Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Lisa Germano, "Of Love and Colors" off her album Geek the Girl. A disturbing song.

An Atlanta superchurch pastor comes out as gay in hopes of stemming suicides of gay youth.

A song I wrote last year:

Another song.

That is all.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, November 29, 2010

Bad ideas, part XLVVI

Okay, so I moved into this duplex back in June. It's a two-bedroom duplex, so I chose one bedroom for my music room, and one bedroom for my, well, bedroom. So which bedroom did I choose for which? Well... I chose the larger corner bedroom with the sliding patio door that opens out onto the back patio, of course. Because the sliding patio door would allow more ventilation in the summer, as would the side windows. And it would be quieter because it's not adjacent to the kid's room in the duplex next door. And it was the larger of the two bedrooms, a.k.a. the master bedroom, and I'm the master of this house, right?

Boy, what a mistake. All summer long that bedroom was baking in the sun while the smaller bedroom, the "music room", was comfortable because its outside wall was shaded by a lemon tree and it didn't have the heat from the patio bricks radiating up through a giant patio door's glass. The wall with the small windows turned out to be the west wall and was totally unshaded, so it radiated heat during the day, making the large bedroom even hotter than the baked patio bricks made it. The sliding windows were too small to put a room air conditioner into so that I could sleep decently at night, vs. the large sliding window in the "music room". The kid next door turns out to go to bed at an early hour and be a fairly quiet little girl, so I don't have to worry about noise from next door. And now that it's cold outside, the corner bedroom is *freezing* -- that big patio door and the side windows and just being the furthest bedroom from the furnace keeps it chilly while the "music room" is comfortable. And finally, with the music room being next to the little girl's room, I can only make music in it during hours that she's awake for fear of waking her up, which would be a bad thing to do because, well, it's a bad thing to do to disturb the sleep of little girls, duh.

So now you know what I'll be doing tomorrow night... I'll be moving everything out of the music room, and moving my bedroom over there, and then moving the music room stuff out of my living room into my former bedroom. SIIIiiiiiigh!

In other news, most of my plants seem to have survived the frost. The nasturtiums that peek beyond the front fence ended up getting killed, but the ones behind the fence, in the protected area, are fine, as is everything else in the small courtyard area between the garages and the house. Next weekend I guess I'll need to cut off the dead nasturtiums and toss them in the green bin for composting...

-- Badtux the Shivering Penguin

Selling your soul

Robert Johnson was one of the inventors of the modern blues. His songs have been covered by pretty much a who's who of bluesmen and rockers. Despite the fact that Robert Johnson died young and impoverished, the rumor that he sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for his talent still rumbles around the background of the blues scene.

In reality, those musicians who truly have sold their souls to the Devil sound like... uhm... Taylor Swift. Okay, probably unfair to poor little Taylor, but that's the reality -- those who've sold their souls for fame and fortune sound like, well, Milwaukee beer compared to a small brewery craft beer of genuine musicians who haven't sold their souls to the music industry demons.

Now, Gurf Morlix, he's the real deal -- the dude who has not sold his soul to anybody. He's at an age where he makes the music he wants to make and doesn't give a shit anymore. He has a day job for making his living -- he's a producer -- and then makes music like this as his entertainment and is pleased to sell a few thousand copies.

This is "Crossroads", off his brilliant album Last Exit to Happyland. Gurf ain't young and pretty no more, and in what remains of his life he ain't gonna sell as many albums as the pop tarts like Taylor Swift sell in an hour. And he's past the point where that makes any difference to him.

Badtux the Music Penguin

Natural causes

In case, as time goes along, you're wanting to know how many Americans are starving, freezing, or otherwise dying because of the failure of Austerian economics at the zero bounds, look for two words: "Natural causes". Those are words that coroners always put on the death certificate when someone starves to death or dies of exposure here in America. Because, y'know, telling the truth might offend someone, yo.

BTW, this is not new. This has been the code for at least 100 years. When people at the end of the 19th century couldn't find work and starved to death (no food stamps or anything like that back then, y'know), that's what was on their death certificate: "natural causes". Reminds me of those folks hawking "all-natural supplements"... arsenic and cyanide are natural too, y'know?

-- Badtux the Helpfully Snarky Penguin

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Today's economics post

... is called off due to holiday traffic. Grrr!

In other news, I left the kittehs with 7 days worth of kibble, and was gone for four days. Their food bowls were not only empty when I got back, but they'd dumped over all the trash cans looking for anything else edible. Siiiiigh... what a pair of chow hounds!

-- Badtux the Tired Penguin

The reality

For every Jack White who makes it big, for every tiny blond girl with a tiny little voice and a big fat acoustic guitar turned into a Nashville sensation through slick marketing, there's ten thousand Dex Romwebers playing block parties like some demented cross between Buddy Holly and Elvis with more talent in their little finger than any of those "superstars" but their audience is dozens, not millions. To be fair to Jack White, Dex Romweber is his hero, the man who inspired him to pick up a guitar. Too bad the same is not true for the music-buying public, who hasn't the foggiest idea who Dex Romweber is.

This is Dex and his sister Sarah, the Dex Romweber Duo, playing a block party and doing his song "Still Around". And he still is. For now.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Everything a girl could want

Isabel Monteiro is not one of the world's great singers. But her voice goes fairly well with her songs, which are a sort of torchy dream pop.

The band is Drugstore. The song is "Everything a girl should have". The album is White Magic for Lovers, which the band released in 1998 to universal yawns (that was in the middle of the grunge movement, and there were no screaming guitars or howling alterna-gals in sight). Thus far three songs off the album have made it to this blog... I guess that means I should buy it, but I can't find it :(. Oh well...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sad guitar

Jason Molina (as the band Songs: Ohia ) with "Love leaves its abuser" off of the 1999 album Axxess & Ace. Jason's been playing for, well, seems like forever, and has never caught a break. Like most musicians out there.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Beauty and crime

No, this isn't off of Suzanne Vega's album Beauty and Crime, which is well worth having in and of itself. Rather this is "Song in Red and Gray", off of her 2001 breakup album Songs in Red and Gray. And the crime is that the album sold roughly a dozen copies (I exaggerate, but not by much), despite being a beautiful and profound and disturbing album (when you realize what this song is about, for example).

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Nation of bedwetters, Part XLIV

Fort Bragg evacuated because... they received a robo-call in French from a Haitian candidate doing his Crazy Eddy(*) pitch for votes in Creole French, and they thought it was a bomb threat because the dumb fucks can't tell the difference between French and Arabic.

SIiiiiiiiiiiigh! Moron America. If we got any dumber, we'd disappear as a nation into a black hole of suck. Hmm, come to think about it, that seems to be what's happening anyhow... SIIiiiiiigh!

-- Badtux the WASF Penguin

(*) Crazy Eddy was a used car salesman in my youth who had a regular television commercial that ran during the cheap time of day, in the afternoon. He screamed at the top of his lungs at the TV camera urging people to come on down to Crazy Eddy's Used Cars for his crazy, crazy prices. Err, right...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mysterious trip

Portishead, "Mystereons", off their Roseland NYC live album... modern torch for the hip-hop generation.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Microsoft Office sucks the fucking big one

I've been fighting that fucking piece of shit Microsoft Office (hereby called "Microsoft Piece of Shit") all day long now. I give up. I am rebooting into MacOS and going into the Windows directory and removing every fucking piece of that goddamned piece of crap pile of reeking feces, and installing OpenOffice and Thunderbird. Life's just too short to deal with crappy software.

Microsoft can just shove their piece of shit where the sun don't shine. Corporate standard? Fuck that shit. They'll take the Office 2003 documents that OpenOffice produces, and if I can't read their document, I'll tell'em to put it out into an older format. I'm too senior and paid WAY too much to be wasting my time on this fucking Microsoft bullshit. I'm supposed to be doing work, not fucking with nonsense.

-- Badtux the Frustrated Penguin

Old, fat, drunk

We all get there, eventually. Well, except for those of us who don't drink, who just get the first two.

The Austin Lounge Lizards with one of their funny songs about Texas and Texans...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Vacationing Penguin

I've left you some music, but aside from that, unless al Qaeda explodes an anal bomb and we're forced to undergo rectal exams every time we fly, a right-wing lunatic assassinates the President, or Obama grows a spine (hah!), I'll be back on Sunday with an examination of the economics of price inflation during monetary deflation. Just too much stuff to do around holiday time...

In the meantime, enjoy your daily music. I have some good stuff lined up for ya.\

-- Badtux the Busy Penguin

Monday, November 22, 2010


San Francisco band Halou, with "I'll Carry You" off their 2001 album Wiser. Halou is, alas, no longer with us as a band...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Bush outside my door

What is this bush? It has thick succulent leaves, and spent most of the summer looking like a giant green bush on the east wall of my garage. Now it's flowering. Here is some detail of the leaves and flowers: Any idea? Curious penguins want to know!

-- Badtux the Garden Penguin

Krugman says it

Back in February 2008, I ripped into Obama's "health care plan" as published on his web site, and in passing noted that pretty much every policy I saw posted there was a right-wing policy -- that is, Obama was basically a Republican, just not part of the Republican Party because of that whole white hoods thingy. Everybody told me I was crazy, a black man just had to be a liberal because he was, well, black, just like Jesse Jackson!

Well, I think we're pretty much past the point where it's clear that, idiotic natterings from the right wing peanut gallery about "socialism" aside (where they accuse Obama of being "socialist" for continuing the same pro-big-business policies of George W. Bush including continuing Bush's bailouts of banks and auto companies), Obama is, well, a right-wing conservative. His economic policies are right-wing. His health care plan was a Republican plan, for cryin' out loud, he's even admitted that himself, that he took a Republican plan (RomneyCare) that was designed by the Heritage Foundation and pushed that upon America (all natterings about "socialist healthcare" aside). And of course there's his Catfood Commission, which is intent upon making even catfood too expensive as a source of protein for America by implementing right-wing "austerity" economics guaranteed to plunge the country into a Greater Depression (next up in my recipe list: rat etoufee over rice, it's tasty!). And finally... Krugman states what we bloggers have been saying for a couple of years now: Obama is a conservative. A paleo-conservative like Pat Buchanan or George H.W. Bush, not an insane neo-conservative like the Bush crowd, but a conservative nonetheless, and because conservative economic policies are incapable of dealing with a depression, probably a one-term President like Jimmy Carter (another conservative Democrat whose conservative economic policies of cutting the deficit and deregulating industry were incapable of handling the economic situation he found himself in).

The sad thing is that the Democratic Party will decide that the answer to electing a righty who is accused of being a socialist by Republicans will be to nominate someone even more right-wing than Obama. That’s how the Democratic Party seems to work. If you lose elections because your candidates are basically Republicans in drag and folks prefer their Republicans straight-up, why, double-up on the stupid!

Sigh. WASF.

- Badtux the Walking-oddly Penguin

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Earth spirit

I did a video of Nancy Griffith singing a Townes van Zandt song, so I guess it's time to do one of the real thing. From 1969, Townes van Zandt singing "Our Mother The Mountain".

- Badtux the Music Penguin

Saturday, November 20, 2010

"Highly trained" TSA agents

The TSA has been making much lately of the "fact" that their airport security gropers are "highly trained" in what they're supposed to do when they screen you. I have not gone through the exact same training as the TSA, but I have gone through similar training in the past for a different government agency. So let me share with you exactly what this training consisted of:

We were placed in a large conference room. There were 40 of us, and two trainers. We were given a workbook and then shown a film on the technique we were being trained in. We were then expected to fill in the blanks in the workbook. This first part of the "highly trained" coursework for this technique took approximately one hour.

Once the trainers had come around and checked that we had properly filled in our workbooks, and gotten us to correct whatever we'd written down wrong, the trainers then demonstrated the technique. One trainer performed the technique upon the other trainer. We were then allowed to ask questions. This second part of the "training" took one hour.

So with two hours of "training", we were supposed to have mastered the technique we were being taught. Note that we did not actually perform the technique ourselves while under the supervision of the trainers. That would have opened up the trainers (who were contractors from some "center" that had been contracted to conduct the training) to potential sexual harassment lawsuits or personal injury lawsuits if someone performed the technique wrong and managed to grope the wrong thing or managed to injure someone. Rather, the workbooks were picked up and kept on file to "prove" we were trained, and we were issued a certificate that "proved" we were trained. We were then sent into the actual environment where we were supposed to perform the technique under the supervision of an experienced person... who had received the exact same damned training, and thus was as clueless as we were but was expected to correct us if we did it wrong.

One thing that has become obvious, from reading the reports on the TSA gropings, is that the gropings are being done differently at different airports. At some airports prosthetics must be removed and examined personally by the groper to verify that they're not explosives. At other airports the person with the prosthetics gets them felt, but then gets sent onward without having to remove them. This is a sign of "training" conducted in exactly the way I describe above, which is laughable and ridiculous but that's what happens when you have contractors doing the training -- they're lowest bidder, so they cut down the "training" to the least possible (2 hours in our case) and they're lawsuit-averse, so they don't allow you to actually practice what they're training you to do. So it goes in Soviet America... where our government gropes us, and most of us like it.

-- Badtux the Sovok Penguin

Rainy day snooze

It's raining here in the Silly Cone Valley, and cool. The kittehs are spending time on the floor grates for the furnace when the furnace is on, or on my lap when I'm sitting down, but I turn off the furnace during the day and was up cooking. So they found another warm place instead: Wait, there's Mencken grooming his paw, but where's The Mighty Fang? Well, he's the lump under the covers to the left of Mencken, doh!

-- Badtux the Bedless Penguin

Houseguest is gonna do *what*?!

Uhm, okay. Just clean up after yourself, right?

From that friggin' site that has me laughing hysterically..

-- Badtux the Amused Penguin

Recipes for the Greater Depression

Since the Simple-Bowels Catfood Commission's recommendations are being treated as if they had been handled down by God Himself, and are likely to be implemented thereby crashing the economy, I am continuing my cookbook for the Greater Depression coming where protein will be hard to come by because even cat food will be too expensive for most people to afford.

Today: Cajun Jambalaya.

  • 2 large rats, cleaned & cut into serving pieces
  • salt & red pepper to taste (To season rat)
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 cups uncooked rice
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tsp salt

Season rat pieces well with salt and red pepper.

Brown the rat in the oil. Remove from the skillet.

Saute the onions, celery, garlic, bell pepper, & parsley in the oil until it is wilted.

Replace the rat in the skillet, cover and simmer about 20 minutes or until the rat is tender.

Stir in the rice, water, and 2 tsp salt.

Simmer for about 30 minutes or until the rice is tender.

Serve & Enjoy!'

Rat: It's all we're going to be able to afford once Simple-Bowels get their way. Rat: It's the other white meat :-).

-- Badtux the Snarky Foodie Penguin

On the road

Every touring musician eventually does a "life on the road" song. Usually it's self-indulgent, sappy, and ridiculous -- I mean, c'mon, you got pampered superstars whining about how tough their life is? Fuck, any of us who ever spent hours up to our knees in mud while ran fell on our head in near-freezing weather while we were trying to dig a ditch to lay some pipe just gotta shake our heads at how whiney these people sound.

Well, Scout Niblett doesn't whine. Hoo boy, she doesn't whine. She practically bites the heads off of some people... the woman is fucking insane, I tell ya. And I love it :).

This is "Meet and Greet" off of her brilliant album, The Calcination of Scout Niblett.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, November 19, 2010

Another reason to boycott Arizona

Arizona's tightwad legislature just murdered 98 people. In cold blood. Without a trial, without due process, even offering any real excuses for why they have to die. Because, y'know, it's better that 98 people die, than that Arizona's public have to pay $1 apiece more in taxes to fund those organ transplants for people who mostly need public help because, err, they lost their insurance because they got too sick to work and don't happen to have a couple hundred thousand dollars hangin' around... something that could happen to any of us, BTW, in case you haven't been living in a cave.

What is the price of a human life? In Arizona, apparently, it's $1.

-- Badtux the Dollar Penguin

Recipes for the Greater Depression

The chair of President Obama's "Catfood Commission" now claims that inaction on containing the federal deficit would be a job killer of massive proportions". So I'm sitting here, wondering: How?

First of all, the federal deficit last year was approximately 6.5% of U.S. GDP. In the worst case, the deficit can be financed by simply printing money -- which would give us a net inflation rate of 6.5% per year. Which is not good, but hardly Weimar Republic style hyperinflation either, we've had 6.5% inflation multiple times within my lifetime and it seemed to have essentially no effect on jobs (much to the disgruntlement of Keynesians, who thought that inflation would inevitably "prime the pump" of greater production, but the Keynesians didn't take into account resource limitations that limit how fast the economy can grow independent of the money supply -- specifically, oil).

So inflation caused by printing money to cover the deficit would not cause loss of jobs. What about these mythical "bond vigilantes" who would drive up interest rates on Federal bonds (and by extension, on all other loans) to the point where the U.S. was bankrupted by interest payments? Well, if they showed up at Treasury auctions, the Fed can step in and buy those bonds. They're denominated in dollars, after all, and the Fed has a very efficient money printing operation set up in its cellars. So the "bond vigilantes" would be shooting themselves in the foot if they showed up, since the Fed could simply inflate their bonds away if the "bond vigilantes" showed up, thereby not only killing their attempt to drive up interest rates but also making their already-owned bonds worth less. So rising interest rates caused by these mythical "bond vigilantes" aren't going to cause the massive loss of jobs predicted by former Sen. Erskine Bowles (R-Crazyville).

So what mechanism, exactly, would cause this loss of jobs? Mr. Bowles doesn't tell us, just that it will happen because, well, because the voices in his head told him so, I guess. Nevermind that the only Depression within the past 100 years (besides the current one) was ended by government spending on a massive scale and accompanied by massive deficits -- that is, World War II, which had average deficits of 25% of U.S. GDP during the course of the war -- that actual, well, history apparently does not exist in the universe where Mr. Bowles lives, where, apparently, WW2 never happened and the Great Depression was ended by magic fairy unicorn dust and Austerians clicking the heels of their ruby slippers together while chanting "Mises is good, Mises is great, Mises is our Savior".

So what will be the effect of Mr. Bowles' recipe of austerity and massive federal budget cuts? Well, what do you think -- it'd be further economic collapse as demand falls even further and more businesses and homeowners default on their loans and more banks collapse and wash rinse repeat. Indeed, in the end I think even cat food will end up being too expensive for the majority of Americans to afford, rendering the moniker "Cat Food Commission" rather ironic. So in that spirit, I will now render one of the recipes for what America will be eating if the Cat Food Commission gets their way...

Cajun Gumbo

Boil or pressure cook 3 or 4 large rats until tender. Pick meat off bones and set aside.
1/2 c. oil
1/2 c. flour
1 lg. onion, finely chopped
1 c. chopped celery
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 gallon broth (from boiling the rats -- you may need to add water to make 1 gallon)

Make a roux with oil and flour. Add onions and celery and bell pepper, cook until wilted. Add water, rat and other seasonings to taste.

Garlic salt & powder
Black pepper
Dash of Tabasco
Pinch of sweet basil & marjoram

Simmer about 2 or 3 hours. The secret to making a good roux, is to cook and stir until brown as you can get it without burning it. When you add the vegetables, you can brown it even more.

And that's a Cajun gumbo recipe for the Greater Depression that will happen if the Cat Food Commission succeeds in making even cat food too expensive for people to eat. Rat. It's the other dark meat. Enjoy :).

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

I think boyfriend needs it more, Jennifer...

Well, at least she asked :). (from damnyouautocorrect.com).

-- Badtux the Laughing Penguin

When did cops become bedwetters?

Back in the day, when I was a kid, cops would go after crooks with nothing but a 6-shot .38 Special revolver. No bullet-proof vests. No sub-machine guns. Nada. Just blue uniform, shiny black leather shoes, and blue police officer's hat, accompanied by cuffs, nightstick, and holstered revolver.

In our city of 250,000 people there were 40 cops on duty at any given time to patrol the whole city. If they needed to execute a warrant, a couple of cop cars would pull up at the target's house, two cops would walk to the back door, two cops would walk to the front door, and then... they'd KNOCK. Yeah, if the guy was reputed to be hardcore they'd yank the shotgun out of the trunk and one guy on each side would have a shotgun, but that was the closest they got to paramilitary nonsense. They prided themselves on their courage and did whatever it took to execute their job with honor and dignity while respecting the citizenry that they had sworn an oath of office to serve, even if -- and, for some, especially if -- it placed themselves in physical danger from time to time. They were by-god men, and would conduct themselves as such. And they had balls that would fuckin' clang when they walked down the street.

Today... it takes a paramilitary police unit to take down the Four Chess Players of the Apocalypse. Or, in this latest case, the crippled elderly Gimp of Mass Destruction, a gent by the name of David Cole, who was jumped by 10 officers of the U.S. Marshall's Service here in San Jose CA recently in a mistaken identity case where the guy they were looking for didn't even look like Mr. Cole (but hey, you know all them niggers look alike to white people, so it was an honest mistake, right?). Because today's cops view their job as being to keep themselves safe, not to keep the public safe.

My only thought: Perhaps diapers should be required wear for cops today, since elderly gimps and chess players scare them so much? Just sayin!

And the sad thing is that every time one of these stories comes out, brown-nosing lovers of fascism come out of the woodworks to excuse the behavior of the pants-pissing ball-less wonders in blue... because having a paramilitary team of cops throw brown people to the pavement makes them feel safe. They would have fit right in with the German people in 1940, who utterly supported the roundup of the Jews because, well, everybody knew that those people were all a buncha criminals anyhow, so clearly our brave men in brown are just doing their job and how dare anybody criticize their behavior or accuse them of being, well... a buncha cowards so scared of gimps and chess players that it takes a paramilitary team of'em to do the job that once two guys with .38 revolvers and blue uniforms did all by themselves? Hmm...

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Brainy tree

Bill Callahan with yet another one of his odd songs... "All Thoughts Are Prey To Some Beast".

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

What a poser

From high above the ground, on his aerie in the sky, The Mighty Fang displays his good side for the crowd.

- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Yeah, I've had those days too

From that site that has me laughing so hard tears are coming out of my eyes...

-- Badtux the Amused Penguin

Even the punditry is noticing...

... that wealth distribution in the United States is looking disturbingly like a third-world banana republic rather than a democracy.

My response: Congratulations, America. You elected the evil sonofabitches to office who did this to you. Hope you're happy with your Republican kool-aid, because the cyanide it's taking down your throat is a bitch -- 30 years of Republican domination of American politics has produced stagnant incomes for regular Americans, while the merely rich became the really, really rich. And every single one of these bastards was voted into office by you, America -- not installed by some evil dictator or some shit, you voted for these assholes.

I have some more facts and figures that Kristof did not mention in his article, but I'll go over those later...

-- Badtux the Right (as in, correct) Penguin

Yet another chickenhawk hates our troops...

Twenty-two Naval hospital corpsmen have received the Medal of Honor for conspicuous bravery in saving the lives of soldiers under fire. I don't know if any of you have ever had anybody fire a gun at you, but your first instinct (especially if unarmed) is to run like hell and hide for the next hundred years -- *not* run towards the shooter in order to save someone's life. The kind of person who would run -- unarmed -- into the path of enemy fire in order to save the lives of their fellow soldiers is someone who is well deserving of the Medal of Honor, and the twenty-two Naval hospital corpsmen who have so earned it over the past 100 years did so fair and square.

Well, unless you're a right-wing religious fucktard by the name of Bryan Fischer, "Director of Issues Analysis" for the conservative "Christian" group the American Family Association, who complains that awarding the medal to someone for "merely" saving lives somehow "feminizes" the medal and diminishes it. This right-wing chickenhawk has never served in the military, has never had a shot fired his direction in anger, has no idea of the bravery it takes to run *towards* bullets rather than *away* from them, but apparently he feels that spitting on the faces of the families of those twenty-two medical corpsmen who received the Medal of Honor is all fine and dandy because it allows him to attack his darky President for granting the Medal of Honor to *another* of those darkies for, err... saving the lives of American soldiers while killing at least one of the Taliban fighters he faced.

So I have a medal for Bryan Fischer here, a medal he has truly earned and deserved. And here it is:

Yes inded, Mr. Bryan Fischer, you have earned the Chickenhawk Medal of Honor. Your conspicuous bravery in criticizing the courage of our proud Naval Corpsman recipients of the Presidential Medal of Honor, accompanied by your conspicuous bravery in having "other priorities" whenever the possibility of serving in the military yourself arose, has well earned you this prestigious award. Congratulations, dear sir! I'm certain this medal shall find a prized spot on your fireplace mantlepiece :).

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Nation of Bedwetters, part 5,342,432

The police were called by a homeowner reporting a suspicious package. The cop who responded took one look at the package, asked the homeowner one question, and then closed the incident.

Question to the reader (without peeking at the link): What was the question the police officer asked? And what was the home owner's response?

I bet 99% of you can answer that one without even peeking at the link, heh.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Hopeless Valley

This was from a PBS tribute to Townes van Zandt, Nancy Griffith singing van Zandt's "Tecumseh Valley". Unfortunately it is not available to buy on DVD, because, quote, "too many record labels are involved, it'd be impossible." Just another way in which the RIAA's heavy-handed tone-deaf attack on America's music listeners has resulted in listeners being deprived of the music that RIAA was supposedly formed to promote...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The new ownership society

So, asks a puzzled person, isn't the massive wealth redistribution that has happened over the past thirty years bad for the wealthy too? After all, the companies they own need customers for their goods, and if nobody has any money other than the wealthy, then there's less goods sold, and the wealthy get less money.

Ah, but... see, the thing is, money isn't wealth. Wealth is GOODS AND SERVICES. Money is just a handy intermediary to use to transfer goods and services around. What is wealth is what you *buy* with money -- things like, say, dachas on the Black Sea, McMansions on the ring road, that sort of thing.

During times of inflation, people took on debt or purchased assets at inflated costs. During times of deflation, people can not pay their debts in the now-suddenly-scarcer currency, and have everything taken from them by the ownership class. From 1937 to 2008, thanks to years of Keynesian economics, the supply of currency rose every year. Note that monetary inflation is the same thing as debt deflation -- your debts become worth less in real terms every year during times of inflation. People made major life decisions such as purchasing a home based upon the notion that prices would always rise -- a notion which 70 years of Keynesian economics applied to the money supply reinforced, because nobody under the age of 70 had any experience with monetary deflation (that is, shrinkage of the money supply -- NOT AT ALL the same as price and wage deflation, which lags monetary deflation for reasons I've previously discussed here). These people made a decision which seemed reasonable given their life's experience... and then had the stool of their entire life's experience kicked out from under them as they hung in the air and money suddenly became much scarcer.

So what's the end game? The new ownership society is where the wealthy own *everything* because the money supply has crashed so far that nobody can pay their debts -- and the owner class buys up the defaulted assets for pennies on the dollar. At that point, the ownership class really doesn't care if the money supply collapses all the way and they can't sell anything for money. Because they will own you. Think Latin America's oligarchs. They own everything, so their minions have no place to go and must labor in their fields and workshops to produce the hand-made goods and services they want. Their every need is taken care of by their serfs, who beg for crumbs of bread in exchange for being allowed the privilege of placing a bathrobe upon their master's back upon their master exiting his bath. What few things they need that their serfs cannot make in their master's workshop are bought by exporting agricultural goods, natural resources, and hand-made items from those workshops to more civilized nations and getting the technological goods they want back in return. Do these people care that they can't sell anything to their serfs? No. And neither will our ownership class, once they own everything -- including us.

-- Badtux the Apocalyptic Penguin

What's for dinner?

The Apple iPhone has an "autocorrect" function that works about as well as the notorious Apple Newton's handwriting recognition. Now it has its very own website. And it's friggin' hilarious.

-- Badtux the Amused Penguin

Dreamy caring

Linda Perhacs was apparently the "it" girl in her high school -- homecoming queen, the girl all the boys wanted to date, the girl that all the other girls wanted to be, the lead singer in the high school musical... then she graduated, and in 1970 released her one and only album, Parallelograms, to no notice and zero acclaim. This song, "Hey, who really cares?" off of that album, might well have been its final description... except for the Internet. At some point the album started bubbling around in the psychedelic underground as the only female psychedelic folk artist they'd encountered... and you'll have to Google for the rest of the story.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"I was just following orders"

That's what the guards at the Nazi death camps said. They didn't have anything against Jews, they said. They just had to do it or they'd be put into the death camps themselves.

So cry me a river about TSA screeners whining that they shouldn't be targeted for abuse because "we're just following orders". If they don't follow orders, all that happens is that they have to get a job reciting "will there be fries with that order?", they don't get shot like the guards at the Nazi death camps would have been -- guards who, remember, were hung for following illegal orders.

So color me unsympathetic about the poor, poor employees of the Department of Vaterland Security. They chose to serve a heartless bureaucracy and choose every day to obey orders that their very own superiors admit are probably illegal, and have nobody to blame but themselves if people get pissed about being subjected to illegal procedures.

-- Badtux the Sympathyless Penguin

SecurityGate continues...

And if you refuse, of course, they go after you for a $10,000 fine.

The SCLM is going nuts over this civil disobedience on the part of ordinary citizens who don't want to be strip-searched just for the privilege of moving around their own country on their own country's aircraft. They're frantic to find people who like being strip-searched -- so frantic that they set up a poll asking people whether they preferred being strip-searched by these x-ray machines, or being boiled alive in oil, then proudly proclaimed that people prefer to go through the strip-search x-ray machines to being boiled in oil. Classy dishonesty, CBS News! Talk about some hacks in service to the Department of State Security (hereby abbreviated as "S.S"), did you suck their dicks too while you were at it, CBS "News"? Sigh, if you want to read real news today, you have to read the overseas news, because our propaganda press sure isn't going to report it if they can help it...

-- Badtux the Flightless Penguin

Passing out

I came across this youngster while looking for something else. According to her YouTube profile she's 19 years old and in France, but she does a pretty darn good job with the acoustic guitar and sings great too. And it's so cute when she pauses to scratch her nose ;). This is CallingMarian with "Passing Out", which appears to be an original.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, November 15, 2010

Former TSA administrator admits TSA violates 4th Amendment

I found this video at, of all places, World Nut Daily. Yes, World Nut Daily. Teabagger central. Birther control. Never met a right-wing infringement upon freedom that it didn't like. Well, unless said right-wing infringement is done by a Democratic darky, of course -- World Nut Daily is pinning this one on Obama. Which, in my opinion, is fair dinkum at this point -- Obama is in charge of the TSA, he could end this abuse simply by issuing an executive order, and he hasn't. Of course, if he did issue such an executive order then World Nut Daily would attack him for "making the skies unsafe to fly", but let's face it even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and this is WND.com's time of day to be right :).

-- Badtux the Civil Liberties Penguin

For more context, see the longer version of the video.


Heard about these Canuck gals from Gordon over at Alternate Brain... The Be Good Tanyas, "Junkie Song". Off their album Chinatown. And they cover Townes van Zandt, so you can't fault their taste...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Mighty Fang takes a walk

Just a crappy cell phone video.

Yeah, TMF is fat, lazy, placid, and pretty much imperturbable. Which is why I chose him as the test subject for the kitty harness and leash. I certainly wouldn't have tried it with Mencken, Mencken woulda shredded me! After a while after the end of this video he got tired of lying down and walked around the back yard a bit, sniffed the ferns, examined the fences, that kinda thing, but he's not going to win the high-energy kitty awards anytime soon.

I figure after I do this for a couple of weeks, I'll introduce him to the front door. Walking your pet on a leash is always good for starting conversations. Somehow I think TMF on a leash would start even more conversations than the typical dog walkers do :).

-- Badtux the Cat-walking Penguin
BTW, you'll note that the cat is walking *me*, not the other way around.

Sexy French

Okay, so most of us don't know French. It doesn't matter. Lætitia's voice is pure gold here even singing obscure French poetry, and Mary's fills make the song complete.

This is "Cybele's Reverie" off of Stereolab's 1996 album, Emperor Tomato Ketchup. And Jules Holland was a twit even then, but he consistently does get great music onto his show, so I'll forgive him for that :).

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Saturday, November 13, 2010

New TSA t-shirts

From Despair.com. (H/T).

In other news, EBM notes that the naked view X-ray machines have never been validated as safe by any independent party. We're just supposed to believe the TSA that they're safe. Which brings to mind some new slogans for the TSA:

  1. TSA: Because glowing in the dark is good for you.
  2. TSA: Like date rape, except without the food and roofies.
  3. TSA: We examine your prostate so your doctor doesn't have to.
  4. TSA: Like Catholic priests for the children of non-Catholics.
  5. TSA: Because every child needs to know that he is a threat to national security.
Alrighty, then!

- Badtux the Snarky (and flightless) Penguin

Broken time

This one sounds a bit like Neil Young meets New York noise. Which is not a bad thing. Alberta Cross does "The Broken Side of Time" from their 2009 album by the same name, live, and rocks it good and noisy, just like it's s'pozed to be.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, November 12, 2010

Early Caturday

It occurs to me that I've been laggardly about posting photos of the boys recently. So here we are...

The Mighty Fang is, as usual, a friendly cuddly fat and happy shiny black kitty.

And *finally* someone is using the cat tree for what it's intended -- as a place for cats to catnap. This is Mencken, modeling proper usage of the cat tree. Usually the only cat who uses it is TMF, who uses it as a ladder to get on top of the fireplace mantle and then to the top of the bookcase on the other side, in order to do his caterly duty of assisting gravity in moving things from higher places to lower places. Mencken, however, has taken to occasionally napping on it, when he's not napping on the chair or the futon. Here he heard me coming and is griping at me for disturbing his naptime (if you clicken on the picture to embiggen it, you'll notice his mouth slightly open... that's the start of a "Mrow, why are you flashing lights at me you silly penguin?" comment on his part).

Oh yeah, 'cause everybody else has posted it: How cats can drink water without getting their chins wet. Think about it. You or I, if we had no hands to help us drink, would stick our mouths in the water and drink, but we'd end up with wet chins too. And so do dogs when they drink. Cats, it turns out, are very special when it comes to drinking... they use surface tension between their tongue and the water to create an actual column of water, which they then snap off and swallow. Like little physicists, except with fur. Cool!

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

It is what it is

The middle class is being downsized away. There's a few folks like me whose creativity is hard to outsource and who get good salaries as a result. And then there's the former middle class, no longer needed partly because they've been outsourced to India and China... but also because we're just too damned good at making shit nowdays. As in, only 10% of U.S. workers are involved in manufacturing... but the United States is still the world's biggest manufacturer, even today with China making all our cheap shit and Latin America making all our underwear.

The deal is that technology has made probably 90% of all middle class jobs unnecessary. That was papered over for a while by putting the middle class to work trading dot-com stocks and selling overpriced real estate to one another, but the reality is that the jobs the middle class once worked are gone, and those jobs aren't coming back.

When there is only one solution, people adopt it sooner or later however much they hate it. With a permanent situation of more people than jobs, the unemployed will be supported from the general wealth. Call it Socialism or Christianity or whatever you please, but there's going to have to be a change in how our economy is organized because people do not voluntarily starve to death. They just don't. Hungry desperate people will do whatever it takes -- whatever it takes -- to survive, because humanity is a race of two-legged cockroaches in the end. The Republicans don't understand this, because they figure the entire world can be organized like Mexico -- i.e., them on top, and everybody else starving peasants. But that only works in low-tech resource extraction economies where the people don't have the resources available to do something about it. Once they do have the resources.... well. Bad Things Happen. Let's put it that way.

So: Reality is what it is. We will have socialism in America -- at least to some extent. Either that, or there won't be an America, just Somalia West, complete with warring warlords shelling each other's neighborhoods with artillery...

-- Badtux the Reality-based Penguin

Coastal lakes

The Besnard Lakes, "Albatross" off their recent album The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night. The Beach Boys meet indie?

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veterans' Day

Hey, veterans. Look, we know the VA has a backlog of hundreds of thousands of claims and you're not getting the treatment you need for your PTSD, brain injury, side effects of chemical exposure, or whatever. And look, we know you have twice the chance of being one of the long-term homeless as none-veterans, and that 25% or so of the long-term homeless are veterans, and that more veterans are dying every day of suicide or high-risk behavior (motorcycles etc.) than die in Iraq and Afghanistan in combat.. And hey, Preznit Obama's Catfood Commission came back and said we need to cut the deficit by cutting the veteran's benefits that you earned by doing shit that the civilians didn't want to do (can't get their lily-white hands dirty with those nasty "guns" and "bombs" and shit, and living in the dirt for months at a time? Horrors!). But look, we got a day set aside just for you! Now, isn't that just so special?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin


And today's rant is about "security". I'm fucking *PISSED* about all the fucking "security" bull fucking shit that Red Hat Software (in particular, but most other Linux vendors too) have put into their latest Linux. It just fucking REEKS of acne-cheeked cheeto-stained legends in their own mind who, like, have fucking never held a real job (one where they had to actually GET SHIT DONE IN REAL LIFE IT ENVIRONMENTS instead of masturbating bytes into a computer in an edit-compile-test loop) who come up with "well, doing things the way they have to be done in real-life IT environments isn't secure, so we're going to put all this shit into our distribution to make it fucking impossible for you to do your job because that's the only way to secure the system."

Well excuuuuuuse me, Mr. Legend In Your Own Mind. Yes, I administer my systems remotely. What, you think I fucking walk to the motherfucking data center and personally walk into a machine room full of thousands of servers in order to administer my system? And yes, I use VNC to do this. No big deal -- well, until you fucking assholes decided to put this PolicyKit and ConsoleKit bullshit into your software that WON'T AUTHORIZE ME TO DO ADMIN TASKS IF I AM DOING THEM REMOTELY!

Like.... uhm... hellooooo? Clue, you stupid-ass motherfuckers? Like, uhm, this makes all this fancy GUI admin toolkit bullshit you've put together like, fucking USELESS for your biggest customers? Like, uhm, you've had this motherfucking bug in your system for, like, years, and all you motherfuckers will say is that it's a goddamned feature because, well, a VNC session isn't local so it's a security risk so it shouldn't register itself with PolicyKit for doing security dialogues? Well excuuuuuse me for not living in your goddamned ivory tower and needing to, like, get shit done!

Which, of course, this bullshit doesn't keep me from getting shit done. It just means I have to do some *really* insecure shit to get around it while not driving myself motherfucking insane in the process -- like, running VNC as *ROOT*. You think prompting me for a password is insecure? Honey-chile, compared to running Xvnc as root, prompting me for a password is as secure as fucking Fort Knox, yo.

Note that I use the above as just one example of the many, many attempts to "secure" my systems by cheeto-stained geeks who haven't, like, got a clue. In the meantime, every time I look at my motherfucking update log these legends in their own minds have released yet another stream of security update bug fixes because they're such fucking legends they can't even check their own goddamned code for buffer overruns and memory leaks, but what the hey, if my security gets compromised because their motherfucking software is a piece of crap, which is the only time it's *ever* happened (not because of VNC sessions, not because of anything else they're trying to protect me from, but, rather, because they're a bunch of clueless geeks who are legends in their own mind but haven't a clue), it's *MY* fault as the sysadmin?!

And thus ends today's indecipherable rant. If you don't understand anything I said above, just summarize it like this: Linux geeks might know their awk and sed and bash, but they haven't a fucking *clue* as to even the basics of how to make a system usable by mere mortals. What a buncha hopeless geeks... no wonder Apple had to dump every single bit of user interface code ever written for Unix in order to create Mac OS X, the world's one and only Unix system usable by mere mortals... and why why Ubuntu Linux founder Mark Shuttleworth is thinking about the same damned thing. Because these geeks are just fucking hopeless once you get beyond serving up bits and bytes to the Internets... when it comes to UI shit, they're fucking legends without a clue.

-- Badtux the Ranting Geeky Penguin


Chan says this is a happy song.

"We All Die", off of the Cat Power album Myra Lee.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Oh yeah, that investigation of BP

A right wingnut asked why I didn't have a post about the "independent" inquiry that "cleared" BP of misconduct in the Gulf Coast oil spill. Was I embarrassed, he asked?

Err, no. More like just smiling and nodding knowingly, because it was clear from the beginning that the government was going to do their best to cover up BP’s liability, starting from the fact that they actively hindered researchers from gathering information that could have independently established the extent of the oil flow, to their statements in the media that basically gave BP atta-boys for their response to the oil spill. So this “independent enquiry” (which had no subpoena power and no ability to, like, actually question the crewmembers on the drillrig or examine the real physical evidence) is just more of the same, just another sop to throw the rubes so that the American public won’t try to make mean old BP pay for destroying the ecology of the U.S. Gulf Coast for the next 20 years. You’ll note that I don’t post every morning about the Sun rising above the horizon either… I mean, why post about the obvious and predictable, duh?

So anyhow, there ya have it. Sun rose in the East this morning. Government released another whitewash report trying to hide corporate misconduct today. Yawwnnnnn... bore-ing!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Why global warming is a myth

Because the Bible promises to not flood the Earth after Noah, therefore there will be no global warming. Uhm, okay. Nevermind what science says about global warming (i.e., that it's happening). What's that silly "science" stuff ever gotten us, anyhow? Other than indoor plumbing? Well, indoor plumbing and the modern medicine that means most of us survive childhood now, unlike the good old days when most children died before reaching age 5? Well, indoor plumbing and modern medicine and airline travel and computers and the Intertubes we're typing this on. Other than that, science is just way, way overrated, right?

So anyhow, that's nuts, but it's just the rantings of a random religious loonie, you say? Err... NO. That's the rantings of the new (Republican) chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, John Shimkus.

As one of the commenters at that blog says, "adults that have imaginary friends should be considered insane and unfit for political office." Amen, brother :).

-- Badtux the Irreverent Penguin


This came up on my iTunes and I played it over and over again. This means you need to hear it.

L.A. dream pop band The Devics, "Lie to Me", off their album Push the heart.

We are a nation, a people, a human race, that demands to be lied to. Lies are what gives meaning to our futile short lives of masticating and defecating and fornicating and meaningless labor and sleep. Without lies we are faced with the reality of infinity and the eyeblink that we live within it. We are nothing more than complex microbes infesting the surface of a watery planet, we're born, we live a picosecond in universe time, we die, and everything we build will eventually be consumed by the sands of time. Our lives are meaningless. That is a reality that most shudder from, and seek refuge in some lie, some savior, some cause to believe in.

And nowhere does this happen more than in affairs of the heart...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

So who are you going to believe?

Are you going to believe the reports of dozens of outraged women who say they have been inappropriately groped by male TSA employees at airport checkpoints? Or are you going to believe Mister Officer Friendly of the TSA, who says they're all liars? Gosh, our government would never lie to us, right? Right?!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Cool hot

In 1992 Suzanne Vega made a daring venture into techno-folk with her album 99.9F of which this is the title song. But even when singing songs to an industrial backing track, Suzanne Vega can be nothing other than the epitome of cool.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, November 08, 2010

Mexification Complete

U.S. now has wealth distribution typical of 3rd world banana republics. The Reagan Revolution is complete -- the wealth of America has now been transferred from the middle class to the top 1%, who now make 24% of the income -- and own 34% of the wealth. Meanwhile, the top 5% of Americans own more of America than the entire bottom 95% of Americans combined -- roughly 60% of America's wealth.

Congratulations, Republicans, for your successful Mexification of America. You took a country that had a thriving middle class and turned it into a nation where the vast majority of the middle class is groveling on their knees for trickle-down that looks an awful lot like the view from the bottom of a urinal. And you bastards in the former middle class.... SIIIIIiiiigh. You are too fucking stupid to even notice it, instead whining "thank you sir please give me more!" and voting for the same evil-ass politicians who butt-fucked you in the first place...

As for the Democrats -- I just got a letter from good ole' Barry Obama dated August 8 stating that the upcoming election is going to be critical to the future of America and please donate and please vote. I got that motherfucking letter *TODAY*, folks -- err, a week AFTER the election. Stupid-ass Democrats are fucking useless, the most inept buncha clowns to ever stumble drunk out of a clown car.

Siiiiigh.... we are so fucked, yo. So I guess I'll leave ya with a joke: Q: How is American beer like fucking in a canoe?

A: It's fucking close to water.

That is all.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin


This is the most popular video I've posted in a long time -- over 500,000 views at the time of posting. Thing is, I can't figure out why. The song is "We Want War" by British art band These New Puritans, off their new album Hidden. It is not the most accessible piece of music around. There isn't a hook or chorus in sight. It's like prog-era Genesis meets King Crimson of the same era, mixed up with a bit of electronica goodness from the 90's. So WTF is with all these views? Musta appeared on one of those "popular" TV shows or something, that's all I can figure. Oh well, I'm sure the youngsters are enjoying all the attention... and maybe it'll even translate into sales for them, not that they're likely to see any of that money, the industry being what the industry is.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Jungle fatigue

I was in a store shopping for pants today, and saw some jungle pants. I thought, "gosh, it's be great to show up wearing those at work one Friday, that'd irk the neo-cons big-time" (there's a couple of neo-cons at work and they know me as a "notorious liberal"). So I dug through them looking for one in my size. There wasn't any marked, but there was an unmarked pair so I picked it up and read the label: "Made in Vietnam". So 35 years after the Vietnamese kicked our asses out, they really have invaded America just as the Rethugs claimed would happen if we left Vietnam... with their pants, that is. The horror, oh the horror!

I wonder if, 35 years from now, some dude who served in Iraq before the Iraqis overthrew the government of President Thieu err Malaki is going to pick up a pair of desert-pattern pants and see the words "Made in Iraq" on them?

-- Badtux the Circles Penguin


This is a hardcore pop punk band from Toronto called Fucked Up with their song "Crooked Head". Very.... uhm... different? It's like a hardcore vocal played against a pop backing?

The lead singer, that big fat hairy dude who looks like a biker, has a kid who spent most of a recent Matador get-together in Vegas in Daddy's arms, even when Daddy got on stage to sing a song (the li'l dude got his own set of headphones to protect his hearing at that point): All together now:


-- Badtux the Appreciative Penguin

Rainy day blues

Isn't it amazing that the vast majority of American politics can be fully described with YouTube clips from Blazing Saddles and Monty Python?

-- Badtux the Thought-food Penguin

Saturday, November 06, 2010


Took a trip deep into the Stanislaus National Forest today, with a Jeep club doing trail maintenance. Ate lunch in a beautiful setting, and now am back home.

We use CB radios in Jeeps to communicate with each other while on the trail, because we could be strung out over a half-mile stretch and the people in the back need to know if the people in the front run into an obstacle that's going to require everybody to stop, back up, and go around. Lately the "skip" has been coming in -- and with it, the jammers.

Ah, the jammers. These are people who have built beefed-up rigs pushing major amounts of wattage. They get on a frequency and they start talking. And whistling. And gibbering nonsense. And because they're pushing so much power, nobody can talk over them -- they monopolize the frequency. Because that's what they do. They are not there to hold a conversation. They don't want to converse. They just want to stop others from conversing.

It occurs to me that this describes the Republican strategy with the "teabaggers" perfectly. The purpose of the "teabaggers" is not to start conversation. It is to end conversation, by shouting down anybody who might have a contrary opinion. And it works. Just as Channel 4 was unusable this morning because of the jammers, the normal routes of political discourse were unusable in this past election, leaving the megabucks TV ads from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its multi-billionaire contributors (both domestic and foreign) to control the political discourse. And without a means of holding a conversation, the whole political system turns into a jam-up like when the Jeep at the front of the line tries to start backing up without the Jeeps at the back of the line being told. Eventually it can be all sorted out, but with much more difficulty than if the channels of communication had been open in the first place.

Thing is, I can't figure out why jammers hate communication so much. Do they really feel that inadequate as people? Are they scared that their ideas are stupid, so they'll just keep everybody else from expressing ideas and presto they'll be smarter? Jammers baffle me... why would anybody devote so much time to preventing others from communicating? Any ideas?

-- Badtux the Communicating Penguin


UK band Esben & The Witch, 'Lucia, at the Precipice'. They have apparently been signed since the last time I mentioned them on this blog, and their new album is supposed to be out in February of 2011...

-- Badtux the Music Program

Friday, November 05, 2010

The dirty little secret

So, why did the United States go into Iraq and Afghanistan with such inadequate forces? Why was there no mass mobilization of the American people, no mass production of enormous quantities of war materials, no vast expansion of the U.S. military that could have employed some of the millions of unemployed Americans who otherwise have nothing to do with their lives right now?

People blame the Busheviks for being incompetent. And in a way they were -- they got us into situations where the available resources simply weren't adequate to the task at hand. But why were the resources inadequate? The answer is simple, the answer is so simple that it isn't going to be a surprise once you see it. The answer is also the answer to why Great Depression II that we're sliding into thanks to the victory of the Austerians world wide is not going to be ended by a World War like the original Great Depression. And that answer is... OIL.

Yes. Oil. The deal is that it takes vast amounts of oil to move large armies across vast oceans and manufacture war materials to equip them, and the world no longer has sufficient oil for that purpose. The United States had to basically cut off civilian travel during WW2 in order to have enough oil to do this, but that was when the United States had its own domestic oil. But all that domestic oil has been pumped out of the ground and burned off via tailpipes. There is only 5% or so of the original oil reserves of the United States left untapped, and if we tapped every single bit of it, we would have enough oil for maybe 5 years total at current consumption levels -- consumption levels that a war would require doubling in order to produce sufficient war materials and move them to where the armies were fighting.

The reality is that the world no longer has enough war to wage world wars. There isn't enough oil left in the world to do the doubling of oil consumption that would be required to train, equip, and transport vast numbers of soldiers and expend vast tonnages of munitions upon targets. The only world war that makes any sense in the modern era is nuclear war... and that is the kind of war that ends unemployment problems, certainly, but only because dead people don't care that they're unemployed.

So it goes, in the endtimes, as we penguins sit on the sideline munching our popcorn watching the monkeys squabble over the last remaining dribbles of black gold from the ground... well, those of us not already killed by global warming, of course, but that's a different issue.

-- Badtux the Oily Penguin


Mazzy Star, "I've Been Let Down". As usual Hope sounds like she downed a whole bottle of Valium before going on to perform...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Wage stickiness during deflation

Earlier I noted that one interesting thing that happened during deflation was price stickiness -- businesses won't sell goods for less than it cost to make them, so prices are "sticky", they don't decline when the money supply declines unlike what the theoretical bullshit says. I mean, businesses are in business to make money, not lose money, so they accept lower volume (and lay off workers) rather than cut prices when the amount of money in circulation is no longer enough to buy their products at full price at the former rate of production.

So anyhow, that's price stickiness. I also mentioned wage stickiness. You'd expect that with all these unemployed workers flooding the market, the wages of employed workers would be going into free-fall. But it isn't. Why is that?

The main flaw of the Chicago / Austrian theoretical bullshit is that it doesn't take into account a simple reality that every manager knows: All workers are *not* created equal. You might pay them roughly equally, but some workers are more productive than others. And when you lay off your workers, who are you going to lay off? Your most productive workers? Or your least productive workers?

Uhm, like duh. You know the answer to that. But once you lay off your least productive workers, each and every one of your remaining workers is worth more to your business because he produces a larger percentage of your business's product, both because you're making less product and because he was more productive than the laid-off workers to begin with. So theoretically, you should be paying him more in order to compensate him for producing a larger percentage of your company's production.

But: We're in deflation. So there isn't more money in the economy to pay him more. But you aren't going to pay him less, because he will then leave and go to one of your competitors. And if he leaves, he takes a huge part of your productivity with you. You might even have to hire two of the less productive workers you earlier laid off to take his place.

In short, wages tend to be "sticky" during monetary deflation, just like prices. So you can't measure monetary deflation (a decline in the money supply) by measuring wages, or by measuring prices. Instead, you have to look at unemployment. If unemployment is falling, that means that employers are now hiring back those less-productive workers because there is more money circulating in the economy to buy their gizmos with, and thus they need more workers to make, distribute, and sell those gizmos. If unemployment is rising, on the other hand, it's because there's not enough money circulating in the economy to buy all the gizmos that the economy is capable of making, distributing, and selling. Unemployment is your proxy for measuring the circulating money supply. And right now, unemployment says we're way, way, WAY away from any price and wage inflation... before wages can inflate, you have to hire back all those laid-off people. And the numbers say... err, you know what the number say. The next two years will be utter misery, unless you're in one of the few industries where things are growing... like, say, the security industry, or the gun industry. I expect the gun industry, in particular, to be booming...

-- Badtux the Economics Penguin

Hypocricy abounds


Lush, "Hypocrite". Might well describe the U.S. political system...

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

"Inflation hawks" = dodo birds

First, let us discuss money. Money is anything you can exchange for something else of value. We could use, say, potatoes, but we mostly use green pieces of toilet paper with pictures of dead Presidents on them, simply because that's what the government wants for its taxes and everybody accepts these and they have a fairly stable value since only the government is allowed to print them, unlike, say, if we used potatoes for money, where every fall potatoes flood the market and every early summer potatoes are hard to come by and potatoes aren't exactly the most portable money around. I mean, have you ever tried carrying potatoes in your pants pockets? It'd make Commander Codpiece's codpiece when he landed that jet on that aircraft carrier look comfortable, yo.

So, anyhow: Houses are money. Say wha, you say? But yes. You can exchange your house for a lot of green pieces of toilet paper, which you can then exchange for other things of value. So your house is money, even if once removed.

So anyhow, in 2008 alone housing values here in the United States fell by $5 *TRILLION* dollars. That's $5T in money that evaporated out of our economy. Gone. Kaput. No longer present. Mostly it affected banks, since they'd traded those houses for money via "mortgage-backed securities" and the folks who'd bought those securities now wanted their money back 'cause the securities weren't paying, but if banks are out $5T, *everybody* is out $5T. And that's 2008.

Now, what happens when you lose $5T out of your money supply? It's called *DEFLATION*. As I previously pointed out, monetary deflation does *not* generally lead to price deflation at least in the short term, because of price stickiness -- if the materials and labor to make Gizmos costed Gizmo Inc. $5, they are *not* going to cut the price of Gizmos to $4. That would be insane. They'd be selling each Gizmo at a loss, and soon be a *former* business! Instead, they're going to keep the price of Gizmos at something like, say, $5.50 -- so they can make at least a *little* profit to cover their overhead. Thing is, there's less money in the economy. There used to be enough money in the economy to buy a million Gizmos at $5.50 apiece. Now there's only enough money in the economy to buy a 800,000 Gizmos at $5.50 apiece. So Gizmo, Inc., sells only 800,000 Gizmos. Since they're selling only 800,000 Gizmos, they have more Gizmo factories than they need, so they close a couple of Gizmo factories and lay off 500 workers. (Note: I'm using Gizmo Inc. as a proxy for the economy as a whole, because the whole economy works this way).

In short, the immediate short-term effect of deflation is UNEMPLOYMENT. And you can measure the current state of monetary inflation and deflation not by looking at prices -- which are sticky, as I point out above (and as we have actually measured both in the Great Depression and now in the Great Recession) -- but by looking at the unemployment rate. If there was more money circulating in the economy, there would be enough money in the economy to buy a a million Gizmos at $5.50 apiece and we'd have full employment. But there isn't.

In short, if you look at the unemployment rate as a proxy for the inflation and deflation rate, rather than prices and wages (and wages are sticky for a *different* reason that I'll discuss later), it is clear that since we have close to 10% unemployment, inflation is not in the cards. People worrying about the currency being "debased" are either full of shit or don't have the foggiest clue, because if the currency was being "debased", we'd have so much money circulating in the economy that Gizmo Inc. would not only be able to sell all 1M Gizmos that it's capable of selling, but it'd be borrowing money to build new factories so it could make even more Gizmos. Instead, Gizmo Inc. is sitting on a pile of cash that it's not willing to invest -- because if it can sell only 800K Gizmos at a price that allows it to make a profit, yet has the capacity to make a million Gizmos, why would Gizmo Inc. invest in more factories?

When unemployment falls below 7%, then come and tell me that we need to worry about inflation. Until then... well. We lost $5T in asset values in 2008. The Federal Reserve hasn't printed $5T in money to make that up, and besides, the real estate asset bubble collapsing led to other deflationary events (such as the money multiplier basically disappearing). The end result is that we've hit the zero bounds in interest rates, to the point where last week the U.S. Treasury sold some T-bills at *NEGATIVE* interest rates. Yes, people actually paid $120 for $100 worth of T-bills! And once you hit the zero bounds, you leave the realm of Chicago-school monetarism and enter the realm of Depression-style Keynesianism, where printing money simply results in the money disappearing under mattresses rather than circulating because it'll be worth more in the future -- thus why people are willing to pay $120 for $100 worth of T-bills, they are expecting $100 in the future to be worth more than $120 today. I.e., they're expecting deflation, and the only reason they're buying T-bills is because their mattresses aren't spacious enough to stuff enough cash under there.

So how do we get Gizmo Inc. selling a million Gizmos again? Well, there's two ways we can do that. First we can put more money into the economy. The time to have done that would have been in mid-2007 as the bubble started bursting, but monetary easing really didn't start until mid-2008, and was woefully inadequate in scale (roughly $2T printed to deal with $5T in asset value losses). The Fed's QE-2, just started, is projected to be another $500B in monetary easing. Big fuggin' woop, not going to accomplish a thing. The second is to put the money into the hands of people who are willing and ready to buy Gizmos -- but that's most effective with strings attached saying they have to *spend* this money, not put it under mattresses. That's why infrastructure projects, where government prints money to build roads and bridges, are so effective at ramping up the economy -- the money goes to contractors who are required, by law, to spend most of that money on steel, on hiring people, on actually building stuff. And the steel company has to spend money buying ore, and coal, and on steelworker wages. And coal mines have to spend money on lawyers to keep regulators from regulating mines, on coal miners to die in those mines, and... err, you get the point. Stuff starts *moving* in the economy, people start getting hired. Gizmo Inc. is selling more Gizmos as all those newly-employed workers spend that freshly-printed money on stuff they'd put off buying while unemployed. And the economy recovers.

So how can we get back to full employment without a massive government infrastructure program to get consumption kickstarted again so that Gizmo Inc. can hire back those two factories worth of workers that it had to lay off when deflation meant there was no longer enough money circulating in the economy to buy all their Gizmos? Well... we can't. Which is why the next two years of the Party of No will be economic stagnation and continued high unemployment, and why notions of inflation are utterly ludicrous -- any freshly-printed money will simply disappear under mattresses, either as people save it (to compensate for the ludicrously low unemployment compensation here in the US), or use it to pay off credit card bills, at which point it disappears back into the Fed's vaults as bank reserves and as far as the economy is concerned no longer exists, since it's no longer being used for the exchange of goods and services.

And that, my friends, is reality: The unemployment rate makes a great proxy measure for whether we're entering monetary deflation or inflation. And right now, it says we're deflating, not inflating, yo. Worries about debasing the money supply via excessive printing, given that reality, are just plain debased, pure and simple.

-- Badtux the Economics Penguin