Thursday, January 31, 2008

The myth of free trade

So Mexico can't subsidize its corn growers because that would be "unfree trade", but the U.S. can subsidize its corn growers because, well, because. It's called kicking the ladder out from under the developing world, and is all part of a plan created by the leading economic powers to make sure they have no competition from those pesky outsiders...

In short, "free trade" isn't. All it has accomplished, anywhere, is impoverishment and despair. In this case, at least, Pat Buchanan is right. Dunno whether he's getting smarter, or just being, like a stopped clock, right twice a day. Hmm, he endorsed GWB for President in 2004, so I guess he isn't getting any smarter...

-- Badtux the non-neoliberal Penguin

Hat tip to PolitickyBitch

The difference between Hillary and Obama supporters

The Blogtopus has the scoop: People who will allow irrational hatred guide their actions should look in the mirror when they're trying to figure out what's wrong with this country... regardless of who they support.

-- Badtux the Mirror-lovin' Penguin

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Thought for the day

A stopped clock would be more correct than what passes for "common wisdom" amongst the Washington political establishment. The stopped clock is correct twice a day. The Washington political establishment... never.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

The penguin's pick for President

Sadly, with Edwards falling by the wayside, there is really only one choice left. The Republicans are all batshit crazy, with John McCain wanting to bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb Eyyyye-raaaaan, Multiple Choice Mitt going around with that robo-candidate gleam in his eyes as if he's trying to count how much money he could loot from the treasury if he gets in (or how much fudge he could pack), and the rest... fugheddabout it. On the Democratic side, you got the dude who makes good speech but whose health plan does not cover all Americans, and the gal whose health plan covers all Americans but only at the expense of giving pork to every special interest business group under the sun.

So I'm going with the only remaining candidate offering a universal health plan. Because that's important to me -- I ain't gettin' younger, and pretty soon it will be pretty much impossible for me to buy health insurance on the open market. So, with reluctance and more than a bit of sadness, I hereby endorse Hillary Clinton for President of the United States. For what that's worth. About three herring's worth, I calculate.

-- Badtux the Health Care Penguin

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Florida Republican primary

A Republican won it. Which one is a matter of supreme disinterest to me, since they're all batshit crazy.

-- Badtux the Disinterested Penguin

Just another reminder...

I still love my Macbook. I bought it the 3rd week of June, which makes it 7 months old now. It's starting to get a bit less shiny due to wear and tear (except for the trackpad, which is getting shinier thanks to the constant rubbing of my fingers), but it is just such a sweet little computer, and so portable... and hooked up to a big monitor and an external keyboard with the bluetooth Mighty Mouse, it's like a funny lozenge-shaped desktop computer insofar as use goes. And it all just *works*, you don't have to do any kinda funny bidness, just plug in the monitor, the screen flickers and then all your stuff moves over to the big screen...

- Badtux the Still-impressed Penguin

Non-Santa-Rosa Macbook and 4GB of RAM

Just found out that the older Macbook like mine (6 months old!) won't see all of 4GB of RAM (it'll only see 3GB), but you can still put the two 2GB sticks in there. Cool! And then when I upgrade to a Macbook that *will* see 4GB of RAM, all I have to do is swap the sticks into the new Macbook...

Why I'm maxing out my 2GB of RAM -- I'm running Red Hat Enterprise 5 inside a Parallels virtual machine to do development work. This way I can carry my work everywhere with me. Whether this is an advantage or disadvantage depends upon your viewpoint, but given that I have some hard deadlines coming up within the next 5 weeks and then a performance review after that (gulp!), I'll take any advantage I can get...

- Badtux the Busy Penguin

Dear Leader's speech

I didn't listen to it. I suspect I didn't miss anything.

-- Badtux the Time-saving Penguin

Thinking about a new guitar

Or maybe a good used one. My old plywood Yamaha is just plain worn out, the frets are pretty much done for, and it's not worth fixing (re-fretting would cost more than the thing cost new -- you can get the same guitar for under $150 when music stores are having a sale).

Was in the music store the other day playing with a midrange Ovation (not one of the low-end plywood models). Sounded sweet. I dunno, though. That was sorta the "in" thing 15 years ago when I first thought about getting a "good" guitar, but of course that was before they outsourced manufacturing to China.

Oh, my criteria -- a decent sounding electric-acoustic steel string for a decent price. You don't have to spend four digit sums of money to get a good sounding guitar and I won't. That's pretty much it, I'm wide open right now to anything...

Monday, January 28, 2008

Steve Earle : Fort Worth Blues

A tribute to his friend Townes, on Austin City Limits. Notice how it affects Nanci Griffith (the woman to his right). Nanci had just sang a very sad version of Tecumseh Valley, one of the saddest Townes songs you'll ever hear and he wrote a lot of sad songs...

The American Civil War was about state's rights

Which is why Article IV, Section 2 of the Constitution of the Confederate States of America prohibits states from barring or abolishing slavery.

So I guess the American Civil War was about states' rights, as long as said state supported slavery. If a Confederate state wished to abolish slavery, though... nope, nada, zilch. States didn't have any rights then.

In other words, it is written in the Confederate Constitution that the institution of slavery is more important than state's rights. So the American Civil War wasn't about slavery? Pull the other flipper, dude!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

MRE Menu 8: Hamburger patty

Well, after Menu 12 (the icky veggy burger), this was a nice change. The hamburger patty was served with barbecue beans (the barbecue sauce was a separate tube) as the main side, and two "bread" loafs to eat with it. There was nothing particularly exciting about any of this, but I can imagine that some hungry GI on maneuvers isn't going to care that it's a little on the bland side. To eat, take bite of patty, bite of beans, bite of bread, drink of the orangeade mix (packet comes with the MRE, I mix with double the recommended amount of water and it's still a bit on the over-sweet side), repeat until done.

To summarize: Edible and goes down easy. Nothing special, but not something to trade away either.

-- Badtux the Food Penguin

Crock pot recipes

I brought one home, a 2 quart one that's just penguin sized. Now I need recipes. Any suggestions? Please, no herring. Penguins eat their herring raw and whole. I must admit, however, a liking for chicken... seems somewhat like fratricide, but what can I say?

-- Badtux the Hungry Penguin

What's a "Super Bowl"?

Is that a new kind of toilet bowl?

In other news, I recently heard that there are a bunch of fat men actually being paid to run around in tights, grunt, scratch their crotches, and play children's games. Imagine that. I mean, c'mon. Who other than these fat people's relatives and friends are gonna want to watch a buncha fat men play children's games?!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin
(who is *not* retrieving his television out of the closet to see what this "Super Bowl" thing is... his iceberg is already well equipped toilet-wise, thank you!)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Ah, Zyrtec!

It's about time it got released over the counter here in the USA. It's been over-the-counter in Canada for over five years now. I got a 30 day supply in Canada when I was up there three years ago, found that it didn't handle my allergies any better than Claritin did, so never bothered getting a prescription here in the 'States. Anyhow, Wally World had it today so I bought a bottle, because while it doesn't handle my allergies better than Claritin, it has one big advantage -- it lasts a full 24 hours, while Claritin lasts me about 16 hours, a rather awkward period to handle for medication purposes.

Oh, Part IV of the Civil War series is underway. Patience. The Palestinian Civil War has been underway now for 70 years. Solving it overnight is asking a lot of a penguin :-).

-- Badtux the Clearer-breathin' Penguin

Party of Racism

Over at RedState (right-wing central), a moron by the name of Erick posted that the Democrats are a hotbed of racism.

Err, right... the party running the black man for President (who is their top candidate for office, i.e., not a token) is the party of racism... gah! The stupid! It burns, it burns!

-- Badtux the not-stupid Penguin

Saturday, January 26, 2008

How to end the violence of a civil war, Part III

Okay, so now let's look at prior civil wars -- the U.S. Civil War, the South African Civil War, and others -- and see how to end them.

First possibility is the military solution. This was mentioned by BBC earlier. The only military solution that works is Stalin's solution: "No people, no problem." This was the solution used in 1948 with a mass expulsion of 90% of Israel's non-Jewish population as a deliberate policy (see: New Historians). The application of that principle to the West Bank and Gaza Strip requires the mass deportation of the population of the Gaza Strip and West Bank to... where? That is indeed the problem, since these populations lack passports allowing them into any existing country. We all know what happened when Hitler ran into the same problem dealing with his Jewish population (no country willing to accept them), and what his "Final Solution" was to that problem. Let's hope that Israel does not adopt this same "Final Solution" to their Palestinian problem, but it would solve the problem, at least insofar as the West Bank and Gaza Strip are concerned.

What about other military solutions? Nope, won't work, because remember our fundamental principles of ending the violence of a civil war:

  1. People become violent when they feel powerless, and being subjected to military force that they have no control over makes them feel powerless.
  2. Collective punishment doesn't work (Israel has 30 years of futility proving this point, yet still keeps doing something they know doesn't work, just because, I guess).
Now, the question of Israeli military action against Palestinians is addressed above. But what about the inverse question of Palestinians or surrounding Arab nations using military action against Israel. Will that work to end the violence? Once again, the only military solution that works is "No people, no problem", and justifiably the residents of the world's largest concentration camp for unwanted Jews are not particularly interested in experiencing that "Final Solution" again.

In short, genocide is the only military solution that will work for either the Palestinians or the Israeli government, a situation which has led to a stalemate of violence for the past 25 years as neither side in this new outbreak of civil war (that dates fundamentally to 1968 when Israel conquered the West Bank and Gaza Strip) is able (for the Palestinians) or willing (for the Israelis) to commit genocide. Various random attempts to break the stalemate via political action are typically swiftly derailed by subsequent military action re-establishing the stalemate in some slightly different configuration that makes no significant difference in the low hum of violence that keeps going on, and this will continue to be the outcome as long as the delusion that violence will end violence in a civil war continues to be the prevalent view.

Okay, so we know now how not to solve the violence of the Palestinian-Jewish Civil War. Military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip did not work, just as it did not work in the South in the aftermath of the active military campaigns of the American Civil War. Collective punishment did not work, just as it did not work for the Reconstruction government of the South in the Civil War. So now we can turn to what would work... see: the next segment of How to end the Violence of a Civil War.

-- Badtux the History Penguin

How long would a horror film be if the girls had guns?

Not long, apparently :-).

Friday, January 25, 2008

Ending the violence of a Civil War, Part II

At this point I will take an aside. I referred to the Palestinian-Israeli Civil War in my previous post. Before we go on to applying the principles of how to end the violence of a civil war to this particular conflict, a significant chunk of history is necessary.

Note: For the sake of convenience, I use these terms in the following manner:

Jewish: Those who follow the Jewish faith.
Palestinian: Those peoples currently or formerly residing in Palestine who practice a religion other than Judaism. (Note that this is a religious differentiation, since there is no genetic or racial difference between the two populations, due to the fact that most of the Palestinians are descendants of Jews who converted to Islam).
Palestine: The area comprising modern Israel plus the Gaza Strip plus the West Bank.
Palestinian Civil War: The conflict between Jewish and Palestinian inhabitants of Palestine.

Please disregard any other definitions of the above terms that you may have in mind.

Anyhow: During the period of Ottoman rule, the Jewish population of Palestine gradually declined until, around 1890, Jews consisted of approximately 6% of the population of Palestine. Now, this was not because of Muslim violence against Jews. The Muslim world, during the period from the Ottoman conquests to the British mandate of Palestine, was generally a peaceable place for the world's Jews. When Spain expelled their Jews, they migrated to the Muslim world and became known as the "Sephardim", for example. It was more a combination of a number of things. First, while Islamic law did not encourage or condone violence against Jews (indeed, they were explicitly tolerated as "people of the book" by Islamic law), Jews were heavily taxed, not allowed to participate in the government, and encouraged to convert to Islam. The majority of the Jewish population of Palestine converted first to Christianity, then after the Islamic conquest, to Islam by 1000AD. Secondly, the Crusaders slaughtered most of the remaining Jews in Palestine when they conquered it in 1096. The net result was that the Jewish population of Palestine fell significantly during the period 600AD to 1900AD.

Or did it? Here is the salient point: Because of conversions from Judaism to Islam, *MOST OF THE ISLAMIC POPULATION OF PALESTINE WAS GENETICALLY IDENTICAL TO THE JEWISH POPULATION*. That is, most of the Islamic population of Palestine was, in fact, converted Jews. At that point (roughly 1900), the trend of a declining Jewish population reversed significantly, due to two factors -- increased pogroms against Jews in Russia due to the instability that eventually led to the overthrow of the Tsars causing large numbers of Jews to flee, and the Zionist movement, which encouraged Jews to move back to Palestine. It was a perfect storm where these two things happened at the same time to funnel many of those Russian and Polish Jews to Palestine (Poland was largely ruled by Russia at the time and also suffered pogroms). By 1920, when the British took over from the Ottomans, the Jewish population of Palestine was probably up to around 15-20% of the population. During the runup to WWII in the 1930's, another 600,000 or so Jews managed to slip past the blockades and make it to Palestine, raising the percentage of Jews to probably around 35% of the population.

This caused frictions, because most of the land in the Ottoman Empire mandate of Transjordan was owned by absentee landlords in Istanbul. The Jewish settlers coming in from Europe were wealthier and could buy land from the absentee landlords and evict families that had been living on a particular plot of land for generations. This ran afoul of a major cultural and legal difference between European culture and Middle Eastern culture. The incoming Jewish settlers saw no problem with this because in European culture land leases are short-term affairs that are negotiable on a year-by-year basis, while the existing Palestinian inhabitants saw it as a breach of the traditional Middle Eastern landlord-tenant contract, where a landlord was supposed to stay in his proper place (i.e. far away) and a lease was actual property that could be passed on to their children and their children's children etc. This was all a relic of the feudal system that the Ottomans had imposed when they conquered Palestine from the Mamluks of Egypt.

The end result was civil war between the Jewish and Palestinian segments of the population -- who, remember, are genetically identical. There apparently was no attempt by either side to understand the cultural differences causing the conflict or to negotiate a reasonable settlement of the issue (such as, perhaps, buying out tenant rights for a sum of money in exchange for the Palestinians going away). Palestinians evicted from their land migrated to the towns and cities and hung out on the street corners where they engaged in acts of violence against Jews who happened to pass by (and against others too, most likely, but Jews decidedly felt their sting). Jews organized militias and concentrated in their own fortified villages and went on their own hunting expeditions to push Palestinians off the land in areas where they intended to buy land and set up their own villages and farms. By this time the British, who'd taken over the area after the Ottoman Empire disintegrated, were decidedly put out by all this uncouth violence and slammed the door on Jewish immigration to their Palestinian Mandate in hopes of preventing further violence. It did not work, of course. Jewish immigrants continued to filter in, if more slowly, Palestinians evicted from lands their families had worked for generations continued to take out their frustrations on the Jewish settlers who replaced them on those lands, and so it goes until complete and total civil war broke out in 1947-1948.

Yes, I call it civil war, because just as the North and South had major cultural differences that caused frictions between them that ended up with the two regions of the United States fighting a bloody civil war, so, too, did the Palestinian and Jewish inhabitants of the Palestinian Mandate have major cultural differences that led to civil war. The European values of the incoming Jewish settlers and the Middle Eastern values of the existing Palestinian inhabitants were as starkly different as the values of a Confederate slave-owner and a Northern factory owner. This caused friction, then hatred between the two factions and, eventually, war. The structure of the war was starkly different because Palestine is a tiny geographic area and both populations were intermingled in the same area, plus various outside powers invaded hoping to scoop up portions of Palestine while its occupants were busy with civil war, but civil war it was -- remember, by this time probably half the Jewish population in Palestine had been born there and many of the remainder had been there for 20 years or more (with the exception of the European concentration camp survivors who arrived in 1947-1948 after Britain was shamed by U.S. publication of British concentration camps for Jews into letting the Jews they'd imprisoned proceed to Palestine), so it was no longer a question of outsiders vs. the locals. They were *all* locals by that time.

And, as we all know, one side -- the Jewish side -- won this civil war. But the aftermath of this civil war unfolded in a much different manner from the American Civil War, probably unsurprising given the different motivations, limited geographic area, larger cultural differences between the two sides, and given the fact there was not a third people (blacks) to use as a convenient proxy for the hatred of each side for the other...

So now we go on to Part III of the series, "Ending the violence of a Civil War", where we look at the current state of the Palestinian Civil War and apply our basic principles of "how to end a civil war" to suggest what has to be done to end it.

-- Badtux the History Penguin

How to end a civil war: Part 1

In the period 1861 through 1865, two regions of the United States fought a very bloody civil war. The two regions that fought each had a very distinct culture and different dominant religions, and deep and seemingly irreconcilable differences. Then came the military defeat of one region -- the South -- in 1865, after Sherman's army ripped the guts out of the Southern economy and rendered the South incapable of feeding its armies, at which point its armies disintegrated.

And thus the war was over. Or was it? Abraham Lincoln certainly was concerned that it wasn't, as was General U.S. Grant and General W.T. Sherman, both of whom took steps to reduce the possibility of continued guerrilla warfare. Unfortunately, Lincoln got assassinated and his Vice President, a genial plantation owner from Tennessee, was incapable of dealing with the virulent hatred of Northerners who wished to collectively punish the South for their treason of rebelling against the central government.

So they did. They put President Jefferson Davis of the South into jail as a traitor. They considered bringing up various Southern generals up on charges of treason (at which point they would be hanged). They imposed military rule on the South and stripped the South of all representation in Congress. Despite the fact that General Sherman had destroyed a year's crops for the South and thus they had no food, there was no attempt to feed the hungry Southerners who were literally starving in their fields.

The results: If you go to any town or city in the South today that existed in 1865, you will find a plaque. This plaque says something along the lines of, "Here was fought the Battle of Coushatta, May 5, 1871." Or "Here was fought the Battle of Jackson Square, August 5, 1874".

Now I hear you say, "Hold it, wasn't the American Civil War over in 1865?". No. The American Civil War actually was not over until 1877, with the Hayes-Tilden Compromise that removed military occupation from the South and finished the job of pardoning the last remaining Confederate prisoners. Until then, the former Confederates fought a very effective guerrilla war -- not against Union troops (they didn't want General Sherman turned loose to burn all their farms down again, after all), but against the organs of civil government installed by those Union troops. This was a bloody, violent effort that occurred wherever the Union troops weren't. But once the former Confederates were allowed to resume their positions of power (after promising to pretend that the South was part of the United States and promising to pretend that slavery was over), that was the end of the violence. The hatred was still there -- 100 years later, when I was born, native Southerners would still spit at the mention of the name "General Sherman", talk about "damned Yankees", and whine that Abraham Lincoln was "a tyrant who illegally stole our property[slaves] from us". But the violence was over.

So, what lessons can we learn from this? I think these lessons are pretty clear:

  1. Collective punishment does not work. As long as the North imposed collective punishment against the South, there was violence against Northern interests in the South. Undoubtedly if other Northern targets had existed within firing range of the South they would have been targets of violence too.
  2. The right to vote and be represented in the national government eliminates violence. Once the South was allowed (by the Hayes-Tilden Compromise) to install its own legislators in the national government, violence stopped literally overnight, because violence would have threatened the power that the newly-elected legislators had won.
  3. This participation in the national government cannot be a token participation. The newly-elected legislators had real power in the U.S. Congress, especially in the Senate, where any Senator could filibuster and stop legislation that would adversely impact the South. If not given real power via the political process, they would have continued attempting to achieve real power via force of arms.
  4. All "war criminals", "traitors", and "terrorists" must be pardoned and allowed to participate fully in government.. It took ten years of sticking in the craw of Northerners for them to do this, but finally they realized that as long as the right to vote and the right to hold office was denied to former Confederate leaders, there would continue to be unrest in the South. This despite the fact that the former Confederate leaders were clearly traitors who had taken up arms against their lawful government under the terms of the Constitution and thus the proper response as laid out in the Constitution would have been to hang them all. But it was realized that hanging the former Confederate leadership would cause more problems, because each former Confederate leader had friends and family would would thus be even more embittered and motivated to take up arms against the federal government.
  5. Most people just want to live a normal life. This is the hardest thing for some people to understand. The average Southerner had no desire to take up arms and "kill Damnyankees". It was only while they were under military occupation, half-starved, not allowed to participate in their usual professions, living abnormal lives where they had no say in their governance, that they were willing to do this. Once the occupation was over and they could live normal lives, they just lived their lives and anybody who dared try violence against the "damnyankees" was ostracized and reported to the proper authorities, who, because of the above, were happy to hang'em from the nearest tree (because violence against the "damnyankees" threatened their own power).
  6. Blame is not useful. The first thing that happens when I go into a company to rescue a failing product is that I get everybody in a room who has done work on the product, sit back, and listen. Inevitably, they start blaming one another for the failure to produce a working product. About fifteen minutes after this starts, I lean forward, and at the first breath where I can get a word in sideways say, "You know, I'm getting bored. I don't care who's to blame. I want to know how to fix this. I need to know what we need to do to get a product out the door, and then we need to walk out of this room and do it." And then keep shutting them down every time they start pointing fingers at one another rather than telling me what we need to do to get this product out the door. The North and the South were quick to blame the other for the American Civil War. Heck, even today it's called "The War of Northern Aggression" in some parts of the South, and the "War of Southern Treason" in some parts of the North. But paying any attention to that is completely useless when trying to solve the problem of how to stitch a nation together from two seemingly hostile and irreconcilable populations.
Now, the next step is to see how this applies to the Palestinian-Israeli Civil War. What? The Palestinian-Israeli Civil War? I bet you never knew such a thing existed! Well, you'll just have to wait to see what I mean, eh?

-- Badtux the History Penguin

A sad post-script: The abandonment of the South's black population in 1877 is commonly condemned by contemporary dilettantes. Sadly, widespread racism and discrimination against black Americans is pretty much a side note to the post-Civil War history of the United States until the 1950's because discrimination against black Americans was not a Southern thing alone, but happened throughout the nation (the bastion of the KKK hate group was not the South, but... Indiana, a Northern farm state which doesn't even *have* many blacks). Ending strife and the death and killing does not, alas, somehow cure racism. All it does is give the opportunity for descendants of current racists to change their mind.

On a cold rainy day, even an ornery mysogonist wants to cuddle

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Mencken will allow The Mighty Fang to cuddle up next to him if it gets cool enough... why, after TMF started rubbing his head on Mencken's chest, the ornery old coot (Mencken) even started purring!

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Where's the new song?!

Monday: Washed clothes. Can't record while that's going on (1 bedroom apartment, washing machine and dryer are 15 feet from the recording mikes).
Tuesday: Washed *another* load of clothes. See above.
Wednesday: Washed a load of dishes in the dishwasher. Dishwasher is very noisy and is 15 feet from the recording mikes too. See above.
Thursday: Long, *long* day. Did not get home 'till 9PM. By the time I finish eating, checking the mail, voting, etc., it is too late to be playing/recording any music, due to the neighbors who get disturbed.

Such is the life of a poor slob who's stuck using his living room as his recording studio...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I voted

The only three Democratic candidates on my primary ballot still running for office are Barack Obama, John Edwards, and Hillary Clinton. Two of them have the opportunity to filibuster against retroactive immunity for illegally spying on Americans and are not doing so. The other is urging his supporters to call their senator and ask their senator to join Chris Dodd's filibuster. Guess which one I am voting for?

As for the rest of the ballot, it is all referendums. Unless there is a referendum repealing previous propositions amended to the Constitution (especially Proposition 13, which is responsible for high residential prices in California while exempting most commercial properties from paying their fair share), I automatically vote "No" on all of those. I don't have time to parse these things to see which ones are worthwhile or not. I have people for that. They're called "Assemblymen" and "Senators". I pay their salaries for them to spend their time looking at stuff like that and passing laws and such.

Especially vile are two referendums by the City of Santa Clara, named "A" and "B" (huh!). These authorize the city to turn the last green space in southern Santa Clara into a gigantic multi-million-dollar housing project that will make developers tens of millions of dollars of profit. This despite the fact that the City of Santa Clara is woefully short on space for soccer fields, parks, and other such amenities for its citizens (the city of Santa Clara claims they don't have the money to buy this land for parks -- yet they claim to have money to spend over $100 million to subsidize rich millionaires who want to build a stadium that will be used for 9 days a year by other millionaires playing a children's game and unused the rest of the year... go figure). I still might have considered it (the city does need housing too), except the developers have been sending me glossy fliers for the past three weeks urging me to vote for "A" and "B". I have a rule -- if rich people are gonna spend money urging me to do somethin', whatever they're urging me to do probably isn't in my best interests. Because rich people don't generally become rich by being nice people. All these glossy fliers do is convince me that rich people want me to vote for these projects -- which is why I'm voting "No".

So that's that. Now I fold it up, put it in the envelope, and take it to the Post Offal in the morning, and hope it actually gets counted (which, alas, is not something I can prove or not prove in today's day and age)...

-- Badtux the Votin' Penguin

Oh, the message I got:

Dear Badtux,

When it comes to protecting the rule of law, words are not enough. We need action.

It's wrong for your government to spy on you. That's why I'm asking you to join me today in calling on Senate Democrats to filibuster revisions to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that would give "retroactive immunity" to the giant telecom companies for their role in aiding George W. Bush's illegal eavesdropping on American citizens.

The Senate is debating this issue right now -- which is why we must act right now. You can call your Senators here:

Barbara Boxer, (D): (202) 224-3553
Dianne Feinstein, (D): (202) 224-3841

Granting retroactive immunity is wrong. It will let corporate law-breakers off the hook. It will hamstring efforts to learn the truth about Bush's illegal spying program. And it will flip on its head a core principle that has guided our nation since our founding: the belief that no one, no matter how well connected or what office they hold, is above the law.

But in Washington today, the telecom lobbyists have launched a full-court press for retroactive immunity. George Bush and Dick Cheney are doing everything in their power to ensure it passes. And too many Senate Democrats are ready to give the lobbyists and the Bush administration exactly what they want.

Please join me in calling on every Senate Democrat to do everything in their power -- including joining Senator Dodd's efforts to filibuster this legislation -- to stop retroactive immunity and stand up for the rule of law. The Constitution should not be for sale at any price.

Thank you for taking action.

John Edwards
January 24, 2008

Inbred cretins insist they saw UFO

Sigh. Even the U.S. Air Force saying that uhm, no, they had ten F-16's in the area on exercises, doesn't shut up the inbred cretins. Said cretins then say, "but what were those lights in the sky doing strange things that the jets were never catching up to?" Uhm, those are called *flares*, people. They're big bright shiny things that are big and bright and shiny and move at a different speed from the jet that fired'em off because, duh, they're supposed to be misleading enemy missiles into attacking the flare instead of the jet.

Then the kicker, "why did the military change its story?" Excuse me? There is no "the military". The stupid morons contacted the U.S. Air Force Reserve office, which quite properly said "We didn't have any fighter jets on maneuvers that day." Duh, jets were USAF active duty jets, not USAF Reserve jets. Completely different chain of command, and they don't talk. You might as well ask the janitor whether the USAF had jets on maneuver that day, the janitor probably knows more about it. Then they contacted the U.S. Naval Air Station. Excuse me, but the USN doesn't talk to the USAF, and the USAF Reserve is in a different chain of command from the USAF, and the Air National Guard doesn't talk to any of the above, and none of these people normally talk to each other unless they're in a combat zone under a zone commander. "the military" is not a monolith, it's a bunch of competing bureaucracies each fighting each other for the money and fame.

So if you ask the U.S. Navy whether the U.S. Air Force is holding maneuvers, they'll look at you like you're a martian and say "Uh, not as far as we know." Which is absolute truth. It's not a lie. They don't know. Because the USAF doesn't talk to them. If you want to know what the USAF is doing, you talk to the friggin' USAF. Not the Air Force Reserve. Not the U.S. Navy. Not the janitor, not the State Police, not the guy down at the service station who always seems to have a lit cigarette between his lips while he's pumping gas. Duh. Why is that such a hard thing for these inbred cretins to figure out? And why, oh why, am I not surprised that these inbred cretins are in (duh) TEXAS?!

- Badtux the Military Penguin

Cat vs. String

And the string won.

-- Badtux the Cat-observin' Penguin

Canada withdraws from Racism Conference

Photobucket Left: One of those evil racist Palestinians gets his just reward

Apparently minority Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whose usual position on any issue is kneeling in front of President George W. Bush sucking Dear Leader's penis, has abandoned the U.N. Conference on Racism because of its insistence upon covering Israeli racism against Palestinians. Because racism is evil. Unless it's Israeli racism against Palestinians, in which case pointing out that racism is evil is, uhm... racism? Alrighty, then!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin
Who does not forget the time he talked to a former Israeli tank commander who said, "Palestinians are two-legged cockroaches. They should all be exterminated."

Today's food recipe

Flying Spaghetti Monster treats. Complete with edible googly eyes and "meatballs". Now you can eat the Creator for dessert. Ramen!

-- Badtux the Non-Pastafarian Penguin

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


I went to the video rental place last night, looked around, and walked out.

Deal is simple. Okay, so I rent a video. I gotta fuggin' go to this store. Most of the new movies coming out are on 3 day rental, so I gotta go to this store, and watch the movie within three days, and then go *back* to this store, using gas and time every day.

There's gotta be an easier way, I thought... then the notion hit me. Netflix! Movies delivered straight to my door, and the post offal is on my way to work so I can just drop'em back into the slot there on the way to work to return'em, 24 hours a day. Voila!

Thing is, are there three movies a month worth watching? Hmm... still trying to decide whether to sign up or not.

-- Badtux the Un-entertained Penguin

Times of London apologizes to its readers

We would like to apologise for a terrible omission in last Sunday’s feature 10 Steps to a Stress-Free Summer. We forgot to include “Don’t go to the USA”.
Seems that they have a slight, uhm, problem, with the Iron Curtain that is being thrown up at the borders of Soviet America:
“Travelling to the US offers experiences like nowhere else on earth.” That’s what it says at, the official travel and tourism website of the United States, and it’s absolutely right. Nowhere else can a visitor expect such a spirit-crushingly frosty reception.

A preflight e-interrogation, epic queues at immigration, thin-lipped questioning from aggressive border guards, and an outside chance of a rubber-gloved rectal rummage are all part of the fun. So, if Chertoff and co want to tighten Fortress America further, it’s time we considered other more welcoming holiday options. Such as Iran or North Korea.

Oh come on. It's not that bad. If you haven't done anything, you have nothing to fear. Well, except the rectal exam, but those Euro-weenies ought to *pay* for that joyous experience, ought to just grin with glee when some smirking goon snaps that rubber glove on his hand and starts packin' fudge. You'd think those Yurpeens never heard of "fisting" or somethin, imagine that!

-- Badtux the Snarky Travel Penguin

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Is it better to be anally raped by an elephant or by a donkey?

Oh dear God. I need eyewash after Googling "elephant penis size" and "donkey penis length". Ick!

Oh, being raped by a donkey is probably preferable to being raped by an elephant. For one thing, being mounted by an elephant, even without penetration, would tend to make either a hairless monkey or a penguin rather... flat.

I leave it to you to apply this lesson to the question of who to vote for in November.

-- Badtux the Political Animal Penguin

Guilty until proven innocent

If you are arrested for a crime in the United States and lack the resources to put on an O.J. Simpson style defense, you are going to jail unless you can absolutely prove your innocence. Don't believe me? Ask Tim Masters. He was a skinny 15 year old kid who weighed 120 pounds when a horrible murder happened near his home. The murder required someone to use extreme force and haul a 120 pound woman's body over 120 feet across a field in order to hide it. Yet, he went to jail for murder -- because he could not prove he was innocent.

Today Tim Masters is out of jail because volunteers for the Innocence Project found DNA evidence that the State had deliberately hidden, and testing of this DNA evidence proved that Tim Masters did not do the murder. But how many other Tim Masters are there in jail today courtesy of the power of the State being brought down upon the most likely suspect rather than there being any kind of justice? We'll never know...

And right now, I can hear right-wingnuts ramping up their objections to Tim Masters' release, saying that railroading a 15 year old boy into an adult conviction for murder was "justice". And so it goes in Soviet America, where everyone is guilty -- until you can prove you're innocent. And even afterwards, in some people's minds.

-- Badtux the Law Penguin

Frederick of Hollywood quits run for President

Of course, given how energetic Fred Thompson campaigned (well okay, so he basically didn't campaign), how will anybody tell the difference? And if a monkey shits in the forest, does anybody care anyhow?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin


Now, I've ridden my motorcycle in a lot of nasty weather. But this dude is effin' crazy. He's riding the Trans-Labrador Highway -- *now*, with -40F temperatures. EEEEE!!!!

- Badtux the Much Warmer Penguin

Teh best comment about the upcoming Superbowl

From the New York Times sports blog:

Hello? This is a game. Adults running around in funny clothes, funny hats, grunting and gesturing at each other like apes, with other adults painting their faces and bodies ridiculous colors, getting drunk and puking in the stadium like they did in Rome. What am I missing here? Meanwhile the world is blowing up, and in another quarter we have direct decedents of Curly, Moe, and Shemp running to be the leader of our country. I’m going back to bed.

Amen, bro.

-- Badtux the Unsporty Penguin

Monday, January 21, 2008

A cold rain falling

It is raining. I am going to take a brief walk around the block to look at all the for-sale signs again, then go to bed.

-- Badtux the Aquatic Penguin

Terrorists deploy bomb in ocean near San Diego

The U.S. Navy is warning the inhabitants of San Diego to watch their beaches for a terrorist bomb that could, like, blow up and KILL US ALL!

Uhm, okay, so I lied. Yeah, they're warning the inhabitants of San Diego to watch out for a bomb on their beaches. But... the bomb was lost by the U.S. Navy, rather than deliberately placed by terrorists. So they're asking the residents to do the sane thing if the bomb washes up on their beach, the same thing they'd be doing if it really *was* a terrorist that had dropped the bomb off a boat -- they're asking folks to call the proper authorities if they see the bomb. Duh.

Not that this would have stopped the shrieking harridans of the right from running around in circles ripping out their hair while howling about terrorists if it really *had* been terrorists who let loose the bomb... but hey, expecting sanity and logic from the shrieking harridans of the right is like expecting intelligent analysis of the situation in Iraq from George W. Bush. Yeah, right.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Housing slump hits near home

The local neighborhood is sprouting up "For Sale" signs the way cow pastures spring up mushrooms. Looking at the MLS, there's a townhouse that sold for $850K just a year ago, now listed for $650K. Which of course is still nuts for a condo -- crap, I can rent a 2 bedroom townhouse for $2000/month that's every bit as fancy as that townhouse, and even with the interest and property tax deduction (I'm in the top tax bracket, so I basically get 1/3rd of that back from the IRS) I end up still coming up $1000 or more ahead per month. I can't justify purchasing it until it gets well under that. Hmm... just worked the numbers via a handy calculator at my credit union, and it says the proper value of that townhouse to make it worth buying it vs. renting it, given the mortgage tax deduction, is around $450K.

So now you know how crazy things got during the housing price runup -- things basically got priced at double what they'd be worth in a free and transparent market. People bought the things because they were expecting 20% appreciation and then they'd flip it in a couple of years, instead of as places to live. If people did the sensible thing and bought a house as a place to live instead of an "investment", which is what people are having to do now that there is *reverse* appreciation, you wouldn't have anywhere near this level of price runup. But people weren't rational. They were in a "get rich quick" attitude, and this is what they get for having that kind of attitude.

So anyhow, I'll check back again in six months and see if the prices have gotten down to the point where it's worth me buying. That's the upside of a housing bust -- those of us who were sensible and view buying as something to do when you need a place to live, not as free money from endless appreciation, are gonna make out like thieves in the end. And the folks who were telling me a year ago "dude, you're stupid not to buy into this 40% appreciation!"... bwaahahahah!

-- Badtux the Well-housed Silicon Valley Penguin

In Soviet America, you obey the McCop

Left: A McCop waves to his adoring public.

75 year old granny arrested for not moving her car when ordered to do so by a cop. She was apparently in the drive-through parking space at McDonalds waiting for her coffee and fries that she'd just ordered and the cop decided he wanted his burger and fries first and this 75 year old granny waiting for her food would just have to get out of his way. So he huffily walked up to her car and ordered her to move. She quite reasonably explained that the folks at the McDonalds had told her to wait there for her coffee and fries, at which point he arrested her for disorderly conduct, failure to obey a lawful order, and being an uppity bitch in possession of a bad attitude not willing to kiss his jackbooted ass. (Okay, so I made up the last one).

So goes our McDemocracy here in McSoviet McAmerica. Enjoy your McFreedom, McSheeple!

-- Badtux the "are you McHappy yet?" Penguin

H/T Alternate Brain

Sunday, January 20, 2008

MRE Menu 12: Veggie burger in BBQ sauce


That is all. If there is a disaster and the Feds are handing out MRE's, this is one to trade to your goofy vegetarian neighbor who won't eat the decent ones. This thing is *nasty*. Like every other vegetarian MRE. The white-coat guys at Natick are apparently carnivores...

Can't even say that the sides are any great shakes. Cranberries, a nice little cake, and a couple of slices of MRE "bread" (more of a soft cracker). That's pretty much it. No "there" there, alas. Avoid, avoid, avoid (unless you are starving to death, of course, in which case ya gotta do what ya gotta do -- I did manage to eat about 2/3rds of the thing by stuffing bread in my mouth between every bite, but that was for scientific purposes, not something I recommend you do voluntarily).

- Badtux the "ICK!" Penguin

Emmylou Harris - Pancho and Lefty

From 1977, when her hair was still black and Rodney Crowell was very young, singing a song by another of my favorite artists (Townes van Zandt). However, Emmylou could sing her grocery list and I'd listen...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Nevada caucuses

A Republican who is an evil incompetent Bush-ass-lickin' toady won the Republican caucus, and a Democrat who is an evil competent corporate-ass-lickin' toady won the Democratic caucus. Duh.

The only real news from the caucus is that the propaganda campaign to "disappear" John Edwards appears to have worked. Edwards came in second in Iowa, but you never heard his name in any results from Iowa. He was less than 1% from second in New Hampshire, but again you never heard his name in any results from New Hampshire. It appears that the corporate media has successfully made him an UnPerson, because he got a much smaller proportion of the vote in Nevada.

None of which is going to persuade me to vote for Obanana or Hillarious in the California primary. I will vote for whatever Democrat is running against the evil incompetent Bush-ass-lickin' toady in November because 8 years of that shit is 8 years too many, but you betcha my nose is gonna have a clothespin over it because of the stench of corporate toady wafting about. It'll be nice to have competent evil in charge rather than incompetent evil (shit, even Richard Nixon would be a step up from the current clown parade), but "nice" in sorta the same way as a choice of being anally raped by an 5 foot pole or by a normal 5 inch penis. Either way you're raped, just one you might actually survive, and the other, probably not if you let it go on long enough for the pole to go more than a little of the way in.

- Badtux the Evil Expert Penguin

Saturday, January 19, 2008

When Johnny comes marching homeless

Homeless Iraq/Afghanistan vets a growing problem.

U.S. Army sends wounded soldiers back to Iraq.

Violence kills dozens of innocents in Iraq.

I don't know what to say. The mess in Mesopotamia is destroying so many lives...

-- Badtux the Saddened Penguin

CIA tries to raise "cyber-terrorism" spectre again

CIA says that terrorists have blacked out several cities via cyber-terrorism.

Sigh. Where to start. Okay, first of all, I work in the computer security industry, and my brother works in the SCADA industry doing systems control and data acquisition for public utilities. Now, the thing about SCADA is that it predates the public Internet. The vast majority of their control points are controlled via cellular radio modems on private spectrum or via microwave links to a handy telco POP. Then they use a dedicated phone line to tunnel the control point protocol from the nodes to the central office, at which point it gets de-tunneled back onto serial lines hooked up to a monitoring computer (the control points are controlled via RS-232 ports, because, duh, networking didn't exist back when all this was created). The monitoring computers aren't hooked up to the corporate network other than a dedicated pipe to the business office to feed them billing data for what just went over the wire or pipeline, a pipe that doesn't allow anything to come back from the business office.

Now, theoretically it's possible to hack into this. But practically speaking? No. You'd have better luck hacking into your local bank's computer systems. The guys who designed all this crap didn't on purpose set out to design an unhackable system. But practically speaking, by their emphasis on serial ports and modems and dedicated links, they pretty much created one. Short of going out there and physically interfering with their microwave links or breaking into a telco POP and physically hacking into a data line, ain't no "there" there.

So what, then, of the CIA's bold pronouncements? Who knows. The NSA, not the CIA, is the only intelligence outfit in the USA that knows shit about technology, and the NSA ain't said shit about it. I got two theories: a) the CIA got snow jobbed in an area they don't know shit about (computer technology ain't in the CIA skillset), or b) the CIA for some reason felt it necessary to ratchet up the paranoia level of Americans (that ole' color coded alert system again, where we're all supposed to run around pulling out our hair saying "save me, save me, Big Brother, from those mean tewwists!"). Either way, it irritates me -- either the CIA is a buncha fuggin' idiots, or they're trying to stampede us into a fascist dictatorship. Whatta buncha maroons...

-- Badtux the Security Penguin

Friday, January 18, 2008

CIA says Taliban, al Qaeda killed Bhutto

Really. Nevermind that the area where Bhutto was killed has no al Qaeda or Taliban presence and that it's unlikely that al Qaeda or Taliban could operate freely there...

funny pictures

Okay. Pull the other one, okay?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Don't mess with me...

'cause I got friends in high places.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

School tells gangbanger, "you ain't welcome here"

One of the things I hated about being a teacher was that I had all these gang-bangers in my classroom who'd been sentenced there by a judge. I was being expected to do the job of a prison guard without the training, equipment, and facilities to be a prison guard. If a kid decided to get into a fight with another kid, there was nothing I could do except let them fight until they got tired of fighting, then wait for the principal to tell them they were suspended and get off the school grounds -- there were no prison guards to call to haul them off, no isolation cells to haul them off to. These kids need to be in a different kind of school, one that has real guards and places to haul them off to when they're violent or disruptive, not regular schools where they just interfere with everybody else's attempts to learn. Either that, or teachers and school administrators need to be all armed with tasers and blackjacks and trained how to use them, but that wasn't why I want into teaching (to be a prison guard).

But this doesn't mean that these kids ought to be banned from the schools entirely, as has apparently been done to Earl Davis, who as a 15 year old gang wannabe was found guilty of participating in a gang riot that ended up in the death of a member of a rival gang. I certainly sympathize with the school here -- this kid comes back to school, he's gonna get jumped by that rival gang, or he's gonna get with his homies and do the jumping. That kid doesn't belong in a regular public school -- yet. And that word "yet" is the biggie.

What is needed is some sort of alternative setting or alternative environment for these kids where they can continue to receive an education, but aren't endangering other children. This alternative school will have a "here squad" of big goonish guards who can haul off kids who get violent, and detention cells to put them into so they can be violent to the padded walls. If they can get through a year at this alternative school without engaging in violence or disruption, then, and only then, should they be allowed into regular schools. But this would cost money and mean raising taxes, so instead we'll just throw those kids out onto the street to be the next generation of criminals costing us far more money (in incarceration costs) down the road. Sigh...

- Badtux the Sisyphian Penguin

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Romneybot is a liar?

Gasp! Pull out the smelling salts! An actual PAID REPORTER called Romney on one of his lies.

I'm sure, however, it was a one-time deal, and the rest of the reporters have properly learned their lesson that their job is stenography, not truth (the truth, of course, being that Romney's top campaign advisers are lobbyists and thus Romney was lying when he said he had no ties to lobbyists). Remember, folks, in Soviet America when a politician lies to you, your job as a reporter is to nod and dutifully record the lie. God forbid that you note that he is (gasp) LYING. Then you're being rude and argumentative and will not be invited to sit with the cool kids again.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

RAM envy

My brother just called me to tell me he was getting 8 gigabytes of RAM for his new computer. Now I have RAM envy. Though, apparently, not as much as these bulls, who did a lot of, err, ramming, during an otherwise-boring car executive's speech.

So now I gotta figure out how I can out-RAM my brother. Or maybe not. After all, I have 2 gigabytes of RAM in this Macbook and a quick check of Performance Monitor shows that only half of it is in use. Maybe all this RAM stuff is for people who don't, err, get much RAMming? Curious penguins want to know!

-- Badtux the RAM Penguin

Fur babies

For the record... my cats are cats. Fur-bearin' varmints. Furry, warm, cuddly fur-bearin' varmints, but varmints nevertheless.

They ain't people, folks. They aren't babies. They aren't my children. They aren't substitutes for children. They're not somehow "better than children" or "less demanding than children" (hah! obviously never observed my cats following me around whining when their food bowl is empty!). They're cats. Critters. Varmints. Animals. Creatures of comfort, but not human. Calling a cat human is an insult to cats, actually, if you really think about it. Take that, monkey boy!

Now, I hear about all these folks spending hundreds of dollars on care for their cats when their cats get sick. Uhm, excuse me. Spend the money on your children, or donate it to charity. Take the cat to the vet, let the vet ease the cat on his way into that great pet sematary in the sky, then go to the Humane Society and pick up some other poor needy kitty that needs a human to comfort and care for it. Your cat is a cat, an animal, not a human being. When a cat can no longer comfort or be comforted, its purpose is done, and it's time to move on. Yeah, I love my cats. They're nice cats who love to cuddle and who keep my feet warm when I'm in bed. But they're just cats, and eight or nine or ten years from now they'll be old cats, and when they get to the point where they're unable to comfort or be comforted, Dr. Feelgood will be there to ease them on their way.

Badtux the Animal-observin' Penguin

Boom rattatata clash Boom rattatata clash Boom

Got my other MIDI cable tonight and hooked up my Yamaha keyboard. At the moment I'm using it as simply a keyboard controller for software instruments, since it's a cheap consumer keyboard.

I went by The Starving Musician (a local outfit) to buy the cable. It was 7:30pm. *CLOSED*. So I drove an additional five miles to The Guitar Center, a national discount chain sorta the Wal-Mart of musical instruments. *OPEN*. Now, folks wonder why I don't support locally-owned stores? Well, it's because the locally-owned stores are run by fuggin' *MORONS*. Look. Musicians ain't morning people. That's just a fact of life. So WTF does The Starving Musician do? They open at 9 fuggin' AM and close at 5 fuggin' PM, just like a fuggin *BANK*. Crap, your average musician ain't even out of fuggin *BED* until 3PM or so, and by the time he takes a shower, brushes his teeth, and combs his hair, The Starving Musician is *closed*!

This is a general problem. My local NAPA auto parts store? Closes at 5pm. So I go to Checker/Kragen or Pep Boys if I'm just buying oil or wiper blades or such. My locally owned tool shop? Closes at 6PM and is closed on Saturdays and Sundays. So I go to Sears to buy tools. Yada, yada, yada.

Fact of the matter is that most of the failing locally-owned businesses in this country *DESERVE* to fail. They're run for the convenience of their owner-operators, not for the convenience of their customers. If I can't get to your store while it's open because I gotta work for a fuggin' living, *I CAN'T BUY ANYTHING THERE!* Why is that such a hard concept to fathom?

Oh fugghetabout it. I got the keyboard hooked up, loaded up the drumkit, and laid down a drum track. Nothing fancy, just a loopable Boom ratatata clash Boom ratatata clash Boom, with a stately pace that immediately suggested a melody. Problem is, the melody it suggested requires bagpipes skirling in the background. Ain't no MIDI instrument for bagpipes (well, there is one in my software instrument library but it sounds like a friggin' organ to me, not bagpipes) and I think I would get evicted from my apartment if I tried to play the real thing in here (a little thing in my apartment lease about being prohibited to bring instruments of torture into my apartment or strangle inanimate objects or somethin' like that :-). Oh well, I'll just have to fake it with pennywhistles or that fake organ-bagpipe MIDI instrument, I suppose. Not the same thing, but sometimes a penguin has to improvise!

I think I'm gonna enjoy this MIDI thing, heh!

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

And in today's uplifting news...

75% of Iraq's doctors and nurses have left and child mortality rates are soaring. But that's okay. Since our U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that Iraqis aren't people, we can just open up some new veterinary schools. Since Iraqis aren't people according to the U.S. Supreme Court, then clearly they need veterinarians, not doctors, right?

And then there is this fine uplifting story from Israel, where women are forced to sit in the back of the bus (hmm, where have I heard THAT before? Hmm...) and are harassed if they're not wearing bhurkas. No, not by the Taliban. By the ultra-orthodox ("Black Hat") Jews. And the difference between these guys and the Taliban is, uhm...


Err, okay. Sorry about that interruption. Luckily the doors were recently reinforced and held up against the ADL's catapulted reeking corpses of dead livestock. Anyhow, a pox on all their houses. The black hats and Hamas/Hezballah deserve each other. For the few remaining sane Israelis, I suggest we give them U.S. and/or Canadian citizenship, open our doors to them, and be done with it. For the ones not sane enough to leave that God-forsaken desert behind... let the insane fanatics fight it out without our help. I see no reason to help religious fanatics of any sort, whether Christian, Jewish, or Islamic. Stupidity is stupidity regardless of the hat it wears... and religious fanaticism is stupidity always.

-- Badtux the "Facts are anti-semitic?" Penguin

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

White trash blues

Classic country music is white trash blues. Here's an example of the genre. Just my crappy vocals, a guitar, a little harmonica. Kinda thing you might hear around a campfire as the wind blows across the plain and the cows rustle around nervously in the background.

Warnings -- 1. It's a 1.5 megabyte file. 2. The word "shit" is prominently figured in the thing. The title of the song is "Everything Turns to Shit". The easily offended need to retire to their fainting couches rather than download it.

Can't say that doing it with the $500 software (Logic Pro) got me anything I couldn't have gotten by doing it with the $69 software (GarageBand). But then, I'm just learning, so (shrug).

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Dead is dead (unless you're in Soviet America)

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that people dying of cancer could not use unapproved drugs to treat their otherwise-untreatable cancers because the unapproved drugs might... uhm... kill them.

Now, I don't know the difference between being killed by cancer and being killed by an unapproved drug. Seems to me that dead is, well, dead. Regardless of what you call it. Passed on. No more. Ceased to be. Expired and gone to meet its maker. This is a late patient. It's a stiff, bereft of life, resting in peace, pushing up the daisies. Whatever you call it, this patient is, uhm, dead. Yet it appears that the U.S. Supreme Court is intent upon playing out a Monty Python skit...

Remember, in Soviet America, it doesn't matter whether dead is dead, what matters is, uhm... err... what? Oh yeah. What matters is that people must die the way the Party apparatchniks want them to die, not the way that they themselves choose to die. Why, if we let people choose how they wanted to die, they might think they, uhm, lived in a free country or somethin'. Eeep! Can't have that!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Today's gun safety tips

  1. Before holstering your pistol, remove your finger from the trigger guard area and lay it flat alongside the gun.
  2. If your pistol has a safety, place the safety into the "safe" position before holstering it.
  3. Under no circumstance should you shoot one of your balls off by stuffing the gun into your waistband without taking your finger out of the trigger guard area first. That is bad form, bad form.
Now, Derrick Kosch, the armed robber stupid enough to shoot himself in the balls in the course of a robbery, probably isn't a great loss to the gene pool. The problem is that lots of other folks maybe are.

Now, I own guns, and I'm not interested at all in banning guns. But you gotta have a license to drive a car. That makes sense, a car is a deadly weapon. Now, having a driver's license don't mean you know how to drive (as a quick jaunt down any city street will show!), but it does mean that you have at least some basic idea of what a "turn signal" is, what a "stop sign" means. But apparently folks buying handguns just gotta show they got a pulse.

Way I see it, we need some gun safety instruction as mandatory for buying and/or owning a gun of any type. Just ask Derrick Kosch, he just walked into a gun store and bought a handgun, and now he's a ball-less wonder, sorta like a Democratic congressman now that I think about it. Hmm. Anyhow, in Louisiana if you want a hunting license and you're under age 18, you have to pass a hunter safety course. This isn't a big deal. It's a "shall issue", not "may issue" thing -- if you pass the course, you get the license. Way I figure, this sorta thing ought to be standard everywhere whenever we're talking about guns of any type. Maybe then folks will quit firing guns over roads or towards houses or otherwise shooting in unsafe manner, and maybe the number of ball-less wonders will be reduced. Hey, we may even get some Democratic congressmen with balls elected if they're not all busy shooting their balls off by stuffing handguns into their waistbands the wrong way!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

More music production...

Because of the sparse usage of the harmonica in this tune, I think what I'm going to do is a multi-take approach to the harmonica. Roll the strip to a little bit before where I want the harmonica, hit 'record' with a 2-track mixdown thru the studio headphones, tootle the phrase I want into the mike when I hit my cue, stop, verify that I got what I wanted, go to the next place and do the same deal. Much more relaxed than trying to do a one-take approach where I gotta make sure I hit every cue, this way if I miss one I can just hit 'undo', back up and do just that little bit again.

Yeah, still getting used to studio rather than live performing... ya gotta remember that until recently, this level of equipment simply was not available to ordinary people. Closest was a Tascam 4-track, which was better than nothing but not *much* better.

BTW, didn't do any work on the song yesterday because I had to wash dishes. The dishwasher is noisy, and my "studio" is my living room, and the kitchen is open to the living room of my apartment. Hmm, maybe I'll get you a photo of my "studio", it's pretty crowded with gear now...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, January 14, 2008

Gotta watch out for those five year old kids...

they might be terrorists. The TSA detained and searched a 5 year old boy who had the same name as a suspected terrorist. Because, y'know, it's impossible to just look at a 5 year old boy and verify he's not a terrorist. Alrighty, then!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Just a little reminder...

Not all the homeless are mentally ill bums shuffling around talking to their imaginary pals. 23% of homeless are families with children.

But it's only right that we punish children for the crime of, err, ah, uhm, being poor? Because if we don't constantly punish them and humiliate them, continually make their life a living nightmare, subject them to nightmarishly bad schools and crumbling inner city health provision systems, why, why... they might grow up to think they're as good as us. God forbid! It's just in the nature of things that us good aryan white folk be on top, and those disgusting smelly darkies be on the bottom. Next thing yer gonna tell me is that Jesus had dark skin and the Bible was written in some heathen gabble rather than in God's own language, English. Heresy! HISSS!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Soylent Green is not people

Look, I know a lot of you silly lie-brals are upset about that thare Gah... err.. Gitmo place, but looky here. It ain't right to accuse our fine men and women of our military of torturing people there. Because they aren't. I mean, they're darkies, not people. So at most you could charge our fellers and wimmins down there with animal abuse, which is bad, I suppose, but not the same thing as torture, nosiree!

Don't believe me? Well, just ask the D.C. Court of Appeals. They'll tell ya right out that Gitmo prisoners aren't people.

Now, folks in Washington are talking about what to do with the prisoners in Gitmo if the place gets closed. Now, as a modest penguin, I have a suggestion. See, I was watching this bad sci-fi movie on late night television a few nights ago, and it had a sorta shocking end to it. But really, those folks just weren't thinkin' right! See, everbody in that movie was a fine upstanding white feller just like you'n'me. So where did all the darkies go?

So see, there's the solution right there! We got darkies in Gitmo who need to, err, go home. We got hungry fellers and gals right here in the United States. Are you gettin' the picture? Thanks to the D.C. Court of Appeals, we can truly tell our hungry Americans that Soylent Green is not people!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Sunday, January 13, 2008

My first Logic project yay!

Not earth-shattering by any means. Just me, my guitar, a little harmonica. I messed with the editing functions a little to get rid of a glitch (glitch was me forgetting my line, there was a bit of dead air there that I had to get rid of) and getting rid of the harmonica at the very beginning (silencing it) because it was ugly.

There will need to be a *lot* of cut-and-paste type editing done on the harmonica track. I had my guitar capo'ed to F because my vocals have become more limited in the years since I wrote the particular song, which means the song is in the key of, well, crap, something sharp (WTF, I just play the damned thing, it doesn't mean I know what key it's in, if I gotta guess I'll say it's in C# :-). Which means that the only harmonica in my collection that'll hit the right notes is a Hohner CX12 Chromatic in the key of C with the plunger pushed in (which makes it a C# harmonica). Now, a Hohner CX12 is a big honkin' mother of a harmonica. As in, you gotta slide that sucker a loooong ways in your mouth to hit any particular note, it's not like the little diatonic harmonicas that you can do quick sweeps on and shit. So I had to sorta experiment to get the slides going right. Still trying to decide whether I'll cut-and-paste on the current harmonica track, or just start over again now that I know where I want to put the harmonica and what I want to put there (some sweeps between phrasings on the verses, some blues wah at a particular place in the chorus, and one final slide and wah at the end).

Particularly interesting was that I brought my Bb Irish whistle over and tootled it into the vocals microphone a bit while doing a sample mixdown on the current three tracks with a particular set of compression settings blah blah blah, it sounds really smooth with that big fat-sounding vocals mike. I'll have to tootle a track and see if it makes it sound too busy with the harmonica in there. No, my Bb diatonic harmonica does *not* hit the right notes for this song, I tried it. Anyhow, if the harmonica and whistle don't co-exist in the same song, I know which one is going, and it's the whistle. The song is white trash blues and blues need harmonica like women need a bicycle. Or somethin' like that :-).

Next up: MIDI instruments. I need to pull out Bruce Springsteen's "The River" and look at what he does with the title track percussion-wise. Luckily my playing is always in time. As I found out when I managed to turn on that #$%@# metronome tick in my monitor headphones while I was recording the vocal and guitar tracks, which drove me nuts until I found the options setting to turn it off ("tick tick tick tick" AGH!). But one thing I noticed was that I was in perfect time with the ticks even though I wasn't using them or listening to them or anything (I was too busy playing and singing). Though it appears I need another MIDI cable to hook up my keyboard to the Lexicon Lambda, sigh... another run to The Starving Musician tomorrow. Oh well!

Anyhow, once I have the harmonica track fixed up I'll probably let you guys hear the initial mixdown as a really-crappy-quality monophonic mp3. It's just too late tonight and I'm tired, I'm going to bed. G'nite!

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Random Macbook geekery

I still love my Macbook. MacOSX Leopard (now that the latest updates have been installed) is super-stable and super-fast and even X11 now works right -- even over the network (just pop open a "Terminal" window, ssh to a Linux box, type "xemacs /etc/fstab" and... voila, you get an Emacs window on your local console!). And unlike Linux, heavy disk activity going on in the background doesn't kill the OS. Sure, you get a little sluggish, but you don't just freeze up like Linux. It has that low latency BSD scheduling goodness going on.

Right now I'm cleaning up space on my Macbook to make room for Logic Studio. I'm copying a bunch of ISO's and videos off to my Linux server, I can get to them anytime I want via the wireless or wired networks so that's not a bad thing, and deleting a bunch of old downloads that are no longer applicable (e.g., multiple old versions of Firefox and Parallels). I also cleaned up my Windows virtual machine (Parallels), deleting a bunch of stuff that I didn't need as well as all the various snapshots (which were taking up tons of space), and am running the Parallels Compressor for Windows to make the virtual disk smaller.

One word of warning about Parallels Compressor for Windows though -- this thing is super-slow. I started it at midnight last night. It's still going on. And my Windows install didn't have a super-lot of data in it -- only 6gb, because I only use it for things that cannot be done from MacOS (e.g., update my Nokia N800 to the latest OS2008, or upload maps to my Garmin GPS). Looking at the progress bar it should be done shortly, but still, 12 hours to compress 6gb of data? Slow slow SW! (And it's not because my hard drive is slow either, Windows Compressor is writing at over 10mb/sec). By comparison, 'zip' will zip up 45gb of data in about 3 hours on this same system (that's a backup of my /User/badtux directory).

So anyhow, I'm geeking out today. Blogging about the multiple disasters that are America's political scene will resume when I get the mood to observe disasters going down.

-- Badtux the MacPenguin

Saturday, January 12, 2008

I did a bad thing today...

I had promised myself that I would spend money this year only if I actually had it in my bank account. Well, I actually *do* have the money in my bank account at the moment, but that's because the credit card bill from my December trip hasn't come in yet. But anyhow... I was in the Stevens Creek area getting a gas cap from the military surplus store, and, uhm... on the way home I stopped by the mall. And walked into the Apple store. And laid down the plastic for $499 for Apple Logic Studio.

I won't be available for a while. This thing comes with approximately 2,000 pages of documentation (I'm not joking, the user manual for Logic Pro 8 is 1,000 pages, the Instruments and Effects manual is 500 pages, and there's several hundred pages of other assorted random documentation). This is all the stuff, including all the loops packs and effects packs and such, that Apple used to sell for $1500 total (if you bought everything) back in the Logic 7 days. For 1/3rd the price. Finally, professional quality tools in the hands of the people!

Oh, for those who remember their MIDI -- my old MIDI controller had a single MIDI plug that plugged into the MIDI IN of my keyboard. The new Lexicon Lambda has no such thing. It has a MIDI OUT and MIDI IN. I'm assuming that I jack the MIDI OUT of the Lambda to the MIDI IN of the keyboard. True? I guess I'll find out soon enough...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

What do you want to do when you grow up?


I'll be back later with my own diary-like entry. Middle-aged crisis time, anybody?

Updated at 8:35pm:

The fundamental problem is that penguins aren't very fond of monkeys. No offense, but monkeys are, well, monkeys. Thus penguins are only well suited for jobs that don't require a lot of interaction with monkeys.

That presents a problem, because I've been doing what I've been doing for around twelve years now, and folks want me to be a "project manager" nowdays rather than a solitary penguin doing his thing. Besides, twelve years is longer than I've done anything else in my whole life, and reality is that it's starting to get boring. I'm giving it three more years then I'll have to pretty much change gears or else blow my brains out from boredom.

My ideal job would be "hermit". No worries about interacting with monkeys then. Hermits are expected to be cranky around monkeys (and everything else). Problem is, I lack a few of the prerequisites for that job, like the disability check (necessary because the job of "hermit" otherwise has no pay), the willingness to be dirty and smelly all the time, and the willingness to have long bedraggled hair and beard.

The closest thing, I suppose, would be "writer". Funny thing there. I read tons of science fiction, and few thrillers and mysteries. But I can't write science fiction if my life depended on it. Everything turns into a mystery. Maybe because I'm interested in exploring the mysteries of life in my fiction, and that fits better into the mystery/thriller template.

Problem there is that I've become accustomed to my comforts. I'd be lucky to haul in $20K/year, which is okay money for a hermit but ... uhm... see above for my problems with that "hermit" thing.

Sigh, growing up is such a PITA... ]

-- Badtux the Grown-up(???) Penguin

Friday, January 11, 2008

Lucinda Williams - Metal Firecracker

Texas does produce *something* besides dumbasses, and that's some smokin' musicians who take R&B, country, and rock and put together a spicy gumbo indeed...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Seat belt usage

The dude didn't have his own seat belt buckled, but... his 12-pack of beer was safely buckled in.

Priorities, priorities...

-- Badtux the Amused Penguin

PS - do read the comments on that story. Some of them are hilarious, like this one: This sounds like a Jeff Foxworthy sketch. "If your beer survives a headon crash with a tree because you belted it in, even tho you went thru your windshield, you might be a redneck." Heh!

Six pack abs

Penguins are not exactly known for six pack abs. Not that you could tell under the feathers anyhow, but penguins tend to be... rotund.

That is why I was quite excited to discover someone who has a new way of getting six pack abs. And here is the result: Notice that this hairless monkey's pleasing rotundity did not stop him from achieving that much desired sexually attractive six pack abs, which I understand the female of the hairless monkey species really digs (at least, if I'm reading the Craigslist personals correctly). That gives this penguin some hope for the future. Well, if female penguins like six-pack abs, anyhow, but really, what female of any species can resist beer? Which obviously is the whole point of six-pack abs, right? Beer? And if I can find any female penguins around, given a general shortage of penguins in the northern hemisphere. Hmm...

-- Badtux the Rotund Penguin

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The real election in New Hampshire

From Misfit and Brian, we learn that the election held in New Hampshire on Tuesday has a clear winner: Marty the Long-haired Cat, who is now the official Mount Washington Weather Station Cat-in-Resident, replacing recently-retired Nin who, due to failing health due to his advanced age, has been retired to lower altitudes nearer to his veterinarian. Experience won in New Hampshire -- Marty was the oldest candidate. The fact that he was running against two short-haired cats might also have tilted things in his favor, since the top of Mount Washington is one of the coldest and windiest places in the continental United States (quick, get Greg Palast on the phone! It's clear this election was *rigged*!).

I understand that there was also another election in New Hampshire that day. From what I understand, a politician won it. I have never met a politician that had soft silky fur, a pleasing purr, or the qualifications to be a master mouse catcher. They tend to be rather... reptilian... in visage and personality, now that I think of it, not warm and soft and cuddly like a friendly kitty. Really, I don't know why our so-called press gave so much space to that other election, when the really important election was right under their paw.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Air-dropped Bombs 101

Free-fall bombs have three sections. The bomb body is the casing containing the explosive material. The fuze section can be located in the nose and/or the rear of the bomb and determines the timing of the explosion. The tail section, or fins, determines how the bomb flies through the air. Desired weapons effects are achieved by selecting a particular combination of bomb body, fuzing, and tail section.

Bomb bodies vary in size, weight, and thickness of casing. GP bombs have a thinner case and more explosive filler than penetrating bombs, whereas cluster bombs generally come in dispensers that open to release bomblets at predetermined altitudes. The bomb body casing (except for cluster munitions) houses the explosive filler. Upon detonation, the high-explosive filler creates an explosive train to achieve the desired weapons effect; detonation is triggered by fusing.

Different effects are obtained by mating different bombs to different fuzes. A fuze functions in one of the following ways. An impact fuze is designed to function on or after impact. Detonation upon impact is selected for targets such as supply dumps when the main destructive energy desired is blast. For a building, a delayed detonation might be selected so the bomb can penetrate several floors before exploding. A proximity fuze contains a miniature doppler radar set that senses height above the ground. When the explosion occurs above the ground, most of the destructive effect is caused by the bomb casing fragments.

There are five general categories of munitions damage mechanisms: blast, fragmentation, cratering, shaped charge penetration, and incendiary effects. A given target is usually most vulnerable to one particular damage mechanism, though it may be vulnerable (to a lesser extent) to several damage mechanisms. The factors governing determination of the primary damage mechanism for a given target are: target construction, target location (relative to the point of warhead detonation), warhead damage effects pattern, and the desired type and level of damage.

The effect of blast on personnel is confined to a relatively short distance (110 feet for a 2000 pound bomb). Fragmentation is more deadly to personnel. Fragments of a bomb case can achieve velocities from 3,000 to 11,000 fps depending on the type of bomb (for example GP bomb fragments have velocities of 5,000 to 9,000 fps). The fragmentation effects generated from the detonation of a high-explosive bomb have greater effective range than blast, usually up to approximately 3,000 feet regardless of bomb size. Cratering is the result when a delay fuze allows the bomb to penetrate below the surface, the result is that everything above the bomb is blown up into the air by the resulting explosion. The desired effect depends upon the nature of the target, but regardless of the desired effect, air-dropped bombs typically exhibit both blast and fragmentation effects in varying degrees.

Now let's move on to current events. The workhorse bomb of the USAF and USN in Iraq is the venerable MK-82/BLU-111 500 pound bomb, generally mated to a JDAM GPS-guided fin kit. The BLU-126/B reduced-fragmentation bomb is sometimes used when the desire is cratering (demolishing) a house, this replaces most of the explosives in a BLU-111 with inert materials (the reason for using a BLU-111 casing is to allow mating with the JDAM fin sets). The MK-83 1000 pound bomb is used when greater blast effects are desired to, e.g., knock down all houses within a 500 foot radius of the bomb in order to deny cover to insurgents. So the U.S. had a list of 40 suspected al Qaeda "safe houses" in south Baghdad. Which of these bombs were used against these suspected "safe houses"?

Answer: The MK-83 1000 pound bomb (do the math). Which will knock down all houses within a 500 foot radius of the bomb, produces large fragmentation effects that'll potentially kill dozens of people within a 500 foot radius of the bomb, and invariably result in significant civilian casualties when dropped into a residential area.

Now, I mention that little term "civilian casualties". What does that mean? Well, consider if someone dropped a bomb on your neighborhood. It might be your daughter. Your husband. Your neighbor. Your best friend. Someone you know. And your house might have had its windows blown out by the blast, maybe its roof blown off, may even have collapsed to the side and you barely escaped. Now, will you be grateful to the people who dropped the bomb? Will you thank them for having your best interests at heart because they dropped a 1,000 pound bomb on the crack house down the street that you've been complaining about for months? Or will you be angry and upset and not inclined to be friendly with the people who dropped the 1,000 pound bomb or the politicians who ordered them to do so?

Yet, somehow, Iraqis are supposed to be "grateful" to us for liberating them (from their bodies) with 1,000 pound bombs. Alrighty, then!

-- Badtux the War Penguin

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


Let's say that you're a reporter and someone tells you that I'm joining the Hillary Clinton campaign as her new Director of Blog Technology, charged with supercharging her electronic campaigning tools in order to deal with the expected crush of traffic after she gets the Democratic nomination. What is your first action to take?

  1. Call me and ask me if I'm going to work for the Clinton campaign, or
  2. Breathlessly go on the air and report that I'm going to work for the Clinton campaign?
If you chose #2, congratulations, you're officially qualified to be a Fox News reporter.

Okay, now let's say that you're a reporter who has breathlessly reported that I am going to work for the Clinton campaign. I call you and tell you that I am not, that I have a very good job where I am and am going nowhere. Which of these actions do you then take?

  1. Go on-air and issue a correction
  2. Call me a liar and continue spreading the story that I'm going to work for the Clinton campaign
If #2, congratulations *again*. Please send your resume' to Fox News, you've met every single qualification needed to work for them -- a willingness to believe anything if it conforms with your biases, combined with a willingness to believe nothing if it does not conform with your biases. My congratulations, please let me know how many millions of dollars they eventually pay you for being a partisan hack!

-- Badtux the Journalism Penguin

Cat assisted printing

Hmm, so this is why my printouts are smudged, wrinkled, and sometimes pre-shredded...

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Libertopian dreams

I kinda get a kick out of pasty-white Libertarians fondling their guns and dreaming about how they'd be the Big Man On Campus in Libertopia, their imaginary perfect world where there was no government, everybody had a six-shooter on their hip, and then they could live the life they want to live without worrying about whether The Man was gonna come down on them with the full force of the government.

Now, one thing I gotta tell ya about most Libertarians I've met. They're usually pasty white blubbery momma's boys who talk big from their mommies basements while filling their mouths with Cheetos, but ain't done jack shit outside that basement. Not many of them have ever hiked for days at a time with a 50 pound pack on their back. None of them have ever fired their gun at anything other than inoffensive paper targets. If they had to confront someone else with a gun, they wouldn't be pulling out their own gun. They'd be too fuckin' busy shitting their pants and begging for mercy.

So anyhow, here's my challenge to momma's boys Libertopians. I got yer Libertopia for ya. See, I know some families who are, well, fuckin' *HARD CORE*. As in, their twelve year old KIDS go do drive-by shootings off of fuckin' *BICYCLES* hard core. As in, they'd sooner kill you than say hello if they take any sort of disliking for you. Anyhow, here's my challenge. You get to choose the weapons of your choice. So I tell these hard core gang bangers that you been trash talking them. I tell'em that you been boasting that in your Libertopia, you'd take them out and there, like, wouldn't be no fuckin' crime or criminals. I drive you to their neighborhood, get out of the car, take the keys, and walk off.

Have fun, assholes! 'Cause I gotta tell ya a truth you don't wanna hear. In your "Libertopia", these vicious types who don't give a shit about human life will *own* your fat pasty white ass. 'Cause in the real Libertopia, it's not rule of the people, by the people, for the people. It's rule of the majority of the people, by the most vicious and ready-to-kill minority. And frankly, you Libertopian geeks are... well, ya got mouth, but otherwise you're, well, fuckin *GEEKS*. You gonna fuckin' squeal like a pig by the time these motherfuckers are through with you, and then claim you like it. And that's God's own truth, yessiree.

-- Badtux the non-Libertopian Penguin

What if returning soldiers overthrew the government?

Various folks have discussed the fact that a lot of the returning vets are pissed. They got sent into battle without the shit they needed to win for reasons that nobody is really clear about, they get abused and ignored by their government once they get back home, and steam is starting to rise. What if, some of these folks have asked, these soldiers turned their guns on the government that has abandoned them?

Well, history has a lot to say there, whether it's the aftermath of the Punic Wars where the vets basically ended the Roman Republic, or Oliver Cromwell's role in the English Civil War, where his army fought for Parliament against a bad king, then once said king got deposed... uhm, well, that's when the bad shit starts happening. The usual result is lots of dead bodies, then a new dictator, closely followed by lots MORE dead bodies and eventually a re-institution of the prior government. I'm remembering one veteran in particular, I think he was a corporal or something, served on the front lines, got injured, got together with a buncha his former wartime buddies and assorted others and eventually took over his country and killed, oh, maybe 30,000,000 people or so. Yeah, *that* veteran, was a corporal in WWI, ran his country into the ground until it was rubble by 1945.

Frankly, I don't think this is the course we want to go in this country. Not yet, anyhow. Our current government is pretty damn evil, but not *that* kinda evil, the kinda evil where the evil of overthrowing it at gunpoint is less than the evil of the government itself. Not yet, anyhow. And hopefully never.

- Badtux the History Penguin

Newsflash! Democrat wins in New Hampshire!

Which one? Well, you know by now. But really, who cares? As mentioned previously, any of them will do a better job than the current occupant of the office. Sanity. It's vastly underrated.

-- Badtux the "Sanity '08" Penguin