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So, we have Hamas. They’re a big threat to Israel, right? Uhm, no. They have bottle rockets made of garbage cans and fertilizer that they fire off at Israel on a regular basis, but these rockets rarely hit anything and have killed no Israelis in a long time. Beyond that, they have AK-47′s and RPG’s. You can’t mount an invasion of a modern state like Israel with AK-47′s and RPG’s. It’d be a massacre. Hamas, in other words, poses no existential threat to Israel. Those poor schmucks in Gaza could no more overthrow Israel than they could walk on water. Hey, they’re still in Gaza, so clearly they can’t walk on water, right?

So, we have the Egyptians. They have a big army, right? They’re a real threat to Israel, right? Uhm, no. Wrong. Egypt is not interested in fighting any wars. They have their own problems, and they gave away Gaza to Israel in 1996 so they don’t care about what happens there, it’s all Israel’s problem now.

Then we have Jordan. They don’t have a really big army, but hey, it’s still pretty good compared to most Arab armies. Surely they’re a threat to Israel? Uhm, no. They signed a peace treaty long ago and formally gave up the West Bank to Israel. They’ve never been particularly interested in war with Israel and only went to war with Israel in the past when threatened with invasion by Syria if they didn’t. They even sat out the 1973 war, having no interest in attempting to re-take the West Bank from Israel. Besides, they, too, are busy with their own problems right now, mostly due to a refugee crisis caused by Iraq and Syria imploding.

Lebanon? No army worth the name, and Hizballah is a collection of village militia, capable of bloodying Israel’s nose nicely if Israel invades Lebanon, but not capable of taking the fight to Israel in any way, since they lack any of the necessary accoutrements of invasion — things like, say, tanks, and an air force.

Syria? Nope. Syria’s got its own internal problems and it’ll be probably a decade before that’s all resolved. Its army has mostly disintegrated, mostly gone home other than the Shiite and Christian sectarian units, and there’s a huge civil war going on there that’s stuck in a bloody stalemate. Syria threatens nothing, much less Israel.

Despite this, Israel does face a dire threat, a demographic threat. And that is the Haredim — the ultra-Orthodox “hats and beards” Jews. 39% of all Jews under age 20 in Israel are Haredi. They are exempt from the draft as long as they are doing “religious studies” (which are all they do for their entire life), and the majority of them will go on welfare when they become adults, again because they’re doing “religious studies” and thus too busy to get a real job.

So let’s recap: 39% of Israel’s male Jewish manpower over the next 20 years is going to be exempt from the draft. And within the next 20 years, 20% of Israel’s Jewish population is going to be on welfare.

There is no nation, anywhere, that can survive such a huge portion of its population on welfare. And the lack of manpower for the IDF is going to be disastrous if Israel ever again has to go to war against a real opponent (as vs. choose to go to war against inept slobs like the Palestinians in Gaza). So the question, I suppose, is what’s going to happen when Israel is forced to end the draft exemption and forced to end welfare as we know it. Will the Haredi rise up in civil war? Will they join the modern world rather than attack little girls trying to go to school just like the Taliban attack little girls trying to go to school? and attack women who don’t follow their creed? I don’t know. All I do know is that if things go on as they are, in forty years we won’t be talking about a State of Israel, we’ll be talking about a Jewish refugee crisis. Whether that is a good thing or bad thing depends, I suppose, on whether you view Jewish lives as more important than Arab lives — or not.

- Badtux the Demographics Penguin

Eilen Jewell, “Dusty Boxcar Wall”, off her 2007 album Letters from Sinners & Strangers.

- Badtux the Music Penguin

And that one word is:

SCUM.

I’m not joking. Celebrating *any* death is beyond the pale. Sometimes killing is necessary, to defend yourself or your country, but it is not something to be celebrated, it is something to be mourned, for each death of a human being diminishes the human race by one tiny bit. Someone who celebrates death is, at best, a horribly misguided and morally repulsive person. But celebrating the deaths of innocents… that takes you beyond even misguided and morally repulsive. That takes you into the realm of being a morally bankrupt monster.

What, then, am I to make of all these Israeli civilians gathering on hillsides overlooking the Gaza border to cheer the explosions of Israeli bombs and missiles in Gaza City, explosions that have thus far, according to the United Nations, killed over 500 civilians, including at least 149 children?

And why are we (the US) supporting these… SCUM… anyhow?

Disgusted penguins are… disgusted.

- Badtux the Disgusted Penguin


Zoe Muth, “Too Shiny”, off her 2014 album World of Strangers.

- Badtux the Music Penguin

The motive

The death of a major figure in town required a personal appearance by
the Sheriff. Sheriff Anson had read the reports filed by Deputy
Perkins and Jessica Sullivan about Jamison Tyler’s death. The Staties
had come out and done their own report. It was open and shut. Tyler’s
body had been within Marta Johnson’s apartment. The door had been
forced open. There was a gun with Tyler’s fingerprints that clearly
had been very recently in Tyler’s hand, and a wrecking bar by the door
that clearly had Tyler’s prints on it. He had been shot within the
apartment while turning towards the door and where the gun fell was
where it would fall if he had been shot while holding the gun and
turning towards the door. Everything matched Jessica Sullivan’s story,
and he had no reason to doubt her.

The question was, why? People like Jamison Tyler just didn’t break
into people’s homes. He had a feeling that he was going to find out.

He pulled into the driveway of the Tyler mansion with Deputy Perkins
behind him. As mansions went the Tyler mansion was fairly modest, two
stories and turrets and perhaps a dozen rooms, but still, it was a
mansion. Sheriff Anson walked up to the front door with Deputy Perkins
behind him, and knocked.

Meghan Tyler herself answered the door. She was a petite woman wearing
expensive cloths. Sheriff Anson had seen her around town many times
over the years. Her expression under the brown hair had a permanent
look as if she’d been born with a pickle in her mouth, but she hadn’t
looked like that when she married Jamison Tyler. Lars Anson remembered
her from high school. She’d seemed a normal happy young woman
then. But life with Jamison had apparently not met her expectations,
despite the mansion, despite the pearls around her neck and the
diamonds in her ears.

She looked puzzled about why two police officers were at her
door. “Yes?”

“Mrs. Tyler, I have bad news for you. Your husband is dead.”

Meghan froze and blinked. “Dead? How… how can he be dead? He just
left an hour ago to check on his businesses… a traffic accident? Oh
god, was it the intersection in front of the Walmart? I keep
telling… oh…” she stopped talking as the full impact hit
her. “Dead. How?”

Sheriff Anson didn’t know any polite way to say what he had to say
next. “He was breaking and entering into Marta Johnson’s apartment
when one of my deputies interrupted the crime. He drew down on my
deputy after she identified herself as a police officer and she was
forced to kill him in self defense.”

“Oh my god, Jenny Daughtry killed my husband? Oh my…”

Sheriff Anson didn’t correct Meghan on the identity of the
deputy. “We’ll release more details after the State Police finish
their investigation, ma’am. But I have to ask, do you know why your
husband would be breaking into Marta Johnson’s apartment?”

Meghan looked angry then. “Because the bitch was blackmailing him, of
course.”

Sheriff Anson sighed. “And you didn’t bring this to me because…”

“Because he would have gone to jail for having sex with an underaged
girl.”

Oof. “I think this is going to take a while, Meghan. Could we come
in?”

“Oh sure, what does it matter now? Come right on in.” She walked back
through the foyer into a formal living area, and Sheriff Anson
followed. “Have a seat, gentlemen,” she said, waving at a sofa. She
took a chair that was at right angles to the sofa, so that she could
see them.

“So, was she extorting money from him?” Sheriff Anson asked.

“Not at first. All she wanted was for him to not follow through on the
plan to condemn half of downtown as a public safety hazard. Then she
got greedy.”

“So, what exactly did she have on him?”

“Well, the Elks… they have a hall downtown, y’know? Well, it’s in a
building she owns, and the bitch apparently put secret security
cameras all over the place! That’s the only explanation I have, but
when she brought her laptop computer over and showed us the video, it
was clearly my Jamison and several other of our town’s best and
brightest having sex with an obviously inebriated young woman who was
seventeen years old. Jamison laughed at her and said he’d just take
her computer right there and kill her, and she smiled cool as a
cucumber and said he could do that, but there was a copy, and it would
end up in the Sheriff’s hands if anything happened to her. Sheriff,
that woman is evil. You need to do something about her.”

“Well how the hell can I do something about her if you people won’t
report her crimes?” Sheriff Anson demanded.

“You’d have been required to put half the town council in stripes,
Sheriff. How could we have risked that?”

“So now your damnfool husband is dead, probably because he thought
Marta was stupid enough to keep a copy of this video in her apartment,
and secondly because he was stupid enough to draw down on my
deputy. Tell me he was at least smart enough to have life insurance?”

Meghan Tyler sighed, and said “He was. He also has debts.” She looked
around the room. “If this dump was worth anything in today’s economy
we’d be forced to sell it. Instead we’ll be forced to sell the
shopping complex by the Wal-Mart. I’m sure Jamison’s cronies will
compete to lowball each other. Fucking carrion crows. We’re fucked,
Sheriff, well and true.”

Meghan Tyler had the look of a woman who saw the rest of her life in
front of her, and it wasn’t going to be pleasant. Sheriff Anson tried
to think of a way she could come out on top. He couldn’t figure a
way. She was going to end up on welfare in that too big house and have
a miserable rest of her life. Unless…

“Well now. That video. You say it was taken in the Elks hall? Would
the same people who are going to compete to low-ball you, going to be
in that video too?” He paused, waiting to see if Meghan was going to
pick up on that.

“Well, now, Sheriff…” She smiled. “I suppose I can file a crime
report on the blackmail and then you can go search Marta Johnson’s
apartment for that video. After all, Jamison won’t give a shit that
his reputation will get trashed. He’s dead.” She paused. “Or maybe I
won’t.” She seemed to think of something else at that point, something
that she wasn’t going to share with Sheriff Anson. But Sheriff Anson
pretty much knew what she was thinking. He’d sort of planted it in her
head, after all.

“Well, Sheriff, I must say that it’s not been a nice day. Thank you
for your time, but I need to get busy making arrangements. I take it
that the body will be at the hospital until the autopsy? I’ll have the
funeral home contact your department for the release… now, Sheriff,
if you’ll excuse me…” She stood up and waved the Sheriff and his
deputy towards the door.

“My apologies, ma’am. We’ll talk later after your time of mourning.”
Sheriff Anson rose from the couch and walked out the door. Deputy
Perkins followed.

When they were halfway back to their cars, Deputy Perkins commented “I
guess she’s going to toss in with Marta, then.” That is, she was going
to go to Marta and threaten to expose the blackmail unless Marta
helped her with her little problem of low-balling cronies.

“Well, I can’t damn well force her to file a crime report, can I?”
Sheriff Anson said.

“You don’t seem unhappy about that.”

Sheriff Anson shrugged. “That case would be a political nightmare and
I’m just as soon out of it. Seems to me that a lot of skeletons are
falling out of closets lately. I like knowing where they are, but I’m
not in a rush to help air’em out. “

Deputy Perkins’ face almost twitched into a smile. Almost. “That’s
Jessica Sullivan’s job. Thing is, I don’t think she has the slightest
idea what she’s done to this town. I think she truly just wanted to
climb rocks.”

“Well, you’re the damnfool who pointed her at Bob Wilson.”

“Touche’, Sheriff. Well, hope you don’t have any skeletons of your own
for her to air out.”

“I’m as pure as the driven snow. You know that, Deputy.”

“Right. Well. I guess I’ll get back on patrol then, Sheriff.”

“You do that,” Sheriff Anson said. Deputy Perkins nodded, got into his
car and drove off.

Skeletons. Sheriff Anson tried thinking what kind of skeletons he had
in his closet. Other than the fact that he was more rancher than
lawman and really, the Staties did any real investigating in his
county. Not that there was usually anything to investigate. If someone
got knifed in a bar fight, it pretty much damn well was obvious who
done it.

Which reminded him. Who shot at Jessica Sullivan and her boy toy
Batman? He didn’t have the foggiest idea, and that bothered him.

It was a mystery that he was never to solve.

Dreaming of war

Emmy the Great, “War”, off her 2009 album First Love. A serious song that she sings seriously.

- Badtux the Music Penguin

45 years ago today, Apollo 11 landed on the Moon. It has been downhill for the United States ever since.

Apollo 11 was done by government. Apollo 11 could *only* have been done by government, because there is no profit or loss statement that could have withstood the massive expense of sending men to the Moon to return a few pounds of rocks. Even the supposed technology benefits of the Apollo Program don’t pan out when you look at the actual technology used to send men to the moon. Contrary to popular belief there was little of the Apollo technology that actually drove civilian computer technology. For example, the Apollo Guidance Computer used RTL NAND gates wire-wrapped together on perforated substrates, which was long obsolete technology by the time Apollo flew, replaced by etched-copper substrates and TTL by 1964. Furthermore, civilian satellite launches primarily have been done by boosters derived from early missiles, not by anything developed for the Apollo project.

In short, the Apollo project could not be justified by any kind of profit or loss statement. But that was not the point of Apollo. The point of Apollo was that there was this thing that needed to be done to insure the future of mankind: the conquest of space. It was a thing that could only be done by government, because other than launching satellites there is not any profit involved, just the survival of the species if something happens to Earth itself. And then…

… then we quit.

We let the nattering nabobs of negativism convince us that if there was no profit, it shouldn’t be done. We got talked into believing that government was the problem, not the solution — despite the fact that there are a huge number of problems that have no solution other than government because there is no possible profit. Our old people aren’t on Medicare because health insurers were politically powerless in 1965. They’re on Medicare because there’s no profit insuring old people against major medical problems thus health insurers didn’t want to insure them, meaning old people in 1965 simply couldn’t buy health insurance on the open market, period. That’s just one of the problems that have no profit but which had to be solved or we’d have a lot of dead bodies. And dead bodies are Bad Juju.

Thus the need for government, which is the solution where something needs to be done but it’s impossible to make a profit doing something. But somewhere we allowed ourself as a nation to worship the mighty Prophet Profit rather than pay attention to common sense, which is that insuring the general welfare (as called for by the Constitution in its very first paragraph) requires government to do some things that private enterprises won’t or can’t do.

And so we slide down in the abyss of being a third world nation. The annual anniversary of the moon landing is always bittersweet to me. Once upon a time, we were a nation that could do great things. Today… not so much. We couldn’t land men on the moon again if we wanted, because the infrastructure isn’t there anymore to do it. It all got sold to the highest bidder in China or Malaysia or Korea or Vietnam. Because the great Prophet Profit said to do so.

So it goes.

- Badtux the Bitter Penguin

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