Thursday, April 30, 2009

Who owns the airwaves?

A small group of right-wing broadcasters own all but two of the AM radio stations in the San Francisco Bay area. These right-wing broadcasters have a history of cutting off profitable but politically incorrect (a.k.a. "liberal") content in order to make room for more right-wing talk show hosts on their stations, even if this results in less profit for their radio stations, because they place their political beliefs ahead of profit. So, does this mean that the right wing should be allowed to dictate what political beliefs are allowed to air in the local area?

According to the right wingers, the answer to that question is "Yes." Their notion is, "we paid for it, we own it, we have a right to put whatever programming we want on the radio stations we bought and paid for." For right-wingers, it's a case of property rights -- being able to use their property any way they wish.

But what is their property? Well, that's where things get fuzzy. First, it is clear that all of their physical infrastructure -- the radio tower, the transmitter, the studio, etc. -- is their property. And of course their actual content is their property. But none of this would be useful without the third thing that is their property: Their license to use a particular slice of the frequency spectrum in order to broadcast their drivel.

Without that license, all their expensive equipment would be useless. I could come in and broadcast right over the top of them using my own AM transmitter setup. And the only thing that makes that license useful is that it is enforced by the government. I.e., every broadcast radio station in the country can exist only because the government grants them a license to exist. Otherwise people like me, with RF radio experience and capabilities, would just broadcast our own drivel to the world over the top of these people, and every frequency you tuned to would be either weird mishmash of various people trying to broadcast their own opinions, or unintelligible garble.

In short, the public airwaves are public because they must be public in order to have any value at all. A private party cannot simply say "I own 1540AM" because there are thousands of us out here who have the capability to broadcast on 1540AM, and would do so if there were no law prohibiting us from doing so. A private party can "own" 1540AM only if all of us who have the capability to broadcast on 1540AM -- i.e., WE THE PEOPLE (also known as "the government") -- grant them a license to "own" 1540AM. If KRTR (Rightwing Talk Radio for the masses!) is to have any value at all, it is only if they can somehow obtain from the public (We the People) a license giving them the exclusive right to use a particular frequency. Otherwise all those assets they do own are useless.

So now that we've straightened that out: What gives 1540AM KRTR more right to have their views aired on 1540AM than I have? Well, we've established that it's not because they somehow "own" the frequency 1540. I can broadcast on 1540 just as well as anybody else can, using simple equipment that I can create from surplus gear from the Bay Area's many electronic surplus stores. All they "own" is a GOVERNMENT-GRANTED LICENSE to broadcast on 1540AM. Right now, they can broadcast their views on 1540AM -- and prevent my views from being broadcast on 1540AM -- only because they can call up the FCC and have me arrested if I broadcast my views on 1540AM. In short, GOVERNMENT is the only thing that gives them more right to broadcast their views (and lock out my views) on 1540AM. And that's wrong. Government should not be giving one right-wing oligarch more right to have his views broadcasted than mine. That's government-enforced censorship of my views.

Thus all the shorts-crapping of the tightie righties as they shit in their pants over the thought that the government might actually require them to air *all* views if they are to retain their monopoly on the public air waves. Because they are scared of competition. They are scared that if people can hear both left-wing and right-wing ideas on the public airwaves, that people might choose left-wing ideas. They want their government-granted monopoly, and they want it on their terms, terms that prevent me from broadcasting my own views on 1540AM. In short, they are the ultimate in welfare whores, who have wheedled special treatment from the government to give them more right than me to have their views aired on 1540AM, and who will use government to shut me down if I dare broadcast my own views on 1540AM. They claim to be "free market advocates", but that's just a lie. The very fact that they would call the government in on me to arrest me if I dared broadcast my own views on 1540AM shows it's a lie. What they are, are a bunch of oligarchs who have bribed the government into giving them an exclusive right to have their views and only their views broadcast on 1540AM, and who have no problem with calling in the government to censor my views if I dare broadcast them on 1540AM. They exist only because they're government welfare prostitutes, and there is no free market involved at all -- and cannot be, as long as they have a government-granted monopoly.

-- Badtux the Radio Penguin


I have the older version of the Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus, the one that came with carbon stays. The carbon stays weighed only 0.4 ounces apiece and brought the total weight of the pack up to 1 pound 1 oz, but were fragile, and I managed to break one of them. So I went over to Gossamer Gear's site and noticed that they weren't shipping with the carbon stays anymore -- they now have curved aluminum stays. At a weight penalty of 3.4 ounces per stay. Ouch!

So anyhow, I have an old tent where one of the aluminum poles, due to years of abuse, decided to split on one end. So I took that pole and broke it apart by cutting the elastic inside it, and created two new stays using two pieces of pole per side. Then last night I went down to the garage and cut the stays to the correct length with my dremel tool's cutting bit, then squared and smoothed the cut end with a grinding stone in the dremel tool. I put my new aluminum stays on the scale upstairs here and and they weigh 1.1oz apiece, or roughly 1/3rd the weight of the updated stay system for the Mariposa Plus, and raise the weight of the pack to 1 pound 3 ounces but with a huge increase in durability compared to the carbon fiber stays (that aluminum tent pole went through years of utter *hell* before one end of one segment finally got mushroomed by me abusing it horribly, it's as close to indestructible as you can get with backpacking gear).

Color this penguin satisfied. Now all I have to do is find a place to go backpacking in order to test it out...

-- Badtux the Outdoors Penguin

No credibility

So I got an email from the RNC about how Obama's first 100 days were "100 days of taxing, spending, and borrowing." Now, nevermind that Obama gave a tax *break* to everybody who isn't a millionaire and thus the "taxing" thing is total bullshit, the Republican Party has no credibility - none, zero, zip - on that whole spending and borrowing thing.

The Bush Administration raised spending more than any President since Lyndon B. Johnston, who was fighting a war with 500,000 U.S. troops in theatre, sending a man to the moon (Bush only managed to send seven men to the boom), creating Medicare from scratch, largely finishing the initial construction of the Interstate Highway System, pass a comprehensive Civil Rights Act to end state-enforce apartheid in America and began enforcement of it, and otherwise giving us something tangible for that money. Well, other than that war thing, which was money sunk into a dismal jungle of no use to anybody. But Bush and his Republican Congress managed to give us *two* wars for more money than LBJ did all that other stuff with, leaving America with fewer good roads, less health care, less of everything that matters than when he started his term. Well, except the dead bodies, of course. President Bush was great at giving America dead bodies, whether they were dead GI's overseas, or dead Americans floating in the ruins of New Orleans, or dead bodies in the ruins of the World Trade Center (albeit he had help with that last one, he completely ignored the warning "bin Laden determined to strike inside America" and did nothing to prevent it).

So when the RNC rants about "taxing, spending, and borrowing", that's like a hooker ranting about irresponsible sex with strangers. It's a fucking hoot, is what it is. Almost literally.

-- Badtux the Mildly Amused Penguin

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Just to show that stupidity isn't strictly a right-wing thing....

I decided to take a drive over to the loony left's haven at Shakesville to find out what the latest outrage was that those outrage junkies were getting their panties in a knot about. And what I found out was that the most important problem facing America and Americans had nothing to do with swine flu, the collapse of the economy, or anything like that. No, the real problem was:

A Mayflower Moving commercial that features a newlywed bride.

Because, y'know, brides are sexist. Or something.

No, I'm not kidding you (though you'll have to go there yourself). Just like the Shakesvillians got their panties in a knot about that funny German shopping video that I showed you a few days ago, they are just outraged, outraged I say, about this Mayflower Moving commercial.

Sigh. Lunatic ideologues. Doesn't matter whether they're righties or lefties, if they don't have their outrage of the day, they just aren't happy.

-- Badtux the Head-shakin' Penguin

The pointy white hat is cutting off the blood to the brain

Shorter Byron York: niggers aren't real Americans like you and I.

Ah yes, the right wing shows its bedsheets again...

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

What is a torturer?

This is a question so simple to answer that not only can the majority of the American people can answer it, even a twitter twit can answer it: Anyone who deliberately causes physical pain or discomfort as part of interrogation is a torturer.

Now, you get the tighty righties saying that technique X, Y, or Z isn't torture. "It's just fraternity hijinks!", Rush Limpdick famously proclaimed after the Abu Ghraib torture photos came out. But unless I've a mistaken view of fraternities, I wasn't aware that anybody got interrogated in a fraternity. Hazed, yeah. Interrogated, err, no.

Now, this has nothing to do with causing mental discomfort to a suspect that you're interrogating. You can put that prisoner into solitary confinement until he's happy to see a face, any face, and babble his brains out, for example. Or you can play good cop bad cop where the bad cop is verbally abusive and threatens the prisoner's relatives and friends, for example. But once you lay a hand on that prisoner and start inflicting physical discomfort or pain, you've crossed the line. You're no longer an interrogator. You're now a torturer.

Yes, it really is that simple, no matter how complicated the tighty righties try to make it. Forcing the prisoner into excruciatingly uncomfortable "stress positions" that causes pain as part of the process of interrogating the prisoner isn't "fraternity hijinks". It's torture. Simulated drowning -- waterboarding -- isn't "a little splash of water on the face." It's torture. Throwing the prisoner naked into an unheated cell such that the prisoner is shivering is not "winter sports". It's torture. Same deal with anything else that causes physical pain or discomfort to the prisoner. It really is that simple, and if someone says it isn't, they're either a damned fool, or a liar.

-- Badtux the Torture Penguin

Update from one of those loonie lefties at the National Review: Waterboarding is unacceptable, period. The money quote: In the actual situation we face, to demand that our government waterboard detainees in dark cells is cowardice.

Enough said.

Haitian ninja warrior terrorist retrial at end

A bunch of dirt-poor Haitian losers who fancied themselves as ninja warriors guarding their warehouse clubhouse tried to scam $50K from supposed al Qaeda henchmen. The al Qaeda henchmen turned out to be FBI agents, who then arrested them on terrorism charges. The third re-trial of the Haitian ninja warrior losers is now at a close. Thus proving that if the U.S. Prosecutor's office doesn't get the verdict they want the first time, why, then they'll just re-try you again and again until they get the verdict they *do* want...

-- Badtux the Comrade Penguin

In other news...

The economy still sucks.

That is all.

-- Badtux the Brief Penguin

Chrysler to survive

The only hangup right now is the assholes who hold Chrysler debt, who want 100 cents on the dollar rather than 0 cents on the dollar. They're going to come around, President Obama has essentially told them that if they don't accept Chrysler stock in exchange for their debt, they're going to get 0 cents on the dollar -- he's going to give Chrysler a bankruptcy bridge loan and have a bankruptcy judge write off their loans altogether.

It's fashionable to pooh-pooh Chrysler's product line. But their mini-van line is the best in the world, so good that Volkswagen is buying it and re-packaging it for sell both in the USA and elsewhere rather than develop a new minivan of their own to replace the now-defunct "Euro-Van". Their Jeep line is still the most offroad capable in the world and is legendary amongst offroad enthusiasts -- there is no substitute for a Jeep when you want to head up Isham Canyon. The problem with their car lines is that they were gutted by Daimler-Benz -- until the Germans raped Chrysler, Chrysler had the most fuel-efficient car lineup of any American manufacturer, even their large cars were fuel-efficient front-wheel-drive cars powered by six cylinder engines rather than being huge gas-guzzling V8-powered rear-wheel-drive cars. Fiat is going to help them fix that. So for any true car enthusiast, this is a win-win situation. We get to preserve some best-in-the-world technology with the promise of a lot of new technology to come.

-- Badtux the Car Penguin

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I am a twit

That is all.

-- Badtux the Brief Penguin

Well, well...

I was saying that all it would take would be one Republican Senator switching to the Democratic Party to eliminate the filibuster as an obstacle to Obama's agenda. But I was thinking Olympia Snowe. Arlen Specter?! Wow. Somebody really is holding a finger up in the breeze and seeing it blow a different way... but then, the Rethugs did their best to run him out of the party, with the RNC chairman even saying that the RNC would fund his opponent in the Republican primary, so I suppose this is yet another case of the Rethugs shooting themselves in the foot. Bwahahah!

-- Badtux the Amazed Penguin

Zombie amputee Jeebus wants your oranges

Because nothing says that you love your faith more than having a blue-skinned zombie amputee Jesus on your license plate, framed by an orange.

The State of Florida proves once again that any state run by Republicans is a state run by idiots...

Edited: Oooh, bonus snark! This comment on Wonkette: In fact, it is a celebration of gay amputee snuff porn. Florida is trying to develop new businesses since its entire economy was based on building more and more houses and selling them for inflated prices to people who could not afford them. This new industry seems a more stable venture.


-- Badtux the Mildly Amused Penguin

All spin zone

Note: If the cat didn't like it, she would just get up and leave. You try making a cat do something she doesn't like!

-- Badtux the Spinning Penguin

Monday, April 27, 2009


So some right-wing tea-bagger Twitterer upset because the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning about right-wing gun nuts possibly going on shooting rampages posts Tweets about, err... planning to go on a shooting rampage? Talk about massive fail...

-- Badtux the Somewhat-bemused Penguin

Yesterday's hike

Clicken to embiggen:

-- Badtux the Photography Penguin

And today on World Nut Daily...

We find out that the right-wing hate radio hosts are wetting their pants over the possibility of having to give equal time to the targets of their hate. Note that you do *not* find any left-wing talk show hosts (the few who exist) ranting over the possibility of giving equal time to the targets of their shows... indeed, most go ahead and do so as a matter of course. Rather, it's the right-wingers who are peeing their pants over the possibility that if they, say, bash gay people, they might be required to give equal time to someone from the Human Rights Campaign...

Of course, this just goes to show the whole intellectual bankruptcy of right-wing hate radio in the first place. They can only exist because their wealthy patrons have purchased the public airwaves and will not allow other voices on those airwaves, because if there were other voices on those airwaves, then their message of hate would not work. Remember, you can only hate that which you do not know. If you interact with a gay person on a daily basis, it is hard to hate gays. Hate radio's scream-mongers can operate only because they can keep their audience ignorant. If their audience actually got to hear a real-life Muslim or gay or Mexican immigrant or whatever talking about their life, why, their audience might decide not to hate those people. Gasp! No wonder the right-wing hate-mongers are wetting their pants so much about that possibility!

-- Badtux the "Right wing intellectually bankrupt?" Penguin

And the world goes 'round and 'round...

-- Badtux the Cute-overloaded Penguin

First, kill all the lawyers

It is fashionable to despise lawyers. Lawyers defend the lowest of the low, the rapists and murderers who, well, rape and murder. They devise despicable defenses for their clients' behavior -- "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury! The lady in question did in fact solicit sex, nay, demanded sex from my client, and solicited, nay, demanded that it be rough sex, and all he did was indulge her very requests! So the fact that this woman appears in this photo bloody and bruised and raw in the nether parts, well, it was her very request that my client do this to her!" On the other side of the coin, lawyers (as prosecutors) send innocent men to death row and oversee a prosecutorial system that is so efficient in sending men and women to prison that the United States has more people behind bars than any other nation on Earth -- even more than dictatorial hellholes like Cuba and China, and half of whom are convicted of "crimes" that constitute nothing more than consensual commerce between private parties, not anything of violence.

But the thing is, that's a lawyer's job. Even the vilest of criminals is warranted a defense according to the Constitution of the United States of America. Yes, it is vile that a lawyer can stand before a jury and say "she asked for it" when a woman was clearly brutally raped. But that is what our Constitution calls for him to do: to serve the interests of his client as best he can, even if it requires him to make an argument which is vile and offensive. It is assumed that the prosecution will be equally aggressive at making arguments painting his client as vile and evil. It is the job of the court, of the jury or the judge, not of the defense attorney, to decide whether his client is innocent or guilty. It is the defense attorney's job to make whatever argument will best serve the cause of getting his client off, even if that argument is as vile as "she asked for it".

Which is why I am concerned about some of the loony lefties going after Bush's lawyers, the ones who wrote the legal papers that Bush waved around in defense of torturing prisoners. Yes, John Yoo is not going to win "Humanitarian of the Year" awards, just as the lawyer arguing "she asked for it" in a rape case is not going to win "Humanitarian of the Year" awards. But he was tasked with writing a legal paper defending the administration's torture policies, and he properly served his client. If he had advocated torture within the Bush Administration that would be one thing. But he didn't. He merely wrote a legal paper after the fact to defend his client, the office of the President of the United States of America. It is his client, President Bush and President Bush's subordinates, who decided to torture -- not John Yoo.

If we are to be a nation of laws rather than a nation of thugs with guns, we need lawyers. Criminalizing the practice of law is not conducive to rule of law, and I cannot see how any sane sensible person can encourage it. The end result of that sort of nonsense is inevitably rule of gun, which tends to result in the most vile and evil people imaginable being in charge, those who have least compunctions about murdering other people. If we are to have rule of law we must have lawyers. Alas, but true.

-- Badtux the Law Penguin

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A beautiful day

It was sunny and mid 60's, so I took my first long hike since tearing up my leg in January. It's been three months, so it's time.

I headed down to Santa Cruz and to Wilder Ranch State Park to get some hills that were steep enough to test the leg, but not loose and scrambly stuff that might end up re-injuring me. I spent two hours hiking uphill, and two hours hiking back, taking plenty of time to smell the flowers or at least photograph them. Because I stuck to the well-groomed two-track I didn't see any wildlife, but did get some flowers, I'll see if I can add one or two of them to this post later.

On my way uphill, I met a man and his kid, maybe 9 years old, coming downhill on their mountain bikes. The kid was oozing blood from his knee, and the man asked me if I had a first aid kit. Of course I did, duh, I'm not an idiot. So he put antibiotic ointment on the knee and taped gauze pads to it to stop the bleeding, and they set off again downhill towards the exit. Now, why any supposedly rational adult is going to take their kid into a situation like this without carrying a first aid kit eludes me, it would seem to me to be just basic common sense responsible parenting. But I suppose common sense just ain't so common, sigh...

So anyhow, everything worked. At the end of the hike I was tired but the leg was still working fine, all that %#!# physical therapy and stationary bicycling and walking around the block stuff seems to have done the trick. A few more practice hikes and I should be ready for a backpacking trip. Luckily all my backpacking gear is ultralight, so that an overnight trip is just 25 pounds including food and water...

-- Badtux the Feeling Better Penguin

Saturday, April 25, 2009

So evil...

So I had my 300gb hard drive pretty much filled up here on my Macbook. The solution was obvious. No no, not clean old files off the drive, silly -- install a 500gb hard drive in place of the 300gb one! Puh-leeze, "clean old files off the drive"? Why do that when technology just creates bigger hard drives every couple of years to put them on?

So anyhow, here's what it involved:

  1. Remove old hard drive and put it into a USB enclosure. This took about 5 minutes and required the services of my "Teeny Turner" screwdriver that had a tiny Phillips screwdriver bit and a tiny Torx screwdriver bit of the correct sizes.
  2. Put new drive into Macbook.
  3. Place install DVD into Macbook while hitting the power and holding down the Option key
  4. Selecting the DVD as the thing to run
  5. When the system is booted into the DVD, select the Disk Manager from the menu and create a Macbook partition for the whole drive, then exit the Disk Manager.
  6. Select "Install", choose the disk picture that you get.
  7. Go away for a couple of hours until you hear the chimes. It will have spit out the first install disk and asked you for the second.
  8. Push the second one in, press OK, go away until you hear the chimes.
  9. Plug in the external hard drive (your old hard drive) and press the OK to reboot.
  10. When it asks you where to copy your old files from, tell it "Local drive".
  11. Click on the drive it shows you, then select all the files on the menu it shows you.
  12. Go away for a few hours.
  13. Tada! You're done! You now have a bigger hard drive in your Mac. Select your username and press OK and you'll continue booting into your Mac with all your applications and files. Select software update a few times to update the OS to the latest version, and then you'll be done.
Compared to the same procedure for Windows, the above is a snap. With the Mac, it just works. With Windows, I'd still be trying to get my applications installed again and trying to get my files back onto the system. Which is why, even though Apple is evil, you will have to take this Macbook away from me from my cold dead hands. Apple is, like, the ultimate in Evil -- the Evil whose products are so good that you cannot resist.

-- Badtux the Evil-admirin' Penguin

Friday, April 24, 2009

Badtux's Laws of Right Wing Discourse

  1. It is easier to win an argument if you simply make up your facts.
  2. Truth is over-rated.
  3. Winning is everything.

-- Badtux the Right Wing Penguin

Plumbers doing surgery

Various bloggers and commentators on both the left and the right have basically blasted the Obama administration for having so many financial industry people on its staff working to resolve the problems of the financial industry. I have come to the conclusion that these people are right, we shouldn't have people who understand the banking industry from the inside out working to resolve the problems of the banking industry. Instead, we should have Joe The Plumber, Rush Limbaugh, Noam Chomskey, and Keith Olberman working to resolve the problem, because the skills of a plumber, a right wing gasbag, a linguist, and a left wing gasbag are far more relevant to solving the problems of the banking industry. Thank you, bloggers and commentators, for letting us know this. We would have never come to such a conclusion without your help!

In other news, I also have a solution to the problem of high costs of heart transplant surgery. Rather than having highly trained and expert heart surgeons do it, we can get Joe The Plumber, Rush Limbaugh, Noam Chomskey, and Keith Olberman to do it for much less! Because the skills of a plumber, a right wing gasbag, a linguist, and a left wing gasbag are far more relevant to open heart surgery than, like, the skills of someone who has spent years learning open heart surgery. Thank you, bloggers and commentators, for letting us know this. We would have never come to such a conclusion without your help!

-- Badtux the Snarkalicious Penguin

On Reserve

Why is Ben Bernanke paying banks to push money under mattresses (i.e. keep it on reserve at the Federal Reserve)? That is the question that Hall and Woodward ask. By paying interest on the reserves on deposit at the Federal Reserve at the same time that the economy enters what appears to be a deflationary cycle, Bernanke is encouraging banks to essentially remove money from the working money supply and place it under a (virtual) mattress where it is absolutely of no use insofar as fostering economic activity.

Let us not forget that the only purpose of money is to foster economic transactions. Money in and of itself has no intrinsic value -- it's just funny-shaped pieces of toilet paper with pictures of dead people on it. It's what you can buy with money that has value, not the money itself. Money on reserve in a bank vault effectively does not exist as far as the economy is concerned. So why is Bernanke encouraging banks to essentially remove money from the money supply?

My theory: Bernanke is a follower of Milton Friedman monetarism. Friedman focused upon money volume, not money velocity, and believed that simply increasing the base money supply was sufficient to prevent deflation (his famous "helicopter drop" speech). Bernanke believes that he is increasing the money supply by printing money to pay this interest on the Fed deposits, and thus performing his duty as a central banker. The problem is that it simply is not working. Instead it is encouraging banks to take money out of the money supply and stuff it under a (virtual) mattress at the Federal Reserve -- exactly the opposite of what should be done during a deflationary cycle.

What's the first thing to be done? First of all, the Fed needs to quit paying interest on reserves. Paying interest on reserves creates a perverse incentive to put money on deposit at the Fed rather than put it into the economy. This would at least unlock lending for consumers and businesses who are solvent, though the core solvency issue underlying our economy -- the sheer numbers of consumers and businesses that are effectively insolvent -- still remains, meaning that it's unlikely that this would reduce bank reserves more than a few percent.

So how to encourage more movement of bank reserves out of the Fed vaults? Hall and Woodward suggest negative interest rates to actually discourage banks from holding money on reserve at the Federal Reserve and encourage them to instead put their money either into loans or into something a little less risky than loans such as Treasuries, where at least it makes it into the economy rather than sitting under a mattress. Greg Manikiw, on the other hand, is skeptical. Manikiw believes that banks, lacking any safe alternative to keeping their excess reserves on deposit at the Federal Reserve, will simply start offering negative interest rates on deposits (i.e., charge you to keep money in their vaults), at which point all that happens is that instead of the money being under a (virtual) mattress at the Federal Reserve, it instead gets withdrawn from banks and shoved under real mattresses. And frankly, given the core solvency problem, I'm not so sure Manikiw is wrong about the effects of charging negative interest rates on bank deposits at the Federal Reserve.

So to reiterate: Bernanke needs to at least quit with this nonsense of paying banks to withdraw money from the money supply. That's the last thing you want in a deflationary cycle. Return the Fed interest rate on reserves back to zero, and get as much of that money as is possible back into the economy (which, as I've previously pointed out, needs roughly a 2% rate of inflation to encourage money to circulate rather than sit under mattresses). Beyond that there is no magic bullet, but at least Bernanke can quit throwing gasoline on the deflationary fire...

-- Badtux the Monetary Penguin

Friday guest cat blogging

This is Bad Luck. He is a working cat at a remote desert restaurant and hotel, tasked with keeping the rodent population down. In the photo above he is irritated because nobody is giving him any food. Not that he needs any food -- he ate a giant kangaroo rat only a few hours prior to this photo. Being a working cat is hard work, and sometimes a cat just needs to take a break. Bad Luck is not a "feral" cat by any stretch of the word, no feral cat would just boldly come up to where people are and beg for food from them or stretch out on a chair where people are walking back and forth nearby. He's not a lap cat, but he's certainly a cat who loves the occasional ear scritch and chin rub. And shortly after this photo, he took off after a bird. The bird got away. Bad Luck is bad luck for rodents, but birds just laugh at him.

-- Badtux the Cat-blogging Penguin

Bonus Friday cat

Too much caffeine, I think.

-- Badtux the Easily Amused Penguin

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Badtux's Law of Economics Blogging

Any economics blog with a comments section which becomes sufficiently popular will attract a sizable troll population of gold bugs and conspiracy theorists until the value of its comments section shall approach nil.

I am glad I'm not that popular. It's just sad to see economics blogs that I once liked become so over-run with trolls that they are virtually unreadable :-(.

- Badtux the Economics Penguin

Note: I've now updated my compendium of economics theory postings. Catch up on all the economics theory you missed the first time around, and watch as my thinking evolves over the past six months!

Combat shopping

Man, those Germans are serious about their shopping...

-- Badtux the Shopped-out Penguin

H/T to Andrew Sullivan

Why do we need banks, anyhow?

Previously, I've pointed out that we need a (small amount) of inflation to drive money into banks rather than having money sit under mattresses, and that we cannot allow the banking system to fail because banks create and destroy money via the process of fractional reserve lending and allowing the banking system to collapse would collapse the economy into a deflationary spiral that would have an end game of food riots and probable revolution. At which point the question becomes: If fractional reserve banking has such risks, why should we allow it in the first place?

First thing: If you do not have fractional reserve lending -- if banks are not allowed to loan out a portion of the money on deposit with them -- then we do not have a banking system. Period. You would have to pay banks to hold your money if they weren't allowed to lend it out and get some interest on it from borrowers. The interest you get from having your money on deposit in a bank is paid by lenders, not because the bank feels like being charitable. The reason the bank is paying you interest is to attract your money to their bank so that they can then lend it out to borrowers, not because they like giving money to you.

Now, okay, you say. Let's just go back to the gold standard so that the amount of actual physical currency can't change (thus eliminating the need to earn interest on our money), and ban fractional reserve lending. Lending can exist without banks, right? And because the number of goods and services in the economy are almost always inflating but the amount of gold is not (or is inflating very slowly as more gold is mined), that means prices will deflate over time and we'll be able to get more goods for our money!

The problem with deflation is as I've mentioned earlier -- it drives money out of the economy and turns it into mattress stuffing. Rather lumpy mattress stuffing, in the case of gold, but still mattress stuffing. The economy, starved of the lubricant of commerce (money, whose sole value is as a token of exchange to make it easier to conduct commerce), collapses into a barter arrangement. This actually happened in large parts of the United States during the Great Depression, my grandmother distinctly remembered bartering milk for peas and corn for corn milling at the general store and teachers being paid with eggs because the county couldn't collect any money for property taxes and, rather than foreclose in a tax auction (which would have been useless because nobody in the county had any money to buy the land at a tax auction), accepted whatever the person had as barter goods in lieu of taxes and traded it to their employees for their services. Thing is, that's a very inefficient way to conduct an economy. If you can figure out some sequence of barters that will arrange for all 50,000 components of a typical modern computer system to come together into a new computer, more power to you, because I can't -- that computer system simply won't be built if the economy collapses into a barter economy.

So deflation is bad, but let's say we *don't* go to a gold standard, but instead closely monitor the actual amount of money we print so that it grows exactly as much as the number of goods and services grow, so that there's no incentive to keep it under mattresses for later. But, we also ban fractional reserve banking. Well, as has been pointed out, there is a such thing as lending without fractional reserve banking. Finance companies lend out money, for example, money that is invested in them by investors. Thing is, this results in a much smaller pool of money available for lending than in the case of fractional reserve banking, because your paycheck is going to live under your mattress for most of the month as you spend it, rather than sit in a bank where it can be used as collateral for loans.

A fractional reserve banking system, by allowing banks to pay interest and thereby attract deposits, results in basically the sum total of the capital of the nation being available as collateral for loans, as vs. the alternative, which allows only a small portion of the capital of the nation being available as collateral for loans. By and large, this is a good thing, because loans are how future income gets turned into current assets that can be used to produce that future income. Loans are how that empty storefront in downtown San Jose gets turned into a thriving candy store. Loans are how that order for a new computer at my computer shop gets turned into a new computer, as I take out a loan on inventory to buy the parts to build the new computer, then pay back that loan (plus take some profit) once I actually ship and get paid for the new computer. Without a financial system capable of providing loans on a massive scale, capitalism slows dramatically, because you must then wait until you accumulate sufficient excess assets in order to purchase capital goods that can be used to produce that future income. By using future income to purchase the capital goods that will produce that future income, you no longer need to wait, and capitalism can thus move faster.

The Muslim world basically outlawed fractional reserve banking by barring loaning money at interest, and as a result became a stagnant backwater of use only for the oil extracted from under its sands, whereas before the West invented fractional reserve banking, the Muslim world threatened the very existence of the West. If you cannot leverage the current capital of the nation into future income, your economy is in the same dire straits as the typical third-world economy that lacks a functioning banking system (in most third-world nations, capital assets either live under mattresses, or flee to outside the country to banks that are perceived as more stable) -- incapable of the fast innovations and fast responses to market conditions necessary to be competitive. In short, you can have an economy without fractional reserve lending. But you cannot have a modern economy without fractional reserve lending, because without fractional reserve lending, you simply don't have enough capital assets in your financial system in order to move sufficient volume of loans for your businesses to be agile enough to meet changing conditions and fulfill changing customer demands. In short, a functional modern capitalist economy requires a working system of banks that incorporate the majority of capital assets of the nation and leverage that into future income. Any society which does not have such a system is at dire disadvantage economically.

-- Badtux the Economics Penguin

I believe in parent's rights!

Look, my children are my property. If I want to raise them to be zealous KKK bigots, that's my right. If I want to force them to work 20-hour days on my farm during harvest season around dangerous chemicals and farm machinery, that's my right because my children are my property and it's only right that I be allowed to use them any way I wish. If I force my child to sleep in a cardboard box in the back yard while I rape her from time to time in order to prepare her for life on the streets, that's my right, because my children are my property and raising them is my responsibility, not Big Brother's. And if I want to force my 17 year old daughter to have a baby after she has been raped, that is my right. How dare those icky federal court judges interfere with my parental rights by giving my 17 year old daughter the right to buy the Morning After pill over-the-counter!

-- Badtux the Parental Rights Penguin

Who, of course, has no human children, thus the above is of course tongue-in-beak.

My evil plan approaches completion!

My robotic penguin army approaches completion. You shall all convert to Tuxology (the worship of the Great Penguin) willingly, or else the Penguin Jihad will do so at flipper-point, bwahahaha!

-- Badtux the Evil Penguin

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wednesday evening peaceful music blogging

A master and his disciple:

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

And today on World Nut Daily...

we find out that Ann Coulter actually had a mother! And here I was, thinking that she was, like, hatched out of an egg or something, like a snake...

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Money, inflation, and why we want some (but not too much)

First, let us recall what money is. Money is toilet paper with pictures of dead people on it used to facilitate the exchange of goods and services in an economy, not something that has any inherent value. Money is not wealth. Goods and services and assets purchased with money are wealth. Money has value only insofar as it is involved in economic activity. Money that is stuffed inside a mattress essentially has value only as a substitute for cotton as mattress stuffing, as far as the economy is concerned, because it is otherwise doing nothing to foster economic activity.

The goal of a central banker is to have sufficient inflation to draw capital out from mattresses and put it to use (because in an inflationary environment it would otherwise lose value if left under the mattress), but not sufficient inflation to cause drastic declines in the value of the unit of money (and thus distortions caused by people trying to dump money as fast as possible rather than investing it wisely into goods and services and future production). Money has value to an economy only when used to foster economic activity as a token of exchange. Otherwise it is just funny shaped toilet paper with pictures of dead people on it. We have ample evidence that 0% or less inflation (i.e. deflation) reduce economic activity by turning money into mattress stuffing (either real or virtual), at which point it ceases to have any meaningful contribution to economic activity.

The EuroZone has set a goal of 2% inflation for the European Central Bank. That appears to be a good target for maintaining money supply velocity and thus economic activity. Milton Friedman won a Nobel for his equations describing the effects of monetary inflation upon economic activity, and thus far the evidence appears to support his thesis — capitalism works best with a small, constant, predictable amount of inflation, because otherwise the token of exchange (currency) loses its ability to contribute effectively to economic activity.

So the next time you hear someone say, "we should just let banks fail!", understand this: Banks are special in that banks actually create and destroy money via lending and not lending as part of the operations of fractional reserve banking. As I’ve previously pointed out, capitalism relies on having a stable (actually, very slightly inflating) money supply, deflation is poison because it kills current economic activity (since nobody spends anything other than what’s necessary since they expect their money to be worth more in the future), as is hyperinflation for the opposite reason (since it again leads to the collapse of banking and thus of the ability to leverage current assets into future economic growth as people withdraw their money from banks to spend it before it becomes worthless). If we do not come up with a solution to the banking problem and as a result manage to collapse the money supply therefore triggering monetary deflation, we face an even bigger disaster — possibly even the collapse of capitalism as an economic system. Given the unrequited history of failure of alternatives to capitalism (the training of economic systems via tokens simply is more efficient than any planned economy ever could be, see: neural network theory), that would be a major problem indeed for all of us.

-- Badtux the Economics Penguin

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tuesday evening happy music blogging

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Do not follow the link if eating

Seriously. Do not follow this link if you are eating. I snorted ramen noodles out of my nose upon reading this novel hospital food recipe.

-- Badtux the Gustatory Penguin

Can't anybody make a decent browser for the Mac?

Firefox works fine when you just fire it up, but then slowly ... crawls... to... a halt. At which point you have to force-quit it and try again.

Safari decides to either core dump or lock up when you sneeze at it.

Right now I'm using Camino, but Camino isn't rendering a lot of things correctly.

Of course, the situation is no better on Windows. But at least Internet Explorer no longer chokes and pukes when you sneeze at it, unlike Safari. And yes, I'm running the latest stable release MacOS and the latest stable release Safari (*not* the beta version of the next release).

Sigh. Computers. Wish we could just chuck'em out the window and get on with abacas'ing everything, but, alas, a modern economy requires too much data to be shuffled around for an abacas to do the job...

-- Badtux the "Wah! I just want it to work!" Penguin


Crap, I musta brought the desert back with me. It's friggin' *hot* outside. I sure am glad I changed to my summer windshield last night (the small one angled to blast air at me) and wore my mesh-vented gear today, otherwise I'd have a mighty warm ride home this evening!

-- Badtux the Motorcyclin' Penguin

3PM update: *96F*! This in a city where nobody even bothered building houses and apartments with air conditioning until the 1990's, because the climate is generally so mild that you never needed it! "Global warming is fiction", my overheated penguin ass!

Yet another reason to sell my motorcycle?

Ick. Pretty much my nightmare -- a big rig deciding to wipe me right off the road.

-- Badtux the Skittish Penguin

Monday, April 20, 2009

A question

Why do cats barf only on things they think are valuable and/or useful?

Thus far today Mencken has barfed on:

  • the antenna issue of QST magazine
  • Some metal exercise weights
  • the top of my suitcase (which is still sitting on the floor from my trip, getting unpacked).
  • The kitchen floor, in front of the sink.
I don't know why he has suddenly gone into barf-o-matic mode, but his choice of places to barf certainly seems to suggest he's making a statement about my abandonment of him during my recent trip...

-- Badtux the Puzzled Penguin

The future of the Republican Party

The Republican Party as currently constituted has nothing to offer the American public but failed policies, war, and hate. As long as Rush Limbaugh is the voice of the modern-day Republican, they will continue to become more and more marginalized as a regional party in the dumber areas of the countries, the areas of the country where worship of a vicious invisible sky demon is more important to them than the future of the nation.

Which is why Democrats should be worried about Meghan McCain. If she and her ilk of young Republicans manage to co-opt the Party of Hate, the Democrats might have some trouble indeed with pushing their various agendas forward, especially given how many "Blue Dog" Democrats there are. And don't get too excited that Meghan's generation of Republicans will differ greatly from the previous generations of Republicans. She's all about the long-term agenda of the Republican Party -- a nation that is Mexico North, with elites like Meghan on top, and the rest of us residents in squalid shanty-towns begging for a few dollars a week to work in the elites' sweatshops. Our own elites are jealous of their Mexican brethren, who live like kings in palatial estates with hundreds of servants to cater to their every need. That's the agenda of the Republican elite -- to become like their Mexican peers. And Meghan's no different there, in the end.

-- Badtux the Futurist Penguin

Outrage junkies

Outrage is the only emotion the tighty righties have. There must be a constant supply of outrages for them to get red-faced and angry about, or otherwise they're not satisfied. So what is the latest thing that the tighty righties are getting outraged about? Well, a brief glance at Google News and World Nut Daily shows that they're getting outraged about... torture.

No, no, not about the fact that torture violates the Geneva Conventions and all human decency. Not about the fact that the Bush Administration tortured Khalid Shaikh Mohammed by waterboarding him 183 times (and if waterboarding is so goddamned effective at getting good information out of a suspect, why the fuck did we have to waterboard this asshole 183 times before deciding we'd gotten everything he knew?). But, rather, because the Obama administration released the torture memos allowing this torture, and therefore clued in the terrorists as to what tactics were allowed (past tense since Obama banned torture), thereby harming national security.

Which is another "WTF?!". We've released poor sods who were tortured this way after determining that they were just harmless cab drivers or whatever who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. They know what was done to them. They've told everybody at home what was done to them. The only thing not known is whether the torturers had legal cover from administration officials, or were doing it all on their own (the "few bad apples" defense). So now we know: the Bush Administration officially had torture as an official policy. How the fuck can that jeopardize national security, when the terrorists already know what's being done?

But wait, I forgot. It's all about tighty righties covering their ass and trying to hide what they did from the American people. It's like Richard Nixon's "secret" bombing of Cambodia. The Cambodians sure the fuck knew they were getting bombed. But it's all about hiding that information from the American public, disappearing it down the memory hole for the next election. And now Obama is shitting on their plan to hide what they did. Well fuck these vicious criminal assholes and the goddamned horses they rode in on. If there was a God, if there was any justice in this world, they'd all be swinging from the ends of ropes like the war criminals that they are, just like the German and Japanese war criminals who tortured our GI's during WWII. Sad to say, they will die rich and happy in their sleep just like that fucking ratbastard Richard Nixon, because there is no justice, and there is no God. But at least we can shit on their graves by releasing these torture memos so that everybody knows just what kind of craven, criminal, inhumane bastards these scum really are. There is no justice, and there is no God, but at least there is some small satisfaction in seeing just how low, just how evil these "people" are. We must take our satisfaction where we can get it, I suppose... no matter how much these war criminals squawk about it.

-- Badtux the Rude Penguin

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Kibble monsters

I was away for three days. I left the monsters enough kibble in their dish for five days. The dish was absolutely empty when I got back thirty minutes ago.

They aren't big-boned. They're fat. And now you know why.

-- Badtux the Kibble-monster-owned Penguin

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Caturday Guard Cat Blogging

Like a hawk, a hawk ah say. Just looking to swoop down upon you and... and... GROOM YOUR EARS!

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Friday, April 17, 2009

Guard Cats

The Mighty Fang and Mencken are guarding the blog and my apartment while I'm away in the desert. Don't misbehave or... or.... TMF will lick your ears!

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Thursday, April 16, 2009

If the shoe fits...

World Nut Daily whines to its readers, "Obama administration says we are right-wing extremists!" while running articles claiming President Obama is a secret Muslim non-citizen and urging soldiers to disobey President Obama's orders.

If the shoe fits...

-- Badtux the Easily Amused Penguin

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tea bagging has low turnout

Seems like even the combined efforts of practically every host on Fox News couldn't make tea-bagging popular. The usual right-wing "grassroots" billionaires failed to get a big turnout, though what turnout they did get made up in viciousness and hate what they lacked in numbers, with lists of Democrats they want to see hung, polluting the waterways, and terrorizing Congressmen by sending suspicious envelopes that cause the evacuation of Congressional offices.

I guess I was wrong about how many kinky Republicans there were. I guess it's just the leadership, not the rank and file, that are closeted tea room queens (note -- that's a link to a tea party in a tea room).

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Talk about flogging a dead horse...

This morning, World Nut Daily sent me not, one, not two, but three of their insane conspiracy theory emails claiming that President Obama isn't really President because he is an alien space lizard rather than a natural-born American. Or somethin' like that. Yet more of their insistance that judges, not voters, should choose who leads the country. How... Iranian... of them. (In Iran, judges must rule that you are "ideologically correct" before you're allowed to run for office).

Dudes. The man was democratically elected by over 50% of the public. It's called democracy. Look it up in the dictionary, okay? Sigh!

Badtux the "Why do wingnuts hate democracy?" Penguin

A conversation

A boy and his guitar having a conversation.

This cannot be taught. Either you have this conversation with music, or you do not. Most so-called "prodigies" do not -- they are technically excellent, but attack the music as an adversary, rather than as something they feel.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Little known facts

Josef Stalin and Pol Pot were just nice gentle middle-aged men, the kind of guys about which people say "isn't he so sweet?!", until driven mad by gay marriage.

And that is today's Wingnut History 101 lesson. Next week: Global warming (if it existed) is caused by gay people. Tune in for the details!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Tea bagging

Tomorrow, a lot of the tighty righties are going to get together to tea-bag Obama to celebrate the fact that the top 5% saw its share of national income grow from 15 to 21 percent between 1970-2006 as their effective income tax rate declined from 17.4% to 16.0%. So they're going to have a teabagging party. Talk about kinky. Ugh. These dudes are sick! And I thought the allegations in the Jeri Ryan divorce were kinky...

Hopefully the Secret Service is on top of this. I doubt President Obama is going to lower his pants and undies for them anyhow. He seems far too dignified for that sort of thing. A straight missionary position guy, if ya know what I mean.

Badtux the Buggery Penguin

Attack of the killer towel

I am somewhat occupied getting ready for a trip to the desert. Here, have a cat being attacked by a towel: Rule #1 of being a cat: Everything is a cat toy. Including a box. And a towel.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Monday, April 13, 2009

A post in which I link to Satan

The Great Orange Satan, that is. Which I try not to link to, since it has become such a hotbed of gratuitous liberal self-congratulation and smug ideological partisanship, but this was such a great take-down of the Tighty Righties and their elevation of an obscure and geeky group of affordable housing advocates to Obama Storm Troopers Come To Take Away Your Guns that I've ever seen.

Let's not forget the Official Conservative Headgear: Apparently their tin foil has been slipping, between their ACORN Storm Troopers Are Coming To Take Your Guns Away bit, and their Obama Is A Secret Muslim Who Isn't Really American And Is Going To Turn America Into A Fascist/Socialist State bit. Gah. Conservatives. What a buncha scaredy-cat bed-wetters they be.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Sadly prophetic

Earlier, I wrote about Sandra Cantu About how her attacker was a family friend or relative (almost always in these cases).It turns out that I was sadly correct -- it apparently was the mother of one of the girl's friends, a neighbor at the trailer park, who is also possibly being charged with rape and molestation. And lest you think, "hold it, a woman wouldn't do all that"... from the moment that Sandra Cantu's body was found in the water, it became likely that it was a woman. That is the preferred method for women to dispose of the bodies of children.

One asoect you will not see harped upon is the fact that the suspected perpetrator is a preacher's daughter. It's well known that many preachers have, err, odd sex habits. Was this preacher's daughter a witness of -- or participant in -- such doings? That, I suspect, is not something we're going to learn anything about. We wouldn't want to tar the high priests of a death cult (that just finished celebrating a holiday for the death of their deity) with their actual deeds, right?

Of course, given that my own religious faith also involves wet suits (but only for the monkeys, us penguins have no need for them)... but then, Tuxologists don't have any death celebrations in their religious calendar. The Great Penguin has been uniformly uninterested in all that slaying and destroying cities and crucifixion and such that the death cult is famous for celebrating...

-- Badtux the Grim Penguin

More proof

I once said that Koreans are crazy, and said I didn't mean that in a bad way, just that they could get rather... OCD. Here is proof that crazy does not mean "bad":

Little kid is named Sungha Jung, he's about 10 years old in this video, he's South Korean, and he's rockin' in this video as much as a classical fingerstylist ever rocks. Which is impressive, because kids that young can often play with technical virtuosity, but few actually feel what they're playing, and this kid is definitely there.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, April 12, 2009

All fear, all the time

And on the All Fear Channel, yet more things to be afraid of! For those of you who are older than me: When did America become a nation of bedwetters cowering in fear of everyone and everything? Just curious, because it happened before I was old enough to really notice, so only someone older than me would have noticed it...

-- Badtux the Fear Penguin

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Been a busy day...

Sold my KLR today, and now I'm putting some wider fender flares onto my Jeep. I was afraid that I'd gotten flares that were too wide, but they seem to be just right. The only real pain is the rear flares, since you have to remove the plastic fender liners and the fender liners have those %!@# one-time use plastic button fasteners that Detroit loves so much (as vs. the reusable ones that are used to hold the plastics onto my Suzuki). So I'm just ripping those guys out and replacing them with zip-ties or with nut/bolt/fender washers depending upon how accessible the holes are. It's not as if the plastic fender liners are a structural part of the Jeep anyhow, they're just intended to keep mud out of the area behind the wheels where the wiring for the lights and the emissions gear all live...

Earlier today, The Mighty Fang let out a horrific howl as if in agonizing pain. I was, like, "What? What?!" but he refused to answer me. Finally he puked up two different balls of... chewed-up rubber bands.

Yes, rubber bands! Apparently, after mugging the guy who came in to buy my bike (poor guy was trying to fill out the transfer papers, TMF kept rubbing against his hand to get petted, which sort of interfered with things!), he decided to eat the rubber bands off of the Saturday paper. Blasted cat has a fetish for rubber, sigh... he ate part of my spare inner tube for my bicycle, too.

-- Badtux the Wrenchin' Penguin

I think he's sticking his tongue out at me

The Kibble Monster, like the Cookie Monster from Sesame Street, leaves a trail of kibble crumbs around where he eats. That's a couple of days worth of kibble crumbs. Time to go grab broom and dustpan again, sigh...

Happy Caturday!

-- Badtux the Kibble-supplying Penguin

Friday, April 10, 2009

The love that must not be named

Vermont passed a law allowing same-sex couples to marry this week, and Iowa's Supreme Court allowed it under Equal Protection clauses in the Iowa Constitution, so clearly we know what the next thing to happen is: Black cats and white-and-grey cats will be allowed to marry. Oh wait, the U.S. Supreme Court already ruled on that one. Sort of. That whole "consenting adult" thingy seems to interfere a bit there, though...

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Now: Fear the Rainbow! My favorite part has got to be the lightning.

The fake lightning, that is, flashing just off to the side, a cheap 'n' cheesy special effect that momentarily lights up the actors' faces in the most sweetly melodramatic way as they stand there against the dark 'n' stormy backdrop like devout Christian zombies, delivering delightfully weird and wooden lines about being openly terrified of those openly terrifying gay married people.

Yes, it's merely another series of strange, alarmist, deeply homophobic ads from yet another seething anti-gay group you've never heard of!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Banks aren't selling foreclosed homes

Banks are holding foreclosed homes off the market, according to researchers who've examined foreclosure and MLS records. It is estimated that over 800,000 homes have been foreclosed upon but not placed on the market, while there are probably an equal number of homes in default which should be foreclosed upon, but banks are thus far avoiding doing so.

It appears that banks have decided that acknowledging that they loaned $800K for an $80K home on the edge of a ghetto would be embarrassing, so they just never put that home on the market. So it sits vacant, eventually squatters burn it down, and hey, then they can collect insurance!

Well, it's a theory, anyhow....

-- Badtux the Puzzled Penguin

Film review snark

The following is from a real review published in a real newspaper:

Advisory: This movie contains comic violence and scenes of hip-hop country dancing. Members of all of the world's religions need to immediately set aside their differences, and collectively pray that this doesn't become a trend. --- San Francisco Chronicle

-- Badtux the Amused Penguin

Who, being properly forewarned, is not going to see 'Hannah Montana: The Movie', heh!

Death of a white trash girl

Invisible people live in the places between, invisible people whose lives never are on the television, never in the newspaper, never heard, never seen. These are the places where prosperity long ago passed by without a wave, where people scrabble for sustenance through a series of part-time jobs and traveling long distances for work at low pay, places full of trailer parks and dead dreams and lies and despair. All invisible, until something bad happens, as invariably does.

She was a typical white trash girl in one of those places, just another invisible person, eight years old and 45 pounds, a small third grader by any measure at less than 5th percentile on the weight chart. But white trash girls are often small because of the poor diet and spending so much time outside during their younger years. The trailer park was in Tracy, CA, a Central Valley town filled by commuters to more prosperous areas to the west or north, a town where people go to live because they cannot afford anything closer to where they work, a bedroom community where few people have any connection to any others and there are no jobs, no future, no hope for the young white trash girls and boys born there into poverty. Indeed, the only thing unusual about this story is that the girl was part-Hispanic, and that is unusual only outside of California, not within it.

In the usual way of things, this girl would spend most of her pre-teen years outdoors playing with sticks and rocks and pestering boys, go to the terrible schools allotted to white trash girls and learn nothing of any substance, graduate, marry young to a similarly poorly-educated ignorant young husband who turns out to be abusive, have children, and swiftly lose her looks to the bad food and dead dreams that are the lot of white trash girls. And nobody outside of her immediate family and friends would notice, or care, as she lived her life of quiet desperation trying to make ends meet while dealing with a husband as likely to slap her as make love to her but it takes two incomes to pay the monthly lot fee for their falling down trailer house and pay for food and second-hand clothing for their children so they grudgingly live with each other, or they divorce and the husband lives away and things become even more desperate. And nobody notices, and nobody cares, and people wonder why these white trash girls and white trash boys have given up voting for Democrats, the same Democrats who sneer at them and ignore their plight. At least Republicans will destroy the rest of the country the way their own lives have been destroyed, goes the thinking of these white trash girls and white trash boys. Despair is funny, that way.

But such was not to be the lot in life for this eight year old white trash girl, whose body was found recently. That in and of itself is not unusual. The lives of white trash girls and white trash boys are viewed by society as disposable, as future cannon fodder for the military and future employees of chicken rendering plants, not as something of any value. Dead eight-year-old white trash girls are found all the time, electrocuted by the shoddy wiring of the run-down trailer houses that they live in, beaten to death by abusive fathers, run over by cars driven by drunk or high drivers as they play with sticks and rocks and broken dolls in the narrow streets between the tightly packed rows of trailers, or falling down abandoned wells or drowning in creeks or any of the myriad of other ways that white trash girls die every day. And nobody notices, and nobody cares.

Except this time, for some reason they did. Perhaps because of the horrible way in which Sandra Cantu was murdered. Or perhaps because of the photograph, which makes her look like a blond white girl instead of a dark-haired Hispanic girl and you know how the national media loves their Missing Blond White Girl stories. Or maybe it was the video. But for one small sad moment, we got a glimpse into the life of someone who otherwise would have been forever invisible.

And soon, that small sad moment will be gone, and nobody will remember, just as nobody remembers the names of any of those other dead white trash girls whose bodies are found every year by the dozen. We will learn the story, eventually. About how this tough young white trash girl struggled against her attacker (because white trash girls really are tough, it's necessary to survive the lives of abuse and neglect they endure). About how her attacker was a family friend or relative (almost always in these cases). And then everybody will move on to another missing white blond girl, and then... well. The invisible people will go back to being invisible again. And no one will notice, and no one will care.

-- Badtux the White Trash Penguin

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Obama gutting the military

Ballon Juice has the details:

2009 Pentagon budget: $513 billion
2010 proposed Pentagon budget: $534 billion

Yes indeedy, sending troops into battle without battle armor, uparmored Humvees, etc., for multiple stop-lossed terms in multiple war then underfunding military hospitals until the veterans are competing with rats for their meagre dinners while stewing in their own feces, is not gutting the military. Rather, giving the military $21B more than their current budget is "gutting the military". Alrighty, then!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Every man wants a big d*ck

-- Badtux the Easily Amused Penguin

The world according to World Nut Daily

  • Obama is foreign-born and has not provided his birth certificate.
  • Obama is a socialist dictator who is imposing Cuban-style Communism upon America
  • Vitamins, like flouride, actually poison you.
  • Obama is working on a merger of the United States, Mexico, and Canada into a North American Union where martial law is going to be declared in the USA and enforced via Canadian and Mexican troops.
  • Because Obama is not a natural-born American citizen (see #1), and indeed is a foreign Muslim plot to destroy America (see #2, #4), U.S. troops are legally justified to rebel against his command and arrest and imprison him.
  • Liberals want to take your children away and raise them in fascist camps to be perfect fascist soldiers.
  • Obama's budget steals money from working Americans and gives it to shiftless Negros (well, he doesn't use the words shiftless Negros, but that's what he means).
  • The average American, struggling daily to survive in a shitty economy, actually cares about any of the above.
Here is a video of World Nut Daily's editor, Joseph "Batshit Crazy" Farrah, explaining all of this to a concerned British citizen:

It's a very scary world these guys live in. I'm glad it's not the world the rest of us live in, or we'd all be f*cked!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Goldilocks and the Three Computers

Goldilocks was bored. She'd scored a lot of loot recently and was looking for a bit of a break, so she booked a flight to the Bahamas. While looking for a computer to carry on an airline for doing regular email and Internet access and post the occasional photo to the Internet she broke into this little apartment in San Jose. And what, then, did she see but three computers, all in a row? So she tried the one on the left, and it was too big. She tried the one on the right, and it was too small. And she tried the Acer Aspire One 10" laptop in the middle, and it was just right.

Then the owner of the apartment came home, shot her dead with his .357 Magnum, and everybody lived happily ever after. Except for Goldilocks the Burglar, of course. She did make a beautiful corpse though... -- Badtux the Fiction Penguin

Shutting the barn door after the horse got out

AP to Internet: Go away, we don't want you to link to our content.

Internet to AP: Uhm, you're 15 years too late, dude!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

The pernicious power of teacher's unions

These dastardly spawns of Satan, research has found, decrease student performance terribly... in the non-unionized schools of "Right to Work" states. To summarize the research studies on the performance of children in unionized vs. non-unionized schools:

  1. higher math and verbal standardized test scores in unionized schools,
  2. bulk of the evidence points toward higher graduation rates from unionized schools,
  3. solid track record of supporting policies that boost achievement for most students based on empirical measurements
Since obviously teacher's unions can't be responsible for these facts about unionized schools, it's clear that the real impact of teachers unions must be in depressing the performance of students in the non-unionized schools of "Right to Work" states where teachers' unions in the traditional sense of the word are illegal. Yes, that's right -- teacher unions not only aren't content with ruining the educational system in unionized states, they ruin the educational system in non-unionized states even more!

Wow. I didn't know teacher's unions were so dadburned powerful. Why, next thing you know, we'll find out that they're responsible for global warming, genital herpes, and the former Presidency of George W. Bush too!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Monday, April 06, 2009

Here's what people who aren't pussified do

When American or Japanese managers fire French workers... the fired workers kidnap the managers. Whether for better severance benefits or for their jobs back or to get attention from the government for their community when a major employer is closing, they don't just take it sitting down and whimpering like Americans do. They do something about it. Of course, here in Soviet America if workers tried doing something like that then the local riot police would be pulled in to beat them all to a pulp then herd them into a warehouse full of toxic wastes somewhere, and they'd be "disappeared" for several days before given an arraignment before a judge, and none of this would be covered by our highly censored corporate media which would be too terrified that it'd encourage others to copy the act, but that's the Land of the Free(tm) for ya...

One interesting thing: French unemployment right now is roughly half that of the United States, if you compare comparables (i.e., the U-6 U.S. measure against the French measure). Note that people do not work part-time jobs for economic reasons in France, and are never counted as "discouraged". They're either employed full time, or unemployed. Due to the extensive safety net in France, they never have to work part-time odd jobs to make ends meet while they're searching for full-time employment.

Thus why the European countries haven't signed on to Obama's stimulus plan. They don't have the massive underemployment and crumbling infrastructure of the United States, so they simply don't need it. Which is great for them, but in the meantime, makes it suck even more to be us...

-- Badtux the Economy Penguin

Ten year old terrorist?!

A ten year old child in Mountain View, California, was arrested on charges of making terrorist threats.

WTF? We're talking about a friggin' FOURTH GRADER, for cryin' out loud. Fourth grade boys can be rowdy and bombastic, but terrorists? Come on now! The boy didn't need to be arrested and shit. What he needed was a good ass-paddling and then sent to his room without supper. Sorry for being politically incorrect, but crap, have we lost all common sense in this country, or what?!

-- Badtux the Astounded Penguin

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Sunday morning

Mencken is walking around howling complaints for no reason at all. The Mighty Fang is eating some cat puke that Menken left on the carpet yesterday evening.

Life with cats continues.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

From last night: The boys relax.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Let's party like it's 1932!

The March employment statistics came out yesterday, and as expected, they sucked. The number to look at if comparing to the Great Depression is the U-6 Alternate Measure, which more closely resembles the definition of unemployment in the 1930's (i.e., you wanted a full-time job but didn't have one). This measure hit the princely total of 16.2% in March.

So how does this compare to the Great Depression? Well, let's go look at our handy timeline of the Great Depression. Unemployment hit a peak of 15.9% by the end of 1931, meaning that on the Great Depression timeline, we're in about February of 1932.

So, will we see a U-6 of 23.6% by the end of 2009, which would correspond to an "official" unemployment rate of around 15%? Well... I hope not. Because if we do... cue the food riots. And, probably, a fascist revolution (Communism having gone out of style over the past half-century or so).

-- Badtux the History Penguin

Friday, April 03, 2009

I'm losing my mind

After taking the previous photo of The Mighty Fang bicycling, I noticed that my battery indicator was showing that my camera's battery level was low. So I walked over to the place where my Sony smart-charger for NiMH batteries lives, and assembled four AA batteries from those that had recently been charged, and opened the bottom cover of the camera, and... err. This new camera doesn't use AA batteries. It uses special Lithium battery cells. Err, yeah, that's right, I remember now, I bought a spare battery and I have a battery charger around here somewhere. So I opened up the drawer under the Sony smart-charger, where batteries and associated hardware live. Erm, nothing there. Where did I last see it? Oh yeah, charging in the plug near the stove. Glance over there. Nothing. Hmm. Check assorted other drawers and containers that have various electronics junk in them. Nothing there. Go check the boxes full of camping gear, I had it last time I went camping. Nothing there.

Sigh. I guess I'll have to go order a new spare battery and a battery charger for it from the place I got the first spare battery. Sigh. Then, a brief glance around, and I realized where the spare battery and its charger were. I checked there, and yes, they were there!

Where is this mysterious location that I only checked after ripping half my apartment to pieces looking for the spare battery and charger? I'll let you guess. But it should be immediately obvious to anybody with half a brain. Which, obviously, I didn't have yesterday evening :-).

-- Badtux the Brainless Penguin

Activist court in Iowa dooms marriage

ABC News, April 3, 1949:

A Republican congressman from Iowa warned Friday that the state could turn into "the miscegenation Mecca" if the state legislature does not begin restricting marriage licenses to in-state residents.

The statement from Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, which followed the Iowa Supreme Court's unanimous ruling striking down a state ban on cross-race marriage, underscored the emotional power the issue holds for social conservatives in the state, which will hold the GOP's first presidential nominating contest in 2012.

Iowa is now the third state where Negro and white mixed-race couples are permitted to marry. The other two are Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Conservatives like King are pushing for a state constitutional amendment banning mixed marriage.

"It is the Iowa legislature's responsibility to pass the Marriage Amendment to the Iowa Constitution, clarifying that marriage is between one man and one woman of the same race, to give the power that the Supreme Court has arrogated to itself back to the people of Iowa," said King.

Given that Iowa is the state which kicks off the presidential contest, several Republicans who are eyeing a White House run in 2012 criticized the ruling and reaffirmed their opposition to mixed-race marriage.

"I believe marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman of the same race and the definition of marriage should be left to the people and not to activist courts," former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., said in a written statement provided to ABC News.

The governor of South Carolina -- Republican Mark Sanford -- also criticized the ruling and touted his support for a constitutional ban on mixed-race marriage in his state.

"The governor supported a constitutional amendment here banning mixed-race unions. That position still holds," Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer told ABC News. "He's not the governor of Iowa, but he's against mixed-race marriages."

Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who supports civil unions for mixed-race couples, reacted to the Iowa decision by reiterating his support for restricting marriage to same-race couples. In 2004, Huntsman successfully backed a constitutional amendment banning mixed-race marriage.

"He believes all people should have equal rights," Huntsman spokeswoman Lisa Roskelley told ABC News. "But when it comes to marriage, Gov. Huntsman believes that should be reserved for a man and a woman of the same race."

Asked if he favors the passage of a constitutional amendment in Iowa, Roskelley said, "He would leave that up to Iowa and trust that they would address that appropriately within their state."

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, the winner of the 2008 Iowa Republican caucuses, called the decision "disappointing." "All Iowans should have a say in this matter, not a handful of legislative judges," said Huckabee in a written statement. "This issue is too important to not be made by the people of Iowa. It is my hope that the legislature will take the necessary steps to properly resolve this matter."

Erin Isaac, a spokesperson for Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, said, "[The governor] supports civil unions but believes that marriage is for a man and a woman of the same race."

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty also spoke out against the Iowa ruling.

"Gov. Pawlenty disagrees with the Iowa Supreme Court decision and believes that marriage should be defined as between a man and a woman of the same race," said Pawlenty spokesman Brian McClung.

An aide to another potential Republican presidential candidate, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, played down the decision's relevance to his state.

"Does it include Louisiana?" asked Jindal spokeswoman Melissa Sellers.

Pam Pryor, a spokeswoman for Sarah Palin, told ABC News that the Alaska governor would not comment on the Iowa marriage ruling even though she is an ardent opponent of mixed-race marriage.

Despite losing in court on Friday, social conservatives are hoping that they will prevail by amending the state constitution.

"Mixed-race 'marriage' continues to be a movement driven by a liberal judicial elite determined to destroy not only the institution of marriage, but democracy as well," said Tony Perkins, the president of the Washington-based Family Research Council. "The casual dismissal of the facts of human biology and thousands of years of human history, simply to pander to a small band of social radicals, is bizarre and indefensible."

While mixed-race marriage opponents are hoping that Iowa will follow California in overturning a decision of its state Supreme Court, supporters of mixed-race marriage are emboldened by the fact that it is considerably more difficult to amend the state constitution in Iowa than it is in California.

"The Iowa Constitution can't be changed quickly," said state Sen. Matt McCoy, Iowa's first openly gay state lawmaker, in a YouTube video released Friday.

A state constitutional ban on mixed-race marriage would need to be approved by two consecutive legislative sessions, the 2009-10 session and the 2011-12 session, before going to the voters in a general-election referendum, according to the Iowa Secretary of State's office.

This means that the earliest Iowa voters could weigh in on this issue would be in November 2011: smack-dab in the middle of the Republican Party's 2012 nomination fight.

Original article: ABC News, April 3, 2009. It's only coincidence that, with very few modifications, it could have been written in 1949 about marriages between blacks and whites -- something which was illegal in most states until Loving v. Virginia overturned state miscegenation laws in 1967.

-- Badtux the Civil Rights Penguin