Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Crying time

Aoife O'Donovan and Crooked Still do a Ralph Stanley number at a show in 2006. This is "Look On And Cry", the original lineup with Rushad Eggleston on the cello.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Kitty porn

The Mighty Fang gives Mencken some hot pink tongue action...

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

A book review

Boldtext Pew Bible: King James Version (Hardcover)

This book has an incredible amount of sex and violence, including incest, entire cities being destroyed, plagues of frogs and locusts, and even the death of 99.9% of the world's population in a giant flood. Irwin Allen would have had a field day making a television movie of this book, there's just so much entertainment here, much better than Twilight.

But the downside is the incredibly one-dimensional characters (with the exception of that "Jesus" dude, who is this really groovy stoner hippy type who, like, preaches peace and giving up material possessions in pursuit of the spiritual and stuff like that when he's not, like, toking out big time, but also has downer times when he wonders why he bothers), and an utterly disjointed plot where characters pop up, do a few things, then disappear for the rest of the book. Dude. This book really needed an editor, not only for the major, major plotholes (*TWO* different stories about how the Earth was created? Dude!) but for the atrocious spelling, grammar, and rampant run-on sentences. For example, at the beginning of the Book of Matthew there's this one sentence that literally runs on for multiple pages of "begat" after "begat" after "begat"! Which is okay if your name is James Joyce, but this "God" guy who wrote this book isn't anywhere near the talent that James Joyce is. Dude. Get a real copy editor for your next book, 'kay?!

-- Badtux the Book Review Penguin

Monday, May 30, 2011

Supporting the troops

Only eight percent of the general population can claim veteran status, but nearly one-fifth of the homeless population are veterans.

Support our troops this Memorial Day by kicking them out on the streets once we're finished destroying them in combat. U S A! U S A! U S A! Fuck yeah!

-- Badtux the Disgusted Penguin

Momentary torch

Devices, "Moments", off their 2006 album Push The Heart. Melancholy modern torch from Sarah Lov and Dustin O'Halloran...

- Badtux the Music Penguin

Well why not?

Mr. Noun Verb 9/11 thinking of entering GOP presidential race. Well why not? Look at the rest of the clown parade that is the Republican lineup. Mr. Noun Verb 9/11 is hardly out of place amongst the creepy magic undies wearer, snowbilly grifter, man-on-dog obsessor, and so forth that are currently cluttering the GOP race, none of whom have any hope at all of getting significant votes in the final election unless Obama is found in bed with a dead girl or a live boy.

- Badtux the "Call in the clowns!" Penguin


The Second Amendment and militias

So if the founders would have laughed if you talked about unorganized individuals overthrowing a tyrannical government, why *does* the 2nd Amendment exist?

The main reason the 2nd Amendment was added to the Constitution was that George Washington's disdain for state and local militia, who he called "useless", was well known and it was feared he was going to disband them. That caused a palpable shudder amongst Southerners, who like all slave societies lived in constant fear of slave rebellion and who wished to keep and bear arms in order to deal with slave revolts, and Westerners, who as with all conquerers who have not yet exterminated the native population had to deal with revolts of the native population ("Indians", they called the natives, even though the natives were more American than the "Americans"). In short, there was a fear that Federal power, dominated by the wealthy and populous New England states which had neither slaves nor a remaining population of Native Americans, was going to be used to disarm state and local militias which were needed to keep slaves and native Americans subjugated. Thus the "A well regulated militia being necessary to the safety of a free state" that starts out the 2nd Amendment -- you know, the clause that people always seem to leave out for some mysterious reason (hmmmm).

But what of this "the right of the people to keep and bear arms" thing, that's not about state and local militias, is it? Uhm... the first three words of the Constitution are "We The People". The word "People" doesn't mean one specific individual. It means the majority in a democratic society. Government in a democracy isn't some dictatorship imposed upon us. Government in a democracy is *us*, We The People, a collective "People", not individual people. Thus why the minority who don't want to pay a tax have to pay that tax in a democracy -- because the right to decide to pay a tax or not is a collective right in a democracy (i.e., a We The People right), not an individual right in a democracy.

That said, the Second Amendment's wording is vague enough that I do support an individual right to keep and bear arms for purposes of self defense against criminals, for hunting, and general fetishism (hey, some guys get it off by stroking inflatable dates, some guys get it off by stroking their guns, different strokes for different folks, right?). I support reading the Bill of Rights expansively regardless of which item of the Bill of Rights we're talking about. If we want to clarify that there is no individual right to keep and bear arms, there's a way to do that: amend the Constitution to say that. Just ignoring it is plain ridiculous.

But to say that the Founders intended individuals to be in possession of military weapons to use to overthrow the government is just plain balderdash. Even the Westerners didn't believe that weapons in their possession were useful against the U.S. Army. Thus the fizzle that the Whiskey Rebellion became once George Washington led the U.S. Army against them -- rather than fight the U.S. Army, the rebels threw down their guns and went home, leaving the ringleaders to sway in the wind.

- Badtux the Constitutional Penguin

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Forgiving nature

Sarah Jaffe, "Pretender", off her 2010 album Suburban Nature. Sarah Jaffe is an indie darling in Austin, apparently due to relentless gigging.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

2nd Amendment solutions & paramilitary cops

One of the things that idiot NRA types are quick to say is that the 2nd Amendment was meant so that individuals could own guns that could be used as a check on the government if the government exceeded its powers and tried to impose tyranny. To put it bluntly: That's utter balderdash, based on myths and fantasies with no basis in reality.

The first fantasy, of course, is the fantasy that the U.S. War of Secession that bankrupted the English Crown was won by rag-tag militias armed with personal weapons. Uhm, no. As I've previously explained, the U.S. War of Secession against the English Crown was won by regular military. The weapons of the era meant that the majority of battles were won by bayonets, not by guns, and civilian weapons did not mount bayonets. So our founding fathers knew first-hand that it was not just guns that were necessary, but *military* guns, in the hands of well-trained people who knew how to organize and use them. Thus the militias part of the 2nd Amendment. Which was referring to state-organized and sponsored military organizations, not to a ragtag bunch of folks who grabbed their hunting weapons and ran out to take out tyrants. Our founding fathers would have laughed if you made such a statement -- they considered unorganized militias largely a joke, and even organized militias had proven to have little military value in actual combat compared to trained professional soldiers.

But that was then, you say, and this is now. Well... the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force can easily take out any "militia" armed with personal weapons if said "militia" attempts to take them on as an organized force. And if said "militia" instead lurks in their individual homes waiting for the secret police to show up, in hopes of taking out the secret police... well. Ve haff ways of dealing with that. Current tactics already account for the possibility that the victim err 'perp' might want to kill cops. That's why the cops simultaneously smash flashbangs in through every single window and hit the door themselves only moments later. That's why we get all these dead bodies shot by paramilitary cops because the victim err perp heard someone moving around outside their house and grabbed a gun... the masked guys in black have already accounted for that.

Which just points out the pointlessness of the notion that "2nd Amendment Solutions" could work. The only thing that has *ever* worked in the face of paramilitary police forces is when the paramilitary police forces have deserted to the side of the people. But that possibility is being taken care of right now via the whole "war on everyone" mentality that has taken grip of our police forces, where everybody, even Granny stopped for running a stop sign, is a dirtbag out to kill cops, and treated accordingly, and cops who refuse to treat "civilians" as scum untermenschen are weeded out in a number of ways.

To summarize using JzB's favorite acronym: WASF.

- Badtux the Waddling Penguin

Just watch to the end, okay?

That is all.

-- Badtux the Amused Penguin

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Nose warming

Kittehs know how to keep their noses warm on a cool day. Please note that the reason the brown cover is folded back is because I was under the covers an hour before this photo was taken, and they were *already* in that position. Which means I was squeezed into the tiny space to the other side of the kittehs ;).

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Friday, May 27, 2011

Racing to the bottom

The San Jose Murky News reports that short sales are a plague upon the Silly Cone Valley housing market, with over 40% of short sales failing to conclude and with the average short sale taking 8 months to happen. According to the article, lenders are preferring to foreclose rather than to accept a reasonable offer -- even second lenders who have no equity and will get nothing if the home is foreclosed are refusing to release their liens even though they get nothing either way.

Then there's what happens to those homes when they do foreclose. The banks won't/can't lend money on homes that don't appraise (i.e., the loan would be for more than what an appraiser says the home is worth, based on comparable recent sales). So they're selling the homes for cash to investors and refusing much higher financed offers. The pool of investors with cash to spare for buying homes is far smaller than the pool of potential homeowners who'd like to buy a home but need financing to buy it. Fewer buyers means lower sale prices, it's simple supply and demand, few buyers, many foreclosed homes, prices go down. This reduces the value of the comparables for the *next* batch of homes to come on the market, meaning *they* won't appraise. Meaning *more* cash investors buy up those homes for even *less*.

The housing market is broke and the banks driving housing prices into the gutter with their deliberate policies is a big part of the problem. It's in a race to the bottom where banks foreclose and then won't finance the homes they foreclosed upon because they're afraid of... what? That the next batch of buyers would similarly not be able to pay the mortgage on the home? What do the banksters know, that we don't? And why do they fight efforts to deal with the situation of bankster-caused housing price collapse so vehemently?

-- Badtux the Baffled Penguin

Violent color

One of the things sometimes forgotten when remarking on how big an alpha bitch Courtney Love was/is, is that she was damn good. This is "Violet" off of 1994's Live Through This, an album which is well worth having because she was smoking when she wrote that album. Or maybe Kurt Cobain wrote it like his fanboys say, but if so, Kurt musta come back from the beyond for her next album, Celebrity Skin, which was similarly brilliant (she claimed it wasn't her "Widow Album", but as usual for Courtney, she was lying).

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cat space

[Note: I just got home for work. Thus I shall regale you with this tale rather than the regular programming you usually see here.]

You likely know about Sock Space, the mysterious place into which one sock of a pair of socks disappears, leaving lonesome socks cluttering your socks drawer waiting for a mate to re-appear from Sock Space. Well, this post is about something else entirely: Cat Space. Ah, “cat space”, that mysterious space into which cats disappear when they’re annoyed or just don’t feel like interacting with people.

When I moved from Arizona to California, I had everything all packed up in the U-Haul, and my pickup truck on the trailer behind the U-Haul. There was nothing left to do but put the cats into their carriers and put them in the cab of the U-Haul with me (separate carriers — Mencken gets rather annoyed if forced to spend too much time in close proximity with TMF, and fur tends to fly if he can’t move away and get some Mencken-space).

So TMF was easy enough. Remember, the house is empty other than their cat box, water bowl, and kitty carriers. I walked around, spotted TMF looking out the back window at the kitteh theater (the birds flittering around in the fruit trees in the back yard), grabbed him, and put him into his carrier (easier said than done but my technique — back him in by pushing on his nose — works fine with a bit of nudging of his hindquarters to guide them, cats don’t like humans pushing on their nose and back up to get away).

Okay one cat down. Now… where’s Mencken? I walked every single room of the house and looked into every closet, including up on the shelves. No Mencken. The house is empty, remember, other than the washer/dryer and the refrigerator. Next thing I wondered was whether I'd managed to close a kitchen cabinet door on him when I'd opened all the cabinets to make sure they were empty, then closed them again one by one. So I checked the kitchen cabinets *again*. No Mencken.

Okay, laundry room. Maybe he's behind the washer/dryer or even *in* them. I pulled them out and looked behind them, pounded on the back, heard no complaints from offended Mencken, so pushed them back in and opened up the front doors and looked inside. No cat.

I walk into the kitchen and pull out the refrigerator to see if he somehow managed to sneak behind or under it. No cat. I am baffled. Did he somehow sneak out the door while I was cleaning out the last few boxes of small stuff when I walked the house the last time? So I walk outside and walk the perimeter of the house, calling out "cat, cat, cat cat cat! Here kitty!" That had the same effect as calling him by name. I.e., none.

Baffled, I grab one of the last two cold sodas in the refrigerator and sit down on the steel folding chair that is the last piece of furniture left in the house. Where could Mencken be? It's been an hour since I started looking, and I was supposed to be on the road an hour ago! I sadly consider the thought of having to make up missing-cat posters and drive right back with them once I get my computer equipment plugged in at the new place so I can make them.

Bored and finished with my soda, I start checking the cabinets *again*, just to have something to do while pondering the horrible thought that Mencken escaped out the door and is never going to be seen again. I start opening kitchen cabinets again to verify a *second* time that I haven't left anything behind. I have every cabinet open except the cabinet over the refrigerator, the one too high to open without standing on something. I grab the steel folding chair and stand on it and open that cabinet. Mencken stares back at me.

I swear that he wasn’t there the first time I checked. I swear I closed the cabinet door after checking to see if that cabinet was empty. So where was he? Well, that's simple: he was hanging out in “cat space”. Sorta an alternate universe that cats can disappear into when they absolutely, positively don’t feel like being found.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Old soul

When I first saw this video, I thought she was covering some old-time banjo tune. But no, Sarah Jarosz wrote this one.

The song is "Anabelle Lee", off her new album Follow Me Down, which was released last week. You take a precocious young lady with a talent for channeling old-time bluegrass, expose her to classic literature, and this is what results...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dishonest grandstanding

Senators blast VA mental health system for failing our veterans. 20% of all suicides are now veterans, even though veterans are less than 12% of the general population. And the Senate's solution to this problem is... to scold the VA?

Look: the VA is supposed to "fix" its mental health system (presumably by hiring more mental health professionals), and is supposed to pay for these new doctors by, uh, wishful thinking? Senator, quit short-changing the VA and give them the money they need to do their job. Whining about how they're not doing their job when you're not giving them the money to do their job is just dishonest grandstanding.

-- Badtux the Military Penguin

Violent bruise

In 1987 Kat Bjelland founded a band called Babes in Toyland. Her sometime-friend Courtney Love jetted in from Los Angeles and attempted to be the bass player, but Courtney had a couple of problems: a) She didn't really know how to play bass, and b) she had no intention of practicing enough to be good at playing bass. As Kat put it, "I wanted to play music in a garage band, and Courtney wanted to become famous." The two goals weren't compatible, and after a time stripping in Alaska, Courtney went on find the desire to learn an instrument that had previously eluded her, learned how to play the guitar, founded the band Hole in 1989, married Kurt Cobain in 1992, and achieved her goal of becoming famous, albeit hated. But hey, being hated is being famous too, right? And in the meantime Kat, who had taught Courtney most of what she knew about performing grungy punk... well. She's still around, but never did get famous outside of indie circles.

This is "Bruise Violet", off of Babes in Toyland's 1992 album Fontanelle. Just some early 90's grrrl-punk, yo.

- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Busy, deadlines

I've read the news and there's good things and bad things, the cold blooded lizard people from Planet Sociopath telling an old lady just die, already, if you're an old person not fortunate enough to be rich like Rep. Rob Woodall, then there's Democrat Kathy Hochul beating Republican Jane Corwin in New York’s 26th District which is almost a man bites dog story but demonstrates just how popular the lizard people are when the lizard people let their true beliefs slip out.

So anyhow, been working long hours lately so I'm going to play a quick game and go to bed...

- Badtux the Tired Penguin

Disappearing superstitions

Hmm, has Harold Camping been found yet?.

This is the band Disappears, with their song "Superstitions" off their 2011 album Guider. Noted by me because they're currently touring with Steve Shelley as their drummer, after their previous drummer... err... had "issues".

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

The Rapture of My Tire

This came out of my tire:

See previous day for photo of it actually *in* my tire. The tire store looked at the tire, and plugged it up and said it was fine. BFG offroad tires apparently are *tough*.

While my tire physically raptured, Harold Camping, trying to explain why Christians didn't just get sucked into the sky like a drunk redneck being hoovered up by proctology-practicin' UFO aliens, hit upon the explanation that it was a spiritual rapture. The end of the world is still on schedule for October 21st. Err.... alrighty, then.

BTW, just an update: Botox Girl was a hoax. Phew! I don't know whether to be relieved, or to be upset that the state of society is such that the story seemed plausible enough for major news outlets to cover as if it were real.

That's all the news for now, back to work. Here, have a cat -- this is TMF on a windy Sunday afternoon.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Monday, May 23, 2011

T-Paw announces!

And as fitting for such a dynamic candidacy, Tim Pawlenty's announcement that he is running for President of the United States of American ran in a prominent place in his hometown newspaper: the obituary page.

How appropriate.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Where to be buried?

Scout Niblett, "Do You Want To Be Buried With My People?" off of her album This Fool Can Die Now. This is the closest that Scout gets to a mainstream love ballad...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Icelandic torch

Despite her name, Emiliana Torrini was born and raised in Iceland. She sounds more like Portishead's Beth Gibbons than like Bork when she sings, though -- very torchy.

This is "Telepathy" off her 1999 album Love in the Time of Science. You can hear some clear Portishead influence in this music, but also the Icelandic influence of predecessors like Bork. It's a nice mix.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Why am I not surprised?

Harold Camping missing after his rapture didn't happen.

My guess is that he'll either be found at the bottom of a gully slumped over the wheel of his RV, or in Hawaii living it up on Rapture Money. So, dead or scam? A nation eagerly doesn't await news of yet another small-time fraudster's fate.

-- Badtux the Cynical Penguin

Saturday, May 21, 2011

And so it begins

As you know, all the real Christians got raptured an hour or so ago. So now it's the Time of Tribulations, where all us heathen who didn't float into the sky like balloons are going to experience a time of horror and tribulation. And it's already started for me. Why, I just walked out of Bed Bath And Beyond and found... a flat tire! Yes, a flat tire, with a gigantic screw in its tread! The horror, oh the horror!

I changed the tire, of course. (Click on the photo to make it bigger, the screw is right under the brake light). But it's clear that the time of horror and tribulation has begun! Next up... THE 2012 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN. The horror, oh the horror!

And so, to console myself that I was not amongst the half-dozen true Christians who were raptured today, I now am eating a large pastrami sandwich. On rye. With pepperjack cheese (fresh sliced off a big hunk of cheese), dill pickle slices, jalapeno slices, and salad. Yum.

-- Badtux the Trembling-in-terror Penguin

Music for the Apocalypse

C'mon, it's 6PM, why are you reading this instead of rapturing?

Oh wait, I forgot, only heathen read this blog. Alrighty, so let's party, dudes!

R.E.M., "It's The End of The World". The perfect music for the Apocalypse :).

And for bonus, since the above is all over the blogosphere today::

-- Badtux the Snarky Music Penguin

Why I can't have a diesel Wrangler

Diesel Jeep Wranglers are sold everywhere but the United States. Wah, I want one! But I can't have one. Why? See my latest long technological explanation at Moto-Tux.

-- Badtux the Auto Geek Penguin

The economy in a nutshell

Specifically, too many *INVESTMENT* dollars chasing too few investment opportunities, thus driving up the price of commodities above what supply and demand would otherwise dictate. And there are too few investment opportunities because consumption has collapsed because consumers have experienced real deflation in wages (especially unemployed consumers, whose wages have utterly collapsed) and asset values (remember, the primary asset of the consumer class is their *home*, which has also collapsed in value).

We have a way of dealing with too many investment dollars and too few consumer dollars: Tax the investor class and redistribute the money to the consumer class via government purchases of goods and services since goods and services are provided by, err, the consumer class (otherwise known as the worker class), since the investor class wouldn't know how to stock a shelf or build a bridge if you tried to make them do it at gunpoint, they're basically parasites that just move money from point A to point B while sticking a bit of it to their fingers in the process.

Oh wait, I forget, we can't do that, even though it'd solve the problem, because it'd make Baby Jesus cry or somethin'. Alrighty, then!

- Badtux the Snarky Economics Penguin

Friday, May 20, 2011


Well, the folks who said that the birthers wouldn't fold up and go home were certainly right. The birthers (shall we call them "afterbirthers" now?) are now saying that the Obama birth certificate presented on national television was fake. They know this because Obama is a Negro, and all Negros are liars. And also because of some loony theories about how it's not the right format or has the number of the beast encoded into it (no, not joking, WorldNutDaily actually said that!) or silliness like that, even though the State of Hawaii says it's valid, even though various people including one of the nurses who worked in the hospital have come forward and say they saw the newborn Obama there, and so forth.

This is what comprises political discourse on the right today -- spittle-flecked racist allegations that the President of the United States is part of some vast conspiracy to lie to the nation because, well, because all them darkies are liars, didnja know? Sad to say, the only conspiracy I see here is *stupidity*.

Gotta go, hear some trumpets, the rapture must be starting! And, uhm, we do have a way of determining the eligibility of someone to serve as President. It's called the vote. We The People decided Obama was eligible. Apparently that doesn't satisfy World Nut Daily's Joseph "Crazy Joe" Farah and the afterbirthers, who are bound and determined that *they*, not the voters, are the ones who shall decide whether anybody's allowed to run for President or not. Hmm, you know someone else who has the same opinion? Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei of Iran, who personally determines the eligibility of every candidate for higher office in Iran. Great company you got there, birfers!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Bottoms up

One thing that amuses me about old-school liberals is their focus on "community organizing". Community organizing can improve things in a local community, but has proven useless at winning elections in the modern era. The main problem is that, aside from small local elections, public opinion today is controlled from the top down -- by television and radio. People largely think and believe what they hear on the TV and radio. The old days of people gathering by the watercooler to discuss politics and other things are no longer operative, I have not heard politics discussed in the workplace in 15 years because ever since the "Reagan Revolution", politics became too volatile a subject for the workplace. And most people go home and park their fat spreading asses in front of a television set and that's where they get their world view.

The only way to change public discourse today in a way that affects elections is is top down. That's reality. Television and radio have simply proven too powerful at influencing opinions and consuming time that could be used to think for bottom-up strategies to change the overall public discourse in any meaningful way. If liberals are really serious about changing America, they need to figure out some way to handle that problem, because the traditional bottom-up liberal tactics might have worked prior to the invention of radio and television, but in today's era, they are as futile as going into business making buggy whips.

-- Badtux the Stumped Penguin

What noise does carpet make?


This is "The Noise of Carpet" by Stereolab, off their 1996 album Emperor Tomato Ketchup.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Oops. This is "John Cage Bubblegum". I don't know where the carpet went...

Republican lizard people, Part XVIXV

Republican, complaining about school taxes: "People who can't afford to send their children to private school shouldn't have children."  
Me: "Yet they do. Why should children be punished for the actions of their parents?"  
Republican: "They should have chosen better parents."  
Me: "..."  
I guess on Planet Sociopath, where all these Republican lizard people come from, children actually choose their parents. Probably right after they hatch out of their eggs and look around for a likely mommy and daddy amongst the hoard of other lizard people shuffling around under smoggy skies.  
- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Dirty Fucking Hippies

The Catholic Church now has a new official explanation for why their priests keep fucking kiddies: the hippies made them do it.

Y'now, that excuse didn't wash when I was a kid, if I did something wrong or stupid and I said "my buddy Keith made me do it!" my mother would just shake her head and say "Go to your room, you're grounded for the next two days." It doesn't sound any more mature coming from an institution that's 2,000 years old and supposed to be more grown-up than that...

-- Badtux the Grown-up Penguin

Arizona, you suck

What Gordon said.

-- Badtux the Saddened Penguin

Know your Labs

I had a dog when I was a kid, he was some sort of Lab / Pointer mix. He looked like a Lab though. He did enjoy fetching sticks and stuff, but he'd never actually drop them at my feet to be thrown again, he'd just run around in circles with the stick in his mouth. So one day I noticed the bread in the kitchen was old and expired, and decided to toss it. We lived in a townhouse complex that year that had a water retention pond along most of its length, and I decided to feed the ducks. And the idiot dog came along with me, of course. So I tossed a piece of bread into the pond towards the ducks, and... the dog jumped into the pond after the bread. And then started thrashing around in circles like a drowning man. I'm, like, "You got to be kidding. What kind of dog can't even dog-paddle?" But he started going under, and after a few seconds of thought I jumped in and pulled that idiot dog out.

To say I was greatly annoyed is an understatement. I had to go home and strip and shower to get that bayou stink off of me and put on some clean clothes, and meanwhile damp dog was cowering in the back yard. So I guess the question that has baffled me ever since is this: What kind of Lab doesn't know how to swim?

Recently I found an answer to that question...

The one on the bottom right, yo.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin


Brit-pop singer Rose Elinor Dougall with her song "Carry On" off her album Without Why. Just some very Brit pop.

- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Final update on the camera quest

I went ahead and ordered the Sony HX100V ultra-zoom. For my intended purposes, photographs of high-contrast areas (mines) using the HDR mode and wildlife using the zoom, it's much handier and lighter to carry than a SLR, not to mention over $1,000 cheaper by the time you add in lenses and accessories for a SLR. A SLR would make the kittehs look better, but reality is that most of the photos I'm taking of the kittehs are with my iPhone 4 (because of the need to use HDR mode to pick out the highlights in TMF's glossy black coat), and it certainly takes better pictures than an iPhone. The only downside is that it's on nationwide backorder, so I have to pay full retail price and wait a few weeks for it to come in :(. But it's the best of the ultrazooms currently available, with sensor specs (other than actual physical size) similar to low-end DSLR's of five years ago, and will certainly work for what I intend to use it for.

Regarding DSLR's, I came to the conclusion that the lenses available for the Sony/Minolta SLR's aren't what I would want for my own needs. So what I end up with then is a Nikon D5100 with the 18-55mm kit lens and a 55-300mm Nikon zoom lens to handle my shooting needs. Nikon because their technology is a generation newer than Canon's and their sensor is faster and more sensitive than Canon's and their noise reduction technology for low-light shooting works far better due to the generation-newer processor and hardware, and that pair of lenses because they cover every normal shooting situation while still having better specs than the non-Nikon lenses available for the camera (such as Tamron's) while remaining fairly affordable (for SLR lenses).

The problem is that unlike Sony, Nikon eschews what they feel are "gimmicks" that I feel are necessities. For example, they do have HDR to deal with high-contrast shots like, say, a black cat on a light background, that would typically turn the black cat into a black hole in the background rather than let you see the black cat's highlights. But it's a half-assed implementation of HDR that uses only two photos (one underexposed, one overexposed) to do the work, instead of three like everybody else -- which means that there's no "normal contrast" image to merge missing details into. That's just one of the places where Nikon is solid from a standpoint of taking conventional photos, but does a half-ass job of implementing what they feel are "gimmicks". Well, I own a black cat (or vice-versa, heh!). HDR is *NOT* a gimmick for me!

So anyhow, I think what I'm going to do is wait out at least another generation. Canon has to be coming out with a new generation of digital cameras soon (otherwise Nikon's going to render them dead in the entry level DSLR market, the 3100 and 5100 are just that good), by the time their new cameras are on the market and available (probably this time next year), maybe they'll leapfrog Nikon on some of these "new" technologies that Nikon thinks are "gimmicks" but are a natural fit for the much faster digital processors in today's cameras. We'll see...

-- Badtux the Waiting Penguin

Just another day in the GOP...

Newt "The Lizard" Gingrich claims he's not a Washington insider despite, err, having been 3rd in line for the Presidency for much of the 1990's and lived in Washington and worked as a Washington lobbyist ever since. If he's not an insider, I'm a seagull. (Hmm, checks for wings... nope. No wings. Guess not). Newty Newt continues to go down ever since he basically read the polls, saw that eliminating Medicare and replacing it with a voucher program was a non-starter with the American people, and made a statement to that effect on national TV. That makes him a non-starter only to drooling Randian zombies and lizard people who rub their hands together with glee over the thought of sending all those unseemly OLD people to the ice floes for the crime of, well, getting old. Unfortunate for Newtie, drooling Randian zombies muttering "Brraaaaaains.... BRAAAAAiiiiiins...." under their breath are the Republican "base" right now, led by a contingent of cold-blooded lizard people whose compassion for humanity got left on Planet Sociopath. Newtie may be one of the latter, but he can't seem to make the Randian zombies like him, so I think he's toast.

Meanwhile, Rick "Man on Dog" Santorum takes a break from obsessing about man-on-dog sex (what kind of person obsesses about man-on-dog sex, I ask you?), and, based upon his extensive experience (having watched *EVERY* episode of "24"!), proceeds to lecture John McCain about how John McCain doesn't know anything about torture despite, err, actually having been tortured by the North Vietnamese. Err... yeah. Okay. Pull the other flipper, why doncha?

The situation is so dire that Rick Perry's hair and Jeb Bush have both been mentioned as possibilities that could be drafted to run for the GOP nomination, despite the disadvantage of being closely related to Texas Gov. Rick Perry and George W. Bush (respectively). I doubt Rick Perry's hair is going to run because the questions of "where's the birth certificate?" would get annoying. The notion of Jeb Bush running for President despite being the brother of the most-reviled President of the past 30 years is worthy of laughs and giggles, but not much more -- Jeb's no teabagger, his candidate for Floriduh governor lost to a teabagger, so that pretty much disqualifies him all by himself. In short, like Huckleberry, he just ain't crazy enough to be a Republican candidate this election season...

Saw Ted Nugent's performance with Huckleberry on Huckster's Fox show. The Nuge looked *really* deranged there. As in, had the same expression on his face as Jack Nicholson in "The Shining" when Jack axes the door, sticks his head through, and says "Here's Johnny!". Eeep!

The fact that this is the cream of the Republican crop says... err. Nevermind. It doesn't say anything. I mean, spittle-flecked frothing at the mouth might be communicating something, but it's not saying something, kapiche?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Confession hour

Alan Wilder's project Recoil, with the song "Strange Hours". Alan makes us forget about Depeche Mode by taking a washed-up old singer (Diamanda Galás) and setting her vocals to some electronica blues...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Rapture fever

I wish there really was a rapture this Saturday, where all the faux Christians with their fish stickers and creepy smiles and constant "Have you accepted JEEEEEEzus as your LOOOOORD and SAVIOR!" get taken up to Heaven en masse. I must admit that I'm far too nice to the JEEEEEzus people who knock on my front door. Rather than debate the fine points of Tuxology vs. Christianity with them and talk about the superiority of the Great Penguin to Jehovah as the creator of the universe while stroking a black cat and occasionally saying "what's that you said, my pretty?" to the cat, I say "Sorry, not interested, thank you, goodbye" and slam the door in their face. JEEEEEzus!

Update: 10 Rapture tips for Christians. My favorite one: "Keep the sunroof open." I might add the same note about the skylight :).

-- Badtux the Great-Penguin-Worshipping Penguin

Why can't children be children?

8 year old girl getting Botox injections.

Eight year olds are supposed to be outside playing, or indoors doing dolls, or something that eight year olds are supposed to be doing. Not getting injections of nasty toxins.

I has a sad :(.

- Badtux the Sad Penguin

see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

And the Governator is a horndog?

Who coulda guessed that the Governator had a love child?!

So let's see. In this week's scandals we have a bankster raping the staff, and a rich politician fucking the help. Talk about a metaphor for the state of things in America...

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Middle tappy

And since I mentioned Michael Hedges in the context of Kaki King and Bukka White, for the sake of completeness, here he is. This is his song "Ragamuffin" off his 1984 album Aerial Boundaries.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, May 16, 2011

Just throw Granny and Grampa under the bus

San Jose and Santa Clara County to slash all senior services to basically zero. City and county services for the elderly will be slashed by 76 percent, from $2.4 million to $560,000. Senior day care services? Gone. Meals on wheels? Gone. Senior citizen community centers? Gone. Pretty much the only thing *not* gone is the bloated salaries of the heads of the county and city senior services departments, but hey, gotta make sure the big shots get their money, right? Too bad about granny and grampa, but they shouldn't have gotten old, yo.

Hey, granny and grampa can't work because they're old and feeble, they should just go out on an ice floe and die, already, right? Right?! Don't you love that compassionate conservatism at work? Yay compassion!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Hey hey hey, goodbye

So Mike "The Huckster" Huckleberry decides not to run for President. Now, the polls showed that Huckabee had a problem. Nevermind that he is further to the right than Ronald Reagan and is an ordained Baptist minister. He simply wasn't batshit crazy mean enough. Huckabee noted himself that Ronald Reagan couldn't be nominated by today's Republican Party, and someone who was right wing as hell but actually believed some of that Christian stuff in the New Testament... well. Everybody knows that Jesus feller was a no-good lazy hippie, yo!

So Huckabee's out 'cause he ain't crazy mean and spiteful enough to be nominated for President. And now Donald Trump is out. My guess: The Donald got worried that folks might start asking about his hair's birth certificate, and whether his hair has been neutered or not. Do we want an unneutered ferret running around the White House, spraying ferret musk all over the place? I think not! But seriously, Trump was never really running for President anyhow. It was all part of the act "Get myself in the news for a few news cycles" that Trump loves to play in order to keep his "brand" in the limelight. And once it became clear that Trump is a mean misogynous racist (and Trump's denials of such were hilariously misogynous and racist all by themselves), the majority of people were done with Trump. Americans tend to be racist as hell, but they don't want to think of themselves as being racist, 'cause being racist nowadays is just bad manners, yo.

So now we got crazies and a slimy newt running for President on the Republican ticket. Obama better be thanking the heavens right now, 'cause this is the only thing that can get him re-elected after a first term as a waffling wimp who gives in to banksters and doesn't stand up for ordinary Americans... in the end, Obama is like the IDF: Lucky in his enemies. You'll notice that once the IDF came up against a competent enemy (Hezbollah in southern Lebanon), they got their ass handed to them (and don't give me that crap about how they somehow "won", if you invade someone and end up scampering for home within six weeks, you *lost*). Luckily for Obama, looking at the assortment of losers, crazies, and non-persons that the Republicans are running, they look an awful more like Egyptians and Syrians to Obama's IDF... a.k.a., toast.

And so are the rest of us, for that matter. The Republican Party is the party of "If only I had a heart" and "If only I had a brain". Obama's Democratic Party is more the party of, "If only I had a spine." They oughtta rename themselves The Invertebrate Party and be done with it.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Private armies, private fiefdoms

One of the things that is so amusing about glibertarians is their insistence upon trying experiments that have already been tried, and failed miserably. One example is their notion that we don't need police forces because the free market would create private police forces. So... how did that work in reality?

Well: See, here's the thing. Power grows from the barrel of a gun. And if you're rich because you managed to camp on top of some critical resource that everybody needs, that money buys a *lot* of guns. What we found, during the heyday of the "company town" from the 1870's to the 1920's, was that the richest man in town basically ruled the town as his private fiefdom using the power of his private police force, which was larger and better armed than any police force the remainder of the citizenry could put together from amongst themselves or via hiring their own policemen. The Pinkertons broke many a strike by the simple expedient of expelling all strikers from town and seizing any property they left behind. Illegal as hell, but who was going to stop them? State governments that themselves were in the pay of the wealthy? The strikers themselves, who were outnumbered and outgunned by the imported thugs? Not hardly!

So what we found was that private police forces basically lead to feudalism, where the richest man in town rules by virtue of being able to hire the most thugs with guns. This irked the majority of the citizenry greatly, because their daily life was dictated by the whim of a local feudal ruler who decided everything about how they should live. Eventually the notion that We The People should have a monopoly on deadly force took hold, and by the mid 1950's the private police forces and company towns basically ceased to exist, replaced by municipal governments elected by the majority of voters and municipal police forces that, while they still tended to favor the wealthy, were still constrained by Federal law regarding limits on what government could do and thus could not do things as blatantly illegal as the Bisbee Deportation.

In short, private police forces proved to be abhorrent to the majority of Americans, who found themselves being on the short end of a bunch of thugs with guns and rightly did away with them for the most part via taking control of the levers of government and using the power of government to do away with the private militias in the pay of feudal lords. And now the Libertarians want to try this *again*? When it didn't work the first time? Of course, the glibertarians believe that *they* will be the rich man in town who rules everybody else in Libertopia. Yeah, good luck with that -- pasty white geeks who get off while stroking guns are no match for real thugs. Real thugs would kill them while they were still trying to draw their pistol from their holster with shaking hands, because real thugs don't care about human life -- they're sociopaths, and kill without thought. And people who kill without thought will *always* win gun battles over people who have to think and decide before making the decision to kill...

-- Badtux the Not-so-glibertarian Penguin

Early tappy

Kaki King, who I featured yesterday, is famed for her "tapping" style of percussive guitar play (though yesterday's song didn't feature that). But this style long predates Michael Hedges (who Kaki explicitly mentions as an influence upon her guitar style). This is Bukka White, an old-time blues player from the 1930's, recorded in the early 60's singing his song "Aberdeen Mississippi Blues".

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Nullification nonsense

So various state legislatures are trying to nullify Federal laws they don't like? Good luck with that. We've been trying to do that with Federal marijuana legislation here in California for the past 30 years, but the DEA still does regular drug raids.

The typical argument is that the 10th Amendment gives all rights not explicitly dedicated to the federal government to the states. Yawn. William Tecumseh Sherman pretty much nullified the 10th Amendment when he burned and raped his way across South Carolina to punish them for putting state supremacy ahead of federal government supremacy. I'm seeing nothing saying any of this nullification legislation is going to be any more enforcible than South Carolina's declaration of secession from the Union was. Well, South Carolina managed to enforce their secession from the Union for four years, but we all know what happened there in the end... as Governor Earl Long of Louisiana is reputed to have said when the Lege urged him to defy a Federal desegregation order in 1958, "Are you fucking nuts?! We're talking about the U.S. government, they got the goddamned atomic bomb!"

In the latest silliness, the State of Texas is trying to "nullify" the TSA checkpoints in airports. Yeah, good luck with that. Governor Faubus of Arkansas tried something like that too back in 1957. Didn't quite work out for him:

The 101st Airborne kinda outguns and out-mans the Texas Rangers. Just sayin'!

-- Badtux the Reality-based Penguin

Be good to yourself

"Life Being What It Is", Kaki King, from her new album Dreaming of Revenge.

Kaki forgoes the guitar heroics she's most famous for (though there's definitely some good geetar picking on here) to do some pretty ballads with a hard core underneath. Kaki will never have a strong voice, but her voice is one that suits the song well when she sings ballads like this one.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Do the rich create jobs?

That's an interesting question. If the rich use their assets in productive ways, such that they earn income at a rate similar to other income classes from said assets rather than just stuffing them under a mattress, of *course* they create jobs. But do they?

First, let's look at the distribution of wealth. According to a UCSC study, the top 1% owned 49.7% of all financial assets of America in 2007. So if they are generating actual economic output from those assets commensurate with their value, they should be making 49.7% of net income in America. Yet, they're not -- according to the last IRS numbers I have, they're earning only 21.20% of the income earned in America

SO let's summarize: The rich are LESS THAN HALF AS EFFICIENT AT CREATING JOBS AS EVERYBODY ELSE IN AMERICA! In short, they DESTROY jobs through their inefficiency and sloth, they don't CREATE jobs. If we taxed the rich to the point where they were no longer rich, this implies we'd create TWICE as many jobs as the rich currently create -- i.e., we'd employ every single American currently out of work, plus as many immigrants as we decide to give American citizenship, because the owners of that other 50.3% of America'a assets are generating almost 80% of America's income with only 50.3% of America's assets!

Now, I'm not proposing that we tax the rich for 100% of all income above a certain mark. But what I *AM* saying is that the fat and lazy bastards aren't using their wealth as efficiently to create jobs as the rest of us are, and I have no -- zero -- sympathy for their whining about how horrible it is that they're going to have to pay more taxes if the Bush tax cuts expire yada yada yada and how it's going to cost so many jobs. If the bastards were creating jobs, rather than just stuffing money under (virtual) mattresses, I'd feel more sympathy for them. But the numbers say they aren't -- they've accumulated half the net worth of America, yet earn less than 1/4th the net income of America because they're so inefficient at using that net worth? I call shenanigans on the notion that we'll lose jobs by redistributing some money from the rich to the rest of us, who are twice as efficient at creating jobs as the rich are!

-- Badtux the Numbers Penguin

Libertarians and hatred of democracy

One of the things that strikes me most about Libertarians is how much they hate democracy. They decry democracy as "mob rule" and state that the power of government in a democracy must be limited by, well, some libertarian elite, I guess. Which differentiates libertarianism from Stalinism... how? I mean, c'mon. Imposing your philosophy at gunpoint is imposing your philosophy at gunpoint, for cryin' out loud, whether your philosophy is "limited government" or "Communism"!

In short, the fundamental philosophy of glibertarians is that We The People are too stupid, too cowardly, too venal, too evil to be given the power to govern ourselves according to how the majority of people wish to govern ourselves. What a gloomy, defeatist philosophy libertarianism is!

Of course, I've been known to be dubious about the ability of We The People to govern ourselves, too. The difference is that I believe that We The People should get the government we want and deserve, good and hard. The libertarians, apparently, believe that We The People should be protected from ourselves by a minority dictating to the majority... a profoundly undemocratic proposal that doesn't seem to bother libertarians at all.

-- Badtux the Democracy Penguin

Looking at DSLR's

One of the things that annoys me about my current ultra-zoom camera is that its performance in anything other than perfect outdoors light is abysmal. The basic problem with ultra-zoom point-and-shoots is that the sensor is tiny. This is necessary in order to get sufficient crop factor so you can get a 30x zoom without needing a lens the size of a telescope, but also means that the pixels on the sensor are teeny tiny and don't get many photons hitting them except during broad daylight outdoors. The fact that many of the ultra-zooms use antiquated CCD sensor technology rather than backlighted CMOS technology doesn't help either.

This same issue -- the small size of the sensor -- also means that the sensors are really noisy at fast shutter speeds with low light (i.e., high ISO). Think about it this way. Say there's 100 photons that hit the pixel in a DSLR-sized sensor. That means there's 1% noise -- one more photon may have been coming in but got cut off. But an ultra-zoom's pixel is 1/10th the size. So only 10 photons hit the pixel. So that's 10% noise -- because one more photon is 10% of that pixel now. The results generally look pretty grainy, sometimes with odd colorations in small places. This also means that you can't deal with contrast as easily, since you have fewer photons hitting a pixel and thus less contrast to pull out and enhance if you need to do so.

Add in the relatively poor quality of the lenses typically used with ultrazooms, which are subject to chromatic distortions and fisheying around the edges, and the quality of photos taken by even good ultra-zooms is not anywhere near a DSLR's. There simply is no substitute for sensor size if you're trying to gather sufficient photons to make a good picture.

So I have two possibilities here. I can either step up to a new ultra-zoom with the new more sensitive CMOS sensors rather than my mediocre (by today's standards) POS, or I can just gulp, swallow, and buy a DSLR with the zoom lens that I need for outdoor photography. So here's what I'm looking at for DLSR's:

  • Sony A560 14.2 megapixel DSLR. Note that Sony bought Minolta's camera business in 2006, this uses Minolta lenses, which are about $100 cheaper than everybody else's lenses. Which is important, because this camera is $699, *but* the lens it comes with is only about a 2.3x zoom (1.5 crop on the sensor compared to 35mm film). I tested it in the store today and definitely need more zoom to get the shots I want to get.
  • Tamron AF 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di LD Aspherical (IF) Macro Ultra Zoom Lens for Minolta and Sony Digital SLR Cameras Which is $389.99 from Amazon. Which, believe me, is *cheap* for a lens with this kind of flexibility, basically for anything other than panoramas this is the only lens I'd need for outdoor shooting. Fully zoomed out is about 1.2x (compared to a fixed 35mm lens on a 35mm camera), fully zoomed in is about 12.9x (compared to a fixed 35mm lens). Combined with the multitude of pixels which will allow cropping to decent resolutions, this should be plenty for what I need.
So going to the DSLR will cost me roughly $1100 for the camera and lens I need for the shots I want to make outdoors. Vs. $450 for a Sony DSC-HX100V/B Ultra-zoom. Which isn't actually available at the moment due to a slight tsunami problem, but that'll get remedied.

Oh yeah, why Sony? Basically, the electronics are getting spectacularly better every year. The sensors get more sensitive, the processors that interpret the sensors and turn the raw capacitor levels into colors get better every year, and so the newest camera is most likely to be the best camera (within reason). Sony and Nikon are the most recent to update and have the best sensors of all the DSLR's and ultrazooms in their class. From a viewpoint of raw hardware they're roughly equivalent. But Sony has better processing software for things like, e.g., in-camera panorama processing that actually works and in-camera HDR on their DSLR (if you don't know what HDR is, you've never tried to take a picture of a mineshaft from the outside on a bright day, without HDR it is devilishly hard to get sufficient detail to show up, either part of the photo is washed out or part is just black). Even the HX100V is a lot better than my current ultrazoom in those respects. I just have to decide whether I want to invest over $1K in camera equipment that is bulkier and doesn't have as much ability to zoom in when outdoors (but which takes much better pictures in low-light conditions and focuses much faster)...

-- Badtux the Technology Geek Penguin


For the next week I'm going to be doing a test: I'm going to be blogging at http://snarkypenguin.wordpress.com/ to see how that works. Next Saturday I'll make a decision as to whether to do that permanently, and post the decision here and there. Hopefully by that time Blogger will be back to normal...

UPDATE: The Wordpress experiment is over. It turns out that there is a critical piece of functionality that Wordpress.com will not allow me to implement while using their site for hosting. Since I will not self-host a site for a number of reasons I won't go into here, that makes it worthless for me. So all future postings will be here on http://snarkypenguin.blogspot.com unless there is another Blogger.com fail, at which point I'll *temporarily* turn on the Wordpress site again. I will also be working on a mechanism for automatically notifying you to go to snarkypenguin.wordpress.com in case of a blogger failure. Hint: It will be via a mechanism that Wordpress.com doesn't allow me to use, which Blogger.com *does* allow me to use. Hint#2: Javascript. Hosted and served from a domain I control, referenced in my blogger template, capable of redirecting even cached pages :).

-- Badtux the Blogging Penguin

Friday, May 13, 2011

Sleepy oil

Slowcore post-punkers Her Name Is Calla do "Pour More Oil" off their 2010 album The Quiet Lamb. Like most of their songs it starts off slow and builds and gets more orchestral as it goes along...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Not all here yet

Blogger is still bloggered up. So check out my Wordpress site until Blogger is back in business again.

-- Badtux the Blogging Penguin

Thursday, May 12, 2011

When the levees broke

If you do the math -- she was born in 1991, Hurricane Katrina happened in 2005 -- Sarah Jarosz was 14 or 15 years old when she wrote this song. This is "Broussard's Lament", which is available on her album Song Up In Her Head. Note not an auto-tune or Nashville professional backing musician in sight (the two youngsters with her playing strings are friends of hers from Austin).

Since I mentioned Sarah in the context of The Greencards...

Note that she's 16 years old in this video. She spends some time bobbing her head learning the song as Kym solos the mandolin part for her, then once the whole band joins in she's right there, having learned the song just from hearing it one time through. Her smile when they give her a solo could light up a stadium. Her smile at the end makes you want to pat her head and say "Good girl!". Now you might start to understand why I say being mean to Sarah Jarosz would be like kicking a puppy...

Next time I do a video from Sarah it'll be from her new album, Follow Me Down, which is to be released on May 16. I've heard two songs from the album, one I wasn't too enamored of, the other at first I thought was some old-time mountain banjo song until she mentioned that she'd written it after reading a poem by Edgar Allen Poe. The latter is going to end up here.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

At the office

I look at this Pearls before Swine strip where Rat wants a Prius because it's quiet and will let him run over people without being heard.

Officemate: "What's so funny?"

Me: "This strip about the Prius." I show him the strip.

Officemate: "Oh. That's not going to work anymore, they're adding a noise to the Prius so it's no longer silent."

Me: "Like what? Like playing cards through the spokes of a bicycle? Putt putt puttt putttt?"

Officemate: "I dunno. Maybe the sound of an ice cream truck."

Me: "No, that'd attract too many children. But maybe Dick Cheney would want it. When he's hungry."

Officemate: "You're a sick man."


-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin


Fox News is hyperventilating 'cause Obama invited a scary black rapper to a poetry event! Nevermind that six months ago, Fox News said about this very same rapper, "Common", that he was "a "rap legend" whose "music is very positive." That was then, and this is now. Down the memory hole that "positive rap legend" stuff goes, now he's a scary black man to use to scare the tighty whities who watch Fox News, next thing you know they're gonna say that "Common" killed a man in Reno just to see'em die...

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Things to do

Townes van Zandt, "You Are Not Needed Now". This is how it should be remembered: Townes, his guitar, and that voice that seems to bear the sorrows of the world...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How's that war on drugs working out, again?

Mass graves in Mexico. Even the Taliban have not racked up that kind of kill ratio or so terrified government officials that they won't prosecute crimes.

Failed states in Iraq or Afghanistan would be a tragedy for Afghans and Iraqis, but not really for us. But Mexico appears well on the way to being a failed state -- government has basically collapsed in northern Mexico now, and it's only a matter of time before the rot spreads southwards -- and there would be real consequences for *us* if this happens. As in, millions of terrified Mexicans swarming across our border fleeing the terror groups and death squads, a complete disruption of trade on our southern border, and the possibility of the violence crossing the border into the United States itself. We need the U.S. Army here, now -- not in Afghanistan, not in Iraq, but *here* -- because this isn't going to be getting better anytime soon and it's *not* going to stay south of the border forever.

-- Badtux the Southward-looking Penguin

Scandinavian ice

Finnish group Husky Rescue with their song "Diamonds in the Sky", off their 2007 album Ghost Is Not Real. Just some chill for a warm spring day...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, May 09, 2011

Time for hardball

GOP representatives don't want to raise the debt limit? Fine. The Federal Government still gets enough revenue to keep most of its essential functions going. Too bad about those Social Security checks that got replaced by a "Sorry, but your Representative voted against you getting a Social Security check this month, call his office at xxx-xxx-xxxx" notes, and the old people kicked out of their nursing homes to die on the streets because their nursing home got a note saying "Sorry, your Representative thinks you shouldn't be paid" rather than their Medicaid check, and so forth, but hey, clearly these people voted for these Representatives, so why should the *rest* of us suffer? These Republican assholes say we're spending too much? Fine. We'll eliminate all Federal spending -- in their districts. And see if they change their mind.

-- Badtux the Vicious Penguin

And cleaning continues...

Living room done. Dining room done. Kitchen is almost done, the floors are mopped and the counters de-cluttered and half the counters cleaned, the other half will be cleaned shortly, then I need to clean the oven and microwave and dust on top of the refrigerator...

Meanwhile, here, have some cats:

Yes, Mencken allowed The Mighty Fang to sleep on (a very small portion of) his cat bed (my former pillow, before he claimed it)...

-- Badtux the Cleaning Cat-owned Penguin


This is a bunch of Aussies living in Austin, Texas. They're The Greencards, they play something sort of country, sort of bluegrass, sort of folk, and this is "Rivertown".

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Dear Mr. Penguin...

Dear Mr. Penguin: My sister is a housecleaning fiend and gets out of town relatives visiting all the time. Yet I live in the same city and never get out-of-town visitors. Do you think I would get more visitors if I cleaned house? -- Signed, Not-too-neat.

Dear Not-too-neat: Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Have you forgotten what color your carpets are due to the collection of pizza boxes, old bills, newspapers, books, and other assorted rubbish that covers them?
  2. Does your dog refuse to drink out of the toilet because it's so filthy?
  3. Are Mississippi gas station lavatories cleaner than yours?
  4. Has the pile of dirty dishes in your sink bred a new species?
  5. When you open your refrigerator, do molds the size of housecats snap at you and drive you away?
  6. Was your cat's litter box last cleaned when Clinton was President, leading to a rather interesting aroma?
  7. Are your bed sheets brown, even though they originally started off as blue?
  8. Does the mildew in your bathtub open its eyes and watch you shower?
If you answer "Yes" to any one of these questions, you *may* get more visitors if you clean house. Oh, and do wash your clothes and use antiperspirant too. If you can't find the washer and dryer under all the junk in your laundry room, take pillowcases full of clothes to your local laundramat instead. Everybody who works with you or encounters you in public will thank you.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Cleaning house...

Now with more catness! TMF hogging my office chair, sigh.

My mother called and said she's on her way. It'll be a couple of weeks as she meanders across the countryside in her Honda Fit Sport (the one with the paddle shifters, favorite car of little old grannies everywhere), but that just gives me more time to make everything spotless. So if you see a penguin loaded down with cleaning supplies, that's me, heh. What can I say... that's just something you do when your mother comes to visit, even if you're in late middle age and she's quite elderly. Just one of those mysterious mother-child things, I guess...

-- Badtux the Cleaning Penguin

Slow road

The world's unluckiest band, Mojave 3, with "This Road I'm Traveling" off their album Out of Tune. Which they aren't, except out of tune with what the market wants. And we're all the better for that.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

150 years ago...

The South had declared full insurrection and William Tecumseh Sherman had turned down a job at the War Department, and also turned down a short-term commission to lead a Union regiment after the bombardment of Ft. Sumpter led to Lincoln calling for 75,000 short-term volunteers to put down the rebellion against the duly constituted government of the United States of America. From all appearances Sherman seemed to be settling down to run a streetcar company in Missouri. But the unsettled nature of things, and his continued concern about the fact that Lincoln's administration seemed to not understand that this was going to be a long and bloody war requiring people who were willing to do things that maybe weren't so nice, led him to change his mind. On May 8, 1861, Sherman dispatched a letter to Washington saying he was ready to serve in a position commensurate to his last rank in the military but for three *years*, not for some bogus three *months* because the war would take a minimum of three years to win (it actually took four). On May 14 his offer was accepted and he was placed in charge of a new regiment, the 13th Infantry, which was then in the process of being formed.

No Southern homes or businesses had been burned yet. I am eagerly awaiting the time, three years from now, when I can 150-year-live-blog Sherman burning Atlanta then slashing and burning his way to the sea, gutting the heart of the treasonous Confederacy and doing more than anybody else to cause its collapse.

-- Badtux the History Penguin

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Hysterical ninnies

Birthers, deathers, sufferers of Obama Derangement Syndrom, screeching ninnies of the right and left... people. Get a grip. Just get a grip. Whether you're the gang of left-wing lunatics at Corrente or a teabagger, reality simply *is*.

Look. I understand the disappointment that you folks at Corrente have with Obama. You forgot to look at the label on the back that said "Eisenhower Republican". Well, folks, Obama is the candidate you guys chose, he's doing exactly what he said he'd do in all his policy papers on his web site prior to his election, so you have no one to blame but yourself. In the meantime he's the Democratic President we have -- basically Eisenhower Jr. -- and not the Democratic President we need -- FDR reincarnated. But there's no way to get from point A to point B in 2012. There isn't. Attempting to primary Obama will simply end up electing some right wing lunatic as President. Every single one of the Republican candidates I've seen so far makes George W. Bush look like a socialist. Is that really what you want to do to America?! So quit with the deather conspiracy theories (Osama bin Laden is dead, alright, already), and the rest of the weird Obama conspiracy theories you keep messing around with, and live in the world we have, not some alternate universe where primarying a sitting president results in victory for your party.

As for folks on the right... people. Get a grip. All this after-birther stuff doubting the authenticity of Obama's long-form birth certificate makes you look like raving lunatics to the 90% of America who's satisfied that Obama is American. We have a way of handling these situations where you don't like a President. It's called a VOTE. Find yourself a good candidate for 2012, and get the most votes. It's called DEMOCRACY. I know it's a dirty, ugly business, but what's your alternative? Tyranny of the minority over the majority? Yeah, like that ever turns out well...

-- Badtux the PO'ed Penguin


This sad and wistful Steve Earle song is a perfect gem of a song. The mark of a good songwriter is what they leave out as much as what they include, and Steve stripped this song down to its bare essentials. That's one reason why this is one of the songs I cover in my "set" (note that I do *not* YouTube my covers). Playing this song and thinking it through almost every night helps clarify my mind greatly. I just need to write down the songs that come to me while I'm playing this song, sigh...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, May 06, 2011

Florida needs a new tourism video

Because the old one is no longer operative:

After three tries and a series of scandals, anti-bestiality bill *finally* passes in Florida. Assuming Governor Rick Scott signs it (not guaranteed), Floridians will have to figure out some other way to attract tourists to their state, because all the animal tourism tourists will be going to Alabama.

Apparently, in Florida, "My Pet Goat" has traditionally been interpreted as a sexual act done with goats and is filed in the "Adult" section of the library. Florida has traditionally been a place where men are men and chihuahuas are scared. But it seems those good old days in Florida when horses had to be skittish are over. And Neal Horsley weeps.

In other news, Florida has decided to join the twentieth century. There have been discussions about joining the twenty-first century, but apparently that scared too many old people, who are suspicious of any technology newer than the 1957 Edsel. In forty years, maybe... but at least they're considering a new state slogan. "Florida--where men are men and goats are breathing a sigh of relief." Catchy, isn't it?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Almost Jenny

Sleator-Kinney, "Jenny", off their album Dig Me Out. They look so young on that album cover... but they rocked from the beginning.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

As thou sowe...

...so shalt thou reape. Neo-Nazi scum who advocated violence and hate, killed by 10 year old son.

The boy had past problems with aggression and violence (hmm, maybe because that's how he was taught to behave by Daddy?). The authorities say there's no evidence of any outright child abuse, as far as they can tell the kid just got mad at Daddy, picked up one of the loaded guns lying around the house, and blew Daddy's ass away, thereby beautifying America. No more Jeff Hall. Yay.

Of course, I speak lightly of this, but the real tragedy is the kid. It's hard to overcome the ways of thinking that you were taught for the first ten years of your life. I suspect we're looking at a future Charles Manson here. Sigh...

-- Badtux the Violence Penguin

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Live blogging the American Civil War

On May 2, 1861, General Winfield Scott, hero of the Mexican War and commander of Union forces, introduced his Anaconda Plan to President Lincoln as a doodle on the back of a letter that had been sent to him by a young man named George McClellan who had proposed his own plan for attacking the Confederacy. General Scott thought McClellan's plan was unworkable but had a few ideas that were useful for his own plan.

It was clear that this plan for strangling the Confederacy would require a lot more troops than had previously been envisioned. Thus Abraham Lincoln on May 3, 1861, called for more troops. In his “Proclamation 83 – Increasing the Size of the Army and Navy,” the President called for over 42,000 volunteers for three-year enlistments. Additionally, he called for the Regular Army to be increased to 22,700 and the Navy by 18,000. Unfortunately, President Lincoln also looked at the front of the letter and decided this young man named McClellan had promise and that he'd try McClellan's plan to capture Richmond, which, remember, held the only forge and foundry capable of making steam engines in the entire South. That was a decision he would later come to sorely regret. In the end it was General Scott's Anaconda plan with the addition of Sherman slashing another gaping hole through the heart of the Confederacy as another coil of the Anaconda which would win the War of Southern Treason for the United States.

Probably around 5PM on May 5, 2001, the news hit the St. Louis evening newspapers. A gentleman by the name of William Tecumseh Sherman who ran the local streetcar company read that news, and pondered it. A few weeks earlier in rejecting an offer of employment by the War Department he had chastised the President for what he felt were unreasonable expectations as to the length of the war and the resources needed to prosecute it. This new proclamation, he undoubted thought, meant that the President clearly had now been convinced that the war would be neither short nor cheap. He did not yet know of Lincoln's infatuation with General George B. McClellan's quick-and-easy Virginia invasion plan, so within a few days Mr. Sherman would make a decision that had profound implications upon the course of the war...

-- Badtux the History Penguin

Dreamy architecture

This is San Francisco band Stripmall Architecture, with their song "Her Words" off their 2009 album We Were Flying Kites. Just lean back in your tie-dye shirt with some bud and enjoy some mellow dream pop...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Why does paper X publish always-wrong pundit Y?

Because he says what their millionaire owners and advertisers want to hear. Duh. It's called "capitalism", as in, "serves capital, not the public." The notion of the press as watchdog is a fairly recent one, and itself was manufactured by the same media owners. Before recent times, it was widely accepted that the press served its owners, not the public, and newspapers generally wore their biases and affiliations on their sleeve in much the same way the UK press still does (so you have the blatantly socialist Independent, the blatantly Tory Times, the blatantly Labour Guardian, and so forth). I must say that the PR effort has been fairly successful in producing the notion that the press *should* serve the public, but that's never been the primary purpose of the press, ever, in this nation's history. The first purpose of the press has always been to serve its owners, the second purpose has always been to serve its advertisers, anything else is just gravy used to sell newspapers or get people to watch television or etc.

So the question you should ask, when you see, e.g., nearly-always-wrong Thomas Friedman (of the famed Friedman Unit) published in the NYT, "In what way does publishing Friedman serve the interests of the New York Times' owners and advertisers?" Insofar as publishing him helps promote views that benefit them, why *should* they care that what Friedman serves up is a bitter stew of straw? Does it drive away readers? No, they just go on to read Krugman. So what's the *downside* to publishing Friedman, for the owners and advertisers of the New York Times?

-- Badtux the News Penguin

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

War porn

So I understand that the Deathers are shouting, "Show us pictures of dead Osama bin Laden!". Uhm, no. Just no. If you want to verify that OBL is dead, there's plenty of ways to do so -- the most important being independent verification from people who are *NOT* the Obama administration. Navy Seals saw him die. His wife and remaining son saw him die. Plenty of people supposedly saw him die. If these people who supposedly saw him die all say they saw him die, well. Good 'nuff for me, just as I believed Bush when he said OBL pulled off 9/11 because once you got things verified from multiple sources, it's pretty damn hard to fake that shit.

But photographs? Dude. Photographs are so easy to fake it ain't even funny and they don't prove shit. There's only one reason to demand photographs of dead and bloody OBL, and that's to jack off to them. What, Deathers, you folks don't have porn shops in your towns? Sheesh!

-- Badtux the Rude Penguin

Latest headline from The Onion

John Ashcroft joins Xe (A.K.A. "Blackwater") as Ethics chief. He will be in charge of "ethics and professionalism."

Wait, that's not a headline from The Onion, that's a headline from Wired News. Err... ah... I pity the writers at The Onion, I really do. How can they top reality when things like this happen?

-- Badtux the Comedy Penguin

Torchy fire

It occurs to me that I've remiss in not posting any Portishead for some time. A spin by the Mockingbird's place reminded me of that.

This is "It's A Fire", from the Dummy album. Just beautiful and emotional music...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Musta been a mighty big weapon

Cincinnati cops tase, arrest marathon runner whose shorts fell off. They tased him as he ran away from them (which is what you usually do when running a marathon, run away from the people behind you, right?). In order to protect the general public from Brett Henderson's huge weapon, they *had* to tase him, otherwise he could have irreparably harmed impressionable young children and bachelors everywhere who measured their own weapon and came up short. Err, yeah :).

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Hama rules

The current unrest in Syria reminds me of the last time there was unrest in Syria. The result was the Hama massacre, which basically razed the city of Hama and exterminated most of its population.

The difference this time is that the current uprising is more broad-based rather than being a revolt of religious zealots in one city. Whether that is enough against a regime that has proclaimed it has no problem with imposing Hama rules (a.k.a. genocide) on any area which gets restive enough that the security forces have problems, is an open question, as is the question of whether Syria's military will follow through on that order when it is given, or will instead do like the Iranian military did in 1978 when the Shah of Iran ordered them to fire on protesters (i.e., largely melted away in the chaotic aftermath).

- Badtux the History Penguin


The Walkabouts, "Sundowner", from their 1993 album New West Motel. These folks have been making music since 1984, but nobody's ever heard of them here in the USA (like a lot of the more "arty" American bands, they seem more popular in Europe). I guess you just don't get a top 40 hit in the USA with strings, even if you do have a good beat going on...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Welcome to the list of declining nations, Canada

Oh, Canada. Are you going to get it for the next five years now that the neo-cons have full power in your country too. Say goodbye to your reputation as a peaceful tolerant prosperous nation, because that nightmare of peace and prosperity you had under Liberal governments and managed to hang onto during the coalition government is going to seem as distant a memory of an earlier paradise by the time the neo-cons are through with you as the Clinton administration seems today to Americans. (And that's said as someone who didn't even particularly *like* the Clinton administration, which I felt sold out poor Americans by shredding the social network with its GOP-written "welfare reform" bill).

Canada. It was a nice experiment, but seems that the corporate masters figured out how to deal with that too. So it goes.

-- Badtux the Wistful Penguin

Monday, May 02, 2011

You're a thin-skinned racist, Mr. Trump

Donald Trump cancels appearance on Letterman show after Letterman points out that denying the President's citizenship "has the appearance of racism". Given that in an actual political campaign he would be accused of that and more, I think it's official: Mr. Trump is too thin-skinned to be President.

Here is Mr. Trump explaining that he's not a racist, it's all those people claiming he's a racist who are racist:

Gosh, all those tea party types sure are defensive about racism, aren't they? Alrighty, then!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin


When last I mentioned the Brit dream pop trio Esben And The Witch, they were unsigned hipsters playing London venues. Since then, they have signed with indie label Matador and released an album, Violet Cries. This is "Marching Song", which is on that album. If you like dark goth-ish dream pop, you might want to check it out...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Osama bin Laden dead

The President broke into network TV to announce that Osama bin Laden was killed today by a U.S. military team which assaulted a mansion in a suburb of Islamabad, Pakistan. His body is now in American hands.

Personally I wish they'd take the murderous bastard and put his head on a pike and tie it to a flagpole on the site of the former WTC until the birds rip all the flesh from the bones and the worms finish off the interior of the skull. But I'm just bloody-minded that way.

Now here's the question, President Obama: We've got Osama. Can we leave Afghanistan, now?

-- Badtux the Bloody-minded Penguin

And some borrowed snark:

Dear Mr. Bush,

We are sorry to inform you that in spite of efforts by ISI and Army of Pakistan on your behalf, your rental property in Abbottabad has been unexpectedly vacated. As the previous tenant gave no notice and failed to leave the premises "Broom Clean" you are not obligated to direct the return of the substantial security deposit or tenant improvement allocation. Payments to your Haliburton Account in the Cayman Islands will resume upon the next tenants occupancy.

Best Regards

And Fox News celebrates: