Saturday, January 31, 2009

Happy Caturday Cat Blogging

The cat tries to fix the printer:

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Saturday Youtubery

Since Minstrel Boy reminded me of this song...

To recap my earlier comment: Steve Earle is the only songwriter I've ever encountered whose best, most innovative work came after age 40. Most songwriters, their best work comes early, before they know too much, before they've said everything they have to say and have nothing left to say and are just going through the motions or rehashing old themes or desperately trying new things they're not good at to avoid rehashing old themes. Linda Nyro, finished by 24. Townes van Zandt, pretty much done by age 34, he did some good work after that but all his best songs, the ones that everybody covers, were written before 1978. Suzanne Vega, four brilliant albums then done by age 32. Paul Simon, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan... their best work done in their 20's, they've done good work since but nowhere near the brilliance of their early work.

But Steve... he just keeps writing, and getting better. Starting in 1995 he released a string of albums that ranged from "very good" to "brilliant"... and remember, he was 40 years old in 1995.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Bonus song to irritate BBC: Fort Worth Blues

PPS #2: Just worked out the chords for "Goodbye". Most of the time, sad songs are written in a minor key. Not this one. It's basically A-E-D. Play the counterpoint via augments and pick the chords in the right order and you have the entire guitar backing, though Steve plays it capo'ed up to his vocal range. Just ran through it a half dozen or so times arranging it for my own guitar style, a few more (dozen?) times and I'll have it in my repertoire. A simple, yet beautiful, song. It is exactly what it needs to be, and no more.

How do you spell futility?

It's spelled W-I-N-G-N-U-T.

Thus far, wingnuts have filed over a dozen lawsuits alleging that the birth certificate provided by the State of Hawaii showing that Barack Obama was born there and is thus a natural born citizen is fake. After a brief consultation with the Hawaii birth registrar on the part of each judge, each and every one of these lawsuits has been dismissed. It doesn't matter whether the judge in question was appointed by Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, or George W. Bush, every single judge has agreed that these lawsuits are so silly that they must be dismissed as frivolous lawsuits, and every appeal of that decision to higher courts has resulted in the stamp of approval to that judge's decision, whether the appeal was to the "liberal" California District court of appeals or to the "conservative" Washington D.C. court of appeals or to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has twice refused to hear any appeal from lower courts.

And now I hear, from World Nut Daily, that yet *another* lawsuit has been filed, against Congress this time claiming that Congress didn't verify President Obama's citizenship before accepting the electoral college's vote. At some point you'd think that the wingnuts would get it through their thick stubborn heads that if 12 out of 12 judges look at the available evidence and conclude that Barack Obama meets the natural born citizen standard set in the Constitution, well, maybe Obama is a natural born citizen. But every time one of these judges hands down his decision, they just cluck and squawk and start pecking bugs off the ground and pretend they're too stupid and bird-brained to understand what they were just told.

Oh wait...

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

A momentous life-changing decision

I has made one. I am falling off the wagon, ending my experiment in forced withdrawal from mood-altering drugs, and setting off immediately for... Costco.

Wait, Costco?

Yes, Costco. Where I can buy large bags of excellent-quality whole bean coffee for cheap. From thence I shall proceed to Fry's Electronics, which has a whole arsenal of coffee bean mastication equipment guaranteed to turn said beans into nice grounds.

An examination of my cupboards reveals that I have over 100 coffee filters remaining from my last stint of addiction, and that my Braun coffee maker is still lurking up there, ready to pounce. Said examination also uncovers an airtight container perfect for the purposes of retaining said beans in excellent condition for the amount of time needed to consume them, as well as another airtight container suited for short-time retention of grounds (unfortunately, the less expensive grinders require you to grind a fair amount at a time, else they simply do not work, and I compute that this will be a two day supply of grounds). Thus I have all the tools of addiction required... except the addictive drug itself, which is still calling, calling, calling...

-- Badtux the Addict Penguin

Friday, January 30, 2009

How surprising

That poster car for unwarranted sense of entitlement, the Hummer, is America's most-ticketed vehicle. Because laws are just for the little people. And the cops love punishing that attitude :-).

-- Badtux the Amused Penguin

Friday Random Ten

Fire up iPod, hit 'shuffle', watch what comes up:

  1. Death Cab For Cutie, Crooked Teeth
  2. Portishead, Nylon Smile
  3. Steve Earle, The Galway Girl
  4. Pink Floyd, Nobody Home
  5. Bob Dylan, Like A Rolling Stone
  6. Johnny Cash, Help Me
  7. Bruce Springsteen, Stolen Car
  8. Cat Power, Speak For Me
  9. Dar Williams, Bought and Sold
  10. Phil Ochs, I'm Tired
Only embarrassing one in there is the Death Cab for Cutie. Okay, so it's sugary pop. Even a penguin likes a sugary pop from time to time :-).

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Oh yeah, random bonus spin:

Everclear, Amphetamine

Jeremy Mayle

He's just some guy in West Virginia with a guitar and a harmonica who writes songs. That's all.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

How to get our troops out of Iraq

Advice to Barry: In ships.

Just sayin'.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Don't be fooled

Awwe, doesn't he look so sweet? Like he's saying, "rub my tummy, please?". Except what he's really saying is, "I'm in the mood for shredding flesh. Put your hand right here between all four of my paws so I can more easily shred it."

-- Badtux the Cat-shredded Penguin

The taxonomy of pain


Four letters, simple, seeming. But deep in its intricacies. There is a deep, throbbing pain, making the world turn red and forehead wrinkled as it soaks into your bones and drains everything but itself from the world, crowding out friends, family, music, sometimes even life itself. There is a short, sharp, deep pain, shocking and surprising, followed or preceded by a fall and broken pieces of human body pushed past their endurance. There is a pain upon moving, sharp and crisp and sexual with a grin or perhaps a grimace as the pain is relished as proof that one still lives, still loves, still endures. There is a pain of dreams dead, or dreams deferred, of things said or things unsaid, things done or things undone. There is the pain of living your life and realizing, suddenly, that all you have been, all you have done, is futile, hopeless, useless, adding nothing to this world, and that you are too old and too set in your ways to change.

Four letters. Pain. In the taxonomy of pain there are many pains, both physical and otherwise, temporary or enduring. There is only one truth about pain, and that is: there shall be pain. Perhaps not harsh, perhaps only wistful, but no life comes to its close in complete joy. Always there are the sorrows, the regrets, the could-have-beens and should-have-beens, the scars and the bruises and the scabs that are picked, and then comes the end with the needles and the cold. In the end all learn the truths of the taxonomy of pain.

-- Badtux the Somber Penguin

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Physical status

I am walking now, and using the leg successfully to walk without a perceptible limp. The new-grown calf muscle is still pretty weak but is strengthening thanks to the bicycling and using the muscle during walking. The stretching exercises have stretched it to almost the same length as the other calf muscle, though there is still some work to be done. It is very sore though, sort of like if you did a really, really rough workout and the next day are so sore that you can barely move. That will resolve itself as long as I don't overdo it. It just gets really, really tired and sore if I try to walk too far on it, which peeves me because it means I can't go to the Chinese New Years celebrations in San Francisco :-(.

-- Badtux the Gimpy Penguin

Oooh, Krugman snarks!

Under Bush, financial policy consisted of Wall Street types cutting sweet deals, at taxpayer expense, for Wall Street types. Under Obama, it’s precisely the reverse.

The original Soviet-era joke, of course, was “Capitalism is the exploitation of man by man. Communism is the reverse.”

-- Badtux the Snark-lovin' Penguin

A fine old American tradition

One of the continual frustrations of Union soldiers during the American Civil War was the poor quality of the provisions with which they provided. Black powder for their rifles that had more smoke than boom, hardtack biscuit that had more worm than wheat, rotten salt pork that even dogs turned their noses up at... corruption in the procurement process meant that Union soldiers were perpetually hungry and unable to see what the fuck they were shooting at because of all the smoke coming out of the front of their rifles.

I am proud to say that this fine old American tradition continues. This week we find that American soldiers were served salmonella-contaminated peanut butter.

Oh well, at least it didn't have worms in it. We think. Oy!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

To everybody freakin' about Obama talkin' to Rethugs

Barry is two moves ahead of the Rethugs. They're playing checkers, he's playing chess. They thought he was being weak. He had a different plan though -- make the Rethugs look like a bunch of whiney petulant assholes who, even when given concessions, would refuse to do the right thing for the nation. And the Rethugs walked right into his trap.

Give the youngster his due, he knows this politics shit folks. We ain't talkin' about some amateur here, we're talking about someone who came from nowhere, shook shit up, and became President of the United States against every expectation at the beginning of the race. I mean, fuck. Who the hell, two years ago, could have imagined that we would have a black President of the United States? Nobody. Nobody except a few idealistic fools. And if you told someone that Obama would win Virginia and North Carolina, two of the original states of the Confederacy, folks would have asked you what kinda drugs you were on. So let's quit treating the man as if he doesn't know what the fuck he's doing. I mean, c'mon. Virginia and North Carolina. And fucking Indiana, once run by the Ku Klux Klan as well as being the home of Mr. Potatoe Head himself...

-- Badtux the Politics Penguin

The apple doesn't fall far from the propaganda tree

Pet peeve: When you have someone from the Middle East quoted in a U.S. newspaper or magazine, what they say is translated into English. Except for one word. One word that is almost never translated into English. One word that, when translated into English, got Steve Earle into a bit of a fuss with wingnuts back in 2002. And that word is "God". Which, for some reason, never gets translated into English. Instead, it gets rendered as the made-up nonsense word "Allah."

In case you're wondering, Muslims worship the same God as Jews and Christians. He's a pretty vicious and vindictive dude, if you read your Old Testament. For example, he tormented Job for no reason other than "just because I can." Mis-translating the Arabic word "God" has only one real purpose, and that is to insinuate that the God that Muslims worship is different from the God that Jews and Christians worship and thus it's okay to kill Muslims. Or, if you're Muslim, that it's okay to kill Jews and Christians. That's all.

-- Badtux the Pet Peeve #10203 Penguin

Thursday morning Youtubery

I was shuffling through my CD collection looking for ones to rip into my Macbook so I could then copy a selection to my iPhone and I came across Suzanne Vega and realized that the last of her albums that I had was 99.9F. So I went to and found that that... WTF? Even her more recent ones are out of print except for her very latest? And her latest record label dropped her after one album?

This one is from her first, self-titled, album, which of course is out of print (of course!) but well worth listening to. She reminds me a bit of Leonard Cohen, in that the emphasis is upon the poetry of her words, not upon verbal gymnastics (like Cohen she doesn't vary much from a fairly narrow vocal range) or outrageous musicianship. She just hasn't been forgotten long enough to be rediscovered like Leonard was, I guess.

Why iTunes will rule the world: iTunes has no such out-of-print problem. All of her albums are still in print on iTunes. So I will get Beauty & Crime (her latest) on CDROM from, and get the other two albums that I don't have via iTunes. I guess the record companies are happy about that, since they get to collect revenue yet don't have to pay for printing and distributing media. Sigh. What a bunch of evil motherf**kers...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I! Am! Very! Excited!

I! Am! Browsing! The! Classified! Ads! For! Apartment! Homes!

  • $1699 / 1b! Unique Live & Work Loft! 1Mo FREE!! M/I TODAY!!!
  • $1250 / 1br!! Just reduced! 2nd floor corner! 1x1 w/ garage pkg now available!!
  • $1625 2 BR!!! 1.5 Bath, $500 Move-in Bonus! Great Los Altos Schools! Cat OK!
All! Ads! Right! Off! Of! Popular! Online! classified! ads! site! where! apparently! ad! copywriters! are! paid! by! the! exclamation! mark!!!!

-- Badtux! The! Snarky! Penguin!!!!!!

Wednesday evening YouTubery

Natasha Khan is hot, in a hippy chick kinda way. Got a set of pipes on her too. And what unique instrumentation...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Latest tighty righty panty-fest

Tighty rightys get their panties in an uproar over the proposal to have a centralized medical records repository so that your medical records can follow you to whatever doctor you visit. "Libruls want your medical records! Big brother!" Wow, where were these privacy advocates when the NSA was listening on all our phone calls?!

In any event: The Feds can already get your medical information any time they want/need it. THese morons apparently have never heard of the Medical Information Bureau, which gets an update every time you file an insurance claim and gives your medical information to the feds, well, anytime they ask nicely, no subpoenas or shit needed because they claim your medical information is their property that they can do anything they want with it.

Oh wait, the MIB is a PRIVATE business violating your privacy, so they don't count as Big Brother. Well, not if you're a tighty righty moron, anyhow. Alrighty, then!

Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Mother of the year award?

Not only was she caught teaching one of her children how to shoplift... but then she ran out of the store, abandoning her children, when confronted by a security guard. And I was wondering if the Dear Abby letter about a girl forced to shoplift by her mother was made up? Huh!

I expect shoplifting to become more blatant as the economy dives down. Desperate people will do desperate things and you might see stuff that looks an awful lot like food riots. But folks, leave the kids at home!

-- Badtux the Parenting Penguin

Our so-called health care system

57 year old woman loses her retirement savings, home due to treatment for rattlesnake bite. She was billed for $160,000. When she liquidated all her assets, including her retirement account, she came up with $60,000. The hospital accepted it as full payment for her account, thus showing you just how hospitals work today -- they bill the uninsured much higher than they bill the insured.

As for the idiots who said that it was her own fault for not being insured -- individual health coverage is basically unobtainable if you're over 50 years old. The health insurance companies don't want to cover you, and if they can find some excuse, any excuse, they won't. They just want you to go away and die quietly far, far away from them. Especially if you're someone in a low-paying profession like teaching dance at a dance studio, which pays $20K/year, paying $840 per month with a $5K deductible through the state high risk plan simply isn't going to work.

Y'know, I have a thought. Let's screw the insurance companies. Let's all get together and create our own insurance fund. We'll pay something reasonable into it -- say, maybe $300 per month for every man, woman and child -- say, that'd be $90 billion dollars a month to share amongst ourself for our health care! Naturally we'd keep an eagle eye out to make sure nobody free-loaded off our health care or tried to use more health care than they needed, but we wouldn't have any of these insurance company people saying "I don't want to insure you, go off and die" anymore. Of course, we'd need an organization to collect and disburse the money for this health care fund. What can we call this organization? Oh, I know, we could call it, uh, GOVERNMENT! Oh wait, I forgot, that name is already taken for some hostile dictatorship that rules us at gunpoint or something, if I listen to the right-wingers' talking points that's what I hear anyhow... gosh darn it, I'll call it "government" anyhow, f*ck the right-wingers!

-- Badtux the Health Care Penguin

We're f*cked

Current downturn could be worst since Great Depression.

And our politicians in Washington are fiddling while the economy burns. What a SNAFU -- Situation Normal, All F*cked Up.

-- Badtux the Annoyed Penguin

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A stranger

Leonard Cohen, pure poetry in musical motion.

Watch his cheek at the very end of the song. A real musician doesn't just play it. He feels it.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Forty cents

That's what Sprint's last bill to me was. It cost them more than that to print and mail the bill to me. It'll probably cost them more to cash the forty-cent check that I just sent to them (with a thirty-seven cent stamp).

Is there any wonder why "Sprint" sez "losers" the same way that a Republican convention says "repressed homosexuality"?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

How bankruptcy "reform" contributed to the current economic crisis

The "Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005" made bankruptcy harder to come by. It was intended to protect financial institutions from becoming insolvent by making sure that people paid their debts rather than ducking out via bankruptcy. Ironically, the very same institutions that lobbied for "bankruptcy reform" are also the ones suffering most from it, for reasons that become clear if you look closely.

The primary issue right now is that the middle class in America is insolvent. Any extra money it gets -- from pay hikes, tax rebates, etc. -- is going towards paying on debts that are unpayable within their lifetimes. And because they're insolvent, they're not buying. That means that businesses aren't borrowing money to buy new equipment, open new stores, etc., instead they're cutting back.

What that means is that banks have money... but nobody to lend it to who has any chance of paying it back. The middle class is insolvent. The rich don't need to borrow. The poor can't pay it back. Business isn't interested in borrowing until demand turns back up. Demand can't turn back up until the middle class is solvent. The middle class can't be solvent until... well. They can't be, as long as they can't declare bankruptcy. And the banks can't be solvent until they can earn money on their deposits, which they can't because anybody they might loan to is insolvent and their insolvent customers are unable to pay off the loans currently on the books.

Bankruptcy was explicitly created to escape this insolvency trap. If bankruptcy were relatively easy, the middle class could declare bankruptcy and start buying again (albeit at a slower pace because they would not be able to borrow money). Businesses would start to borrow to invest in meeting the renewed demand, and banks could loan them money and make dough on the interest. The banks would have to write down the consumer loans of those who declared bankruptcy, but let's face facts, those loans are already bad and will never be paid back because the middle class is carrying more debt than could ever be paid back in their lifetimes, all that banks are doing by carrying these loans on the books is pretending that this isn't the case.

In short, our financial wizards shot themselves in the foot to spite their toe when they created bankruptcy "reform". By killing demand amongst insolvent (but incapable of declaring bankruptcy) people, they killed demand for their loan products too -- and thus any chance of making a profit. Yet another example of how short-sighted our financial industry was during the runup to the current mess... all of this could be foreseen, and *was* foreseen, but nooo... they had to whine about being "protected" from "irresponsible" consumers, and instead shot themselves in the foot. And the rest of us with them, alas.

-- Badtux the Economics Penguin

War crimes

Israel prepares to defend its soldiers from war crimes tribunals. I have a better way for Israel to defend its soldiers from war crimes: Simply quit ordering their soldiers to commit war crimes. But that'd be too simple, I guess.

I hear two big talking points from Israeli apologists:

  1. The U.S. and Israel have a unique relationship that explains why the U.S. has such lockstep support for Israel.
  2. Where was the world when Hamas goons were firing rockets at Israel?
Okay, on #1: Yeah, Israel is Unique alright. It is Unique in that it is the only U.S. “ally” that a) has attacked and killed U.S. military personnel in a U.S. ship flying the U.S. flag, b) refuses to allow the U.S. to have basing rights, c) refuses to share intelligence with the United States even though the U.S. shares intelligence with Israel (thereby causing the deaths of several U.S. airmen over Lebanon in the early 1980's), and d) brags about controlling U.S. foreign policy for the Middle East.

On #2: The world was decrying the fact that Hamas goons were firing rockets at Israel, that's where the world was. Nobody is shedding a tear for any Hamas criminals killed in this recent action. If the IDF had gone after the Hamas goons firing rockets, there would be no outcry. Instead, they apparently decided that Hamas goons firing rockets were too hard a target, and started bombing and shelling civilian and U.N. facilities such as hospitals, schools, and U.N. food warehouses, under the belief that killing people who were NOT criminals would somehow make the criminals stop being, err, criminals. Which is utter bullshit. Criminals don’t give a shit about civilians, and killing civilians never stops criminals, whether said criminals are Hamas criminals or otherwise.

There is one rule that civilized nations use when criminals are hiding behind civilian hostages, and that one rule is, DON’T KILL THE HOSTAGES. The IDF willingly violated that rule and thereby proved that Israel is not a civilized nation. There is no (zero) excuse for deliberately targetting civilian and U.N. facilities, even if there were criminals hiding in the vicinity. That’s called a HOSTAGE SITUATION, and civilized nations (as vs. Israel) know what to do there — surround the criminals and their hostages, make sure the criminals know they’re outnumbered, outgunned, and not going to get away, and NEGOTIATE with the criminals to get their surrender peacefully, while preparing to rush and kill the criminals if they start killing the hostages. And try to get your own snipers into position to take out the criminals without loss of hostage life if possible, but if you can’t, so be it.

But that’s what happens in civilized nations, which Israel has proven it is not. So it goes. As thou sow, thus shalt thou reap.

-- Badtux the Old School penguin

Monday, January 26, 2009

Economy still heading down...

Tens of thousands more jobs lost. And even people with jobs aren't buying, because they're awaiting the axe. City sales tax collections are down drastically.

Wheee! Hmm, what can we do about this collapsing propensity to spend? Oh, I know -- we could read my previous couple of day's posts! Yay!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Propensity to spend

The Chinese make a case for universal health care: Universal health care increases the propensity to spend. That is, if people aren't having to save up 40%+ of their income every year in case they get sick and need medical care, they can go off and buy more stuff, therefore employing more people, therefore getting closer to the goal of full employment for the economy, which, as I mention earlier, is a goal because that maximizes use of human capital in an economy and eliminates the possibility of civil disorder that could be harmful to the heads of the elites who rule the country (assuming said employment is sufficient to keep together life and limb).

Right now, people are clinging to jobs they hate for fear of losing their health insurance. People aren't branching out and forming small businesses to pursue a new innovation they've thought of for fear of losing their health insurance. These people, freed to create, can create more jobs on American soil, but right now they're trapped. Universal health insurance would free them. That was a threat to the elites back in the days when the Fortune 500 employed most Americans and competition from small business was like garlic to a vampire, but now that the primary competition comes from overseas, well... it's a lot easier to buy a small business and the product it makes than to try to coerce said product out of miserable people stuck in jobs they don't like. Hmm...

-- Badtux the Healthcare Penguin

Quote of the day

Da Fixer, talking about right-wing nutcases gettin' the vapors about how bad it'd be to release the Gitmo internees when we close Gitmo:

It's insane we're even having the conversation. We are the most powerful nation on Earth and it makes us look like a buncha cowards we are so terrified of a couple hundred people. For all the tough talk, we act like a nation of pantywaists.

Heh. You said it, bro.

-- Badtux the "Republican pantywaists, anybody?" Penguin

My development teams are migrating

I bet you thought only penguins migrated, right? Well, software developers migrate too. At least, they do if they are Chinese software developers celebrating the Chinese New Year.

Oh well. At least I'll have a nice peaceful week and actually get to hack some code of my own. I like being Mr. Manager Geek Dude, but I'm still a geek at heart too...

-- Badtux the Geeky Penguin

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Of tax cuts and stimulus

I will preach "common wisdom" heresy here: A middle class (or above) tax cut will do nothing -- zero -- nada -- to stimulate the economy. Why is that? Simple. Because what we have right now is a solvency crisis, not a fiscal crisis. Middle class America is insolvent right now due to unpayable debts, and incapable of buying things. Giving $2K to every middle-class American won't stimulate the economy, because it'll just get sucked towards payments on their debt load. Give me $2K, and it goes to pay down on one of my credit cards, not towards buying new "stuff".

The operative term here is what John Maynard Keynes called the propensity to spend. The point of modern economics is to balance supply and demand such that a) there is sufficient supply to avoid inflation, and b) sufficient demand to ensure full employment. Full employment is desirable in an economy because it maximizes your use of human capital -- you don't have useless people languishing around on the dole. And you better damned well have a dole (welfare) if you don't have full employment, because otherwise you get food riots, high crime as desperate people break into homes to steal food, and maybe, if you have enough unemployed, revolution and the mass slitting of throats and blood running in the gutters.

So anyhow, what we have right now is supply, but no demand. No demand because of the solvency crisis. So what can we do about this? Let's look back at our tool kit and see:

  1. Jobs. Unemployed people don't buy stuff. They're protecting what little capital they have until they find a job. Unfortunately, private enterprise won't -- can't -- provide jobs until there is demand. And unemployed people aren't providing that demand for obvious reasons -- they have no job. So we have a chicken-and-egg problem that isn't solvable by a free enterprise system. Hmm, now it seems to me that we have this other entity that we formed for handling those things where free enterprise doesn't work. This other entity that provides things like, oh, roads, libraries, and the common defense. This other entity that we call government. As in, the CCC, WPA, and other alphabet soup jobs programs of the Great Depression.
  2. A return to traditional bankruptcy. The bankruptcy "reform" act was an attempt to maintain the solvency of the banking system. Unfortunately, insolvent people can't pay their debts whether they're allowed to declare bankruptcy or not, and thus the banking system is insolvent anyhow. Except now it's taking the whole economy down with it, since insolvent people can't wipe out their debts, become solvent again, and start buying again (albeit hopefully more responsibly this time!). The bankruptcy "reform" act has killed way more solvency than it has preserved, and needs to go. In fact, I'd make bankruptcy *easier*. If more than 75% of your income goes for debt payments, you get to declare bankruptcy and wipe it out.
  3. Nationalization of the banking system. Whether people are allowed to declare bankruptcy or no, they're insolvent and unable to pay their debts, and thus the banking system is insolvent too. We might as well just allow them to declare bankruptcy and get it over with. The banks and their assets can be taken over by a Banking Trust Corporation, the bad debts written off, the banks re-capitalized via freshly printed money from the Federal Reserve, and then sold back off to private ownership after everything has shaken out. Otherwise we're just throwing money at an insolvent system to try to paper over the fact that the banking system has failed rather than addressing the fact that, well, it's insolvent.
  4. A massive hike in the minimum wage, and indexing the minimum wage to inflation. Contrary to popular belief, minimum wage hikes don't cause any real loss of jobs. Anybody who can replace a minimum wage worker with machinery has already done so. The minimum wage is a form of wealth transferal from the middle classes (mostly) and upper classes(somewhat) to the lower classes, but it's one that rewards work, rather than direct payments from the government which reward not-work. The minimum wage primarily gets paid to two groups of people: a) Teenagers, who, being teenagers, *will* spend the money thereby increasing demand, and b) poor people, who, if they get more money, *will* spend the money, since they rarely have any debt and have a long list of things they'd like to buy if they only had the money.
  5. An increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit. Once again, this goes primarily to poor people, and will immediately be spent, unlike middle class or upper class tax breaks which will go off to pay off debts or be stashed in an investment account (for the upper class), thereby increasing demand.
  6. Tax credits for hiring Americans, manufacturing tax credits to make it profitable to manufacture here in America again, a "manufacturing bank" to give out low-interest loans and other subsidies to manufacturers who want to set up factories here in America, and tax reform so that we no longer reward companies for outsourcing American jobs to India and China. One problem with increasing demand is that we're increasing *Chinese* jobs, not American jobs. Which is okay if the Chinese are willing to pay for it, but the Chinese aren't going to give billions of dollars to the U.S. government to increase U.S. demand so that Chinese workers are kept employed. The Chinese are going to just free-ride on this stimulus stuff. Well, okay. We can't stop them from doing that, they're playing chicken with us, and betting that we aren't going to deliberately smash our economy just to "beat" the Chinese. But we can ensure that in the future, those gains go to Americans too.
  7. Spending on infrastructure. Doh. Infrastructure is the gift that keeps on giving. We're still using roads and buildings built by the WPA in the 1930's.
  8. Spending on education. Doh. Same deal. We shouldn't be laying off teachers and putting 40 kids into classrooms that are standing-room-only without enough textbooks for all the kids, this is our seed capital for the next generation. And save the nonsense about how African parents are happy to have a teacher and a chalkboard standing by the side of the road with no walls or roof or desks or anything. In case you haven't noticed, Africa isn't exactly an economic marvel lately...
  9. Bailouts of states, with the proviso that accepting the money means that the states have to clean up their tax and budget systems, which are a mess right now. All this hiring stuff isn't any good if the states are busy firing at the same time because they have no money to maintain basic services.
So let's look at some "common wisdom" that's wrong:
  1. The federal government needs to reduce spending and live within its means. Bzzt. Wrong. We have data on this, folks. Things don't work the same during a depression (and we ARE in a depression right now whether the Feds want to admit it or not) as they do during normal times. In 1934, when FDR increased spending, the economy went up. In 1937, when FDR decreased spending, the economy went down. In 1942, when FDR increased spending WAY high, the economy went through the roof. During a depression, increases in government spending cause an improvement in the economy. Decreases cause a decline in the economy. This is data. This is reality. We don't need to wave our hands and talk about vague theories, this is what actually happens.
  2. Middle class tax cuts will stimulate the economy. BUZZZ. Wrong. In a solvency crisis like right now, where the middle class is insolvent, all that happens is that tax cuts to the middle class will get sucked up by lenders who are themselves insolvent. You can't make the middle class solvent by cutting their taxes, you have to do something about their debts, which means making bankruptcy more accessible.
  3. We should not reward people for being financially irresponsible. BZZT. We have *ALL* been financially irresponsible, either personally or by electing irresponsible governments. And we're all going to pay for it. Finishing the destruction of the economy because we're too busy nattering about who is more responsible than the next person is nonsense. We need to do what works, and if that requires allowing people to duck out of debts they assumed knowing that they probably couldn't repay them via bankruptcy, that's part of the price.
  4. Tax hikes on the rich will kill the economy. BZZZt. WRONG. The time period that showed the most economic growth in American history -- the 1950's and 1960's -- were also a time when the rich were taxed at 80%+ marginal rate. The rich divide their income into two streams: Consumption, and investment. If they have less income, they invest less. But we already have an excess of investment capital in our economy, thanks to the Reagan shift of the tax burden from the upper classes to the lower classes, and what it's doing is causing investment bubbles such as the dot-com bubble, the housing bubble, and so forth, which cause great economic pain once they burst. Reducing the amount of investment money in the economy by the amount needed to stop all this bubbling will be good for the economy.
And that's this week's economics post. Not that anybody who matters will read it or listen to it. What I mention above is backed by economic data out the yazoo, what I mention above is reality, but nobody gives a shit about reality anymore, it's all about ideology. Everybody is still stuck in their ideological cubbyholes, and read or believe only Party-approved statements that agree with their own particular ideology. So it goes...

-- Badtux the Skeptical Penguin

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A reminder

America was not attacked by purple unicorns during the administration of George W. Bush. Thus the administration of George W. Bush will be judged as a success by history. He successfully defended America from the purple unicorn menace.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

A lazy Saturday

I went to bed at 11PM last night. I finally got out of bed at 11AM this morning. You do the math. I was tired for some reason. Maybe because the previous night I didn't get much sleep because my leg was *itching* where it is healing. So I sorta woke up a little around 8:30am, the cats were both cuddled against me, I looked at the clock, looked at the blinds, and said f**k it I'm going back to sleep. And did.

I'm supposed to get much tougher on the range-of-motion stretching now, and not worry about tearing anything because the only thing that would tear right now under normal slow gradual stretching would be scar tissue that needs to tear anyhow. As in, as long as I'm not screaming in pain, it's okay. Also supposed to start exercising the muscle, and the stationary bike at the lowest setting gets the thumbs up on that one. So I started that and oooh, that first couple of minutes hurt. Then things downstairs apparently got themselves in order and the next eight minutes went by okay (though I was definitely feeling it), and then I could stretch it again. So I'm supposed to work up slowly but steadily.

Yeah, sorry to bore you with rehab stuff. But like I said, I spent most of the day sleeping, then got up, got a big bowl of pho ga for lunch/breakfast, then went shopping at Pet Warehouse and Costco for necessities like kittie litter, kittie chow, tuna, and noodles, and washed a couple of loads of clothes. So I haven't been following the news, or reading other people's blogs, or doing much of anything today. Just a slow and lazy Saturday.

So I'll leave you with a ten pound kitty in a five pound box...

-- Badtux the Boring Penguin

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday nite Youtubery

The Be Good Tanyas go retro. Not that they're ever anything but.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

MRE Menu No. 2: Pork Rib

This consisted of:

  • 1 chocolate mint cookie
  • 2 packets MRE "bread" (actually a sort of soft wheat cookie)
  • 1 packet clam chowder
  • 1 packet pork loaf
  • 1 packet MRE cheese
If you don't have a spare MRE heater around, I recommend heating up the chowder, it's pretty dismal cold. Luckily I had a pot of boiling water to dunk my pork loaf and chowder packets into. While the pork loaf and chowder were heating up, I tried the cookie. Yum!

I took out a plate and a small bowl, and put the MRE bread and small bowl on the plate. Then when the chowder and pork loaf were warm, I opened the chowder packet and put the chowder in the bowl, and opened the pork loaf packet and extracted the pork loaf and put it on the bread. Then I topped the pork loaf with the MRE cheese, slapped the other slice of "bread" on top, and there we are. Do *NOT* just turn the pork loaf packet upside down and dump out the pork loaf, there's a lot of grease in there that'll turn your bread into a soggy mess if you do. Carefully tear / cut the packet and extract just the pork loaf, not the grease. Optionally, dump some of the grease into the clam chowder for some more flavor.


Clam chowder: Kind of bland, but then, most clam chowder is. A little of the pork loaf grease and a little black pepper gets it perked right up and it tastes like, well, clam chowder. Nice.

Pork loaf sandwich: This sandwich was *good*. The pork loaf had a nicely smoked and meaty flavor that was well accented by the taste of the cheese and the flatbread taste of the "bread" (soft wheat crackers).

Cookie: That was good too.

So give this one a four-stars (out of four) rating -- definitely a keeper if this one gets issued to you as disaster rations. Just remember, the clam chowder gets the heater pouch, otherwise it's like eating chalk!

-- Badtux the Culinary Penguin

Friday Kitteh Blogging

A whole blog full of bloggy cat blogging goodness about Maru The Cat. Maru is a cat in Japan (Scottish Fold breed) whose staff is, well, absolutely dotty about his fat goofy kitteh. I already posted the vid of Maru playing with the "Diet" box (fat cat, skinny box, much hilarity ensues as he tries to fit into said box), but look at Maru's blog and there's more funny pictures plus links to more YouTube videos of the big lovable goofball.

Meanwhile, here's one of my own kittehs:

The Mighty Fang is askin' me to go fetch those strings that are hanging out of the book "Design Patterns", after his first attempt to fetch them failed. After I refused to do so, he then took drastic action: Unfortunately he's a bit too fat a cat to fit on that tiny little bit of space between the books and the end of the bookshelf, so he ended toppling off the bookshelf shortly thereafter.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Thursday, January 22, 2009

To serve and protect

In a world where you have some cops doing nasty stuff like shooting a handcuffed man in the back, let us not forget that there's still plenty doing that whole serve-and-protect thing right.

-- Badtux the Untased Penguin


MRE Menu #15, "Beef Enchiladas", was just as good as the last time. Except they added *two* salsa packets, which really made it nicely spiced when I put both on top along with the MRE cheese (an odd substance somewhat redolent of Cheeze Whiz, but it does a pretty good job of being, well, cheesy, so who cares?).

Yeah, my leg's sorta interfered with my shopping, so I ordered a couple of cases of MRE's off of eBay and had them delivered to my door, and just ate one for supper. Not exactly fine cuisine, but given that I'm gimpy and not up to much involving standing (such as cooking), I'll take it.

-- Badtux the MRE Penguin

The Christian case for abortion

A Christian believes that innocents go to Heaven when they die, right? So let's look at aborted babies (using the wingnut definition of "fetus=baby" just for the sake of argument). Those aborted babies, if you're a Christian they're all with your god now aren't they? They skipped the pain that goes with the human existence and went straight to the payday with their souls pure as snow untainted by the evil that as men they would certainly do. Seems to me that according to Christianity that'd be the best way to go, from zygote to Jesus with no time to get wicked.

Gosh, we could make this even simpler by just stationing a couple of folks with clubs at the maternity ward door. As someone comes out with a baby, the question: "Are you Christian?" "Why, yes!" (RIP thump thump thump thump) "My baby! Oh my poor baby! Why did you rip him out of my arms and club him to death?!" "It's for the best, ma'am. He's with Jesus now."

Hey, that's the Christian argument for abortion, not mine. So if you think it's disgusting, or un-Christian, or whatever, hey, take it up with the Christians, not a good Tuxologist like me. Since Tuxologist heaven is an everlasting iceberg with an unlimited supply of herring, we're not into that whole thumping of babies at the maternity ward door thing. I mean, c'mon. Ice. Herring. Forever. Geeze. Which is why Tuxologists believe in enjoying life *on* this world, not *afterwards*. Which is what makes us different from Crazy Church Lady and all her buds who think that, if, like, it's fun, then it's evil, because apparently fun is what happens after dying for Crazy Church Lady. Whatever.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Shorter VD Hanson

Them darkies only understand tough talk and force.

Yeppers. That's the world's dumbest raisin farmer again, putting together words into complete sentences that somehow don't say what you'd expect someone with his education to say. Wingnuts. Heh. The gift that keeps on giving.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

My status

The leg is still sore, but healing. Now that the swelling is gone you can see the beautiful iridescent purple bruise that formed when a band of the calf muscle snapped at the tendon. This is the second week, so I'm doing mild ROM (Range Of Motion) exercises, heating the muscle up with a bag of warm water then lightly stretching it just to the point where I feel just the teensiest pull in the muscle. Massage helps too. Between all that, I already have about 3/4ths of the lost ROM back, there's still plenty of time to get the last back.

I can't actually use the muscle yet. I've accidentally tensed it when off balance and it *hurt*. Time to go find out when I'll want to start using it a bit. I'll be following the program that I used 25 years ago the last time I had to rehab that calf muscle after a serious motorcycle accident -- the bicycle. Starting out with the heel on the pedal, then slowly sliding the foot backward slightly to put the slightest bit of pressure with the muscle. Over the course of several weeks slowly move the foot back to put more pressure on the calf. Eventually the calf gets back to near-norm strength and regular exercise can recommence. The only question is the timing. I think I'm supposed to do another week of ROM, then start the exercises, because the connection between tendon and muscle is way too fragile right now and it would be way too easy to re-injure / re-tear it. But I need to find out.

Meanwhile, I now know exactly how important the calf muscle is for forward locomotion. While my range of motion is almost normal, I still mostly lurch when walking, because once the leg gets back, I can't push off with it -- it just kinda sits there, and I gotta topple forward then sweep it around. But it'll come. Six weeks from now, I'll be walking normal again. Three months from now, it'll actually be usable again. But I'll never really trust my body again. Sigh. Getting old sucks. The only problem is, the alternative is worse.

- Badtux the Gimpy Penguin

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What a waste...

Israel pulls out of Gaza. After killing 1,200 people, of which less than a dozen were criminals responsible for firing rockets at Israel, Israel declares victory and goes home.

Hamas declares victory. As if having over 1,100 innocent people killed because of the actions of a few hundred Hamas criminals were a victory. But I suppose it is a victory, if you're a Hamas criminal -- Israel killed a lot of school teachers and postmen and street cops and random women, children, and U.N. workers, but hardly any Hamas criminals responsible for firing rockets at Israel.

In actuality, of course, this was all a stunt for internal Israeli political purposes to enhance or degrade the electoral chances of one party or another, and had nothing to do with Hamas criminals, so pretty much everybody can declare victory here. The Israelis involved got their electoral chances improved, Hamas's criminals are still running around free in the Gaza strip, and oh, don't mind those 1,100 innocent people whose bodies are lying all around, they don't matter anyhow, do they? The War Nerd predicted that the Israelis would stop before Inauguration Day, and was right. Again. Alas.

-- Badtux the "What's the point?" Penguin

Can we use the "D" word yet?

Intel Corporation, whose microchips drive virtually all high-performance personal computers (other than a few driven by AMD), is laying off 5,000 workers and closing five plants and will experience its first loss in 22 years.

This is more than the canary croaking in the coal mine. This is a whole freakin' *flock* of canaries croakin' in the coal mine, all at the same time.

-- Badtux the Economics Penguin

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Okay, I admit it...

Despite my cynicism, I must admit to getting a little teary-eyed as the man was sworn in. This past eight years has been the longest eight years of my life...

-- Badtux the Relieved Penguin


Over on the Jeep forums we were pondering who was going to get Jeep once Chrysler collapsed. After all, the brand has been through so many owners and been such a cash cow to so many people over the past 60 years that the notion of Jeep going away seemed ridiculous. Willys, Kaiser, AMC, Renault, Chrysler, the brand's been around.

So anyhow, there were the speculations about GM buying Jeep and trashing its Hummer business, the long shot about Ford maybe buying Jeep. The Germans? Nope, they'd tried, and just don't "get" Jeep. The French? Been there, done that, they lost their butts on AMC-Jeep, doubt they have any interest in doing it again. The Japs? Nope, they don't operate like that -- they don't buy brands, they build them up themselves. The Chinese? They're not ready to enter the U.S. market for at least another three years, their current cars can't pass U.S. safety standards as designed (they're working on re-designing to meet U.S. standards) and Jeep doesn't work as a stand-alone brand, it needs a car partner to take up the slack when Jeep sales are down (Jeeps are play items so sales are best when the economy is good, while cheap cars sell best when the economy is bad). The South Koreans? Ah yes, the South Koreans *do* buy brands. Say hello to the Hyundai Wrangler, I speculated!

But now I open my Google to find that, well... the EYE-talians are comin'. Fix It Again Tony. FIAT. Talk about your surprises.

Fiat's been in the United States before. Lost their butt because their shit is too small and slow and unreliable for the USA, skulked out with their tail tucked under their asses and stuck to Europe thereafter. Thing is, half of the world drives Fiats. They're small cheap-ass cars (their largest car isn't even as large as a Honda Civic) and when they tool up for new lines of Fiats, they sell the old tooling to someone in some depressed place like Brazil or Yugoslavia or Russia for them to build Fiats under their own nameplates, so you have half the world driving Fiats that aren't Fiats but are, if you get what I mean.

In other words, they sell exactly what Chrysler *doesn't* sell after being raped by the Germans (who cancelled all of Chrysler's small-car projects because "Americans can't build small cars" -- nevermind the Dodge Neon, which at the time certainly was a small car and a fairly competent one at that albeit a bit dated and in need of a redesign). Which makes them truly a good match for Chrysler -- each sells vehicles that aren't in the other company's lineup.

That said, the Curse of Jeep shall continue. Every company that has owned Jeep or part of Jeep has ended up in the dumps. If Fiat gets Chrysler, my guess is that they'll go the same way as Renault. Them Euros just don't "get" American car culture, and I doubt they ever will.

-- Badtux the Car Penguin

The shutdown of the leftwing blogosphere

All of left-blogosphere is shut down today attending the inauguration (or at least watching it on TV, streaming web video, whatever). So I guess it'll be up to me to keep an eye on the news to see if anything happens today other than the inauguration...

Or I can watch a cat. A cat sleeping. Be just as exciting.

-- Badtux the Bored Penguin

Monday, January 19, 2009

Bush Pardon Watch

George W. Bush is apparently trying to get out of town ASAP, but he still has a few hours to go to pardon members of his administration for their illegal spying on Americans, torture, and other such crimes. This is a running post that's going to be updated throughout the day with Bush's pardons as they happen.

Update #1: Bush commutes sentence of two Border Patrol agents convicted by a jury of shooting a unarmed Mexican man in the back then tried to cover it up. Because, apparently, shooting an unarmed "cockroach" in the back should get a commendation, not a prison sentence, oKKKay?

Update #2: It is now past midnight in Washington D.C. and Bush's pardon power has turned into a pumpkin. Unless he unloads a whole stack of'em signed today on tomorrow morning with that shit-eatin' grin of his, that's all, folks. Makes you wonder what he has on Obama such that he's so sure Obama isn't coming after him or his administration for what they did, illegally spying on Americans and all that. Or maybe he figures that with a Supreme Court stacked with his and his daddy's appointees, any attempts at prosecuting him and his cronies will run into a Supreme blockade. Or maybe he just doesn't give a shit anymore, made sure his own hands were clean and doesn't give a shit about anybody else in his administration, and will laugh and laugh and laugh when the Bigus Dickus gets indicted for outing a CIA agent in retaliation for her husband's coming out against the Iraq war or gets indicted for war crimes for ordering the torture of prisoners of war...

-- Badtux the Watching Penguin

Still at the back of the bus

Like most employed Americans, I'm at work on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Sigh. Forty years after his death, and he's still at the back of the bus.

-- Badtux the Bus Penguin

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday evening Youtubery

Asked why he wrote such sad songs, Townes van Zandt replied, "Well, you know, I don't think they're all that sad. I have a few that aren't sad, they're hopeless. And the rest aren't sad. They're just the way it goes."

-- Badtux the Sombre Penguin

More iPhonery

I made a bet on how long it'd be before I gave in to the temptation to jailbreak my new iPhone (i.e., bypass Apple's restrictions on what applications will run on it). Thus far I've been hesitant to do so because MacOS 10.5.6 breaks the DFU mode used to re-flash the firmware on the iPhone. But now I have two different bypasses for that DFU mode issue -- either downgrade to the 10.5.5 USB software for MacOS, or hook up the iPhone via a hub. So we'll see tomorrow whether I actually jailbreak it or not.

Hmm. I managed to last two weeks! Whoa! I must be losing my geekiness. Huh.

-- Badtux the Geeky Penguin

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Saturday Youtubery

Lisa Germano is one of those artists whose music is not for everybody. I suppose you'd call it "emo", except it isn't. It's what she wants it to be. She has never compromised on that, which is why her albums are perpetually out of print and the in-print ones can only be purchased directly from tiny independent labels.

Her music isn't always to my tastes, sometimes it's just too fragile and, well, emo, for my tastes, but I must admire her for making her music, her way.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

I got spam

Today's spam of the week:

Enhance your Greatest Asset.

I feel sorry for people whose greatest asset is their penis. (Heh! He said penis!). Must be a really sad life, showing up at parties and stuff and having nothing to talk about except their greatest asset, their penis. And hey, what kind of work can you get if your greatest asset is your penis? Porno movies and gigolo, I guess, is the extent of your career opportunities. I guess it's better than no life at all, but sad, all the same.

-- Badtux the Easily Amused Penguin

Friday, January 16, 2009

Honda sure knows their market

Honda introduced a car called the Honda Element in 2003. They marketed it as for the "youth market". Their advertising showed young people putting surf-boards and stuff in it. So of course, next thing I hear is that my 60+ year old cat lady mother has traded in her old Honda Civic for a Honda Element to have more room for her brood of kitties plus her husband (taking the kitties to the vet's office is a major production for her, because they won't all peaceably coexist in the same crate, so she has to haul several crates with her).

So fast forward six years. My Mom's Element has hundreds of thousands of miles on it because she's been traveling all around the country after retirement visiting all our far-flung clan. Honda introduces a new car called the Honda Fit aimed at young people. It has five doors and an interesting lay-down fold-sideways seat layout and you can put a lot of camping gear and maybe a surfboard in it but you can also put a whole lot of cat crates in the thing, but it gets 30+mpg instead of barely 22mpg like the Element.

Guess what my mom just bought?

Yep, Honda sure knows their market: Grey-haired 60+ year old cat ladies.

-- Badtux the Amused Penguin

The Shat!

The Shat gets his due.

-- Badtux the Easily Amused Penguin

Friday war criminal blogging

The Jerusalem Post(1) reports on Israeli president (and war criminal) Shimon Peres's speech at an AIPAC convention: "Israel's aim, he said, was to provide a strong blow to the people of Gaza so that they would lose their appetite for shooting at Israel."

Well, that'd be nice, I suppose, if there was such a thing as "the people of Gaza" who are/were shooting at Israel. There is not. There is a few hundred, a few thousand at most, Hamas militants engaged in doing so. The rest of the people of Gaza *already* had no appetite for shooting at Israel, and all that being bombed and killed does to them is make their survivors have an *increased* appetite for shooting at Israel.

The way to deal with criminals is to take out the criminals. Not some random CARE worker and his six children. Not some U.N. compound full of women and children. All that happens when you take out non-criminals is that it motivates the survivors to decide that you're evil and need to yourself be taken out. That's not only common sense, that's what Israel's entire history demonstrates -- every time Israel has decided to do "collective punishment" of entire populations, what has happened is the radicalization of those populations. Where once there were only hundreds of criminals, suddenly there are thousands willing to take up arms against what they view as evil incarnate.

Killing innocents never turns out well. Given that IDF's current statistics indicate that over 90% of the Palestinians killed by Israeli action have no connection to Hamas, it seems clear that the end result of the action in Gaza will be to create nine new terrorists for every terrorist killed -- the nine new terrorists being the survivors of innocent people killed by Israel. But hey, Ehud Barack gets a big boost in the race for Israeli Prime Minister, so that's all that counts, eh?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

(1) 'Solidarity during war is Israel's finest hour' Jan. 14, 2009 Greer Fay Cashman , THE JERUSALEM POST

Friday Kitteh Blogging

The Mighty Fang relaxes in his book-case. No word on which novel he intends to read next.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Friday iTunery

First ten songs to come up on my iPhone:

  1. System of a Down, Lonely Day
  2. P.J. Harvey, Shame
  3. The Cranberries, Linger
  4. Green Day, Holiday
  5. U2, The Fly
  6. Jeremy Mayle, Can't See Nothing
  7. Woodie Guthrie, Pretty Boy Floyd
  8. Portishead, Wandering Star
  9. Cat Power, Metal Heart
  10. Bruce Springsteen, With Every Wish
Hmm. I can't see any pattern in the above, other than that I like them enough to put them into my playlist...

Oh yeah, a bonus spin:

Janis Joplin, Me and Bobby McGee. Hmm.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

This is Real America

No shortage of heros. Tourist ferries, tugboats, a heroic pilot and flight crew who did the impossible (this is the first time *ever* that there was a water landing of a jet airliner without fatalities), can-do America doing what can-do America can do. None of that fatalistic "there's nothing we can do" bullshit here. Everybody did exactly what they were supposed to do, exactly the right thing. New York, you have a damn lot to be proud of. US Airways Flight 1549 could have been hundreds of dead bodies floating in the river. But because of the training of the flight crew, the quick response by the ferries and tugboats, and the orderly exit of New Yorkers from the aircraft who just get this shit, everybody's safe and sound. Damn, I love New York... even though I've never been there.

-- Badtux the Saluting Penguin

Thursday, January 15, 2009

War crimes

Israeli apologists say "if the Palestinians don't want to be slaughtered, they should expel Hamas."

And if the hostages at a bank robbery don't want to be slaughtered by the cops when the cops open fire on the bank robbers, they should, err, expel the bank robbers? Even though the bank robbers have guns and, err, they don't?

The average Palestinian doesn't give a shit for any of this. They just want to live their life in peace. A CARE worker and his six children sleeping on the street because they'd rather be blown to pink mist by a bomb than die a slow and miserable death under the ruins of their home is a typical Palestinian. What is this guy, a CARE worker who specializes in running women's programs, supposed to do? Go up to the Hamas compound, which is guarded by a bunch of people with AK-47's and RPG's, and do *what*? Blaming him and his children for their own brutal death at the hands of an Israeli bomb is an atrocity. They are hostages to Hamas as much as the bank customers in my example above are hostages to bank robbers. If Israel's beef is with Hamas, they should send in soldiers to homes where Hamas leaders are and execute the Hamas leaders. Expecting unarmed women and children and CARE workers to do something Israel's own soldiers are apparently too gutless and cowardly to do is just *wrong*.

And before someone accuses me of having a double standard, I feel the same way about the Busheviks and their war crimes in Iraq such as the rape of Fallujah (*twice*). The whole lot of them -- the Busheviks, Hamas's leadership, Israel's leadership who violated the cease-fire on November 4 and incited the war to time with the U.S. holidays and the end of the Bush regime -- should get a fair trial for war crimes, then hung by the neck to die, just like the Japanese and Nazi war criminals at the end of WWII. They're all war criminals, in the end. Sad to say, they'll all die of old age, instead of swinging at the end of a rope like they deserve. So it goes.

- Badtux the War Crimes Penguin


Well, I *had* a set of $100 Sennheiser MM50 iP headphones. Now what I have is a chewed nub sticking out of the top of my iPhone.

I know who the culprit is -- it was The Mighty Fang, who apparently thought these headphones had the same consistency as the rubber bands he loves to chew to clean his teeth -- but that doesn't solve the problem of me not having headphones any more :-(. Can't afford new ones until the end of the month at the earliest (and that's if I have any money left from paying the bills). Sigh. Cats.

-- Badtux the Poorer Penguin

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Religion as behavior modification

One of the arguments for religion is behavior modification -- the notion that religion moderates the behavior of people who would otherwise do bad things. The above song, a rather unique stomp-clap version of God's Gonna Cut You Down, is a perfect example of that argument for religion. Bad people, the song says, should behave because otherwise God will send you to Hell. And if you're a good person, you shouldn't feel bad that bad people won't get what they deserve here on Earth, because God'll cut them down sooner or later and send them to Hell, so there.

The problem, though, is that it just doesn't work. Priests and reverends diddling children, mullahs calling for death to the infidel, Jewish rabbis calling for the extermination of Palestinians as "cockroaches"... the problem being that the people that religion is supposed to control simply do not believe the precepts of the religion, and instead re-write the religion to say what they want it to say, whether that's killing Jews for Jesus during the Spanish Inquisition, killing Christians for Allah in today's Iraq, whatever. Instead, they use religion as behavior control to do bad things on a mass scale. The Holocaust was perpetrated by a Christian nation, after all, and Adolph Hitler opposed atheism as official Nazi policy, instead using religion as part of his spur to get Germans to do what he wanted.

Furthermore, by removing the pressure to punish people here on Earth, religion can actually increase injustice here on Earth. If there is a bad man in your community, a Sheriff who kills disabled prisoners charged with minor crimes like public drunkenness for example because he refuses to provide proper care for them, what will get more justice -- him getting indicted for murder and sent to his own jail, or waiting for him to die and go to Hell? Right now, a lot of the people just shrug and say, "God'll cut him down sooner or later." But what if they did not believe in any religion? Then they would have incentive to make sure justice was done now, not many years from now -- and many prisoners otherwise killed by this Sheriff would live.

In short, religion has no positive effect on human behavior, and possibly even some negative effect insofar as it allows people to excuse injustice with "oh well, he'll go to Hell when he dies so it doesn't matter." One thing you have to say about atheists. At least they've never used religion to motivate people to exterminate other people. Granted, some atheists have been nasty folks -- e.g., Josef Stalin. But all that goes to say is that religion doesn't seem to have any effect on whether people do bad things, and thus the argument that religion serves to get better behavior from human beings is just so much bunkum. Choose religion for some other reason -- fellowship, recreation, or really tasty herring, for example -- not because you think religion will make you a better person. Because it won't. The behavior modification argument for religion simply does not fly.

-- Badtux the Tuxologist Penguin

Double-barrel kitteh

I need to go to the restroom. But I have two kittehs sleeping beside me, one on my left, one on my right, nestled up to me to keep me warm.


-- Badtux the Furry-loved Penguin

BART executioner arrested

Johannes Mehserle arrested for murder in Nevada, currently being held with no bail for extradition to California. It's a first step towards trying this man in a court of law rather than in the court of public opinion. But it's only a first step. We'll have to see whether the criminal "justice" system actually does its job here and actively prosecutes Mr. Mehserle as vs. going through the motions for PR purposes. I have my doubts.

Still, given what usually happens here in the Bay Area when a cop shoots a minority in the back and kills him (i.e., nothing), this is highly unusual. I've never seen this happen in the SF Bay Area, in fact. So I have just one question for you: Do you really believe this would have happened if not for days of protests and rioting in Oakland?

I swear, our leaders make it hard to be non-violent these days. It seems that violence is the only thing they understand, the only thing that'll make them do the right thing. Which is not a good thing for the nation at all, since if violence is the only way for people to make their will known to their supposed representatives, violent people will be those who have the most power in our new "Mexico North"...

-- Badtux the Non-Violent Penguin

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

More iPhony got my new Sennheiser MM50 headphones to me today. These are the ones that have the inline mike with button for taking calls. So now I don't have to use my iPod headphones (which don't have a mike) and risk not being able to take a call, yet get all the goodness of a high-end headphone, such as the flat 18hz-22khz frequency range.

One of the interesting things about the iPhone is how little battery power it uses when used as an iPod, i.e., just playing music. Every other smartphone I've ever had burned through battery like it was free when you played music. All I can think is that the iPhone must have some specialty low-power hardware to decode mp3 to waveforms. Of course, Apple has been reducing the power usage and increasing the battery life of iPods ever since they were first released, so this is something they're really, really good at. It's just curious that none of the other smartphone manufacturers have seemed to realize the importance of having low power usage while playing mp3's...

Meanwhile, I'm waiting for more information on Palm's Pre. More on that later as more information comes out...

-- Badtux the Geeky Penguin

Cabin fever

I am just so sick of sitting around in my apartment. But I'm told that if I don't let that muscle re-attach cleanly, it'll scar and pull easily again once "healed". Sigh. At least this is the last day of "don't use it at all", at which point it merely becomes, "be very careful not to re-injure it while it heals"... so I get to do the warm compress, very light stretch, message, ice it down cycle that M-B mentioned, and walking with more normalcy albeit with heel lifts until the muscle is back to full length again.

Oh well, at least I got to find a nice new Korean restaurant via Yelp once I am back ambulatory again. Which reminds me that I have a motivation to learn Korean -- to learn how to order in Korean restaurants without having to look at the (often inaccurate) English translations! Korean is a fairly regular language due to its fairly recent vintage (like Spanish, it benefits from a king gathering together a bunch of scholars to define, "this is the language"), and has a phonetic alphabet, albeit one that's used in somewhat odd ways (syllables are created by stringing the phonemes in a square pattern, then the syllables are strung together to make words). And if I learn it well, maybe I can go check out some of the restaurants that the Fat Man visits in Seoul, heh!

-- Badtux the Gimpy Penguin

One handed

The Mighty Fang is purring in the crook of my left arm. How am I spozed to type?

- Badtux the Cat-colonized Penguin

Right-wing "charity"

As some of you know, I'm on some right-wing mailing lists -- specifically, David Horrorwitz and Wing Nut Daily. From the latter I just got a mournful plea to help keep veterans from being foreclosed upon. It sent me to a charity. Which turned out to be a typical right-wing charity: less than 25% of cash contributions actually went to service members.

There's scam artists out there, folks. Sad to say, most right-wing charities claiming to serve veterans are scams, or at the very least, use little of the donated money to help veterans. Before donating to any charity, check them out at the BBB. While they may have changed their practices since the BBB report, why take the chance?

BTW, this is a common pattern I've noticed about right-wing charities: they're almost always scams. If you want to make a difference, donate to your local soup kitchen, your local Catholic charity serving the needy, etc. At least there the money goes to the people it's supposed to go to, even if they are generally rabid lefties.

-- Badtux the Charitable Penguin

Monday, January 12, 2009

The communications revolution

As some of you know, I'm out of commission at the moment, rather immobilized by a torn leg muscle. In the old days, I really *would* have been out of commission, unable to work or do anything meaningful until I healed. Nowdays... well. I spent much of the day doing code and design reviews of some massive lumps of code that came over the transom, as well as doing some work on the design of a new subsystem for our product. I used the VPN into the office bug tracking system to assign defects to programmers and set priorities and add comments regarding how I want things done. I just got off the line with one of my teams in China, we teleconferenced about their current projects, our medium-range goals for the product they're working on, and what I want to see done over the next two weeks before they head off for their Chinese New Years vacation. And of course I browsed the Internets.

Point being, instantaneous communications make all sorts of things possible. Yet for most of us, we aren't taking advantage of this. We still burn petrofuels every day to go into an office to do work that could be done via teleconference and VPN. It's baffling... and so 20th century. So, when will the workplace join the 21st century? Curious penguins want to know!

-- Badtux the Gimpy Penguin

Fleeing authorities

Bernie Madoff apparently had his imitators, except that Marcus Schrenker apparently decided to fake his death in a rigged plane crash and run for it rather than surrender to the authorities when his financial management business imploded. The fake of his death didn't work, so now he's just a plane (sic) fugitive.

You wonder just how many of these Ponzi schemes there were out there. Of course, the whole U.S. economy was pretty much a Ponzi scheme during the Bush administration, so (shrug)...

-- Badtux the Financial Penguin

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Newspaper industry on verge of collapse

At least twelve major big-city dailies expected to collapse within the next year.

The problem with the newspaper biz is that they're not selling a product the public wants. Newspapers view their biz as selling advertisements. The rest of the newspaper exists only to sell ads. As a result, what passes for journalism in a typical daily newspaper is "he said she said" stenography that is calculated to not offend advertisers (not that this is handed down from the management, this is what's taught as "reporting" by schools of journalism). But the product that the general public wants is truth. If politician A says that a new Medicare drug benefit will cost $1 trillion per year, and politician B says no the new drug benefit will only cost $200 billion per year, the public wants to know who is telling the truth. But newspapers don't tell people that. Newspapers only regurgitate politician A and politician B's words, and refuse to tell people which of these two politicians is telling the truth because that would be "analysis" rather than "reporting". So people turn to alternate sources to try to find truth, whether it's talk radio, the Internet, Faux News, or whatever, eventually cancel their newspaper subscription because if they're getting their truth elsewhere why bother with the newspaper, and newspaper circulation is down 20% since 1990, to the point where fewer Americans read the newspaper today than did when JFK was elected. Which is a shame, because none of these alternative sources have the track record of journalistic integrity that newspapers traditionally had, but if newspapers refuse to give people what they're looking for...

So I'm not seeing much good ahead for the newspaper industry. But this isn't really a problem caused by the economy (except that the economy is causing a reduction in ad spending and thus newspapers don't need as much content to sell the fewer ads that they're getting), and more a problem with an industry losing its way, much like the U.S. auto industry lost its way. My advice to new journalism school grads today: Learn how to blog, and figure that your job is going to be much like a musician's in the future, where there's a few superstars who make a living at it and everybody else has to work a "day job" to make ends meet.

-- Badtux the Pessimistic Penguin

Update on the *snap!*

Still no swelling in the leg after the snap of the muscle band. I think the fact that I had taken an Advil an hour before, and was quick to ice it down afterwards, helped prevent the compartment syndrome (swelling inside the muscle sheath) that typically happens with this. But man, I tell ya, it was mighty scary when it happened, like I said it was a loud "pop* or *snap* like a bone broke or something. Just a muscle band popping off the tendon like a rubber band though.

So anyhow, it's RICE for another couple of days to let the muscle re-attach cleanly, then I can start to very lightly use it again. Regarding ice vs. heat, once I start using it the recommendation is that I apply heat prior to very lightly messaging out the muscle then walking, then ice afterwards to help with pain and swelling. The goal is to prevent or message out scar tissue, which will interfere with the function of the muscle in the future and make a recurrence more likely.

So another couple of days of boredom still ahead. Sigh. At least I have the furry bed warmers...

-- Badtux the Bored Penguin

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Saturday Night Netflix


The movie has a Russian soul, cold and brutal but with warmth in unexpected places.

-- Badtux the Movie-watching Penguin

The best we can do

No video, sad to say... but great song by a great songwriter.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin


I was dancing around, heard a *pop* from my left calf when changing direction, and then a sharp burst of pain and all the symptoms of a grade II Medial Gastrocnemius strain (pain in calf, can't stretch toe without pain, etc., but without the severe bruising and inability to use leg of a grade III strain and no Achilles tendon tenderness so it's not anything to do with that). So now I'm icing it down and about to call Kaiser-Permanente and hoping like hell that my health insurance plan is already on file with them, since I changed my insurance on January 1. Of course, if we were a civilized nation and had single-payer health insurance, I wouldn't need to worry about this, I'd just head to the nearest sports medicine facility and see someone, rather than have to beg Kaiser for the treatment that my employer is paying for... sigh.

Update: Treatment is RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). So I'm lying in bed with my laptop on my belly and a bag of ice water under my calf, as The Mighty Fang keeps my left side warm and Mencken keeps my right side warm, dreading needing to get up in a few minutes to use the restroom. Oh well, at least I have furry bed-warmers to keep my bed warm while I'm tinklin'...

- Badtux the Pained Penguin

An execution

A BART policeman with two years experience by the name of Johannes Mehserle pulled out his handgun at the Fruitvale Station, stood, and fired one round into the back of Oscar Grant. Currently there has been no investigation by any police agency of this execution, though the Mayor of Oakland has ordered the Oakland PD to launch an investigation. Apologists for police executions claim that Officer Mehserle may have thought he was pulling his taser rather than his handgun. That is a bogus claim. I have held both. Tasers are deliberately engineered so that they cannot be confused with handguns. They have square sharp-edged handles rather than gently rounded ones, they are large and blocky rather than slim and sleek, and if you look at the rear of them you see a square electrical gizmo, not the firing pin of a handgun. They *feel* different. A Taser feels like you're holding a toy gun, it's a large, light plastic thingy. A handgun feels *solid*, though I suppose these new-fangled plastic Glocks may feel a bit less solid (my experience with handguns predates plastic guns, a .38 Police Special and a .45 1911 ACP feel like *guns* and not like anything else).

My prediction: Officer Mehserle will toss out the "I thought he had a gun, I felt my life was endangered" card, the all-white grand jury will decline to indict because it was a black man wearing "gangsta" clothing that was executed, a couple more riots will happen in Oakland, BART will pay out a $10M settlement to the survivors in the civil lawsuit, then nothing will happen. This is not the first time that a BART cop has executed someone, and likely will not be the last time. It's just the first time that people with video phones were handy to take video of the execution.

-- Badtux the Execution Penguin

Friday, January 09, 2009

Geeky goodness

Poll: How long will it be before I give in to the urge to jailbreak my iPhone?

  1. less than 24 hours
  2. 24 to 72 hours
  3. 72 hours to one week
  4. three weeks
  5. months
Put your poll choice in comments :-).

In other geeky news, Palm just demonstrated its new Palm Pre smartphone, which looks like it's going to be an iPhone killer with a totally new smartphone OS based on Linux and designed for touchscreens from the beginning, but with Palm's well-known attention to easy-to-use interface design (something forced upon them due to the limitations of the original Palm Pilot hardware, but which they've turned into a virtue over the years). Palm has fixed numerous problems with the iPhone's user interface. Palm knows that thumb-boards are much faster to enter text on than the on-screen keyboard of the iPhone, so made a slide-out thumb-board -- in the *vertical* direction rather than a horizontal one like everybody else does. Some other iPhone problems fixed: a) cut-and-paste between applications, b) non-evil policies for writing applications that allow applications to extend internal Pre functionality rather than requiring all apps to run in a "sandbox" where they cannot interact with anybody, c) real multi-tasking, handled via "cards" similar to the way that iPhone Safari handles multiple web pages, d) one-handed operation. Operate the iPhone one-handed. I dare you. It'll slip out of your hand like a bar of soap as you try to tap things that are above where your thumb can naturally reach.

Only bummer: It isn't available until May at the earliest. And it's only available on Splint. Sigh. Oh well, maybe Apple will fix some of these issues in their upcoming iPhone 3.0 software... I can hope, anyhow!

-- Badtux the Geeky Penguin

Bookish cat

The Mighty Fang is apparently enamored of Design Patterns. Or, at least, the strings which are coming out of it. Somehow I doubt that TMF is that interested in object-oriented programming...

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Thursday, January 08, 2009

A scenario

A bank robber just gunned down a bank teller and grabbed some money that he stuffed in a satchel that he slung over his shoulder. Then he grabbed one of the customers of the bank and is now standing outside the bank with his gun held to the head of the customer.

You are a police officer. You have a 9mm handgun in your hand. Unfortunately, this customer, an innocent bystander, is being held hostage between you and a vicious criminal. What do you do?

  1. Take cover, and call for a hostage negotiation team and SWAT team. While waiting for the hostage negotiation team, attempt to negotiate with the criminal for his peaceful surrender, but don't unduly endanger yourself or the hostage while doing so. Rely on the hostage negotiation team and/or the SWAT sniper to take out the criminal without unduly endangering the hostage's life.
  2. Stand where you are and point your gun at the tiny piece of the criminal's head showing from behind the hostage in case he decides to point his gun towards you rather than towards the hostage. If he does so, attempt to shoot him with your 9mm handgun, despite the fact that, as a typical police officer, you can barely hit the side of a barn with your service weapon from 100 yards. If your first shot gets the hostage rather than the bad guy, oh well, that's the breaks. At least your second shot got the bad guy, which is all that counts, right?
  3. Shoot the hostage, then when the hostage falls, shoot the vicious criminal bank robber. When charged with murder for shooting the hostage, shrug and say "I'm not the one responsible for killing the hostage, the vicious criminal bank robber is."
Civilized nations, civilized police officers, adopt #1. If #2 happens, the police officer's career is over because he violated policy, which is to a) protect the hostage, b) protect himself, and c) wait for backup and more pin-point weapons to arrive in order to negotiate the surrender of or take out the bad guy.

#3 doesn't happen in civilized nations. But that's the excuse that Israel is giving for civilian casualties in Gaza, that and both Israel and Hamas using an over-broad definition of "combatant" that makes every Israeli over the age of 18 a combatant (since every Israeli must serve in the military or associated organizations) despite the fact that traffic cops, teachers, social workers, nurses, and university professors don't fit any civilized person's definition of "combatants". But nevermind that, let's talk about the bloodied children whose photos are all over the civilized world (except here in the United States). "The bad guys are hiding amongst civilians and using civilians as hostages!" the Israel apologists exclaim. Uhm, okay. But we have procedures for that which don't require shooting the hostages or endangering the hostages in order to get the bad guy. It's called police work. Which is utterly the opposite of "Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius." It may seem surprising to some people that Israel is channeling the words of a Catholic magistrate, given the complicity of the Catholic Church when it came to the genocide of the Holocaust. But apparently Israel as a nation has decided that the best way to avoid being a victim again is to become the people who they hate. Hmm....

So anyhow: What is happening in Gaza right now is the militarization of what is, essentially, a police problem. There are probably less than 500 Hamas fighters and top Hamas leaders involved in the war crime of shooting rockets at Israel. Israel has now already killed more then 500 Palestinians who were *not* Hamas fighters and leaders. This is as if the cops surrounded a bank robbery in progress and, rather than handle the hostage situation, decided to just open fire on the whole bank with automatic weapons and let God sort it out. Yeah, you might have killed the three bank robbers, but killing the thirty customers who were standing in line at the time of the bank robbery would kinda be frowned upon here in civilization...

-- Badtux the Police Penguin