Wednesday, February 29, 2012


I got my income tax refunds back today. Why does it feel so good to get back my own money? The money went straight to savings of course, to replenish the sum that went into the IRA at the end of last year.

Meanwhile, I dabbed The Mighty Fang's face with vanilla extract. No idea yet whether it's going to make any difference, but at least it makes him smell better :). He didn't seem to mind me putting some extract on a cotton swab and dabbing him with it, because he seemed to think it smelled like food. What a chow-hound.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

The Village is panicking

They've declared Mitt Romney the winner in Michigan despite the fact that Rick Santorum picked up just as many delegates as the Romneybot did. Think about that -- the Romneybot was created and lived its childhood in Michigan, yet familiarity truly *did* breed contempt, Michigan voters gave Romney a slight plurality (3%!!!) but he didn't even manage to break the 50% barrier.

In other words, in Michigan more than half of the Republican voters won't vote for Romney. Even in Arizona, where Romney was the clear winner, more than half of the Republican voters didn't vote for Romney. In fact, Romney has *never* broken the 50% mark.

Unless the Romneybot's handlers can dig up better programmers to implement the "charisma", "likability", and "personality" subroutines in its programming, the chances of The Romney winning in November are similar to the chances of The Romney winning American Idol. It could happen, but only if President Obama got caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy. Just sayin' ;).

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Trippy facial hair

Indie band The Beards. Since I mentioned them yesterday. This is "Sidewalks", off their one and only album, 2002's Funtown. Lisa Marr then went back to doing her own band (Lisa Marr Experiment) while Kim Shattuck went back to The Muffs.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Busy evening

First thing I took a look at was the gas furnace. It's a Rheem Criterion, and it wasn't putting out any heat. So I took the cover off and, err... bad news. Something must have happened to the chimney cap because it looks like it's been raining in there. Time to call the landlord. But anyhow, once I blew all the junk out with canned air and pressed the button on the flame rollout switch (all done with power shut off to the unit of course), it fired right up with a typical Rheem start cycle (draft inducer whir, a glow plug burn red, then ignition of four tubes of heat). Hopefully getting the chimney cap fixed to keep water out of the system will keep the switch from tripping again, if not (shrug) landlord buys a new flame rollout switch.

Next up was the kitchen faucet. It's a cheap POS that's been leaking for years, from what I can tell. I got tired of it and got an American Standard Cadet with a spray nozzle a while back. So tonight I decided to install it. The only annoying part was getting the retainer ring tight on the spray nozzle side, I have the "right" faucet wrench to do this job, but simply working it around the cabinetry was a PITA because the crossbrace that the tiled-in sink actually sits on comes almost right up to the retainer ring there. Just one of the joys of custom cabinetry and tiled-in sinks...

So now I have heat, and a sink that doesn't drip. Life is good :).

Well, except that The Mighty Fang freaked out and started howling at Mencken again, who of course is completely baffled...

- Badtux the Handy Penguin

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The problem with police states

Yesterday I mentioned that the 1% have squeezed the turnip that is the 99% so thoroughly to extract wealth that it is taking exponentially greater amounts of state-supported violence to extract each additional increment. Think about it. When you're wringing water out of a wet rag, it's easy to get plenty of water out with the first few twists. But to get additional water out, you have to wring it tighter and tighter. And with 6 million people -- 2% of the population of the USA -- currently in prison, and another 3% out on parole or probation, the amount of wringing that is being done to squeeze those last bits of juice out of the turnips, err, the 99%, is getting pretty dire indeed.

So what's the end game? The first possibility, and the one that I give an 80% chance of happening, is a police state. It's simple: Once you require so much violence on your behalf against such a large percentage of the population, once keeping down the inevitable riots and demonstrations and disorder takes so much power that the police are basically omnipresent, the police end up with so much power that eventually they look at each other and ask, "Why are we doing this on behalf of *those* schlubs?!" and simply take power themselves. They might do so openly, or they might do so quietly by suggesting to the departing power brokers that it'd be a good idea to anoint the secret policeman as their successor, but take power they do, and then work the levers to make sure they *stay* in power. Just ask yourself who the wealthiest and most powerful man in Europe is right now. Hint: he's a secret policeman.

The second possibility, and the one to work toward, is peaceful revolution. Luckily our founding fathers wrote a peaceful revolution into our Constitution. It happens every two to four years, and it's called the vote. Every single one of the bastards in Congress or any other elected office got there because the majority of voters in his or her district or state voted for him. If the majority of people vote for the candidate with the best attack ads rather than the best candidate, if the majority of people vote for the candidate they'd like to have a beer with rather than the smartest candidate, they get what they want -- and deserve. But if things got dire enough that people were willing to engage in the political process rather than dismiss it as something irrelevant to their lives, the mechanisms are there for a peaceful revolution *without* the sort of risks that people in Egypt and Tunisia had to take to bring a peaceful revolution to their nations.

One thing I will warn you about, however, is violent revolution. Violent revolution almost 100% leads to a police state. The reason is that violence scares the majority of people. Sociopaths love violence, but it makes ordinary people queasy to their stomachs. And police states are very good at promising safety from violence -- and delivering. All it costs you is your freedom.

One outcome that is *not* going to happen, however, is that the current oligarchy manages to persist for another generation. The amount of government force needed to even maintain their current positions on top of the heap are of a nature that one of the prior two events -- a police state or a peaceful revolution -- are going to happen because the current level of violence simply isn't sustainable in the long term. Our oligarchs are generally pretty dim, the majority having "earned" their wealth by being members of the lucky sperm club rather than via any effort or intelligence on their own behalf (the Walton family members, for example, "earn" more income from their inheritance than the bottom 25% of American *combined*), but the fact that they've overreached is starting to slowly sink in, and they're panicking. To calm down the tornado and extend their rule another generation would require letting loose the screws a bit, letting some of that wealth they've forcibly extracted from the 99% trickle back down into the hands of the 99%. Yet this goes against everything they believe in, which is a toddler's version of the universe, "mine, mine, mine!". My prediction is that they will *not* be able to overcome this conditioning and loosen up the reins. I don't see any FDR's among the current crop of oligarchs, I don't see any of them under the age of 50 (FDR was elected at age 50) with enough sense to walk and chew gum at the same time.

But could it happen? Well, cows could fly, I suppose. Don't count on it. Just plan for one thing: That at some point in time, the discussion will likely change from how to bring about peaceful change in America, to how to maintain an underground pro-freedom resistance movement in the face of a police state that is awe-inspiring in its ability to monitor our every movement. I hope that it never comes to that. But looking at the possibilities, that seems all too probable.

-- Badtux the Gloomy Penguin

Bad boys, bad girls

It's well known that girls go for the bad boys. But do boys go for the bad girls too? Apparently... yes!

Nick Curran & The Lowlifes, "Reform School Girl", off their album by the same name.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

How to fail

The Lala Times, having seen the splendid success that the New York Times paywall has been (i.e., the NYT has gotten less than $1M worth of revenue out of it despite spending over $40M on it, and there's a *reason* to read the NYT, unlike the Lala TImes), has now decided that such a splendid success requires emulation. At which point I say, WTF? The LA Times is not a "Newspaper of Record". Their quality level has always been somewhere down around that of a major suburban newspaper. I mean, even the San Jose Murky News has better coverage of Los Angeles in many cases than the LaLa Times does! After all, they both get their news from the same place -- the AP news stringers. But the Murky doesn't chop the AP stories to confetti.

Baffling. Utterly baffling. It's like the entire newspaper industry has a death wish. At this point simply accessing AP directly would keep me better informed, because that's where all the content of the newspapers comes from anyhow, *not* chopped to shreds to fit some editor's notion that newspaper readers have the attention span of gnats (if that were true, we wouldn't buy newspapers, we'd just watch the evening news, DOH!).

Note that subscriptions have *never* covered the cost of publishing a newspaper -- at best subscriptions have defrayed the costs of delivering the newspaper to subscribers, but the actual content has always been paid for by advertising. The traditional business model of the newspaper industry is that the content's entire purpose is to bring in eyeballs to see the ads. Sort of the Google business model, now that I think about it. So why can Google execute on this, but not the newspapers, who *invented* this business model?

-- Badtux the "Brains! They need brains!" Penguin

Monday, February 27, 2012

Some things to think about

The current crony capitalist system in place since the Reagan Revolution dismantled the New Deal consensus that capitalism had to serve both labor and capital is requiring ever-increasing levels of repression to milk additional increments of wealth out of labor for the benefit of capital. Currently almost 5% of the U.S. population is either in jail, on probation, or otherwise involved in the correctional system. We have more people in prison both as a percentage and as a sum total than Stalin had in his gulags.

It was amazing to see the amount of police state brute force used against the Occupy movement. We're talking about a movement that, if it had been ignored, would have simply faded away within a few weeks because people would have gotten bored and moved on. Instead it was in the headlines for weeks because of the level of brutality used to suppress it. Why in the world were the oligarchs so panicked? It's because they have just about reached the end of the amount of force they can apply to eke out tiny increments of wealth out of the labor of the 99%. When you're already applying as much force as Stalin applied, you're reaching the point where it costs more to apply additional force than you'll get as a return on that additional force.

At this point I want to mention something called "retreat mining". In pillar-and-room mining of large shelves of valuable mineral, pillars and walls of valuable ore are left standing to hold the roof up. Once the shelf has been exploited to its full extent, then starting at the back of the mine, and moving forward, the pillars and walls are systematically pulled out and as the process moves towards the front of the mine, the back part of the mine starts caving in behind them. The goal is to outrun that process of collapse, get all that valuable ore out that had been wasted as pillars and walls to hold the ceiling out, and if the whole mine ends up collapsing behind you after you get the last bits of ore out of the last pillars and walls, well who cares, right? This reminds me of what our elites are now starting to do. Because the cost of the violence to hold up the walls / keep the system from collapsing is so expensive, they're now retreat-mining -- cutting police forces and fire departments (San Jose now has fewer cops than in the early 70's when it was literally half its current size), cramming more and more prisoners into less and less space with fewer and fewer prison guards in order to save money, etc. They're hoping they can suck the very last resources out of the economy and spirit them off to safety (where?) before the whole system collapses.

Will it work? Who's going to stop them? Us silly flightless waterfowl babbling on the Internets? I don't think so! But at least there will be this record, some time in the future, of what they are doing...

-- Badtux the Violence Penguin

Still feeling Comcraptastic

Looks like I'll have to jump thru the hoops to get someone to look at my connection, because it looks like I have low signal levels, sigh. So anyhow, afternoon music time is discontinued for the simple reason that I have a bunch of music videos ready to spool up on my PC but I can't get on the Internet for crap from my PC, this is my Macbook via my iPhone via tethering. So... -- Badtux the Craptacular Penguin

Happy drunk

The Muffs, "Really Really Happy", off their 2004 album by the same name, their last studio album. Just some 90's style pop-punk, with Kim Shattuck sounding half-drunk as usual.

Oh yeah, connections. Kim Shattuck was part of a band called The Beards during the 'oughts with Lisa Marr, who was lead singer of the band Cub, for whom Neko Case was a part-time drummer when Cub's normal drummer wasn't available. Heh.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Turned off that @%!# comment verification

Spammers are revving their engines as we speak. SIIIiiiiigh!

- Badtux the Damned To Spam Hell Penguin

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Compost is doing its usual Comcraptastic job and losing half my packets. Unfortunately this means that my posts of next week's music and any other posts I was thinking about doing are stuck on my PC. This is from my iPhone, grr.

- Badtux the "Comcast Sucks" Penguin

80 years

John R. Cash arrived on this planet on February 26, 1932.

This is "I Hung My Head" off of his last album released while he was living, American IV. In his later years Johnny was an interpreter of other people's songs. In this case, the song he's adopted and made his own was originally written by Sting for Sting's album Mercury Falling. Needless to say, unless you knew this, you'd have no idea...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin


Bonus music. There was some piano on it, but I decided it didn't add anything to the guitar and Irish whistle and took it off. I experimented with drums (synth drums, not real ones, not interested in being evicted!) also and came to similar conclusion.

This was done with Presonus Studio One on my Macbook Pro, with a Presonus Firebox interface, Squier Duo-Sonic guitar thru a Roland Microcube set to 'Brit Combo' with reverb turned to max, and a Waltons "C" Irish whistle. The vocals and whistle are thru an Audix OM2 microphone hooked to the Firebox thru a Behringer Xenyx1202FX mixer because otherwise I can't get sufficient volume out of a dynamic mike hooked direct to the Firebox.

There's a couple of minor glitches in the guitar and a couple of minor glitches in the whistle but you have to be paying close attention to notice them so I'm reasonably pleased. I could have done a bit of editing work in the Presonus editor and maybe a few toots and notes to do fill-ins at the glitchy spots and cleared that up but frankly don't care enough, it's not as if I make my living doing music after all.

Why Presonus Studio One: Of all the DAW software I've tried, it's the one with the most reasonable workflow. I've owned Logic for years, but I fired up Logic the other day after having not used it for a year or so and could not make head nor tails of it despite once knowing how to use it. If Apple had any sense they'd fire the entire Logic software development team, purchase Presonus, and re-brand Studio One as an Apple product... it's the most Apple-ish of the DAW software that I've used, as vs. Logic which makes sense only if you're a German techno geek (which describes the German team that wrote it).

-- Badtux the Musician Penguin

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Thinking the unthinkable

EBM notes that Iceland's government serves the people, while our government serves the banks. I point out that Iceland's entire population is smaller than the typical mid-size city, and it's easy to have a government responsive to the people when your population is so small. At which point the obvious question becomes, "if the population of the USA has grown so large that it's impossible for the government to be responsive to the people, is it time to break up the USA?"

In 1861 Abraham Lincoln looked at Benjamin Franklin's statement from 1776 -- "we must all hang together or we shall most assuredly all hang separately" -- and pronounced it still operative. The European powers were in the process of divvying up most of the world between them. The United States had vast resources but also comprised a vast area that was sparsely populated. The example of India would have especially been on Lincoln's mind. The British Empire had just assumed direct control over India in 1858 in the wake of a rebellion against the East India Company and had never had a significant number of soldiers on the ground. Instead the British had conquered India via a divide-and-conquer strategy where the various princedoms were pitted against each other and the majority of "British" troops were actually Indian troops under the command of British commanders. Britain had, in effect, conquered India almost for free, using primarily Indians to do the job. All of which was possible because India had not been a unified country at the time that the British arrived on the scene and thus the various nation-states that comprised India were easily set against each other and the loser often enough preferred giving up their sovereignty to the British rather than accepting subjugation by their hated rival across the river.

What would happen to the United States if the South were allowed to go its own way? Lincoln saw the former United States breaking up into dozens of smaller nations if this were allowed to happen, because both the rump USA and the CSA had their own divisions within their ranks -- Texas, for example, had once been an independent nation and had enough differences with the rest of the CSA that even during the war it effectively operated as an independent country. Utah, for another example, would have happily seceded and become the nation of Deseret if allowed to do so, the Utah territory had its own unique religion and culture that were in some respect alien to that of the USA. And what then? Well... the British were to the north. The French were to the south, setting up Emperor Maximilian as their proxy in Mexico. One or the other was sure to try the India strategy against a fragmented United States. And the chances of it being successful were far too great for a patriotic citizen of the United States to countenance.

Thus the American Civil War, on the surface a war to subjugate the South, but on a larger level a war to prevent the United States from undergoing the fate of India -- forcibly de-industrialized, looted, used solely for its resources, with any independence of any rump states being only nominal. But that was 1861. What about today? What would happen if the USA spun apart into multiple nations today?

First, there are no longer any colonial powers. Colonialism died with the collapse of the French empire in the aftermath of WW2, as first Indochina then North Africa escaped their grasp, or if you wish to be pedantic, with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, though the Soviets weren't particularly a colonial power (their rule over eastern Europe was more about creating a buffer zone against a renewal of Western militarism, i.e. creating more defensive depth, than about conquest). Secondly, globalism means that economies can continue to be integrated even if the nations that comprise the economies retain their independence. In short, there is little chance of conquest being an issue.

The bigger problem would be dealing with current federal programs like Social Security. Even that could be dealt with -- when Czechoslovakia broke up into the Czech Republica and Slovakia, they simply divided the assets of the state pension funds by population. This probably was unfair to the Czechs, who were generally more affluent than the Slovaks and thus probably had contributed a larger percentage of the funds, but they felt it was well worth it to get rid of their backwards rednecks to the east. The military would also be an issue. But the dissolution of the Soviet Union shows how that can be done too.

In short, what was once an unthinkable idea is quite thinkable today, if you're thinking outside the box. The USA today is one nation united only out of habit, not any real reason, and the various regions don't seem to like each other a whole lot. Why not just let regions secede? As a Californian, a resident of a state that sends far more to the Feds than we'll ever get back, it seems almost a non-brainer.

-- Badtux the Thinking-outside-the-box Penguin

Freakout going on

The Mighty Fang got a whiff of intact tom earlier this evening and has been acting crazy ever since, howling at Mencken and even growling at me. TMF lunged at Mencken while howling like a mad cat and put a small tear in Mencken's ear. Currently I've put him out into the garage, because Mencken's ear needed a break from TMF's claws and my ears needed a break from the howling.

Got any better ideas?

-- Badtux the Crazed-cat-owned Penguin

The future

Because of Thursday's post. Bob Dylan, "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall". Another poet and prophet...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

I supported evil last night.

As I came out of Wally World after buying some oil (hey, $2/gallon cheaper than O'Reilly's, okay?), two cheerful, giggling minions of Satan accessorized in green accosted me and said melodically, "Want to buy some cookies?" and I did, of course. Two boxes of thin mints, actually.

Maybe Rep. Bob Morris had a point about the Girl Scouts. At least, where my waistline is concerned ;).

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Friday, February 24, 2012

Labrys already said it

Riots over shoes?!

The only solace I get is that there is a hard rain that is gonna fall, sooner rather than later... and hopefully these morons are dumb enough that it's gonna fall on them first.

-- Badtux the Sickened Penguin

And on the topic of Neko Case

Satan sucks, but you're divine.

"My Chinchilla", by Cub, off their 1993 album BETTI-COLA.

Uhm, so what does this silly indie band have to do with Neko Case? Well, Neko Case was the drummer on a couple of the songs on that album, and later did some drumming on tour with them though she wasn't their full-time drummer. Lisa Marr of Cub also is the one who first encouraged Neko to sing rather than just bang on drums, and you know what the result of that was.

Lisa Marr, the singer / bass player for Cub who later went on to found a number of other bands, is an interesting person. Not the world's best singer (though adequate for her genre), but enthusiastic and energetic and plays the crowd well in live performances before enthusiastic crowds of, err, well, not thousands, not hundreds, but well, maybe, at best, dozens. Oh well. Has to be insane. Has to be. Only way someone would keep making music for so many years of the world being completely disinterested in hearing your stuff. On the other hand, if only more people were crazy in such a way, i.e. obsessively creating even though the majority of people just yawn at the result, maybe we wouldn't have such a crappy world so full of violence and destruction...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The problem

In the contest between regressives and progressives, regressives have a significant advantage: They're willing to provide answers to complex problems that are simple, easy to understand, and utterly wrong because they have absolutely no connection to any reality that actually exists and thus no hope of actually working if implemented. Regressives have a consistent ideology, and virtually always provide answers that are consistent with that ideology, regardless of whether those answers are actually correct.

Communism had that advantage too, during its brief 70-year time in the sun before it finally collapsed of its inherent ideological contradictions. Communism provided answers to complex problems that were simple, easy to understand, and... well. Utter failures in practice.

Progressives, on the other hand... we are inherently pragmatists. We believe in using time-tested solutions where those are possible, we believe in looking at the actual reality and adopting solutions which will solve the problems that exist in that actual reality regardless of whether said solutions are consistent with any particular ideology or -ism, and we just don't have an ideological hook to hang our hat upon. People look at what we advocate and are, like, "why are you giving us all these complex solutions that have nothing in common, instead of simple solutions like the other guys give us?" The stereotypical left-wing rally where the "Save the Whales!" crowd and the "Gay Marriage Now!" crowd are feuding with the "End the patriarchy now!" crowd is almost a parody by now, but it is a parody that has a grain of truth in it -- the world has a lot of problems, and it's going to require a lot of different approaches, a lot of different tactics and viewpoints, to solve them, and the end result is that the progressive movement appears to be fragmented and inconsistent and a mess. You simply can't hang one single ideological hook on that whole mess and present a nice neat simple frame for Joe Sixpack to understand if he accidentally turns on MSNBC rather than Fox News one night.

The problem... ah yes, the problem. I've often noted that, as the American empire winds down, times are going to get hard. Way hard. Famine, starvation, food riots, and revolution hard, maybe. People are going to be open to new solutions when they have nothing left to lose, new solutions that maybe can salvage something out of the ruins of empire and come up with something at least somewhat sustainable. The problem is that the forces of regression are going to have their nice neat simple easily-understood solutions to all our problems and are going to be waiting and ready to sell these to people, and if the forces of regression win that intellectual battle, the end result will make the fall of the Roman Empire look like a day care center squabble. The eventual body count would end up making WW2 look like a border squabble between Nicaragua and Costa Rica. The problem is that the regressives have such pretty answers to the problems of the world -- simple, ideologically consistent, and easy to understand -- when the world is actually complex and the problems of the world similarly complex, requiring solutions that are neither simple nor always easy to understand. And 50% of Americans are below average (see below "dumbass" posts)...

WASF. Just sayin'.

- Badtux the Waddling Penguin

Gothic Christian

This is a Denver band 16 Horsepower, which was active mostly in the 1990's and did a sort of gothic-country-Christian. Somewhat... interesting. Definitely not your standard fare.

This is "Burning Bush", off their 2000 album Secret South.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Yet more dumbasses

By that, I mean the Republican "debate" between Robot Dwarf, Frothy Dwarf, Grumpy Dwarf, and Goldy Dwarf. So let's see what we got:

  1. Robot Dwarf says that GM and Chrysler should have been forced to go through bankruptcy to shed them of their union contracts. Err... except they were forced to go through bankruptcy, and their union contracts were shredded. In this universe, anyhow. Clearly Robot Dwarf lost that data when it had to be re-installed from scratch with the latest Romney 2012R2 software release for this debate. Note that the "charisma" subroutine still clearly has not been implemented in The Romney's software...
  2. Grumpy Dwarf says that Obama eats babies for dinner, wants to rape your women, and spends all his time lounging around on the front porch of the White House leering at the white women while eating watermelon.
  3. Frothy Dwarf says he stands behind all of his statements. Except that one. And that one over there. And the one over there that is no longer operative. And ...
  4. Goldy Dwarf looked like he was a shrunken, shriveled version of Professor Xavier in the wheelchair from the X-men movies. You could barely see his beady little eyes over the table in front of him. I suppose he said something, but who cares, really?
All just another day in dumbass America...

-- Badtux the Gruntled Penguin

Dumb fever

Okay, since JzB insists that Neko Case is a natural red-head, here she is in the early 90's as the drummer in a "cuddlecore" band (the name for a Vancouver pop-punk scene made up of girls). She stays in the background of the dancing girls and doesn't sing. A shame, because the girl who *is* singing sucks.

Maow, "Ms. Lefevre", off their one and only album Unforgiving Sounds of Maow from 1996.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

And speaking of dumbasses...

An Indiana state lawmaker claims that the Girl Scouts are an evil organization because they include a condom with every box of Girl Scout cookies. Or spend their meetings giving each other free abortions and herpes vaccinations. Or something. It doesn't really make sense, but it doesn't have to, if you're a Republican.

BTW, does that photo of Indiana state Rep. Bob Morris make your Gaydar ping the way it makes my Gaydar ping? Want to bet that he's an advocate of the conservative gay agenda -- bigger closets -- and that sooner or later someone will catch him with his very own rentboy? Just sayin'...

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin


It seemed like half of Los Angeles was in the El Pasos (northern Mojave, Red Rock State Park & BLM land) last weekend, friggin' EP15 looked like the Ventura Freeway at rush hour, between all the sand rails, ATV's, motorcycles, minivans, Subarus, and Toyota Corollas. None of whom had the slightest clue, I had to tell at least four different people how to get out of there or they'd probably still be out there, turning into dessicated mummies. The second-worst thing that happened was when my line of Jeeps and 4x4's -- a round dozen or so of us caravaning through the park with maps and complete rescue and first aid gear - were sitting in Last Chance Canyon in the sand wash in front of the narrows with its rock garden, waiting for a medical emergency that had priority to go around us, and a Subaru came puttering along. "Is this the way out of the park?" "Uhm, no. Around that corner is a rock garden, and last time I went through it I got body damage in my *Jeep*. Your Subaru has no hope, go back to EP15 and take a left." "Darn." And he turned around and went back out the way he came in. I hope.

Average don't seem to be too smart nowadays, and 50% of all people are below average. And every single one of them appeared to be in the desert last weekend, surviving only via dumb luck and the ministrations of folks who took pity on them and sent them the right way despite our annoyance at all the unprepared idiots who were out there endangering themselves and others.

-- Badtux the Misanthrope Penguin

Red headed bells

Neko Case, "Deep Red Bells", off her 2002 album Blacklisted.

Some things you probably don't know about Neko Case:

  1. She got her start playing drums in the early/mid 1990's for various punk-pop bands in the Vancouver BC area while a college student.
  2. Her natural hair color is black, as you can see if you dig up videos of her playing drums in those bands.
  3. She loves old Detroit cars from the 1960's.
  4. She's (probably) not gay.
  5. And she just tweeted that of course as a lover of Detroit she loves Ted Nugent. Sigh. Nobody's perfect, I guess :).
-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, February 20, 2012

Invisible friends

So you see this dude who, like, has an invisible friend. And maybe he's shuffling around under the freeway underpass, pushing a shopping cart, while babbling to thin air about strange rituals he has to do. Like this:

Now, here's the question: Are you offended by any of the nonsense that this crazy guy is babbling?

Which is why it is baffling to me why Jews are upset that the Mormons are "baptizing" Jewish victims of the Holocaust. I mean, look. Mormons "baptizing" dead people is just crazy in the first place, no different from that dude above having a fight with an invisible guy while babbling nonsense. It means the same when a Mormon says he "baptized" a dead person as it means when that crazy dude above goes "Blahahhahah blahahhh blahdbbeeeeblah buh baha!". It's just sounds, sounds that don't mean anything at all to anybody who isn't crazy. I mean, it's not as if the dead people care. They're dead. They can't get any worse off than dead!

But so it goes. You have crazy people who believe in invisible friends, and they get offended because the other guy's invisible friend wants to eat their dead people. Or something crazy like that. I don't pretend to understand, since I've never had an invisible friend. And no, the Great Penguin is not invisible, he's just very far away so you can't see him. Duh :).

-- Badtux the Baffled Penguin

Friday, February 17, 2012

Greece: No Way Out

Greece is melting down. Right now the Eurozone is kicking the can down the road while Greeks die from austerity. The other choice is for Greece to default on its debt, leave the Eurozone, and go their own way, financing their deficit by printing their own currency.

So why don't they do that? Three words: 1) Medicine. 2) Fuel. 3) Food.

Greece is not self-sufficient in any of those. Greece doesn't have overseas assets like Iceland had when Iceland defaulted that can be used to import these items. And they certainly aren't going to be able to buy any of this from the EuroZone, since they just kicked the Eurozone into a new Great Depression due to the collapse of all the banks that are invested in Greek debt.

The only other alternative is to leave the Eurozone but go hat in hand to the IMF for a bailout, where the IMF funds the imports of medicine, fuel, and food. Thing is, the IMF isn't going to do any such thing unless Greece has a government willing to make the hard choices. Pretty much every asset that Greece has needs to be repurposed towards bringing in sufficient foreign currency to pay for the medicine, fuel, and food that Greece needs to survive, which isn't going to leave a lot for the Greek people.

So what's the end game? Well, the German proposal -- lots of dead Greeks due to starvation, exposure, and lack of medicine -- isn't going to pass political muster, the Greeks might as well default at that point since default is going to have the same result. IMF bailout isn't going to happen until the current government collapses and a new government is in place, and given that the Greek police are out of tear gas (and lack the cash to buy more) this might be sooner rather than later unless they resort to live bullets, in which case game over, there will be government officials hanging from street lamp posts shortly thereafter. What it looks like to me is going to be the messy default scenario, where a revolutionary government ends up taking office and imposes a hard-core socialist reallocation of the nation's assets to bring in the foreign exchange needed to keep the country from freezing and starving to death. Eurozone or non-Eurozone? 50-50 chance, my guess though is non-Eurozone. How many Greeks will die for Germany before all of this goes through? I suspect fairly few -- low tens of thousands -- because the government is already teetering on the edge of irrelevancy and collapse so this farce cannot go on for much longer. And then? Well, we'll see. They'll either create a new model for how to handle an economy in a time of depression, or they'll become Somalia North. Either way, Greeks are in for some interesting times...

- Badtux the Economics Penguin

Taking a break

It's President's Day weekend, and for a change I have Monday off. I'm spending this three-day weekend away from the computer. So no music and no posting until Tuesday. Enjoy your 3-day weekend!

-- Badtux the Relaxing Penguin

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Firing customers

Some customers are just more trouble than they're worth. They're always complaining, they're always threatening to sue you, they demand far more of your time than they're willing to pay for, and they think they know your business better than you do and demand that you act in ways that violate your professional ethics. In the end, you're better off firing them, because not only are they time-wasters, they're also much more likely to sue you -- and defending against even the most frivolous lawsuit in Federal court will cost you at least $100,000.

So now I hear that pediatricians are telling parents who refuse to vaccinate their children to find another doctor, and I understand completely. We now know that the only study to ever show a connection between autism and vaccines was a complete and utter fraud, and that removing mercury from vaccines had no effect on autism rates -- that is, there not only isn't a connection between vaccines and autism (other than the fact that vaccines tend to be given at the same time that symptoms of autism become evident), but the only theories about how vaccines might cause autism turned out to be either balderdash or outright fraud, while vaccines have saved millions of lives over the past fifty years.

So basically, if you have a parent today insisting that you don't vaccinate her child, what you're facing is basically a kook who believes she knows better than the entire medical profession, a kook who, because she thinks she knows more medicine than you do, will sue you in a heartbeat if you don't treat her little darling in ways that violate your professional ethics. This is the same sort of patient who would insist on treating her child's cancer with herbal remedies that have been proven to be ineffective and become extremely upset and sue you when you reported her instead to Child Protection for endangering her child's health via neglect by refusing to allow a pediatric oncologist to treat her child.

Given that, it's amazing that *only* 30% of pediatricians will fire customers who refuse to vaccinate their children. Those customers are lawsuits waiting to happen, and the fact that 70% of pediatricians will gulp and do their best to care for the child despite a parent who is an utter abusive loon pretty much is proof that the majority of pediatricians are saints. Because they're certainly not in it for the money (I make more money than the typical pediatrician and work nowhere near as hard)...

-- Badtux the Healthcare Penguin

Sad gold

Another jazzy torchy song from Devics. This is "Gold in the Girl", off the 2001 album My Beautiful Sinking Ship.

It's even sadder when you realize that it's a true story...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Color me unimpressed...

Apologists for student misbehavior march on school board office to protest their students' punishments.

One of the things that annoyed me greatly when I was teaching was just how many of the school's resources went to deal with kids who didn't want to be there, who weren't interested in learning, and whose parents weren't interested in learning, who sent the kids to school for lunch and entertainment. It short-changed the kids who *were* interested in learning -- who were the vast majority of kids. It appears that Noble Network, a group of charter high schools in Chicago formed by former high school teachers, had that same gripe. They found a solution: the misbehaving kids (or their parents) pay the extra money needed to run detention, pay for the out-of-school suspension class, and so forth.

Look. We're not talking first graders. These are high school kids. They have money of their own, they know what they're supposed to do in a classroom (i.e., *not* talk and chew gum and talk back to the teacher), they just choose not to behave, that's all. Well so be it. And while the $140 evening class is a lot of money for a poor family, it only happens after *TWELVE* detentions. And look, if you've been in detention twelve times, frankly I don't have any sympathy for you.

So what's the solution of those who dislike this discipline policy? Just suspend the kid, send the kid home to hang around on the streets and get dumber? Because that's the "traditional" discipline policy for dealing with kids who repeatedly misbehave. Yeah, that really works well at making sure kids stay engaged in school and learning... sorta like gasoline really works well for putting out fires. Alrighty, then!

-- Badtux the Former Teacher Penguin

Bad hair ghost

Widowspeak, "Ghost Boy" off their self-titled debut album released in 2011. Just continuing the psychedelic trippy music thing...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thought for the day

-- Badtux the Thoughtful Penguin

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The TSA Follies

So, fresh from their victories over the cupcakes of mass destruction, deadly hair weaves, and colostomy bags of terror, the TSA has a new target: Girls. Seems that of the passengers that are "randomly selected" to go through the "porno scanners", a disproportionate number are women. Usually *attractive* women. Because, y'see, the porno scanner operators are mostly male.

But you can refuse to go through the scanner and opt for a pat-down instead. Of course, given the bull dykes that the TSA hires to do the patdowns of female passengers, I'm not sure whether, if I was a straight woman, I'd find that any more acceptable...

Is it any wonder that over 500 Americans per year die because they drove long tiresome distances rather than subject themselves to this indignity?Congratulations, TSA -- you've killed more Americans over the past six years than the 9/11 attackers did, all without capturing -- or even *detecting* -- a single terrorist. Way to go, gang! (And I do mean "gang", since you TSA gang-bangers have killed more Americans than the Crips and Bloods combined, and have just as distinctive a uniform).

-- Badtux the Sovok Penguin

Tripping Jesus

San Francisco jam band The Brian Jonestown Massacre, "Jesus", off their 1996 album Their Satanic Majesties' Second Request. I understand it sounds a bit more interesting if you have some, err, herbal, remedy...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thought for the day

If forcing Catholic hospitals to pay for "morally offensive" birth control is wrong, why is forcing me to pay for bombs and bullets, bombs and bullets that my religion holds are moral abominations, just fine and dandy?

- Badtux the Friendly Penguin

Monday, February 13, 2012

Every Sperm Is Sacred

The above is apparently the theme song of Rep. Steve King (R-dumbass), who apparently believes that birth control is the same thing as abortion.

98% of women use birth control at some point in their adult lives. So somehow I can't see this as being a winning issue for Republicans. So hey guys, keep pushing the "birth control is evil!" thing, yo! 'Cause that's good news -- for Democrats.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Experimental Dreaming

Jesca Hoop -- "Dream Into Me", off the sound track to the 2007 movie Whisper.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Definition of the day

Libertarian: A Republican who owns a bong.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Sunday, February 12, 2012

And so?

I understand that a washed-up pop diva has died. In other news, around 250,000 other people also died yesterday. I'm failing to see why one woman who had it all and threw it all away is worth more attention than the other 249,999 people who died yesterday, but apparently I'm alone in that opinion.

-- Badtux the Numbers Penguin

Non-shrinking Violet

What do you do if your drummer doesn't show up? Well, if you're Canadian folkies Madison Violet... watch and see.

This is "The Good In Goodbye" off their new album by that name.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Sixties Cult

Cults is an up-and-coming NYC indie band that seems to be beloved of hipsters, who will embrace anything up until it becomes popular then drop it as "over". They seem to approach things from an updated 60's pop perspective. This one is "You Know What I Mean" off of their first (self-titled) album, which is available only via iTunes.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

A Republican speaks out on gay marriage


You know I was married for 23 years to the love of my life, and he died six years ago. And I think of all the years we had, and the wonderful fringe benefit of having three beautiful children. I don’t miss the sex, you know? And to me that’s kind of what this boils down to. I don’t miss that. I mean, I certainly miss it, but I don’t, it’s not — (Laughter from chambers) — it is certainly not the aspect of that relationship, the incredible bond that I had with that human being, that I really, really, genuinely wish I still had. And so I think to myself, how can I deny anyone the right to have that incredible bond with another individual in life? To me, it seems almost cruel.

You know, years ago, my daughter went to, she was in elementary school. Many of you have met my daughter. She’s a fabulous girl. She’s wonderful. My boys are great too, but my daughter is just something special, and she was the light of her father’s eyes. And she went to school and there were some kids that were, a whole group of kids that were picking on another kid. And you know, my daughter stood up for that kid, even though it was not the popular thing to do. She knew it was the right thing to do. And I was never more proud of my kid, knowing that she was speaking against the vocal majority on behalf of the rights of the minority.

And to me, it is incumbent upon us as legislators in this state to do that. That is why we are here, and I shudder to think that if folks who had proceeded us in history did not do that, frankly I’m not sure I would be here as a woman. I’m not sure that others would be here due to their race, or their creed. And to me, that is what’s disconcerting.

And someone made the comment that this is not about equality. Well yes it is about equality. And why in the world would we not allow those equal rights for individuals who truly were committed to on another in life to be able to show that by way of a marriage?

You know, my daughter came out of the closet a couple of years ago. And you know what? I thought I was going to just agonize about that.

Nothing’s different. She’s still a fabulous human being, and she’s met a person that she loves very much. And someday, by God, I wanna throw a wedding for that kid. And I hope that’s exactly what I can do. I hope she will not feel like a second-class citizen involved in something called a ‘domestic partnership’ — which frankly sounds like a Merry Maids franchise to me.

-- Rep. Maureen Walsh, R-Washington

Friday, February 10, 2012

Ron Paul's economics

Ron Paul is a big fan of the gold standard. The problem with the gold standard, which caused every nation to have to abandon it during the Great Depression (no nation began to recover economically until after they dumped the gold standard), is that it is fundamentally deflationary. Productivity rises over time -- we learn new ways to increase the amount of goods and services that each person in the workforce can produce. Population also rises over time -- people have kids, immigrants enter the country, and so forth. The end result is that the amount of goods and services in the economy grows over time -- but gold doesn't. The amount of gold is pretty much fixed, and grows only slowly, as new sources of gold are discovered then exhausted.

So why is deflation so bad? First, let's look at price deflation. Price deflation is so bad because it makes businesses unprofitable. They can no longer sell their goods for more than the price they paid for their goods because price deflation has reduced prices in the meantime. The goal is to buy low, sell high. If you're instead buying high, selling low, you're a former business.

Which is why there's price stickiness during monetary deflation (a reduction of the money supply) -- but that means businesses have to lay off people because their goods are now more expensive relative to the now-scarcer dollars, and thus they sell fewer goods. So basically the gold standard artificially reduces economic activity to match the amount of gold in the economy. Which is a great thing if you're wanting to reduce people's standard of living and create lots of unemployment, but *not* a great thing if you want jobs for people.

So anyhow, Paul Krugman, Brad DeLong, and even our very own Jazzbumpa have all produced graphs showing that the #1 indicator of economic recovery during the Great Depression was abandonment of the gold standard. When the gold standard was abandoned and the printing presses fired up to produce enough currency so that prices were rising again rather than falling, businesses could make a profit since they were no longer buying high and selling low -- and profitable businesses can hire people, and hired people can buy more, which in turn causes *more* economical activity, a virtuous circle that keeps going upwards until you have near-full employment again, at which point you have to stop printing so much money otherwise you start going Weimar.

So anyhow, to summarize the effects of Ron Paul's economic policies if adopted: If Ron Paul got his way, it would be legal to buy weed -- but you wouldn't be able to afford it. Which means the Ron Paul Youth who support Ron 'cause, like, they wanna be able to buy weed without The Man arresting them, are sorta barking up the wrong tree. What good is it to have weed be legal, if you can't afford it (and can't afford food, for that matter)?

-- Badtux the Economics Penguin

A geek rant

Okay, so I found the source code to a Windows program that I wanted to make some slight modifications to in order to enhance it. Not a problem, I just download Microsoft Visual C++ Express, their free "for home and educational use" C++ compiler, and compile it. Except... it wouldn't compile, because Microsoft *DOES NOT INCLUDE THE MICROSOFT FOUNDATION CLASSES IN THEIR FREE PRODUCT!*

Now I hear the majority of you sayin', "what does that mean?" Well, basically what it means is that *basically no existing Windows code on the planet can be compiled by Microsoft Visual C++ Express*. I.e., it is utterly *USELESS* if your intent is to make slight tweaks to existing Windows code as part of the process of learning how to write Windows code.

What's Microsoft's excuse? "Visual C++ Express is for people who are just learning C++, and people just learning C++ shouldn't be using MFC." Excuse me. I learned C++ years ago. I learned C++ years ago for *free* by simply installing Slackware 95 Linux and wiping out the Windows 95 on my desktop computer, which was an Intel Pentium 233 with 16 megabytes of memory and a low-end video card, this was about five months after Microsoft released Windows 95 and I wanted to learn C++ but I wasn't going to pay hundreds of dollars for a C++ compiler when Slackware was *FREE*. I don't need to learn C++, I know C++ just fine, thank you very much, I've been programming in it for over 15 years now. What I was curious about was learning Windows programming, not because I need to learn Windows programming -- I make a very, very, VERY good living writing Linux software for embedded applications, thank you very much -- but because I like learning new things. And hey, maybe I'd write a program or two to release as free software for Windows, there's a few things I'd like to see that don't exist because there's no market for them but for which existing code could be modified fairly easily -- if I had some way to compile it.

But apparently Microsoft is intent upon death. Because look. What I did 15 years ago? It's what *every* kid is doing today. *No* entry-level programmers learn how to program using Microsoft's API's. They all learn Java -- which runs everywhere without modification, without even a re-compile, on Java's own virtual machine which completely disguises the underlying operating system from view. Meaning that all the new software coming out runs on Linux and Mac as well as on Windows. And Linux is *free*.

The only way Microsoft can "win" this war is by getting people to use their API, and then they don't provide any way for people to *learn* their API, instead saying "you can't learn our API unless you pay us a buncha dollars"? What the fuck? Do they really expect the majority of people interesting in learning how to write programs that run under Windows to *pay* to learn their API?! Talk about a company with a death wish!

So anyhow, I'm back to writing Java code. Which runs just fine on my Linux box, my Windows box, and my Macs. Way to go down the road to irrelevancy, Microsoft! What next, you put a time bomb into Windows 8 that destroys everybody's data after six months? It's about the only worse thing you could do to destroy your future...

-- Badtux the Geeky Penguin

The Mighty Fang's Nemesis

I finally got a good look at the cat that The Mighty Fang spends so much time yowling at. When I got home, he was on top of the fence looking at me. So I very slowly and carefully readied my cell phone camera and attempted to take a photo through the windshield. Didn't work. So I very, very slowly opened the door and crept out, doing my best to be unthreatening. And then...

Yah, I basically got mugged. FluffyTail sniffed, started winding around my leg, let me rub his head a little, and finally laid down on the concrete and started wiggling around and flopping over from side to side in ecstasy.

I've heard that penguins have magnetic personalities, but this is just ridiculous...

-- Badtux the Cat-mugged Penguin

A thousand streets

Corin Tucker Band, "Dragon", off her 2010 album 1,000 Years. This is not what I expected from a founding member of Heavens to Betsy and Sleator-Kinney, she has pulled in her yelping voice considerably and exercises a control she rarely bothered with previously, but when she opens up towards the end... yep. It's Corin Tucker, alright.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Google bein' evil again

Google is sponsoring CPAC so they can hang out with birthers, neo-nazis, racists, and general evil folk. They'll feel right at home, I'm sure, given Google's new slogan: "Be Evil".

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Puppets and H8

So, a federal appeals court has upheld the overturn of California's Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage. Are puppets getting gay married yet? Has every straight couple divorced and married their family dog? Wait, wait, I got it... here's the sum total of everything that happens if gay marriage is legal:

Or maybe U.S. infantry soldiers will don pink Crocs and dance, dance, dance the night away. Oh wait...

Alrighty, then!

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

What now?

Sleeper, "What Do I Do Now?" off their album The It Girl.

Louise Wener figured out what to do after Sleeper's next album came out on the day Princess Di died and was utterly ignored. And it had nothing to do with music.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

He was just a nigger with a roach

It ain't as if Ramarley Graham was a REAL American, he wasn't white, he wasn't middle-aged, he wasn't rich, so as far as most New Yorkers are concerned he's just another nigger executed by the NYPD for the crime of being young, black, and havin' a marijuana cigarette, nothing more than a cockroach exterminated and good riddance. Human? Naw, niggers are just dumb monkeys, they ain't human, right?

But you know how that goes. It's the NYPD. You know, the guys who go 'round wearin' t-shirts that say Kill'em All and let God Sort'em Out. And apparently the majority of New Yorkers are fine with that, as long as it ain't middle-class white people or rich people being murdered by the NYPD. So it goes.

-- Badtux the Bitterly Sarcastic Penguin

Being religious doesn't exempt you from the law

You can't just go out and start murdering people because your religion says murder is fine and dandy. You can't have fifty wives because your religion says polygamy is God's will. You can't have a meth lab in your bedroom because your religion says meth is God's diet drug. Murder, polygamy, and meth are all illegal, and just because you're a church doesn't mean you get to break the law.

So now the Catholic dress-wearin' kiddie-rapers are whining that Catholic hospitals will have to obey the new health care law, which requires birth control pills to be covered? Fuck them. Fuck them with a blunt baseball bat, like they fucked all those children for all those years. Look. The majority of employees at Catholic hospitals are *not* Catholic. And even among those who *are* Catholic, the majority of Catholics think employers should be required to provide health care plans that cover birth control at no cost, so that women can choose either to use birth control or not use birth control as their religion and conscience dictate. A buncha dress-wearin' pedophiles want special exemption from the law so they can force their ideology on folks who don't agree with it? Fuck that shit, yo. What next, they want a special exemption allowin' them to rape kiddies in the sacristy?

But I'll tell ya what. When the majority of Catholic priests have vaginas, I'll listen to the Catholic hierarchy about stuff that affects women. 'Till then, it ain't none of my fucking business. If the majority of women want birth control, and the majority of women want health insurers to pay for it, and for the matter if the majority of Americans as a whole agree with this law, nobody -- not me, not those kiddie fuckers, not *anybody* -- should have the right to say "no" to that. It's called *democracy*, you dumbfucks, and it ain't surprisin' that a former Nazi Youth don't hold much truck with democracy, but this here ain't goddamned Nazi Germany and I'll be a penguin's uncle if I'm gonna listen to some motherfucking dress-wearin' Nazi tell us that his ideology has to be forced on our women at gunpoint 'cause his ideology is more important than our democracy. Fuck that shit, yo.

-- Badtux the Blunt Penguin

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Ten years of futility

The war in Afghanistan is lost.

Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis has hereby ended his military career by making that clear and public statement, in a much more thorough way but that's the thumbnail in a nutshell. But what are they going to him that's worse than serving in Afghanistan?

-- Badtux the War Penguin

No reason

Just your ordinary everyday photograph of Ron Paul hanging out with neo-Nazis. No reason for posting it. Just felt like it.

-- Badtux the Random Penguin

Mary Potter

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals with "Ah Mary" off her 2007 album This Is Somewhere. The lady can wail.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Power, legitimacy, and Orly Taitz

So Orly Taitz is throwing a conniption fit after the ruling against her. The problem is, there simply won't be a ruling in her favor, *ever*, because a judicial coup of that magnitude would utterly destroy the legitimacy of the court system in the eyes of the majority of Americans -- and that aura of legitimacy is the only thing that allows courts to have power, since they possess neither armies nor police forces, the only other possible source of power (i.e., *guns*). Without legitimacy, courts can issue rulings, but who will enforce their ruling? They would be in the position of Gorbachev after the coup against him, rattling around in their vacant halls issuing proclamations and orders to the waitstaff, proclamations and orders utterly ignored as the Soviet Union crumbled around him.

To understand what I am talking about, you must understand the fundamental nature of power. There are two sources of power: The will of the majority, or the will of a significant armed minority with guns. Laws -- whether we are talking about the Constitution or laws in general -- have power only because either the majority agree that they should have power, or because a minority with guns force the majority to accept them at gunpoint.

This reality has been responsible for a number of unpleasant incidents over the years where extremely popular actions that pretty much violated the Constitution were papered over by the courts because if they'd issued rulings, the rulings would have been ignored and thus destroyed the aura of invincibility that motivates many people to comply with laws that they don't agree with. Plessy V. Ferguson, the "Separate but Equal" ruling that justified Jim Crow, *had* to be ruled the way it was. The only other alternative would have been to force desegregation upon the majority of Americans at gunpoint, and courts don't have the guns to do so, the President does. And the President is going to deploy those guns only if the majority of voters support him doing so, because otherwise he's going to get impeached or at the very least not re-elected. The majority of Americans supported and demanded Jim Crow in 1896, and the President would never have deployed the Army to enforce the overturn of Jim Crow laws. So if the Supreme Court had ruled any other way in 1896, they would have destroyed their legitimacy. It was not until attitudes changed after WW2 and the majority of Americans realized that legally-mandated racial segregation was an atrocity that the courts could overturn that ruling.

And that is why, even if the election of President Obama did violate the Constitution as the birthers claim (BTW the birthers' claims are nonsense, but just pretend for a moment), there will be no judicial coup done by our courts. The majority of voters elected Obama. Attempting to overturn the election of a sitting President via judicial decree after it's already a done deal would result in a Constitutional crisis that likely would end the authority of any Supreme Court that tried to do so -- they would issue their order, but who would enforce it? The FBI under the command of the President? The Secret Service under the command of the President? The U.S. Army under the command of the President?

It's not happening. Period. Anybody who ever lived under a dictatorship, like Orly Taitz did, should understand that much about power -- a judicial coup without majority support and without guns is about as likely to happen as flying pigs. Well, other than flying pigs at a Pink Floyd concert. If Pink Floyd held concerts anymore, now that they're all 90 years old or something. So it goes.

-- Badtux the Power Penguin

King of pain

Sparklepony, "King of Nails", off of the 2001 album It's A Wonderful Life.

I suppose I should say something about Mark Linkous etc but that's too much of a bummer. I'll just enjoy the music, thank you.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, February 06, 2012

Can-do America

When Clint Eastwood was born and raised, America was a can-do nation. There was no problem that Americans didn't attempt to solve, nothing that an American couldn't do. Vietnam broke the spine of can-do America -- suddenly we *couldn't* do something -- and ever since, can't-do America has been the rule. America can't provide healthcare for everybody. America can't solve homelessness or hunger. America can't provide a good education for everybody who wants one, America can't find jobs for all the Americans ready and willing to work, American can't, can't, can't, can't.

Clint is basically calling bullshit on that whole notion, on behalf of a car company that's back from the grave and making cars as good as any that it's ever made. And if Karl fucking Rove believes that advocating for a Can-do America is partisan, fuck him. Fuck him and the nihilistic defeatist divisive can't-do spirit that he represents. That is all.

- Badtux the Can-do Penguin

No one

Head and the Heart, "No One To Let You Down". Not on any album yet AFAIK.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Caterpillar, EMD, unions, and nonsense

Caterpillar bought EMD, the former General Motors subsidiary that is one of the world's foremost manufacturers of diesel-electric locomotives, back in July 2010. They immediately started construction on a locomotive plant in Muncie, Indiana, on the site of a former Westinghouse transformer plant that had a gigantic building with a rail spur already running through it (with doors big enough for the biggest of locomotives to go through it) and enough open land behind it to build sheds and tracks for testing of the locomotives. They had multiple reasons to do this:

  1. Buy American mandates on the part of U.S. transit authorities, the same reason why Bombardier is forced to maintain a facility in Plattsburg, NY.
  2. The fact that GM had sold off the LaGrange IL locomotive assembly facility (EMD's original U.S. assembly facility ) many years before to a trucking firm that had demolished the original buildings, so there was no ability to produce locomotives there,
  3. The availability of this huge assembly plant for cheap -- it had been shuttered since 1998, and Westinghouse was eager to quit paying taxes on it.
  4. The proximity of Muncie to existing Caterpillar and EMD parts suppliers
  5. The extensive rail network coming in and out of Muncie from all directions, making it easy to get parts into Muncie and get assembled locomotives out to customers.
  6. The availability of workers -- Muncie had long been a railroad center, and there were a large number of railroad workers in Muncie with experience in repair of EMD equipment who could easily be turned into assembly line workers
  7. The obsolete nature of the London, Ontario plant, which could not be renovated to modern standards because it was EMD's only facility and was operating at capacity, due to its age and configuration it was very expensive to operate and could not be fixed short of shutting it down and rebuilding it entirely. Which could only be done by building a new facility capable of building as many locomotives per month as the London plant built.
The net result of all this was that a) the Muncie plant was built, taking approximately one year to build and with the first locomotives rolling off the end of the line in October 2011, and b) it had more than sufficient capacity to build as many locomotives as EMD needed to build. At which point the London, Ontario plant becomes surplus, with the inevitable result -- the plant is now closed.

Please note the *timing* on all the above. The Indiana "Right to Work" union-busting law was passed last month. Construction on the Muncie plant started in September 2010. So, uhm, what is the relationship between the two? Hint: None. Nada. Zero. Zilch. It had absolutely nothing to do with Caterpillar's decision to build in Muncie, because it hadn't even been proposed then. So the CBC even mentioning that law in conjunction with EMD is nonsense, the sort of thing I'd expect from a Faux News story, not a supposedly reputable journalistic outlet.

Now, the way Caterpillar set about closing the Ontario plant -- by proffering a union contract that they knew wasn't going to be accepted, so that the contract would expire and thus they could shutter the plant without having to pay out the severance pay required by the contract -- was pretty shitty. They should have just bit the bullet and taken the one-time cost of paying everybody the severance pay they were owed under the union contract. But that plant was toast, period, from the moment Caterpillar started work on the Muncie plant. It was simply too small, too run-down, and too expensive.

-- Badtux the Business Penguin

Icelandic torch

This music sounds vaguely Italian, as does Emiliana Torrini's name. But she's Icelandic. Her name came from her father, who was an Italian immigrant. This is "If You Go Away", which is a cover of a French song (hmm, so yes, not Italian, but at least European), and was on her 2000 promo album Rarities which basically was her shopping herself to English-language music companies for distribution outside Iceland. I love her passionate yet creepy take on this song...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Tool crack

So I installed that lift kit on my Jeep last weekend. So today I went out and bought all the tools that I'd wished I'd had when I was installing that lift kit -- over $300 worth. Nevermind that I had the tools I *needed* to do the job. These tools would have made the job *easier*.

Sigh. Tools are like crack. You're never satisfied, you always want more.

- Badtux the Now-poorer Penguin

Why hasn't Syria regime collapsed yet?

So there's protests. And the army fires on protesters. Why hasn't the army deserted? Why does the army follow orders? Why are the secret police and security services still able to identify many of the leaders and arrest or kill them?

The answer is that the situation in Syria is not a situation of "regime bad, protesters good" like in Egypt. Ethnic and religious minorities make up approximately 1/4th of the Syrian population and make up probably 90% of the core Army units and security units being used to put down the rebellion by the Sunni majority. What we are seeing, in essence, is a civil war between the Sunni majority and a collection of ethnic minorities -- the most important of which is the Alawi sect to which President Assad and most of his top staff belong.

So why is this important? It's important because the Alawi in particular were horrifically discriminated against by the Sunni the last time the Sunni ran the country, forced to run to the hills to live as brigands and outlaws in parts of Syria that the Sunni didn't want, treated worse than blacks during Jim Crow in the United States with lynchings and with any property they managed to accumulate that was desirable taken from them via legal or illegal means, with multiple attempts at forced conversions of Alawi and so on and so forth. This was also the behavior of the Sunni majority against the *other* minorities in Syria -- the Christians, the Druze, and so forth. And these minorities are concerned that if the Sunni majority takes over power again due to this pro-democracy movement, the result will be genocide of their ethnic minorities -- over three million people dead.

In other words, do not expect the Syrian regime to simply roll over and die. Because they are literally fighting for their lives, in their own eyes, because if the Sunni majority was brutal to them *before* the minorities managed to seize power in Syria... well. They can't be expecting the Sunni majority to treat them better *after* their brutal dictatorship over the Sunni, right?

-- Badtux the Geopolitics Penguin

Virtuous flower

Emmy the Great, "Iris", off her new album Virtue. Her first album First Love was great, a sly wicked album that stuck its daggers in its targets with cunning under a cute disguise, not a bad song on it (a few that were merely good rather than great, but no clankers). I'm a bit more ambivalent about this new album, it is a "breakup album" because her boyfriend decided he loved Jesus more than he loved her, and there's a bit of bitterness and some places where she's clearly forcing it.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, February 03, 2012

Atlanta administrative judge issues his recommendation

Remember the "trial" that was actually a hearing before an administrative trial judge who was charged with issuing a recommendation to the Georgia Secretary of State? Well, he issued his statement to the Birthers today:

Basically, his ruling said that the birther's "evidence" isn't -- in the words of administrative law, their "evidence" has "no probative value". I.e., it's speculations, made up silliness, unproven / unprovable nonsense, nothing that counts as evidence in the legal meaning of the term. A state administrative judge doesn't have to comply with the full multi-volume stack of books that comprise the Federal Rules of Evidence, but in every state you can't just come in and say "The President's birth certificate is forged!" -- you have to prove it, with actual evidence. Otherwise you're just expressing an opinion, and an opinion isn't proof of anything other than that, like every asshole on this planet, you got an opinion.

And in case you're wondering, even if you're a world-renowned expert on Photoshop, saying "the President's birth certificate is clearly photoshopped!" is *still* just an opinion. Under the rules of evidence of *any* state, you have to *prove* it's photoshopped, your opinion is just an opinion, which is worthless unless you can produce the actual person who photoshopped it and corroborating evidence that he indeed was there and did the job.

If there was anything the birthers had that met the most rudimentary of the rules regarding what comprises evidence in a court of law, Obama would likely be off the ballot in Georgia. But they have nothing. They will always have nothing. Because their actual problem with Obama isn't where he was born. Their actual problem is what he was born -- i.e., black.

-- Badtux the Law Penguin

Sad cry

Black Heart Procession, "A Cry for Love", off their 2002 album Amore Del Tropico.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Talking about praying the gay away...

... my gaydar bings loudly upon viewing the web site of this right-wing anti-gay minister who is calling for a boycott of Starbucks over their support for gay marriage. Especially when I view the videos, where he makes Mr. Rogers look manly with his stereotypically gay phrasings and mannerisms. At first I thought, "this can't be real, this has to be a parody of a right-wing closeted gay preacher". But based on my Google searches, he seems to really be what he is: A proponent of the conservative gay agenda. I.e., bigger closets.

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Thursday, February 02, 2012

It wasn't about a Congressional investigation

The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure didn't quit donating money to Planned Parenthood because they're being investigated by Congress. They quit donating money to Planned Parenthood for the same reason they quit supporting stem cell research -- because they've been taken over by right-wing zealots such as Karen Handel, former campaign adviser to Sarah Palin and former GOP candidate for governor of Georgia.

Apparently the only cure you're going to support if you donate money to this organization from now onwards are going to be faith-based cures -- I guess they're going to work on developing better prayers for praying the cancer out, sorta like praying the gay away. So if you're looking for an organization that supports real, evidence-based approaches to diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer, I'd suggest looking elsewhere.

-- Badtux the RWNJ-spottin' Penguin

Don't mess with the Muppets

On one side of this dispute between the talking heads of Fox News and the Muppets, you have a bunch of puppets with words put into their mouths by their handlers. On the other side is Muppets.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Seeing double

School of Seven Bells, "Bye Bye Bye", from 2010's Disconnect from Desire. Sort of a Euro-dream-pop. And no you're not seeing double, this was when both of the Deheza twins were part of the band.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The Toe Sucking Assholes (TSA) Strike Again

British tourists deported for tweeting British slang for "party". Because they might dig up Marilyn Monroe. Or somethin'.

TSA calls the bomb squad to remove two 'pipe bombs' that they'd already determined were harmless -- six hours previously!

And that's just the past two days, that's not including the cupcakes of mass destruction, Star Wars light sabre of horror, butter knife confiscated from pilot (who, remember, is at the helm of a 100,000 pound weapon of mass destruction and can crash it by simply pushing the wheel forward while the copilot is out of the cockpit), a 4-inch plastic rifle from a GI Joe action doll (whoa, now *that* is a deadly terror weapon!), and a baby's baby rattle.

Let's face facts: The TSA is, by and large, an overglorified workfare program for people too stupid to work at a fast food restaurant. Can we just put the TSA on welfare and keep them out of the airports? It would be both cheaper and better for our country's reputation.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Don't hate her because she's blond

Bailey Cooke, "Alabama Bound". This is off her debut album Tennessee, which appears to be a digital-only release available only from iTunes and Amazon. I thought to myself, "hmm, this sounds like some old-time song, let me go look up who wrote it." Well, there was indeed an old-time song called "Alabama Bound", but it was entirely different. As far as I can tell, this song is Bailey's.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin