Petey was the beloved pet of an elderly lady down the street, Miss Dooty. When Miss Dooty died, Petey was thrown out on the street and eventually showed up at the feral cat colony that I feed.

Petey swiftly made friends with the other community cats, including Creampuff, a seal-point long-haired cat who behaves as if he was also once an indoors cat that was dumped. Petey and Creampuff both acted like they wanted to be indoors cats again, coming into my house for a few seconds when I was bringing the food out and yelling at me that they wanted their food. I delayed because I needed to prepare a cat room for them to keep them isolated from my own cats while I treated them for fleas and worms and verified that they had no diseases that my cats could get. I was going to do that last week but hurt my back doing gardening work, so I did not get it done until Friday evening so I could bring the cats in on Saturday morning.

Creampuff showed up on Saturday morning.. Petey did not.

I got a call today from someone relaying the bad news that Petey had been struck by a car several blocks away and was deceased. He died literally hours before I was to bring him in.

Creampuff is in the cat room right now, lonely because he no longer has his friend Petey. I am sad and feel guilty because if I’d only done this the previous weekend when planned, Petey would still be alive. Petey had joy and fun and seasons in the sun, my last video of him on the Thursday before he died is him playing with Creampuff on my front lawn. But he should have had more.

So it goes.

— Badtux the Sad Penguin


So let’s look at conservatives in the UK.

The Tories have proposed a new policy where they will reject all asylum seekers who enter the country without already having a visa. Which is a violation of the 1951 Refugee Convention, of which the UK was one of the original signers, as well as being a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights which the UK also signed, and would result in the UK basically rejecting 100% of refugees because the UK has no provisions with other countries to accept refugees in a more formalized way.

How big is the refugee problem in the UK? Last year, around 45,000 refugees crossed the English Channel in small boats and applied for asylum when they reached the UK. The population of the UK is 67 million people. In other words, .006% of their population, a tiny fraction of their population.

Let’s face facts: the proposed Tory policy is all about racism, not about any actual threat to the economy or stability of the UK. And famous footballer(*) Gary Lineker called them on it, calling the proposed policy “an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s“. And the response of the Tory chairman of the BBC, Richard Sharp, who bought his position by “donating” a major sum of money to former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, was to suspend him for a bogus violation of a social media policy that does not apply to a contract sports analyst, thereby violating his right of free speech, a right (freedom of expression) not guaranteed in the non-existent British constitution but guaranteed in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights that the UK signed.

Here’s the thing, though. Lineker is a multi-millionaire. He doesn’t really give a shit about the BBC trying to muzzle him. The same applies to most of the other sports commentators at the BBC, the BBC hires former sports stars to run their sports programs, and most of them have plenty of money in the bank and are doing it because they love their sport and were bored in retirement. So, most of the other sports analysts stayed home today, and the BBC was showing lots of reruns of non-sports shows to fill dead air space. They weren’t even able to have the few sports reporters remaining interview football stars about the games after the games, because the football stars refused to talk to the BBC in solidarity with their former colleague.

None of these are people that the BBC can intimidate. The butt-hurt Tories can replace their sports commentators with random Tory schmoes with no credibility and lose all their audience as well as create an uprising by a football-crazed viewing audience, but the Tories can’t intimidate them. So butt-hurt conservative snowflakes either are going to have to double down and risk a rebellion by even some of their own supporters, or are going to have to back down with some sort of face-saving gesture. That’s it. That’s their choices. We’ll see what happens… but one thing is clear: Conservatives are fragile snowflakes who can’t stand criticism regardless of what nation they’re in.

— Badtux the Snowflake-melting Penguin

(*) For some reason, Americans call football “soccer”. The term used in the entire rest of the world is used here. 

I don’t know what to say. They come with such mind-numbing frequency these days that the details blur in my mind. Was this a school shot up? Or a church? Or a dance theater? Were the victims suburban housewives, elementary school children, elderly Chinese couples, or college students?
One thing is certain: as long as our society values violence over compassion, as long as our society values protecting oligarchs over protecting the innocent, as long as our society values protecting guns over protecting children, this will continue to happen. People will continue to snap under the pressure of a society whose only moral code is “greed is good” and whose only philosophy of life is “do unto others before others can do unto you”, and with easy access to guns will continue to go on shooting sprees. In the end, we live in a sick society, and I don’t have any hope it’s going to change anytime soon.
So I try to make things better where I can — mostly for the homeless cats that occur when their people die or become homeless — and otherwise just try to keep myself entertained while Rome burns.
— Badtux the Fiddling Penguin

Ten years ago

The leading cause of death for children ages 1-19 in the United States is firearms. There is no other country where this is true.
Ten years ago, in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre, we as a nation decided that it was perfectly fine for school children to be slaughtered in their classrooms. In fact, we actually *doubled down* on making sure that everybody in the country had access to as many guns as they wanted to have, and was authorized to carry them wherever they wanted to carry them (with a few exceptions). “Constitutional carry” is now the law in multiple states, and the number of “shall issue” concealed carry states has risen to 41 states where basically if you have a pulse, you can carry concealed.
This is the nation we want, apparently. So it goes.
— Badtux the “It is what it is” Penguin

So, I was going to wait out Elon’s destruction of Twitter. But:

My timeline.

It was full of these raving lunatic right wingers spewing frothing madness. The thing is, I don’t follow any of these people. I don’t want to see any of these people. I never want to see any of these people ever again. Yet no matter how many I blocked, Elon the Twit slathered yet more raving lunatic right wingers frothing madness into my timeline.

Finally I resorted to responding to each of these with, “Why is this raving frothing nonsense in my timeline? I don’t follow you! Get out of my timeline! BLOCKED!” over and over again, while blocking them.

That did the trick: Twitter gave me a 12 hour timeout. Yay! 

So yeah. I’m done with Twitter. You’ll notice it’s no longer in my sidebar. I’ve also removed Twitter from my devices, and logged out of it on all of my web browsers. I didn’t delete my account because it tells how to get to my Mastodon profile, which is where I’ll be microblogging from now on, but no, I’m not subjecting myself to the constant stream of bigotry, hate, anti-science misinformation, and frothing madness that Twitter’s “algorithm” insisted upon putting in front of my eyes. 

In the end, it was just too much. Elon the Twit’s eagerness to amplify his disgusting bigotry and anti-science views using his platform’s algorithm simply made it not worth it to go there anymore. I went to Twitter to see tweets by people I follow — not to see tweets by raving lunatics. I get that at Mastodon. I no longer get that at Twitter. So it goes.

  • Badtux the Non-Twit Penguin
The official US policy from the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 to early 2009 was that Russia was a friend. Russia was an ally in the war against Islamic extremism. Russia was a trusted partner in multiple ventures, including the International Space Station.

Note that none of this was ever reciprocated by Russia. Russia continued treating the United States, and the West as a whole, as if the West was out to get them. Russian paranoia would not allow them to be good citizens in the world economy. Instead the Russian oligarchs huddled over their piles of looted Soviet wealth like dragons upon piles of gold, glaring at the West as if the West wanted to steal their gold. That didn’t stop the continuous outreach by the West though. If we were just friendly enough, it was thought, eventually Russia would come around and be willing to join us in the great experiment of modern civilization.

Then 2009 happened.

What changed in 2009? Well: In late 2008 Russia invaded Georgia in a clear act of naked militaristic aggression. It became clear at that point that Russia was a militaristic expansionist nation with the goal of annexing parts of its neighbors via blunt military force. This blatant 19th century colonialist war of conquest was directly in contrast to the great experiment of modern civilization that was taking place in most of the rest of the world.

At that point, Russia started looking less like a potential friend and ally, and more like someone we’d need to fight a war with eventually. And things changed. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea in 2014 was the last straw for most of the world.

Russia’s current bad relations with the West aren’t the fault of the West. They are the fault of a paranoid, aggressive Russia that is stuck in 19th century thinking and refuses to join modern civilization, which it sneers at as “weak”.

That is all.

— Badtux the Geopolitics Penguin

Why Twitter is doomed

So I have been watching the resignation notices for people leaving Twitter. Basically, it looks like all of the developers other than those on immigration visas are leaving. I see a lot of familiar names there, people who are experts in scalability who have published papers on how to scale things, experts in Internet protocols whose names are on IETF RFC’s, experts in algorithmic complexity with journal papers, and then just the average everyday Joes who keep the lights on. And I think: Twitter is going to crash.

Oh, not right now. See, here’s the thing. Everything at Twitter is massively redundant. There’s three or four copies of every tweet geographically distributed across multiple data centers. There’s dozens of circuits and routers into each data center. There’s two electrical circuits and two power distribution units into every rack. And so on and so forth. But:

Things break. Routers fry or lose their mind. Disk drives die. Switches quit switching. Hypervisors quit hypervising. The breaker blows on a PDU because it’s gotten old or hot and no longer will carry the load. Someone has to go in and fix these things as they happen. Sure, there’s redundancy. There’s other disks with copies of data. There’s other routers. There’s other circuits. There’s other servers with hypervisors on them. But as racks start going dark because nobody fixed things, the service slows down. Eventually the spare resources for redundancy run out. Then something goes out… and there’s nothing redundant to pick it up. Something crashes.

And if it’s an important part of Twitter like the globally distributed data store master index, Twitter might never come back up. 

I’m not sure how to describe this to non-technical people, but basically, consider it like the master index for all of Twitter (that’s not exactly how it works, but close enough). This is replicated in RAM caches worldwide. And if you crash it, it’s possible to rebuild it by scanning the actual key-value store for the tweets… but the people who know how to do that have gone out the door, along with the Joes and Janets who know how to fix the hardware. Maybe Mahesh and Yang here on H1B visas and thus unable to leave Twitter can reverse engineer it and over the course of a week or two figure out how to rebuild the indexes. But by that time the advertisers have turned off the money spigots, the users have fled to Reddit or Instagram, and Twitter has gone the way of MySpace.

At this point, I don’t know of any way that Twitter avoids that fate. Maybe Musk could go hat in hand and hire back some of the talent he just drove away. But I don’t think they’ll come back. Most worked at Twitter because they wanted to work at Twitter, not because they have to work at Twitter. Many of the people who know the most about the deep dark innards of Twitter made a fortune on the Twitter IPO and have no need to work anymore. And they’re likely to give Musk the finger.

The wildcard in all this is the bankers. Musk didn’t fund the purchase of Twitter with his own money. He borrowed money, or got other investors to come in on it. And those people are going to be *pissed* when Twitter crashes. Will they fire Musk and try to mend fences themselves with the people necessary to get Twitter back up and going? Or did Musk put enough poison pills in the contracts to keep that from happening.

Either way, Twitter is still dead. The contract stuff just determines who gets sued over it, and whether Twitter *stays* dead after it crashes that first time.

So it goes. I’m just gonna stock up on the popcorn and make bets about whether Twitter lasts longer than this lettuce:

— Badtux the Tech Nerd Penguin


Reminder: There is no medical evidence that human life exists before the third trimester of pregnancy. A fetus prior to that time has no ability to exist independently of their mother, fails every common test of brain activity, and otherwise flunks every medical test of “human” versus “not human”.

Saying “life begins at conception” is not a medical observation. It is a religious observation. Under the 1st Amendment, we’re not supposed to be legislating religion into law. But the current right-wing jihadists who run the U.S. Supreme Court only care about one amendment of the Bill of Rights — the 2nd Amendment — and that’s because they don’t care about the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or rule of law in general, they care about making sure that their fellow right-wing jihadists are well armed so that they can seize power at gunpoint if the population decides they aren’t going to be ruled by the Christian Taliban’s right-wing jihadists.

Look, I can respect your heartfelt religious belief that life begins at conception. But when you want your religious belief to be written into law, you are *WRONG*. The Constitution says you’re wrong, and if you spit on the Constitution, you aren’t a real American.

And what that says about the right wing Christian Taliban jihadists on the U.S. Supreme Court…

— Badtux the 1st Amendment Penguin


It is what a government has when it largely represents the will of the majority of its people. Not the will of a small minority. And not imposing tyranny on that small minority either, it respects and protects the rights of that small minority. But we have a word for when a small minority rules the majority — that word is *tyranny* — and tyrannies are always illegitimate.

In the case of courts in English-speaking countries, they maintain their legitimacy via what’s known as “stare decisis”. That is, they based their opinions in court cases based upon a) current law, and b) previous opinions. This is not a new principle. It is one reason, for example, why the Catholic Church moves so slow — they have 1,500 years of precedents for papal opinions, and if a papal opinion doesn’t comply with that 1,500 years of precedent it can make only a tiny move towards a new position at a time, it can’t just throw out the old position altogether.

Stare decisis was the basis for the Supreme Court’s decisions for the past 150 years. Each new decision was couched in the language of previous decisions, or in the plain language of the law itself. This has at times caused issues when the Court recognized rights that were not currently respected, such as the right of black people to attend the same schools as white people, but even there the opinion was couched in Equal Protection language from prior court decisions. The Supreme Court didn’t come roaring out of 1945 intent upon guaranteeing equal rights to black people and simply ruling that black people had equal rights, it built decision after decision upon prior decision. When it decided “separate but equal is inherently unequal” it did not pull the decision out of its butt, it relied on 50 years of data showing that “separate but equal” never was plus language from previous Equal Protection court decisions showing that if the school segregation law was not treating citizens equally, it could not be law.

In this fashion the Supreme Court has typically been an anchor preventing radical change while providing for preservation of rights. The Court has at times gone off into evil territory — Dred Scott and Plessy v. Ferguson come to mind — but eventually through applying the Constitution to court case after court case managed via stare decisis to come back from the dark side. Stare decisis gave legitimacy to the Court’s opinions and thus legitimacy to the notion of rule of law. And rule of law is important, because without rule of law, what you have is rule of gun, and rule of gun always ends up with the most ruthless and most murderous in charge.

Which is why it’s utter disaster for the United States that last week the Supreme Court basically threw stare decisis into the toilet in favor of a radical coup that remade American law from scratch based upon the ideological notions of the judges. By throwing out stare decisis in favor of imposing their ideology upon the nation, the Supreme Court has basically killed any legitimacy that it had. The Supreme Court fundamentally committed a right wing coup of the U.S. government last week, a coup setting five authoritarians in charge of the nation, and killing any respect that the majority of Americans have for the court.

Why is that important? It’s important because the Supreme Court relies upon other branches of government to do its work. The Supreme Court did not enforce the desegregation of Little Rock High School. The 101st Airborne did, via the intervention of the executive branch. So the Supreme Court ruled that New York’s concealed weapon law was illegal. New York’s concealed weapon law is very popular in New York State. What is the Supreme Court going to do when New York says f**k you, we’re going to continue enforcing our concealed weapon law? Joe Biden isn’t going to dispatch the 101st Airborne to free people imprisoned for violating New York’s concealed weapon law.

For those of you who have been in the military, there is an important and fundamental principle taught to every officer: Never issue a command that you know is going to be disobeyed. It destroys your legitimacy as an officer and makes it more likely that future commands are going to be disobeyed. This is what last week’s Supreme Court did — they issued a command that they know is going to be disobeyed. They issued that command because they *know* that it’s going to be disobeyed. The Supreme Court knowingly destroyed its own legitimacy. Why? Simple — the Supreme Court in the past has been a major defender of rights for minorities in America. By deliberately destroying the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, the right wing is betting that they via rule of gun can then take away rights from minorities that were previously granted by the Supreme Court.

In short, last week’s Supreme Court deliberately destroyed its own legitimacy in hopes that rule of gun rather than rule of law will become the norm in the United States. The right wing believes that because they are the most ruthless and most murderous people in America, they will come out on top when rule of law collapses because the judicial system has lost all legitimacy. Last week’s Supreme Court decisions weren’t an accidental destruction of the Court’s legitimacy — they were a deliberate destruction by people who want to burn it all down. And if you are not a white male Christian with conservative beliefs, you should be very, very worried right now.

— Badtux the “Time to get well armed, people” Penguin
I wonder how many people who are out tonight, protesting the end of Roe, couldn’t bring themselves to vote for “the lesser of two evils” and rationalized their insane purity test by saying ”Roe is settled law”?

Now that Roe is gone, Clarence Thomas has his eye on Obergefell (same-sex marriage) and Griswold (access to contraceptives. Alito wants to revist Loving (interracial marriage) and Kelo (government seizing property through eminent domain to give to another for private development.

Several want to “modify” (in other words, overturn) Miranda, Escobedo, and Gideon, which provide safeguards for those accused of crimes.

SCOTUS also overturned New York’s concealed carry weapons law, effectively mandating that the whole country is a “must-issue” jurisdiction.

Women can say goodbye to what few rights they have remaining: FMLA, equal pay (such as it is), protection from domestic violence, obtaining credit without a male co-signer, etc.
Racial and ethnic minorities can say goodbye to all of their rights as well.

Jews, Muslims, and other non-“christians” will once again be targeted by vengeful Talibangelicals.
Fundamentalist voodoo will replace science and drive our children’s education.

All those pesky environmental and occupational safety regulations standing in the way of increased corporate profits will be swept away.

A free press, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly will be eliminated in the name of “national security.”

Health care will be available only to the wealthy, after Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are abolished as “wasteful entitlements.”

And this will be the status quo for the rest of our lives, because SCOTUS is a guaranteed lifetime job . Barrett and Kavanaugh are in their fifties: they’ll be there for the next 30 years.

Make no mistake about it: the GQP is bringing us to a theocracy that makes Iran under the Ayatollahs look benign.

Still think they were “both the same”?

Was it worth it? Was your demand for political perfection worth losing America as we knew her? Is your conscience still clear, now that your refusal to vote for the lesser of two evils brought us the far greater evil? An evil that will last for decades, if not longer?

I hope you “conscience voters” are satisfied.

This is on you. You did this. Your arrogant naïveté, your refusal to “compromise” your “principles,” your abject failure to see the world as it was, elected trump, even moreso than the racists and misguided idiots who voted for him.

I hope you’re really some Goddamned proud of yourselves tonight.

Go out and hold your candlelight vigials, sing “We Shall Overcome,” and… BASK IN THE KNOWLEDGE THAT THIS IS ** YOUR** FAULT.