Sunday, October 31, 2010

None of us are free...

... if one of us is chained.

The great Solomon Burke, who died back on the 10th of this month, from his 2002 album Don't Give Up On Me.

Today's video got pushed forward a few days. What brought this one up was Ranger mentioning the attitude of both Europeans and Americans towards their immigrant populations. He goes into some detail but my point is simple: Slavery is toxic to democracy. Slavery makes nations weaker, not stronger. The South lost the American Civil War because of slavery, pure and simple -- it was slavery that kept their society sick and weak, and as soon as the North found competent generals capable of taking advantage of the North's superior robustness, the end was swift -- the untold story of the end of the Confederate States of America is that the majority of their soldiers deserted before the end, armies that had over 100,000 soldiers on paper had fewer than 15,000 on the ground. The rot at the heart of the Confederacy, the black pestilence of slavery, simply caused it to collapse from within. Similarly, slavery ended Greek democracy. Sparta was destroyed by slave revolts, not by invaders, and slavery weakened the remainder of the Greek city-states enough that they were easy pickings for the Macedonian invaders of "Alexander the Great".

So go read Ranger's post for the other observations that he makes, which are important ones. But what I have to add is that we must do something about the fact that we have 20,000,000 slaves-in-all-but-name amongst us... or our own democracy is guaranteed to go the same way as Greek democracy. That is what history tells us.

-- Badtux the History Penguin

Saturday, October 30, 2010


My head is killin' me. G'nite.

-- Badtux the Pained Penguin


Leonard Cohen, 1985, "If It Be Your Will" from Various Positions. Not much I can say. It's Leonard Cohen.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, October 29, 2010

A nation of cretins

Drifty claims that the majority of Americans are vicious, venal monsters and those of us who aren't vicious venal monsters should just secede. As much as I hate to disagree with the talented and beautiful Drifty, I have to. Because the majority of Americans, while certainly impossible to educate, aren't vicious and venal. Rather, they're willfully ignorant -- and proud of it.

They call it "faith" -- a rejection of all factual knowledge, logic and reason in favor of unthinking belief in nonsense -- and they become very upset if you attempt to use logic and reason to remedy their ignorance. They view it as a personal attack upon their core being, all of which is based around believing in nonsense with all their heart while rejecting anything that might contradict said nonsense, and wonder if the next thing you're going to do is come take their guns, Bibles, or make their kids gay marry. They literally cannot be reasoned with, because reason for the willfully ignorant is like water to a cat -- a substance which the majority of them find abhorrent and despicable. They cannot be educated because any facts which contradict their core faith in their Party leaders is rejected out of hand as "liberal lies", something which they apply even to core statistical measures of the state of the nation as published by the OECD or BLS. Your attempts to "convince" them are no more effective than attempting to convince a typical cat to walk on a leash -- it's simply not part of their core nature to listen to facts or reason, and they will fight it with every fiber of their being.

Now, granted, there are monsters out there, who joke about inflicting torment and pain upon others, who gloat when others are harmed, who view inflicting pain and killing people as fun, who laugh when they destroy something which others took years to build. And these monsters find easy pickings amongst the common people, the salt of the earth, you know, morons. But I think Drifty and many on the left misread the willfully moronic majority if they believe the willfully moronic marjority are inherently vicious. They're easy pickings for people like Bigus Dickus Cheney and their ilk. But it *is* possible for them to become embarrassed when they see enough outright brutality against fellow Americans. Otherwise the civil rights movement would have been doomed from the start rather than successful... the majority of Americans probably weren't in favor of equal rights for blacks in 1965, but the sight of all those well dressed black men and women being beat down by thugs wearing sheriff's uniforms, day after day on the evening news, simply was too appalling to ignore.

And that's the *only* way to reach the willfully moronic majority -- via their emotions. Unfortunately, the Rethuglicans have the advantage there, because their hate-filled spittle is pure emotion from the start, while those of us who try to fight hate with logic and reason... well. It just doesn't work. And the results on November 2 are likely to bear that out, sadly.

-- Badtux the Heartland Penguin

Below: A liberal tries to lead a conservative to facts and reason.

What she said

The Aislers Set was a San Francisco band from the early '00s fronted by Amy Linton that had a sort of Brit-pop sound. After a couple of albums recorded in Amy's basement and some positive critical reviews but no sales, they broke up and went their separate ways. Because only insane people would try to make a living making music today... insane people, or people who have no talent for anything else at all. Only a few bands get actual radio play and sales, and they usually suck, having a prefab regurgitated sound that is all about image and nothing about what makes music speak to the heart. So it goes...

This is "Catherine Says" off of their album How I Learned to Write Backwards...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Attack of the Killer Austerians

The Austerians still continue to insist that the solution to a depression is to cut government spending. If you do that, they say, the magic Free Market Fairy (see left) will wave her (his?) magic wand and make the depression just magically end.

Of course, the question then is, has this ever worked? Has any depression, anywhere, has ever been ended by cutting government spending? And a study of history shows that.... errr. No. None has ever been so ended. Indeed, the solution to the Great Depression was a massive *INCREASE* in government spending — as in, in 1944, government spending consumed over 80% of the U.S. GDP! And total U.S. debt then was *TWICE* what it is today as a percentage of US GDP! Clearly that destroyed the U.S. economy in 1944, which is why, err, the post-war U.S. economy was the strongest that any economy anywhere had ever been, because it had been utterly destroyed by out of control U.S. spending and U.S. debt.

Yet the Austerians still insist that at some point in the future, if we just cut government spending enough, the magical Free Market Fairy will (when? When I’m dead and buried?) wave her magic wand and POOOF! More wealth out of nowhere! Just by magic. In the meantime they continue to insist that the solution to a depression is to literally kill people -- to cut off people's food stamps, unemployment benefits, healthcare benefits, and other such government-provided programs for relieving the misery of the unemployed. Because only once all the unemployed are dead, I suppose, will we have solved the problem of unemployment. That's a rather... final... solution. But I guess that's the new Austerian slogan: "Arbeit Macht Frei durch den Schornstein". Alrighty, then!

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

When a dreamer...

San Francisco band Halou with "Wiser", off their 2001 album of the same name. This singer is now the lead singer of another area band, Stripmall Architecture, that also has an interesting sound...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

If you don't learn technology, you *will* be a victim

At least two of the liberal bloggers that I follow have now been cursed with car troubles that would be cheaply repaired if they had the slightest clue about that box on wheels that they get into every morning to go to work. As in, the parts to repair their vehicle cost less than $100, and if they went to Wal-Mart and bought the necessary tools they'd have a hard time getting above $50, yet they ended up paying over $500 to a garage to fix it. Not necessarily because the garage ripped them off, but because by the time you put a car up on the lift, remove a part, and replace it, you've used a lot of time and infrastructure that the garage could use to repair real problems, and they're going to charge you for it.

Look: The automobile is not magic. It's technology -- late 19th century technology, even. There isn't a single thing in my Jeep that a time traveler from 1920 could not fix with a few references to the service manual. He would not understand how the black boxes sparked the spark plugs and adjusted the fuel mixture, but he would know what they were doing, because there isn't a single principle underlying today's automobiles that was not known in 1920. He couldn't fix the black boxes, but he'd know to replace the black box that is attached to the spark plugs if he pulled a spark plug and didn't see a spark, even if he had no idea how that black box worked. Because spark plugs today are the same damned things they were in 1920, yo. Ain't nothin' new here that the time traveler from 1920 wouldn't figure out quickly, unlike, say, the latest personal computer attached to the Internet.

Yet I continue to read liberal bloggers who apparently haven't a clue. It doesn't take a frackin' genius to understand how cars work. All it takes is a couple of books from your local public library and a good look at the insides of your own car. By the time I was 10 years old I knew how a car worked... because I could read. Yes, read. Not because of magic. Not because I was somehow endowed with mystical powers of Mek. I *studied* it, just like I study anything else I want to learn. Because that's all it is -- learned skill. Not one I'm particularly good at (otherwise I'd have gone into the business, but I'm too darned slow at wrenching to make a living that way), but look. When my pitman arm boot got bummed up and let grease out of the tie rod end and it developed slop, I didn't pay a garage $500 to fix it. I unbolted the end at the steering box with a big crescent wrench ($10 at Wal-Mart), grabbed a big hammer ($5 at Wal-Mart), and went *WHACK*. I then loosened the nuts on the clamps that keep the tie rod end from turning in its socket, unscrewed it from its socket, screwed the new one back in to the same number of threads showing that the old one had shown, bolted everything back together, and that was that. I paid $80 for the OEM tie rod end, already had the crescent wrench, and that was all she wrote.

It doesn't take a genius to do the above, just a willingness to study the service manual to figure out how your car steers. I wasn't born knowing how a car steers, I studied it. And so I paid $80, when a garage would have charged me a minimum of $200 to do the same thing ($120 for the full retail for the part, $80 labor for the hour to whack it out and whack it back in and center the steering wheel again). Yet again and again, I see people who refuse to learn about the things they rely on in their everyday life, who insist upon making everything magic. And then they're shocked, shocked I say, when they get ripped off... but look. If you refuse to learn about the world, you will be victimized. That's just how it works. Ignorance is not an option unless you're a Republican -- and you're not a Republican, are you? Are you?!

-- Badtux the Knowledge-seeking Penguin

Famous apologies in history

Tim Profitt -- the former Rand Paul volunteer who stomped on the head of a MoveOn activist -- told told local CBS station WKYT that he wants an apology from the woman he stomped. Because she hurt his back with her face as he was stomping on it, apparently (?!).

And in other news, Bill Clinton demands an apology from Monica Lewinsky for enticing him into having sex with her, and the Nazi Party demands an apology from the Jewish race for calling them racists, and Roman Polanski demands an apology from Samantha Gailey for his rape of her when she was 13 years old, and... Err. Alrighty, then!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Too many women

Slaid Cleaves sings about an irascible neighbor... "Horses and Divorces". Slaid cuts loose and yodels some Texas country blues, heh.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I feel safer...

... knowing that our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have resulted in a huge increase in the nation's influence in West Asia. If the nation you're talking about is Iran, that is. Which not only has a President in Iraq who spent 20 years as an honored guest of Iran, but now has a President in Afghanistan who accepts bags stuffed full of money from Iran in exchange for being a "good neighbor".

Yes indeed, the War on Terra has been good for the nation... the nation of Iran, that is. Now, granted, Iran is no threat to the United States -- they've never committed acts of terrorism against the U.S., and we have common enemies in the Sunni extremists who want to kick Shia butt as much as they want to kick American butt -- but they're definitely no friend either. The streets of Tehran are still hung with "Death to America" banners, that ought to be a clue, yo.

All this was predictable -- and predicted -- of course. Crap, Poppy Bush predicted it in 1993, which is why he didn't march on Baghdad ("we don't want Iran West in Iraq", he proclaimed). Deal being that sooner or later the U.S. is going home -- democracies aren't very good at that whole empire thing, their attention span is too short, administrations change too often as do the goals and objectives of the nation -- while Iran... well, they're still going to be there. So any idiot could predict that weak governments adjoining Iran (and any government installed by U.S. troops is by definition weak) would end up sucking up to Iran and being heavily influenced by Iran. Any idiot could predict that. Except, apparently, the idiots who run our country today. We are so, soooo fucked....

-- Badtux the Geopolitics Penguin

An airplane rap

Hey, if ya gotta do that damned spiel every time, why not rap it? I have no idea who this dude is, but he's decidedly my hero for the day.

-- Badtux the Non-rapping Penguin

A woman's place

Remember, for Republicans a woman's place is not as a political activist. It's either barefoot and pregnant, or on the ground with a man's foot grinding her face into the ground. At least, that appears to be what wee Rand Paul's supporters believe...

I recently heard a Republican say, "I'm through talking." Yessiree, through talking indeed. It's all about ACTION, achtung! Brown shirts optional.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Monday, October 25, 2010


Another disturbing song by Lisa Germano. "Puppet",off her album Happiness. An ironic title if there ever was one...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Worried Republican

Overheard recently: "I'm scared that the Democrats are going to steal this upcoming election."

Republican definition of "steal an election": "Win it with the votes of brown-skinned people, the poor, and the young." Because only good white Christian middle-class married parents should be allowed to vote, yo.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Fall migration

Yes, my annual fall migration to the desert is now over. Above was my lunch spot one day -- nice view of the valley below from my chair and table down there on that flat spot.

-- Badtux the Migratory Penguin

Sunday, October 24, 2010

God bless American society

L7, "American Society", off their 1990 album Smell the Magic. They don't seem to think much of it...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Off the rails

The Casual Dots, "Evil Operations, Classified". Off their self-titled album. This is a Christina Billotte (Slant6) and Kathi WIlcox(Bikini Kill) collaboration and is a sort of bouncy pop-punk.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, October 22, 2010

Why can't they just make their network faster?

T-Mobile, in an FCC filing, urges the FCC to allow them to continue to ban various applications from their network because even one rogue app can bring their network to a screeching halt. At which point the question becomes, why don't they simply add more hardware to their network so they can handle that kind of traffic?

Well, the thing you're looking for is the Shannon limit, which states that it is simply physical impossible for one channel connected to one cell site to carry more than a given amount of data. And there's only a limited number of channels that you can divide the airwaves into, and T-Mobile doesn't own a whole lot of them. Past that point, you have to start putting cell sites closer together so that each cell site serves a smaller number of phones (which can then use more channels to transfer data), but there is a limit there too -- each cell site sees the adjacent cell sites as noise, and if you look closer at the Shannon-Hartley theorem, you'll see that past a certain point, the noise will reduce the bandwidth to the point where you've hit diminishing returns (i.e., adding a cell site between two sites will result in *less* available bandwidth because they'll be drowning each other out).

So the answer to America's broadband problems isn't cell phone providers. The laws of physics simply preclude that. What is needed is fiber to the household, because if you don't have enough bandwidth with fiber, you just pull another fiber bundle alongside the one already there. In short, because you can run fiber optic bundles in parallel -- and cannot run cell sites in parallel -- you will always be able to push far, far more data through fiber than you could ever push over the airwaves. The thing is, it's not profitable to pull new fiber bundles and bring fiber to the home, so the cable and phone copanies aren't doing it. Instead, they're suing the municipalities which are doing it.

Which just goes to show that government can't do anything right and should stay out of the broadband business 'cause people don't want that kind of network speed anyhow. Or somethin' like that. Heh.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Loaded gun

Scottish singers Isobel Campbell and Eugene Kelly sing "Revolver" off of Isobel's album Ballad of the Broken Seas. Some songs simply don't want noise around them...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lonely side

Caitlin Rose with her song "Own Side", off her new album "Own Side Now". Which you'll have to go to the UK to buy.

Caitlin is 23 years old, sings just fine without autotune (seen her live in venues so shabby that they were lucky to have a PA system, nevermind autotune), drinks like a fish and smokes like a chimney, and writes her own songs. Her mom writes Taylor Swift's songs and nobody knows her mom's name. Taylor Swift makes gazillions of dollars per year and Caitlin mostly performs and sells in Europe when she isn't playing honkey-tonks in front of a dozen drunks who are ignoring her. Crazy industry, eh?

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Keith Richards' memoir

I have to get this book. He just names it Life, and he has lived one helluva life, that much is for sure. Love him or hate him, Keith Richards is a legend, and not just in his own mind. I am especially interested in reading the description of the recording techniques that they used for some of the most famous guitar tracks on the Stones' albums...

-- Badtux the Music-loving Penguin

Pointy hat

L7 mounts their "Broomstick" in a lot of noise off of their 1990 album Smell the magic. In their early days they were pretty much a hair band... on the other hand, back then chicks were *supposed* to have hair. Doh!

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Who owns the damned mortgage, anyhow?!

By now pretty much everybody has heard about "mortgage-gate" -- where the banksters foreclosed upon homes where they didn't own the mortgage and where, in some cases, houses were foreclosed upon that didn't even have a mortgage on them.

Now, some folks say that this means that all these foreclosures were invalid. Well, probably not. Most of those homes that were foreclosed upon really were in default, though clearly bypassing the normal mechanisms resulted in atrocities. The real question is: Was the mortgage satisfied by the foreclosure action? Do the buyers have clear title to the formerly-foreclosed homes?

My best guess is that there are a lot of investment buyers who are going to get some unpleasant surprises shortly as they suddenly find the home they bought for cash at a foreclosure sale itself foreclosed upon by the real owners of the mortgages that the banksters fraudulently claimed they owned. Because see, if they are the legal owners of the mortgages, and the banksters, not the legal owners, got the money from the foreclosure sale... well. There was no legal foreclosure, and the mortgage lien has not been satisfied and legally remains on the title. And in many states, an unsatisfied lien above a certain percentage of the home's value can trigger a foreclosure sale.

Even in those states where the unsatisfied liens (unsatisfied because the banksters, not the owners of the mortgages, foreclosed on the homes) don't trigger foreclosure sales, the home now has a clouded title, meaning that you can't sell the damned thing without losing all your equity to someone you don't even owe money to. The deal being that the lien goes with the *house*, not with the owner of the house, and if nobody has paid it off either through a valid foreclosure or otherwise, it's still there.

Those of us in civil foreclosure states have a slightly easier (harder?) time of it here, because we're deed-in-trust states -- the deed to the home is in trust at a title agency, rather than having a lien on it. The title company gets to decide who to release the title to, and once they make that decision, there's an unclouded title -- if you were the valid holder of the mortgage and the title company released the title without paying you off (instead paying off a bankster who didn't own the mortage), you can sue the title company, but the title itself is clear and the buyer doesn't have to worry about someone foreclosing on him for a mortgage he didn't even know about. But even here there is going to be a problem with title companies having to fork over way more money than is in their reserves to the winners of the successful "you gave my title away without giving me my money!" lawsuits... and if the title companies collapse, who owns the titles to all the properties they currently hold in trust? And without solvent title companies to hold titles in trust, the whole deed-in-trust system collapses.

In short, it's a mess. But it's a mess for the buyers of the foreclosed properties in lien theory states, and it's a mess for the title companies in deed-in-trust states (which means it's a mess for both buyers and sellers there). As for the notion that the foreclosed properties will revert to their former owners... dream on. At best, if it can be proven that the property was fraudulently foreclosed upon, the former owner qualifies to get money equal to the equity he had in his home at the time -- which probably was none, for most of these properties, most of which were way underwater. In general, civil courts award cash damages rather than order substantive actions whenever it is possible to remedy the harm via cash, because that requires the least hassle on their part. In this case, from a legal point of view, the harm is the loss of equity that the foreclosed-upon homeowner experienced, and the remedy is, err, cash. And maybe an order to the bank that the foreclosure be stricken from the homeowner's credit report record, but that's the farthest that a court will go.

In other words, people saying that this is going to keep people in their homes, or return people to their homes, are smokin' crack. That's just not how our legal system works or, for that matter, has ever worked -- the English common law system we inherited is predisposed to cash remedies where those are sufficient to deal with economic harm done. All that's going to happen now is that the banksters are going to have to go back to the investors who own the mortgages and get the mortgages legally assigned back to them before going to foreclosure. Well, that and cleaning up the past mess is going to be a big issue, because now we have several million people nationwide who own homes with clouded titles, where they can't sell the damned things because there's someone out there, somewhere, who owned the mortgage and still has a legal claim to a lien on the home -- and until that is sorted out, the title is stuck in limbo.

-- Badtux the Legal Penguin

The Great Flood, and then the fudge

I heard water running in the bathroom -- way too much water running. I rushed in there and there was about half an inch of standing water around the toilet, which had somehow both plugged up and kept running until it runneth over. I wiggled the handle to stop it running, plunged it to get it draining, and then threw pretty much every towel in the house onto the floor to sop up all that water. So now the dryer is going (after washing the wet towels)... but:

I then made some fudge brownies, which are cooling on the stovetop right now waiting for some chocolate icing. The smell of hot fudge fills the house.

Life is good again... that is all.

-- Badtux the Chocoholic Penguin

Do you feel safer now?

The Department of Vaterland Securitah frisked the Dalai Lama when he was going through airport security. Because, y'know, there's no telling what he's got under those robes -- maybe the Prayer Beads of Mass Destruction, OMG!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Where's home?

This one came up on my iPod today so I had to post it. P.J. Harvey sings "A Place Called Home", off of her 2000 album Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea. Polly Jean has gotten rather art-rock and less noisy as she has aged, but it fits her well. Her 2004 album Uh Huh Her is also worth a listen.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, October 18, 2010

California Ballot Propositions, continued

Okay, I'll cover three today:

Prop 22: Prevent the state from borrowing or taking money from various state and local funds and governments: One problem we have here in California is that so many of the few taxes we *do* pass are dedicated to a specific purpose. Thing is, the state has a lot of priorities that need funding, and locking money into one priority might mean underfunding something that's a higher priority. We faced this problem with the state's Healthy Children program, for example -- a ballot proposition locked in a tax for children's mental health programs, a tax so generous that a huge surplus had accumulated in a fund for that program, but there was no funding source for the Healthy Children health insurance program. So the Governator proposed chopping 100% from the Healthy Children program -- i.e., eliminating the program. Meaning California would have the most mentally stable sick children in the nation. The Legislature did a probably-illegal raid on the children's mental health fund (amongst others) so that children would have basic access to health insurance, because this is what the majority of people in California want -- they want mentally healthy kids, sure, but they want kids to have access to basic healthcare too and there would have been hell to pay if the Leg hadn't made that raid.

So anyhow, Prop 22 intends to take the power to balance priorities away from the Legislature and give it to... erm... who? In these tight times, who would decide priorities? Some voter who's been dead for 10 years now because of a ballot proposition that passed in 1979?! That's nuts. We have a way to handle legislators who don't balance priorities correctly, and that's to vote the bastards out. In the meantime, I want them there in Sacramento doing their job of balancing budget priorities so that the money goes to what's most important to the people of California, and Prop 22 would put some dead man who last voted in 1979 in charge, a notion that's, well, just fucking nuts, yo. So vote *NO* on Prop 22.

Okay, Prop 23: The "Protect Big Oil" proposition to effectively repeal the state's global warming law. Jesus fucking Great Penguin on a kippered herring, the only thing hated more than taxes is Big Oil, and these stupid-ass teabaggers want to stand up for big oil?! Not no, but HELL no. Vote this turkey down big time. Big Oil is just gonna have to deal with reality rather than try to pretend things can go on like they are forever.

Prop 24: This one repeals some tax breaks that the Legislature gave to Big Business last session. Now, the apologists for billionaires like Larry Ellison whine that taxes are driving companies away from California. That's a damned lie. Taxes account for less than 1% of the expenses of companies doing business in California. Remember, taxes are only levied on PROFITS, which are what's left when you deduct all the other costs of doing business. The biggest expense driving companies out of California is PAYROLL. And this expense is driven by the high cost of property in California -- people demand high salaries because that's the only way they can afford to live in California. And what's driving the high cost of property in California is two things: Geography (most of the major metropolitan areas are ringed by mountains and can't easily expand), and Prop 13, which makes it too expensive to move because you'd be assessed full value rather than a 30 year old value on your home for property tax purposes, and thus reduces the number of homes coming onto the market to a trickle because people literally can't afford to sell their homes because the property tax hit of buying even a tiny replacement condo would kill them.

So anyhow, giving Larry Ellison a few billion dollars in tax breaks at a time when the state is basically bankrupt is just fucking *insane*. It isn't as if Larry isn't making money, he's sitting on a stash of over $20 BILLION in cash, he has so much cash he literally can't find places to stash it all. All of us are having to pitch in to help during these hard times. Pass Prop 24, and add Larry Ellison to that list. Vote YES on Prop 24.

-- Badtux the Voting Penguin

Important day today

It's National Chocolate Cupcake Day. I was going to make chocolate brownies in celebration, but needed to wash clothes and wash dishes instead (groan!). Maybe tomorrow...

-- Badtux the Chocoholic Penguin


This was a DC/Baltimore area band called The Slickee Boys, active during the late 70's and the 1980's, that did a sort of interesting psychedelic punk sound. That first song, "Going all the way", is wicked -- syncopated punk beat, distorted psychedelic guitar that springs into action with a "boinnnng!", then the bass and the other guitar come crashing in to provide a wall of distorted noise. And then comes their cover of Perry Como's 1957 hit, "Glendora". Heh. Like the Ramones and Jefferson Airplane meeting up to cover Perry Como, makes me smile just thinking of the balls it took to cover ole' Perry like that, heh.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A fitting send-away

Emmy the Great with one of her older songs, "Edward is Dedward". Not on her "official" albums but downloadable from iTunes. What a send-away for Edward. If you guys will pour herring juice on my grave when that day comes.... heh.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin


Bernanke has basically stated we're going to get Quantitative Easing 2 -- QE2 for short. Which is an appropriate monicker for this. The QE2 is an ocean liner. Like the Titanic. And QE2 is gonna go down like the Titanic... glug, glug, glug.

The problem is this: Bernanke is proposing to buy bonds. And the companies he's proposing to buy bonds from aren't spending any of the cash they're getting from selling bonds. They're just depositing it in banks. Where it gets deposited right back into the Federal Reserve as reserves because banks aren't lending money because people don't have jobs and thus aren't borrowing money. Meaning the money doesn't even take one round through the economy, it causes no (zero) economic activity, it simply ends up moving from one database ledger entry to another at the Federal Reserve.

In other words, simply turning on the printing presses isn't going to do the job of putting Americans back to work again. It's all Bernanke can do because he's a central banker, not Congress, but simply printing money when you're at the zero bounds results in the money coming right back into the (virtual) vaults of the Fed as deposits. This was noted during the Great Depression too, even by right-wing commentators who then proceeded to accuse the Fed's "hoarding the nation's gold" as the proximate cause of the deflation that afflicted the nation then, but it's not something the Fed itself has any control over. To get economic activity, the money has to be given out with strings requiring it to be spent, or at least given out to people who have a high propensity to spend -- such as to, gasp, POOR PEOPLE (the horror, oh the horror!) the majority of whom have unmet needs that they'll immediately spend the money on, such as a new(er) car to replace the falling apart one they use to drive 2 hours to work every day from the Central Valley, or etc.

So, QE2 is gonna go down like the TItanic. And Congress has neither the brains nor the will to put money into the hands of people who are going to spend it and thus create demand to get those companies who are currently hoarding cash to hire workers to meet that demand, instead we get trillions to bail out banksters who merely hoard cash. We are so fucked...

-- Badtux the Bent-over Penguin


At the checkout counter of Fry's yesterday, I noticed that the cost of the "Intense Dark" Ghirardelli chocolate bar that I bought was more than the cost of the power strip that I bought at the same time. Some people might say that this means the chocolate bar wasn't worth the outrageous sum that I paid for it. Those people clearly are heathen who have never practically passed out from sensory overload upon tasting the luscious goodness of fine chocolate, yo.

-- Badtux the Chocoholic Penguin

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Computer help

The Mighty Fang helps me rebuild my computer with more modern parts.

This all started with me wanting to upgrade my four-year-old motherboard to a new one with the latest Core I7 950 processor and 12 gigabytes of memory. By the time it all ended, the "upgrade" consisted of an all-new computer except for the power supply and video card. Heh, funny how that all works! Oh well, at least it has the parts *I* want in it, not the parts that HP or some other vendor wants in it, and each part works exactly the way I want it to work for what I want to do with it...

Nice thing about being single is that you never get asked the question, "honey, why are there computer parts all over the living room floor?". Heh.

-- Badtux the Geeky Penguin

Walking a knife edge

"Borderline", by Eliza Gilkyson, a folk/country singer that nobody's ever heard of as far as I can tell...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Libertarian joke

"I'm from the government, and I'm here to help you!"

The punchline, to the glibertarians, is that government never helps anybody. Well, except for the people whose houses would have burned down if not for firemen. And their children's teacher. And the librarian who helps them find information. And look, we gotta keep government outta our Social Security and Medicare, right?

The notion that, in a democracy, government is us apparently never even occurs to the glibertarians... they have a profound distrust of the very notion, feeling that the majority of people are cretins and morons who don't appreciate their unique genius and thus will burn them as witches or steal all their money or something. The fact that it's never happened in the history of the United States of America doesn't phase them, they terrify themselves with all these imaginary things that could happen, in a universe where unicorns are real and the majority of people are thugs.

Of course, the majority of people are not thugs. The majority is sometimes thoughtless, often careless, usually oblivious, but thugs they are not, which is why in Glibertopia, where there is no government and everybody defends their rights with their own personal stocks of nuclear weapons, a small minority of thugs would rule via terrorizing the non-thug reality. I've seen it in action in areas where thug rule has replaced government rule -- the majority of people there are not criminals, are not thugs, but are so terrified they won't even point out the thugs to the police so that the thugs can be arrested and taken off the streets. That's Libertopia -- the Bloods and Crips end up running everything. And because the majority of people are not thugs, a democracy is not prone to the sorts of things that glibertarians fear about "tyranny of the majority" and nonsense like that... the majority simply isn't thuggish enough to do that sort of thing.

At which point someone says "but... but... HITLER!" But Hitler never was elected by a majority of Germans. He basically forced himself into office with dirty tricks and the help of his brownshirted storm troopers, and cancelled elections and pronounced himself dictator as soon as he was in place.

So next time a Libertarian makes that "I'm from the government..." joke, make sure you correct him: "Why are you so terrified of yourself? This is a democracy, and you are the government." And if he pooh-poohs that notion, ask him which, of our leaders, were not elected by a majority of Americans in fair and free elections. (Hint: The answer is that every one of them -- every single one of the sorry bastards -- was elected by We The People, and, sad to say, is probably representative of the average American, sigh!).

Government. It's ours -- and if it' s not, it's our own damned faults for re-electing the same stupid-ass bastards time and time again, yo.

-- Badtux the Democratic Penguin

Bashful flower

Hope sounds like she downed a double-dose of horse tranquilizers before this performance on Jules Holland. Of course, she rarely sounds any other way. This is Mazzy Star, "Blue Flower".

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

"I have no idea..."

"... about how this plant that was up on the fireplace mantle managed to get onto the living room floor. It must have jumped! Suicide, suicide I say!"

The Mighty Fang pretends he is innocent as the driven snow, "huh, what's this? How did this get into the middle of the living room floor?". Too bad I happened to catch him in mid-leap when his leap off the top of the bookcase onto the fireplace mantle while chasing after that bug fluttering around my living room led to gravity doing its usual.

The poor plant is now reduced to a stalk and some roots devoid of branches, all of which broke off in its leap from the fireplace mantle. Hopefully it'll come back. I have it repotted in a larger pot now, luckily I had some potting soil in the garage and could repurpose a plastic container for that project.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Below: Mencken joins the investigation of this mysterious event. Mencken was on the futon beside me when 18 pounds of rampaging black cat managed to knock the pot halfway across the living room, so I *know* he didn't have anything to do with it. Not for lack of desire I think, though :).

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Third parties and conspiracies

I'm going to do this again, because I keep reading the same nonsense over and over again about how third parties in America don't exist because of deep dark conspiracies yada yada yada. Apparently math is hard. So I'll try to simplify it for you:

In a first-pass-the-gate electoral system, what number of votes are necessary to absolutely guarantee you will be elected?

  1. A majority of the votes
  2. 50% of the votes, plus one.
The answer is #2 -- mathematically, you need 50% of the votes, plus one, in order to guarantee that you will be elected in a first-past-the-gate electoral system.

Now, what is 100% divided by 50%? Hint: 2.

Third parties aren't irrelevant in America because of a conspiracy, unless math is a conspiracy. They're irrelevant in America because we use a first-past-the-gate electoral system, and the only way to guarantee that you are the one elected is to build a coalition of what would be individual parties in a proportional representation system. Thus the Libertarian right vs. the Religious right vs. the Business right, and on the left, we have the Classical Liberals vs. the Socialist Liberals vs. the Business moderates, all of which would be separate parties in a proportional representation system.

Now, does this mean that I believe the United States should change to a parliamentary system with proportional representation? Well, no. There is a one-word example that a proportional representation system is no panacea: Israel. Israel uses such a system, and their politics are every bit as toxic as U.S. politics. It appears that having toxic politics in your country is a cultural thing, and the system that you use to elect the toxic politicians is rather irrelevant to the question of, "is our politicians servicing us?" Stallions. Mares. Just sayin'.

-- Badtux the Math Penguin

Long love songs

Austin singer-songwriter Betty Soo with a love song... "The Story of Us" off her album Little Tiny Secrets. Gorgeous voice...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


-- Badtux the Musical Penguin

Our choice in politicians this year

And in today's multiple choice exam question:

What most accurately characterizes the politician that you are going to vote for this November?

a) Dumb
b) Evil
c) Spineless
d) All of the above

Those appear to be our choices. Just remember that when you go to cast your ballot for the invertebrate who isn't evil or an idiot -- electing someone who is an evil idiot, or worse yet, evil and *not* an idiot, has repercussions a lot more onerous than a vote for the Coalition of the Spineless. SIIIIIIgh!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

We've sure changed a lot in 100 years

Mark Twain's autobiography is being published, 100 years after his death, in accordance with his will. In it, he criticized fake Christians who didn't know the meaning of the word, rich moral-less financiers who corrupt the morals of the nation, and wars of foreign aggression where the U.S. invades random countries and slaughters the natives. In short -- Rupert Murdoch, the "Christian" Religious Right, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Yeppers, the more things change...

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

One night stand

It only takes one night... and nine months later, well.

L.A. garage band Dum Dum Girls, with their song "It only takes one night" from their new album, I Will Be. Just some L.A. girl garage band goodness...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pope breaks irony meter

... says that "new technologies confuse people about the difference between fiction and reality". Unlike, say, some musty old book written by a buncha half-literate shepherds a couple thousand years ago, that's never confused people about the difference between fiction and reality, eh?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Spy love kill

In the early 90's a couple of film school types from, err, Portishead (England), decided they'd like to score a spy movie, maybe the score for a James Bond movie or something. They rounded up a torchy sounding singer and made a short film called "To Kill A Dead Man" to highlight their skills at making spy movie music. That didn't work out, but some of the scenes from that short film made it into the music video for the first hit of the band this trio created, which they named, err, Portishead.

This is "Sour Times", from Portishead's first album, Dummy. Occasionally I get into a Portishead mood and put my favorite songs from that album on rotation, one after the other, over and over again...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Note -- if you have particular music you'd like to suggest, feel free to do so. Just be advised that if it has more than a few hundred thousand hits on YouTube, I'm *extremely* unlikely to program it...

Monday, October 11, 2010

The California ballot: Prop 21

One of the irritating things about modern tax policy is how regressive it is -- rather than falling upon the rich, as property and income taxes do, modern taxes fall disproportionately upon the poor. The poor pay a larger percentage of their income as sales taxes than the rich do, for example, because the rich invest their money (tax-free in many cases) while the poor must spend (and be taxed on) every dime they earn just to survive.

Prop 21 continues this modern tradition. This establishes a $18 vehicle registration surcharge which will raise approximately $500M for the state's parks system, and in exchange Californians would be given free admission to the state's parks. The $18 surcharge for parks and recreation established by Prop 21 would be pocket change for me, but would be several hours of work (after taxes) for someone making minimum wage.

Still, with Prop 13 still fairly popular and not about to be repealed, what choice is there? Without more money, the California parks system, already in disrepair and crumbling for lack of money, is going to have to close altogether. Given that, I'm choosing the lesser of two evils and voting for Prop 21. Despite its clear issues -- such as not being inflation-adjusted so parks will be starved of money in the future -- it's still better than the alternative.

-- Badtux the Lesser-of-two-evils Penguin

Torchy love scare

L.A. duo DEVICS were known more for a dream pop, but if this is anything, it's dream torch. Just a piano and a horn, a gorgeous love song. "Afraid of Loving You" off of their album If you forget me...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The plundering class loves unemployment

Did anybody notice that the Dow Jones broke 11,000 Friday right after the announcement of horrific job losses for September? What's up with that, you wonder? Well, it's simple. Deflation and depression is great for the plundering class -- the billionaire leeches who don't know how to build anything, can't make or design anything, just leech off of the designs and labors of the people who create the actual wealth in this nation. Remember, wealth is *stuff* -- goods and services -- not green-colored toilet paper with pictures of dead people on it, which is just a tool used in the transfer of wealth from point A to point B -- or misuse to do so, if you figure out some way to acquire it without yourself creating any wealth.

So anyhow: The leeches conned the majority of Americans into going into debt, and then deflated the currency with the banking crash and the housing crash so that people can't afford to pay that debt in the now-more-expensive dollars. Now they're sucking in all the real wealth -- the houses and the factories, the mines and the farms -- while the people who actually created all that wealth are thrown into the gutter. And the more people in the gutter -- the more people out of work, the more people desperate and homeless -- well, where does their real wealth go? Uhm... into the coffers of the plundering class, duh.

Of course, there is a problem with looting and plundering as your plan to get rich. Eventually you run out of things to plunder, because people quit bothering making stuff. That's what caused the Soviet Union to collapse, and it's arguable that the United States is well down that road. But the looting and plundering class in the USA thinks this time is different, because so much of the real economy is located outside the USA -- e.g., all those Chinese factories making cheap Chinese stuff, all those Indian programmers banging out code in Bangalore, and so forth. So even if the majority of Americans are turned into serfs, servants to the looters, they feel they're still going to come out ahead of the game. Mexico North, that's their plan for America. And hey, it's working out so well in Mexico right now, right?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Colonization complete

Today I made an Ikea run to get a chair and a TV table for my living room, and re-arranged the room, putting the TV table (and the TV and Blu-ray player) where the bookcases were (opposite the futon) and moving the bookcases to other walls (what a pain!). Here is the new chair. As you can see, it has already been colonized. What, you thought I was buying it for *me*?! ROFL! The Mighty Fang has something to say about that :).

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Truth in a time of lies

I have absolutely no idea how Garbage got away with stealing Curve's sound wholesale. This sounds an awful lot like a song on Garbage's first (self-titled) album, in fact when it came up on my iTunes the other day I thought it was Garbage.

But it's not. This is Curve, "Clipped", off their 1992 album Pubic Fruit. There was so much good music, so many different sounds in the 90's...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Saturday, October 09, 2010

The economy

Well, you've probably already heard about the shitty jobs report for September. Mostly that was an indictment of the Obama Administration's lack of support for state and local governments who are hard hit by the deflationary spiral and laid off hundreds of thousands of workers, including tens of thousands of teachers and cops and firemen.

In short, the Obama Administration's lack of support for state and local governments has turned into an anti stimulus. Or, as Paul Krugman is fond of pointing out, the U.S.A. now has 50 little Herbert Hoovers slashing spending as the solution to the recession. Thing is, those 50 little Herbert Hoovers don't have much choice but to slash spending -- unlike the U.S. government, they don't own a printing press, so they can't simply print the money to pay those workers, at least not legally (heh!). But the Obama Administration does have such a printing press, used by selling Treasuries to the Federal Reserve for freshly-created money, and has chosen not to use it.

Everything says that Democrats are going to lose a number of seats in next month's elections. In a sense that's rewarding Republicans for bad behavior -- the Republicans as the "Party of No" have blocked most of the Democrats' attempts to fix the economy by filibustering more bills than in any other Congressional session in history. But the Democrats will share some of the blame here, because in many cases they haven't even tried -- they simply whine "Oh, the Republicans will just filibuster that bill so we might as well not even try bringing it to a vote" and punt the ball downfield. But punting the ball downfield is no way to win, whether you're talking about a football game or an election... the only way to win is to run smack dab up the center and flatten your opponents as you head for the goal. But crap, I don't think the Democrats even know which way their goal is, or even have a clue that they're supposed to be scoring as vs. standing around soiling their tighty whities...

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Terrorist femme

Heavens to Betsy was a riot grrl band from the early 90's whose lead singer should be familiar to anybody who knows the band Sleater-Kinney. For some reason girls who scream into microphones are always terrorists, but in this case... err...

Song is "Terrorist", off of the Heavens to Betsy album Calculated. And yes, even though she's quite young here, that's definitely Corin Tucker's familiar wavery voice between screams.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, October 08, 2010

Friendly drugs

Brazillian-London band Drugstore with their song "Hello" off their album White Magic for Lovers.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Vibrating warm catalounger, part xxxiv

The Mighty Fang enjoys his vibrating warm catalounger as my clothes dry.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Michael Vick is smilin'

Q: What do Michael Vick and teabaggers have in common?

A: They both love mistreating cute puppies.

For true. It's bad enough that the California Tea Party has come out for Big Oil. The Missouri Tea Party has gone one step further in supporting despicable people, coming out in support of people even more vile than oil company executives (eep!): Puppy abusers. 'Cause if gubmint comes out and convicts people like Michael Vick for mistreating puppies, why, that's Big Gubmint, and eeeeeevil! No, really, that's what the Missouri Tea Party says. I'm not joking. Mistreating puppies, they say, is a right, a right I say, that Big Gubmint should not be allowed to interfere with!

I'm not even a dog lover and this gives me a sour stomach. Sad puppy has a sad...

funny pictures of dogs with captions
see more dog and puppy pictures

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Ain't gettin' no better

"Farewell Transmission", from Magnolia Electric Company's self-titled album. MEC is singer-songwriter Jason Molina's full-band outfit doing something that I guess is "country-rock".

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Next up... Prop 20

This one takes redistricting for the U.S. Congressional districts away from the Legislature and gives it to a redistricting commission that's already in existence for redistricting state legislative districts (2008's Prop 11). It sounds like a good idea, but I'm voting against it for these reasons:

  1. It's not necessary. California U.S. House districts are sometimes weird, but the California U.S. House delegation in my opinion fairly represents the wide range of constituencies in California -- the process has not resulted in a dysfunctional delegation, unlike with the state legislative districting process. Prop 11 was necessary because the state legislature drawing its own districts was always a conflict of interest and resulted in a dysfunctional body. But the U.S. House of Representatives isn't drawing its own districts, the state legislature is -- the same state legislature that, in the future, is going to be elected via Prop 11 districts. If Prop 11 works, in other words, Prop 20 isn't necessary.
  2. To extend the above, the Prop 11 committee could hardly make the California legislature more dysfunctional. But if the Prop 11 process ends up not improving the dysfunctional California legislature, it's just as likely to make the California Congressional delegation dysfunctional where it isn't now. In short, the "fix" for an imaginary problem could be worse than the imaginary problem.
  3. It's unilateral disarmament. States dominated by Republicans, like Florida and Texas, deliberately draw their districts to make it hard for Democrats to win. Taking that power to redistrict in favor of their party away from the Democratic-dominated California legislature is like giving a loaded handgun to the mugger who's holding you up at knifepoint.
So in my opinion, Prop 20 fixes a problem that isn't really a problem and could make things worse. I voted for Prop 11 because it's hard to make the California legislature more dysfunctional than it already is and something -- anything -- is necessary to break up the logjam in Sacramento. But the California U.S. Congressional delegation has, in my opinion, done a much better job of representing their various constituencies, meaning that it's just as likely that the Prop 11 committee could make things worse. So: I'm voting "No" to this supposed "good-government" proposition.

-- Badtux the Contrarian Penguin

SoyBlond's favorite song

Still laughing about the day Meghan McCain featured this song on her blog. It is, of course, a description of the economic cycle from a Marxist perspective, but of course the point of Stereolab was never the lyrics, which are rather French philosophical discussions.

Song is "Ping Pong", off of Stereolab's1994 album Mars Audiac Quintet.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The California ballot

Well, I got my ballot for the November elections in the mail today. I know who I'm going to vote for when it comes to the state races -- the Republicans have gone batshit crazy, so anybody who dares put an "R" by his name right now is just proving he's a loon, the Demos are idiots but at least they're not batshit crazy idiots. But then there's two whole pages of ballot initiatives, each of which are going to require me to do some research to find out who sponsored them, who benefits from each of them, and what's the catch behind each of them.

That's the problem with direct democracy. I'm one penguin. I don't have a staff to do that sort of work. My elected representatives do. Why the fuck can't they do their job and not require us busy penguins to do their job too?! I mean, I pay their fucking salaries to do shit like that! So anyhow, I'm going to take these ballot initiatives one at a time and talk about them here on the blog, tell you what I think, ask you for your own feedback.

So the first initiative is Proposition 19, which I'll call the "Cheech & Chong Initiative". This is the one that legalizes marijuana under California law. This is one of the few propositions that actually belong on the ballot -- marijuana legalization is one of those hot-button issues that legislators shy away from because it's unpopular with the powerful law enforcement unions, whose members benefit greatly from marijuana being illegal, yet marijuana is no more intoxicating or harmful than alcohol. If alcohol is legal, there isn't a damned reason why marijuana shouldn't be other than stupidity and Big Brotherism. I've never met a violent pot-head in my entire life. As long as you aren't a brownie, there's nothing to fear from potheads, they're mellow, mon. I do not partake of the herb myself, but look. Willie Nelson is like nine jillion years old and has smoked pot every day for most of those years. Yeah, pot sure ruins a dude's life, doesn't it? :-).

Next up: Proposition 20. Later.

-- Badtux the Law-readin' Penguin

Mysterious, moody, and violent

This song came up on my iTunes playlist again today, and as usual during the once-every-few-months times that it comes up, I had to rewind it and play it over and over again. What a moody, mysterious, violent, and enigmatic song it is. It could mean a number of things, but my guess is that this is a song about Chan Marshall's relationship with her father, who she worshipped as a child but who betrayed her by kicking her out on the street when she turned 16 so that he could bring a new main squeeze into his apartment. The original was written by Peter Jeffries during the 1980's as part of a band called This Kind of Punishment, but it was a fairly pedestrian "my lover wronged me" song whose lyrics Chan completely rearranged and sometimes changed to say what she wanted to say.

The song is "The Sleepwalker", off of the Cat Power album Dear Sir, which was recorded over the course of about two days in a basement studio with Chan Marshall's band at the time, Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth and Tim Foljahn of Two Dollar Guitar. I would wish peace upon Chan, but, sadly, it doesn't seem likely -- in recent interviews it's clear that her demons continue to haunt her.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, October 04, 2010

Tea party supports tea

Texas tea, that is. Black gold. Texas crude. Big Oil. Yeppers, the San Jose Murky News reports that California tea baggers have been spotted waving signs in support of oil companies hoping to get passed Proposition 23, which would overturn the state's strict carbon emissions law. The main funders of the Prop 23 effort are three oil companies -- Valero, Tesoro, and Koch Industries.

This is just more proof that the whole tea bagger phenomenon is a bought and paid for subsidiary of the same oligarchs who got George W. Bush electorated and who are doing their darndest to turn America into Mexico North, where the oligarchs are filthy rich and the rest of us are their servants. The money quote from the article:

"When I see senior citizens out on the street corner holding 'Thank You Valero' signs, it just doesn't jibe," said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog. "Clearly the tea party is being used, and they are becoming the ground army for the oil refineries. Senior citizens would not come out to defend Valero unless there's some formal structure to get them out there."
You think? Like, duh?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin


Slaid Cleaves, y'all. This is "Cry", off his 2009 album Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away. Ouch.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

And in today's World Nut Daily email blast...

... Joseph "Crazy Joe" Farah (or one of his underlings at ) goes off on a long blast about how evil accreditation boards won't accredit colleges whose Biology departments teach that evolution is a myth, and how the evil Department of Education is about to change the student loan program so that only accredited colleges can get student loans. Because, y'know, other than cutting off the rip-off private diploma mills that charge a bundle for worthless "degrees", this would also cut off all those "Bible Colleges" that charge their students bundles of dough to teach the li'l darlings that Jesus rode a dinosaur then gives them a worthless diploma and a lifetime of student loan debt slavery (since student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy like normal loans)... the horror, oh the horror!

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin


This new place (hmm, been living here for over three months now, how new is that?) has floor registers for gas heat. Mencken has a sour disposition and hurks up hairballs in the most inconvenient places. Yesterday was a fairly cool day (only got up to 72F yesterday afternoon) so it was hard getting up this morning because the house was cool and my covers warm, so I dashed out of bed and ran to the thermostat and turned up the heat.

Now I know what roasted cat puke smells like.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Below: Mencken enjoying the heat from the floor register in the bathroom, which emits from under the bathroom cabinet due to past remodeling efforts on this place. It makes the tile there nicely warm on your feet...

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Icelandic cool

This is weird, but not necessarily in a bad way. bjork, "Come to Me".

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Immigration, Sparta, and democracy

Sparta was a military society based upon maintaining a large non-citizen slave class to do the real work of society and a smaller citizen class that had the rights we typically associate with citizens in a democracy. This system eventually failed because the slave class got larger and larger and the citizen class, due to losses in wars, became smaller and smaller, until eventually Sparta became a military dictatorship to keep the slaves down as the slaves, fed up with having no real representation, revolted and put an end to Spartan democracy.

Sparta's slaves were the result of military conquests. To a certain extent so are America's slaves -- the illegal immigrant class which is kept deliberately impoverished and disenfranchised in order to prevent them from having the rights of citizens. American military intervention in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America has been near-continuous, there have been few years in my lifetime when there were not U.S. military troops conducting "peace keeping" or "advisor" operations in one Latin American nation or another. The result, intentional or not, is to keep the majority of these nations poor and dependent upon the United States for their existence, markets for American goods, sources for the impoverished no-rights slave class needed to do the real work of America and sources for the natural resources needed for America's factories. Which, BTW, is why U.S. military intervention in Central and South America has tapered off recently... since America has outsourced most of her factories to China, natural resources are no longer as much of a driving issue. Well, other than oil, which is why Hugo Chavez keeps being called "a dictator" despite being elected multiple times as President of Venezuela in elections which international observers have confirmed are free and fair, but that's another story.

The problem is that this is not a long-term sustainable solution unless there is a provision for the slave class to become part of the citizen class. Otherwise you get the unrest and disorder that characterizes immigrant communities in Europe -- if you are a North African immigrant in France, for example, you cannot obtain citizenship even if you were born in France and your mother and grandmother were born in France unless you can show that you possess that all-important "French" blood. Why doesn't that happen here? Simple. The children of our slaves, if born upon our soil, become citizens under the terms of the 14th Amendment. So their parents may be slaves, but they know their children will not be, and so they keep silent for the sake of their children. Well, until recently. Our slaves have been getting a bit uppity, asking for the same rights as everybody else who lives in America, and in response the Glenn Becks and Ann Coulters of the world have been ranting that the 14th Amendment doesn't *really* make the children of our slaves citizens, despite the clear wording that if you're born on American soil, you're a citizen. And those morons Republican Senators Jon Kyl and Lindsey Graham have even proposed repealing the 14th Amendment. Ah yes, those modern Republican values: Slavery good. Huh.

So anyhow, do you understand now why I think the Republican charge against the 14th Amendment is not only ignorant and hateful, but endangers the future of America if it gets any traction? That right-wing gay porn fest "300" may have had its leather stud top Spartan shouting "FREEEDOM!" at the top of his lungs, but there was no freedom involved if you were one of the huge slave class that did all the work in Sparta -- and who eventually revolted and slaughtered the Spartans pretty much to the last man, woman, and child. Military slave states simply aren't sustainable long-term. Not then, not now. Sorry.

-- Badtux the History Penguin

Not all noise

Thurston Moore is best known for being one of the noise-meisters behind Sonic Youth. But he can do more than just make noise, he can write (and play) pretty songs too, like this one, off of 2007's Trees Outside the Academy. Being a master of noise doesn't mean you're necessarily a crap musician, it just means you like making noise -- and, occasionally, non-noise.

--Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, October 01, 2010

Exhaustion Complete

The long hours are done, the project is on track for release, and I am going to bed. G'night.

Note: If you're here in the morning looking for music, I've change schedules. The music arrives sometime in the afternoon, since it appears that I'm posting in the evenings now, so that the content posts will be (hopefully) the first thing you see in the mornings.

-- Badtux the Tired Penguin

Tappy Kaki

Kaki King got her start busking for coin in the New York subways, and did pretty well there with her tapping theatrics. And does pretty darn well here too :). T he song is "Bone Chaos In The Castle"...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin