Monday, May 31, 2010

Fat kittehs

T-4 days before the move...

All boxes are either packed or started (clearly the ones I'm living out of are still open and in flux). I've started disassembling furniture, the dining room table lost its legs today (my dining room table is now the patio table off the patio, since its legs simply pull off rather than unscrew), tomorrow the bed loses its frame and the dresser loses its mirror.

The cats have been surprisingly mellow since I took them off their diet. They go right to sleep after eating, so if I keep a plentiful supply of kibble around, they sleep rather than pester me. Hmm... do they have me trained, or what?

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I won't be posting. I'll try to keep up with email using my iPhone, but my Internet connection is going to be in flux. My usual stream of music videos will, however, appear -- they're spooled up until nearly the end of June at the moment.

-- Badtux the Moving Penguin

In which I taunt the cryers of "criticism is anti-Semitism!" again

Okay, so Israel just managed to blow away a buncha folks who were trying to haul food and supplies to the Gaza Strip Concentration Camp, thereby keeping intact the blockade they've had in place for the past three years and, incidentally, risking war with their now-former ally, Turkey. And of course the usual suspects start whining, "we're just defending ourselves from Hamas, what do you want us to do?"

What do we want you to do? Uhm, you really, really want to know that, or you just bullshittin' me? 'Cause it's pretty goddamn simple, actually:

  1. Quit bein' a buncha racist fucks. I mean, dude. This used to not be a problem, young Jewish intellectuals were one of the prime driving forces of the Civil Rights movement here in the South that ended state-sanctioned apartheid here, but I swear that every time I interact with an Israeli or one of their apologists nowdays I get the impression that they're channeling General Phil Sheridan when ole' Sheridan said "the only good Indian is a dead Indian." Except substitute "Arab" for "Indian", of course. Shoving the Palestinians onto reservations, killing as many as necessary to get'em to stay in their reservation, and not bothering much with how much food and medical supplies and shit gets in there... dude. That's Sheridan's playbook, we know how this shit works.
  2. Quit whining about how persecuted you were back 500 years ago or some shit. Dude. That just makes you sound like a bunch of whiney-ass titty-babies nowdays. Most folks on this planet today weren't even *born* the last time somebody tried genociding Jews, in the meantime we got genocides like, all over fucking Africa and shit, what makes Jews so much more special than the Ibo, or the folks in Darfur, or anybody else who's being genocided, like, *now*? Get over yourself, sheesh. There's 5 billion people on this planet, each and every one of whom thinks they're just as special as you are, and whining about how some folks back before they were even *born* were mean to you is, like, the lamest whiny-ass titty baby shit like, EVAH! Realize that most people don't give a shit that you're a Jew. Playing professional victim might make you feel good, but there ain't a nation outside the Middle East that has any sort of routine discrimination against Jews anymore, and if you don't make a point of being obnoxious about your Jewishness, most people just don't give a shit. This ain't 1937 or some shit, this is the fucking TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY. People got better things to worry about now, other than a few sad sick fucks at Stormfront but who the fuck cares what they think?
  3. Quit trying to re-enact the Warsaw Ghetto in Gaza, except with Palestinians playing the starring role. Dude. That's, like, seriously unrighteous, and makes you look like a buncha hypocrits.
  4. And while we're at it, quit vaporizing a buncha women and children and regular ole' civilians every time some sick asshole sends a rocket your way. I mean, c'mon. The way to deal with criminals is to kill the criminals, not just some random folks who, like, didn't have shit to do with whatever the criminal done! It's as if the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor and we started killing all the Japanese-Americans in retaliation, that's some sick shit, yo! Look, the criminals *want* you to kill civilians. It makes their job of recruiting more criminals easier. Quit giving them what they want, dudes!
  5. Uhm, and look. When you sign a treaty, like that Oslo one turning over the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority, would it hurt even a teensy little bit if you, like, actually did what you agreed to do rather than go ahead and send in "settlers" and armed troops to, like, trample all over your word? I mean, crap. That makes you look like two-face lying bastards, yo. That's no way to make friends and influence people. Just sayin'.
  6. And finally... quit accusing anybody who criticizes Israel doing obnoxious shit of being "anti-semite" and wanting to exterminate Jews and shit. That just makes you look like the biggest flaming asswipes on the planet. Dude. Get over yourself. Most of us just don't give a fuck about what religion you are, we just don't like assholes, and if we tell you that you're acting like the biggest flaming asshole on the whole fucking planet it ain't got shit to do with your religion or ethnicity or some shit like that, and everything to do with the fact that, like, you're acting like the biggest fucking asshole on the whole fucking planet, yo.
So let's recap: 1) Quit being racist, 2) Quit whining, 3) Quit with this Palestinian ghetto shit, 4) Quit killing civilians, 5) keep your word, 6) Quit calling anybody who points out you're being an asshole of being an anti-Semite (you just prove the point when you pull that shit, yo).

Or, to make it even simpler: Don't Be An Asshole!

Sounds simple enough. Well, except the question of what to do with those sad sick fucks the Palestinians if you aren't gonna put them into apartheid-style Bantustans or Warsaw-style ghettos, but hey, I never claimed to have the answers for everything...

-- Badtux the Rude Penguin

Another heretic commits a crime

Catholic priest arrested for shoplifting. According to the article, apparently Father Steven Poole, 42, is a compulsive hoarder who turned to stealing over the years in order to feed his compulsion to accumulate more and more useless junk, and some of the junk was... troubling. Handcuffs? Really?!

I've known both a number of Catholic ministers and a number of Baptist ministers over the years. Even the best of them, the most sincere and kind and pious, the ones who really believed and really wanted to help people, were a bit... *off*. I think it takes a special kind of person to devote their life to serving an imaginary sky demon rather than a lazy Great Penguin who just wishes herring and peace upon all, and by "special" I don't mean quite all sane. My crazy-dar (the penguin equivalent of a gaydar) starts beeping rapidly when I approach these folks. And it's not just because they're heretics worshipping a Great Sky Demon rather than Tuxology's lazy fat and friendly Great Penguin either. These folks are *off*.

I am no longer surprised when I read stories like this, because the ministry regardless of faith is a profession that seems to attract troubled people, whether it is gay people who become anti-gay crusaders to "prove" they're not gay (poor George Alan Rekers) or this junk collector guy. At least Mr. Poole is merely a hoarder who harmed nobody other than Wal-Mart, big deal. But it makes you wonder, when other pastors would not stay at this guy's rectory overnight because of all the junk everywhere, how it is that the Catholic hierarchy never assigned this poor guy to get psychiatric counseling for his problem. They had to have known that he was a few bats shy of a full belfry. But then, I guess they have bigger problems, such as covering up for criminal activity like boy-rape by their priests...

-Badtux the Tuxologist Penguin


Conor Furlong - "Are You Gonna Sleep Tonight?" off of his album Playing with Fire, available from iTunes.

As I post this video, fireworks explode outside. That is an appropriate thing to happen on Memorial Day eve. I came across this video yesterday and moved the video that *was* in this spot elsewhere. Click on the video and you will see why.

-- Badtux the Sombre Music Penguin

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Stalking of the Penguin

Mommy! Make him stop following me!

The Mighty Fang was laying on his back, paws askew, glaring at me, so I grabbed my camera. At which point he jumped up and started coming after me. Eeek!

Luckily all that happened is that once he got me cornered into my desk chair, he jumped onto my lap and started rubbing against me while purring. Phew!

-- Badtux the Stalked Penguin

Why "Drill baby drill" will still be the rule

I was in school during the Iran embassy crisis. I mentioned the latest events of the day to a girl and she said "why should I care? It's got nothing to do with me." She went on to explain that it didn't affect her ability to go to the mall and shop, or go out on dates, or anything, so why should she care?

That's the attitude we're facing here. The average American simply doesn't care about anything unless the impact is felt personally, via money from his pocketbook or personal discomfort or both. America has become a land populated by narcissistic nihilists who believe nothing is important except themselves. And this isn't new -- that was, what, 1979?

Reagan/Bush/Bush II was a symptom, not a cause. And even after this, the average American will have no problem with "drill, baby, drill!" because the average American does *not* live on the Gulf Coast and thus this doesn't affect him personally. Dead zone on the Gulf Coast? Bummer for those who live there, but why should I care? Ah yes, America in a nutshell...

- Badtux the Cynical Penguin

What rot!

Well, not really ;). This is the Dollyrots, who I've mentioned on this blog before, with another one of their infectious pop-punk songs. This one is "California Beach Boy", a new one which is available as a single in iTunes.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Crashing halt

My attempt to make my bed runs into immovable obstacles. Well, actually the one on the right is the one that stopped me... Mencken set up there and I couldn't get my pillows put where they belonged... The Mighty Fang set up on the left later.

Yes, I could pick them up and move them. But they've been so upset about all the changes going on as everything gets packed up for the move that I didn't have the heart.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

So, do the poor *really* not pay taxes?

In a word: No. The actual effective tax rate for each tax quintile is:

Q1: 31.6% (bottom quintile)
Q2: 28.1%
Q3: 28.3%
Q4: 28.9%
Q5: 30.1%

This is from data collected by the right-wing organization The Tax Foundation, without TTF's "fudge factor" where TTF adds in "transfer payments" that have nothing to do with taxes. This is taxes from top to bottom, from Federal to school district, as of 2004. This year's data should be relatively similar.

In short, it doesn't appear that if you are looking at the absolute percentage of taxes paid, that the United States has a progressive tax structure. Yes, Federal taxes are fairly progressive, but the states have moved heavily towards using sales taxes, which fall disproportionately upon the poor, to balance their budgets, and this is the main reason why the Q1 numbers look so bad.

Now, talking about fudge factors... the right wingers *love* to fudge numbers. They take a number, then they say that the number (the amount of someone's income paid as taxes) isn't *really* the number, and instead this *other* number -- which subtracts out money that the poor never even see, that goes to farmers or landlords or doctors -- is the "right" number. Just another reason why you should always double-check any numbers that right-wingers give you -- they love to fudge things, and if you don't double-check, they might manage to slip something by. Their silliness about "the Reagan tax cuts increased revenue!" is typical. Here's the *actual* income tax revenues for the Reagan tax cuts, in constant 1987 dollars (and remember, "tax reform" with a huge tax hike was signed in 1986):

  • 1981: $367,692 (millions) (first tax cut passed)
  • 1982: $356,366 (gosh, lower tax rates meant less taxes collected! More tax cuts passed)
  • 1983: $332,033 (still falling)
  • 1984: $328,470 (still falling. Part of tax cuts repealed in Tax Reform of 1984)
  • 1985: $354,677 (still less than before the tax cuts)
  • 1986: $359,307 (still less than before the tax cuts) (Tax Reform of 1986 passed, effectively raises taxes)
  • 1987: $392,557 (gosh, higher taxes meant more revenue!
So how the heck do righties say that revenues rose after the Reagan tax cuts? Simple. The Social Security tax rate rose from 9.3% in 1981, to 14.3% in 1987, and 15.02% in 1988. If you count the Social Security tax *revenue* as revenue, but then claim that the Social Security tax is not a tax so it wasn't really a tax hike, then you've invented the secret Right Wing Fudge Factor that they use in order to say that revenues rose despite a tax cut. But the actual income tax revenues are as I state above -- I've checked them multiple times with multiple upstream sources (OMB, IRS, etc.). In inflation-adjusted dollars, income tax cuts did exactly what you expected -- they reduced the amount of money the government took in -- and income tax hikes did exactly what you expected -- they increased the amount of money the government took in. Alrighty, then!

-- Badtux the Economics Penguin

Emo-techno-rap waif

After Bjork's lusty wails, Beth Gibbons' fragile voice is a big change. But it goes sooo well with this song. This is Portishead, "Wandering Star", off of their album Dummy.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, May 28, 2010

So who pays taxes?

This is a serious question, one to which the Republicans provide un-serious answers. For example, "the top 1% of taxpayers paid 19% of all income taxes in 1980, and paid 39% of all income taxes in 2004". Uhm, okay. The top 10% of taxpayers also make 50% of the income, as shown on this graph of income:

But what about the top 1% you say? Well, here's what their income did between 1980 and 2004: It doubled from 8% of national income to over 15% of national income. Here's the timeline from 1980 to 1998, it keeps going up after that:

So if their share of the national income doubled, you'd expect their share of national income tax paid to have doubled. Case closed.

So, what about actual effective tax rates? Have those increased from 1980 to 2004, as the dishonest rightie implied with his misleading cherry-picked statistic? Well, according to his very own link at the CBO, the effective tax rate for the top 1% in 2004 was 19.1%. What was the effective tax rate for the top 1% in 1980? Well, according to that bleeding heart liberal Rush Limbaugh in his book See, I Told You So, the effective tax rate for the top 1% in 1980 was, err.... 29.9%.

In short: The top 1% are keeping more of their money today than in 1980! Yet another right-wing lie debunked by that notorious liberal Rush Limbaugh. (Rush Limbaugh, See, I Told You So,(New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993), p. 127). They're keeping *much* more -- 10% more -- of their income. In short, don't cry for the wealthy and the taxes they pay... they're doing much better today than they were in 1980.

Now, the main complaint I have with focusing upon income taxes is that, since we have a progressive income tax, it naturally over-states the taxes paid by the wealthy, and under-states the taxes paid by the working class. The big deal here is that the wealthy don't pay a significant percentage of their income as payroll taxes, while the janitor making $8.95/hour pays 7.65% of his income as payroll taxes (and his employer kicks in another 7.65%). That is, focusing strictly upon income taxes "disappears" the 7.65% tax taken out of that janitor's pocket, just as it "disappears" the 8% of his income that disappears into sales taxes and "disappears" the 1% or so of his income that disappears into property taxes on his rented apartment (which he can't deduct from his income tax the way the "homeowner" -- renter of property from bank -- can). So what is the effective *overall* tax rate today -- combined local, state, and federal taxes -- and how does it compare to the past? Well, keep tuned for yet more in this episode of, "the penguin spanks the tighty righty"...

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Buried ledes

Two tiny stories hidden in a column-inch apiece deep inside the A-section of today's San Jose Murky News: Congress has decided to let the COBRA subsidy expire, so that the unemployed will lose their health insurance. And Congress has decided to add 200,000 teachers to the unemployed next school year by allowing the teacher money in the current stimulus bill to expire at the end of July.

Supposedly all of this is because of "the deficit". But we don't actually have a real deficit right now, because the current "deficit" is an accounting thing where one account at the Federal Reserve is debited and another is credited -- i.e., it's just moving ones and zeros around on a hard drive somewhere. A "real" deficit is when the Federal government is taking away lendable funds that could be used to invest in private production, but that is not the case here -- 0% Treasuries, and prime rates not much higher, means there's no shortage of lendable funds, just a shortage of viable things to invest them into given the collapse in consumption caused by unemployment.

As I've pointed out in the past, in the current situation, where we have roughly 15% slack in the system (people who have part-time jobs but want full-time jobs, and unemployed people who want a job), it is quite a viable thing to print money. This won't cause inflation as long as the money goes to mobilizing goods and services back into the economy rather than sitting idle, because inflation is caused when more money comes into the system than goods and services coming into the system. Indeed, the inverse of that is why we've had massive deflation over the past three years -- over $8 trillion lost in housing asset values alone -- yet prices have not gone down. Yes, the amount of money flowing in the economy has gone down significantly, but so has the amount of goods and services flowing in the economy. Thus the money<->stuff ratio has remained the same, and prices pretty much remained the same, despite massive monetary deflation.

So anyhow -- as long as we see no signs of inflation, i.e., as long as interest rates remain near 0 and prices remain stable and unemployment remains high -- there's no problem with "printing" money to "finance" the deficit by just moving 1's and 0's around in the Federal Reserve. Keep those teachers employed, keep those unemployed people insured, and everybody's better off and all it costs is a few bytes on the Fed's hard drives. This can't go on forever -- eventually all the slack will work its way out of the economy, and we'll have to make the hard decision to raise taxes to fund the government services we want -- but as long as the economy is running well below its capacity, there's nothing wrong with doing this. The fact that Congress is populated with morons who can't see this clearly obvious economic reality is not new. Of course, the fact that the field of economics is populated with similar morons is similarly not new... John Maynard Keynes was making much the same complaint during the mid 1930's, for much the same reason. Sigh. Human stupidity. It's the one thing that never seems to change.

-- Badtux the Economics Penguin

Upset kitteh

The Mighty Fang is shooting laser beams out of his eyes at me because all his favorite spots are getting packed up and put away for the move...

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Bork bork bork!

No Swedish chefs here though. Just Icelandic :). So talking about waifs with one name, Bjork with her biggest hit, from her first (adult) solo album Debut, "Human Behavior". Just in case you didn't live through the 90's. Euro-pop isn't exactly my favorite form of music, but she is definitely interesting, something you can't say for the pre-fab pop tarts you hear so much from today...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Oil porn, and my schedule for this upcoming week

Posting will be sporadic other than the daily music for the next week because I'm going to be living out of boxes until everything makes it to the new place. Still, check in - I might manage to set up shop in a coffee shop or something.

I notice that BP is trying to do a top kill and junk shot on the well, which sounds kinda like a porno movie but oh well, and, as usual, it's not working -- and they're lyin', still. One of the folks on the Oil Drum said that there has never in the history of the oil industry been a successful top kill on a flowing oil well -- the only way to do a top kill is to be able to cap the blowout preventer so that the mud being pumped in can't just spurt right back out the top. But capping something that has 15,000 PSI of pressure behind it is easier said than done, especially since the only way to do it is to cut off the bent drill pipe, and the pinch on the bent drill pipe is keeping the gusher spewing way less oil than it otherwise would be spewing.

My thought on that is that there has to be some way to get hydraulic pressure down to the rams on the blowout preventer and get them to pinch shut. I understand that BP tried with their submersibles, but the U.S. Navy has some damn good submersibles, so good that they can cut open a fiber optic line in the middle of the Atlantic and put a tap into it then sew it back together so there's no detectable loss. Once the rams are pinched shut, *then* you can do a successful top kill, since the drilling mud won't just get spurted out the top of the blowout preventer (and you want to do a top kill even if you *do* get the blowout preventer closed, because there's no telling when the blowout preventer will just blow right off the top of the stack if you just let it sit there, the mud introduction manifolds are below the top pinchers so that's possible), but right now BP is just playing games. The Navy has good underwater people, let's use'em.

But wait, I forgot, BP is in charge of this, ole' Barry just stands around saying how much he cares, sorta like a care bear except without as much fur. Alrighty, then!

-- Badtux the Oily Penguin

Below: A BP spokesperson speaks out about how this is a really, really unusual thing, and how we should not be worried about the possibility of any other similar incident happening.


There's a journey you have to make if you're a blond waif with a big voice. You go to Los Angeles three years ago and start playing gigs and hoping someone actually hears you. Then after a few years, you make an EP and put it out with the saved-up dime and quarter tips from your waitressing job. And because it's required of waifs trying to make it in the music biz, you drop your last name and become "Jewel" or "Dido" or "Madonna".

This is standard waif-fu fare from Lissie Maurus, who, of course, uses the name "Lissie" now because after all, if it was good enough for preceding waifs... anyhow, the song is named "When I'm Alone" and is typical waif-fu relationship twaddle. But she does execute quite well, and the fact that she's not some glamorous starlet type but just an ordinary young lady with big glasses and disheveled hair makes her seem oddly compelling when singing this kind of song. Don't know if I'm waiting for an album from her, too much estrogen (heh), but if waif-fu is your taste in music, you can decidedly do worse.

- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Fox News is not an aberration

Click on that image to the left and take a good long look at it. That's Paul Revere's woodcutting of the "Boston Massacre". Note the deliberation on the part of the British troops. Note the foppish way they hold their feet and the cruel smirk on their faces and how they are all lined up and deliberately firing upon an unarmed crowd.

This woodcut is, of course, long on propaganda and short on fact. The first person to die, Crispus Attucks, was *black*, not white as depicted here. The mob was engaged in attacking the Customs House at the time in protest of taxes and had assaulted the troops, the crowd wasn't standing peaceably around across the street and troops just decided to open fire on them. And there was no organized volley fired by British troops, but, rather, a ragged fire from those behind the troops being assaulted through the gaps to try to drive off the mob that threatened to overrun them. The mob itself was well armed with clubs and stones, if not firearms, and was decidedly a physical threat to the British troops -- yet in the woodcutting you see not a single stone nor club held by the crowd. The end result was that a jury of Bostonians found the soldiers "Not Guilty" of murder when they were brought to trial, defended by lawyer John Adams who later became famous as our second President.

This is what our founding fathers meant by "freedom of the press" -- the freedom to lie. Fox News is not an aberration. Fox News is exactly what our founding fathers intended -- a propaganda mouthpiece in the hands of the wealthy elite used to control and mold the public discourse. The only thing aberrant about Fox News is that they make it obvious, whereas most of our news media in recent times has tried at least to appear "fair and balanced" (Fox's self-mocking slogan for themselves).

One of the continual items of discussion on the left (the real left, i.e., the European left, not the moderate centrists labeled "the left" here in the USA) is the question of why socialism took hold in Europe, but there was never a viable socialist party with a chance of winning the Presidency here in America and instead, liberalism became the predominant philosophy of the political "left" in America. This peculiar definition of "freedom of the press" in America -- the freedom to lie for propaganda purposes -- is, I suggest, a large part of it. In Europe, the press can be sued successfully for libel or even shut down if they tell lies about events or public figures. Yes, there is a long tradition of "tabloid press" in Britain (for example), but there must be at least a certain amount of respect for the truth, and as Stephen Colbert is fond of satirically saying, "the truth has a liberal bias" (thus why righties use "truthiness" as their way of judging what to believe or not, "truthiness" being what their own personal prejudices *wish* was the truth). Here in the USA, our press has by and large been a propaganda arm of our wealthy elites since day one -- indeed, since *before* day one -- and our peculiar definition of "freedom of the press", which is defined as "freedom to lie blatantly", protects that. The result is that we've never had the free and open political discourse here in the USA that they have had in Europe because anything not in the best interests of our wealthy elites simply never gets published, or gets lied about in the press to such extent as to repulse people. So it goes, in the United States of Illusion, where we think we're free -- because that's what our wealthy elites tell us.

-- Badtux the Propaganda Penguin


Yes, this sounds somewhat similar to the previous day's video, but there's a reason for that. The Ampersands were admirers of another obscure Australian band called Cannanes (to the point where they named one of their EP's after the Cannanes' first female singer, a young woman by the name of Annabel Bleach), and adopted some of the same sound, albeit putting their own stamp on it with odd flourishes like that flute stuff. This song is Cannanes - Let's Pretend. And yes the quality sucks, but it was captured off of an old VHS video tape, the same video tape as the previous video in fact -- we're talking early 90's here, folks, when hi-def video simply didn't exist unless you were a mega-rockstar with oodles of money in the bank.

The interesting thing about the Cannanes is that despite having the same amount of luck as pretty much every other Aussie band (what is it about Australia that refuses to support their own bands?!), they stuck around for a good long time. Not all of its members, of course -- the previously-mentioned Annabel Bleach, for example, stuck around for their first cassette "album" and then basically said "you know, this isn't going anywhere, I'm out of here, time to get a real life". But Stephen O'Neil and Frances Gibson stuck around for decades, never achieving any real success, never getting signed, having one bad luck incident after another, but they just kept plugging away. Just crazy, I guess. But the kind of crazy that maybe the world needs more of.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The pernicous stupidity of Financial Times

Financial Times claims that Germany's banking sector is insolvent.

Reading stories like this absolutely astound me. The trash on the books of the German banks is worth exactly as much as it has ever been worth -- i.e., not much. All that can be really said about it is that the fact that the trash has to someday be written down to its real value will be seriously annoying to whoever owns the trash at the time -- which likely is *not* going to be the German banks, but is almost 99.9% certain to be the European Central Bank (ECB).

Yes, this means the ECB will show paper losses on their equivalent of the Federal Reserve's "cash for trash" thingy. So what? The money lost never existed in the first place, until printed by the ECB in order to exchange for trash. Easy come, easy go.

For those cretins who claim, "but printing all this money will create inflation!" -- err, no. The money "exists" on the books today (in the form of the artificial values of the trash on the banks' books). You aren't "printing" money by exchanging cash for trash, you're simply changing money from one form into another, since you're silently un-printing the newly printed money when you write down the trash. The end result has no (zero) effect upon inflation, because there isn't a single Euro on bank balance sheets that wasn't already there even if just fictionally as artificially high values on trash.

Indeed, the only thing that trash-for-cash does is prevent *DEFLATION*, since banks writing down the trash is the same thing as un-printing money insofar as effect upon their balance sheets is concerned. Printing money to make up for the un-printed money is just status quo. So why do we continue to get stories like this from the likes of the Financial Times, and from conservative finance writers in general? It's as if the invention of the printing press in 1450 completely escaped their notice, nevermind the invention of computers by Alan Turing and John Von Neumann, which made printing money even easier because it doesn't even require paper anymore!

-- Badtux the Baffled-by-stupidity Penguin

Down under pipeline

The Ampersands appears to be a popular name for bands. I've found at least three different bands by that name when doing a Google search. This one is the Australian band from the early 90's consisting of Andrew Withycombe, Darren O'Shanassy, Kim Lester, and Maria Poletti. They put out an album on cassette and a few EP's, then apparently disbanded and went on to get married and have kids and have a life, the only comment on this video at YouTube is "OMG, that's my dad!". A shame, any band cool enough to put a raspy flute in their music is a band cool enough that it ought to be heard by a wider audience, but Australia was a very insular place in the early 90's and there was no Internet back then to let anybody outside Australia know that anything was going on there...

This one is named "Cicchitti Pipeline" and was on both their EP "Dart" and their cassette tape "Half Folklore, Half Lies". Maria Poletti was a decent singer, a bit of production and a better microphone (I recognize the tone of a cheapo live performance mike) would have really opened this song up well, but even as-is it's an interesting listen.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, May 24, 2010

The right-wing memory hole

Paul Krugman points out that the greatest burst of prosperity in American history happened with a 90% top marginal rate and New Deal regulations in the post-WW2 period, and that this was not attributable to the fact that Europe was rubble -- Europe had no money to either buy or sell to America during that era, so Europe basically was out of the equation of American prosperity, so to speak. Meanwhile, Econospeak's Peter Dorman points out that the people saying that Europe's social insurance system is "unsustainable" are full of shit -- Europe's social insurance system was put into place when Europe was rubble, so if it was sustainable when Europe was so utterly impoverished that basic food items were rationed and 1/4th of Europe's male population was dead, it's sustainable today when Europe is far, far wealthier.

And while we're on that subject, the same applies to Social Security and Medicare. Yes, the Baby Boomers are retiring. But America is far wealthier today than in the 1950's when the Baby Boomers were similarly dependent on income produced by others (because they were children, duh), if America could survive the Baby Boomers being children in the 1950's with a far smaller working population, America can survive the Baby Boomers being elderly dependent children now that we are far more prosperous and have a far larger working population than we had in the 1950's (thanks to immigrants -- thanks, immigrants!).

Of course, Paul Krugman and Peter Dorman and I are talking about little things called facts, which means we're totally irrelevant in the right-wing universe, which is all about presenting lies as if they are Unvarnished Truth Handed Down From God, then making fun of you when you point out that, err, their Unvarnished Truth isn't actually true. As that great right-wing voice Stephen Colbert is fond of pointing out, truthiness, not truth, is what counts to right-wingers -- truthiness being what they wish was true, which they confuse with what really is true. So it goes, just goes to show that right-wing stupidity really does have no lower bounds...

-- Badtux the Reality-based Penguin

So you saw this one coming...

So I said that Buffalo Clover gave me sort of a Tom Waits buzz. So here's some Tom Waits for you to compare. Probably not the best Waits for me to use as a comparison, but close enough that you can see why I'm getting that kind of buzz -- both use interesting instrumentation, have sort of a vaudevillian approach, etc.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, May 23, 2010


I left a few pots out to do a wee bit of cooking over the next two weeks. So today, here's the world's simplest red beans and rice recipe:


  • 1 lb dry beans
  • 1 lb quality sausage (preferably andouille, but any good-quality sausage will work).
  • 1/4 cup Tapatio hot sauce
  • A pinch of onion powder, salt and garlic powder. (Make that 1/4 teaspoon if you gotta measure).
Soak the beans overnight then drain out the soak water. Cover with water, put on cooking for an hour. Cut up the sausage into the beans, cook for another hour. Uncover, add the hot sauce and seasonings. Cook for 15 minutes or until the mixture attains the right consistency. Serve over rice.

-- Badtux the Cajun Penguin

No Mercy

In which I make noise. Me jamming a bit prior to packing away the music equipment for my move.

-- Badtux the Musical Penguin

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The truth behind anti-tax sentiment in the South

Taxes are at historical lows in the United States right now. Not since before the Great Depression have taxes been so low. Yet you have the Teabaggers ranting about taxes. Why?

Historically, the American South in the period from around 1920 to 1965 was characterized by populism. A series of charismatic progressive governors was elected in most Southern states during this time period who brought their backwards states up to then-modern standards in many ways. Public education had been crippled for decades by barriers that prevented most poor kids from advancing past the 6th grade, especially the cost of textbooks. Those barriers were removed and poor kids for the first time had the opportunity for a high school education. Public universities were vastly expanded and tuitions cut to zero for poor kids in many cases, allowing access to higher education for many for the first time. A road network that was primarily rutted dirt roads in 1920 was by 1965 as good as any road network anywhere in the nation. Taxes on the wealthy that basically didn't exist in 1920 were at national norms by 1965. In 1920 most Southerners had no electricity, indoor plumbing, or telephone service, by 1965 those were at national norms. Manufacturers noted the new infrastructure and the newly-educated work force and flocked to the South in droves. Decrepit cities like Houston and Atlanta started throwing up modern skyscrapers and becoming thriving metropolises.

Yet this burst of modernization basically had slammed to a halt by 1975. Instead of electing progressive governors, the South started electing regressives, people intent upon rolling back the reforms instituted by the progressives. When progressives did get elected, like Edwin Edwards in Louisiana during the late 1970's, they found themselves fighting holding actions, basically trying to keep government services from being gutted by a populace increasingly hostile to government. City parks and recreation programs were gutted and closed, city bus services were cut back or eliminated, and the roads and schools started to deteriorate. A few cities fought back and managed to become isolated islands of progressivism and prosperity, but most Southern cities started a long slide to ruin.

What happened? Why did the South go from being a hotbed of progressivism to being a hotbed of Republican regression? Uhm, dude. What happened in 1965? Hint: Civil Rights Act of 1965, which forced government services to be provided equally to both blacks and whites.

And that is the truth behind the anti-tax anti-government sentiment in the South: It is 100% motivated by racism. Southerners were quite content with progressivism as long as its benefits were limited to white Southerners. But the moment they were forced by the courts to share city swimming pools and schools and buses with blacks, they suddenly abandoned progressivism. This wasn't motivated by a sudden discrediting of progressive thought. This wasn't motivated by an intellectual awakening. This was 100% pure, unadulterated racism.

As a youngster growing up in the South, I saw this first-hand in the gritty industrial city where I was born. Municipal swimming pools that I had swam in during my childhood were closed because "if we gotta share swimming pools with niggers, we just ain't gonna have no swimming pools at all." The school district's budget was gutted and what had been ultra-modern schools with the best facilities in 1960 became, by 1975, run-down hellholes where the science labs were filled with obsolete equipment, the swimming pool was filled in, the track was overgrown with grass and barely visible, and the tennis courts had no nets, not to mention the holes in the walls, the dirty and disintegrating asbestos tile floors, the leaky roofs... you get the point. When the desegregation orders came down and they were forced to share the schools with blacks, the white majority suddenly became anti-public-education regressives where previously they had been rabidly pro-public-education progressives.

In short, anti-tax sentiment in the South -- and the teabagger movement as an extension -- is 100% motivated by spite and hate and bigotry against black people. "If a nigger is going to get some benefit from a government service, we don't need that government service, even if I benefit too" has become the predominant line of thinking in the South. And thus Huey Long's Big Charity in New Orleans stands vacant and empty, waiting for the wrecking ball, and his promise of free medical care for any Louisianian who needed it has become as much a thing of the past as the once-modern roads and infrastructure that have turned into decaying potholed embarrassments.

-- Badtux the Southern Penguin

Circus Clover

So I got an email from a guy who had seen my previous posting of a Buffalo Clover video and said something noncommittal like "I like your blog". A quick Google shows he's their promoter. Cool :). So anyhow, that was my prompt to go check YouTube and sure enough, a new video by this unsigned band has shown up. And like a lemming rather than a waterfowl, of course I have to post it here!

I'm still getting that whole Tom Waits vibe off of Buffalo Clover, except with a singer who can sing (heh!). Which is not a bad thing at all. This particular song, "Midnight Circus", is on their Strong Medicine EP, so unlike "Luck", you can actually buy it. Which you might want to do, just to encourage these folks to make more cool music.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, May 21, 2010

Rush Limbaugh was right... almost

I had to bite my tongue, but I have to admit it: Rush Limbaugh was right. Almost. So what am I talking about? I'm talking about when, on May 2, Rush Limpdick said that the Deepwater Horizon blowout and oil spill was "Obama's Katrina". As the days go by, it becomes increasingly clear that Rush was right.

First, let's put one thing aside. The biggest failure of the Bush Administration with Katrina was not the levees. The levees were defective, but that long-predated the Bush Administration's tenure in office. Similarly, regulation of offshore oil drilling and BP's safety precautions in the Gulf were inadequate, but again, that long-predated the Obama Administration's tenure in office.

No, the biggest failure of the Bush Administration was its inept and incompetent response to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina -- its emphasis upon PR rather than upon actually, like, doing something to help America and Americans, its use of armed Federal force to keep first responders, assistance, and the media out of the crisis area whenever possible, and its continual stream of lies and false reassurances about how everything possible was being done for the people of New Orleans at the exact same time that nothing was being done, lies that delayed help for the people of New Orleans to the point where the Governor of Louisiana had to evacuate New Orleans herself by calling every FEMA contractor herself and begging for buses (the usual response she got was, "we have the buses, we've been waiting for FEMA to call us, why didn't they call us? Well, we'll send the buses anyhow and bill FEMA even though we'll probably never see our money.")

Now, read the above, and tell me that the Obama administration has done anything different about the Gulf oil spill from what the Bush Administration did? We have the obligatory government forces keeping the media out stories. We have the first responders turned away and lies told about the severity of the problem stories. We have the emphasis upon PR rather than actually doing something.

So look: Rush Limbaugh was right. Well, almost. Rush Limbaugh said that this oil spill was "Obama's Katrina". But he was wrong, because the Obama administration's reaction to this oil spill has been worse than Katrina. At least the Bush Administration was being incompetent and venal simply because they were incompetent and venal. But the Obama administration appears to be collaborating with a BRITISH company, BP, to cover up the extent of the oil spill. Regardless of what Bush did or didn't do in Katrina, at least he was not doing it for the profit of the British.

-- Badtux the Tongue-biting Penguin

Too much retsina

So the tighty righties are pointing at Greece and saying, "See? That's the future of the United States."

Now, I guess I can forgive them, since they have no conception of modern technology and thus can't see the biggest difference between the U.S. and Greece. See, there's also another way to fund the parts of the deficit that are due to the current economic downturn. The U.S. government has this marvelous new invention called the PRINTING PRESS, see, that has only existed recently, since 1450 (*only* 550 years -- just yesterday, geologically speaking, y'know). Now, in normal times using the printing press would cause inflation. But in this case, the parts of the economy that have been idled by the downturn would sell the idle resources currently not in the economy to the government in exchange for the newly-printed currency, thereby maintaining the goods-to-currency ratio thereby not causing inflation. This would also put people back to work, meaning the government could then collect that money back in the form of taxes and thus be able to cut back and eventually discontinue the Fed's Treasury purchases as the economy recovered. This assuming that we fix the tax code to capture more revenue of course -- my recommendation is that we fix it to collect pretty much the OECD average of around 35% of total GDP collected as taxes, from local to federal levels, with progressive taxation of the investor class (the upper classes) to suck out some of that investment money that right now is going to fund one bubble after another due to a shortage of worthwhile investments to put it into...

I realize that for most conservatives, the printing press is a new and novel invention, and they don't understand its operation and thus dismiss it entirely from their thoughts. But the fact that the U.S. has a printing press for its currency, and Greece does not, is a real and valid difference between the U.S. and Greece that cannot be dismissed just because conservative luddites are uncomfortable with a 550-year old invention, yo.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Red-haired piano

I never really got into Tori Amos back in the early 90's. Her music was simply too estrogen-drenched for me. There were chicks that rocked, that I could get into -- Hole, Cat Power (during her days with Steve Shelley and Tim Foljahn), P.J. Harvey -- and there were chicks who were just so friggin' cool that I couldn't ignore them, like Suzanne Vega, who even today is just so cool, it's like she radiates cool the way a teabagger radiates stupidity. But Tori Amos? Sara McLachlan? That whole chick thing just didn't resonate. Younger me just said "BORE-ing!" and tuned'em out.

Nowdays I can appreciate some of that music a bit more. Not a whole lot -- I'm not heading out to buy every Tori Amos album like I have every Suzanne Vega album, frankly her music still doesn't excite me -- but I can appreciate some workmanlike musicianship and the construction of the music on an intellectual level. That's not why I listen to music, I listen to music for the primal digs it does at my neural cortex, but sometimes it's good to listen to well-done music that you don't like just to analyze what it is about this music that works.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, May 20, 2010

All your power are belong to us

Some idiot government official in Arizona ranted that because Los Angeles had passed a resolution condemning Arizona's racist "if you're brown, don't come 'round" law, Arizona, which provides 20% of LA's power, should cut off that 20% and put LA into the dark. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has a simple retort to that: Suck it. We actually own *your* power.

Methinks that Gary Pierce, the moron Arizona power commissioner making this threat, doesn't know who he's messing with. LADWP has more people within its service area than the entire state of Arizona, and has more power -- political power, police power, legal power, the works -- than probably the entire State of Arizona has at its disposal. These are some seriously competent, ruthless, and vicious people who have turned entire regions of California such as the Owens Valley into dessicated deserts in order to steal their water for Los Angeles and laughed at the little people who tried to stop them. It does not surprise me in the least that they have their legal i's dotted and t's crossed regarding their generation assets in Arizona.

So there is simply no legal way for Arizona to cut off LA's power. The only way that Arizona is going to cut off LA's power is via an act of illegal terrorism, and these small-dick wonders don't have the guts for that kind of thing. Remember, these are folks who cower in terror of brown people from Mexico. They might talk tough, but in the end, they're cowards. And LADWP gives'em the middle finger accordingly. Good for them!

- Badtux the Amused Penguin

Today's World Nut Daily spit-take

So I open my daily missive from all things right-wing nutty, and find out that Janet Kagen, who once advised President Bill Clinton to outlaw late-term abortions except in medically necessary cases where the mother's life was in danger, whose legal writings if you actually read them (as vs. rely on the media) are well within the mainstream of legal thought in America, is... a radical leftist who wants to impose Stalinist rule in America?!

Shark tanks, my friend. The right wing in America today ain't jumping the shark, they're jumping whole *tanks* of sharks. WND "editor" Crazy Joe Farah is turning into the raving spittle-flecked parody of lunatic right-wingers that lefties love to depict all righties as being... but who didn't actually exist within the right-wing mainstream until recently (remember, Crazy Joe McCarthy was run out of Washington by a *Republican* administration, there was always a lunatic fringe in the GOP but it wasn't running the show). Brietbart was right... people like Farah and his birther pals are making the GOP look like a bunch of street people muttering about government mind control beams, the President being a space alien installed to destroy Earth, and things of that sort. Sad, really, that the GOP is reduced from being the party of Goldwater and Eisenhower to being this demented parody of what it once was...

-- Badtux the Insanity Penguin

Rand Paul supports murder for hire

Because government should not interfere with private citizen's right to remove the rights of others. Including, presumably, the right to not be murdered.

I mean, that's what Rand is saying -- he's saying that government should have no (zero) say about the situation in which one human is violating the fundamental human rights of another human. While intellectually honest and in compliance with his Randian Libertarian philosophy, that is also morally abhorent to any of us who believe that there are certain rights that all humans have, that among those rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that to secure these rights governments are formed from amongst us... oh wait, I'm quoting that Commie liberal Thomas Jefferson again, my bad!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Before the day job

In 1992 Justine Frischmann and her friend Justin Welch decided to form a band. After being threatened with lawsuits for a name similar to some other band, they settled on the name "Elastica" for their band.

They basically made one album, Elastica, and one song off of that album, this one, "Connection", got some air time on the "modern rock" radio stations in the US, enough that the band toured Lollapalooza and the album was eventually certified gold. At which point all legal hell broke loose -- the band was sued, the label was sued, everybody and their dog was saying that Elastica had stolen some of their riffs or melodies and suing for the bajillions of dollars that they were sure Elastica were getting, bajillions of dollars which of course the record label suits had stolen long before Elastica saw a dime of it.

So that was basically it. The band made a half-hearted attempt at a second album, but it never really gelled. None of the members were fanatical enough to stick with music after this experience with the music biz. Justine now is an artist who lives with her husband, a professor at U.C. Davis. The bassist is now a preacher. And so on and so forth. Just another bunch of music talent sucked dry and the husk spat out by the biz, that's all...

-- Badtux the Reminiscing Music Penguin

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The economics of buying an REO for cash

Over at Calculated Risk, we find that mortgage delinquencies are at an all-time high. Yet people looking for low end homes to buy (like me, until recently) complain that nothing is available -- the short sales are stuck in short-sale hell because half of the people who have listed their homes as a short sale have no intention or ability to go through with it (because seconds won't release their liens) and are just using it as a delaying tactic, and the foreclosures are going to cash buyers for roughly 20% less than what the banks could sell them for if the banks would accept offers with financing contingencies. This is continuing to place appraisals into downward spirals that make it hard to have homes appraise at what the market value would be if we had an actual functioning housing market, thus makes it hard to get financing since it's hard to make the home appraise. Thus the banks prefer the cash investors despite the fact that their own best interests would be better served by issuing new mortgages to people who can actually afford these homes, but division A (distressed properties) doesn't talk to division B (originations) so it's like they're shooting themselves in the feet -- again.

So... who are these cash investors? How can they come in and buy a home for $390,000, then rent it out for $1700 per month, when my mortgage payments would end up at around $2900/month on that very same home? Wouldn't they lose $1200/month on that deal? Well, *NO*. Because they're not paying interest on the money they used to buy the home, these are wealthy dentists and lawyers and executives who have that much petty cash to spend. So let's do the math. $1700/month is a 5% return on investment if you have $390K to invest. Now, granted, the *actual* return is going to be less, because of management costs and taxes (which are around 1.2% per year here, so lop 1.2% off that 5% ROI). But Treasuries are going for roughly 0% ROI right now. People need a place to live, so it's going to take a *lot* to drive the cash ROI on homes down to 0%.

So that's the deal. It sure must be nice to be rich, because you win when the economy is up (you get to sell your investment properties bought during the troughs for ridiculous prices), and you win when the economy is down (you get to buy investment properties for 20% less than the "little people", then make a ridiculous ROI on them during deflationary times where everything else is at effectively 0%). The rich aren't like us. They don't have to work for a living unless they want to (remember, management companies are taking care of maintaining and renting these homes, for a percentage of the take). Their money does it for them. As an ordinary working stiff, isn't that, like, the coolest thing you ever heard of?

-- Badtux the Money Penguin

And meanwhile, back in the Afghan clusterfuck...

The Taliban mount their biggest raid on the U.S. headquarters base, ever. Bagram is the Cam Ranh Air Base of the Afghanistan clusterfuck, the central hub through which U.S. troops enter the country and through which U.S. logistics flow. Bagram is the airbase through which U.S. troops would be withdrawn if things went all Gandamak. If Bagram goes, the situation is pure Dien Bien Phu -- cut-off troops with no resupply other than what can be lofted in via parachute from high altitudes, eventually to be largely exterminated.

So to say this is an alarming development is an understatement. While this current attack had no chance of success, if it is the start of a new campaign against the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, the Taliban have certainly found the Achilles heel of the U.S. forces there... if Bagram goes, the situation becomes utterly untenable.

-- Badtux the War Penguin

The Fugitive Slave Act, Part II

Arizona's new immigration law shares an important characteristic with 1850's Fugitive Slave Act: it provides incentives for sheriffs to kidnap dark-skinned American citizens and "deport" them back into slavery.

In the meantime, Mexico continues to melt down -- the violence is now starting to threaten the border maquiladoras. We are approaching the point where the tax base in Mexico has completely collapsed and the financial resources available to the Zetas and other drug thugs are greater than than those available to the Mexican army. All it will take is a few attacks on the oil infrastructure, and we're there -- Mexico will be a failed state akin to Somalia, with no functional government to maintain order or deal with piracy (*real* piracy, holding up seafarers at gunpoint and making cross-border armed raids to loot and pillage, not the lame violations of copyright that the copyright industry tries to claim is piracy).

At that point, we're likely to see a wave of refugees fleeing the violence. So what are we as a nation going to do about that? Wait, wait, I remember this film, we saw it in 1939 when the U.S. turned away refugees fleeing violence against Jews in Germany. Yessiree, just the United States being the United States again. Uhm, for a nation that prides itself on how "generous" it is, the USA sure seems to have a long history of racism against racial minority refugees, with a single exception in the late 1970's when a number of Vietnamese refugees were allowed into the country... but wait, I forget. The official American posture towards that long history of racism against refugees from violence is... "I see no-think! I hear no-think! You're anti-American to bring up those silly *fact* thingies!" Alrighty, then!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Glibertarian Oil Fail

I have been enjoying the anti-government Glibertarian response to the fact that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is going to turn most of the northern Gulf of Mexico into a stinking festering dead zone for a generation, destroying the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people in the process as well as killing those men who died when the rig exploded. Here is the totality of their response...


Wait. That was it? Uhm, yeah. The silence from the magic unicorn universe Libertarian crowd, who insist that the magic free market fairy would, like, just magically make oil rigs not explode, has been deafening, eh?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Viva la resistance!

This is not your daddy's disco...

Early Stereolab, with their song "French Disko", when they still rocked. This was after Mary Hansen joined the band to sing counterpoint to Laetitia Sadier but before they went completely 60's-style euro-pop. Do look up the lyrics for this song, which read like margin notes in a book of French philosophy found in the "foreign languages" section of a used book store, roughly translated into English by Ms. Sadier. Only in France could such a thing be called "disko" :).

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

To be fair to Comcast...

I brought home a Motorola DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem today so that I could upgrade my Internet speed to the maximum available in my area. I plugged it in, went into the modem's menus at, and watched the status until it had established carrier and received the carrier update from Comcast and rebooted and went online. Then I plugged into my browser window and it put me into the Comcast provisioning GUI. I selected that I was a "technician" (since the "customer" option requires Windows and I of course am on a Mac), put in my account number, and it pretty much did everything automatically from there to link my new modem with my account and provision it for use on the network, just requiring me to hit a "Next" button from time to time between steps. At the end of the process it then put me on the Internet, and here I am.

This is a serious improvement over what the user experience used to be like when you upgraded your cable modem, when you had to call Comcast's service center and have them provision the modem and it could take hours sometimes to accomplish it. So as much as I like to dump on them as "Compost" and "Comcraptastic", this is at least one thing where they've gotten their shit together quite well, thank you very much.

-- Badtux the Geeky Penguin

Promoted from comments:

From the comments section of Paul Krugman's blog, this deserves wider distribution:

The high level of false statements and open disinformation about the current crisis in Greece, and its implications for the Euro, shows both the way ideologies have captured even so-called expert economists, and the media's general failure to understand, much less convey, the complexities of monetary policy.

A few largely ignored facts:

1. False story: "Greek public profligacy caused the crisis." NO. Greece has indeed spent more than it took in -- but the problem was not one caused by a particularly high expenditure level. Greek public spending has been average for the Euro zone countries; but Greek tax collection has been much lower than the Euro zone countries, in part because of massive tax evasion and corruption. If Greece had simply collected legally-mandated taxes from their own elite and corporations, the crisis would never have happened.

2. False story: "The best solution to a large public deficit is cutbacks in spending, which would allow the Greek government to pay its bondholders." NO. Cutting back public spending in a modern economy causes recession (especially when the world is in recession). Recession has a leveraged effect on public revenue, decreasing revenue disproportionately, and raising public costs. Thus, the series of sharp cuts in public spending that the Greek government faces will in fact make the government LESS able to pay off its bonds.

3. False story: "Public money is bailing out lazy Greek hairdressers." NO. Public money from German, European and even American taxpayers is bailing out wildly-leveraged European banks (these banks took on leverage levels comparable to the most risky American investment banks, and now face huge losses). Those banks, and the hedge-fund industry, no doubt leveraged up in with toxic 'fiscal products' when they saw the inevitable crunch (they are smart, some of these folks!), and now expect public money from the trough because, sadly, giant banks that collapse because of gross greed and incompetence are a danger to everyone, and must therefore be propped up.

Of course, the Greek fiscal imbalance over the last 10 years was a real, if rather modest problem. The Conservative government in power happily conspired with investment banks, including Goldman Sachs, to lie about public finances, year after year, while allowing the wealthy to dodge even the too-low taxes on the books.

Only when a social-democratic government that honestly reported the facts was elected was there suddenly a 'crisis', with loud cries about how 'government had failed.' Once again, the lie that political conservatives are somehow 'responsible about public spending' is revealed to be false. The story is really not so different from what happened in the United States. Lies, greed and denial persisted under conservative rule, sharks saw the coming collapse and leveraged up (making it worse), and the progressives had to clean up the mess by helping out the worst culprits with public money (since the gun of a massive depression was at their heads, and they themselves still had too many ties to the banks and the 'system').

World's dumbest economist, Part 532521

And today's candidate for World's Dumbest Economist: Marek Belka, director of the IMF's European department. Talking about the various austerity measures that the IMF is forcing upon Spain, Portugal, and Greece, Belka says, "We don't think the measures announced recently by countries like Spain, Portugal and possibly some others, would have a major negative demand impact."

Uhm, excuse me? The former government employees will have less money in their pocket. Less money means less demand. Given that government spending accounts for roughly 35% of the economy in these nations, even a 10% cut in government spending is going to put at least 3.5% of the economy out of work... further causing demand to decline, causing further people to be out of work.

This is Great Depression 101, folks: Austerity measures are not the solution for dealing with a depression, because depressions are a demand crisis, not a supply crisis. If you have a supply crisis -- too little supply, a shortage of labor, and government siphoning off too much of it -- it makes sense to cut back on government spending and thereby cool off the economy a little. But that's not the situation today. We have a demand crisis -- not enough demand for goods and services to employ everybody who wants and needs a job, since businesses are not charities and will hire people only if there's more demand than they can handle with their current workforce. To deal with a demand crisis, we need to create demand -- and the easiest way is for government to create demand directly, by buying more goods and services in order to, e.g., create more infrastructure, or feed hungry people in order to maintain civil order (since people do *not* willingly starve to death and will do whatever it takes, even if you imposed the death penalty for shoplifting from grocery stores starving people would do so).

So there you have it. WASF.

-- Badtux the Economics Penguin

Jumping a dozen sharks

Okay, take a look at that picture of Miss America over at the left. What do you think about her? Me, I think she's spent a few too many hours bent over the toilet with her fingers down her throat and needs to put on a little muscle and a little fat to be healthy, but that's just my opinion. Otherwise, she's just a chick, right? I mean, you don't see anything special about her except that she's, well, sorta cute and all that, right?

But that's because you're sane. Unlike Daniel Pipes (R-Israel) and Li'l Debbie Schlussel, who claim that Miss USA is actually a jihadi sleeper agent out to destroy America, presumably with her mighty super-powers of, err, cute? A conclusion they arrived at because Ms. Rima Fakih has the same last name as some Hezbollah officials in Lebanon.

Yeesh! I have the same last name as one of the greatest football linemen of all time, one of the most famed members of the Pittsburgh Steelers "Steel Curtain" defense of the 1970's. Does that mean I'm a famous football player? LOL! I swear, I always knew that Daniel Pipes and Li'l Debbie were nuttier than a dozen fruitcakes with extra pecans, but they ain't jumped the shark on this one -- they jumped a whole freakin' DOZEN sharks, yo!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin


Okay, so you saw this one coming from a mile away after yesterday's song...

The folks who founded Slowdive have to be pretty much the unluckiest people in the world. They took "shoegaze" and ran with it to its logical conclusion... several years after that style of psychedelic rock went out of style. Then the main founders of Slowdive founded the band Mojave Five to do a sort of country rock... just as *that* style of music went out of style.

Some folks just never catch a break, I guess. But anyhow, this is "Souvlaki Space Station" from the album of the same name...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, May 17, 2010

The odd man out

Okay, so I'm moving at the beginning of next month into a place where the current tenant is moving by the end of this month. So today I called or contacted all the utilities I need to be switched to the new place:

  1. PG&E -- gas service
  2. Silicon Valley Power -- electricity
  3. Comcast -- Internet
There was no problem with any of those guys, except one. Three guesses as to which one. Yep, the Company Formerly Known As Comcrap Compost Comcast, ne Xfinity, which tells me they can't arrange for my service to be installed until the previous tenant calls them to tell them the date he's discontinuing his service.

Okay, so I can see that having two of us paying for cable service at the same time doesn't work. But why wasn't it a problem for PG&E and Silicon Valley Power, which are happy to schedule the changeover but cancel the changeover if the previous tenant doesn't in fact, leave, but it is a problem for Compost? Wait, they're Comcraptastic, I forgot. Alrighty, then!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Solar powered trippin'

This is the Solar Powered People, with their song "Picture Fade". Sounds a bit like an updated Slowdive, a bit of "Souvlaki Space Station" from the early 90's... hmm... let's see...

- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, May 16, 2010


The band is called Pendulum, the song is called "Granite", and the genre is... erm... electronic punk metal rock? Heck if I know!

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sigh, another asshole company speaks

Subway's lawyers tell rest of world to stop using the word "footlong" because they have it trademarked.

And I have a footlong schlong, Subway. Trademark that, why doncha? Right up your collective lawyer's ass, preferably.

-- Badtux the Rude (and well endowed?) Penguin


The band is Client, and the song is "Drive". Sounds/looks vaguely Scandinavian. These gals are Brits, though.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, May 14, 2010

Color me unimpressed

Self-entitled bitch claims she shouldn't have to pay $640 fine for blocking a handicapped parking spot.

Color me unsympathetic. The woman blocked the wheelchair zone so that people in wheelchair vans could not deploy their wheelchair lifts, and now she's going to whine moan groan and complain? I have friends who lost legs serving in the military in this country's wars who are reliant on having the ability to use the wheelchair lift on the side of their vans, and they're itching to have their M-16 back to deal with self-entitled jerks like this woman. She better be lucky that a cop, rather than one of these veterans, found her blocking the wheelchair lift zone, or she'd be missing a lot more than $640, she'd be lucky to have a car left 'cause they don't play.

Bitch needs to get a fucking clue, that's what she needs. I wish the judge had the power to have his bailiff shoot her knee off right there in the courthouse so that she could legitimately use the handicapped spots and realize that, yo, it ain't there for fat self-indulgent assholes. Thankfully the only power the judge has is to laugh her ridiculous ass out of the courthouse and whang her with court fees, nevermind that the stupid bint already hired a lawyer and she's going to have to pay his ass too. And all she had to do was behave like a civilized human being and avoid parking in the handicapped zone... you'd think this fine would be, like, getting slapped over the head by a Clue Stick(tm), but alas, some folks just are too fucking stupid to ever get a Clue(tm)...

-- Badtux the Unsympthetic Penguin

Out of kindness, I suppose

Townes van Zandt near the end, singing his one hit (that someone else made a hit, not him) "Pancho and Lefty".

This one works even sung by someone like me, unlike "Waitin' around to die", the last TVZ I posted here, which only worked when Townes sung it with that hangdog voice of his. Townes could put so much sadness and hopelessness into his voice...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, May 13, 2010


What caliber would Jesus carry?. Louisiana law allowing guns in churches passes, because Jesus, of course, said "carry lotsa guns and use'em, yo" in the Bible. Somewhere. I don't know where, but I'm sure it's there, because the NRA tells me so, doh.

That stuff about turning the other cheek? Socialist claptrap! Jesus actually said, "slap his cheek before he slaps yours, yo." Right around the place where he says slap your bitch around 'till she's a good wife. It's there, in the NRA Bible, I'm sure. Not that the folks who got this passed actually know how to read, but hey, one thing at a time, right?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Busy playing games

In the meantime, Jazzbumpa has an excellent rant about regressives and the way they refuse to live in the same reality as the rest of us, specifically about the reality that the economy and Americans as a whole simply do better under Progressive economic policies.

-- Badtux the Lazy Penguin


The National -- "Bloodbuzz Ohio" off of their new album High Violet.

For the horny out there, they do have a two-man horn section, though the horns are kept well in the background...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Steam for the Mac released!

Finally I can play Civilization IV on my Mac without booting into Boot Camp. Yay!

-- Badtux the Geeky Penguin
(And if I don't post for a couple of days, you'll know what I'm doing ;-).

U.S. is "overtaxed"?

Not quite... the average American paid only 9.2% of his income in taxes last year. That's *all* taxes -- sales, income, state, local, the works. And it's not just because income has fallen, taxes have fallen even faster than incomes. As you'd expect, with a somewhat-progressive tax code that gives a break to people lower on the income scale, but the huge tax cuts passed by the Obama administration have a part to play in that too.

I expect to hear right-wing zealots praise the Obama administration's tax cuts... uhm... never?

In the meantime, based on this data it's clear what the solution to the deficit is: Raise taxes. We have the lowest real tax rates since 1950, and lower taxes overall than every other major economy on the planet. But raise taxes on who? Not you, not me, that guy behind the tree over there, surely. But who is that guy behind the tree? Wait, is there even a tree? Hmm....

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

And while on the subject of groovy...

Some early Dandy Warhols from 1997 or so, "Not if you were the last junkie on earth" from their album The Dandy Warhols Come Down. Damn they were some pretty kids back then...

Courtney through the years has shown every sign of having a bit of a heroin habit himself. Luckily he hasn't gone the way of Janis. Yet.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Saga of George Allan Rekers continues

Rekers forced to resign from board of directors of group that claims to "cure" gays.

Rekers simply needs to come out and join the HRC. They need a good vigorous director, their current leadership is awful, having lost equal rights campaigns in both California and Maine recently (how the heck can you lose an equal rights campaign in *California*, for cryin' out loud?!). As an out gay, Rekers could make a difference. As a closeted gay, it seems clear that his life will continue going on a downward spiral.

Sadly, the chances of Rekers admitting that he's gay and doing something to redeem himself are about the same as the chances that cows will fly... but hey, I'll carry an umbrella anyhow, just in case I need to dodge falling cow pies, yo. It could happen, right?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

And just because... I'll repeat this video :)

U.S. Afghan status as a Powerpoint slide

The April 2010 report to Congress on Afghanistan was 150 pages of gobbledygook, but Cmdr. Jeff Huber points out that it could have been quite readily summarized with the following bullet-pointed Powerpoint slide:

  • Our Objectives Are Unachievable
  • Our Strategy Is Hallucinatory
  • This War Has Nothing to Do With National Security Whatsoever
  • Find and Execute Face-Saving Exit Plan ASAP!!!
As far as I know, there has never been a shred of evidence that the Taliban (who we're fighting in Afghanistan) had anything to do with 9/11. That was Osama bin Laden and his bunch -- who, BTW, are in Pakistan right now, not Afghanistan. So why are we in Afghanistan, again?

- Badtux the Baffled Penguin

It's as if Japan attacked Pearl Harbor... and we declared war on Mexico!

Where's my Mercedes Benz?

Janis Joplin utterly demolishes the Prosperity Gospel as taught by scam artists Oral Roberts and Kenneth Hagin to their gullible followers -- 40 years ago! Turns out that the Lord doesn't send a Mercedes Benz -- or a color TV, even -- to the faithful just 'cause they pray (or send bucks to Moral Oral or Kenny the Haggler). Duh. Imaginary critters don't do a lot of purchasing of consumer items, just sayin', yo!

BTW, "Dialing for Dollars" was a staple of my youth too. Just another thing I have in common with Janis Joplin...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, May 10, 2010

Next talking point: "Gulf oil spill caused by government!"

Because if we'd let the magic free market fairy (left) wave her (his?) magic wand and sprinkle free market magic fairy dust on the oil well, then BP would have run the platform more safely, so there!

What, you haven't heard about this? Well, you will, I'm sure. Because that's what believers in the free market fairy always do -- any failure of the free market isn't really caused by the fact that the free market, sans government intervention, rewards fraud and cutting corners on safety. Instead, they'll insist until their face is blue that it wasn't really the lack of government regulation that led to the fraud and to the cutting corners on safety, but, rather, too much regulation that led to the fraud and lack of safety! It's as if they live in some bizarro world planet where the sky is green, unicorns are pink, and cotton candy grows on trees... because the universe they describe certainly doesn't describe this world, where we have instance after instance where a lack of government regulation leads to unsafe meat, fraudulent mortgage-backed securities, oil well blowouts, etc. But then, reality has a liberal bias, so we can't bring reality into the discussion, right? Right?!

Folks, fairies aren't real. Well, except for the kind that march in gay pride parades, but they're not magical, and their magic wands do not sprinkle magic free market fairy dust when they wave their wands. They sprinkle something else entirely, something which George Alan Rekers is undoubtedly familiar with intimately, if ya get my drift...

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

And for today's stupid fucking moron of the day

Economist Edward L. Glaeser proves he's the biggest tool since Alan Greenspan with his modest proposal to end the mortgage interest tax break.

Okay, here's the thing. Investors can write off interest expenses -- and all other expenses related to maintaining rental housing -- so if you don't allow homeowners to write off the largest expense they'll ever have related to owning a home, you end up shifting the goalposts to benefit investors rather than individuals. If you are an advocate of an elitist oligarchy where 1% of Americans own 99% of America that's a GOOD thing, but if you are someone who believes that such an inequality of distribution of wealth is toxic both to the economy and to democracy itself, taking actions that will result in further redistribution of wealth from the consumer class to the investor class is contraindicated.

I might point out that we *already* have too much in our economy that is favoring the investor class over the consumer class, and it is literally killing our economy. The current economic crisis is a crisis of consumption, not a crisis of investment. We are literally drowning in investment capital, which has run up one bubble after another over the past three decades searching for something, anything, worth investing in, and accomplishing nothing but running up real estate prices into a bubble that collapses (twice!), running up an Internet bubble, and otherwise being malinvested because there is more capital available than there is demand to justify its investment. This is an inevitable result of the reworking of our tax codes during the Reagan Administration to favor the investor class over the consumer class, and it has resulted in economic stagnation compared to the tax policies of earlier eras that better balanced taxation between the investor class and the consumer class.

In short: Doing away with the mortgage interest tax credit a) will benefit the investor class at the expense of the consumer class, b) further hurt consumption, during a time when we are in a crisis of consumption, and thus c) is contraindicated both from an economics point of view and from a public policy point of view.

-- Badtux the Economics Penguin