Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mutual grooming

Mencken is getting happily groomed as he sits on my lap, with me combing out his fur with the cat brush. He, in turn, is happily grooming my arm with his raspy tongue.

Life with cats continues...

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Makers and takers

One of the idiotic things that the modern followers of Ayn Rand whine about is "makers" and "takers", people who create things vs. redistributionists who would take their wealth. Problem is, these people doing the whining are almost universally takers, not makers.

Look. I'm an engineer. I design things, whether it's a bracket for adding cruise control to a KLR-650 motorcycle, or a new software system for cluster management of clustered replicated NAS systems. And my total assets after subtracting my debts are maybe $20K. That's it. And my relatives who work in the GM plant are even worse off. They make cars, for crying out loud, one of the most expensive single items (other than houses) that anybody will ever buy. And they have problems putting tables on their food. I mean, they were required to take a month off WITHOUT PAY, when they are barely surviving paycheck to paycheck. That rich bastard Wagner never had to take a month off without pay. Of course, now he gets the rest of his life off, but still with pay, over $25M worth of retirement pay for running GM into the ground. Who's the redistributionist? Who's the taker? It sure the fuck isn't the poor bastard putting the cars together, that's for sure!

Meanwhile, the takers -- the CEO's making millions of dollars, the Wall Street mavens pulling in seven-figure bonuses, the investment bankers living in mansions on Long Island -- make *nothing*. Nada. They are creative as rocks and wouldn't know how to make anything. Unless you count bullshit and an unwarranted sense of entitlement to be something. Yet they're taking the wealth created by people like me, people like my relatives who work in the GM plant, as if it's just their due for being "makers". What do they make? Nothing. Less than nothing. They're takers. Yet they, not us working stiffs, are the ones whining about how "redistributionists" will punish the "makers"? When they themselves are the redistributionists? What kinds fucking BULLSHIT is this, anyhow?

-- Badtux the Maker Penguin

Quote of the day

"Let's start with a premise that I don't think a lot of Americans are aware of. We have five percent of the world's population; we have 25 percent of the world's known prison population. There are only two possibilities here: either we have the most evil people on earth living in the United States; or we are doing something dramatically wrong in terms of how we approach the issue of criminal justice." -- Senator Jim Webb, D(Va)

If only we had more politicians with courage...

-- Badtux the Wistful Penguin

Not ready for prime time

The much heralded Skype For iPhone arrived today, and like the dutiful geek I am, I installed it on my iPhone. I put in my user ID and password, and hey, worked! Well, sort of. My contacts list came up, so I decided to send a message to a friend. I hit his name, hit the 'Chat' button by his name, and started typing in the first line of the message... and as I hit characters on the keypad, the phone got slower... and slower... and slower... to respond, until finally it locked up altogether and Skype crashed and put me back at the Springboard application menu. Okay, so something went wrong there, so I tried again... and again... and again... out of four attempts to send a single-line message to the friend, only *one* went through, the rest ended up with crashes.

Too bad. Good idea, lousy execution. Skype must be taking programming lessons from Microsoft(tm), when they should have been taking programming lessons from Linux. Sigh.

-- Badtux the Programmer Penguin

A modest request

Can anybody direct me to a webcomic of similar quality to Girl Genius?

-- Badtux the Geeky Penguin

Marines really *do* have brass balls

Bored Marines doing typical Marine duty (i.e., lots of sitting and standing around being bored). Watch as one Marine, bored out of his skull, moves a metal detector wand over his body just to wand himself. Listen to the beeps as it encounters metal stuff like buttons and grenades. Listen to the beeps when it reaches his crotch area. Heh.

This is what it means to be a Marine 90%+ of the time, not the romantic shit on the television commercials. Methinks if Gordon of Alternate Brain fame came around, he'd be amused.

-- Badtux the Easily Amused Penguin

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Huffington Post is twits

They are now proud members of the "Twitter Generation", which is incapable of holding any thought in its pitiful little "mind" that is more than a few dozen words long. Yes, Huffington Post now prohibits long comments in their comments section. Fuck them and the fucking Twittering twit morons that they rode on in. They're as useless as bicycles for fish.

- Badtux the Not-twit Penguin

Good riddance to bad rubbish

Rick Wagoner is out at GM -- Obama said to GM, "not a dime more as long as Wagoner is CEO", and Wagoner quit before he was fired by the board. Given Wagoner's unblemished record of failure as a manager, I agree with Jerry Flint: good riddance to bad rubbish.

You'll note that neither Ford nor Chrysler are being asked to change management. That's because both companies already have new management rather than the management that got them into trouble. That is not, however, stopping the tighty righties from getting their panties into a knot over the firing of Wagoner. Nevermind that any investor investing money into GM would have said, "not a dime until Wagoner is gone" because the man was clearly utterly incompetent, for some reason the job of a rich white man is more important to them than the jobs of the tens of thousands of working people that Wagoner's mismanagement has eliminated.

But then, the Republicans only pretend to care about those tens of thousands of working people anyhow. What they are is the party of rich white men, in the end. Anybody who fails to see that is being blinded by ignorance and propaganda, because every single Republican policy -- *EVERY* single Republican policy -- is intended to benefit rich white men at the expense of, well, the rest of us. So now they huddle together and whine in defense of yet another rich white man -- Rick Wagoner -- while saying not a yelp about the millions of Americans who've been thrown out of jobs over the past year by the Bush Depression. How suprising.

-- Badtux the Unsurprised Penguin

PS: The rich bastard is heading into the sunset with a $20M retirement package, so the tighty righties sure are getting their panties in a knot about nothing, we won't find Wagoner destitute and homeless and begging for pennies on the streets of Detroit anytime soon... alas, given how many of his victims have been reduced to that.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Oh yeah...

What I spent my day doing: House cleaning, then discovering what color my carpet was under all the encrusted cat puke. My little Hoover carpet shampoo machine does a great job, but it's slow, slow, slow -- one tank of water cleans about five square yards of carpet, then it's time for a refill. But now I can proudly proclaim that my carpet is the color of... err, cat puke. Except not encrusted. It's that beautiful beige-tan color that was so fashionable in the mid 1990's when this apartment was built. Sigh.

-- Badtux the Cleaning Penguin

Random movie idea

Chicken Coup.

A military coup... with chickens! Think Chicken Run, except with better uniforms.

-- Badtux the Silly Penguin

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Better idiots, please

So some conservatives have been blathering about emigrating someplace other than the United States. Obama, they fear, is going to ruin the nation with his socialist health care system, high taxes, large role for government, and nationalization of various industries. So they've been talking about emigrating to... wait for it...

Costa Rica.

Yes, Costa Rica. Which has a socialist health care system, high taxes, large role for government, and nationalization of various industries. Not to mention a disdain for pushy gringos with an unwarranted sense of entitlement, the ticos lose their English quickly when an American comes in demanding things, and a tico jail followed by a swift deportation is the usual result.

Conservative idiots. Their ignorance of the world is the gift that keeps on giving.

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

(H/T toBalloon Juice).

Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday night music`

A little Emmylou and limey gee-tarist never hurt nobody...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Paul Krugman slanders stage magicians

The money quote from his latest editorial:

Underlying the glamorous new world of finance was the process of securitization. Loans no longer stayed with the lender. Instead, they were sold on to others, who sliced, diced and puréed individual debts to synthesize new assets. Subprime mortgages, credit card debts, car loans — all went into the financial system’s juicer. Out the other end, supposedly, came sweet-tasting AAA investments. And financial wizards were lavishly rewarded for overseeing the process.

But the wizards were frauds, whether they knew it or not, and their magic turned out to be no more than a collection of cheap stage tricks. Above all, the key promise of securitization — that it would make the financial system more robust by spreading risk more widely — turned out to be a lie. Banks used securitization to increase their risk, not reduce it, and in the process they made the economy more, not less, vulnerable to financial disruption.

As Krugman points out on his blog, this slanders stage magicians. Stage magicians make an honest living. FInancial wizards don't -- they sell products with no real backing using fraudulent means to investors who have no way of knowing better.

The basic problem with securitization is that it moves the risk from the banks to the investors, thereby reducing the incentive for banks to make loans only to people who could repay the loans. See, if the bank owned the loan, they would have to eat any losses themselves. But if they sold them to investors, the investors would have to eat the losses! So there was an incentive to make risky loans, because the risk fell on investors, not on them.

Institutional investors, however, had an "out" -- they could write into their contracts that if the loans went bad within less than a year, they could give the loans back to the bank and get paid back what they paid for the loans. This is what did in Countrywide Home Loans, their loan brokers made loans so risky that all too many of them went sour before the first payment. At that point, Countrywide was a) out the money they'd paid the broker for originating the loan, b) out the money it would take to foreclose upon and re-sell the home whose loan had gone sour (generally around 10% of the price of the loan). The losses killed them.

So anyhow -- securitization encouraged brokers to scam the system. They'd get their brokerage fees, yet have none of the risks. Which is why Krugman is concerned that the White House's proposals amount to nothing more than a shiny paint job on a broken-down old jalopie. Yeah, they're painting that old Ford Pinto a nice pretty color of red. But it's still a Ford Pinto, and it still will burst into flames upon the merest little tap of a downturning economy... only by putting both risk and reward back into the same institution, like it was back when banks and S&L's were in charge of lending money for new homes, will there be any real reform. No amount of regulation will make the perverse incentives of securitization go away. You might as well ask a horse to not eat grass, or a dog to not eat meat... it's just the nature of the beast.

-- Badtux the Economics Penguin

Clean feet

The Mighty Fang makes sure he has'em.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mental health break

My cats are no geniuses. But compared to this guy...

Heh. In the bag, indeed.

-- Badtux the Easily-amused Penguin

Run away! Run away!

Well, you've heard about the Boston Pee Party, and the Boston Pee Party #2. But this one could only happen in a Monty Python movie -- or in London, England. Turns out that the bomb squad was called out in East London because a streets worker discovered the item to the left in a street drain (undoubtedly washed into it during a downpour), saw the word 'grenade', and... well. You know the rest.

It is unclear whether there are any killer rabbits involved in this story, but given the details, it seems unlikely.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Math is, like, hard! (Republican edition)

Reality-based economist Brad DeLong notices that the Republicans in the House of Representatives have invented a new concept:

A budget without numbers! What will they think of next!

Republicans. The Party of Stupid. Alrighty, then!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Radical right setting up coup

Christopher Hitchens sobered up enough (or got sobered up enough) to notice some scary stuff happening in our "ally"(*) Israel:

The zealot settlers and their clerical accomplices are establishing an army within the army so that one day, if it is ever decided to disband or evacuate the colonial settlements, there will be enough officers and soldiers, stiffened by enough rabbis and enough extremist sermons, to refuse to obey the order. Torah verses will also be found that make it permissible to murder secular Jews as well as Arabs. The dress rehearsals for this have already taken place, with the religious excuses given for Baruch Goldstein's rampage and the Talmudic evasions concerning the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.
The difference between Hamas and Israel's radical right is, apparently, only one of number, not of kind. They're both radical extremists who want to murder other human beings and quote scripture verses justifying such. And according to one of my Israeli correspondents, the radical Jewish right-wingers pop out babies with all the same zeal as the radical Hamas types. The only real difference appears to be that one group is Muslims, and one group is Jewish. Well, that, and one group has access to 21st-century weaponry while the other group doesn't.

Note that in the world's largest Jewish state, the nation that has more Jews than any other nation on the planet, the Jewish population is overwhelmingly opposed to the radical agenda of Israel's radical religious right. I am talking about, of course, the United States of America, which has a larger Jewish population than Israel and where the overwhelming majority of Jews disagree with the agenda of Israel's religious right. So criticizing this agenda doesn't make you anti-semitic, no matter how much these right-wing thugs try to say so. Unless the majority of the world's Jews are "self-hating Jews". Which, of course, these right-wing thugs have no trouble saying, but anybody with any sense calls "bullshit" at that point. Alrighty, then!

-- Badtux the Geopolitics Penguin

(*) The only thing Israel has ever done for the United States is kill or injure a lot of Americans. That, and steal U.S. nuclear secrets. Otherwise Israel has contributed no troops to U.S. peacekeeping efforts, does not allow any U.S. forces to be based in Israel, and otherwise does nothing -- nada, zilch, zero -- to help the United States. Some "ally".

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

VAT taxes and financial crack

So one of the tax options floated by the Never Right has been a VAT tax. This is similar to the sales tax hike recently passed here in California: It's a tax on consumption. Err... so the answer to an economic crisis caused by a collapse in consumption is, err, a tax on consumption?

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

My head hurts :-(.

-- Badtux the "That's illogical, Captain Kirk" Penguin

Ah yes, the nuttiness continues...

In our last recap, World Nut Daily claimed that judges, not the voters, should choose who is President, and that President Obama's birth certificate was not President Obama's birth certificate and in fact was something else entirely that wasn't a birth certificate despite the fact that the Hawaii State Department of Vital Records and journalists who examined it say it's a birth certificate. Except it's not, because it doesn't have all the information that some birth certificates have on them, so it's not really a birth certificate and thus Obama is a Soviet agent planted on U.S. soil in 1991 in order to bring Communism to America. Or something like that.

And I just went over to World Nut Daily and... err... they're still at it. They even got Rep. Bill Posey (R-Tinfoilhat) to attempt to introduce a bill calling for only those candidates approved by the Guardian Council as meeting all requirements for the Presidency be allowed to run for President. Oh wait, sorry, that was the Iranian Constitution that set out that requirement, nevermind, but Bill Posey did try to bring the Iranian Constitution's requirement into U.S. law. Can't have anybody run who is not properly vetted, after all. Why, such an person might even decide to let women wear pants and flaunt their hair openly, or even expose a little thigh or something! And then the whole Iranian Revolution will collapse in an orgy of lust! Oh wait, I'm getting Rep. Posey confused with the Iranian Parliament again, oops, sorry. It's just so hard to tell the difference between them sometimes!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

PS: I don't have an original copy of my birth certificate, and the original on file with the state got destroyed when the Federal Flood after Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans, which is where the Louisiana Department of Vital Records was located. However, all that information was entered into computers long ago and the backup tapes were *not* lost in the flood, thus they will happily issue me a Certification of Live Birth "certifying information on file with the Louisiana Department of Vital Records", hot off their laser printers. Every single person born in Louisiana apparently is not eligible for President according to the wingnuts. Wow!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Well, at least she didn't say "uppity"

But you just know that Laura Ingraham's guest host, Tammy Bruce, really wanted to use that word about the Obamas. And you can almost hear her fighting the urge to call Michelle Obama "nigger". Coding it behind the word "trash" doesn't hide the sentiment.

Ah yes, our right-wingers are letting the pointy hats cut off the flow of blood to their brains, methinks. Such bigotry is so.... 1929. Just like their economic policies.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Monday, March 23, 2009

Still following Krugman vs. DeLong

Both have fired back additional missives at each other over the Gaither plan.

It's so much fun watching an intellectual discussion between two rational people. As for my own opinion of the Gaither plan: I simply don't have enough information to discuss this rationally. I would need to know what assets we're talking about, whether they really *do* have any real value (that is, that there are physical assets in meatspace that this paper represents, rather than this paper being derivatives of derivatives of derivatives three times removed from anything real that can be seized towards paying their face value), and how long we're talking about keeping them while waiting for the market to notice that, hey, houses may have lost half their value but they're still real so marking them down to $0 is irrational... the devil is in the details, and I simply don't know enough details on what assets we're talking about to make any judgement at all.

So for the moment I'm going to sit on the sidelines and munch popcorn. That, and hug my big furry loving kitty cat, who is purring happily on my lap (for the moment -- I need to get up and go to work shortly, alas).

-- Badtux the Economics Penguin

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Electronic crack

Going to be busy for a few days, bought some electronic crack.

Also bought a Kenwood TM-D710A, but had to delay its installation because my electrical supply isn't up to snuff. I bought the electronic crack because I passed it by while getting some 10 gauge wire for wiring up a new circuit panel in my Jeep. Already have the antenna, just need the friggin' juice...

So anyhow, The Mighty Fang is getting upset that I'm typing rather than petting him and is grabbing my hand with his claws to pull towards him, so gotta go...

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

The Gaither Plan FAQ

Rational economist Brad DeLong has it, with appropriate snark where it is needed.

Then on the other hand Krugman fires back that DeLong is over-optimistic about the value of those securities. He calls it just a bigger variant of Hank Paulson's old plan, the one Paulson jettisoned when it became clear that it would not work.

Then on the third hand...

This penguin is going to continue munching on the popcorn while watching the reputable economists (as vs. the Chicago School hacks) squabble over this thing. May the best hand win!

-- Badtux the Economics Penguin

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The economics of Herbert Hoover

What is amazing today are the number of supposedly competent economists of the Chicago school who are, deliberately or not, echoing the economic theories that dominated the Presidency of Herbert Hoover in support of the Republican Party. Here is one of them, for example, talking about the interventions to prop up the banking system:

The government's interventions may prevent the reallocation of stagnant capital to more productive ends. Hence, rising unemployment.

This is the Mises/Hayeck view that was in vogue during the Presidency of Herbert Hoover, most vociferously advocated by Hoover's Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon. Mr. Mellon had only one formula: “Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers, liquidate real estate.” He was but reflecting the view of Hayeck and other scholars of the Depression of 1873, who held that depressions were caused by the misallocation of capital to parts of the economy that did not need so many resources, and that the correct action was to liquidate that over-invested portion of the economy and re-allocate those resources to places where they were needed.

But the problem today is not the reallocation of stagnant capital. This is not 1873 and we do not have 70% of the U.S. economy building railroads only to finish building the railroads and suddenly having all these capital assets with nothing for them to do. The U.S. economy today is dominated by services, not by industry, and we do not have the problem of having surplus steel foundaries and hundreds of thousands of laid-off railroad construction workers caused by the fact that we spent the late 1860's and early 1870's rebuilding the railroad network of the South and finishing off several cross-continent rail lines. Today's problem is a mismatch between demand and supply caused by a reduced propensity to spend (and lend) caused by people viewing the future value of their money as being greater than the present value of their money for whatever reason, thus causing the so-called "paradox of thrift" where saving more money (because it is presumed to be more valuable to them in the future when the economy turns up in the case of banks, or when they become unemployed in the case of consumers) causes reduced demand and thus reduced economic output.

In other words, we're in KeynesLand, not Herbert Hoover-land. If the problem was stagnant capital, the Republicans channeling Herbert Hoover would be absolutely correct. However, that is not the problem, the problem is a collapse of demand across the board -- i.e., rather than the problem being that the economy is demanding goods not currently being manufactured (because those resources had been diverted towards railroad construction) such as in 1873, the problem is that demand for *all* goods has collapsed, across all industries. In short, there's no place to divert stagnant capital *to* even if existed, because there is no part of the economy currently experiencing more demand than it is capable of supplying, unless you are talking about the demand for soup at soup kitchens.

In short, Republicans are channeling Herbert Hoover, and are as right today as Herbert Hoover was in 1930. I.e., if you'd been talking about the Depression of 1873 they likely would have been correct, but this is not 1873 and applying the lessons of 1873 to today is as completely and utterly inappropriate today as it was in 1930.

-- Badtux the Economics Penguin

Friday, March 20, 2009

Gun fetishism

You want to survive the collapse of civilization? Don't bother accumulating a gigantic arsenal of guns and ammunition and food enough for a decade. Join a church. Or do like Dean Ing, who called himself a "practical survivalist", did -- move to a small town, join the Chamber of Commerce, and become personal friends with the Chief of Police and the head of the local National Guard unit. Because while some amount of guns and ammunition are useful, in the end victory goes to the organized. Lone gunmen with a bunch of rifles end up dead, always, when facing an organized SWAT team intent upon clearing the neighborhood of any opposition to the new Committee to Re-make America God's Way that has hired them on due to the collapse of the federal government.

Which, BTW, is why I'm not interested in furthering the collapse of civilization... as a practicing Tuxologist, having to give up the practice of the Sacrament of the Herring and swear allegience to some vicious invisible sky demon as vs. a nice cuddly penguin makes my flippers shivver...

-- Badtux the non-magical Penguin

Oooh, bad fiction snark!

-- There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.


-- Badtux the Snark-appreciatin' Penguin

Sun shine afternoon

The Mighty Fang is just catchin' some rays, yessir...

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Happy Short And Glorious War Day!

"It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months." -- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Feb. 7, 2003

How about six mother-fucking YEARS, Donald fucking Rumsfeld? Yessir, that's six years today since the first U.S. troops crossed into Iraq for Rumsfeld's short and glorious war. Six years, over a million dead including over 4,000 Americans, and for what? A dead dictator who was no threat to America, had no capability to strike America, and had never attacked America? Over $1.2 trillion dollars spent on this god-forsaken cat box from hell? What, exactly, is it that we're supposed to have gotten in exchange for this sea of red ink, this sea of blood, these millions of lives destroyed? We have a country in ruins in the Middle East, a country not far from ruins here in the United States because of eight years of neglect by so-called "leaders" who preferred playing Stratego with real human flesh and bone to actually doing, like, their motherfucking JOBS which are to take care of America and Americans not some dusky-skinned fellers overseas, and oh yeah, that evil-ass motherfucker who attacked us on September 11, 2001? That motherfucker is still lolling around in his cushy condo in Islamabad laughing his ass off at us.

I'm supposed to feel "safer" because the U.S. military managed to overthrow some dumbass dictator in the Middle East. Fuck, we've done that with a few million dollars and a few CIA agents before in the past, just ask the folks in Chile and Guatemala and Iran all of whom had governments overthrown by the CIA for much less, so why the fuck should I feel safer after all these hundreds of billions of dollars spent to do the same goddamned thing? Living in a bankrupt-ass nation does not make me feel safer. And knowing that Osama bin Laden, Donald fucking Rumsfeld, and all these other criminals who've killed thousands of Americans are still running around free as a bird does not make me feel safer. And knowing that we've turned one of the least Islamist countries in the Middle East into a cesspool of jihad does not make me feel safer. You know what would make me feel safer? Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush, Alberto Gonzales, and all the rest of those torturing murderous bastards all up on the gallows waiting in line to have a rope put around their neck for war crimes. I mean, they did the same kind of murderous war crimes that we hung people for at Nuremberg. Seeing criminals get their due... that makes me feel safer.

But alas it ain't gonna happen. These motherfuckers are going to die in their sleep at age 80, just like that ratbastard Richard Nixon did. Because if we put them on trial, then we -- the people of the United States -- would have to admit that it's our fault, too. We elected these bastards, after all. And re-elected them in 2004. And don't give me that shit about stolen elections and crap like that, if the majority of Americans had come out and voted against these ratbastards, they couldn't have won an election for motherfucking dog catcher no matter how many votes they tried to suppress or steal. But 30% of Americans just didn't give a shit -- they stayed home, they had no problem with President George W. Bush and his whole murderous incompetent nation-destroying tenure as President. And of the 70% of Americans who did come out to vote, half of them voted for Bush. Meaning that 65%+ of Americans had absolutely no problem -- none at all -- with President George W. Bush. You really think this majority of Americans is going to condone having it rubbed in their motherfucking faces that they're a bunch of motherfucking morons who condoned torture and killing millions of people simply because this 65%+ of Americans is a buncha motherfucking COWARDS who would rather attack someone who LOOKS threatening than wait and see whether he really IS threatening? Do you? If you do, you're a motherfucking moron. It ain't gonna happen. 'Cause we seen the enemy and he is US.

Nuff said about that shit. So it's six years later, Iraq and the United States are in ruins, President Obama is in the midst of declaring victory and withdrawing a military so devastated by the continued combat that it's enlisting rapists to fill the ranks, and everybody's going to just ignore the elephant in the room that is the Iraq war and pretend it isn't going on anymore. So it goes, in the United States of (self) Delusion, where every day is just one more day we pretend that we're a just and fair and charitable people, all the while that we do the most unjust, vicious, and venal things to both ourselves and to the world at large...

-- Badtux the Rude Penguin

Thursday, March 19, 2009

An interesting paper

The Party of Hoover, today as in 1929, is whining and screaming that the Federal Reserve is making things worse with its current actions to support the money supply and ease lending (the most recent of which is Helicopter Ben hauling his helicopter fleet out of the shop to print another trillion dollars to buy government securities and more commercial and mortgage paper). Brad DeLong leads me to this paper giving historical data showing the opposite. According to his historical data, even in the Great Depression, the Federal Reserve's actions were still better than no actions at all -- see, by contrast, the Depression of 1873 (the so-called "Long Depression", which was deeper than the Great Depression and lasted much longer).

Yet more proof that the Party of Hoover is a party bereft of intellectual heft and in thrall to bankrupt ideas with no connection to reality...

-- Badtux the Economics Penguin

I get *MORE* mail!

A Christian fundamentalist "urban ministry" wants me to come to New York City during Spring Break to convert African refugees arriving from Muslim countries to Christianity!

Yeah right, as if that's happening -- a buncha white goobers from suburban megachurches converting dark-skinned people from the most diverse religion in America to the whitest religion in America. Pull the other flipper, why doncha?!

I know how I got onto all these mailing lists, BTW. I donated money to John McCain's campaign in early 2000 because it was clear that George W. Bush would be a disaster as President and it was clear that we would be electing a Republican because the press for some reason was attacking Al Gore mercilessly to destroy his electoral chances (yes, I was prescient). I stay on them mostly for the amusement value, same reason I'm on World Nut Daily's list and David Horrorwitz's list.

-- Badtux the Easily Amused Penguin

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I get mail!

The latest one: the National Republican Congressional Committee begging for money to "head off the fiscal insanity that is the Democratic stimulus package."

Fiscal insanity, huh? Guess you Republican types know what fiscal insanity looks like first-hand, given that you handed a $1 trillion dollar deficit to President Obama :-).

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

So what's the endgame?

So how do we exit the current economic crisis? We could have a massive war that required the full efforts of all Americans to build a vast war machine capable of arming the world, I suppose, but massive wars in an era of nuclear weapons tend to get rather... radioactive... so forgive me if I don't think that's really a viable option.

Then there's the option of resuming American consumer culture in its full glory. But the problem is, as some commentators have noted, the world is simply running out of resources to support Americans in the lifestyle to which they aspire.

Right now I am seeing two possibilities:

  1. Mexico North, where there is a small and insanely wealthy oligarchy that owns everything and everybody else lives in abject poverty eking out a meagre living on whatever crumbs the oligarchs throw out their way, or
  2. something a bit more socialist than what a lot of Americans feel comfortable with.
Option #1 is not acceptable for reasons that should become clearer as I continue here. The basic problem, as I've pointed out before, is that idle hands are the Devil's workshop. The purpose of an economy is a) to keep people employed doing something other than plotting trouble (i.e., you want to maintain as close to full employment as is practical in an economy that retains labor mobility), b) optimize the production and distribution of goods within that economy, and c) optimize investment into future innovations that can make life for the people within that economy easier. The ultimate goal of any economic system is not the blind worship of Communism or socialism or capitalism or whatever, but to get the best life for the most people. In other words, the outcome -- a good life for most people -- is what's important here, not the ideology being pushed by various groups of religious ideologues.

Unfortunately, (b) and (c) are to a certain extent incompatible with (a). Communist systems have perpetual labor shortages (and thus perpetual full employment) because they are so inefficient at (b) and (c), but we've rendered a large portion of our population redundant by being so good at (b) and (c), meaning that they've spent the past thirty years selling real estate to one another when not selling each other burger and fries or pretending that they're day traders. It takes less longshoremen to operate the Port of Oakland today (or let's say last year, when the port was operating at full capacity) than it took forty years ago when the Port handled far less tonnage of cargo, because most of the cargo today is containerized and basically gets plucked off the ship by a crane, plopped down on a railroad flatcar, and hauled off to its final destination with very little human intervention.

So while our system is pretty good at (b) and (c), we have to do something about (a). As I've pointed out elsewhere, we can't simply ask our surplused population to starve to death for our pleasure. People don't willingly starve to death. They find a scapegoat for their problems and go kill him. And as one of those potential scapegoats (especially after my recent promotion and pay hike), I value my neck too much. And putting them on the dole, as some countries do, simply isn't a viable option -- they're idle hands, they're not contributing *anything* not even sandwich artistry or real estate salesmanship in that case, and it merely papers over the problem rather than putting them to work doing something at least somewhat useful.

So in the end, I believe we're going to have to introduce some deliberate "socialistic" inefficiencies into our economy to keep everybody employed. Which is going to give our oligarchs a real cardiac problem, and the stupid ones will fight against it tooth and nail, trying to turn the USA into Mexico North. But there simply isn't much alternative if we want to prevent a bloody revolution by the people that our modern high-tech economy has rendered useless. I believe that we're going to end up with a lower overall standard of living because of this and because of the higher taxes needed to pay for it all, but the good news is that we might end up more like Europe -- more irrelevant to the world, but where people are happier with less "stuff" because their "socialist" governments give them more work-place protections and more paid vacation time.

So what are these "socialist" things that might be done? I'm still thinking on that. In the meantime, go study the German economy and try to figure out how they manage to give their workers six weeks of paid vacation per year yet still be quite competitive in the world market...

-- Badtux the Sombre Economics Penguin

Bipartisan stupidity

Both the left and right blogospheres are up in arms about a proposal by the Obama Administration to have the VA bill private health insurers for service-related conditions. At which point, my bullshit detector goes off and I go research and say, oooh, boy. What a bunch of pantywaists.

See, here's the deal: The VA proposal would not deny care to a single veteran. The veteran would show up at the VA as usual for care for his service-related conditions. The VA would take care of the veteran as usual. *IF* the veteran had private insurance because, for example, he worked for a large corporation and was covered under that large corporation's group policy, the VA would also bill that private insurer thus helping out the VA budget by skimming some of health insurers' obscene profits. If the veteran did not, the VA would still provide care as under the current system.

In short, I'm trying to figure out why so many people have their panties in a wad, and I ain't seein' it. I can see why health insurers would be screaming bloody murder because the administration is threatening to skim some of their obscene profits to help cover veterans' health care expenses. But why are so many left-wing bloggers going along with this bullshit, giving cover to obscenely profitable health insurers who are upset that they will be required to, like, actually spend some money on health care? This penguin is confused!

-- Badtux the Health Care Penguin

PS: Screaming health insurers and their useful idiots on the left and right have successfully defeated this proposal to tax their insane profits in order to help improve veteran's health care. Way to go, useful idiots!

A culture of bullying

Mark Ames has an explanation for the Alabama shooting spree last week: a culture of bullying, where bullying is seen as "just the way it is" and wealthy plutocrats bullying and looting their workers is seen as "how it should be." Interesting topic. I must think about it.

-- Badtux the Thinking Penguin

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

God Hates Figs

No, that is not a typo: (Clicky to embiggen)

Anytime someone whines to me about the Bible and gay marriage and shit, I'll just ask them if they've ever eaten a Fig Newton. 'Cause if they have, they're going to Hell, it says so right in the BIble, heh!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

The truth that shall not be told

Patrick Buchanan brings up the obnoxious case of so-called "Americans" who put the interests of Israel ahead of the interests of their supposed home country (and, specifically, the interests of one political party in Israel -- the Likud Party -- ahead of the interests of their supposed homeland), and, predictably, is immediately blasted as anti-semitic.

I have no doubt that Patrick Buchanan has some old-school Irish opinions of Jews. But this particular instance, he does not mention Jews, the Jewish faith, or anything to do with religion. He merely points out that certain "Americans" seem to have a greater allegiance to the State of Israel and, specifically, to a certain political party within the State of Israel (that is, the Likud party) than they do to the United States of America. This is not anti-semitism. It is a simple statement of fact -- there have been numerous examples of U.S. citizens who have been sent to jail for spying on behalf of Israel here in the USA, indeed, the entire Israeli nuclear weapons program (the one that "doesn't exist", smirk!) is based upon data stolen from U.S. weapons labs, and numerous examples of Likudniks who control the U.S. Israeli lobby pushing the U.S. government into taking actions against U.S. interests in the Middle East. To take the jump from that to say that Patrick Buchanan is making a blanket indictment of Jews and/or of the Jewish faith is a pure smear typical of the Israel lobby here in the United States, which is quick to libel and defame any criticism of Likud and its obnoxious and possibly genocidal policies towards Arabs as if any criticism means you want to exterminate the Jewish race.

Now, ole' Pat is a gentleman, so he ain't gonna say what needs saying about that pile of reeking bullshit, so I will. It's fucking bullshit, is what it is, and a goddamned lie, and I'm going to goddamned well call it a fucking lie and call you a liar if you goddamned well try to pull that fucking shit on me. Criticizing the policies of a political party and its supporters does *not* mean that you want to exterminate all members of that political parties, has not a goddamned thing to do with religion or race, and facts are facts regardless of whether you like them or not. So fuck that shit, and fuck the lying liars who spew that kind of shit.

-- Badtux the Rude Penguin

eBay insanity

There's something weird going on with eBay. For some reason every auction I've bid on lately has ended up going for some price way above what the item is really worth (as verified by checking for the new price of the item on other sites). Is this just bidding mania on the part of eBay buyers, or have eBay sellers figured out some sort of way to jigger the auctions to basically do the eBay equivalent of a pump-n-dump stock scam? - Badtux the Puzzled Penguin

On the list

... for one of these -- the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Sleeping Pad. Right now I'm sleeping on a 3/4 size pad that's only 1" thick when I go backpacking, and I'm an elderly penguin and that's hard on my back. This one will pack down to the same size as the 1" pad and weigh 1oz less, while being almost full length (my pillow will go under my head) and 2.5 inches thick.

They're supposed to arrive at REI on April 1. I'm at the head of the list. Oh yeah, how much I'm paying for it -- $19. Yep, you read that right. $19. That's because of the REI "bonus" program where if you use their credit card, you get credit towards REI goodies...

-- Badtux the Hiking Penguin

The luck o' the Irish

So it be Saint Paddy's Day, when otherwise sensible people drink green beer and otherwise behave like idiots. All the O'Reilleys and O'Callaghans and such must be feeling good though, since now they have O'Bama as their new Irish President.

Oh wait, O'Bama isn't Irish? Nevermind, he certainly has the luck of the Irish, coming into the Presidency when he does. Irish luck. More than 900 years of domination, oppression, starvation. Yeppers, that's how "lucky" any President in these times has to be...

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

If it ever snowed in San Francisco...

The Mighty Fang is a kitteh who crawls under my covers during the day to sleep, even when the temperature in my apartment is 75F. This is what I imagine The Mighty Fang's reaction to snow would be:

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Yes, abject horror, heh! Luckily, he lives in a place where there is no snow, just rain. He has the same reaction to rain, but I'm not stupid enough to try to carry him in the rain -- that's why I have a hard-sided cat carrier.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Monday, March 16, 2009


The current Rethug talking point is, "Obama needs to run the country like a business."

Really? He should run the country into the ground to drive up its stock prices with short-term thinking that sacrifices the future for short-term profit, then give himself big bonuses as he fires thousands of Americans due to the impending bankruptcy of the country?

Wow, Rethugs sure do love our country, don't they?!

-- Badtux the "Business Culture of Failure" Penguin

A summary of U.S. interrogation policy

Here is a summary of U.S. interrogation policies during the Bush Administration:

Oops, that was the Gestapo's interrogation policies. No matter. They weren't any different from the real U.S. interrogation policies. Which constituted torture, according to the Red Cross and pretty much every other human rights organization.

So, will the perpetrators of torture find themselves on trial for war crimes? To find out the answer to that question, this penguin turns to our crack panel of judges: I think that means "no". After all, that would require some self-examination and effort on our part. Can't have that, can we?!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

...a Teletubby going mad in a gay pride parade

The Woz is Teh Awesomeness. Okay, so he can't dance. But he invented the personal computer, for gosh sakes!

-- Badtux the Amused Penguin

But are they Portuguese?

Well, we all know that the Republicans have kinks out the yazoo. It's no surprise that the party of tea room queens such as Larry "I am not Gay!" Craig, diaper-wearing fetishists like David Vitter, etc. has more sexual kinks in the closet than a whole parade of Castro Street drag queens. Now I am informed by World Nut Daily that the radical right-wing fringe of the Republican Party is going to have some tea parties to protest the fact that an unseemly darkie won the last Presidential election. Wow. Who coulda known?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Monday morning Youtubery

Solomon Burke has been recording since the early 60's, never more than four years between albums (and that one was because his label dropped him and he had to find another label -- once he did, he released several albums in quick succession that he'd done in the meantime). But he never had the hit that made an Otis Redding or James Brown famous. Nevermind, he's still a f***ing legend. And this song, written by Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil/Brenda Russell specifically for Burke, is one of his best despite the fact that he was 66 years old when he did it.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sleepy Sunday

Mencken is purring on my lap. In 25 minutes I'm going to disturb him to get up and eat some tuna and noodles for lunch, then head down to the garage and work some more on prepping the Green Mule for sale -- going to finish getting the wiring straightened out from the various butcheries I did to it over the years to put on all sorts of accessories that aren't on the bike anymore, then put the original rear suspension links on and put the forks back into the OEM position and then put the gas tank back on and put some gas in it and go out riding one last time (but mostly so I can dial in the forks so that I get nice responsiveness from the steering but it doesn't do a high speed wobble). Then I'll take some pictures and list it on Craigslist for sale.

If time permits, I'll then go clean out the Jeep and finish the wiring for the 2m/70cm radio. And after all that, it's time to clean up my apartment a bit, it's starting to look very cluttered and messy...

Just another sleepy Sunday. Hope yours is sleepy too.

-- Badtux the Sunday Penguin

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Dull day

Went shopping at Costco and REI to spend my credit card money (the "cashback" bonus their respective affiliated credit cards pay), ended up 49 cents out of pocket. Then I spent a long time re-arranging the following song for my own fingerings and vocal range. It's a more complex song than is usual for TVZ, five chords rather than the usual three chords and the truth, but still a beautiful song.

Now I'm heading off to actually write down some of the new chapters of In the Deserts of the Heart that I've been writing in my head for the past few weeks...

-- Badtux the Boring Penguin

Friday, March 13, 2009


Over at Moto-Tux, I go into the dull intricacies of communications in the outback, and why my Jeep looks a bit like a pincushion.

-- Badtux the Radioactive Penguin

Cat TV

Approximately 5 seconds before I took this shot, Mencken and The Mighty Fang were sitting side by side watching the world go by. Then Mencken decided to walk off as I approached with the camera. This is as close to the Great Outdoors that they ever want to be -- they have absolutely no interest in going out the front door, and I'm glad for that, the urban environment is no place for a cat.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Creating a story

So let's say that you're a reporter and you have nothing to report on because nothing is happening (for a change) in the Middle East hot spot where you're stationed. So what do you do?

Last week I reported on how Wing Nut Daily reported liberals censoring Wikipedia when Wikipedia editors scrubbed nutcase conspiracy theories from Wikipedia's entry on Obama. Now we find out that... hold your breath people... the nutcase conspiracy theories were being posted to Wikipedia by WND's Jerusalem bureau, which then used the inevitable reversions of the nutcase conspiracy theories as "does not meet Wikipedia standards for inclusion" as the "proof" for a story on how Wikipedia was run by rabid left-wing socialists or something.

Wow. That's like a garbage man going out and strewing garbage around, then using that to justify the need for more garbage men. Or a debater publishing an article under a straw name, then using that article to support his debate point. Or... oh what the hell. Let's just call it "dishonest hackery" and be done with it.

-- Badtux the Wingnut-spottin' Penguin

I have a long...


What? You thought I was going to say something else? Puh-leeze! Penguins don't even have a, err, whatever. What is it about "cloaca" that you don't understand?!

No, that is my Yaesu VX-8 transceiver, currently set up to scan the air bands to listen to conversations between pilots and air traffic control and the tower. A small radio with a long antenna, the Diamond SRH940. So get your mind out of the gutter, people!

--Badtux the Well-Radio'ed Penguin

Unclear on the concept

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano announced today that she was appointing Philip Reitinger to the position of deputy undersecretary of the department's National Protections Program Directorate. The job requires Reitinger to oversee the protection of the government's computer networks and work with the private sector to help secure critical infrastructures. Reitinger comes to DHS from his job as chief trustworthy infrastructure strategist for Microsoft, a job that required him in part to help develop and implement strategies for enhancing the security of critical infrastructures. Given Microsoft's contribution(?) to computer security -- the development of the virus industry, the widespread "zombie networks" of Microsoft computers, etc. -- this sort of sounds like appointing a thief to be the comptroller of a bank. But maybe they think, "it takes someone who has experienced terrible security to know what bad security is"? Talk about unclear on the concept!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Computer Security Advice of the Month

This is from November 2002, from an official publication of the Federal Communications Commission:


(Note: The mis-spelling of "ensure" is in the original). Forgotten in that advice is the requirement to have your fire extinguisher and respirator at ready, since the resulting fire will emit toxic fumes.

-- Badtux the Helpful Penguin

PS -- I think they were serious. I sure hope nobody tried following that advice!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

He's staring at me, mommy!

The Mighty Fang has been following me around all evening. Not meowing at me to ask me to feed him. Not coming up to me and rubbing up and asking me to pet him. Not doing anything, actually. Just whenever I sit down, or stand in one place, he sits down about a yard away and just stares at me.

I think he's wondering what I taste like. Maybe he thinks penguin tastes like chicken. [shudder].

Badtux the "Is that drool I see?" Penguin

Bobo's girlfriend

Since Bobo Brooks finds Michelle Obama, as a tall muscular black woman, to be altogether too emasculating for his pasty flabby ass, I went surfing online for Bobo's perfect girlfriend. After much study I have found her: Yeppers, docile, perfectly contented to service him any time he has a desire, and just altogether a perfect baaaabe.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

One flew over the cuckoo's nest

Alabama nutcase goes on shooting spree, kills multiple people. Most probably he was one of those people about which is often said in the aftermath of these things, "he has been crazy for years and nobody would do anything about it."

Of course, the problem is, nobody is allowed to do anything about him until he proves that he’s dangerous to himself and others. That’s the law. Irritated the $%@! out of me back when I had to deal with crazy street people on a regular basis, but the rights of crazy people apparently are more important than getting them the help they need. Nevermind that a crazy person is in no condition to make a judgement as to whether to accept help or not — I mean, he has a chemical imbalance in his brain, it’s not as if he’s operating in sound mind and body. The law says we can’t help the poor slob unless he wants the help. And of course because his brain is befogged, he can’t want the help, because, well, his brain can’t go there.

I blame Jack Nicholson and Ken Kesey, myself. They popularized the view that crazy people weren’t sick, they were just misunderstood, a view promptly embraced by brain-dead left-wing stupidity and by right-wingers eager to dump the crazies on the street so that they could lower their own taxes. Bah humbug,any of us who have ever dealt with crazy people know different, they're sick, not misunderstood, but the law doesn’t. Sigh.

- Badtux the Crazy-recognizin’ Penguin

Oooh! Arms!

There was a bit of a kurfuffle about Michelle Obama's arms, but it was kinda stupid so I didn't blog about it. But here, look for yourself, here she is wearing a sleeveless dress, which definitely isn't appropriate for the wife of the President of the United States to wear: Oops, that was Jackie Kennedy. So anyhow, apparently wimpy girly-man Bobo Brooks was especially offended by Michelle's muscles, since she is a tall muscular black woman and he is a short wimpy girly-man with marshmallow biceps. Here, see for yourself:

Yessiree, Bobo is so ashamed of his wimpy arms that there is not a single photograph anywhere of him having bare arms. Even pictures of his fishing trip show him wearing sleeves! Michelle Obama is clearly an emasculating ball-crusher to show off her biceps when Bobo has none! But never fear, the Republican Party USA has a perfect solution. They have come up with a new outfit for Michelle Obama that will avoid terrorizing flabby pasty-skinned Republican operatives:

Alrighty, then!

-- Badtux the Tardy Snarky Penguin

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

He didn't stop playing!

I don't get it. The bald guy paid him. Why didn't he stop playing?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

I guess tentacle rape was out of the question

Wow. What is the offspring of turtle-on-tennis-shoe sex? A turtle born with sneakers rather than flippers? And has anybody notified Senator "Man on Box Turtle" Cornyn of Texas yet? Clearly this incident is caused by the fact that gay marriage is legal in the state of Massachusetts, thereby causing the moral decline of box turtles everywhere, heh!

-- Badtux the Easily Amused Penguin

Whiney kitteh

Mencken is wandering around the iceberg going "Wah! wah! wah!".

Seems he's sorta upset. He doesn't feel good. He spent all day at the kitteh doctah, got poked and prodded and put under anesthesia, and now he's a bit groggy and he doesn't like that at all.

Reminds me of when I made the mistake, once, of getting kitteh tranquilizers for a pair of my kittehs when I was moving 1200 miles. I gave them the tranqs as instructed by the vet, and instead of "meow meow meow", instead they went "Merrrrrrroooooww! Merrrrrrrowwwww!" in dopey slow-mo. Kittehs are not natural drug fiends, apparently, unless the drug is catnip. And Mencken is reminding me of that, quite loudly.

UPDATE 9:00PM: Mencken has decided that my lap is the proper place to recover so he is in my lap purring or snoring. Thing is, he is a *big* cat so one arm is occupied keeping him from sliding off my lap and I am typing this one-handed. And his tail is dangling off the other side of my lap and TMF keeps whacking it with his paw, at which point the tail goes into overdrive and TMF tries to chase it and I have to shoo TMF away with the keyboard hand. Slow blogging this evening!

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Monday, March 09, 2009

The War on Drugs empties gun stores

I have been getting persistent first-hand reports of pretty much every gun store within 100 miles of the Mexican border being emptied. For example:

I stopped by Turners Gun Shop in San Marcos today. They were basically all out of almost everything, both guns and ammo.
I have heard that every gun store within 100 miles of the Mexican border has basically been emptied by straw buyers buying guns for the Mexican drug cartels as part of their ongoing drug war.

I remember when I was a kid, when gangs were armed with pocket knives and the occasional zip gun because that's all anybody had money to buy. Then the gangs started dealing heroin and meth, and later crack, and had all the money they could ever want to buy all the weapons in the world. So much for the "war on drugs", bah.

-- Badtux the Well-armed Penguin

The Axis of Drivel

Bobby Jindal, Michael Steele and Rush Limbaugh — the axis of drivel.


-- Badtux the Amused Penguin


That is the number of Americans who make over $250K/year.

That's a number to think about, as you listen to the right-tards scream and froth at the mouth about how a tax hike on those making over $250K/year would "destroy America". How can a tax hike on 2% of the nation "destroy America"? Well, to hear them tell it, apparently if 2% of Americans are taxed such that they no longer have over $250K/year to use to buy rental housing and stock in McScam Inc., then the whole economy will collapse. Or something. Hey, they're Republicans. Math is hard for them, have pity, okay?

-- Badtux the Numbers Penguin

The conspiracy deepens...

Wing Nut Daily ("we're batshit crazy and so are you if you read us daily!") has been covering the vast liberal conspiracy in the media to cover up Obama Birth-Gate, the notion that Obama isn't really President because he isn't American despite the Hawaiian birth certificate validated by the Hawaii birth registry. Now Wing Nut Daily has found yet another part of the vast liberal conspiracy that is conspiring to deprive America of the truth that John McCain is President of the United States of America: Wikipedia.

Yes, Wikipedia. why, those dastardly Wikipedia editors keep reverting right-wing vandalism to the Obama pages as "not compliant with Wikipedia standards"! How dare they! Don't they know that standards are, like, a liberal conspiracy?! That is just utterly appalling, requiring all submissions to meet some basic quality standards, and un-American and elitist! But never fear, real conservatives know the truth about Obama -- that he's a foreigner who uses mind control on the American people! Woot!

Heh. Wingnuts. The only people who could make the shambolic mess that is the current Democratic Party look better than the Republican Party. And as long as the Republican Party embraces their wingnuts rather than exile them to the nether regions, they'll be just another has-been party incapable of electing people to national office. So keep it up, guys! We Democrats appreciate your efforts to improve our electoral chances :-).

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Too cute

If you listen to the lyrics you'll realize that she's not exactly singing about tiptoeing through the tulips. Heh.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Silent key

A couple of years ago I finally got around to signing up for my university's alumni association. Not that I really care about them, but just in case one of my former classmates wants to track me down, they'll be able to do so through the alumni association. At the same time I noticed that an old friend was still employed by the university, and sent him some email. He responded. Turns out he was coming up on 30 years of employment, and looking forward to his retirement at the end of the summer. Going to do some fishing. Design some circuit boards for digital ham radio. Other stuff of that sort. Maybe travel some, he'd been tied to a desk at the university for thirty years, rising from a lowly sysadmin to head of Information and Communications Services, on call most of that time in case a disaster struck such as both air conditioning units for the mainframe blowing up at the same time. In his spare time, he'd maintained one of the ham packet BBS packages and contributed to various Linux and amateur radio related software projects. He had lots of friends around the country because of that. It'd be nice to visit some of them in person, instead of just talk to them via email or HF radio.

He was happy to be retiring, actually. Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Katrina not only destroyed major swathes of South Louisiana, but they destroyed Louisiana's budget too. He had been required to lay off long-time workers who'd been with the university for decades, and was doing their job as well as his own job. The stress was killing him, and as a nice guy he was heartbroken about having to fire people who'd given their entire careers to the university and had no hope of employment elsewhere unless they moved far away from their families and friends. But it was only three months until retirement, and then he could go fishing. Or travel. Or something.

I sent him one last email offering my futon if he was traveling this direction, and got no reply back. I assumed that he'd just gotten busy. Getting ready to retire. Training his successor. Packing his boxes. Planning that fishing trip. I thought nothing of it, and moved on with life, he'd get back to me when he got back to me, and eventually I forgot all about it. If I thought of him at all, it was as a happily retired man, doing some fishing, doing some traveling, finally getting to meet in person all those call letters that he'd talked to over his ham radio or via email over the years.

A couple of days ago I got an email from another friend from that era. We swapped emails. While reminiscing, he noted that N5KNX had died some time back, of a heart attack he thought. I checked the obituaries and found that yes, he had died... at around the same time that I sent my last email to him, at age 56.

I guess he never got to take that fishing trip. Damn.

- Badtux the Saddened Penguin

Friday, March 06, 2009

Judge, jury, and executioner

While looking for more info on the BART cop who shot an unarmed man in the back and killed him in cold blood, I found another nice little video:

Kool! Everybody knows that cops should be judge, jury, and executioner all rolled into one. That rule of law stuff? Old skool, dude! The Constitution? A piece of paper! A 15 year old girl gives you some lip? Beat the shit out of her until she's bleeding on you! Malika Calhoun ought to just be glad they didn't shoot her for mouthing off at them, yessiree!

-- Badtux the Tongue-in-beak Penguin

In celebration of February jobs report...

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Mencken looks for the economy after reading the February jobs report...

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Another heretic found!

Yes, another heretic Republican has been located by the enterprising investigators at World Nut Daily ("we're batshit crazy and so are you if you read us!"). This heretical RINO (Republican In Name Only) is Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.,who has referred constituents raising concerns over President Obama's eligibility to occupy the Oval Office to Snopes.com's debunking of the Obama Birth-Certificate-Gate conspiracy theory.

But of course, for sufferers of Obama Derangement Syndrome, mere evidence is something to be waved off as incidental, and World Nut Daily swiftly does so, noting that Snopes.com "relies for its answer partly on information from the Obama campaign", which of course renders the answer invalid, nevermind the birth announcement from a Hawaii newspaper or the statements by Hawaii state government officials or the statements by others who have directly handled the birth certificate! And nevermind that Sen. Kyl is ranked as one of the most conservative members of the Senate and is a personal friend of John McCain who both endorsed McCain and has been floated by McCain as a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2012 and thus would have every reason to pump up Certificate-gate if there were any truth to the matter. He is diverging from Republican heterodoxy, and thus must be punished.

And this penguin applauds the efforts of World Nut Daily and other nutty birthers. They make the Republican Party look batshit crazy, and given how much Republican rule of the US ruined things over the past 8 years, the loonier the Republicans look, the better for the nation. So go ahead, World Nut Daily! Pump out the conspiracy theories, one two three, give us more, give us more, give us more nuttiness! We Democrats thank you for your insanity. You make us look good, which is hard to do given the shambolic nature of the Democratic Party, but you guys are doing it, yessiree!

-- Badtux the Appreciative Penguin

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The birthist bigots

From time to time, there are people who state that country X is doomed because it has a low birth rate. Country X is generally a fairly wealthy and affluent country that many people want to immigrate to. Yet the birthists invariably say, "country X is *doomed* because their birth rate is lower than the 2.0 replacement rate!", where country X is Japan, the EU, the USA or Canada or Australia, etc.

Folks, there are nine BILLION people on this planet. There's no (zero) shortage of people on this planet. Any of the affluent countries in question have their choice of which of those nine billion people they want to import to take the place of babies not being born. Some of the affluent countries in question indeed are taking advantage of that opportunity -- for example, Canada, faced with a plummeting birth rate, has opened up a major operation to cherry-pick the best and the brightest from the rest of the world, and has had no trouble finding all the people they want/need to keep the country going when the baby boomers retire (yes, Canada has baby boomers too!). And other countries (hint: USA) are somewhat taking advantage of that just by having porous borders... the babies born to illegal immigrants become citizens, and take the place of babies not being born to "native-born citizens" (who are... past immigrants. Doh!).

What the birthist bigots typically mean, though, is not that country X is doomed because they won't have the population available to keep necessary services going in the future due to declining birth rates. Rather, birthist bigots typically say that country X is doomed because the imported people ARE NOT WHITE (or Japanese, or fill in the blank with dominant ethnicity). I.e., the imported people are brown, and thus not really people. In short, the birthist argument is by nature a racist argument, and should be countered as such, by saying, "gosh, forgot your white sheet, did you?" or "you forgot to 'heil!' with that racist argument!". In the end, people are people, and if a culture refuses to accept immigrants as really being people, such that immigrants into a dominant culture do not adopt the dominant culture, then the dominant culture deserves to die. 'Nuff said.

-- Badtux the "Better racists, please!" Penguin

Thought for the day

"Mitch McConnell and John Boehner are so corrupt that their votes can be purchased for less money than a whore with lockjaw." -- Helen Philpot, age 83

-- Badtux the Appreciative Penguin

The Birthers ride again!

Today World Nut Daily announces a new target for the Obama Birth Truthers, that group of conspiracy theorists who believe that a Hawaii birth certificate isn't, well, a Hawaii birth certificate and that Obama was actually born in Upper Africanistan or Malaysia or who knows where. This target is: Senator Mel Martinez (R) of Florida, who had the audacity to say that if the people of the United States of America vetted Obama's eligibility for office (twice!) by voting him, that's the end of story -- Obama is President.

How dare he say that in a democracy it's the voters, not some unelected judge, who should determine who is President! Why, next thing you know, he'll say that the government should represent the will of the people, not the will of a small group of unelected oligarchs who buy and sell legislators. The nerve of him!

An apology from Senator Martinez for accidentally stating that America should be a democracy will be forthcoming shortly...

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A random thought

What's interesting about listening to Air Traffic Control is just how little talk is going on. There are a few very busy periods where there are a half dozen planes in the air all wanting to come in at around the same time, but the controller says something like "Delta 9532 go to flight level 4000 heading 1 6 0" and Delta 9532 says "Delta 9532 flight level 4000 heading 1 6 0" and that's that. 99% of the time, any of the four ATC channels serving the local airport are just dead air -- only the fact that I have my radio cycling through them lickity split in scanner mode finds anything at all.

Contrast with the movies where the pilots just jabber jabber jabber jabber when they're talking to the tower or the ATC or whatever. Reality. Just isn't as dramatic as the movies :-}.

-- Badtux the Geeky Penguin

Some interesting geekery...

The inside details of WWV.

-- Badtux the Radio Penguin

Survived the icing and turbulence

Just been busier than a male prostitute at a Young Republicans convention. Except not that way. Ick!

Looking at a better antenna for my HT. Maybe the Diamond SRH-940, which will make my reception a lot better at the office. I can always screw the stock shorty ducky back on for those applications where lugging an 18 inch whip around isn't really handy. Ooh, 18 inch whip. Sounds kinky...

-- Badtux the Busy Penguin

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

New hobby

Listening to the airplanes coming in for a landing over my roof. I live underneath the end of an airport, so I might as well listen in on their conversations while my windows are rattling and my dishes are clinking...

Eeep! ATC just told an incoming plane that icing reported at a certain altitude. That doesn't sound good. Luckily icing never results in a plane crashing...

--Badtux the Scanner Penguin

The Incredible Collapsing Newspaper Industry

The City of San Francisco is about to be without a daily paper for the first time since 1856 due to the impending demise of the San Francisco Chronicle. In Los Angeles, the Daily News has fired all but a skeleton staff and the L.A. Times is up for sale and may be shut down if no buyer is found. In Denver, the Rocky Mountain News published its last edition last week and the Denver Post's last payroll checks bounced, and if MediaNews, the owner of the Denver Post, goes down, then not only will Denver not have a daily paper, but San Jose and Oakland will join San Francisco on the no-daily-paper list.

So what's going on? Well, two things: First, the newspapers missed the Internet boat. They should have leveraged their Internet sites and news stories to sell advertising -- i.e., if you buy an advertisement in the print edition not only does it appear in the print edition, but it appears online too. This would have preserved their advertising income once their print circulation started falling, because as people move to getting their news online rather than on dead trees, the advertising income would have remained steady because the same number of eyes would have seen the ads. Craigslist and eBay would have never appeared if newspapers had leveraged their own classifieds sections and put them online complete with their own shopping cart and online payment processing mechanisms.

So missing the Internet boat is a big deal. I remember when the local rag's classifieds section was 20 pages on Sunday. Now it's 6 pages, and a lot of that is filler articles to fill in the blank spots. The rest of the ads are on Craigslist or eBay. But that's not the biggest reason. The biggest reason is pure free market economics: They simply are not providing a product that people want to buy.

I always laugh at the "one sided reporting" slur always being thrown at newspapers, because other than on the editorial page, they don't do a lot of what non-journalists think of as "reporting" (i.e., seeking of truth), they mostly transcribe what they're told by people in power or by powerful interest groups and do so accurately and without taking any sides in the matter. For example, in the runup to the Iraq War, New York Times reporter Judith Miller accurately transcribed what she was told by Iranian agent Ahmed Chalabi regarding Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (which turned out to be an utter fabrication by Chalabi, as we have now found out, Chalabi had lived in London for thirty years and hadn't the slightest clue of anything happening in Iraq other than what he was told to pass on by his Iranian handlers). Lefties deride her reporting as "one-sided reporting", but she accurately transcribed what she was told. According to every newspaper editor I've ever talked to, it's not a newspaper's job to determine whether what their reporters are being told is true or not, that would be "analysis" not "reporting" and thus not a newspaper's job.

I once got into an argument with a newspaper editor about that. The problem is he said she said journalism. If Joe Schmoe from the Flat Earth Society gets up and announces that the Earth is flat, and Neil Armstrong from Apollo 11 gets up and says err no, he's orbited the Earth and taken photos of it and it's round as a billiard ball, the newspaper will blithely announce that person A said that the Earth was flat and person B said that the Earth was round. So is the Earth flat, or is it round? Well, newspaper editors nationwide will tell you that the answer to that question is "analysis", not "news", thus is not the job of a newspaper. The newspaper's job, the editors will tell you, is to accurately report what person A and person B said, not to figure out which of the two is telling the truth.

So if people can't find out the truth from newspapers, they turn to other sources to try to find out what's true or not. They listen to Art Bell or read Internet conspiracy sites or watch screaming commentators on one of those horrible television shows where people yell at each other and never manage to complete a sentence without someone screaming louder and drowning them out, they listen to talk radio or visit blogs like this, and where are newspapers in all of this? Nowhere. Because newspapers decided that truth -- the product that people are looking for -- is not a product that they're interested in selling, even though newspapers are uniquely qualified to sell that product because they are so effective at gathering accurate information. But they're not interested. What they're interested in selling is transcription -- the accurate transcription of the words of persons A and B regarding whether the world is flat or round -- with no indication as to which of A or B is telling the truth. And so it goes. People want to know whether the world is flat or round, newspapers don't tell them that, so they go elsewhere to find that out and never come back. The industry was dying before the current economic problems, all it's doing is making a dying industry die faster. Which is sad, but (shrug). What can you do, when a whole industry commits collective suicide by deciding that its job is to *not* provide the product that people want?

-- Badtux the News Penguin

Up early...

Gotta take the kittehs to the kitteh doctor for their yearly shots. Wish me luck. If you don't hear from me, check the local hospital emergency rooms for a penguin being patched up with hundreds of stitches.

-- Badtux the "Gulp!" Penguin

Republicans fomenting military coup

Headline news from World Nut Daily this morning is that a bunch of military officers are being incited to overthrow President Obama in a military coup under the feeble justification that being born in Hawaii makes him ineligible for the Presidency. World Nut Daily ("We're batshit crazy and so are you, our readers!") views a military coup against "evil socialist Obama" as a GOOD thing, in case you're wondering. Even though it would mean crossing the Rubicon and the end of American democracy, apparently the batshit crazy wing of the Republican Party believes that democracy is overrated, at least when democracy elects someone they don't like, such as anybody to the left of Caribou Barbie and John McInsane.

Well, at least these lunatics are letting the world see exactly what kind of people are running the Republican Party today -- complete nut-cases who hate democracy. I suppose that's better than the alternative, the Republican Party of the 1968-1992 timeframe, which was run by people who were Evil with a capital E but at least gave lip-service to democracy (in America, not elsewhere -- they loved overthrowing democracies elsewhere and replacing them with military dictatorships). I suppose dumb stupid crazy evil is preferable to smart wily sane evil any time of day because dumb, stupid, and crazy never wins elections while smart evil like Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan did, but sheesh. Republicans keep going this way, and we're going to have one-party rule for the rest of my life, assuming they don't succeed in overthrowing the government in a military coup anyhow.

-- Badtux the "Better evil, please?" Penguin

Oh yeah, a video of one of Wing Nut Daily's generals in action: