to see if someone is on the roof. Nobody there. Nobody around. What the fuck? I go back in and I shut the door. There is a red wire in the way, like a network cable. I have to shove it up to the top of the door where the television wire comes in from the mast to make room. Then I realize, hold it, I don't have a red network wire going to my roof. I follow it and look to the left of the door, around a cabinet, and on top of my refrigerator is a box that's ticking. I say "Oh shit" and run down the hallway and out the back door, still hauling the shotgun. I don't know what to do. Do I go run for cover by the barn? Or stand in the middle of the small field behind my trailer so I can see anybody coming? Or will that just make me a target?

My cat meows. I wake up and roll over and notice that it is 6:43 AM. My heart is pounding. My head is working furiously trying to figure out what the best thing would be for my dream character to do. My cat rubs against me and I pet him and he purrs. My clock is set for 7:00AM but I doubt I can get back to sleep. Instead, I try to figure out what the hell my dream was telling me. One thing, maybe -- get a freakin' handgun, for cryin' out loud, and keep it handy because a long gun in the bedroom is way away from where you might need it.

My creative writing instructor in college once asked me where I got my ideas. (Yes! He did!). I shrugged and said "I dunno." I have my suspicion that the next novel, if I write another one, will be a Dean Koontz style thriller.

-- Badtux the Overly-imaginative Penguin

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

77,000 words

In the crime novel, that is. And I exported it from OpenOffice format back to plain text and created an Emacs macro to take the OpenOffice plain text and turn it into a good text file that can easily be re-imported back into OpenOffice. Together with some other format changes I made, I can flip between chapters with a single key as well as do split-screen between chapters so that I can move material from one place to another without having to flip all over the place. Emacs rocks. Why can't somebody write a word processor with the kind of text processing capabilities of Emacs?

Still major, major work going on in the guts of the thing. Some of those words are going to get cut out. We got two new characters, the villain gets introduced earlier, the victim spends more time with Kathy before he gets whacked, Connie gets a bigger role earlier and is more, err, hormonal, and that's just the part I've (re)written so far, about 1/3rd of the way through.

Once I have a second draft that's long enough to be "real", then I have to figure out what to do with it...

- Badtux the Scribbling Penguin

Monday, May 15, 2006

Too bad it wasn't the Chimperor

Bears eat monkey in front of horrified zoo visitors.

Can we get those bears a visitor's pass to the White House, please?

On second thought, nevermind. Three words that should horrify any thinking person:

President Dick Cheney.


- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Sing it, sisters!

They ain't ready to play nice:

I made by bed, and I sleep like a baby,
With no regrets and I don't mind saying,
It's a sad sad story
That a mother will teach her daughter
that she ought to hate a perfect stranger.
And how in the world
Can the words that I said
Send somebody so over the edge
That they'd write me a letter
Saying that I better shut up and sing
Or my life will be over

I know what gift my mother is getting as a (late) Mother's Day present.

- Badtux the Music-lovin' Penguin

How would we know?

How would we know that repression has begun?

The so-called "War on Drugs" has been a practice runup for how it will be done. Middle of the night. Front door slams down. A dozen police officers in full body armor with guns out rush in right behind the flash-bang that comes smashing through your bedroom window and wakes you up and blinds you. You stumble out of bed and grab your shotgun, just in time to die in a hail of bullets.

This is not science fiction. This happens dozens of times a week all over the United States of America. Most of the people it happens to are far more prepared for violence than you or I are, engage in violence all the time as part of their, err, pharmaceuticals sales territory protection strategy. What chance do you think you or I have against a dozen cops who come in at 3am at night and do a smash-and-grab because they've been told we're dangerous terrorists who hate America and want to kill their babies?

And the hilarious thing is, after you die, your neighbors will all tut-tut and say, "Gosh, I knew that dude was some kinda crazy violent gun nut," and go about their business, secure in their righteous belief that it could not happen to them.

That's how it plays out, all over the nation, a dozen times per week. A dozen times per week this scenario plays out. The bodies pile up, but nobody notices, or cares, because the bodies are the bodies of "drug dealers" or "gang bangers" or "gun nuts" or etc., not good upstanding Americans. We know they are the bodies of "drug dealers" or "gang bangers" or "militia fanatics" because that is what we are told by our leaders, via their transcriptionists, our "news" media. Just as we know that these two brothers who ambushed cops who came to take them away were dangerous fanatics, rather than whistleblowers who uncovered corruption at Oak Ridge National Labs and were harassed until death by the powers that be. And if they were not... how would we know? Via the same news media that solomnly intoned that Iraq was brimming, brimming I say, with Weapons of Mass Destruction? Yeah right...


Saturday, May 13, 2006

@#$%@ DSL

My Internet provider recently was taken over by a Florida company. Now, my Internet provider wasn't all that great. They only had 1.5 megabit total throughput. But it was a full T-1 for my entire building, and I could VPN to work and get reasonable throughput.

Anyhow, this Florida company comes in, and the first thing they want to do is a) make things cheaper, and b) up the throughput. So what do they do? They up the throughput alright -- but only for downloads. Now it's 3.5 megabit downloads (shared amongst all subscribers in my building)... but only 512kbit upload. Which makes VPN to work *suck*.

Furthermore, DSL goes down all the time. That's a rule of thumb, by the way -- DSL is about as reliable as spit. It's a function of the technology. It goes through the switched-circuit system and pushes it to the max.

So here I am, browsing the Internet, looking for some parts for my motorcycle... and my Internet connection goes down. It sounds like my Internet experience has been "improved", alright... any more "improved", and I'll be reduced to tin can and string.

-- Badtux the Modem Penguin
(Until they get my freakin' high speed Internet back up! Stuck at GSM/GPRS EDGE speeds, i.e., roughly 128kbit/sec, until then).

Happy Birthday To Me

I am now 450 years old in penguin years.

- Badtux the Elderly Penguin

Has anybody ever vacuumed their cat?

Just wondering. Poor baby is shedding. I'm getting tired of brushing him. Cat fur flies everywhere. Agh!

- Badtux the cat-owned Penguin

Friday, May 12, 2006

Somebody's laying down on the job

Hey! Where's the food?!

-- Badtux the cat-owned Penguin

72500 words

When we last left off, the novel formerly known as "The Fixer" (now known only by an unpronunciable symbol) was at some 61000 words. Not shabby for 1939 (Raymond Chandler's first novel is almost exactly 60,000 words), but not enough to be a novel in today's day and age where 80,000 is the minimum and 120,000 isn't unknown.

Expanding and enhancing the ending and going back and fixing some of the consistency errors and adding more foreshadowing took that up to 64000 words. Still not enough.

But there is a whole chunk of the middle where things happen too quickly. Lots missing there to do the buildup to the end. So now I'm adding it. It looks like I'm going to get up to 80,000 pretty easily. The problem at that point is going to be to keep it there after I start seriously editing things. Less is more, and there's too much fat in several places where I fall in love with my dialogue and things stall.

Still don't have the foggiest bloody idea what the title of the thing is going to be. This is embarrassing.

And finally, I will state this for a fact: OpenOffice sucks the big one for doing serious text editing on a large text. As does any PC word processor. I'm tempted to export the whole damned thing back to plain text and import it back into Emacs again. I can do shit with good ole' 1980's-vintage Emacs that all these fancy high falutin' "word processors" can't even dream of. Oh sure, they're purdy. But they freakin' *SUCK* at the job of entering and editing and re-arranging text...

-- Badtux the Writer Penguin

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Republican culture of corruption

Why am I *NOT* surprised that the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development admits that he punished a potential contractor for not liking Bush, in violation of the law that says that contract bids must be granted to the lowest credible bidder with the capacity to perform.

That's the way this whole administration has acted from day one. Looking at the Katrina mess, for example. Who got those contracts -- the South Louisiana businesses that had a workforce already there, who knew the area, who knew how to do things on the cheap because Louisiana is so poor that doing things on the cheap is the only way to get by? Or some bloated Bush campaign contributor who charges ten times the price of the South Louisiana contractors in order to haul in subcontractors from out of state? Doh, the Bush campaign contributor, of course! Duh. Was there any question? If there is a corrupt way to do things, the Republicans will find a way to do it in an even more corrupt way. Doh. Republican culture of corruption. These guys never met a trough they didn't want to feed at...

-- Badtux the Unastonished Penguin

The only God of Americanus Republicanus: The almighty Dollar

You listen to the members of the species americanus republicanus, and invariably things revolve back to the subject of money. Taxes? Well, Jesus Christ famously noted that we should render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and that His kingdom is not of this Earth. That is, a true Christian basically doesn't care about taxation, because it's irrelevant to the quest of following His word and persuing His kingdom. Since His kingdom is not of this Earth, how much money is taken out of your pockets via taxes thus is not something a true Christian worries about. After all, it's not a picture of God on that money. It's a picture of a President of the United States.

Yet the americanus republicanus species claims it's important. That must mean they're not Christians, despite all claims to the contrary. Jesus Christ notoriously stated that wealth was un-Christian. He ordered his followers to sell all their worldly accumulation of wealth and give it to the poor. He famously went on a rampage against those who would use His holy temple in order to enrich themselves. Jesus, apparently, was no big lover of money, money being a worldly thing irrelevant to achieving the Kingdom of Heaven.

Yet still these "pseudo-Christians" do not repent of their worship of the Almighty dollar. Though Judas eventually realized that money was not worth the life of a man and threw the money away and hung himself in shame, americanus republicanus is actually proud of how much money they have (or want to have). Unlike Judas, they have no shame. They are literally more immoral than the betrayer Judas whose actions resulted in the death of Jesus Christ.

Their hard-hardedness towards the needy is similarly un-Christian. As noted above, Jesus believed that the purpose of worldly wealth was to be used to care for others, not accumulated. A Christian's duty is to give to those who ask for help, not quibble about how his tax money should not be going to "lazy slackers who won't help themselves". Even if they really were lazy slackers rather than honest working folks trying to get ahead the best they can, Jesus says we ought to give to them. Indeed, Jesus says we should not give parties for those with wealth and money. Instead, Jesus says we should invite the poor, the disabled, the homeless to share our bread and partake of our wine.

Yet americanus republicanus continues to hold events where only the wealthy are invited. Where is the sharing that Jesus mandates?

No, no, no. The evidence is clear. Jesus said pay your taxes gladly, avoid wealth, and give to the poor. In other words, Jesus was a (gasp) LIBERAL!

- badtux the Astonished Penguin

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Projection of the Coultergeist

So I was visitin' family back home, and talkin' to my cousin Bubba the Southern Penguin, who was bemoaning how his old cat-killin' buddy Bill Frist just couldn't get enough cats what with the problems the Republicans in Congress were having and how Bill kept showing up at his doorway waving his scalpels around and saying "Cats! I need more cats!" and then suddenly Bubba stopped and looked at the top of my head real close.

So of course I look up, and I don't see nothing there -- no spider, no mistletoe, no nothing -- and I say "What?"

"Just lookin fer the horns," Bubba tells me.


"Yessiree. You liberals is all supposed to have horns. And worship, like, some funny religion."

"Dammit, Bubba. You know darn well I do worship service at First Baptist Church just like you when I'm in town. What'n hell is funny 'bout that?!"

"That ain't what this here book by Ann Coulter sez," Bubba says, looking around for it until he sees it sitting on a pile of dirty laundry. Darlene's been on strike ever since Bubba was caught with his pecker in that waitress's, well, gas tank, and apparently Bubba hasn't figured out how to operate the washing machine yet.

So he fetches the book and opens it up for me. "Looky here," he says. "It says that you liberals have a holy sacrament called 'abortion'. And a holy book called 'Roe v Wade'."

"Dammit, Bubba, the only holy book I have is this here Bible." I pull my handy Pocket New Testament out of my jacket pocket and thump it. "Seems to me that this here woman is bearin' false witness. That's the 9th Commandment, by the way, in case you done forgot. Exodus 20:16. 'Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.' This here Coulter person must not be a Christian."

"Is too! She sez it's you that ain't no Christian! She says you worship in public schools and that your priests is public school teachers and that you forbid prayer 'n stuff!"

"How'n hell can I be worshippin' in a public school if I'm right down there at First Baptist Church alongside you listening to Brother Gainey, Bubba? I ain't never heard nuthin' so silly in my entire life. Gimme that book." I yanked it out of his hands and flipped it to a random page. "Say what? Liberals don't worship God or believe in the Bible? Lord, Lord, Lord, this woman is goin' to Hell ten times over. You don't mess with them Commandments, nosiree!"

"But she's a good Christian person and you're not!"

"When you ever seen this Ann Coulter person in church, Bubba? You seen me in church just last Sunday! Who you gonna believe, some skanky broad you ain't never seen, or your own lyin' eyes?!"

Bubba looked confused. "But... but... it's right there in black and white written in a book!"

"Lemme tell ya about this little thing called a 'lie'. See, there's folks who... now, don't ya faint on me now... say things that AIN'T TRUE. They lie. And they lie in writin', too!"

"Are you ... no! Can't be!" Bubba was pretty much bubblin' over. Smoke was comin' out of his ears, his eyes were rollin' in his head, and any minute I expected his head to start spinnin' around like that poor girl in that movie "The Exorcist".

I looked through the book some more. "Hmm. Lemme get this straight. This broad has only one God -- the Almighty Dollar. She has only one church -- her local bank. She has only one commandment -- I got mine and fuck you. She violates the one commandment that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ told us to always keep, which is to love thy neighbor as thyself, whether thy neighbor be black, white, Jewish, or Arab. She says we ought to invade other nations when Matthew 5:38-42 says we ought to be turning the other cheek. She says we ought to be doin' the death penalty more when Romans 12:19 says revenge is un-Christian and that we ought to leave that whole vengeance thing to God. Then there's that whole 9th Commandment thing. Bubba, I hate to say it, but we need to be a prayin' for this poor lady's soul. Because unless she accepts Jesus Christ as her personal Lord and Savior and allows Him into her life to guide her in all she does, she's going to burn in the fiery furnaces of Hell for eternity."

Bubba looked awe-stricken. "You mean... you mean she claims to be a Christian, she claims to be saved, but she really isn't? How... how can a person lie like that? How?!"

"I don't know, Bubba, but we got to pray for this poor woman. I'll go first. Dear Lord, I call on you to have mercy upon this poor woman's soul. Open her eyes to Your love. Please, dear Lord, help lead her from her worship of the graven images of American Presidents to Your loving arms. Lead her away from her message of hate and envy to Your message of love and understanding. Dear Lord, help her to know that Your Kingdom is not an earthly one, and that her life should be filled with doing the Lord's work, not that of the God of Monkey. I pray for your mercy for this woman's soul, in Jesus name I pray, Amen."

"That was right purty," Bubba said. "I thought you liberals wasn't supposed to pray like that? I thought you was supposed to, like, recite Roe v Wade or somethin?"

"Ain't so, Bubba. Now it's your turn."

"All right. Lord, I ain't no genius like my cousin there. I ain't so good with words 'n' stuff. But Lord, I guess I'm gonna ask ya ta help bring your light to this woman's life too. Help her see that lyin' on folks ain't no way to live and foolin' folks fer money ain't no way to get to Heaven. In Jesus name I pray, Amen."

"I guess that's it, then," I said, putting the book aside. "Now let's see, where was we? Oh yeah, Bill Frist's cats..."

So we just kinda pal'ed around a bit, until it was time for me to head home to my iceberg on the coast. I suppose Jesus could have heard our prayers. But if so, He sure is takin' his time about it, 'cause last I heard, Ann Coulter ain't quit her un-Christian ways and come to Jesus, no matter how many times she recites His name.

Guess that means it's time for more prayers. But Lord, can't you hurry up a bit? I'm tired of prayin' for this poor scrawny lady's soul all the time!

-- Badtux the Christian Penguin

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


After writing the code down on the back of the map, I realized I was lost.

I was in a maze of twisty passages, all alike. How did I get here, I wondered? I pulled the map out of my pocket, but it was no use. GPS did not work in this cavern, and there was no sun to be seen, no trees for moss to grow on to show me which way was north. All the skills learned as a young woodsman in the hills and swamps of Louisiana were of no avail.

I wandered a random direction, then came upon an odd sight: an arrow on the floor. Which way, I wondered, should I go? Should I go the direction that the arrow pointed? Or should I go the opposite direction, the direction that presumably led to the entrance of this maze?

I watched fellow wanderers. More went opposite the arrow than with it. So I became the contrarian, going the opposite direction from the way the arrow pointed.

After some time, I saw another arrow. I went the opposite direction there, too. After a while of wandering from arrow to arrow, I came to an incredible sight: An escalator.

An escalator, alas, which was going the wrong direction. It was rising from some deep caverns below, at a speed which this penguin could not waddle against even if he wished.

Surely, though, I thought to myself, if there is an escalator going this direction, surely there must be other escalators elsewhere? So I started walking along the wall that the escalator came out of, and eventually came to a stairway leading down.

Should I go down? I seemed to recall coming up, at some time in the past. But that was long ago. There was a cafe' to the right of the stairwell, serving tasty Swedish meatballs. Should I perhaps eat, then go forward exploring this stairwell? The dessicated bones of fellow travelers, scattered amidst the corridors, showed the risks of avoiding sustenance. But in the end, I pressed on, down the stairwell.

More arrows. This time I was following them, it appeared. I wandered through another maze of twisty passages. To my left I saw a doorway. Above it, it said "Shortcut to self-serve furniture warehouse and exit." I walked through the doorway and was in another passage. I looked left. I looked right. There was an arrow. I followed the arrows more, until to my left again I saw another doorway with another sign, that said "To Exit". I walked through that doorway, and I was in another immense cavern filled with tasty Swedish home goods. But, looking to my left, another sign, enormous! That said, "EXIT". And an enormous door! I hurried to this door, and found myself amidst tall monsterous racks of flat-pack furniture. Consulting the code on my map, I saw that it said "Aisle 12, Bin 5". Looking up at the racks, I saw one that said it was Aisle 12. I hurried there and found the object of my mighty quest: A flat-pack coffee table, $24.95, white.

A short journey later, and a helpful clerk was checking me out. Then I was ejected into a mighty chamber filled with yet more tasteful Swedish furnishings, and another cafe'. Eschewing the thought of food, I instead followed the rest of the milling crowdd towards vast cavernous doors that, as I went through them, closed behind me with a somewhat ominous snick.

Then I felt the floor move. A few moments later, the doors opened again, and I saw the most wonderous sight of the week: the parking garage of the East Palo Alto IKEA.

And lo, two rows down, my car! Clutching the object of my quest, I swiftly waddled to it, stowed my package, and set off on my next quest.

How I escaped the IKEA parking garage, however, is a story for another day.

-- Badtux the IKEA'ed Penguin

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Are cats a liquid or a solid?

Just wonderin'. I pick mine up, I could swear they're a liquid. They just kinda pour out of my hands, y'know?

- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Grr... *what* payraise?!

Been looking for new digs to park my iceberg in. *EVERYBODY* has gone up by an outrageous amount. By an amount that is precisely how much more money I'm making now as vs. 2 years ago. SQUAWKSQUAWKSQUAWK! Payraise? What payraise?!

@%@#~! Bush economy. I guess most people are doing pretty well in the Bush Economy. As long as you define "most people" as being "the top 2% of taxpayers". As someone who's "only" in the top 10% of taxpayers... well, let's just say that my iceberg is floatin' mighty low.

Of course, if I didn't require very special digs (with air conditioning to keep my iceberg cool, a garage to park it in, etc.), I might be able to get away with something cheaper. But what's a penguin without an iceberg?!

- BadTux the "What payraise?" Penguin

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The World according to World Nut Daily

One of the interesting things that have happened over the past five years is that folks who were once relatively sane have turned into raving right-wing loons. Joseph Farrah over at World Nut Daily is one of those loons. Starting from a fundamental precept of most Lebanese Christians -- i.e., "Israel good, Arabs bad" -- he has taken lunacy to new heights.

Here is what I learn from the News Alerts that World Nut Daily sends me:

  1. A National ID card is the mark of the beast as mentioned in the Book of Revelations.
  2. Over a million American citizens demonstrating in the streets in favor of immigrant rights are a minority, while a few thousand American citizens demonstrating in the streets to send the immigrants back home are a majority.
  3. Those dusky brown people are all criminals and will KILL US ALL unless we put the Army on the border and start shooting them down like dogs.
  4. Army chaplains are court-martialled for praying, not for going AWOL against orders to an event that they were ordered not to attend.
  5. All members of the Kennedy family are deranged murderers.
  6. The reason college is expensive has nothing to do with bloated administrative costs, gold-plated buildings, enormously-expensive computer equipment needed for modern research, or anything like that. It's because college professors make too much money. (Hmm, I need to tell my former college professors that... they'd probably die laughing, given that they were barely paid above poverty level to try to drum some basic facts into our thick heads!).
  7. The founder of the Minutemen is a patriotic American who is running for President and will win, rather than being a neo-Nazi vilante loon who hates brown people and wants to shoot them dead like dogs.
  8. A law is needed to make people recite the Pledge of Allegience in English rather than Spanish.
Yessiree, World Nut Daily keeps me informed about all the pressing issues of the day. Things like, say, Presidents lying us into war? Not important. Latest deeds of the deranged serial killer Kennedies? Why, the most important thing in the world!

And that's the world according to World Nut Daily...

- Badtux the "I read WND so you don't have to" Penguin

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The worst health care that money can buy

The United States spends around 15% of its GDP on health care, more than anybody else in the world. So this ought to get us the bestest health care system ever, right?

Err, not so fast, me bucko! First of all, over 1/4th of that gets spent on administrative costs. Administrative costs range from 23% (at public and non-profit hospitals), to 33% (at private hospitals). As not-for-profit hospitals owned by doctor's groups and local community-minded citizens sold out to private hospital companies during the 1980's and 1990's, administrative costs thus soared -- we can estimate that privatization has raised health care costs by at least 10% (in inflation-adjusted terms) over the past 20 years. Remember, privatization of health care costs money, it doesn't save money. The whole notion of government being inefficient is just plain ridiculous -- at least for health care, government is 33% more efficient than private enterprise.

Next, there's the problem of the 1/5th of the population that doesn't have health insurance of any sort. They get the worst health care of any industrialized country. All of these people are working people -- if you're not working, you qualify for Medicaid insurance -- so you can't just say "tell them to get a job." they have jobs. Just not jobs that provide health insurance benefits. For them, we have the worst health care system in the world. Which is probably why the United States' infant mortality rates are similar to that of 3rd world countries -- the worst of any OECD country -- and why the U.S. lifespan is the worst of any OECD country. Our health care system just, on average, doesn't provide good care.

But what, you say, about those of us who do have health insurance? Ah, good question. Today we learn that Kaiser-Permanente is saving money on kidney transplants by, err, not giving kidney transplants. It seems they have the same philosophy towards medical care that the Valley Transit Authority has about mass transit -- i.e., that the best way to make a profit is to not provide what's being paid for. VTA gets a massive amount of taxes that are dedicated to transit (i.e., are not allowed to be spent on anything else), and has figured out that if you don't run buses and trains, all that tax money is pure "profit" for the VTA. Meaning that if I want to travel from downtown San Jose to Mountain View via VTA, it takes over an hour (as vs. 15 minutes by automobile) because they run their trains and buses on such a horrible schedule. It once took me two hours to get from Capital Expressway to Fair Oaks Station via VTA.

Now, one advantage of not providing the services that you pay for is that you can then charge less money. Which KP does. Which is why my employer provides KP insurance. It costs them less money. So I get on KP's web site to choose my personal physician and... WTF? Every single doctor accepting new patients has a medical degree from Third World U! Not a single one of them has a medical degree from a medical school that I'd trust with my health (i.e., an accredited medical school in an OECD nation). University of Iran? Chinese University of Alternative Treatment? Bangalor Technical School and Day Care Center? AGH! So now you get the other half of the equation. They pay their doctors so poorly that the only doctors they can get are graduates of 3rd-world diploma mills. WTF? I'm not gonna let a diploma-mill doctor be in charge of my treatment!

Except, apparently, I am.

Best medical care in the world? Yeah right. In some alternative universe where "best" means "lousy", maybe...

-- Badtux the Unmedicated Penguin

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Ides of May

Today, I managed to use my T-Mobile MDA as a GPRS/EDGE modem for my laptop. I could only get the USB working, not the Bluetooth, but oh well. Windows XP Bluetooth support sucks big time, in case you haven't heard. They re-wrote the sucky Windows 2000 wireless support and finally got wireless working right on Windows XP, but Bluetooth sucks, sucks, sucks. (And why don't I run Linux on my laptop, you ask? Well, like I said, wireless works right on Windows XP... while on Linux it sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks almost as bad as Bluetooth sucks, sucks, sucks on Windows XP). T-Mobile's GPRS/EDGE is not going to win any speed demon awards, but I did manage 128kbaud speed on my informal test of a file transfer -- about the same as low-end DSL -- so it's clear that it's fast enough to use on the road.

I finished a new ending for The Fixer with a couple of additional scenes needed to make more sense, and am starting a read-through for obvious errors. There is going to have to be major work done in the middle. The pacing is all wrong. It needs to get stretched out and there needs to be some drudge work done. I can fix some of the plotholes at the same time (and I've noticed quite a few plotholes, some of which are easily patched, some of which will need some major construction to fix).

I am looking for a new apartment. They are raising the rent on my current apartment by $200 per month. I'm strongly considering selling my motorcycle so that I can move to an apartment complex closer to mass transit (parking is an issue with those downtown apartment complexes, usually you only get one spot). The fact of the matter is that with depreciation, it's costing me over $200/month to ride my motorcycle, while I would spend only $100/month on gas to drive my car instead. It just doesn't make financial sense. Sure, the motorcycle gets 45mpg while the car gets 17mpg (the way I drive -- okay, so I like pressing down on the gas pedal!). But I need the car anyhow to go shopping, so I can't do away with the car. So the best thing I can think of would be to get a downtown apartment near the Caltrain. It's only 15 minutes via Caltrain from downtown San Jose to downtown Mountain View -- faster than I can drive it! -- and the cost of gas is such that Caltrain is now half the price of driving it. The free employee shuttle from downtown Mountain View to my place of employment is keyed to the Caltrain arrival time so there's no wait there -- step off the train, step onto the shuttle bus, and within 5 minutes I'm being dropped off in front of the office. And with my GPRS now working I can browse the Internet on the train during those 15 minutes -- try *that* in your gas hog SUV!

And finally, three events happen during May. Memorial Day. My birthday (I'm going to be about 450 years old in penguin years). And Mother's Day. All three have plans. So I'm going to be one busy penguin, between apartment hunting, selling my motorcycle, downsizing my life a bit, and planning for all those special events. And oh, I even *work* for a living sometimes too :)

Anyhow, that's today's status update. Now you know why I've been less than responsive lately. I'll try to EMAIL out a copy of the novel to the guy who requested it (you know who you are), but since it's currently in a state of flux, it may be a week or two. Or three. Or... anyhow...

- Badtux the Busy Penguin

Monday, May 01, 2006

Happy Mission Accomplished Day!

Three years after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor was December 7, 1944. By that time, most of Japan's navy lay on the bottom of the sea. Waves of bombers were turning Japan's major cities into rubble, with the exception of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, which were reserved for other things. The United States had floated over 40 aircraft carriers, thousands of other warships and cargo ships, built hundreds of thousands of tanks and aircraft, and equipped tens of millions of soldiers in order to defeat and occupy major threats to America. A pre-war army of under 300,000 had been built into an army of over 20,000,000 charged with defeating and occupying enemy nations. Hundreds of thousands of Japanese and German-speaking Americans had been drafted as interpreters and translators or to train other Americans in how to speak Japanese or German, and the plan for occupation of Japan and Germany was well underway. Taxes had been raised to over 70% of income in order to pay for the war, and the majority of Americans of working age were either in the military or were in war-related industries supporting the military in its goal of total defeat of the enemies of the nation.

Three years after George W. Bush proclaimed "Mission Accomplished" on the deck of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, our soldiers in Iraq still don't have adequate equipment. The majority of American units in Iraq still do not have Arabic-speaking interpretors, and the NSA and CIA still don't have enough Arabic-speaking translaters to properly handle the masses of intelligence they receive about the movements of people who want to do harm to America. Rather than millions of boots on the ground such as during the initial occupations of Germany and Japan, there is only maybe 40,000 boots (the rest are support troops in heavily-fortified bases). Rather than raise taxes to pay for the war, Bush cut taxes, thereby selling our nation to the Chinese who are in the process of bankrupting our nation. Rather than building mighty war industries, Bush has accelerated the process of shipping critical industrial infrastructure overseas, a process that started during the Presidency of Saint Ronald Reagan but has reached an exponential curve today. Rather than defending our borders, our borders are a mess, with millions of illegal immigrants crossing it every year, so many illegal immigrants that any terrorists who wished to cross it could easily merge with the herd and be almost impossible to stop.

But yesterday I paid $3.10 per gallon to fill up my gas tank.

Yeah, Mission Accomplished. If you're an oil company in pursuit of record profits. Vice President Halliburton rubs his hands together and chortles in glee every time you or I take it up the rear at the pump. Mission Accomplished. Yeah.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin