Friday, September 30, 2011

Tool porn

I has it.

-- Badtux the Porn Penguin

Murder Motel

A mystery woman, a gun, an elderly motel owner, and a young clerk. The Walkabouts spin a murder ballad with "Findlay's Motel", off of their 1993 album New West Motel.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Watching the Kitty Theater

The Mighty Fang watches the world go by. He'll sit like that for literally hours...

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I am now "the old Left leadership"

It must be true, according to a somewhat-prominent lefty supporter of the Occupy Wall Street protests. It must be true, because I criticized the messaging and tactics of Occupy Wall Street, so thus I am a member of "the old Left leadership" and I'm just upset because the youngsters bypassed me and my ability to funnel fundraising funds into my own pocket (say WHA?! Given that I don't even run goddamned *advertisements* on my blog because I feel it'd be unethical to be paid for doing this, I certainly was surprised to find that one out!). And furthermore, I hate Wikileaks (despite developing some of the technology they use for exactly the purpose that Wikileaks is using it for), and I hate Anonymous (see previous).

Man, I'm glad to hear that my pointing out that, like, the same damned tactics have been re-invented by every new generation of youthful wanna-be revolutionaries every five years for the past forty years and they haven't damn well worked has nothing to do with the fact that those tactics haven't worked a single time during the past forty years of futility and everything to do with being a member of "the old Left leadership" despite, err, not being so. Alrighty, then!

Oh yeah, my advice to youngsters re-inventing the same square wheel that hasn't rolled a single time when re-invented for the past forty years:

  1. Tell Giant Puppet Man and the Red Brigade to go home. Inclusiveness only works when it's inclusive of people who aren't, well, batshit fucking crazy. The GOP is inclusive of Michelle Bachmann and David Duke. Yeah, like that helps their image.
  2. Dress like grown-ups, not like children on a day trip to the city.
  3. Can the cant. Talking bullshit about "class struggle", "empowerment", "collective", or "dialectic". Americans are a pragmatic people who are suspicious of anything that sounds like some sort of "ism", 'cause general experience is that "isms" are Bad News. Tell folks what they need to do, and why they need to do it ("Wall Street Stole Us Blind!" "Indict The Wall Street Thieves!" "Regulate Wall Street!"). Leave the ideology to the ideologues.
  4. Pay attention to grownups who've been part of both successful and unsuccessful movements. One of the reason for the failure of every single protest movement of the past forty years has been because the kids haven't been willing to listen to the voice of experience. Daddy's movement failed, so Daddy isn't worth listening to. Well, not *everybody's* movement failed. In some cases, we won. Sometimes not big victories, but you take what you can. And even where we *did* fail, you can learn from us what didn't work, and avoid making that mistake, at least.
  5. Furthermore, don't dismiss the experiences and values of adults just because they're adults. One reason why the anti-war protesters lost the support of most Americans and consequently elected Richard Nixon not once, but TWICE, despite most Americans being against the Vietnam War, was because of their clear disdain for the values, modes of dress, and experiences of the majority of Americans, who they dismissed as "squares" with nothing of value to contribute. Hint: You spit on your elders, they tend to spit back.
And of course I'm just flapping my beak in the wind here 'cause nobody who needs to listen is gonna listen, but so it goes. Ain't that what I usually do anyhow?

- Badtux the Liberal Elite Penguin (heh!).

The search continues

Once upon a time, all that was required to be a GOP candidate for President was a pulse. Then Dick Cheney happened. Dick famously no longer has a pulse.

The fact that men without a pulse can potentially be President opens up a whole new realm of possibility. For example, I have now come up with the perfect GOP candidate:

Zombie Ronald Reagan

Oh sure, he needs brains, but then so do the rest of the GOP candidates so why not?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Sad sparkles

Rocky Votolato, "Sparklers", off of his 2010 album True Devotion. Just some sad folky music from Seattle.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Why are today's protests so lame?

Earlier I pointed out that the civil rights protests were done by dignified looking people waving signs expressing an agenda advocating specific actions (ending segregated schools, voting rights, equal job opportunities, etc.), backed up by model legislation introduced in Congress and by some of the best legal minds in the country playing the courts like a piano. Then I pointed out that most modern protests look like a friggin' zoo, a buncha slovenly young people dressed like schoolchildren on a daytrip out to the city with no connection to any agenda or strategy whether legislative or legal. Where’s the signs demanding their agenda? Where's their sample legislation? Why are they dressed like slovenly children on a day trip to the city, rather than like dignified grownups? As a dignified grownup, how can I take them seriously?

The question is: Why are modern protests so lame? Personally, I blame the anti-war protesters of the 1960′s who think they ended the Vietnam War with their circus and continue to influence tactics. They didn’t end the Vietnam War. That was Walter Cronkite and large numbers of “serious people” who figured out that the only way to “win” the war was to invade North Vietnam, which had a big chance of inviting both Chinese and Soviet intervention that likely would have escalated to nuclear war (indeed we now know that threats to use nuclear weapons were made by *both* sides, and that the Soviets threatened to invade West Germany if we invaded North Vietnam). All the hippies did was give the right wing a convenient scapegoat so that they wouldn’t have to admit that the U.S. got beat like a drum by a buncha pajama-wearin’ slopes — i.e., it allowed them to maintain their racism against Southeast Asians. Instead, Hanoi Jane and the hippies ended the war.

But y’know, I never seen a dead body come back from Vietnam that had been killed by Jane Fonda. They all got killed by NVA or VC guns or grenades or bombs or booby traps. Funny, that Hanoi Jane gets all the credit for winning the war for North Vietnam, despite the fact that, like, she didn’t kill a single soldier, while the people who did win the war don’t get credit at all from racist America, which *still* refuses to admit that a buncha pajama-wearin’ slopes beat’em like a drum. But the VC and NVA won. They did. But racist lefties and racist righties both refuse to admit that fact and insist that the lefties ended the Vietnam War, not the NVA and VC, because apparently brown people could *never* have, like, actually beat the good ole’ white folk of the U S of A. Funny, huh?

So anyhow, we aren't going to get anywhere with this protest stuff until we tell the boomers and their hippy bullshit to go take a hike and start behaving like Serious People with a clear political agenda and with the legal resources to back up that agenda. That's just the facts. That's how the world works, and no amount of slovenly young people getting beat up by fat middle-aged cops is gonna change that.

-- Badtux the Pragmatic Penguin

The search continues

The GOP punditry, having fallen out of love with Governor Goodhair after discovering that Rick Perry is dumber than a box of rocks and doesn't clean up well for the general public (as vs. Texans, who are a breed apart as they are all too apt to insist), is on the lookout for a new candidate. They've approached Governor Chris Christie (R-Asshole) and Christie gave them the New Jersey Salute, which looks an awful lot like the New York City Salute, except with more vigor (let us just say that if you deprived Christie of the middle finger on his right hand, you'd immediately halve his vocabulary :). Christie might be an asshole, bully, and just general right-wing self-entitled jerk, but he ain't a moron and he ain't crazy -- he don't want nothing to do with the current goat rodeo that is the GOP presidential race.

So who's the next person who's going to jump into the GOP race? Some pundits mutter about the Wasilla Grifter, but Sarah Dumb and Tall ain't *that* dumb either -- running for Preznit would interfere with her grifting. But never fear, Fixer over at Alternate Brain has come up with the perfect Republican candidate for President. He's over the hill, washed up, has a fan base of millions of grey haired wanna-be rebels, is crazier than a box full of cats in a carwash, and so dumb he'd probably drown in that carwash 'cause he'd forget to roll up his windows. That perfect candidate is, of course...

Ted Nugent

Of course.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Out of this world

Bad Astronaut was an indie band led by Joey Cape (of punk band Lagwagon) that was active mostly from 2000 to 2006. This is "These Days", the lead-off song from their 2002 album Houston: We have a drinking problem.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

(Who is still amazed that he can find a good song per day that he's never played before).

Goodbye to Netflix

Just watched my first movie from Blockbuster By Mail -- Hanna, a movie not yet available from Netflix due to the 30-day embargo. Price of the 1-disk subscription is the same as the 1-disk Netflix w/Blu Ray subscription, but if you return the disk to the brick-and-mortar store you also get some free rentals there. No streaming, but then there isn't streaming on current Netflix 1-disk subscriptions either since they broke out the streaming as a separate service.

Oh yeah, the movie -- Saoirse Ronan acts her little heart out, carrying the film far beyond the flimsy plot and caricature villains. As a character study of a young warrior girl going into an uncertain world that wants to kill her, the film succeeds. Ronan is that good, she gets us to totally buy this unlikely character Hanna and her evolution as a person. As an art film it somewhat succeeds -- the fairy tale allegories, the symmetry of beginning and end, the interesting cinematography, work out reasonably well. Unfortunately it posed as an action movie and while the plot has plenty of action where Hanna can show her stuff it never arrives at any point other than that lots of people who need killing get killed, and lots of people who didn't need killing also get killed -- including, perhaps, Hanna herself (the ending is unclear on whether the gut shot she gets from the Big Bad prior to killing the Big Bad is survived). Ultimately not a successful art-action movie, but don't blame it on Ronan -- she pulls off her part.

In short, well worth watching if you want to see an excellent young actor pull off a role that shouldn't have worked given the flimsy plot around it. Otherwise... (shrug).

-- Badtux the Film Penguin

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The end of global capitalism

Khrushchev pounded a shoe on a table and shouted "We will bury you!". Khrushchev was, of course, utterly wrong -- his Soviet Union got buried instead, in part because of decisions Khrushchev made which plagued the nation for the remainder of its existence.

The thing is, global capitalism, sans any existential threat forcing it to behave intelligently, appears to be in a race to the bottom right now. Note that none of this is happening because of a lack of resources -- yes, oil is a constraint, but not one we're running up against right now. Instead, it's because without any need for intelligence, our capitalist overlords have resorted to cave-man economics instead... "ugh! Me Ogg! Money good! Ogg keep money instead of investing in workers and schools and infrastructure! Ogg hit workers on head with club! Ugh!".

The problem is that cave-man economics does not work. We have another name for cave-man economics: banana republic economics. Banana republics are poor -- often ridiculously poor given the natural wealth. By preventing their people from becoming educated, by refusing to invest in infrastructure, by hoarding what little wealth exists in the country into their own greedy hands, the ruling elite in banana republics stay on top of the heap -- for a price. And that price is this: No matter how filthy rich they are by comparison to the rest of their people, they still live in a third world hellhole. They can't go on vacation inside their own country because every possible place people can grub food is being grubbed and every possible pollutant is being emitted by what little industrial infrastructure exists, turning the whole nation into a desolate wasteland of poisoned landscapes, corporate plantations and scorched earth. And all it takes to overthrow them is a single brigade of soldiers from any modern army complete with supporting attack helicopters, fighter-bombers, etc., because as rich as they are, they still cannot afford sufficient mercenaries to hold off real troops (and their own people certainly aren't going to fight to defend them).

In short, cave-man economics is a recipe to poverty and economic failure. But that's the predominant economic theory in the world today. Which means that capitalism is well on its way to eating itself up.

The problem.... the problem, though, is that capitalism, when properly regulated, is also the best mechanism for matching supply and demand that has ever been devised. What happens when capitalism collapses? Nothing good. Nothing good. But as long as cave-man economics is the general rule amongst our ruling elites, I have a sad feeling we're going to find out the hard way.

-- Badtux the Capitalist Penguin
(But a *SMART* capitalist, not a cave-man capitalist).

New folky

I've sometimes thought that punk music is the folk music of the modern era -- music played by ordinary people who aren't virtuosos, expressing the sentiments of the common folk in straightforward terms that maybe aren't pleasant but neither are the times we live in. I don't think it's odd at all that folk musician Chuck Ragan came out of the punk world. His instrument may be acoustic guitar and harmonica now, but the anger about the state of the world we live in remains.

This is Chuck Ragan, "For Broken Ears", off his 2007 album Feast or Famine.

-- Badtux the Music Pengu9in

Monday, September 26, 2011

So what's your favorite banned book?

Via the General, it's Banned Book Week. So what's your favorite banned book? Mine is To Kill A Mockingbird, it has one of the more unique heroines in literature and tackles some of the toughest themes of our time.

UPDATE: Got an upset email from World Nut Daily. They're upset that many of the banned books on the ALA list feature gay people (the prototypical one being of course "Heather Has Two Mommies") and whine that the ALA shouldn't have put them on that banned books list. Because, y'know, if it's a book about gay people, it's not *really* banned if it's banned. Alrighty, then!

-- Badtux the Literary Penguin

Melancholy buzz

Lisa Germano, "From a Shell" from her 2003 album Lullaby for a Liquid Pig. Yet another sad and fragile song for a sad and fragile world.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A game of thugs

You'll notice that I haven't posted anything this past week about the "Occupy Wall Street" protests. That's because, by and large, they've been meaningless street theater along the lines of, "provoke the cops and then get videos of the results to show the world how mean the cops are." A perfect example is the following video, which has flown around the world and appeared in the news media of both Western democracies and various dictatorships that are using it to say "see? The USA does the same things to protesters that we do!":

The problem is that this means nothing, nada, zero, zilch to the average American. They'll nod and say "Yep, NYPD is brutal", and move on to the next thing on their agenda, because the average American doesn't live in NYC and the brutality of the NYPD is not of personal importance to them. If that was the goal -- to get their fellow Americans to say "Yep, NYPD is brutal" -- mission accomplished. Thing is, that wasn't the goal. Or was it? What WAS the goal, anyhow?

And that's the problem. You look at the above video, and what is most striking about the protesters is that they're young, they're hip, they're dressed in cool clothes, they're completely unlike most Americans. The chances of a non-hip American looking at these protesters and identifying with them as ordinary Americans is pretty much nil. Compare to this photograph:

These civil rights protesters are clearly mature middle-aged men dressed in suits and ties. They're not aliens dropped from another planet. They don't do "drum circles" or spend hours holding "assemblies" to decide what color the ink on the posters is supposed to be. They wouldn't know a patchouli from a partridge, and they wouldn't be caught dead in a tie-dye t-shirt in public. And their signs make no secret about what their objectives are: They want equal opportunity, they want an end to government segregated schools, they want equal rights under the law.

The reason the protests led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. succeeded is because the protesters looked like dignified adults, not like slovenly children on a day trip to the city, and because their demands were serious, focused, and well articulated, not an incoherent chanting of anarchist rant alongside anti-capitalist rant alongside progressive rant. And it took place day after day, year after year, for literally a decade without stop. That is why we remember the success of the Civil Rights movement -- and why we will not remember this "Occupy Wall Street" thing a month from now.

-- Badtux the Protest Penguin


My hand tools were split between four small toolboxes and a small bureau (the American thing with drawers, not the European thing with a writing surface). When working on my last project, tracking down the exact tool I needed when I needed it was a PITA. So when Cheap Chinese Tool Place sent me an email with a coupon for this thing for $150, I jumped at it. Needless to say, it swallowed the complete contents of those small toolboxes with no problem, as well as the two drawers of the bureau that were filled with hand tools as vs. things like a collection of light bulbs, random hardware, etc. Too bad the section on the bottom isn't big enough to fit my travel toolbox (the one that goes in my Jeep to fix anything that breaks while I'm offroading), but at least it's big enough for my tap/die sets and my backup socket wrench set.

-- Badtux the Tool Penguin

Melancholy Husky

Finnish group Husky Rescue with another of their melancholy electro-pop songs. This is "New Light Of Tomorrow" off their 2004 album Country Falls.

- Badtux the Music Penguin

Heh. Yeah.


If right-wingers were really so serious about how much they love children, they wouldn't make it so expensive to have children.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Hatred loses

Park51 community center opens to the public with an exhibition of photographs of New York City children -- 160 NYC children, each child born in a different country on the planet. You might better know the Park51 Community Center as the "Ground Zero Mosque", though it's not a mosque -- but that hasn't stopped the right-wing haters from hating on it.

In other news, the sun came up this morning as usual, and no terrorists were spotted looking at the exhibition of children's pictures.

- Badtux the Take-that-haters Penguin

Fifty fathoms deep

Crooked Still, "Henry Lee", off their 2010 album Some Strange Country. They're smokin' by the end...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

The Zero Bound may not be the zero bound

Right-wingers are always saying that Krugman's only solution is to "print money". That disregards Krugman's very own research. Keynesian economics only says to print money when you're not already at the 0% interest boundary. Beyond that, printing money doesn't do anything except make mattresses plump. Krugman's own published research and writings say the same thing: once you hit the zero bounds, the only thing that works is fiscal policy -- turning the government into consumer of last resort to put people back to work. Printing money may be part of that process if you can't sell enough bonds, but only incidental to turning government into consumer of last resort. This is consistent with the history of GDP growth during FDR's term of office, where GDP growth was highly correlated to government spending -- more spending was more growth, less spending was less growth.

But Paul Krugman brought up an interesting point yesterday: The zero bound may not actually be zero. That is, we may have slight inflation and interest rates slightly above zero, and still be in the Keynesian zero-bounds liquidity trap territory. The deal there is that if I buy a 10 year Treasury, that's it -- I'm locked in for the next ten years. I don't have that money for my own purposes anymore. The only way I'll do that is if I'm compensated for that fact. And if long-term rates are fairly low, on the order of 1%, at the same time that inflation is around 1%, then I am effectively receiving negative interest on my money because of the loss of use of that money I have for the next ten years.

And that's the point we enter Keynesian liquidity trap territory, my friends... when you have real negative interest, you're out of monetarist money-printing territory, and into Keynesian fiscal spending territory.

So anyhow, in the linked article above Krugman doesn't put any numbers to this notion. I'm sure he's playing with numbers as we speak, but he doesn't do a lot of that on the NYT site, alas, we'll have to see if he publishes an academic paper about the subject. But if it turns out he's right, we are truly, truly f*cked, because the notion of the GOP in Congress allowing fiscal policy to be implemented is somewhere between "no" and "fuck no".

-- Badtux the Economics Penguin

Friday, September 23, 2011

Everybody with a beard looks alike

Paul Krugman is somewhat baffled by the above photo, which is of George Clooney's CIA agent character in the 2005 movie Syriana, except with a caption (of course!).

Still, I wonder sometimes how Krugman doesn't snap. Sometimes on those talking gasbag shows when someone says something completely stupid and nonsensical, Krugman's looking at them like, "you got to be kidding", he's got that expression on his face. Then there's all the folks who put words into Krugman's mouth, who state nonsense like:

  1. "Krugman encouraged the housing bubble" (he didn't -- he said that if Greenspan kept dropping interest rates and pushing people to buy homes, Greenspan was going to create a housing bubble, but for some reason a prediction becomes "Krugman wanted it"?)
  2. "Krugman always says printing money is the best thing to do." (Err, no -- Krugman points out both in his research and in his editorials that when you hit the interest rate zero boundary, fiscal policy -- i.e., actually putting government to work as consumer of last resort -- is the best thing to do, printing money would be incidental to that and unnecessary at present due to ultra-low interest rates).
  3. "Krugman is the cause of the common cold." Uhm, okay, so I made that one up, but it makes just as much sense :).
So anyhow: let us simply be glad that someone with the intelligence of Paul Krugman has somehow managed to hold it together, because he's smart enough that if he flips, there's some folks whose cars are not only going to be burning, but they're going to be in it, 'cause Krugman don't play :).

-- Badtux the Appreciative Penguin

Low down

Australian / London band Howling Bells with "Low Happening" off their 2006 album Howling Bells. Sort of Curve-like but with more drive and beat.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Cat beds

Some cats actually sleep on cat beds. I know, I know, it's incredible to believe, but we have actual photographic proof.

My cats, on the other hand, would never stoop to such a low thing as sleeping on an actual cat bed. No way. Here's their favorite bed, other than my own bed:

My cat's "catbed" is one of my bedroom pillows that I put on top of a chest-of-drawers while changing the bedsheets on my people bed one day, and when I tried to retrieve the pillow, it had 18 pounds of FURBALL on it. Didn't happen. I retrieved an extra pillow from the closet instead, and there I am, one pillow down (the extra pillows in the closet are for when guests come and I fold out the futon in the living room, guess they'll have to use their suitcase as a pillow, eh?).

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Supporting our troops

Where does the GOP get these debate audiences? Oh wait, scratch that, they get them from the same place they get their debate candidates:

Not a single candidate thanked a soldier in Iraq for his service.

Even the right-wing National Review is somewhat baffled by that. Okay, so yes, Stephen Hill is gay (and one big buff bohunka of a gay, if I say so myself, if I was gay I could see myself going totally yummy over him), and was asking a question about the recently-repealed Don't Ask Don't Tell which allowed him to come out of the closet, but he's also a soldier serving in Iraq. And Republicans support our troops, right?

-- Badtux the Not-so-buff Penguin

Thursday, September 22, 2011


The Black Heart Procession, "We Always Knew", off their album 3.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Random hits

Michele Bachmann, her campaign on the skids, goes for that ever-huge vaccine conspiracy vote as she pines for the days when the majority of graves in the cemetery were less than four feet long:

Meanwhile, former Afghani President Rabbani killed by a mad hatter. And Elizabeth Warren explains the facts of life to the ungrateful rich who want to use the roads that all of us pay for, who want to use the police forces that all of us pay for, but don't want to themselves contribute their fair share towards them. A Louisiana Republican by the name of John Fleming is fighting against taxes on the rich because he says he's barely making it on his $600K/year income, pointing out that he spends $200k/year on food alone, while Louisiana's median family income is $42,460/year. Hmm, a bit detached from the lifestyle of his constituency, eh? And the Family Research Council gets upset with Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream's latest ice cream flavor. I'll have some salty nuts with my schweddy balls, thank you very much.

In cat news, a cat actually used a cat bed for its intended purpose, and another cat reminds us there's a nap for that.

And that is all for tonight. G'nite :).

-- Badtux the Random Penguin

Competitive pooping

Tonight was trash night. That means, of course, that I also change the cat box, so as to not have smelly cat litter hanging around even in the outside garbage can for an entire week. Which also means that the boys race to mark who owns the cat box by making a deposit before the other can get there. I think this week was pretty much a tie:

Somebody may have ended up with smelly feet or a smelly hip though.

Update: MandT points out, "Congressional metaphor". Indeed. Might see a similar view from the balcony of the House chambers. Now, which one is the Democrat and which one is the Republican, hmm....

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

If you stand still you will be passed

Just for fun I went to and did a search for cars with best fuel economy and... hold it. What's this? A Hyundai Accent? A Hyundai Elantra? 30mpg city, 40mpg highway? WTF is going on here? Did they put a 20 horsepower engine into these things to get that kind of mpg?!

And the answer is... no! The 1.6L engine in the Accent produces more power than any other competitor's subcompact car engine, while the 1.8L engine in the Elantra is makes more power than even Honda's 1.8L engine while having better fuel economy because it's mated to a 6-speed dual-clutch transmission rather than a 5 speed conventional automatic transmission. What's going on is that that Koreans have matched, and SURPASSED, the United States when it comes to automotive technology. For the Accent they just released a GDI (Gas Direct Injection) engine that produces more horsepower than any other normally-aspirated (non-turbocharged) engine of its size on the planet. Direct injection is the technology that diesel engines use to squirt diesel fuel into cylinders to precisely meter how much fuel goes into the cylinder. It requires special fuel injectors that can take being in the middle of an explosion 3000+ times per minute, but gives much more precise fuel metering. Doing it to a gasoline engine brings that same precise fuel metering to the table, but because gasoline burns faster than diesel fuel does, you get horsepower, not just torque. GDI has been used in some high-end engines for performance prior to now, but this is the first large-scale application in a low end car for the purpose of getting fuel economy.

Furthermore, they introduced a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission which also happens to be their "manual" transmission too. Normal automatic transmissions lose power in the "torque converter", a sloshy thing that uses vanes on one side to slosh fluid around to push on vanes on the other side. A dual-clutch transmission has a pair of clutches like a normal manual transmissions and simply uses electronics rather than cables or hydraulic fluid to actuate them as well as to shift the gears. So they basically created a way to get the fuel economy of a manual transmission out of an automatic transmission. This isn't a new concept, VW's been doing it for a few years now (but for performance reasons rather than fuel economy reasons) and ZF has a dual-clutch transmission that Chrysler is in the process of building a factory to build here in America that's currently used in a number of high-end European makes (again, though, for performance rather than fuel economy), but Hyundai appears to be the first manufacturer to do it across their entire low-end line.

What this basically says is that you can't stand still. You can't refuse to innovate. You can't mark entire realms of science off-limits because they are "un-Biblical" and de-fund the schools because they're "liberal". Or else you're toast. South Korea has 1/6th the population of the United States. 25 years ago, they were a third world assembler of other people's parts, creating cheap piece of shit cars that fell apart almost as soon as they got off the boat. Today, 25 years later, they are world class, producing designs of their own making that are as good as or better than anybody else in the world. They didn't do that by de-funding their schools. They didn't do that by proclaiming that Jesus prohibits teaching of physics and biology because they contradict the Bible's creation story. They did that the old fashioned way -- by valuing education, innovation, and hard work. You know... like America used to be, before we started worshiping ignorance and started electing Presidents based on whether we'd like to have a beer with him rather than because he was, like, smart and shit.

-- Badtux the Car Penguin

The First Bad War

The Black Angels, "The First Vietnamese War", off of their 2006 album Passover.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin


It's just too damned hot.

That is all.

-- Badtux the Overheated Penguin

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Too damned *hot*

Had a couple of posts to put up, but by the time I got home and started sweltering in the heat (got to 95 today here in the Silly Cone Valley), I just didn't have the energy to write'em.

So instead, a brief product review:

Whoops, that wasn't it. Here's the real thing, which doesn't have 10 or 15 blades, but does have six blades (five for the shaving surface, one "trimmer" blade):

Gillette Fusion Power. I was dubious. But I figured what the heck, maybe this vibrating thingy would do for my face what that other kinda vibrating thingy does for a woman's, err, lips. So anyhow: it gave me the closest shave I've had in my adult life, with no bloodshed. And that whole "no bloodshed" thing is important, yo. I'm not quite sure why vibrating like a sex toy is supposed to do something when it comes to razors, but whatever it's doing, it does seem to be shaving well.

-- Badtux the Random Penguin

Reminiscing about Rudeness

When the Rude Pundit "came out" under his real name, I thought... "wait a minute! Don't I know him?" Well... sort of. He and my brother went to high school together as well as some college and were friends. The Rude One was into community theater with several of my brother's other friends (note that my brother had a number of gay friends in high school for some unknown reason, since my brother is decidedly *not* gay, his wife's howls of pleasure through the bedroom walls as he does his thing with her is proof enough of that I mean they sound like a porno in there when they're going at it, and luckily my brother doesn't know this blog exists so he can't kill me next time he sees me ;), and they hung out a lot in some places where I hung out too again for reasons I don't quite understand. Then one day he was gone -- gone to Houston with a gay hairdresser. He came back eventually, but that was around the time I moved away so I didn't see him after that.

So what was the Rude One like in high school? Well, he was fat. He was funny as hell. Pretty much all of us were pretty much sure at the time that he was gay, at least, he hung out with all the gay kids who were into drama and shit like that. Nobody really gave a shit 'cause he was funny as hell. And yeah, he was just as rude back then as he is today :).

So now The Rude One is a real drama queen, a drama professor in New Yawk City. Quite a long way from the bayous of Louisiana, that!

- Badtux the Reminiscing Penguin


Canadian indie band Metric with "The Twist", off of their 2001/2007 album Grow Up and Blow Away. (It was recorded in 2001, and not released until 2007 for reasons known only to studio head cases).

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, September 19, 2011

What on Earth am I here for?

That's the tagline on the postcard from a church that was slid through my mailbox door a few days ago. Supposedly you're supposed to go to this church, and they'll tell you what Higher Purpose you're here for, invariably one that somehow ends up with you giving lots of money to this church in exchange for that privilege of serving a "higher purpose".

You want to know what you're here for? Fucking. That's it. You're just an animal like any other animal, with only one purpose in life -- to reproduce and get your genes spread as widely as possible so that they'll live on after you're gone. All this other stuff we've created over the years -- this "civilization" we've built -- all of it has only one purpose: To keep you alive for as many years as necessary to get your offspring well established furthering the next generation of your genes spreading throughout the human race.

Eat sleep fight fuck die. That's it. The reason why civilization, why morality and ethics and caring and all those other "good" things as a whole, are good is because they mean more of your offspring and more of your relatives' offspring will survive to maturity to spread your genes through the gene pool. That's all. That's what you're here for. That's Truth. Which is cold and hard and most people prefer nice warm reassuring lies, but (shrug). This blog doesn't do a whole lot of trafficking in lies, in case you haven't noticed.

Glad I could help!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Things decided for us

Emmy The Great, "Bad Things Coming, We Are Safe" off her first album First Love.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tolerance of evil

"Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it." -- George Orwell, 1984

We're told that we shouldn't use certain words to describe people who do bad things. We're told that using these words is "intolerant". So if I wish to describe the KKK members who killed four little girls for the crime of being black... if I want to describe the bland bureaucrat who devised the "Final Solution" for the "problem" of European Jews... if I want to describe the people who call for or cheer the prospect of the death of fellow Americans... if I want to describe people who want to impose a religious theocracy where only their religion is allowed and non-believers must be registered as a "thought offender" in order to be ostracized and starved to death... if I use the proper word to describe these people -- EVIL -- I'm "intolerant"?

I have one thing to say about that: Damn straight I'm intolerant of evil. Tolerance of evil is the same thing as condoning evil. If someone wants to harm me or mine (and I count my fellow Americans as "mine" for this purpose), you're damn straight I'm going to be "intolerant", because any other choice is the same as condoning evil. And I want no part of that.

-- Badtux the Do-no-evil Penguin

Zombie days

Porcupine Tree, "Fear Of A Blank Planet", off their 2007 album by the same name. Given what I've been saying on my blog the past few days, pretty appropriate, methinks...

Hmm, anybody notice that I somehow got away from the alt-country and are in alterna-pop, dream pop, and rock now? All about how the connections work out, my friends...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin


After a shout-out by a sci-fi writer, I checked out Rachel Manija Brown's All the Fishes come Home to Roost yesterday from the public library (which yes, still exists! And was open!).

This is your standard run-of-the-mill horrible-childhood memoir along the line of Augusten Burroughs., though the horror was fairly brief in length (roughly four years) and not anywhere near as bad as what Augusten mentions. A lot of it reads sort of like what someone would tell her therapist while reliving bad things that happened to her in the past. I.e., sort of a "therapy book".

Which brings to mind the question of, is that sort of thing good or bad? Rachel clearly went through a traumatic experience, if her description of the aftermath is correct -- basically PTSD to the point where a Vietnam veteran, noticing her checking out a restroom and surroundings for threats prior to going in, asked her what war she'd been in. Yeah, you can get PTSD from the domestic wars too, folks, especially when they happen to you as a kid (don't ask me how I know, let's just say there's certain situations I avoid even at forty years remove). So anyhow, what the stats say is that talk therapy is no more or no less useful than just time by itself, so what use is this kind of "therapy memoir"? But then I think...

There are things I'll never know, that now Rachel knows as a result of asking people directly to get information for her book. What happened to my mother when she was 18 years old in Mississippi, that was the "bad situation" that my Aunt Lucille said she and my Uncle had to rescue her from? My mother has blanked it out and my Aunt is dead, I'll never know. My grandmother's little sister who died in the tragic fire, what was she like, and why did my great-grandmother ban liquor from the house forever afterwards? My grandmother didn't talk, my great-grandmother didn't talk, they're dead and everybody from their generation is dead.

Knowledge -- simply knowing -- is power. And there's so many questions I'll never know the answers to, because I didn't know I should ask them, because at the time there were questions that simply weren't to be asked, or because I don't have the courage today to ask them. At least Rachel has answers to her questions, or at least a large number of them.

I had another dream about my grandmother today. My mother was distraught because her mother had to use a walker now. In reality, of course, my grandmother has been dead for over ten years, and my mother is the one who needs a walker. I think it was just my subconscious reminding me that the past isn't dead, it's just past, and trying to bury it doesn't work. At which point I might say "okay, but why publish a tell-all book about it for all the world to read?" but that's perhaps a subject for a later day.

-- Badtux the Dreaming Penguin


Not to be outdone, Michael Cembalest, the chief investment officer of JPMorgan Chase, wrote in July of this year (in a clients-only newsletter obtained by Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson) that “profit margins have reached levels not seen in decades,” and “reductions in wages and benefits explain the majority of the net improvement.” (Cembalest printed the latter quote in boldfaced lettering.) “US labor compensation,” he explained, “is now at a 50-year low relative to both company sales and US GDP.”


That is all.

-- Badtux the Waddling Penguin

Saturday, September 17, 2011

the future, it's like the past, but hard and small

Steven Wilson and No-Man, "Truenorth", off of their 2008 album Schoolyard Ghosts. No-Man was originally something of a trip-hop band, but it appears they went for more of a dream pop sound on this album.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin


One thing about being cat-owned, is that my living room will never look like this:

There's a word for leather furniture in a cat-owned household: "Claw stropping stations". Heh.

-- Badtux the Wistful Penguin


I can totally see The Mighty Fang reacting this way to a Roomba.

This, BTW, is why the Internet was invented -- as this video explains, 30% of traffic on the Internet at any given point in time is kitty porn ;).

-- Badtux the Cat-appreciatin' Penguin

Friday, September 16, 2011

Quote of the Day

"I don't consider whatever share of my tax dollars is going to keep [the uninsured, the disabled, or just plain unsavory] alive to be a waste of money. It is the cost I'm willing to pay to be able to look myself in the mirror and see a human being looking back."

-- NZForm

But of course lizard people don't have any problem with looking at themselves in the mirror and not seeing a human looking back, because, doh, they're LIZARD PEOPLE, why would they want to see a human looking back?

-- Badtux the Unlizardy Penguin

Pain field

Blackfield is an English-Israeli duo, Steven Wilson and Aviv Geffen (with backing musicians), that focuses on alterna-pop. This is "Pain" off their self-titled 2004 debut album.

Steven Wilson also has some other interesting projects. Maybe I'll program something from them...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

The Kitty Theater

The Mighty Fang is watching the kitty theater.

You may have noticed that I'm not taking TMF walking anymore. TMF, like most toms that have been, err, "tutored", is usually a placid and friendly guy. The problem is that apparently he was, err, "tutored", too late -- the scent of an intact male drives him literally frantic with the most ear-shattering howls and yowls that you'll ever hear. That "lucky bamboo" plant in that brown flower pot is *decidedly* lucky that it hasn't ended up scattered all over the floor, because when an intact tom comes into my yard and TMF catches the scent, he goes nuts. Thus why the window blinds are up when the window is open... a few nights ago I had the window just *cracked* a little to let a little air circulation happen, and TMF tried to use the window blinds as a ladder, practically strangling himself in his eagerness to drive away the intruder tom.

So anyhow, he's been spending a lot of time looking out the window lately, just in case I guess... Mencken, on the other hand, looks bored by the whole thing, though when TMF starts yowling he comes running to see WTF is happening.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Do you feel poorer?

If not, you should. What's the results of the Bush Administration's mismanagement of the economy and the Republicans blocking the Obama administration's attempts to deal with it since then with a record number of filibusters? Well... real median income is down 7.1% since 1999.

So what that means, adjusted for inflation, is that you're getting less than 93 cents compared to what you got twelve years ago. So if you feel poorer, it's probably because you are poorer.

Oh yeah, forgot the next little tidbit: The nation's official poverty rate in 2010 was 15.1% -- the highest it's been since the President George H.W. Bush, now that I think about it. Hmm, Republicans?

Of course, according to the right wing the poor in America aren't actually poor because they're mostly living indoors and have, like, actual indoor plumbing, so because they're not starving and dying of exposure they're not really poor despite, well, having no money, but that's just a little niggling detail to be ignored if there's a good talking point to be made, right? So it goes...

-- Badtux the WASF Penguin

Scandinavian choir

Midnight Choir was a Norwegian indie/country rock band mostly active in the 90's. This song is named "Don't Turn Out The Lights" off their self-titled album Midnight Choir.

You might notice some resemblance to The Walkabouts, another indie band with Americana tinges. That isn't accidental, Chris Eckman produced a couple of their albums. The Walkabouts were/are far more popular in Europe than in their native United States and seeing The Walkabouts live was one reason why Midnight Choir got together to play similar music...

Uhm, yeah, yet more music from the soundtrack of that Greek crime drama. What can I say, I like the musical tastes of whoever is programming their soundtrack :).

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Viciousness vs. practicality

Two problems regarding the homeless have recently gotten attention here in the Silicon Valley:

1) The problem of homeless people living in run-down motor homes parked by the streets and dumping their raw sewage into the street drains that run to the Bay.

2) The problem of homeless people living on the shores of local streams and crapping in places where rains will wash their crap directly to the Bay.

Needless to say, both of these present water quality issues for San Francisco Bay. So what should we do about them? Here's two possibilities:

1) We can create public dump stations for the motor home people to dump their sewage into and refill their water tanks from, and we can set up porta-potties near homeless encampments so they have a place to shit into rather than directly into the streams, or

2) We can go out and arrest people and throw them into jail for dumping their crap into street drains or shitting into streams.

Which of the above two alternatives do you think would be cheaper? Well, porta-potty rental and weekly cleaning service is around $250/month (deliberately overstating), so figure $3,000/year. A public dump station could be installed near a sewage lift station for fairly cheaply, figure around $5k total, and would basically require no maintenance after that because the incremental costs of processing that sewage are lost in the noise. So figure that for around $50K/year total, you could completely do away with the issue of raw sewage flowing into the bay due to homeless people crapping in the water or dumping their tanks into street drains.

*OR*... you could put ONE SINGLE HOMELESS PERSON into jail for a year for that $50K/year total. And the reality is that you'd need to put HUNDREDS of homeless people into jail to deal with the problem of homeless people crapping into water or dumping their tanks into street drains.

So which alternative do you think the local governments have chosen? Any takers on that one?

Hint: It's the vicious solution, not the practical solution. As usual.

-- Badtux the "Americans are such a vicious bunch of motherfuckers" Penguin

Ominous birds

Woven Hand, "Sparrow Falls", off their 2006 album Consider the Birds. This is from the soundtrack to a Greek crime drama, basically their version of The Sopranos... thus the bullets and the gun. Can't understand the show itself, but damn fine music on its soundtrack...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Grayson was right

The crowd at the Teabagger Debate *cheered* yesterday when the scenario of a 30 year old dying due to lack of health insurance was introduced.


Don't believe me? See for yourself:

What kind of people cheer at the thought of dead human beings? Not humans, surely. Surely that must have been a crowd of lizard people from Planet Sociopath, right? Right?!

It seems that Alan Grayson was right...

-- Badtux the Sickened Penguin

Drunk memory

David Bazan - "How I Remember" off his 2006 EP Fewer Moving Parts.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Why we invented the Internet

Where else could we see a cat on a robo-vac swat a sweet pitbull in an argyle sweater vest?

What, you thought we geeks invented the Internet for PORN?! Sheesh!

-- Badtux the "You're dirty minded!" Penguin

Monday, September 12, 2011

More good work from the Free Market Fairy

Left: The Free Market Fairy takin' care of meat safety.

Libertarians are fond of saying that the magical Free Market Fairy would take care of making sure that meat was safe in their magical Libertopia. Apparently the Free Market Fairy like, waves her(?) magic wand and, like, sprinkles magic free market jizzum all over the meat and presto, it's safe!

So, err... why isn't it happening? Yet another government-forced recall of Cargill turkey meat that made people sick. If the Free Market Fairy's magic wand would automagically make Cargill ship only safe meat in Libertopia, why isn't it happening?

My problem with the Libertopians isn't their theories. My problem with the Libertopians is that they're just fuckin'-a *DELUSIONAL*. Their notions are pretty and all, but you can't point me to a single nation, anywhere, where they work in real life, and plenty of places where they clearly don't work -- like in assuring that meat don't kill you, yo.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

A word of advice

If you're a government agency and the only way you can deal with protests is by engaging in tactics more familiar from tyrannical dictatorships in the Middle East, such as, say, cutting off cell phone service or arresting reporters... maybe you, and not the protesters, are the problem? BART or, rather, the BART Police Department, has officially jumped the shark. Arresting reporters simply is not how it's done in a democracy. Just sayin'.

-- Badtux the Sovok Penguin

Low down Texas lounge

Slaid Cleaves, "Horseshoe Lounge", off of Sorrow & Smoke: Live at the Horseshoe Lounge.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A song for the new Depression

Which just happens to be a song from the old Depression. Bing Crosby, "Brother can you spare a dime".

Happy days are here again. Hip hip hoorah.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Welcome to National Pee Your Pants Day

Today is a national holiday where everybody pees their pants on command while chanting "Save me, oh kindly Big Brother!". We are supposed to either cower in terror that Zombie Dead Osama is coming to get us, or we're supposed to go grab our guns and go kill a darkie for Jeeeezus! The television airwaves today will be filled with death porn commemorating the murder of a couple thousand people in New York City and a few hundred elsewhere with Important People solemnly intoning "we shall never forget". The question of *what* we shall "never forget" is never asked. We've certainly forgotten the names and faces of those who died on September 11, 2001, after all. Well, unless you're one of those who lost a friend or relative in the attack, but folks who lost a friend or relative in the attack aren't one of the Important People who will be intoning "we shall never forget", they'll be someplace private where they can avoid all the death porn.

And let's not even think about all the hundreds of thousands of deaths of innocent civilians and not-so-innocent soldiers (both American and otherwise) that were "justified" by the fact that "them darkies attacked us!" (for any random darkies that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks, such as Iraqis, the Taliban, and so forth), or the loss of civil liberties where you now must accede to an anal probe and carry an internal passport oops "government-issued ID" if you want to travel more than a few hundred miles from your home or even vote in many states (gosh , just like the Soviet Union!), or any of that. No no, this is a solemn day, where we worship death while whipping out our big swinging dicks and, like, jizzin' *all over*, not just on our own country, but in random other places overseas where we swing our dicks and jizz all over'em just because, well, because we can.

So it goes. It's enough to drive a penguin to the sauce. Herring sauce, that is.

-- Badtux the Rude Penguin

Saturday, September 10, 2011

So soulful

TMF is sad about the state of the world. He has been staring at me soulfully for the past ten seconds or so and I haven't made a single move towards him to pet him.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Too true

During the first two years of the Obama administration the Republicans filibustered a record number of bills to keep Obama from passing his agenda. For the past year they've done their best to destroy the economy because they view that as the best chance to get Obama out of office. The needs of the American people have been nowhere on the Republican agenda.

-- Badtux the "Just the facts" Penguin



Ray Wylie Hubbard, "Count My Blessings". Dunno if this one ever made it on any of his albums, I can't seem to find it, but just some good low-down country blues from a guy who would be a millionaire country legend in a better world.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

So much for my diet

Just got back from Costco and dropped the usual $200 on stuff. Going through the food aisles, I ran across the following:

  1. A large container of "stuffed grape leaves" (dolmas)
  2. A tall bin of pre-cooked falafel balls
  3. A large package of pork tamales
That in addition to the other stuff (towels, noodles, and so forth). You'd think I was a stoner or somethin', sigh!

Personally, I blame Gordon. At least for the tamales part :).

-- Badtux the Stuffed Penguin

Friday, September 09, 2011

Innovation, Solyndra, and political nonsense

The sad reality of life is that not all good ideas end up easily implemented, and sometimes ideas you thought were good turn out to be not so good once they reach the light of day. The sad reality is that over 90% of companies started to produce something innovative here in the Silicon Valley fail. That's just how it works, not every idea works out. Even when ideas do work out, it may not be possible to sell the result for enough money to keep you in business -- I have, alas, worked for several companies that had great products but couldn't figure out how to make enough money from them to cover costs thus went out of business.

In the case of Solyndra, they thought they had an innovative way to increase the amount of energy obtained from solar panels. They found a bunch of backers, created product, and sold thousands of their solar modules. Unfortunately two things happened that utterly destroyed their business model: 1) New silicon wafer foundries came online, making flat solar panels ridiculously cheap even when built in America (and most solar panels sold here in America *are* built here in America, for the same reason that most cars sold here in America are built here -- because they're bulky and fragile and breakage on the long overseas voyage would kill you thus it's not cost-effective to ship them from overseas), and 2) scientists figured out ways to make silicon solar panels produce almost as much power as Solyndra's more expensive copper-gallium panels, thus eliminating most of their power advantage. Solyndra tried making their product cheaper and couldn't, the technology they used is inherently labor intensive to produce (unlike silicon wafers, the production of which is largely automated). So in the end, they had a good idea, but it didn't work out in practice, like so many other ideas, and they went out of business.

Just a normal business failure, in other words. Well, except for the fact that the loans they used to build their factory and buy their equipment were government-guaranteed loans, just like the mortgages of many millions of Americans. Solyndra applied for these "green energy" loans during the Bush Administration, and they were awarded early in the Obama administration, long before Obama had any of his appointees in place at the Department of Energy. Which means, of course, that it's all Obama's fault, and the government shouldn't be in the business of encouraging renewable energy anyhow, even though the vast majority of these "green energy" loans have performed well and Obama didn't have anything to do with the "green energy" program, that was a Bush-era program.

All of which is just utter nonsense. This nation's government has been involved in fostering critical industries since its beginning, when the Federalist government of George Washington imposed tariffs on British cloth in order to encourage the development of an American textile industry. And given that we have reached peak oil and will be transitioning to a mostly-electric infrastructure in the future, we need all the energy sources we can get -- and solar is one of the more cost-effective ones in the southern half of the country where solar panel output corresponds with daytime peak usage of electricity. So not every potential technology we look at turns out to be viable. So what. Thomas Edison made dozens of tries at a viable light bulb before he got one that worked, and the "green energy" program has a much better track record than that, indeed, has a much better track record than any private venture fund in the Silicon Valley. Using it as a political football is just playing chicken with the future of the nation, and regardless of your political affiliation should be viewed as utter nonsense.

-- Badtux the Technology Penguin

Quote of the day

"I have stood by the officers since Day One, and I will not waver from that position because they have done nothing wrong." -- Denver police union president Nick Rogers, explaining that beating senseless random people on the street then lying about it under oath is just expected police behavior, and it's thus wrong to punish cops for doing it.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Sex and drugs

Sex and drugs are the basic ingredients of rock'n'roll. And of the output of Old Crow Medicine Show. Just think of'em as the Grateful Dead with acoustic instruments and tighter songs and inspiration from the bluegrass tradition, Alabama high test not included with every album :).

This is "New Virginia Creeper" off of Big Iron World. And like most of their songs, it's about sex and drugs. They push that innuendo to the breaking point, heh!

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday garden porn

At the end of April, here's the rosemary, freshly planted:

As of yesterday, here's the rosemary, after getting watered once a week via filling its basin:

Yeah, I think it's gonna fill that corner of the garden nicely :).

-- Badtux the Gardening Penguin

Clean ears

Mencken has the cleanest ears of any cat in the world. The Mighty Fang makes sure of that.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Thursday, September 08, 2011

The winner of the debate was...

... Democrats. The most amazing thing was when the crowd bloodthirstily clapped when Goodhair boasted of how many innocent people he'd executed. Yeah, not a lot of Democrats in that crowd. Anyhow, Crazy White (Lady) and the Seven Dwarfs put on the show we've been expecting to see, even though the dwarf "Boring" got replaced with the dwarf "Dopey" for this debate. Hmm, let's name the dwarfs. Sleazy, Grumpy, Creepy, Dopey, Dope, Goldy, and Skeezy. What a collection. And of course Crazy White complements them quite well.

Which reminds me, the preliminaries for Wet Your Pants Day have started with the usual bogus terror alert to keep us all anxious for kindly Big Brother to protect us from them mean terriers who want to destroy our freedoms (huh, don't terriers usually just wanna destroy your shoes?!) and thus we must destroy our freedoms first or the terriers win and... err... I think I lost the plot here. But that's okay, the whole fucking nation lost the plot on September 11, 2001, so remember, we must all wet our pants on command in three days or Zombie Osama will KILL US ALL and the terriers will win!

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Low down Sunday blues

Should have posted this to appear on a Sunday. Oh well, I'm scheduling this on a Sunday, so (shrug).

Mark Lanegan as a singer is so indie that you look up "indie" in the dictionary and there's his picture. Screaming Trees, Queens of the Stone Age, collaborating with Isobel Campbell, as one of the collaborators on The Desert Sessions and of course solo. You might remember that I had a video of him and Isobel Campbell doing "Revolver" earlier on the blog, but this is from his 1989 debut solo album The Winding Sheet and the name of the song is "Ugly Sunday".

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Austrians, Republicans and gratuitous cruelty

As we all know, the Republicans refused to extend unemployment benefits during the last Congressional session. Their notion, apparently, is that all those unemployed slackers are just taking a vacation with taxpayer money and need to just get a job, already, despite the fact that there are four unemployed applicants for every job opening in America meaning that three of them aren't gonna get the job no matter what.

The GOP is, thus, fundamentally a subscriber to the Classical/Chicago School notion of the Great Depression as the Great Vacation, where millions of hard-working people world-wide inexplicably decided to go on long vacations for a decade until the outbreak of WW2. The notion is that if you're unemployed, it's voluntary, because you could always get a job if you lowered your wage demands. There are two practical problems with that theory -- a) there is a practical floor on wages in that wages insufficient to sustain life will not be accepted because if you're going to starve to death anyhow you might as well do so with some dignity, and b) I as a small business owner am not going to hire another employee for any wage other than "free" unless there is demand to justify it, because as a capitalist my job is to make as much profit as I can (meaning with as little payroll as I can get away with), I'm a businessman, not a charity. I.e., lack of demand, not wages, are why I'm not hiring.

So anyhow, that practical stuff gets ignored by people who are in love with the elegant theories of the Austrians despite their utter lack of applicability to *this* universe. Which is one reason why WASF.

-- Badtux the Practical Penguin


Amy Speace, "Ghost", off her 2011 album Land Like a Bird. She's about four decades too late to channel Judy Collins, but she sure can sing...

-- Badtux the M usic Penguin

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The free market solves all problems

Left: The Free Market Fairy, preparing to solve your problems with extreme prejudice, yo.

So the Free Market Fairy solves all problems, it seems. Including, apparently, the problem of firemen getting old and retiring and drawing their pensions, since the new digital trunking systems foisted onto firefighters in the aftermath of 9/11/2001 often reject mayday calls due to overcrowding, resulting in dead firemen. A problem which doesn't occur with non-trunked analog systems, where you know before you press the mike whether the air is busy or not.

But according to the free market advocates, this can't be, because the magic free market fairy would just wave her magic wand and sprinkle magic free market fairy dust all over and presto, everything would be fine. Err... yeah right. That free market fairy? S/he is a grumpy tranny who'd sooner kneecap you if there's more profit in it. Which is the case here, I know the technology that Motorola and ICOM are selling firefighters (similar radios are sold to ham radio operators, e.g. ICOM's D-STAR system), and I'll tell you this, I wouldn't want to rely on it in an emergency -- there's just too much that can go wrong. Analog may be old-school tin can and strings technology, but it's also bullet-proof.

So what's behind the push for digital? 1) Police departments that want to keep their crime calls secret so that crooks can't listen in and be warned that the coppers are coming (hmm, y'now, there's this thing nowadays called CELL PHONES, why not just give your guy a call on the phone?), and 2) profit, profit, PROFIT. I have to admit that digital gives better use of the bandwidth and generally sounds better *if* you're not in a noisy environment, but if I'm a firefighter down in a basement with a radio and I need to yell for help? I don't want a cell phone. I don't want a digital radio. I want a good old fashioned waterproofed shockproofed analog radio, the kind that's pretty much bullet-proof as long as it's got battery power left.

- Badtux the Radio Penguin

Thought for today

"I can never tell if the person playing the bagpipe is any good at it or not. I'm convinced nobody can, and all the bagpipe players out there are having big laugh about how bad they are and nobody knows it."

-- Pita

Bonus music: The Red Hot Chili Pipers.


Comcast is composting again tonight. Says Comcast via their web site, "There is a known technical issue in your area. Technicians are working toward a resolution. " So I'm on my backup dialup. Siiiigh!

Comcast sucks. What else is new.

- Badtux the Slow Penguin

Done wrong

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, "Cigarettes and Wine", off their 2009 self-titled album. Hmm, another done-wrong song like yesterday's. Hope I'm not getting into a rut!

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, September 05, 2011

A Labor Day reminder

Job creators are consumers, not investors, because without consumers, there is no reason to produce and thus no reason to hire. And consumers can't consume unless they get paid a living wage by employers and have some spare leisure time to use to consume.

It is no surprise that the glory days of American capitalism were the period 1950-1970 when there was a tacit understanding between labor and capital that it was good for everybody if workers got paid a living wage in exchange for not gumming up the works of capital. During those years, as JzB has so handily pointed out on his blog, productivity increases led directly to wage increases. Since then the wheels have come off for anybody who's not in the top 1% of taxpayers. Per-hour real wages for non-managers didn't budge between 1979 and 2007. Increases in productivity rather than raise wages have driven down the prices of some consumer goods, but since the employment to produce those goods is in China rather than the USA, that has done nothing for employment. And without employment you don't have a consumer, you have a problem, since as I have repeatedly pointed out people don't just die on demand.

So, what's the solution? Well, if we went back to the economic policies of Dwight D. Eisenhower, including his tax policies...

-- Badtux the Practical Penguin


Justin Townes Earle does his daddy proud with a done-my-woman-wrong song. This is "Someday I'll be Forgiven for This" off his 2009 album, Midnight At The Movies. Sounds sort of like Randy Newman meets Hank Williams, sort of...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

A few more notes

1) Outlook is a great calendaring program, it's a great program for managing your contacts list, it's a wonderful TODO list program. But only Microsoft could produce an email program that, well, sucks at actual email. My employer uses a proxied Exchange server and every damned time I fire up Outlook, the damned thing prompts me for my email password, despite the fact that I told it to remember the password last time I fired up Outlook!. Apple Mail doesn't do that, despite the fact that it's using Microsoft's code to talk to Exchange (Apple licensed the code to do so from Microsoft). It properly remembers my password. So anyhow, the *other* issue I'm having with Outlook is that occasionally it just decides to not update my message counts. I look at 'Favorites', where I've dragged the Inbox of all my email accounts, and it shows no emails. Then I click on, say, the badtux Inbox, and suddenly it shows I have two emails -- that arrived an hour ago but I never got any sort of notification!

So anyhow, Thunderbird isn't an adequate substitute because our Exchange server doesn't export LDAP for the contacts list, and like most high tech employers, the names of many of our employees (first.last convention for email names) are unspellable by native English speakers. Grrr!

2) I have a *fine* string of music waiting for you this week, mostly folks who've never been on this blog before, and most of'em are good. So y'all come back now, y'hear?

-- Badtux the Random Penguin

Still around

Just trying to make some decisions in my personal life. Do I buy a house? Do I buy a new Jeep? Do I invest $3K in my current Jeep for new tires and axle innards? Only thing I do know is that I'm not going anywhere job-wise, I got to do some Java last week for the first time in ages, as well as some Microsoft Powershell (which is, amazingly, quite good at scripting the innards of Windows Vista/2008+, with one small slight problem -- you can't *run* the damned scripts without typing in a Powershell command by hand into a Powershell window first to enable running Powershell scripts!). You tell me what kind of big company would let me dabble in things that I've never done before like that, you get into a rut at big companies and that's where you stay for the rest of your career.

So anyhow, the jobs report came out Friday. It'll be adjusted, but basically it said the economy is making no jobs and real unemployment is going up. Oh, it hides the fact that real unemployment is going up by disappearing population growth into the "not in labor force" category, but disappearing those people down the "labor force participation" memory hole don't make them any less unemployed. The most interesting fact from that report is that government employment is going down, which is one reason why your potholes keep getting bigger and bigger. Locally road crews doing road patching have declined by 66% due to lack of money for keeping road repair crews on the payroll. The San Jose Fire Department and San Jose Police Department payrolls have been slashed by several hundred cops and firefighters, meaning that if your house catches on fire or you need to call the cops you might be better off just praying for rain or thunderbolts from the sky instead. This despite the fact that the Federal Reserve has the printing press and the Federal government has the ability to print as much money as necessary to hire all these unemployed people. Nixon instituted revenue sharing with local governments during the 1973 recession to prevent loss of jobs at the state and local level, but Nixon was smarter and more liberal than Obama, apparently...

-- Badtux the WASF Penguin

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Texas honky tonk time

This is an example of a musical genre called "Texas Honkey Tonk", which is sort of blues, sort of country-west, and mostly Texas. These are the Flatlanders, originally from Lubbock, Texas via Austin.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Bad horns

Bad as in "not good", that is. That's some pretty sketchy horn playing, though they get a bit better towards the end. But that's sort of part of the charm of Beirut, Zach Condon grabs a few musicians off the street, hums the song to them while telling each part what they're supposed to do as they come in, and then they jam. It's not improvision, exactly, because everything's driven by the accordion and the singing, but it's definitely not as polished as you'd expect from your average bar band.

The band is Beirut. The song is "Nantes", off their 2007 album The Flying Club Cup.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, September 02, 2011

The limits

In a previous post, I pooh-poohed the notion of "limited government" in the Libertarian sense of the word (basically a return to 1776 when the U.S. government consisted of the War Department and the Post Office, and the Libertarians aren't so sure about the Post Office thing). I pointed out that there has not been a single democracy on the face of this planet within the past fifty years that has voted for "limited government", and thus the only way you could have "limited government" in the Libertarian sense of the word is the old fashioned Pinochet way -- by imposing it at gunpoint.

But once you admit that "limited government" in the Libertarian sense of the word is a lost cause because every junkie has a mother and a brother who want him protected from himself, every 18 year old has a father who wants certain things outlawed to maybe keep said 18 year old living long enough to have some sense, and so forth, then you have to wonder: What are the limits of power?

There's two answers to this question:

  1. The majority in a democracy will not knowingly vote for laws that oppress the majority. And if they unknowingly vote for such laws, as long as it remains a democracy such laws will get repealed. Thus I don't think we need to fear that the majority in a democracy will vote that all citizens be terminated at age 65 in order to save on Medicare costs, because, after all, everybody eventually reaches age 65.
  2. The majority in a democracy, like the majority everywhere, fear violence and conflict and will not knowingly pass laws that oppress a large enough minority that widespread civil disorder is the result.
The end result is that in a democracy, you have significant barriers to the sort of widespread tyranny that you see in most non-democracies. Lest you point out the sad history of racial discrimination and segregation in the South, I'll just point out that it was enforced via the same means that any other such regime of terror is enforced: it was imposed at (white) gunpoint, not by the vote of the majority of the citizens of those states.

Okay, so now let's talk about taxes. If there are no fundamental restrictions on taxes, what will keep the majority from, say, voting to impose a 100% tax on the 100 richest people in America?

Well, first of all, the 100 richest people in any nation don't produce a significant amount of economic output (output is produced by workers, not by executives, who merely reap the benefits of the work that the workers do), so it'd be a one-time redistribution of capital. Because the majority of workers produce the majority of the nation's income -- workers own only 51% of the nation, but earn 78% of the nation's income -- the majority in a democracy will never impose confiscatory taxes upon the majority, because the majority is *them*. In short, what limits taxation in a democracy is the simple fact that the majority of the income is earned by workers, and thus taxing a minority won't raise sufficient money to run the big government that the majority wants even if the majority taxed that minority at 100%. Sooner or later they'd have to raise their own taxes, because they're earning most of the income.

In short, what limits taxes in a democracy is low income inequality. If the worker majority are rewarded with a fair amount of the income that they produce for the ownership class, they will not impose confiscatory taxes on the ownership class because confiscatory taxes on the ownership class simply won't accomplish anything. It is only when the ownership class decides to get greedy and grab 49% of the assets of the nation despite being only 1% of the nation's population that suddenly they have to worry about confiscatory taxes being levied against them by the working majority -- at which point I have to say, they have nobody to blame but themselves, yo.

BTW, this is also why the worker majority won't award themselves unlimited welfare -- they'd have to tax themselves to provide it, so what's the point? -- but that's another right wing anti-democracy talking point to destroy at some point in the future.

-- Badtux the Democracy Penguin


The Walkabouts, one of America's most-ignored bands despite creating great music for three decades now, had their best shot at stardom on January 1, 1993 when they released their album New West Hotel. Unfortunately, another band had released their new album in 1992, and New West Hotel sounded nothing like that other band's album. It sank like a stone. Uhm, that other album. That was Nirvana, Nevermind.

So anyhow: This is "Long Time Here" off of New West Hotel by The Walkabouts. Enjoy.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friends in high places

I got friends in high places. Of course, sitting on the fireplace mantle, I'm a bit high off the ground too...

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Thursday, September 01, 2011

That book

I suppose I should say something about that book. You know, THAT book. The one released by Dear Former Real Leader Darth "I'm a Dick" Cheney? Thing is, I haven't read it. I've been told that he admits, even gloats, about war crimes in it. I've been told that he gloats about being in charge for the first six years of the GWB Presidency. But based on this review, the fundamental problem with the book is that Dick Cheney tries to prove he's human, and instead proves he's a lizard person from Planet Sociopath -- a fact which we already knew. So why should I bother reading it? Maybe I'll pick it up for 80% off in the remainder bin a few weeks from now. Or maybe not. I have better things to do, after all. Like watching the grass grow. Or viewing kitty porn on YouTube. Or even just staring at the ceiling, for cryin' out loud, probably more entertaining than dousing myself into the sewer that is Dick Cheney's soul.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Thought for the day

Taxes are the price we pay for civilization.

-- Badtux the Shorter Penguin
Funny how an entire long diatribe of mine can be summarized in one sentence, eh?

The bandit and the Judas

A young Emmylou Harris in 1977, covering Townes van Zandt's classic "Pancho and Lefty". This is one of the songs I cover myself, because it's a classic.

Here's a couple more versions:

The Willie Nelson / Waylon Jennings version was the one that made the song somewhat famous, and kept Townes in booze for several years.

And Townes himself, only four years before the end. He can't hit the high notes anymore, but his cracked voice full of the sadness of the world still fits the song so well...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin