Saturday, May 31, 2008

Ah, blessed relief

The lease on my iceberg dock is secured for another year. The renewal letter had a rate on it that was above market rate. The leasing agent swiftly knocked it down to market rate (as verified online with their own advertising), at which point I signed. My rent went up by $25 a month, but that's less than 2% and inflation has definitely been more than 2% over the past year, so...

Of course, while inflation has happened over the last year, my paycheck hasn't gone up a bit. My suspicions are raised. Oh well. After last year's 30% payraise, I'm certainly not hurting, and if my current employer does go under I doubt I'll have a problem getting another job. Not too many Linux penguins out there who've been around since pretty much the beginning and thus know where all the skeletons are buried in Linux...

-- Badtux the Geeky Penguin

Legitimacy, and why it matters.

In the end, any ruler rules only if his constituents view his government as legitimate. Rulers can obtain legitimacy in a number of ways. The ruler may be democratically elected, may be appointed by the majority in the legislature, may be viewed as a God-King by his people, or may be viewed as the savior who rebuilt a modern nation out of the rubble of a collapsed empire (see: Attaturk in Turkey, Vladmir Putin in Russia), but the point is that if the leader isn't viewed as legitimate, people don't follow him. The number of people who don't follow him determines whether he will be capable of obtaining higher office or being effective while in office or even whether he manages to retain his office.

In the United States, in general we have bestowed legitimacy upon our leaders by voting on them. But what bestows legitimacy is not the actual act of voting itself. After all, Stalin won the majority of the vote in the Soviet Union every election. What bestows legitimacy is a vote which reflects the will of the majority of the people. If you disenfranchise people, or finagle the vote via rules which allocate people's votes in a way that does not reflect the will of the people, the act of voting is just electoral masturbation -- it no more gives legitimacy to the outcome than masturbation gives legitimacy to the Pope's views on birth control.

In short, a candidate who has been nominated to be President via a vote which does not reflect the will of the majority of his or her party's voters has a core legitimacy problem. If the Democrats nominate someone who is not desired by the majority of the Democratic voters, they will lose in November. If the Democrats nominate someone without giving a voice to the will of all voters, they will lose in November. The point of elections is as a measure of the will of the voters, and if the will of the voters is ignored, the result is that said voters will simply stay home in November. If all of the delegates from Florida are not seated, and the delegates from Michigan are not allocated according to the will of the voters of Michigan (note that the "Uncommitted" voters were all voting for Obama or one of Obama's endorsees, so those delegates should be allocated to him -- Hillary was on the ballot, if those voters had intended to vote for Hillary they would have done so), then I think we can say hello to President McCain -- and goodbye to what is left of the American Republic, since McCain's lack of economic knowledge and bellicose foreign policy will finish the job of America's economic collapse, at which point, as with the Weimar Republic, a strongman will arise to "save" America -- with probably the same end result (i.e., the utter destruction of the United States and its occupation by foreign powers for decades).

-- Badtux the Big Picture Penguin

Friday, May 30, 2008

Wanted: A life

Shopping for condos on doesn't qualify, I don't think. Anybody know a good buyer's agent in the San Jose area, especially for the Blossom Hill and Communications Hill area?

-- Badtux the Speechless Penguin
In some alternative universe, maybe.

Condo builder from hell

I've been running into this condo design all around the South Bay. It was built in the early 1970's, and consists of a snout condo in front, then three condos upstairs over carports. It's ugly as hell, the carports can't be turned into individual garages for the condos because of the way they're designed, and it's no friggin' wonder that they're having trouble giving these ugly-ass condos away. Most of'em I'm sure are gonna get eventually sold off to investors who are gonna rent them to trailer trash and illegals and there's gonna be drug deals going down on the front lawns and so forth, I know I sure as hell ain't buying one of these dumps no matter how low they go on the price -- and they're already going pretty damned low in some places.

-- Badtux the Home-shopping Penguin

If John McCain had a cat

McNasty, indeed.

If a cat reflects the personality of its master, I must be the sweetest penguin around, because my babies are sweethearts. The Mighty Fang has always been a lovable lunk, but when I got Mencken, his general attitude was "I hate you, go away." I slowly trained him away from that -- not by beating him, but by listening to him. As I listened to him, he no longer felt the need to bite and claw me. When he bit me, I'd put him down and go elsewhere since obviously he was overstimulated and needed some quiet time. Biting me turned into baring his teeth and touching my skin with the edge of his fang at which time I put him down and went elsewhere, touching my skin with his fang turned into him simply getting up and going elsewhere when he got tired of me, and how he'll happily purr in my lap for hours and when he's done with that, rather than biting me when I try to pet him, he'll simply get up and leave.

But my suspicion is that if McNasty had a cat, the cat would be like the one above, or like this one...

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Iranian democracy, U.S. democracy

This is a brief comparison of the structure of the governments of Iran and the United States, in order to better understand Iranian and U.S. democracy.

Head of state:
Iran: President. Elected by popular vote.
United States: President. Elected by a complex formula called "the electoral college" that gives more weight to voters in small states than it gives to voters in large states.
Advantage: Iran.

Means of vetting head of state:
Iran: Candidates for head of state are vetted by the Guardian Council, which has some of the functions of the U.S. Supreme Court and is appointed by the Supreme Leader (half of members) and by the Parliament (other half). Candidates which are not ideologically correct are not allowed to run.
United States: Candidates for head of state are vetted by an unelected elite of media moguls and top businessmen. Candidates who are not ideologically correct, such as Dennis Kucinich or Ron Paul, are allowed to run but are deprived of the money, media exposure, and ballot access needed to win. Occasionally the U.S. Supreme Court is called in to decide which candidate is more ideologically correct and shall thus be elected (see: 2000 Presidential election).
Advantage: Tie. With a slight PR advantage to the United States, since at least their means of dealing with ideologically incorrect candidates are not quite so blatantly obvious.

Head of government:
Iran: Supreme Leader. Appointed by the Assembly of Experts, which is elected but you must be an ayatollah to be a member of the Assembly of Experts. Basically a means via which the ayatollahs perpetuate their rule.
United States: President. Elected (albeit not democratically 1-man 1-vote).
Advantage: United States.

Iran: Parliament. Democratically elected. Can have laws overruled by the Guardian Council, which has some of the functions of the U.S. Supreme Court. Candidates for the Parliament are vetted for ideological correctness by the Guardian Council, half of whose members are appointed by Parliament and half of whose members are appointed by the Supreme Leader.
United States: Has two houses in its legislature. House of Representatives: Democratically elected. Can have laws overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court, which is appointed by the President. Candidates are ideologically vetted by an unelected elite of business people and media moguls in the districts from which they are elected, candidates who do not pass ideological muster are deprived of the money, media exposure, and ballot access needed to win. Senate: Undemocratically elected -- voters in small states have their votes count for more than voters in large states. Can have laws overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court, which is appointed by the President. Candidates are ideologically vetted by an unelected elite of business people and media moguls in the states from which they are elected, candidates who do not pass ideological muster are deprived of the money, media exposure, and ballot access needed to win.
Advantage: Tie. The House of Representatives is clearly more democratic than the Iranian Parliament due to the fact that candidates are vetted for ideological correctness at the local level rather than at the national level, but that's offset by the U.S. Senate, which is clearly less democratic than the Iranian Parliament due to the fact that it's not 1 man, 1 vote like the House.

Commander in chief of the armed forces:
Iran: Supreme Leader. He is elected by the Assembly of Experts, not by the people. See above.
United States: President. Elected, albeit not democratically (see above).
Advantage: Unclear. U.S. has invaded dozens of nations, Iraq has never invaded anybody. Does that make the U.S. less, or more, democratic than Iran?

Overall, Iran is surprisingly democratic compared to the United States -- but not quite as democratic as the United States. The ability of the Guardian Council to explicitly disqualify candidates for not being ideologically correct slightly outweighs the ability of the U.S. media and business elite to disqualify candidates for not being ideologically correct because for the House of Representatives in particular, it is local elites, not a national body, doing the disqualification. Both their legislature and their President are elected via one-man one-vote, unlike in the United States where some people are more equal than others (my vote for Senator Feinstein is literally only 1/5th as valuable as my previous vote for Senator Edwards in 1998). It is their unelected Supreme Leader and his control over the Iranian military and broad control over Iranian foreign policy (he has sole power to declare war, for example) who makes Iran explicitly less democratic than the United States in the end -- but not by much. And of course, compared to true democracies where the will of the people is important, like in much of Europe, the United States looks downright horrible on the democracy scale...

-- Badtux the Democracy Penguin

Our enemies the Iranians

Let's get this straight: Iran's government is not our friends. You'll see the flags of many nations flying outside Iranian hotels, convention centers, and other such areas where an international audience may gather. You'll see the German flag, the Canadian flag, the Egyptian flag, any number of flags there. But you won't see the U.S. flag there. The only U.S. flags you'll see in Iran are the huge ones unfurled from the sides of buildings with "Down with America!" or "Death to America!" painted on them. Friendly that ain't. But the question is what we should do about the Iranians. McCain's answer is simple: bomb them. Obama's is more nuanced: negotiate with them. So who's right?

One thing to keep straight is this: to misquote Lord Palmerston, nations do not have friends. Nations have interests. And both we, and the Iranians, have interests in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. And where those interests overlap, which are in broad areas (both we and Iran support the current government of Iraq, for example), there is absolutely no reason why we and the Iranians cannot and should not talk about those interests and see if there is a mutually agreeable manner in which both of us can assure that our shared interests are upheld.

In short, it is John McCain whose policies are dangerously naive. It is John McCain who would ignore national interest in favor of naive categorizations of nations as "friend" or "enemy". It is not the leaders of Iran -- the ayatollahs who hold the real power there -- who are stopping diplomatic conversations on areas of mutually shared interests between the two nations. It is petulant, mean-tempered little jerks who place their personal spite ahead of the interests of the nation who are doing that. And I'm talking about both George W. Bush and John McCain when I say that, sadly enough.

-- Badtux the Geopolitical Penguin

Our friends the Pakistanis

Pakistani bomb scientist says government made him do it, recants his "confession" that he and he alone sold nuclear weapons secrets and bomb-making equipment to North Korea, Iran, and Libya.

Anybody who thought that a single rogue scientist could ship bomb-making equipment was looney toonz to begin with, so this isn't surprising. But it's just another example of how our "friends" in southwest Asia are our "friends" in pretty much the same way that a rattlesnake is.

-- Badtux the Geopolitical Penguin

I tawt I thaw a birdie!

Hummingbirds came by to suck nectar from the climbing roses. The Mighty Fang is on the case.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

When McCain was McNasty

Ever notice how most of the veneration of the military is by people who never served? Anybody who ever served ran into folks like McNasty -- mean, backstabbing little shits with a hair-trigger temper who would stomp on your mother's face if that got him ahead in the promotion order, but whose temper, poor judgement, and unwillingness to study their profession seriously was always going to be the big problem for them. Their peers, told that they should venerate such a person for "his service", would look at you as if you were nuts. "He's just McNasty", they would tell you, "just a mean bad-tempered little shit with authority problems."

But toss him out into the body politic and... well, lo and behold, he should be venerated by the general populace as a hero, regardless of whether he's a mean-tempered little shit or not, because, well, because. Which is not to deny that mean bad-tempered little shits can commit acts of heroism. They are, after all, human beings, and every human being with an above-room-temperature IQ has the potential for acts of heroism. But they're still mean bad-tempered little shits in the end.

One of my commenters has noted that, given this veneration of those who served by the vast majority who never served, further examination of McCain's military career is probably not productive from a political point of view. So I won't talk more about why a Navy fighter jock who runs into power lines is one who is violating Navy regs (there is only one place where Navy pilots practice low-level training over land, and there are no power lines to run into there -- it's desolate desert), about a pattern of putting a multi-million-dollar aircraft at risk by ignoring his training, etc. It just isn't productive, and there's far too many instances after McCain was McNasty that demonstrate poor judgement on his part. But McCain didn't get the McNasty nickname from his peers when he was in the Navy because he was a great guy. He got it as part of a general observation of his character by his peers, regardless of whether the sheeple believe that he must be venerated for his time in the Navy.

But, alas, in a land of lies, truth must be carefully hidden lest it inflame the sheeple. So I shall put it up on the cupboard for the duration of McNasty's run for President -- there's too many instances of him later being that same mean bad-tempered little shit with poor judgement to need to pull out the earliest instances of him being a mean bad-tempered little shit with poor judgement. So it goes.

-- Badtux the Realist Penguin

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Windows 7 demo is impressive

Impressively underwhelming, that is.

Seems that Microsoft is once again readying barely-warmed-over hash as "operating system software". Color this penguin unsurprised.

-- Badtux the Linux Penguin

Signing up for the military makes you perfect

And nobody can question your judgement if you sign up for the military, because, like, signing up for the military means you're automatically a saint.

So remember, boys and girls. If you're a nasty, bad-tempered idiot who has poor judgement, all you have to do is sign up for the military. Then nobody can ever criticize you for being a nasty, bad-tempered idiot who has poor judgement, because, well, all that automatically goes away once you put on that uniform.

Alrighty, then!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin
Who doesn't notice that he became appreciably more saintly when he waddled through the recruiter's door, but... (shrug).

How a Republican argues

D: "John McCain has a history of poor judgement. He got shot down because he ignored his SAM lock-on warning buzzer, he voted against the Bosnian war, for the Iraqi war..."
R: "You're an idiot."
D: "Excuse me? Do you have an argument to make that he exercised good judgement in those cases?"
R: "John McCain is an American hero!"
D: "What does that have to do with his history of poor judgement?"
R: "You're not qualified to comment on John McCain's judgement unless you're a veteran. So there. Nyah!"
D: "So you're saying that John McCain exercised good judgement when he ignored his SAM lock-on warning buzzer?"
R: "You don't know anything at all. You're just a stupid ugly liberal!"
D: "That's it? That's all you have? Personal insults?"
R: "Mommy! The Democrat is being mean to John McCain! WAAAAHHHH!"

So it goes...

-- Badtux the Judgemental Penguin

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

John McCain's record of good judgement

John McCain's first foreign policy decision was to volunteer for combat in the Vietnam War. His second was to stay in the Hanoi Hilton when he was offered a chance to leave. He was against going into Bosnia. He was for going into Iraq. This is the guy who gets to have credibility criticizing Barack Obama for lack of experience? -- The Rude Pundit

The question isn't McCain's experience. The question is his judgement -- and he's shown piss-poor judgement from day one of his career.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Hmm, I heard that Obama was a secret Muslim...


Tuesday, May 27, 2008


At least, if you're not black or brown.

Police Department under fire for arresting people for "wrong way walking".

In poor parts of town, often sidewalks do not exist. Many cities deliberately refuse to build sidewalks in poor neighborhoods that have been annexed into the city, claiming that the residents are the ones who would benefit and thus the residents should pay 100% of the cost. Often there are no storm drains, just an open ditch on either side of the road. So in these parts of town, people walk along the side of the street. That's the only place you can walk, unless you're going to walk on someone's lawn.

While there are laws on the books regarding which way to face while walking by the side of the street, they are almost never enforced. For one thing, it is only the neighborhoods of the very rich and the neighborhoods of the very poor that lack sidewalks, so either it looks like you're targeting the rich (bad cop! no donut!) or like you're targeting the poor. And if you only target a single poor neighborhood that is majority black and Hispanic, and not poor neighborhoods that also contain poor whites, well. Freedom! If your skin ain't brown, anyhow, right?

Meanwhile, cities are increasingly outlawing feeding the homeless. As Bryan notes in a comment on another site, "I seem to remember a story from my youth about a Rabbi who fed a lot of hungry people who had come to hear him speak. I've noticed that a lot of homeless feeding programs are called "Loaves and Fishes" in memory of that event. Too bad there are no Christians in this country."

But of course that's not the point. What the city fathers want to have happen in these cities is for the homeless to die, already. Indeed, they'd line up the homeless and march them into gas chambers if Adolph Hitler hadn't given such a bad name to gas chambers (bummer, that). Because of course the homeless are untermenschen, other, cockroaches, not really human, unlike the fine upstanding Christian ubermenschen who run Orlando. And since they're not really human, exterminating them would be no more murder than exterminating cockroaches, right? Right?! Alrighty, then!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

The End is Near

Bush Administration makes deal to sell nuclear reactors to Saudi Arabia. While some commentators make hasty conclusions about Saudi Arabia wanting to develop nuclear weapons, there is a much, much simpler explanation: The end is near.

The problem is that Saudi Arabia's oil fields are on their last legs, and what little oil hasn't been pumped yet has to be sold in order to finance whatever is going to replace oil as Saudi Arabia's energy source. While much of Saudi Arabia is desert and thus well suited for solar power, the problem is that deserts lack, well, water (duh!). So Saudi Arabia has been building desalination plants in order to provide water for their growing and thirsty population. And desalination plants require a *lot* of energy -- paving all of Saudi Arabia with solar panels would provide enough energy to maybe desalinate enough water for a million people. And in case you haven't noticed, Saudi Arabia has a population of over TWENTY-SEVEN MILLION PEOPLE. All of whom require water in order to live.

So clearly solar lacks the energy density to provide for Saudi Arabia's water needs. Given that, the Saudis have few options for replacing their current gas-fired power plants as the natural gas runs out (which is already happening -- the Saudis are pumping salt water at full speed into their oil reservoirs in order to increase the pressure in order to force the remaining oil to the surface, which means that the natural gas pressure which used to be providing that force is now *gone*). Saudi Arabia has no coal, so that isn't going to do the job. So nuclear energy is the logical next step for them -- and indeed they've been talking for years about building a gigantic nuclear desalination plant. And if it is a light water reactor properly designed and properly monitored by the IAEA (so that rods cannot be short-cycled -- you must short-cycle rods in order to extract Pu-239 for bombs, otherwise it picks up more neutrons and becomes isotopes not usable for bombs), it is not a particularly large proliferation threat.

All of these arguments also apply to Iran, of course. But oooh, I forget, Eye-ran EEEEvilll. Saudi Arabia GOOOOOOOD. Even though women are slaves in Saudi Arabia who aren't allowed any advanced education and aren't even allowed to fuckin' *drive*, while 50% of Iranian university enrollment is women as are 40% of their doctors. Tells ya just how much our ruling elite values women's rights... first they overthrew the only regime in the region which guaranteed full rights to women (Saddam's secular Baathist regime), and then they target the regime that is the next-most-congenial place for women in the region? Pathetic. Simply pathetic.

- Badtux the Energy Penguin

Monday, May 26, 2008

Dulce et Decorum Est

It is Memorial Day in the United States, a day when Americans go out and put flowers on the graves of those who have died, a day when politicians and celebrities trot out that old lie of the soldiers who have died to "protect our freedoms". Of course, that is not true. There have only been two wars where "our freedoms" have in any way been at risk -- the American Revolution, and WWII when Japan and Germany declared war on us. All of this nation's other wars have been for other reasons -- to protect American markets, to enrich war profiteers, to steal territories from neighboring nations, to assist other nations perceived to be allies, for oil, or otherwise having nothing to do with defending America's freedoms. As far as protecting our freedoms in other ways, the U.S. Army protected the freedom of blacks to vote in the South during the time period 1867 to 1874, and protected the freedom of blacks to attend Little Rock High School and the University of Mississippi in 1957 and 1962, but otherwise have defended no other freedoms.

Why, then, do we go through this charade of dishonesty every single year? Perhaps the story of Jessica Ellis may hold a clue. In reality, Jessica Ann Ellis died because she was sent to war by a President who thinks that giving up golf is a sacrifice in order to further some intellectual masturbation about magic ponies on the part of neo-cons who still insist that Iraq + soldiers = democracy, or ponies, or oil coming out of everybody's assholes, whatever. But that is a hard and bitter lump to swallow. Thus the lie, the same old lie we always hear this time of year. The lie about the soldiers "defending our freedoms". The same old lies of valor, honor, and courage, time after time.

The lie will not bring back Jessica Ann Ellis, or the thousands of other Americans dead in Iraq. The lie will not make whole the 30,000+ Americans who have had limbs blown off, or resuscitate the dead brain cells of the 250,000 Americans who've had their heads hammered inside their helmets by explosions in Iraq, or bring back the 1,000,000 Iraqis who have died in the past five years who would be alive if not for the U.S. invasion of Iraq. But the lie gives comfort to those who would otherwise be outraged, angry, and heartbroken, and woe to he who would say truth in a land of lies. We cherish our lies, and hold them dear to our hearts here in the United States of Delusion. We cherish our lies, and woe to he who would puncture them under the harsh light of truth. They crucified Jesus, after all.

-- Badtux the Memorial Penguin

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Voice of an angel

Linda Ronstadt with intro by Bobby Darin.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


The South Bay is blanketed with smoke from a forest fire burning in the Santa Cruz Mountains. My eyes have been watering and my nose running all day long, even inside my home. All the weapons in my arsenal don't seem to be touching it -- a high-efficiency air filter, decongestants, antihistamines, the works, it's all just bouncing off and my nose keeps running.

And so it goes... hopefully tomorrow things will get better. Pray for rain.

-- Badtux the Sneezing Penguin

Serj Tankian - Empty Walls

I know that I have posted this before. But it is too appropriate to this weekend. Peace.

Tired kitteh

It's a hard life for kittehs here in the Casa de Penguin. Sleep on the lap or on the carpet or on the futon or on the penguin's bed or on the shelf above the computer? Eat kitty kibble, or drink water? Purr while being rubbed, or just sleep? Obviously much too exhausting for The Mighty Fang, who looked up briefly when I started taking photos, but then put his head back down and went back to sleep.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

The real threat to Israel today

Jews were 5% of the population of Palestine in 1900. Most of the Jewish population of Palestine had either been slaughtered by the Crusaders (the streets of Jerusalem ran with Jewish blood when the European Crusaders sacked Jerusalem and slaughtered every Jewish male and sent the women and children into slavery), or had converted to Islam during the long centuries of mostly-peaceful Islamic occupation. Today Jews are 80% of the population of Israel (the exact ratio is classified, that is a best guess). If there is some Arab plan to "push the Jews into the sea", it seems to have had the exact opposite effect -- i.e., it seems that it's the Arabs, not the Jews, who got "pushed into the sea" or at least to some place other than the area of the former British mandate of Palestine.

Indeed, Israel is officially at peace with its neighbors other than Syria, and Syria has its own internal problems that mean that the days of it being a threat to Israel are long ago and far away. Syria will probably sign a peace treaty with Israel within the next few years. I mean, there is literally isn't any reason for them to not do so -- their leader is an opthamologist, not a warrior, and the Syrian military is equipped to put down Islamist insurrections, not invade other nations. There is literally no external threat to the existence of Israel today.

But there is a big threat to Israel today, and it has nothing to do with Arabs. The modern-day founders of Israel were basically practical people. They were scientists and philosophers and dreamers, but they had any sort of ivory tower wishy-washiness burned away by the flames of the Holocaust. They did what they had to do to create a sanctuary state for Jews given the fact that no other nation was willing to serve as such during the run-up to Hitler's "Final Solution", and they generally were in touch with reality even if they did re-write the history books to write reality out of the founding of the State of Israel (in particular, the ethnic cleansing necessary to form the state of Israel). The problem is that they're all dead, or at best on their last legs. And the modern generation seems more interested in ideological purity than in maintaining a successful state.

In short, the real threat to Israel today is the Israelis themselves, who have fallen to bickering, intellectual masturbation, and political paralysis amidst a climate of economic collapse and the flight of much of Israel's best and brightest to other nations where they perceive a better future to be awaiting. I work with more Israelis here in the Silicon Valley today than I work with in Israel, despite the fact that I work intimately with an Israeli company that produces a fundamental component of our product. The fact of the matter is that practically every Israeli policy position and political action of the past thirty years has turned out to be a disaster. Israel's pursuit of the PLO into Lebanon set off a chain event of disaster that reverberates to this day. Yitzhak Rabin's corrupt deal with Yassir Arafat to set up a Bantustan "Palestinian Authority" in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (which were granted to Israel as part of their peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan) proved only that a two-state solution in the area of the former British mandate of Palestine is simply impossible because there just isn't enough land there to assure the security of Israel. The invasion of Lebanon, where the IDF was fought to a standstill by Hezballah's village reservists (Hezballah's active fighters were retained on the Beirut side of the Litani River which Hezballah had designated as their defensive line to stop the Israeli push, they had no idea that their village reservists would actually stop the IDF dead in their tracks -- literally, in some cases) was just another in a string of disasterous decisions made by Israeli leaders convinced that, given overwhelming military superiority and no real military threat to their nation's existence, military force could solve political problems.

Hmm, that last sentence sounds like some American politicians. As in, rhymes with "push". Or rhymes with "same"...

-- Badtux the Geopolitical Penguin

Friday, May 23, 2008

My name is Badtux and I am an addict

If I put dried veggies on top of the double-chocolate muffins, does that make them healthy?

-- Badtux the Chocoholic Penguin

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Dastardly Hezballah wants... democracy?!

The Muslim majority in Lebanon has a problem. They are *way* under-represented in Lebanon's government, under an ethnic division scheme that was put in place to end the Lebanese Civil War.

Hezballah has been politely asking that the plate of government be reshuffled slightly -- not to benefit Hezballah, but to benefit the other parties in Lebanon that represent Islamic populations. Well, not so politely. They've been protesting in the streets for over a year. Quite annoyingly so, actually, but then that's the whole point of protests. But until May 7, that's *all* they did -- protest in the streets. This is despite the fact that Hezballah is the most powerful military force within Lebanon -- I mean, c'mon. They fought Israel to a draw. You think the antiquated 1950's era armored cars and tanks and 1940's artillery of the Lebanese Army would bother them any? But the fact of the matter is that Hezballah is not interested in taking over Lebanon by force. They could do it in a heartbeat. But that would defeat their long-term goal -- which is to show that a multi-cultural, multi-faith, multi-ethnic nation can work in the Middle East. Their long-term goal is to destroy the rationale for existence of the state of Israel as a Jewish state, said rationale being that a stable multi-ethnic multi-faith state is not possible in the Middle East and thus imposing Jewish law onto non-Jews is the only way to protect the Jewish population of Israel.

Then on May 7, the coalition of Fouad Siniora that currently controls the government made its fatal mistake. They tried to attack Hezballah using force in order to destroy Hezballah's phone system so that they could replace it with a phone system that they could tap, and to remove the Sunni official who was allowing Hezballah to fly weapons into the Beirut airport. Hezballah resisted this force, and basically swept the Siniora coalition's military forces off the table. The Lebanese Army basically said "We are not going to take sides in a new civil war" and stayed off to the side, not that it would have changed things if they had taken sides -- everybody in the area knows that the Lebanese Army is hard-pressed to deal with smugglers, much less wage actual warfare against a military that could fight Israel to a standstill. Everybody gulped, and realized that if it went on this way, there would be civil war, and came to their senses.

So now the country, which has had no President since November because the various parties could not muster a majority for a new President, now has one -- the head of the Lebanese Army, the man wise enough to not start a new civil war, Michel Suleiman, a man who everybody now seems to trust to be impartial and honest. And while Hezballah did not get everything they wanted -- in particular, they did not get any more representation in the legislature for the other folks they were helping -- they did get an agreement that their coalition can veto any major actions such as attempts to seize Hezballah's phone system or radio station or dismiss civil service appointees who peeve the government by allowing Hezballah's arms shipments. Furthermore, because Hezballah used only enough force to resist government attacks upon its facilities but did not engage in all-out war against the government (i.e. they used enough force to defend themselves but no more), Hezballah came off looking no worse in the eyes of the average Lebanese citizen. So while it's not a grand victory for Hezballah, it is one more step toward their goal.

Of course, you wouldn't know any of this by reading the U.S. propaganda press. You'd need to read the foreign press to know that there's more going on than "Hezballah bad! Siniora good!". Lebanese power politics is a chess game with dozens of players each jockeying for position and advantage, far too complicated to express as black and white. Coalitions change with the wind, allegiances shift, I've been following Lebanese politics since the early 1980's and still don't pretend to have that good an idea of who's on whose side today and why and what that means. This is the area of the world that originated Western civilization. They've been playing these games for 5,000 years. Us barbarians with our barely-240-year-old nation can barely imagine how complicated things can get with 5,000 years of trying.

As for the U.S. propaganda press, even if they wished to report honestly, the Western press doesn't have a clue at all, since they fired all their Lebanon specialists as soon as the Lebanese Civil War ended in 1990. You can read good summaries from the Lebanese press, but even there you must read between the lines -- Lebanese reporters are not going to put themselves on anybody's hit-list by reporting things that major players don't want reported, and the editors of these papers are themselves participants in the game of politics that is Lebanon.

So anyhow: my point is that things in Lebanon are in their usual state (FUBAR), but are now in a slightly less level of FUBAR thanks to everybody backing away from the brink. Hezballah "won", but of course in Lebanese politics what they won was what they had to begin with (a veto power over government actions), they merely made it official rather than having to bring out guns to prove it. The situation in Lebanon isn't much different today than it was yesterday, all that's different is that everybody has stepped back and acknowledged reality. There is still a lot of hard work before the goal of the majority of the Lebanese people is reached -- a peaceful, prosperous democratic multi-cultural state capable of serving as an example to the world. Hezballah isn't going to get a free pass from the Lebanese people, and neither is the Siniora coalition. Everybody's going to have to work hard at the compromises needed to keep Lebanon from flying apart again into another civil war. But that's a reality that everybody has acknowledged now. If only our own leaders could similarly acknowledge reality...

-- Badtux the Geopolitical Penguin

Happiness is a warm cat

The kitties are taking turns on my lap. I need it after the day I had. I'll be busy entertaining relatives for the next few days and not my usual snarky self, sorry!

== Badtux the Purred-to Penguin

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ted Kennedy is dying

Ted Kennedy diagnosed with incurable brain cancer. Sad to say, the most that can be done for him is to extend his life a bit with radiation therapy and chemotherapy. And even there, he's as likely to die from the chemotherapy as from the cancer.

Let's just hope that Ted can get the drugs he needs to go peacefully. That's not a given anymore, because the Department of inJustice has been prosecuting doctors who prescribe "too much" pain killers to terminally ill patients. Can't let a dying man get addicted to morphine, after all. Why, if a dying man got addicted to morphine, he might... die?!

- Badtux the Healthcare Penguin

Thundercats are go!

The boys woke me up thirty minutes early by chasing each other around the apartment. When a 14 pound cat and an 18 pound cat are chasing each other around, they make the friggin' floor shake.

Oh well, I needed to get up anyhow. Time for a big pot of green tea...

-- Badtux the half-awake Penguin

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A thought on gay marriage

As far as gay marriage is concerned, no gay ever married me and ever will, so I don't care. It's not any of my business what people do as long as they ain't doin' it to me or mine. If two consenting adults (not children, not dogs, not box turtles, none of which are capable of consent) want a marriage license for whatever reason, well, that's their business, not mine, whether they're male, female, bisexual, metrosexual, homosexual, heterosexual, black, white, yellow, orange, or friggin' Martians from outer space. There's all sorts of folks out there, and they ain't hurtin' me one bit doing whatever they're doing in the privacy of their own bedroom, living room, in a chair, on the table, on the floor, on a towel by the door, on the sofa or on the kitchen counter, so why should I care?

But I guess my tagline applies here. There's some bitter closetted probably gay folks who just cannot stand the fact that there's some other people in this world having fun. Gah! The hypocrisy of the party of Larry Craig and Jeff Gannon lecturing folks on how immoral gay sex is, it burns, it burns!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Monday, May 19, 2008

The beast, the beauty, and the wee eee

This is the Beast (the Dell desktop to the left, which nowdays just sits there silently chuckling away as a Linux server and VPN launch point), the Beauty (the elegant and refined Macbook, hooked up to the Dell monitor via the DVI input while the Beast is hooked up to it via the XVGA input), and the wee little Asus Eee PC 900 20G, which uses an ultra-low-voltage Celeron 900 processor (Dotham) and 20gb of flash memory (i.e., no hard drive to get cratered by bouncing around on a motorcycle). The monitor is on top of the Art of Computer Programming in order to get it above the line in my bifocals -- otherwise I get driven nuts by that. Luckily the monitor is big enough so that I can shove it far enough away to somewhat focus on it with the top part of my bifocals. One of these days I need to get some "computer glasses" (single-power glasses halfway between reading strength and far-sight strength). Sigh.

Nope, no political or news post today. Too busy playing with my wee Eee.

-- Badtux the Geeky Penguin

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Pink Tongue of EEE!!!

After investigating the tiny little new Asus eee PC 20g (called that because it has 20 gigabytes of internal solid state storage, thus making it suitable for long distance motorcycle touring, unlike a conventional laptop whose hard drive would get cratered by that kind of treatment), The Mighty Fang decides to exercise his amazingly long and prehensile Pink Tongue of Mass Grooming. After finishing his own grooming, he then headed over to the futon and started grooming Mencken. Mencken opened one eye, thought better of exerting himself to run off the pest, and closed the eye and went back to sleep.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Meow! Meow! Meow!

A spider was walking across the ceiling. The Mighty Fang and Mencken were on the case -- TMF a bit more energetically than Mencken. TMF was also complaining loudly, demanding that I go fetch the spider down for him. But penguins can't fly, so that wasn't happenin'!

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Government is the problem?

Third day in a row of record heat here in Santa Clara. My air conditioning has been making my electric meter spin madly. I pity those of you who don't have cheap reliable government-provided electricity but instead must purchase that expensive unreliable private enterprise provided electricity for twice the price (or for those who can't purchase private enterprise provided electricity for any price and must rely on expensive diesel generated electricity). I might go walking down the street and take a few photos of that shiny glistening Santa Clara Muncipal Utilities power substation just so I can play them back as a slideshow on the background of my Macbook while smiling at the people who say "government is the problem, not the solution!" while I pay half as much for my power as they do thanks to the people of the City of Santa Clara gathering together and building their own power plants and power substations for themselves (that whole WE THE PEOPLE thingy).

When folks elsewhere are having blackouts, we have reliable electricity flowing to our wall outlets. When folks elsewhere are being reamed by private utilities, we pay half the price. AND THAT IS TRUE EVERYWHERE THAT MUNCIPAL UTILITIES PROVIDE ELECTRICITY! And it's not because Santa Clara Municipal Utilities is subsidized by taxes. Indeed, the City of Santa Clara has lower taxes than all the surrounding cities because of "in lieu of taxes" revenues from the electrical utility. It's simply that for necessities that we cannot easily live without such as electrical utilities, government is more responsive to the people than private enterprises are. Once a private enterprise has obtained monopoly status, it has no incentive to economize, reduce headcount, and increase its reliability. But for the City of Santa Clara, if the electrical utility becomes unreliable, we would start clogging our city councilors' phone lines with complaints -- and WE KNOW WHERE THEY LIVE. They aren't anonymous unelected people in some giant corporate tower thousands of miles away. They live HERE, and we voted them into office, and if they don't serve us, we can kick them out and elect city councilors who will, and if worse came to worse and dozens of people were dying from the heat because of their incompetence, we could get together with our baseball bats and pitchforks and run them out of town with their homes burning behind them.

Now, folks say that private enterprise always works better than government, and that's why we should not allow government to provide health insurance. To them all I have to say is this: Muncipal power companies, bitches. When you idiot ideologues were sweltering in the dark during the rolling blackouts in 2000, we few cities in California who own our own power companies were nice and cool. If Medicare For All operates with even HALF of the efficiency of Santa Clara Muncipal Utilities, it would still be TWICE as efficient as private insurance companies are at providing health care funding. And there's no reason to believe that Medicare For All would be any less efficient than Santa Clara Municipal Utilities.

So you guys who say private enterprise is always better than government can just go take out a third mortgage on your homes to pay for your electrical bills during this heat wave. I, on the other hand, shall pay for it with the contents of my change jar. Hasta la vista, baybee! And may someday we get government-provided health insurance as reliable as government-provided power. Government of the people, by the people, for the people. We The People, fuck yeah!

-- Badtux the Cool Penguin.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Dear Diary

  • Python. WONDERFUL language. It's *SANE*. Everything is an object. Not a pseudo-object hash "blessed" to be an object. Not syntactic sugar on top of a "C" struct with a jump table appended to an end. A by-god *object*. A class? It's an object, so you can assign it to a variable to use as instantiators for other objects. A subroutine? It's an object. Referencing an object is as simple as naming it. Dereferencing an executable object (a class or function) is as simple as adding parentheses with its arguments to the end. GAH! THE SANITY! IT OVERJOYS! IT OVERJOYS!
  • Comcast. I finally got around to gathering up all the info needed to kick the virus-riddled computers off my building's subnet, including fragments of a tcpdump showing their port scanning activities and IP addresses, and forwarded it up the chain. They acted *quick*. Said computers are now gone (or fixed), and my Internet works *great*. Yay!
  • Slider's. Small hole-in-the-wall burger place on San Carlos street in San Jose. *Great* burgers. *BIG* burgers (sorry, they don't sell sliders -- good riddance, I say). And they have a fixin's bar so you can add whatever toppings you want -- or not. I ate their smallest burger there tonight (I was in the neighborhood looking at apartments as part of my yearly penguin iceberg migration, though I have decided to migrate back to my current iceberg dock). I am *stuffed*. And penguins are big eaters, lemme tell ya. I can't figure out why this place wasn't packed on a Friday night. Huh.
Gotta go, time to watch Monty Python The Life of Brian, part of which is a documentary about the progressive movement in the United States.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

How to make friends and influence people

just toss'em into jail for the "crime" of visiting America. With no recourse to lawyer, no ability to call your embassy... yeah, this sure the fuck helps tourism, eh?

Since the New York Times will disappear it behind their paywall any time now, here's the bottom line: Domenico Salerno, an Italian citizen, arrived at Washington Dulles Airport to visit his girlfriend. And after several hours of being interrogated, when he told them he wanted to talk to the Italian embassy, an ICE officer instead made a bogus charge that Salerno was an "asylum seeker" and threw him into the gulag for asylum seekers, where he was held without charges, without recourse to a lawyer, without any contact to the outside world until his girlfriend with the help of Senator John Warner and two former immigration officials managed to find out where he was being held. “Now an innocent European, who has never broken any laws, committed any crimes, or overstayed his visa, is being held in a county jail,” his girlfriend, Caitlan Cooper wrote in an e-mail message to The New York Times last Wednesday, prompting a reporter’s inquiries. After the New York Times started asking immigration officials what was going on, higher-ups in Washington *finally* overruled the ICE gestapo agent who had interned Salerno into the ICE gulag for the crime of demanding to speak with the Italian embassy and got him on a plane back to Rome.

This is Soviet America today, people. So if you're not an American citizen, here is my advice to you: STAY AWAY. Flying into the United States today is like flying into a third world dictatorship. You will have armed goons abusing you, groping you, and humilating you. You may be thrown into prison at any time, without any reason, and without any recourse unless you have well-connected friends who can bring a U.S. Senator and the New York Times to bear on your case. I am ashamed for the nation that I was born in, which has given up its freedoms because it has become a nation of thugs and cowards and sometimes both at once. For shame, America. For shame. Except America and Americans have no shame anymore. Welcome to Soviet America, citizen! I love Big Brother. Don't you love Big Brother too? Let us all be good Sovoks and behave in a government-approved manner and dissent in a government-approved fashion and be good government-approved consumers, da!

-- Badtux the Sovok Penguin

Obama takes on McCain/Bush

Bush and McCain. McCain and Bush. Yeppers, he's a hangin' that anchor on McCain's butt BIG-time.

More template tweaks

I made the template a little wider so the text wasn't so scrunched up on the middle. Let me know if it's too wide for you.

-- Badtux the Blogging Penguin

Health care: How do we pay for it?

Some folks say, "why are we talking about health insurance rather than health care?" The problem is simple: we have to pay for health care somehow. It isn't free. It doesn't grow on trees. Someone has to pay for it.

The problem is that health care currently takes 15% of the U.S. GDP, but sick people do not make 15% of the U.S. GDP. So requiring sick people to pay the full costs of health care is impossible -- you cannot pour ten gallons of dollar bills out of a five-gallon bucket. Thus health insurance -- paying the costs of the health care system today, so that it is available to you when you get sick tomorrow.

The problem with health insurance is that the current situation, where we have three different health insurance systems -- one for those who qualify for government insurance (Medicare, Medicaid, VA, etc.), one for those who qualify for private insurance, and one (or rather lack of one) for those who are uninsured -- is not working. The government insurance programs account for 50% of the U.S. health care spending but are being cut back to the point where doctors and hospitals are refusing to see those patients, and because only poor people (for the most part) qualify for those programs (other than Medicare), the people getting these services don't have sufficient political clout to assure sufficient funding.

The problem with the private insurance part of the equation is that private health insurance is becoming unavailable for increasing numbers of Americans, both because of cost and because insurance companies simply won't write insurance for large groups of people. Insurance companies today are in a death spiral of increasing costs and decreasing participation. To counter that, they keep kicking sick or potentially sick people out. If you forbid them from doing so, they must raise their rates even more, and even more people become uninsured.

Finally, there are the uninsured. First of all, what little health care the uninsured get in emergency rooms is generally being paid for by the insured, causing the price of private health insurance to go up, causing more uninsured, causing the health insurance death spiral to become even worse. And generally if someone who is uninsured becomes seriously ill, he or she is dead. Hospitals and doctors will not provide surgical care for those who require, e.g., a kidney transplant in order to live, and the uninsured have no way to pay for long term care such as kidney dialysis. Even insulin for diabetes, hardly the most high-tech or deadly of illnesses, is hard to come by for the uninsured, one lady of my acquaintance had to make the rounds of various charities every month to round up enough insulin to survive another month, which became even more difficult once she lost her eyesight due to the disease not being properly managed due to lack of consistent monitoring by a medical professional. The problem is that we still provide acute care in emergency rooms -- i.e., we keep them from dying -- but we don't provide long term care to keep the uninsured healthy. This has two problems. First one is social -- people do not willingly accept a death penalty for something not under their control, and the result is social unrest and disorder. The second is that, by providing a reservoir of disease carriers in the population and then providing just enough care to kick back a disease but not cure it, we're causing the creation of drug-resistant diseases that soon enough will start killing the insured as well as the uninsured.

In the end, the only way to fund health care in a way that guarantees that some level of health care will always be available as needed is if everybody pays. Everybody benefits from health care, after all, even those who are currently well will become sick at some point in the future and will require it. We can call it a "health care tax", a "Medicare payroll deduction", or an "insurance fee" (if we adopt a Swiss-style mandate system), but whatever we call it, everybody benefits from having health care available to them when they need it, so everybody should pay. Whether it is a Medicare For All scheme paid for via an increase of the Medicare payroll tax that guarantees that all Americans can participate in Medicare, or whether it is a "don't call it a health care tax" mandate that all Americans purchase health insurance (and regulation of said health insurers to make sure that they are paying for the care they're supposed to pay for), any insurance scheme that does not require all people to pay into the funding pool ends up with a lot of dead people, in the end. That's just how the economics works out -- as we're finding out, slowly but surely. This is simple math in the end, like 1+1. And 1+1 always equals 2 no matter how much we'd like it to be 3, or 5, or something else entirely. The answer always comes out the same -- unless everybody pays, a bunch of people end up dying.

-- Badtux the Health Care Penguin

This is "freedom" in America

If you're on your own land, doing your own thing, government can demolish your home and steal your land, put you in jail for objecting to it, and then charge you tens of thousands of dollars for what they've done to you.

I've had dealings with folks like Theron Saluteen who live like that. Generally they have problems that keep them from participating in society as a whole, and just want to be left alone. They harm nobody, they aren't out there robbing or killing or raping anything, they're just doing their own thing. They're not pretty, but so what.

But none of that matters in Soviet America, where if you are not a proper little Sovak consumer who behaves the way Party ideology says you must behave, why, ve haff ways of dealing with zat, da? Like bulldozing your home, hauling you away to jail, and charging you $40,000 for the privilege of having your home destroyed.

So it goes, in Soviet America, where we pretend we are free -- as long as we behave in government-approved manner at all times.

-- Badtux the Sovok Penguin

If wishes were ponies

Hundreds, and probably over a thousand innocent Iraqi civilians have been killed by U.S. troops running checkpoints. And what is the attitude of the U.S. high command here?

"If these fucking Hajjis learned to drive, this shit wouldn't happen."

That wasn't a random cracker off the street. That was a full bird colonel, Col. William Rochelle, commander of an entire infantry brigade of 5,000 men.

So what why do we have these checkpoints, anyhow? It's not because they're somehow critical to defeating the Iraqi insurgency. We can't defeat an insurgency in a foreign and alien land using young soldiers who don't know the language and don't know the culture who are led by leaders who believe the answer to bad driving in the Middle East is to make them all into clones of Kansas City drivers. The answer that apologists for our occupation of Iraq make is this:

"If we didn't have checkpoints, thousands more Iraqis would die from suicide bombers."

And if wishes were ponies, we'd have a pony in every young girl's house!

Given that the checkpoints are a) demonstrably not stopping car bombers (and you better believe that if a checkpoint *ever* caught a carbomber, General Petroleum would call a press conference and announced that it was made with Iranian bombs and President Darth Cheney would immediately order airstrikes against Iran), and b) demonstrably have killed hundreds innocent Iraqis, I prefer to go with what can be seen and observed, rather than hypotheticals like "if wishes were ponies we'd have ponies in all young girls' bedrooms" or "if checkpoints didn't exist we'd have thousands more dead from car bombs." Sorry. It's that whole "reality" habit that I just can't kick no matter how much delusional thinking I'm exposed to -- I mean, who should I believe, your hypotheticals or my own two eyeballs?!

As for the notion that COIN ("counter-insurgency") makes any sense for the U.S. Army in the first place, the fact remains that we are an occupier in a foreign and alien land that we don't understand, and thus any sort of anti-insurgency operations conducted by our own military are, by definition, futile. Insurgencies are defeated via counterintelligence, not via military force. Even Joseph Stalin understood that one -- after the Red Army failed utterly to put down the Ukrainian insurgency after WWII, Stalin pulled them out and sent in the NKVD secret police and special forces, who then infiltrated the insurgency until if three insurgents met, two were probably NKVD moles. That strategy terminated the insurgency within four years. And note that the Red Army had the advantage that Ukrainians all knew and understood Russian due to hundreds of years of Russian rule, and due to the hundreds of years of Russian rule had basically the same culture as the Ukrainians -- neither of which applies to our Iraq adventure, where most Iraqis do not understand English and the average American has no more knowledge of Iraqi culture than he has of Martian culture.

Now, that said, there *is* a way to win against an insurgency using conventional military forces. It is the way that the British used against the Boer in the Boer War, or that the U.S. used against the Filipinos in the Filipino-American War. It is best described by Joseph Stalin, once again: "No people, no problem." I.e., genocide. Kill all military age young men, gather up all the women and children into concentration camps, and voila. Of course, then the women and children are dependent upon the logistical tail of your army for their food, water, housing, and clothing, which is most definitely not up to the task of providing these necessities for 20,000,000 people, so after a few months you end up with 15,000,000 corpses, but hey, what's a few million dead wogs, wot? We killed about a million Filipinos out of a population of five million on Luzon Island, mostly via starvation and disease in the concentration camps, but hey, we won, and that's all that matters, what's a little genocide amongst friends anyhow, right? Right?

So yeah, we could win in Iraq via military force -- if we wanted to surpass Nazi Germany as the biggest committer of genocide in world history. Is that what you want? If so... well, there's not much I need to say about that, hmm?

-- Badtux the War Penguin

OMG, look at those steaks!

The Mighty Fang and Mencken are fascinated, fascinated I say, by the downstairs neighbors as they prepare to grill some steaks on their outdoor grill. At least they aren't drooling on the neighbors... starving to death is not their problem.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Thursday, May 15, 2008

OMG The Gay Agenda defeats Jebusman!

Yes, folks, that mighty supervillain The Gay Agenda (see left) has prevailed over the forces of Jebus and soon will achieve his villainous goal of (gasp) EQUAL RIGHTS FOR GAY PEOPLE (OMG! The horror! The horror I say!). First, the California Supreme Court says the “right to form a family relationship” applied to all Californians regardless of sexuality. Then that treasonous Governator sez, I respect the Court’s decision and as Governor, I will uphold its ruling. Also, as I have said in the past, I will not support an amendment to the constitution that would overturn this state Supreme Court ruling (Governator! *BAD* Republican! Bad! Bad!). And then to top it all off, a fine patriotic American principal at Ponce de Leon High School in Florida was sued because, well:

Ponce de Leon High School's principal David Davis admitted under oath that he had banned students from wearing any clothing or symbols supporting equal rights for gay people. Davis also testified that he believed rainbows were "sexually suggestive" and would make students unable to study because they'd be picturing gay sex acts in their mind.
This fine upstanding upholder of Jebusland morality lost, and now must allow students to wear rainbow clothing and such in support of (gasp) equal rights for gay people (the horror! Oh the horror!).

But never fear, our brave custodian of the moral compass of America, Senator John "Box Turtle", Cornyn, has the answer for preventing man-on-box-turtle marriages (which are an inevitible, inevitable I say, result of allowing gay marriage). To whit, his already-rejected amendment to the U.S. Constitution. But now that 40 million Americans are now victims of that vile Gay Agenda who wants (gasp) equal rights for all Americans (horror!), he feels confident that he can, he can I say, get his amendment passed and thereby keep those niggers faggots in their place. And if that doesn't work, why, he can dig up Bull Connor's body and re-animate it to go whup on some nigger faggot ass, eh? I mean, how dare those horrible darkies faggots think they should have the same rights as good upstanding white heterosexual Americans and Republicans! (Err, given the number of Republicans found boffing folks of the same sex in public restrooms and elsewhere recently, 'Republicans' has to be put separately in that statement, y'know?!).

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Shedding season

It has been brought to my attention that, for some cat owners, this is "shedding season". I am stumped as to what that means. Does that have something to do with building sheds?

There has been an insinuation that "shedding season" may instead have something to do with cats shedding their fur coats. I categorically reject that insinuation. I vacuum my apartment without fail every week. And every week, I vacuum up a full vacuum cleaner canister of cat fur, regardless of time of year. It is my belief that The Mighty Fang and Mencken, if there were a cat Olympics, would win at least a bronze in the Shorthair Shedding category. But season? Bwhahah! All year long is shedding season for these guys!

-- Badtux the Furry Penguin (but it's not MY fur!)

Why isn't he in jail?

Spamford Wallace hit with yet *another* judgement for spamming.

As if he cares. Wherever he is, he is "judgement-proof" -- no fixed assets that can be attached, all monies funneled out into places where the law can't touch them.

In this case, Spamford spammed porn links to minors. He should be in jail for that. But I supposed the Department of inJustice is too busy going after sick people to worry about little things like that...

So if anybody knows where Spamford Wallace is, please forward that information to MySpace's lawyers. And if anybody's kid got a MySpace spam from Spamford with a link to a porno site, please file a complaint with the Department of inJustice. Because this is one SOB who deserves a little inJustice, preferably with a 300 pound cell-mate named "Bubba" who loves to repeat, "Squeal like a pig!".

-- Badtux the Much-spammed Penguin

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Dear Leader feels their pain

As I mentioned in my previous post, there are over 600,000 soldiers and Marines back from Iraq and Vietnam who need help. But never fear, Dear Leader feels their pain. To honor the sacrifice of US soldiers and Marines killed, maimed, blinded, disembowelled, decapitated, castrated, rendered insane, and otherwise shattered by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is he going to fight for full funding for the VA? For more money for treating PTSD and better processing of disability payments for people whose brains were forever ruined by being rattled around in their skulls like a buncha marbles in a beach ball?

Uh, no. He is going to... err... ah... give up golf.

And penguins weep :-(.

-- Badtux the Unsnarky Penguin

625,000 American casualties in Iraq

Folks say "well, sure, the Iraq war has been hard on Iraqis, but at least there aren't hundreds of thousands of American dead." Well, true enough. Modern body armor will keep our soldiers from dying. But 620,000 soldiers and Marines -- or roughly 1/3rd of those deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan -- come back and end up either disabled or suffering PTSD. To quote a report on the topic:

According to an April 2008 study by the Rand Corporation, 300,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans currently suffer from post traumatic stress disorder or major depression. Another 320,000 suffer from traumatic brain injury, physical brain damage. A majority are not receiving help from the Pentagon and VA system which are more concerned with concealing unpleasant facts than they are with providing care.

And from the Bush Administration, all you hear is that adequate VA care for these disabled is "pork", thus why they're fighting the latest war funding act which calls for full funding for the VA as well as full funding of the GI Bill to pay for college for veterans. They call this "pork". And say we can't afford this -- the minimum that we owe to veterans for sending them into harm's way in a useless war. For shame, George W. Bush and Republicans. For shame. Why do you hate our veterans so much? Is it because they're heros, and you're just a draft dodging dry drunk whose daddy's friends bought you the Presidency but you will always, forever and ever, be a failure? Or is it just that you're an evil mean-spirited dry drunk? I suppose we'll never know...

-- Badtux the Unsnarky Penguin

Monday, May 12, 2008

Reefer madness

So the federal Department of Scaring The Crap Out Of People About Drugs Big Pharma Can't Patent issues warnings about how that reefer stuff can cause you to, like, get depressed and psychotic and stuff. Uhm, no. That's not what the research said. The research said there was correlation, not causation. In other words, the research says that folks with mental illnesses tend to self-medicate with marijuana, not that the marijuana causes the mental illnesses. Now, marijuana obviously doesn't help depression, given that the patients surveyed were still depressed after they did their weed fix, thus marijuana use isn't the best route to take if you're depressed. But let's get real. This shit about "OMG! ALL YOUS HAIRS GONNA FALLS OUT AND YOUS GONNA TURN INTO A PSYCO IF YOU SMOKE POT!" just makes people laugh because of its sheer ridiculousnes. Reefer madness, indeed -- on the part of the government's Department of Warring Against Drugs Big Pharma Can't Patent anyhow.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Movies that could not be made today

I'm thinking about a list. There are so many great movies I remember from my young penguinhood that could not be made today. For example, the original Bad News Bears with Walter Matthau, which had him as a hard drinking hard smoking hard swearing washed up old drunk corrupting a buncha little kids. The morality police would have a hissy fit. Which is why the remake of the Bad News Bears totally sucked, all the vinegar got sucked out of it and left nothing but treacle.

Another one is the movie I just watched from NetFlix -- a 14 year old Jodie Foster in The Little Girl who Lives Down the Lane. I had seen this on television many, many years ago and remembered a brilliant performance by Jodie Foster as the lead character. I was probably at an age back then when a crush on Jodie Foster wouldn't have made me the equivalent of the Martin Sheen character in the film, except she was so obviously out of my league intellectually and experience-wise (frankly she scared the penguin poop outta me) that it wouldn't have even occurred to me. Out of curiousity I added it to my queue to see how it held up as an adult. If anything, it was even more creepy and impressive. There are some places where you have to suspend disbelief, but Jodie's acting at age 14 was as impressive as I remembered. Martin Sheen is appropriately sleazy as the pedophile, and the love story was tastefully done (and because this is the European version, we got to see Jodie's older sister's backside, something that the television version of course cut out). But it couldn't be made today. First, there's no explicit blood and violence. A psychological thriller today has to have blood and violence. This is a psychological thriller, not a slasher flick, and moves more like a character-driven play than an action flick. Secondly, the notion of a girl surviving by herself would not be allowed. And the notion of a thirteen year old girl as a murderer would similarly not be allowed, 13 year old girls are required to be innocents in today's movies. And the notion of a thirteen year old and a sixteen or seventeen year old being lovers would not be allowed, a girl of that age in movies today must be virginal, they're not allowed to have sex until they're juniors or seniors in high school (sixteen or seventeen). The studios would take one look at the script, say "This would get us protests from all the tighty righties under the sun", and axe it.

So what's your list of films that would never be allowed to be made today? (And the fact that we can even make such lists says more about America today than I care to think about)...

-- Badtux the Film Penguin

Sunday, May 11, 2008


The Mighty Catloaf and Mencken chillin' on the futon. Yeah, I finally took that natty old quilt off the futon and sent it to its great reward in the trashbin down the driveway (it had pieces of cloth pulling out and was losing its stuffing thanks to all the wear and tear of the cats using it as their personal playtoy).

And yeah, I know this is the third cat pic I've posted in the past three days. It's my birthday and I'll cat blog if I want to. So there :P.

-- Badtux the Cat-blogging Penguin

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

And what has happened in a year? Nothing. I am one year fatter. One year older. One year closer to the day when I will be thrown out on the street like a used-up tool, discarded, left to die in the gutter because my owners no longer have any use for me. One more year of watching this nation, which once had a dream regardless of its many, many flaws, slip towards nightmare and collapse, dreams dead or twisted into lies that terrify in the night. And the world slowly winds down as resources are exhausted and life becomes harder every year, until in the end humanity eats itself. Will there be mankind in the end? Perhaps. Perhaps. A few hunter-gatherers living in the poisoned ruins of civilization, dodging the dead zones where radioactivity renders the land unfit for life or poisons in the waters kill anybody who drinks from them. And maybe some small child shall wander and come to the ruins of a building and ask his father, "What is this, daddy?" and his father shall only be able to shake his head and say "Once upon a time we were a better people."

Or maybe it will be only cockroaches in a poisoned blasted land, until some billions of years hence, the burning-out Sun expands and turns the burned out husk of the Earth into vapor.

Or maybe only dust, on a radioactive and poisonous planet incapable of life. In the end it really does not matter, because I will be dead. I have no delusions about that. And once you're dead, that's it. Game over. Gone to dust, like every other animal when it dies. And a hundred years from now, no one will remember my name, or care. That is reality, cold and harsh and implacable, a reality that many flee from and hide behind lies to avoid facing. But so it goes. Penguins aren't much on the whole lying thing. Not many lies on an ice floe in the South Pacific, just sun, and wind, and reality.

-- Badtux the Gloomy Penguin

Apple aluminum keyboard and Ubuntu Linux

I finally picked up a DVM switch to switch my DVI widescreen monitor between my Macbook and my Ubuntu Linux server. It's a Belkin switch with two cables and a little remote clicky button so that you don't need a big bulky switchbox on your desk, it hides down below by your server.

There is only one problem: my beautiful little slimline Apple aluminum keyboard didn't work! I couldn't use alt-F3 to get to screen 3, and none of my letters typed right! Indeed, I got some numbers out of them, but the rest... nada.

A bit of investigation on the Ubuntu forums found the problem. It appears that the Linux kernel included with Ubuntu 8.04 "Hardy Heron" misinterprets the thin aluminum keyboard as an Apple iBook keyboard. Well, my BIOS is set to default to turn the numlock selection on upon system boot so that the number pad works on a regular PC keyboard. But iBooks apparently map the number pad to the main keyboard, since they don't have a number pad (duh!).

Solution: Hit what is the "NumLock" function key on an iBook (F6) *twice* to kick the keyboard out of "iBook keypad mode", and your keyboard then works properly under Ubuntu "Hardy". Except for the function keys. To make the function keys work, you must hold down the Fn key (below F13). Otherwise you get the "special" Apple functions. So to switch to console #1, I hold down control-option-fn-F1 and voila, I'm at the CLI console #1. And so forth and so on.

-- Badtux the Geek Penguin

House cleaning

My little Hoover Steam-Vac does a better job of cleaning carpets than it has any right to do, given its small size. Things I've found out: Pre-treat any stains you want gone. Go over any stained areas you want picked up multiple times. Go over main traffic areas several times. Do one room at a time because else you will drive yourself crazy -- it takes about four tanks of water in its tiny little reservoir to do a room, two tanks with soap, two tanks for rinse. Once this is all done, the carpet is pretty much as clean as you can get it with a little machine, you'll need a big truck-borne machine to do any better (i.e., hire a professional for $100+).

Shower doors suck penguin penises. I'm thinking about taking them off and storing them, and putting a shower curtain up there instead. All they do is require constant cleaning (to get the soap scum and hard water spots off of them) and the lower track collects mold and mildew.

Next up: Cleaning out the garage. Wish me luck. And then once all that's done, I'll come back and de-clutter -- get rid of things I don't need or at least move them out to storage. And then I'll be ready to face the next year of my life with a clean nest atop my iceberg...

-- Badtux the Spring Cleaning Penguin

Holy.. brilliant!

Amazon finally got it to me. Best way I can describe it is "creepy industrial electronica shoe-gazer dance emo". By which I'm talking about the new Portishead album, Third.

Now, I won't lie to you. This isn't going to be everybody's cup of tea. There is a lot going on here, and if you prefer your music to be simple and straight-forward, it will seem like an impenetrable mush to you. But if you love playing with sounds, this is a must-hear.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Yay kittypile!

Yay! It's a happy Caturday kitty pile!

-- Badtux the Purring Penguin

Friday, May 09, 2008

Why is Hillary still in the race?

Someone predicted, "She is in the race until the convention, in case Obama somehow becomes indisposed."

Indisposed? INDISPOSED?! Like Bobby Kennedy became "indisposed"? I'm starting to get a chill down my back here, folks. The right wingers have always been rattling their sabres about how the Clintons were murderers and stuff (Vince Foster, anybody?). But given that the only way Hillary can win now is if Obama dies... and she isn't dropping out... what does that say?

I wish I hadn't thought that :-(.

-- Badtux the "Oh shit" Penguin

Vat is this "mouse" thing?

Mencken investigates this bizarre catnip-smelling thing that was being pulled in front him him via a thread. After sniffing it a couple of times, he dropped it and walked off, curiousity satisfied. Mencken isn't exactly the playing type. Actually, he hates pretty much everybody and everything. Well, except when he wants his tummy rubbed, in which case he hops on my lap and rolls over and lolls ridiculously, dignity forgotten in his ecstasy at getting his full body massage. But hey, a curmudgeon can't be a curmudgeon *all* the time, right?

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

DHS: Defending America from tourists

Dear Department of Vaterland Security: you're supposed to be protecting us from *terrorists*, not *tourists*. Note to DHS staffers. The second letter in "tourists" is an *o*, not an *e*, and "tourist" only has one "r". I realize that since you're a buncha bucktooth foulmouth backwoods cretins you pronounce "terrorist" the same way as "tourist", but believe me, they're not the same thing. "Terrorists" bring bombs. "Tourists" bring money. Money good. Bombs bad. See? Terrorist bring bomb, terrorist bad. Tourist bring money, tourist good. Got it? Alrighty, then!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

The KKKandidate

Hot on the heels of the discovery that the border vigilantes talking about how we need to kill all the Mexicans trying to cross the border happen to associate with neo-Nazis, we now have the KKKandidate. Who says we should vote for her because of her support from, quote, "working, hard-working Americans, white Americans". As vs. those shifty lazy niggers and spics, presumably.

No, not talking about David Duke's wife. Talking about, sadly, Hillary Clinton. Who has, like, just totally jumped the shark.

Hillary, give it up. You've lost whatever dignity you ever had, it's time to go before you become a total joke. Sorry, that's just how it is :-(.

-- Badtux the Appalled Penguin

It's spelled Crawford, God

Look, God. I didn't ask for much. Just a minor smiting or two of our overgrown man-child who serves as President in order to chasten his smirking dry-drunk ass a little bit. Maybe a sinkhole to swallow his pig farm in Crawford while he's not there, maybe one of his Air Force One jets catch on fire while he's not in it, maybe one of his slut daughters get photographed doing a little naked girl-on-girl action at a tittie bar, that kinda thing, y'know?

But God, please note that Crawford is spelled C R A W F O R D, *not* Daisetta. You missed, you silly goofball! Please, please, PLEASE get your aim right next time, okay? Because Texas's biggest asshole really deserves Texas's biggest sinkhole, y'know?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Ubuntu Hardy up and going

Yeppers, I now have the 64-bit version of the latest Ubuntu Linux up and going. It's now serving data and print services to my Macbook via netatalk and ipp. Setting up print sharing was easy -- just use the standard printer configuration tool that is in the System menu. Setting up netatalk was a PITA because the standard netatalk configuration doesn't support SSL passwords and the latest MacOS Leopard will no longer do plaintext passwords. In addition, by default avahi isn't set up to advertise Apple shares via Bonjour, so the Linux server didn't appear in the left network servers area of the Mac Finder. So I followed the directions here to re-compile a netatalk with SSL support and enable Apple share advertising via avahi.

So why use a Linux box rather than hook a big external hard drive up to my Apple Airport Extreme? Basically, two reasons: Performance, and redundancy. My Linux box is a big dual-core 64-bit server-class box with a ton of memory and big server-class SATA drives RAID'ed together. So I get both high performance, and high data availability out of it -- if a drive dies, my data doesn't. That doesn't apply to a something hooked to the Airport Extreme. My Linux box also has big fans that whoosh lots of air through it, so it never overheats. That, alas, is not the case with the Apple Airport Extreme, which has no fan at all and thus overheats if you breathe hard on it.

The downside, of course, is that it's a big-ass box and uses a ton of power (mostly because I have a couple terabytes of hard drive space in the thing). I probably ought to shut it down when I'm not using it, and just power it up when I'm at home. But that would require that I keep a monitor and keyboard connected to it, which isn't usually the case -- usually it just sits under my desk quietly purring to itself handling file and print requests. With the last Linux install I had on it (Ubuntu 6.06), it just sat under there chuckling away for a full *year* without any reboots or any downtime at all. Can't beat that!

-- Badtux the Geeky Penguin


What good does it do to whack TorrentSpy for $111 million when a) the company isn't in the United States to begin with, and thus b) the chances of getting any money from it are... bwahahahah!

Oh well, the MPAA never had any sense to begin with. They're clinging to an obsolete business model for dear life. Though at least they have the decency to sell entire 90+ minute movies for $15 or less, unlike the record companies, who have been trying to rip people off for 45 minutes of music for $15 or more for the past twenty years.

-- Badtux the Movie-renting Penguin

Well, well, well

Border vigilantes whining about the darkie menace and how we must kill all the darkies who want to enter America in order to keep them from contaminating our nation's vital bodily fluids have... neo-Nazi connections.

Color this penguin black, white, yellow, and unsurprised.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Could a politician who doesn't lie ever get elected?

My answer: I doubt it.

Problem is, there's plenty of proof that most Americans want lies. Else they wouldn't believe in invisible sky demons and invisible spirits, which the majority of Americans do believe in, because believing in these things gives them comfort that they're more than just jumped-up monkeys with bad fur and delusions of grandeur, and that there's more to their pathetic lives of quiet desperation than eating, drinking, sleeping, fucking, pissing, shitting, and fighting. Reality of course is that the human race is monkeys with bad fur and delusions of grandeur, and all this "God" crap is just lies invented and willfully grasped by the majority of people in order to give their pathetic useless monkey selves "meaning" other than the fact that some day they, too, shall be worm food. But that truth is harsh and humbling, and the politician who grasps that the people want lies will always come in ahead of the politician who believes that the people want truth. Because we don't want truth. Truth is cold and harsh and merciless, while lies are warm and comforting and give our lives meaning.

Thus lies. The problem with the Bush administration is that they forgot one slight problem with lies -- when you lie, you should lie about things that cannot be easily verified. Like, for example, if you're going to lie about some sky demon that nukes cities and strikes down the first-born of an entire nation, make him an invisible sky demon who lives far, far away in an invisible place that nobody can get to without dying. That way nobody can verify your information (well, not in a way that matters, anyhow :-). Same deal goes with stuff like "trickle-down economics". Sure, it's a lie. But it's a lie that requires advanced statistics to prove is a lie, and it's always possible to say "well, it just hasn't trickled down yet, but it will, it will!" Thing is, the Busheviks have been telling so many lies about things so obviously not true -- "Saddam has WMD!" "Mission Accomplished!" "The Surge is Working!" -- that people are refusing to listen to the lies anymore. While we monkeys do love our lies, we like our lies to not be so obviously lies, Mr. Bush! GAH!

-- Badtux the Lie Penguin

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Thoughts on process

There's two lines of thought when it comes to engineering process. The first one says that all aspects of a computer program should be extensively defined and documented prior to sitting down and writing the first line of code. The second one says that customer needs will change over the course of the lifetime of a program, so instead you should focus on building a general infrastructure that can be easily modified to match customer requirements over time, rather than on defining exactly what the program is going to do and how it's going to do it.

What I'm finding is that, as my team's experience builds up, I need to do less and less of the "extensive definition and documentation" bit. Instead, we do high level functional and architectural discussions and documentation, maybe do an outline of the general architecture and what the main modules and classes will be and the interactions between them, and there we go. When my team was greener, I had to do detailed documentation of each class and each method as to what it would do and how it would do it and what its parameters would be etc. Now, other than when we're interfacing with each other's classes, that's no longer necessary -- the guys "get it", and a general description of the class and the business problem it's supposed to solve followed by a few emails clarifying various points of possible implementations pretty much solves the problem.

Some folks once criticized me for saying that if you gave me four of the best people I've ever worked with, we could out-program a team of 200 outsourced Indian programmers. But thus far I've not seen any reason to budge from that statement.

-- Badtux the Computer Geek Penguin

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day

Ann "The Man" Coulter on Hillary Clinton's candidacy:

(Blill) Clinton's connection to any other presidential candidate spells utter doom. Both his vice president and his wife have been defeated in elections they should have won, but lost because of their unfortunate association with him. The country has spoken. It wants to be rid of the Clintons.
I never thought I'd see the day when I was quoting the Coultergeist on my blog... sigh. What next, getting out the umbrella because of flying cows?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Things too depressing to talk about

-- Badtux the Blinking Penguin