An Iraq war critic encounters an Iraq war supporter
The Iraq war supporter says, "It's not dead! It's just... resting! Yeah!"
Well, if it's been "resting" for four years, mate, it isn't bloody likely to get up and start rumbling a samba, right? Let's face facts. This parrot is deceased. Dead. Gone to meet its maker. Kaput. If it ain't been won in four years, it ain't gonna get won. Saying this parrot needs "more time" ain't gonna make it any less stiff. The only reason it isn't pushing up daisies is because the shop keeper err Bush Administration keeps nailing it to its perch and selling it to more gullible idiots who come through the door. But this parrot is, in the end, *dead*.
Some folks object to Michael Moore saying that we ought to go to universal single-payer. "There's other ways to achieve universal coverage!" they cry, pointing, for example, at the Swiss model, which incorporates multiple private insurance companies.
The thing is, the Swiss model includes heavily regulated insurance companies that basically operate as arms of the government. It's sorta multi-single-payer coverage, much as in the old Bell System days when the Bell System was so heavily regulated as to basically be just another department of the Federal Government. The problem with retaining the current U.S. insurance industry is that it has proven itself to be utterly corrupt and irredeemable, in my opinion. My mother has worked in the health care industry for close to 40 years now, and has seen the results of the health insurance industry moving from the mutual model to the profit model first-hand. In my opinion, health insurance corporations which are publicly traded should be *OUTLAWED* as a menace to society, no different from cluster bombs and handguns in their ability to kill innocents. Because the moment you become a publicly traded corporation, your first allegiance is not to health care. Your first allegiance is now to your stock holders, who don't care about health care, they just want profit, moh profit, moh profit, and if you don't deny coverage of sick people in order to increase profit, you get fired and people more vicious get hired to replace you.
So retaining private insurance in the primary care business is, in my opinion, unworkable. Our insurance industry has become too corrupt, too wealthy, too willing to bribe Congressmen to do its bidding, for us to put together *any* health insurance scheme that includes them that will actually work at, like, actually providing universal health care. Via their venal behavior over the past two decades they have foregone any seat at the health care table, as far as I'm concerned. Let's just extend Medicare to *everybody*, allow health care insurers to remain as "Medi-gap" providers if they so desire, and otherwise get their venal butts out of our health care.
Medicare. If it's good enough for the prunes, it's good enough for the rest of us. Or do you say we're giving second-rate care to our old people?
So what do the people that Mimus Pauly so charitably calls "peckerwoods", the music industry suits, and the health care insurers covered by Michael Moore's new film "Sicko" all have in common? Simple: They all possess an unwarranted sense of self-entitlement that says that they're entitled, yes, *ENTITLED*, to make a living in the industry in which they've chosen.
I ran into it first hand working in the oil industry in the early 1980's. Affirmative Action programs had brought the first black oilfield workers into the shop. As far as I could tell, they were competent and did the jobs for which they were hired just fine, but that didn't stop the peckerwoods from grumbling that "goddamned niggers are taking our jobs". Like, the fucking stupid peckerwoods thought they were *entitled* to those jobs, like it was some natural born right or something. Now the peckerwoods are grumbling about how them goddamned cockroaches from south of the border are taking their jobs. Nevermind that the goddamned moron peckerwoods are stupid as a brick and time after time vote for the same goddamned politicians who set up the system that lets the Mexicans swarm across the border. Nevermind that the peckerwoods are lazy, intellectually interested only in beer and football, and do as little work as they can get away with, to the point where a lot of construction contractors I know will hire *legal* Hispanics over legal peckerwoods simply because the Hispanics will work their goddamned tails off while the peckerwoods just slouch around whining about how they're being picked on by "The Man" for, like, being expected to actually WORK. In the HEAT. In the SUN! Without being waited on hand and FOOT! But will they actually get out there and bust their butts to show employers that they're both capable and willing of working hard and getting the job done? Hell no. They prefer drinking beer and whining about Mexicans taking their jobs.
The recording industry suits are the same way. Rather than listen to the public when the public says that, like, firing 1/3rd of the recording artists and suing thousands of your customers is bad business, what do they do? Why, like buggy whip makers whining about that new horseless carriage, they whine that new technology is rendering their job obsolete and should thus be outlawed! It's the same goddamned mentality. They think the world has an obligation to give them a living. Sorta like the linotype operators at the New York Times who whined that the Times had an obligation to provide jobs for them despite all those fancy new computer typesetting widgets the Times had acquired. They went out on strike, the Times said "fine", turned on the computer typesetting widgets, and the linotype operators never came back from strike because, well, they had no jobs to come back to. Technology happens. When it happens, you either learn the new technology and make a living there, or you learn how to say "Do you want fries with that order, sir?". The world has no obligation to give you a good living in the industry you've chosen. Shit, musicians know that, that's why they have day jobs except for a very very few who are lucky enough to make their living at music full time. The suits are scared as hell that they're gonna join the ranks of barristas at Starbucks who work evenings as roadies on the local bar circuit.
Now we get the health insurance companies and their paid lackeys in the corporate media whining about Michael Moore's new film "Sicko" and his call for universal national single-payer health care. They whine, "what about the hundreds of thousands of Americans who work in the health insurance industry?" Oh cry me a river, you see this . ? Yeah, it's the world's smallest fucking violin. They're not goddamned *ENTITLED* to those fucking jobs. Let'em join the rest of us motherfuckers out here on the free market, who have to show that we goddamned *KNOW OUR SHIT* and work our fucking tails off to get ahead. And the same thing for the billionaire profiteers who own those companies. So their stocks in those companies become worthless? oh WAH! You fucking *CHOSE* to invest in the most evil companies on this planet, and now you're going to whine that your choice was a bad choice? It's your own goddamned fault, you stupid-assed bitches! You and your short-sighted asshole demands for moh profit, moh profit, moh profit at the expense of health care quality destroyed our health care system and kills thousands of people every year (*MORE PEOPLE DIE OF DENIED HEALTH CARE COVERAGE EVERY YEAR THAN AMERICANS KILLED IN IRAQ DURING THE ENTIRE WAR!*), so fuck you. Go jump off the goddamned top of a skyscraper or something, you stupid assholes. You deserve to lose all your money for being such jerks as to place profits ahead of people.
And to all of the people above: *THE WORLD DOESN'T GODDAMNED WELL OWE YOU JACK SHIT!*. *Nothing*. Nada. Not one goddamned thing. If you're too goddamned lazy, greedy, venal, and/or stupid to make an honest living, it's your own goddamned fault. Don't whine that I should bail your stupid lazy ass out because you're too stupid to move into the digital media market or too lazy to compete with Mexicans or too greedy to, like, fucking provide the goddamned health care that we pay and pay and PAY for (15%+ of our Gross Domestic Product, or about twice what a universal single provider health care system would require to cover every single American). Just shut your fucking mouth up and go get a job, you lazy slacker assholes, and quit bothering my fucking ass with your whine whine whine whine (oh do you want fucking CHEESE with that whine, assholes?). I'm tired of it. WAYYYY more than tired of it. Goddamn it, get a fucking CLUE, will ya?!
-- Badtux the Rude Penguin
As usual, I cross-post my best stuff over at The Medley...
The Mighty Fang out-shines my shiny new Macbook while Mencken looks on from under the futon. (No, he doesn't spend all his time under the futon -- only when I pull out my camera does he run under there!).
The U.S. Supreme Court overturns Brown v Board of Education, re-legalizes segregation (as long as it's done wink wink nod nod by drawing school boundaries in a "color blind" way that just happens to put all the white kids in "good" schools and just happens to put all the brown kids in miserable schools).
As a black and white and yellow multicolored penguin, I am of course concerned about this decision, since it means that my multicolored offspring are likely to never be allowed to mix with pale-skinned monocolored monkeys in the schools and thus will be less prepared to interact with them in the workplace and beyond as they go their migratory waterfowl ways. But hey, gotta keep the darkies in their place, right? Why, if white-skinned monocolored monkeys are allowed to mix with dark-skinned monocolored monkeys, it could... it could... uhm... cause the moon to turn into cheese and fall to Earth and cause a plague of mice? Cause San Francisco to slide into the ocean? Cause everybody to come down with leprosy and die horrible deaths? C'mon, folks, I'm reachin' here, help me out!
In Fantasy Land, people don't need food and water and roads and medicines. People need pieces of paper with pictures of dead Presidents. In Fantasy Land, torture is not pain and suffering and useless for anything other than fulfilling the sick sado-masochistic fantasies of its perpetrators and supporters, torture is what keeps ticking atomic bombs from going off every week on the color tee-vee. In Fantasy Land, nobody dies horribly in war, guts and brains spattered across the pavement and the smell of death upon the land. In Fantasy Land, why, after the day's shooting of "Survivor:Army" is finished, the corpses get up from the rubble where they lay, shovel their guts and brains back into their abdomen and brain pan, and go meet in the shooting shed for canapes with the director and more pictures of dead Presidents to compensate them for their troubles. In Fantasy Land, soldiers are made of the finest tin, not flesh and blood. They do not bleed, they have no mothers or fathers who love them, they have no dreams of their future, they're just... tin. In Fantasy Land.
Fantasy Land is not real, of course, and anybody who believes Fantasy Land is real is, to put it bluntly, batshit fucking crazy. Unfortunately, far too many people live in Fantasy Land. Our entire society -- indeed, much of the entire goddamned planet -- has basically gone off the track into utter lunacy, where stupid power games substitute for reality and idiotic ideologies compete to see which one can kill more people with their utter disdain for, like, real life. A real life filled with real people who hurt and bleed and hunger and dream.
Ah, but we so cherish our delusions... the only good news, I suppose, is that as the rising oceans drown more land due to global warming, there will be more room for aquatic waterfowl on this planet. Perhaps when the prophet Tux the Penguin came to Earth and preached the Sermon on the Iceberg he was correct when he stated, "blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth." What can be more meek than a penguin?
Once upon the time, there was a mighty superpower. This mighty superpower expanded to its natural boundaries via conquering and/or killing off the natives of lands it coveted, then settled down to purr in its self-satisfaction, secure in the knowledge that its mighty armies would forever keep it safe.
Over time, politics in this mighty superpower became somewhat... deranged. Divorced from the lives of normal people. An aristocracy ruled this mighty superpower, an aristocracy which lost interest in the things that made the superpower great and instead only pursued wealth and power. But the wealth they pursued was artificial, illusionary, not the wealth that is food and manufactures and services that make people's lives better but, rather, the artificial wealth that is created by the State. Similarly, the power they sought was power over the government. They did not worry about whether the actual functions and services provided by government met the needs of the people, they simply wanted to rule.
As the economy and infrastructure of this mighty superpower crumbled, as its government became increasingly ineffectual and unable to maintain even the basic services of law and order, the people of power who ran this superpower continued their power games on top. For a while, nobody noticed that each generation's life became a little harder, a little poorer. After all, they were still the mightiest superpower on the planet. But then some barbarians, little more than savages in their estimation, managed to destroy one of their armies... and there was nothing left to rebuild their armies with. No manufactures. No resources. No ability to recruit and arm more soldiers to replace those that were killed. And no competent leadership of the remainder of their army, the competent leaders had all been purged because they (correctly) disagreed with the insane policies of the ruler of this mighty superpower.
And so Rome fell.
A few dozen centuries later, another superpower with a crumbling infrastructure and economy slowly slides towards the precipice. And the leaders of this superpower are all concerned with... petty political bullshit. The armies have been purged of competent leadership because the competent generals disagreed with Dear Leader's insane policies, the economy crumbles as the elites pursue artificial government-created wealth instead of the ability to produce, like, actual goods that have some sort of inherent value, and it looks like a good chunk of the U.S. military has been defeated in Iraq, with the majority of the Army's equipment pretty much destroyed and with the decayed economy of this superpower lacking the ability to easily repair or replace it. Shades of Adrianople...
But oh look, over there. It's Paris Hilton, looking all fresh despite her jail time! Woot! Gotta keep our priorities straight, after all....
For the person who said that I needed to get the cats their own bed: They have their very own futon, covered in fur (well, used to be blue denim, now it's pretty much fur). Needless to say, whenever I go into my bedroom to go to bed, they follow me in there and pretty much take over the place. You can see how much of the futon they take up. My guys are *BIG*!
That's a Walton C pennywhistle and a Generation Bb whistle, btw. And of course the case to my camera. The kitties run when I start tootling on the D whistle, but don't seem to mind the lower whistles. Hmm. Anyhow, thus far the Walton C, Walton Mellow D, and Generation Bb are my favorites, they're easy to control and in tune. And none of them are expensive -- all were purchased for under $10 apiece. As far as musical hobbies go, this definitely is one of the less expensive ones!
Mostly been busy with my Mac, trying to get Parallels set up so I can run my mapping software (which alas does not run under MacOS). Turns out that the store I bought it from at the time I bought my Mac was selling an old version, and I'm automatically eligible to upgrade to the new version, all I have to do is mail them a copy of my receipt along with a piece of paper they generated for me on their web site, then they'll email me the info needed to upgrade for free. After they get around to it. Whenever. Like, after they're finished surfing or climbing Mount Whitney or whatever they're doing other than supporting their customers (hey, anybody who is registering an old version in late June when the new version was released in early April obviously is entitled to the new version, but what do I know, I only have 25 years in the bizness and obviously they have more years, right?). Huh. Well, since I'm legally entitled to the new version according to their very own web site, I went on my favorite pirate site (hey, I'm in the computer security biz, you think I don't know where those guys live?) and got a key for the new one along with where to download it (off of the Parallels site!) and went ahead and installed it. When I get the new key back from the Parallels guys, well, then that'll just be gravy...
Well, I gave Ubuntu Studio another chance. Thinking maybe it was an issue of me not installing it from "prestine" Ubuntu Studio DVD, I downloaded the DVD, burned it, and re-imaged my machine (well, put it onto the spare partitions I'd reserved for that purpose -- having 500gb of disk space means lots of space for that kinda thing!).
Results: The same. It just ain't there yet. Maybe the next release will be, but anyhow...
So I am now the owner of Macbook. I upgraded it to 2gb of memory from Fry's Electronics, then settled down to explore it and... well, everything Just Works. Where I thought I had a problem with MacOS sharing printers with the Ubuntu box, it was actually a problem with my Ubuntu setup for file and print sharing. I fixed the Ubuntu setup, and I was able to access its drive space and printers just fine. I turned on the Windows file sharing on my old Windows laptop, and sucked over files just fine from there too.
And... I'd been somewhat sanguine about the notion of MacOS being Unix behind the scenes. I figured it was Unix but, like with Windows, you'd need to download something like Cygwin to actually have a usable CLI. But... nope. "tar"? there. "rsync"? There. "telnet"? there! ssh? There. The printing system? Well, if you look behind the scenes, it's actually CUPS -- the same system used in Ubuntu, you can even connect to port 631 and manage it the exact same way if you get tired of using the MacOS tools (which hide a few things from you that may be useful).
Anyhow, that's why the only thing I posted today was cats! I'm still exploring my Macbook. So far it's WAY less weird than I'd feared. Tomorrow, I hook up the USB sound system to it and see whether GarageBand works :-).
Here is why The Mighty Fang, despite his best efforts, isn't much of a lap cat. This is him curled as tight and compact as he'll go. Needless to say, on any normal-sized lap he's kind of sagging off the sides. He still tries, though -- he'll jump on your lap and settle down and purr. After a while, though, it becomes obvious to him that he just doesn't fit, and he jumps off and sulks a while.
Someone call a wahmbulance for the record industry
Picked up this week's Rolling Stone out of the trash (long story - someone got forwarded a subscription by mistake, he throws it away, I pick it back up), and find that record company executives are wailing and gnashing their teeth. Seems that album sales are down by 25% since 2000, they've had to lay off 4,000 people, blah blah blah, wah wah wah.
Well gosh, folks. Y'know, if you wouldn't collude as a cartel to charge $14.95 for a product that costs literally 25c to manufacture, maybe people would buy more of them? And if you would quit suing your customers, maybe your customers wouldn't get pissed and quit buying your product?
Besides, everybody is hurting in Bush's America, except for the top 1% of taxpayers, who are just getting richer (and this includes record company executives, who are getting pay raises while they lay off thousands of workers, though at least the morons who sued Napster out of business are walking the streets now, or, rather, taken their million-dollar bank accounts into retirement in the Bermudas). The company before last that I worked for got knocked out of business by the Bush Depression. The last company that I worked for came up with a great product, and it's selling like heaters in Death Valley in July. So over 2,000 record stores have gone out of business? Join the club. The only retailers doing worth a crap right now are Wal-Mart and McDonalds, and in both cases it's because they cut their prices to cope with the fact that, dude, things just fucking *suck* out here in the Real World(tm).
Now, I'm not saying that CD's need to be priced at 25c apiece. Obviously there needs to be some royalties flowing. But the free market is telling record company executives that colluding together to keep CD prices at the same level as the much-more-expensive-to-produce DVD's is not working. When the fucking soundtrack CD to a movie on DVD costs more than the actual movie on DVD, a movie which cost $80 million to make, it doesn't take a fucking genius to figure out that its pricing is out of whack. The movie studios are making money hand over foot on DVD sales because they chose to price DVD's reasonably and release a *ton* of their backlist even more reasonably on DVD. Will record studios do this? Nooooo.... they'll continue treating their customers as their enemy, continue suing their customers, and continue publishing the same old crap year after year while keeping greats on the backlist out of production to avoid their old acts sucking sales from their new acts.
Meanwhile things are going just fine in every other part of the music industry. People are listening to more music than ever. They're just not listening to it off of purchased CD's. If record industry executives had a fucking clue, they'd realize that this is a sign that the problem is one of them suing and pissing off their customers and overpricing their product, not a sign that people don't want their product. Sadly, you can beat stupid greedy morons with the Clue Stick(tm), but that doesn't mean they'll ever get a clue.
Had a great idea for a song, so I turned on the mixer and adjusted my levels and fired up Audacity under Ubuntu Studio and set it up to use the USB recording system like I'd done a couple weeks before... and WTF? Nothing goddamned WORKS! Not a SINGLE bit of sound shows up in Audacity!
After doing everything I could to make it work, I said *fuck this shit*, threw everything off my goddamned desk (except the monitor, which is too damned expensive!), ripped all the fucking audio cables out of my goddamned Linux piece of shit box as well as the USB recording system, and plugged them into my Windows laptop. Fire up Audacity (the Windows version)... and everything Just Works(tm).
Of course by that time I'm completely out of the mood for writing a song, more in the mood for throwing my Linux box off the balcony of my apartment. Anyhow, methinks that the Ubuntu fucking Studio people need to get their fucking heads out of their asses and get their goddamned shit straight. Until they manage to make it so mere mortals can record shit under Linux without having to spend hours figuring out their deranged setup for how to jack music around, their bullshit is just that -- bullshit. Their useless fucking piece of shit software is fucking *GONE*, I'm just *TIRED* of this bullshit, I mean, c'mon, they have three goddamned fucking sound systems (ESD, Jack, aRts) fighting over who the fuck gets to actually manage the fucking audio ports? Fuck that!
If you are going to do the nasty with someone behind your Significant Other's back, be discreet about it. Make sure you know where your Significant Other is when you're doing it, and for cryin' out loud, don't do it where you can scare the pets. Especially if one of the pets is a parrot.
Sergeant Frank Sandoval has died. He had the signature injury of the Iraq war -- traumatic brain injury. Afterwards, he had the mental ability of the typical five year old, and because much of his skull was missing, was required to wear a helmet to protect his exposed brain. He died during surgery to implant plates in his head to protect his exposed brain, a little over a year after he was evacuated from Iraq.
How many other Frank Sandovals are there out there who have not been counted as victims of Dear Leader's little war for oil because they died months after they were evacuated from Iraq, not immediately? We'll never know. Those statistics are not being collected. How many other Frank Sandovals are there out there who come back missing major chunks of their brain and will never be the person they once were again? Once again, we'll never know. Those statistics are not being collected. They might be embarrassing to Dear Leader and hurt support for Vice President Halliburton's holy quest to secure the Middle East's oil for Halliburton, after all....
Cocaine, that is. Seems that prominent Republican and South Carolina Treasurer Thomas Ravenel thought that the laws about cocaine possession and distribution didn't apply to him because, like, he's a millionaire and stuff. Which makes him just another typical Republican office-holder nowdays, who believes the law applies only to the "little people", not to the elite like them.
So I had to switch to Ubuntu Studio (Gnome) from Kubuntu (KDE) because Skype just won't work right under Kubuntu (gets into fights with the KDE audio daemon). My favorite music application from the KDE world wouldn't work with the ESD (Enlightenment Sound Daemon, GNOME's audio daemon). Yeah, this sucks, two incompatible audio systems, Linux isn't an OS, Linux is a freakin' mess pretending to be an OS. Anyhow, so I went out looking for a new audio player and found RhythmBox, a loose clone of the iTunes application.
So I installed it using Synaptic (the software package installer for Ubuntu), which entailed firing up Synaptic, putting a checkmark by RhythmBox, and pressing the "Go" button. Synaptic then went out and found it on the Internets, downloaded it, installed it, added it to the Multimedia menu in my Start menu, etc... lots easier than having to go find it on a web site and stuff. So I was playing my collection, when I hit the "Plugins" configuration and saw... Last.fm?
Hmm. So I enabled it, and a "LastFM" item appeared below the "Streams" on the left panel. I clicked on that, and.... "Listen to music like ______" (fill in the blank). I filled in "Townes Van Zandt", and started getting tasty alt.country (Patty Griffith, Steve Earle, etc.). I filled in "Nirvana", and started getting crunchy Seattle grunge (Soundgarden, Everclear, etc.). I filled in "Death Cab For Cutie" and started getting poppy ballads that might be the soundtrack to some teen show like "The O.C.". Wow!
Anyhow, there is a big problem with the RhythmBox plugin. It doesn't put up the name of the song and musician. I selected the "last.fm" and "last-exit" from Synaptic, but neither of them appeared to be compatible with ESD as compiled. I ended up downloading the source code to the latest "last-exit" and compiling it from scratch against ESD, but the result is quite good. Now I can play whatever kind of music I want, when I want, *plus* hear songs from other artists whose albums I might be interested in (e.g., by typing in "Lucinda Williams", I got songs from Gillian Welch and Neko Case amongst others - whoa!). PLUS, unlike real radio, I can hit "Next" if I don't like the song playing, or even "Ban" if I want to never hear that song again. Imagine what traditional radio would be like if we could hit "Ban" on every banal pop song that ever got payola'ed onto the airwaves? Why, there might even be room for good stuff on the airwaves! But until then, there's last.fm. Enjoy.
-- Badtux the Music Penguin
Yeah, I know last.fm has gotten a fair amount of press over the past year or so, but I really don't pay attention to that kinda "trendy" stuff. My loss.
Courtney Love drunk and high as a kite and the song grabs her anyhow, she doesn't even mangle any of the lyrics as well as adding a few that are a clear reference to her dead husband. Even high as a kite she hit all her cues (if you've never sung to backing music you won't know what I'm talking about, it's harder than you think).
Courtney had talent. Too bad she threw it away on drugs and craziness.
But that's what the music industry does, takes screwed up but talented kids like the Courtney Loves of the world, feeds them ever more booze and drugs in hopes of keeping them docile enough that they don't question the screwing the suits are giving them while exploiting their talent, and then throw them away when the booze and drugs take their inevitable toll. Courtney never grew up. She never had a chance to, she went from a fucked up home life to a fucked up road life. Thus the famous episode where she flashed her boobies at David Letterman. Sad. Just sad.
I made a bold statement in my War Porn message, one that I'm surprised nobody called me on. I said, "All war does is destroy."
But what about Hitler, you say? Surely World War II was a "good" war?
No. World War II was a necessary war, in order to remove evil from the planet. But the absence of evil is not the presence of good.
Evil destroys. Good creates. But if you remove Evil, you don't end up with Good. You end up with... nothing. Just an empty vacuum.
War, since it is only destruction, is never Good. It is necessary, sometimes. I am not naive. I know that committing acts of violence, acts of evil, is sometimes necessary in order to prevent further evil. I am not reluctant, for example, to state that a serial killer should be subjected to the violence of the state -- seized by armed men, placed into a cage called a "prison cell", and kept there for the remainder of his life. Is this evil? Yes, violence is always evil, but in this case it prevents worse evil, it prevents the serial killer from adding yet more bodies to his tally of destruction.
But war never, ever adds anything. War, by definition as organized destruction on a mass scale, can never be Good, no more than black can ever be white.
But what about the miracle of democracy that arose in Germany and Japan after WWII, you say? Doesn't that prove that war is good?
No, what that proves is that if people decide to take another course, and have the support of the United States in terms of money and funding to do so, they can create Good. The removal of the evil that was Hitler in Germany and the military junta in Japan meant that the people were free to choose. But the people still had to choose, and they still needed assistance after they chose. The people chose Good. It was not war that chose Good for them. The people chose Good. If the United States had not been terrified by the Soviet Union into supporting Good against the advice of all the Republican nay-sayers who said that this was rewarding violence on the part of the Japanese and Germans and thus the Japanese and Germans should be punished, not rewarded with funds for rebuilding... well, what would have happened would have been something akin to modern-day Iraq -- a failed lawless state full of violence and death and Evil.
In short, it was the Marshall Plan and its Japanese equivalent that was Good, not the war which preceded it. All the war did was destroy. Amongst the things it destroyed, besides the lives of millions of people, were the evil of Hitler and Tojo. But that did not make the war Good. It merely made the war necessary.
Above: My current Kawasaki KLR-650 loaded down for a multi-week cross-country tour
I've been lusting over one of those swoopy new 2008 KLR-650's with the more powerful engine and dual headlights and prettier fairing. Only problem: I can't justify it. My current KLR is slow and ugly, but it gets me where I'm going, whether where I'm going is on pavement or off of it. So I say "Hmm, okay, maybe when I wear this thing out". But Gordon over at Fixer and Gordon's says the beast is likely to outlive me. Gah, how can I justify a new motorcycle if my current one is going to outlive me!
So anyhow, a FedEx guy walks into the office, looks up at the cubicle tops, and spots my helmet on top of my cube. He comes over and says, "Is that your motorcycle out back?"
I say, "Yeah." Thinking, maybe he wants to ask me what kind of motorcycle it is because he wants one just like it or something.
Instead, he says, "I just hit it with my truck and knocked it over."
Oh boy! I get a new motorcycle courtesy of FedEx! So I rushed out to the parking lot, ready to see a flat motorcycle and then pound on him for insurance info etc. And... and...
Total damage: One scratch to side of topbag. One scratch on sidebag mount (sidebags aren't mounted for commuting). One scratch on footpeg mount. One scratch on handguard. Looking at the pavement, it appears that he shoved it for a couple of feet with the bumper of his truck, but the damned thing just slid along like it was meant to travel on its side. And I can't even justify hitting FedEx up for fixing the scratches, because that's the same side that the bear knocked the bike onto and so it was already all scratched up!
I'm starting to believe Gordon is right. The Kawasaki KLR-650 is old, slow, crude, and ugly, but the damned thing is as close to indestructible as you can get for a bike that can take you around the world, on pavement and off, in (relative) comfort. It looks like I'm just going to have to wait another five years or so before I can say "Okay, it's ten years old, *now* it's time for a new bike!". Oh well, I don't need a swoopy new KLR anyhow, it'd just get all beat up and battered looking within a few months anyhow given the travails of a motorcycle in an urban commuting environment...
War does not create. War does not add anything. All war does is destroy. All war does is consume. War does not help economies, because everything created to fight wars does nothing to make people's lives better. Instead, the bullets and bombs and weapons are destroyed by the act of using them, as if the output of those factories had simply been thrown into a bottomless pit. War takes wealth, and turns it into murder.
Yes, murder. I use that word. War is murder. War is the taking of human lives. War is blood and guts and dead children lying in streets and the smell of piss and shit and the screaming of women and wails of children as they die in the crossfire. War is starvation and thirst, as the supply lines of civilization that keep civilians alive collapse in a hail of bombs and bullets and children shit their lives out in the street from drinking contaminated water and women are shot in the head and guts as they venture out of their homes searching for water and food for their children. Those who fight wars do not do anything glorious, unless you are the serial killer Hannibal Lector and believe that the removal of human life from this planet is the most reverent and sacred act that can be done. War is organized murder committed by governments in pursuit of whatever interests the leaders of those governments are pursuing.
Those who fight wars stink. Literally. For the warrior, war means that bathing becomes a seldom-done thing. The cake of dirt and rancid sweat and oil turns your hair into an oily greasy stuff on top of your head that, trapped under your helmet, fells like some sort of animal clasping your scalp. The acrid smell of rancid body oil and sweat and dirt is a bitter taste in your mouth (your nose has long since shut down and no longer smells it). Your underwear is filthy with urine and with feces because toilet paper is in short supply on the front lines. Sometimes you lay on top of your shit -- if your squad is pinned down and you can't move and you gotta go, well, it's a case of shovel a little dirt out on one side of whatever hole you're hiding in using the butt of your rifle, roll over, drop pants, dump, wipe with whatever you got to wipe with, roll back over, shove a little dirt back to try to cover it up enough to keep from squishing it all over you when you move around. This is oh so glorious and glamorous. And never seen when the war porn comes on.
If the war porn -- the movies, video games, and books that describe war -- ever tried to reflect the reality of war rather than some airbrushed glamorized fiction, people would run screaming from the movie theatres. Teenage boys would stare in shock at their video games as their brother or sister or mother or father were dismembered by a bullet in front of their face, begging for mercy, begging for a bullet to put them out of their misery. But of course the war porn does no such thing. Instead, it paints war as glamor and courage and bravery, as a glorious quest that turns a boy into a man.
And so we soak in war porn, every day. War porn comes on our evening news, a curiously sanitized pornography where war happens, yet nobody dies, where there are no dismembered bodies of children lying around on the ground after a 500 pound bomb blows up a daycare, where the men fighting the war look like movie stars instead of people who are very much in need of a bath, where the smell is never described. The smell. Ah yes, the smell. It is, indeed, lucky for the war pornographer that television has no way to transmit smells.
And so the death and destruction goes on, and everybody salutes and goes "hip hip hoorah!" as the war porn plays on their movie and tv screens. And the word "war", which should be a filthy word like "cunt", "nigger", "fuck", and "bitch", instead is used as a word for glorious quests like the War on Drugs, the War on Terrorism, the war on... well, I suppose this is all appropriate, in a way, since the War on Drugs, War on Terrorism, etc., involve the mass destruction of thousands of human lives as white American claps and says "Yeah! Another porch monkey caged! Another spic sent to jail! Another sand nigger killed like a dog! U S A! U S A!". But the horror of war is not, of course, what most people think of when they see the word "war" used in this way. Instead, all they see is the airbrushed glamor of the war porn in which they are immersed each day.
And so it goes, in the Delusional States of America, land of the war porn and home of the sheeple...
Yes, it's just a cheap Chinese quilt. But given the wear and tear that my kitties put upon quilts, it just doesn't make sense to put an expensive one there.
Number of stores visited:
Some of them had quilts, but not the correct quilt. They had quilts that looked like the kinda quilts that scare Evil Spock (i.e., like they belong in an Indian boudoir). They had soft pastel quilts that looked really girly-girl. They had formal Victorian quilts that made me wanna go find a starched collar and powdered wig to wear just looking at them. But finally, oh finally, The Quilt was encountered, thence to make its way to my bedroom. And yes, those are my MRE's in the corner...
Perhaps you're snorting. What can be so hard about using a mouse, you wonder. After all, you've done it with supreme ease for as long as you can remember. But keep this in mind: Nipples are natural. Everything else has to be learned. Since it is doubtful that a computer interface based solely on sucking on nipples will be invented any time in the near future, we have to focus on making our existing interfaces as easy to use as possible.
This penguin, for one, is having trouble envisioning a computer interface based upon sucking on nipples, but is willing to try.
I have come to a shocking conclusion after five hours without high-speed Internet: I am an addict.
Yes, I, Badtux, am an addict. I am addicted to speed. Dial-up simply will not do. I am addicted to YouTube and its continual plate of high-speed-internet-needed goodies. I am addicted to browsing the blogs at the speed of light (or at least the speed of Comcast!) from a location, located only a few miles from Google, that is akin to quenching one's thirst from a vast river of data that flows far faster than any mere mortal can drink. I... I... I am addicted to high speed Internet.
The only good news about this addiction is that it is one which is not particularly harmful. And the withdrawal symptoms aren't that bad. I got to play with my new C and Bb pennywhistles that came today, as well as the SVEA 123 camping stove that was sitting on the stoop right beside the whistles. The dishes are chuckling away in the dishwasher, the clothes are swishing around in the washing machine.
Still, it is disconcerting to this penguin to find out that he is an addict. Please pray to the Great Penguin for me, okay?
For those of you who claim you could not be a killer: Do not delude yourself. The Dark Wraith has an interesting little dissertation on the training you get in the Army. The Army as an institution has now existed for 232 years. For every one of those years, it has become better at turning the raw recruits who come through its doors into killers. Volunteer or draftee, willingly or not willingly, it does not matter if you are so kind and gentle that you flinch at swatting a mosquito or crushing a cockroach beneath your shoe. War is Hell, and you shall become not only the instrument of Hell, you shall be Hell. The methods the Army uses do not care about your gentle nature. They work at a deeper level, at the primal level, at a level we try not to think about. A level where even if you know what is happening, you are helpless to stop it. You are not in the Army. You are Army. The Army controls your environment, molds you, shapes you, makes you into what you have to be in order to do your job: a killer.
Go back and read The Fixer's post. Then think about our geopolitical strategy in Iraq, where the only way to "win", the only way for a pro-American democratic government in Iraq to exist, is to win hearts and minds. Then you will begin to understand why we are fucked, and why we shall remain fucked. Our soldiers are good at what they do. They are the pointy end of the stick, that sits between the cruel world outside and protect us from it by killing our nation's enemies dead, dead, dead. Asking them to police Iraq was a fucking stupid idea in the first place. Short of committing sufficient troops and logistics to round up all Iraqis into concentration camps in order to deny the guerrillas the sea of civilians they need in order to disappear into (a classic technique we used in the Philippines to make it safe for, err, Christian missionaries who needed to convert the Catholic population to Christianity), or genocide (the technique Putin is using against the Chechnyans with varying degrees of success), the defeat of the insurgency via force of U.S. arms is impossible.
And we simply do not have the troops for either genocide or concentration camps even if we had the political will in the post-Hitler environment to emulate Hitler to that extent. Even in Vietnam, the Viet Cong were eventually destroyed not by the U.S. Army, but by "President" Thieu's very effective and very brutal secret police (remember the famous picture of a police officer executing a suspected V.C. partisan? That's how it's done, Thieu's brutal dictatorship may not have been capable of motivating the majority of South Vietnamese to defend their nation against North Vietnam, but it was certainly capable of keeping them in line). And we had a helluva lot more troops in Vietnam.
We are fucked in Iraq for so many, many reasons. But the main reason is that our military simply isn't designed for what it has been tasked to do in Iraq. Go read The Fixer's post, and come back and tell me that our military is going to be any use at all in winning hearts and minds and "building democracy". That's not their thing. And wishful thinking on the part of politicians in Washington who've never served and don't know how it works won't change that fact.
- Badtux the Military Penguin
The only people who can win a guerrilla war, short of genocide, are the people who live there. Here is how "President" Thieu won his guerrilla war. With our arming of the Sunni, are we looking for a new "President" Thieu?
Set RhythmBox on "random", hit "forward", discard the horrible ones... note: if you don't see an album listed, I probably ripped it before Linux had CDDB-enabled rippers capable of filling in the album field in the mp3 headers.
Arlo Guthrie, "Deportees"
Mississippi Fred McDowell, "Soon One Mornin'"
Townes Van Zandt, "Snake Mountain Blues" (Legend)
The Cranberries, "Dreams" (Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We?)
Hole, "Reasons to be Beautiful"
Air, "Cherry Blossom Girl" (Talkie Walkie)
Cat Power, "Metal Heart" (Moon Pix)
Tracy Chapman, "Subcity"
Belle and Sebastian, "Like Dylan in the Movies"
Suzanne Vega, "Blood Sings" (99.9F)
Oh, I also skipped dupes. Hit Townes and Tracy a couple of times. Interesting selection up there, from folk to blues to alt-country to shoe-gazer to grunge to electronica to alterna-cat (sorry, Chan is her own category) to "contemporary"...
Now for one more spin of the "Next" button:
Leonard Cohen, "Everybody Knows".
Hey Mimus, I promise that I did *not* rig my "next" button, that's what really came up when I hit "next"!
The VNC server on Ubuntu Edgy and Feisty is busted and that has been true for some time. However, the VNC server from Debian Etch works just fine on Ubuntu, with one simple work-around for font directory location. Here is how to get it working in Ubuntu Feisty:
mkdir fonts note - don't worry if it says the directory already exists, that's okay.
mv encodings encodings- again, don't worry if it says encodings doesn't exist, that's okay.
ln -s /usr/share/fonts/X11/* .
dpkg -i vnc4-common*.deb
dpkg -i vnc4server*.deb
apt-get install xvnc4viewer
Run vnc4server the first time:
vnc4server -depth 16 -geometry 1024x768 :1
If all went well, you should have been prompted for a new password to use for connecting to the vnc server, then it should have started. Connect to the vncserver to make sure it started up correctly:
You should have gotten a window with a rather sparse twm configuration. (If not, check the log file that the vnc4server command created to see why not!). This probably isn't what you want. So edit the file ~/.vnc/xstartup to look something like this (make a copy of the file to another name first!):
If you don't want a separate eyecandy-less KDE configuration for your VNC sessions (I have lots of memory and CPU thus I run my regular KDE with lotsa eye candy but that really doesn't travel well over the Internet), remove the KDEHOME line. If you want gnome rather than kde, comment out the startkde line and uncomment the gnome-session line. I also specify a vnc-specific session for the gnome-session line so that it will (hopefully) co-exist with a desktop gnome session.
Now you're ready to test your new startup:
vnc4server -kill :1
vnc4server -depth 16 -geometry 1024x768 :1
You should now have a vnc viewer window with your choice of desktops. As long as you keep a VNC server running on your computer, you can now connect to your home computer from work (or vice versa) by setting up your firewall or gateway to forward port 5901 to the computer you wish to connect to, then running the xvnc4viewer or the Windows VNCviewer icon on the computer you're connecting from. This also makes a dandy way of accessing a real Linux desktop from a Windows computer in another room. The only real issue here is that neither Firefox nor Thunderbird much like the notion of you being logged in twice, and thus you can't leave a Firefox or Thunderbird open on the VNC desktop. No biggie, just use Konqueror or Epiphany as your web browser (depending on whether you're on Gnome or KDE) and use Evolution or kmail for your email.
Another issue: what to put for -geometry. I put 1024x768 but if you have a big screen on your client computer, you'll want to put something bigger (something smaller really doesn't work for a number of reasons to do with KDE and Gnome UI design). -depth 8 would be faster, but a number of programs will not work with that, thus -depth 16.
Professor Juan Cole asks, why are we so interested in the details of the imprisonment of Princess Paris Hilton, and not so interested in the details of the imprisonment of Iraqi women and children seized in order to convince their menfolk to turn themselves in?
The reason for the focus is simple: Paris Hilton is *us*. Americans. Overindulged. Pampered. Rich. Stupid. With an overweening sense of unwarranted entitlement based upon nothing more than where and to whom she was born. Paris Hilton is America. Where once America was steelworkers and freedom fighters, today America is... Paris. Vacant empty-headed useless people with no conception of "reality", who mostly spend their days selling things nobody needs to people who don't need them but hey, they're neat things, so buy, buy, buy!
Iraqis... heck, most Americans couldn't even find Iraq on a map, and would stare aghast at you if you even suggested that Iraqis were humans and should thus possess all the rights that the Declaration of Independence assures us were granted to us by our Creator. Americans want us out of Iraq because we're losing, not out of any moral qualms about killing people who aren't, like, Paris.
We might as well replace the eagle on the national seal with a poodle-dog and make it official. Replacing George with a picture of Paris on the $1 bill might be a great idea too. After all, Paris Hilton is a far, far better symbol of America than a man who was willing to give up his pampered existence on a plantation in order to lead an army of independence under horrible conditions through ice and snow with, get this, no catering! Oh the horror!
This is on a spit of land sticking out into the Golden Gate almost directly under the Golden Gate Bridge, on the side opposite San Francisco. WTF is it? Or was, I should say, given that it's obviously pretty much done for, with one building gone and the other building almost gone? Curious penguins want to know!
-- Badtux the Curious Penguin
As usual, clicky the picy to embiggeny. And yeah, I was a math teacher, not an English teacher ;-).
Crap, I'm going about this business of hacking together cool computer software all wrong. Instead of, like, doing that hard thinking and doing stuff, I ought to just be praying and, lo and behold, God shall deliver!
I can't wait to see these guy's solution to the problem of forest fires. If it doesn't involve sacrificing vestal virgins, it'll probably involve Bible readings or something. I propose that we line all these useless people up in the path of a forest fire with their Bibles in hand, reading passages from Psalms at the top of their voice. Meanwhile the rest of us can use a little common sense (which apparently ain't too common nowdays) and grab our shovels and mount our bulldozers and dig a fireline *behind* them to stop the fire. Let's see who's more effective at stopping the fire. Gah! The stupid! It hurts!
There was a joke in Vietnam, "want to buy an ARVN-issue M-16? Barely used, only dropped once!". The only good thing about using the M-16 in Vietnam was that the AK-47's that the NVA was using had a different ammo and thus they couldn't use the M-16's too easily themselves -- not that they needed to, given how cheap and plentiful AK-47's and ammo thereof are. But they certainly used plenty of other ARVN-issued weapons against U.S. forces in Vietnam, especially mortars and other such man-portable artillery.
But even the U.S. Army in Vietnam wasn't stupid enough to give weapons to the exact same people who have been shooting at our soldiers in hopes of bribing them into, well, not shooting at our soldiers. Not that I think it really matters. The insurgents have proven that they can get all the weapons they want, in plentiful and abundant supply. But still. If you're going to bribe someone to not shoot at you, why not just load up a buncha Herky Birds with bundles of hundred dollar bills and fly them low and slow over those villages tossing out bales of money? Crap, the Iraqis would be so goddamned busy scrambling for that money that they wouldn't even bother shooting at the Hercs! (Not that Herky Birds really care too much about a few bullet holes through their skin, some of them in Vietnam kept flying even though they looked like cheese graters by the time the NVA ventilated them, but the guys inside said birds tend to get a bit persnickity about such things, heh!). I mean, c'mon. Bribing them with guns is just, well, inefficient.
I suppose the thought is that guns are harder to direct into Swiss bank accounts than dollar bills. Whatever. But as in Vietnam, I fully expect that guns issued by our very own U.S. Army will shortly be used to kill U.S. soldiers in VietIraq-nam.
Fucked. We are truly, truly, truly fucked. The only ideas left are the certifiably insane ones. Maybe this one is certifiably insane enough to actually work. But if I were a betting man, I wouldn't bet on it.
Here are some timings on my new Linux system copying a few gigabytes of videos from one set of RAID disks to another set of RAID disks with three different filesystems: ext3, reiser3, and xfs:
root@mu:/data# time tar cf - videos | ( cd /data2 ; tar xf - )
time tar cf - videos | ( cd /data2 ; tar xf - )
time tar cf - videos | ( cd /data2 ; tar xf - )
Holy cacophony, Batman! Look at how much faster XFS is in this test!
The question, then, is why is ext3 the "standard" filesystem for Linux, when it is the slowest by any measure of the word "slow"? (It's even worse for lots of small files as vs. lots of big files). I suppose it's because it's much simpler than ReiserFS and XFS. XFS also has a bad habit of filling out your files with lots of zeros if you lose power before it has managed to flush its buffers, because it journals its metadata but not its data writes (gah! I don't want my metadata committed until the data is on the disk!), but ext3 takes hours to fsck under that situation and generally ends up with lots of files in lost+found, so I'm not sure it's much better.
Still, it makes you wonder whether NIH (Not Invented Here) for SGI's XFS, and Hans Reiser's acerbic personality (I mean, the dude is on trial for *MURDER* because he's such a jerk that everybody believes he killed his wife, even though no body has ever been found and nobody has any idea how he did it) have as much to do with as technical merit. So much for that corny idea that Open Source would rule the world because decisions would be made due to technical merit, not infighting and politics and marketing reasons... sigh. Utopia still is just a fiction...
Jennifer lost the war today
They'll find her burned and raped
Through it all she must have wondered
What have I done
But nobody really cares today
The world's a busy place
Guess she must have really sinned
I guess we're all just soldiers
She was only six years old
Left to die by strangers
Her family waits
And if we're all just soldiers
Is it so wrong to be afraid
Jennifer lost the war
Phoebe lost the war today
There must be some mistake
Say it happens all the time
And it's said and done
Little Miss 15 65
Your soul remains unclaimed
Guess you must have really sinned
Morality won't help her
When she lies silent in a morgue
And all our sorrows left her
But will the morning headlines
Even say that it's a shame
What are we heading for
Jennifer lost the war
Seen it all before
Silent on the ground as he's walking away
And I wonder how many more
Everybody take it like it's nothing at all
Jennifer lost, lost, lost, lost the war
Now I guess we're all just soldiers
She was only six years old
Left to die by strangers
Her family waits
And will the morning headlines
Even say that it's a shame
What are we heading for
Primal punk. I've seen video of them singing this song in 1987. Yes, twenty years ago. And My Lai was almost forty years ago. The more things change... (And yes, I know the backstory on this song, which had nothing to do with a literal war, but even if you don't know the backstory, the fact is that the same damned thing just keeps happening over and over again).
Okay, so I put my new motherboard in, plugged in my drives, turned it on, and things went haywire fast because the Ubuntu install on those drives didn't have the foggiest dadburned idea how to handle the new SATA controller. So next I tried putting the old Promise controller back in and plugged four of the drives into it. Still no go, Linux still got confuzled.
I sat back, and thought about it. I was out of partitions, so installing a new setup on it without destroying current data didn't seem feasible, so I did what any other self-respecting computer geek would do: I opened up Friday's Fry's ad (the rest of the paper went into the trash yesterday, the Fry's ads did not!), and found they had a special for 500 gb hard drives for $109.95.
So I bought two of them, of course, to set up in a RAID1 mirroring setup using the Linux software RAID.
The next problem was that when I tried plugging my old drives back in, Ubuntu got confused about the RAID arrays because some of them were numbered the same as the RAID arrays I'd created on the new drives. So I pulled the old drives back *out* again. And thought about it. And did what any self-respecting computer geek would do -- made another Fry's trip and bought an external USB enclosure capable of holding two drives. Add that to another enclosure I already had, and I had enough hardware to move my old drives (three 160GB SATA drives set up as RAID5 using Linux software RAID) to USB, which is hot pluggable, unlike SATA.
My RAID1 array (a pair of 80gb drives) copied over cleanly. Now came the next problem -- the Linux software RAID system absolutely refused to assemble my RAID5 arrays again. It reported two different problems -- stale header data, and a bad UUID. I used 'mdadm -E' to examine the RAID headers, and discovered the problem(s). First, one of the drives was marked as 'bad' by the other two drives due to the abortive assembly attempt during the failed boot. Secondly, one of the drives had a different HOST ID written to its UUID field during the failed aborted boot, so its UUID was different from the UUID on the other two drives. Unfortunately, this was one of the "good" drives (a drive with good data).
So I did some digging around in the Linux manpage for mdadm, and poked around a bit, and finally figured out how to force the host ID back to what it was supposed to be, one partition at a time. Once I did that I could assemble two partitions into 2/3rds of a RAID5, then add the remaining partition back in. So now my RAID arrays are happily burbling away rebuilding, I have my data back that seemed forever lost (well, actually, I had a backup of *most* of the data, but losing my collection of, uhm, questionables, which does *not* get backed up, would have been a bit of a bummer), and as soon as the rebuilding finishes I'm going to copy the remaining data onto my big drives.
Some things to note here:
Even when I got things totally confused, Linux gave me the tools to get everything back. With Windows, once your data is gone, it's gone. After a certain point, there's nothing to be done with a Windows system except reformat the drives and start over again.
The reason I use Linux software RAID is because it gives me more tools for fixing things when they break. (And, admittedly, more opportunities for things to break, but there is no free lunch). In addition, when I upgrade to a new disk controller or whatever, my data is still there and good. My data is sitting on the freakin' *USB* bus now, with no RAID controller in sight, and I can still assemble the blessed things.
That said, Linux still sucks. I shouldn't have had problems booting into the new system to begin with, since the appropriate SATA modules for the new SATA controller on the new motherboard actually did exist in the initrd. The fact that Linux gave me the tools to recover from the problem doesn't mean that Linux doesn't suck. It just means that Linux sucks less. A whole day's worth of hacking less, but suck all the same.
So a nice little headline on an editorial in the Murky News says, "Corporate America needs to answer the education bell."
Morons. Stupid fucking morons. There is no "Corporate America" anymore. Thanks to globalization, corporations today are multinational entities that owe no allegiance to any nation. To talk of "Corporate America" is to talk of a by-gone era when there was such a thing as an American corporation. Today's corporations owe allegiance only to one entity: The Almighty Dollar. And they're perfectly willing to clear-cut entire nations, stripping them of all their assets then moving on, in pursuit of their object of worship, the long green. Including stripping entire nations of the assets needed to run a decent educational system. After all, once they finish reducing one nation to a hoard of illiterates incapable of contributing to the world economy as anything other than consumers, there's always other nations out there whose educational system has not yet been plundered where they can cherry-pick that nation's smart educated people to run their international conglomerates.
In today's American economy, there are two kinds of businesses -- small individually-owned businesses that barely manage to eke out a living for their owners, and giant multinational corporations that make obscene profits by monopolizing major areas of the world economy via organized oligopolies and structural barriers to entry. The effects upon local charities that formerly depended upon corporate donations has been devastating. There are not, for example, local banks anymore. They're all owned by some big corporation based in New Jersey or South Carolina or someplace like that. So a charity goes in and asks a bank manager, "could you donate money for a new roof for our town's elementary school?", and the bank manager can only shake his head and say "I can put in a request to corporate in Charlotte, but I don't have authority to do that myself." And anonymous bank managers in some far away city... what do they care about your local town's elementary school? They don't. It just isn't relevant to them.
Any notion that "corporate America" will have anything to do with educational reform is just proof that some people are congenitally stupid. You might as well ask Santa Claus to reform education. Santa Claus is no less fictional.
The problem with standards is that there's so many of them
My new motherboard came in. I bought a new video card at the same time because the new standard for video cards is PCI Express/16 (besides, my old video card sucked). I bought new memory because the new memory standard is DDR-2 rather than the DDR memory in my old motherboard. I bought a new processor for the new motherboard of course. But I forgot about one thing: Power.
WTF, you say? I mean, I have a top quality Antec power supply in my case, right? And it's an ATX power supply, right? Only problem: It's for the *OLD* ATX power standard, ATX-1.3. Not for the *NEW* power standard, ATX12V. Which, from what I can tell, is absolutely identical to the *old* power supply standard, except they took the "auxiliary" plug and molded it in with the "regular" plug to add four more power inputs and now require four SATA disc drive power plugs rather than just two.
Sigh. So off to Fry's I go in the morning, to buy a new power supply to replace a perfectly good one that the Masters of Planned Obsolescence have deliberately obsoleted...
Paris Hilton goes home, after serving only three days in jail. Apparently she had "medical issues". Rumors are that the "medical issues" are these:
a) The soap made her complexion look, like, just so blotchy, y'know?
b) The food was just so aweful that she just could not eat it, and she just got so horribly hungry without cocaine to kill her appetite.
Meanwhile, thousands of ordinary men and women get to serve their full term despite having medical issues as dire as AIDS, kidney failure, and end-stage diabetes. But look, they're just little people. They're not offspring of the wealthy, like Little Ms. Hotel Chain. The rules only apply to the little people, not to the wealthy elite. Sheesh, what, you believe you live in a democracy rather than an oligarchy ruled by a small wealthy elite? Next thing you'll tell me is that you believe in the tooth fairy and Santa Claus!
-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin
Aftermath: The judge, pissed, sent the spoilt little brat back to jail. She was crying and sobbing. Good. Maybe she'll learn something about why driving while drunk is a bad idea. We can hope, anyhow.
No, she was *not* booed, despite the legend that she was "booed off the stage". At 19 years old, she got up there and sang her little heart out.
What brought this to mind was the June 14 edition of Rolling Stone Magazine. It has interviews with Amy Winehouse (another dark-haired Jewish girl who channels Motown and classic pop), and with surviving members of the Sex Pistols. If you want to know what's wrong with the music business, this is it. Scheming managers, exploitive labels that don't care that their "stars" are burning out and killing themselves as long as they get a little lucre in the bargain, and in the end, the "stars" are abandoned, impoverished, eking out a living as radio advertising salesmen and tabloid fodder, if they're not dead of the same demons and obsessions that led to them making music in the first place. It already happened to the Sex Pistols, the surviving members of which bitterly note that they couldn't get signed by a record label today no matter how good their songs. It'll happen to Amy Winehouse too, and her lightweight songs, unlike Linda Nyro's, will not stand the test of time. Some time in the future, I will open the pages of Rolling Stone, and somewhere near the back find out that Amy Winehouse sliced her wrists and killed herself along with her husband. And nobody at the record labels will even remember her name.
One of the rational conservatives out there, John Cole, reports that a lot of prominent evangelicals and a token Mormon got together last night to discuss theology and the Bible. This prayer meeting was apparently televised nationally (darn, I'm going to have to get my television out of the closet one of these days!) and addressed important issues such as the Big Bang Theory vs. the Biblical account of creation, the importance of the salvation brought to Man by Jesus Christ, etc.
Oh wait, that wasn't a prayer meeting... that was the Republican presidential candidates' debate. Because, after all, we must have our priorities straight. The Iraq war, health care crisis, collapsing immigration system, national debt, global warming, well, those are all trivial things. The important thing for Presidential candidates to debate is whether the Genesis account of Creation is 100% factual or not. Just as the important thing for Byzantine intellectuals to debate in the 8th and 9th century was iconoclasm, not the fact that the Muslims were whipping their butt on the Anatolian frontier. Remember, what's important in a Presidential candidate is not how he handles worldly concerns like, say, how to secure our borders. As with the Byzantine emperor in the 9th century, securing the borders isn't important. How a politician handles religious arguments... why, that's the important thing, not how well he handles running the country, y'know?
Ah yes, poor Tony Blair. Only a few weeks left in office, and desperate to somehow reclaim his "legacy". You just know that his gravestone is going to have a single word on it:
As for the thought of the Petulant One actually granting Blair his boon? Bwahahaha! Look, we're talking about a man who drops his dogs like rocks. Tony Blair is going down like Barney the Presidential Terrier. Except in Tony the Poodle's case, he doesn't even get to look at cute softball chicks on the way down...
But hey, I'm sure Dear Leader will give Tony the Poodle a Presidential Medal of Freedom and a hearty "Heckuva job, Tony!" for his troubles. ARF!
Mountain View High School may be one of the better public high schools in the nation. But they are not immune to the dictates of the Every Child Left Behind Act either. These dictates say that Mountain View High School must score better every year on the standardized tests mandated by ECLBA -- or else. Even though they already score in the top 5% of the nation.
So starting next year, Mountain View High School's award-winning Facing History class, which brings together Holocaust and other genocide survivors with students, is history. Instead, the time will be spent taking practice tests in order to get test scores up. Because, as we all know, taking practice tests is more important than learning history...
Pulled the lever on the following new hardware for my server/Linux desktop:
VGA EVGA 7900GS KO 256-P2-N624-AR - 256mb Nvidia 7900GS video card, PCI-E/16 bus
Yeah, this is a previous-generation card, but Linux driver support was the problem.
MB INTEL BOXDP35DPM P35 775 R
This is the DP35D motherboard from Intel with the new Intel P35 chipset. A couple of folks have already tried it with Linux and it works fine. It has six SATA ports, an IDE port, and Linux-supported network chip, ten total USB2 and two Firewire ports. Sweet.
CPU INTEL|C2D E6600 2.4G 775 4M R
Conroe Core 2 Duo. Fast.
MEM 1Gx2|MUSHKIN DII1066 996535 R
Memory, 5-5-4-12 timings. Good stuff, even though I'll be running it at 5-5-5-15.
MS WIN XP PRO W/SP2B SINGLE PACK % - OEM
Hey, even a Linux penguin likes to play games sometimes!
So if you wonder where this penguin is, he is geeking out BIG time!
-- Badtux the Geeky Penguin
Aftermath: NewEgg sez the Big Brown Truck has picked up my shipment and it's on its way! Yay!
One of the interesting things about being a Linux penguin is that Linux penguins have multi-colored plumage -- black, white, yellow, and maybe even a little green or red for the head fringe. So when this penguin hears about people being discriminated against because of their color, this penguin is confused. I've noticed people with a wide variety of plumage in positions of power, black plumage, red plumage, blonde plumage, grey plumage, what does a person's plumage have to do with it?
So I searched high and low and lo and behold, I have now found a case where a family is discriminated against because of their red plumage. While this penguin is not quite sure why red plumage would be an issue, at least it makes more sense than using the color of the skin underneath the plumage to judge the character of the person. I mean, c'mon. Even a fine-feathered waddling waterfowl knows that it's the color of the plumage, not the color of the skin under the plumage, that counts!
Sheesh. Monkeys. For you bald ones out there, how do you tell the difference between each other anyhow? Bald monkeys all look the same to me, whether we're talking Michael Jordan or Yul Brynner. Without plumage, how can you tell the difference?
-- Badtux the Well-plumed Penguin
How can you tell the difference, this penguin asks? They just look like monkeys to me!
One of the things about the Every Child Left Behind Act that President Bush got passed during his first term is its incessant requirement for testing and for punishing schools that don't test well. This is a staple of Republican orthodoxy. Testing, according to the Republicans, is the only way we can know the answer to the question, "is our children learning?" (as Dear Leader asked it) and get schools to teach better.
So does it work? Well, Texas has been testing the crap out of their students for over a decade now and the answer is... no.
What the emphasis upon testing has done is turn teachers, administrators, and students into conspirators to cheat on the tests. In Texas, the usual suspects have been implicated in the cheating scandal (the big-city Houston and Dallas school districts, whose students generally don't have a prayer of passing the test without looking at the answer key). But charter schools, which have an even more pressing incentive to cheat because they don't get taken over by the state they get shut down if their scores are too low, are even bigger cheaters than big-city urban schools.
It's all part of the most common delusional stupidity of our nation: the insane notion that you can punish people (or institutions like schools) into doing shit. You can't. All that punishment produces is avoidance behaviors, which most likely are *not* the behaviors that you want to have happen (unless what you want the kid to avoid is killing people, in which case teaching him avoidance of killing people is a pretty good idea). If you beat a child for everything he does wrong, rather than teaching him what is right and praising and helping him to achieve that, all you accomplish is creating a sneaky little liar who is adept at foisting the blame for his misdeeds upon other people (hmm, makes me wonder about discipline in the George H.W. Bush household). If you beat a hunting dog, all you do is break his spirit and make him worthless as a hunting dog. If you punish a school for poor test scores, all you do is make the school cheat on the tests. Etc. This delusional notion that you can punish people into doing what you want likely is religious in nature, related to the delusion that the reason people behave like civilized human beings is because they will go to Hell if they don't, not because, for most of us, behaving like civilized human beings is a rewarding activity that gains us both financial rewards (the ability to make a living in a reasonably pleasant manner) and praise and admiration from our peers.
If you want schools to teach better, you're going to have to lay out the behaviors you want to see, then reward them for exhibiting those behaviors. It works. I've done it with some of the most hard-core kids on this planet, kids who had been beaten and ass-whipped until black and blue in an attempt to get them to behave "right", and seen it work. Set up a merit system, lay out the behaviors you want to see and what happens if you see them, and soon enough you have them marching around campus like Marines on parade. Teachers and administrators aren't hard-core, they want to teach well even if they don't know how to do it with the students they're getting nowadays (who generally outside of middle-class suburbs are uninterested in education, see no point in going to school, and make little effort to learn and every effort to entertain themselves by misbehaving). Lay out your expected behaviors, reward them, and you'll get results. Guaranteed. If I can do it with hard-core ghetto inner city kids despite being a four-eyed geek, the greatest nation on the planet can do it with a buncha do-gooder teachers and admins with even less trouble. There's no need to punish failing schools. The only need is to identify the actions that teachers and admins need to take in order to turn them around, and rewarding teachers and admins for taking those actions. And if we don't know how to turn them around, if we don't know what specific actions teachers and admins need to take, all the punishment in the world won't work, any more than punishing a pig will teach it how to fly.
I'd say how important Steve was to me, except he wasn't. We were on opposite coasts, we started out in a similar vein as news bloggers with a military history bent for a similar reason (9/11/2001) but he kept on with it and ran with it and I didn't, I went in other directions. In his early years I read his blog daily, but after it became popular, I went elsewhere. That is similar to my pattern with other blogs such as Jesus's General, Eschaton, Daily Kos, etc... I just don't like popular blogs because they end up turning from a tight-knit community where everybody knows each other (or at least their respective blogging personas) into this gigantic blob of strangers.
That said, unlike some other bloggers whose blogs became popular, Steve never forgot that he was just a guy with a blog. He didn't grow an ego the size of a zeppelin like a blogger whose name rhymes with Mack, or delude himself into thinking he was some kinda mayja playa like another blogger whose name rhymes with "Charcoals", or otherwise turn into an asshole. He was Steve, and kept pretty much the same attitude to the end.
Regarding what killed him: Diabetes. There will be something else on his death certificate. But diabetes is what killed him.
If you have not had a physical recently with a blood sugar assay, get one. Diabetes is some evil shit. You don't even know you have it until it destroys pieces of you that you need to live. That's all I'll say on that subject.
I don't know what Steve's religion was. Figuring him for a Vonnegutian humanist, I guess I'll repeat Kurt Vonnegut's favorite joke: Steve is in heaven now.
I can't believe I didn't pay someone to do this to my Jeep. I'm treating my Jeep as good as I treat my KLR, something I've never done with a car before. Huh.
5 tire rotation
Grease all zerks with Mobil-1 synthetic grease (the tie rod end ones had to be greased during the rotation because there's no clearance between them and the wheel).
6 quarts of 5w40 Shell Rotella T Synthetic. (Yeah, factory spec is 10w30, but oil analysis shows that the Rambler I-6 wants something with a 40 top end like what it was originally designed for because otherwise the iron numbers go up).
Mobil-1 oil filter (top quality)
Checked: Front differential fluid level (fine). Brake and clutch fluid levels (fine). Power steering fluid (at the 'add' mark, added a bit of ATF+4 to get it to the 'cold' mark). Radiator fluid (halfway between 'Add' and 'Full', made note to keep an eye on it). All the bolts and stuff that I messed with doing the Aussie locker install and the 2" suspension lift install. Belts. Hoses. Brake lines. Looked suspiciously at exterior of battery, and its 'Zero Maintenance' sticker. Rattled the U-joints to make sure they were still tight. Looked suspiciously at the upper header which appears to be rubbing on my oil pan skid, thinking maybe I need to clearance that a bit but dreading R&R on that skid which was a PITA to get in. Enjoyed the sight of all the little scratches and nicks on the underside of my Jeep, showing that this isn't *just* a mall queen, heh! Air filter looked fine, should last 15,000 mile like the book sez.
I suppose I should go ahead and check the rear differential fluid level while I'm at it. Anything else you can think of that I should check before I move my Jeep back to the parking lot and move my KLR back into the garage? (I already checked off all the stuff on the Jeep-provided service checklist).
O’REILLY: But do you understand what the New York Times wants, and the far-left want? They want to break down the white, Christian, male power structure, which you’re a part, and so am I, and they want to bring in millions of foreign nationals to basically break down the structure that we have."
Because, y'know, white males are 36% of the population, yet 79% of the Senate, so they're obviously an oppressed minority and besides, we gotta keep the darkies and uppity wimmins in their place, yassah!
More to follow, after I finish cursing SOB chickenhawks and get my breath back...
"Keep fighting for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce."
-- Molly Ivins, 1944-2007
"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men."
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