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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

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Why do I despise Elon Musk? Let me count the ways:
Musk’s attitude towards laws is that laws are for the little people to follow, not for lords of the universe like him. He is quick to support law and order when it’s little people committing crimes, but he is Nixonian — “It isn’t a crime if a rich person does it.” For example, when the public health department of Alameda County ordered all businesses in the county to shut down for two weeks at the start of COVID to stop the spread of COVID, Musk refused to obey the state law giving her that power. And he has repeatedly manipulated Tesla etc. stock for his profit and then denying that he broke the law despite multiple SEC fines.
Musk runs the most racist car company in America, sued more times for racism in the past ten years than every other car company in America *combined*. Despite being a niche player with approximately 2.3% of the U.S. car market. And fish rot from the head, so that says something about Musk that makes him look… well, racist.
Musk also has little concern for the safety of his workers. Tesla has been fined by OSHA more than every other car company in America *combined*. The injury rate for Tesla’s factory in Fremont is greater than at any other auto factory in America. Again, the fish rots from the head. It’s part of his elitist attitude — “laws are for the little people, they should be glad to even have a job.”
Musk also is no friend of free speech. California has laws prohibiting retaliation against workers who speak out about illegal activities. Musk has repeatedly violated those laws by firing workers who complain publicly about working conditions or racism in his factory because free speech is for elitist scum like him, not for the peons. And when a reporter wrote about a botched introduction of a new Tesla model, Musk personally retaliated against that reporter by cancelling that reporter’s Tesla order. Because free speech is for rich people like him, not for the little people.
Basically, as far as I’m concerned Elon Musk is a grifter scam artist who managed to maneuver himself into control of several companies, take credit for their success, and use his showmanship skills to talk them up so that he can make a fortune from stock manipulation. He is the king of the pump and dump. He makes P.T. Barnum look like an amateur. There are many smart people who are responsible for Tesla becoming a successful niche manufacturer of luxury autombiles. Elon Musk’s total contribution to that success is scamming people into investing in Tesla back in the early days when it wasn’t clear that Tesla was ever going to make a profit. That’s an important contribution… but he didn’t “create” Tesla. Many, many people created Tesla, and Musk only provided one piece of the puzzle by scamming people into investing in Tesla when no sane person would have done so.
So anyhow. Tesla now has approximately 2.3% of the U.S. car market, so they’re still a niche player in the car market. Elon Musk did not somehow “fundamentally change the car market in America.” Claiming to have done so — and many other hyperbolic anti-factual claims of that sort — are another reason I despise Elon Musk.
I don’t despise Elon Musk because he’s rich. I don’t despise Elon Musk because his companies threaten established industry players. I despise Elon Musk because he is racist elitist scum. As established above.
That is all.
– Badtux the Scum-despising Penguin

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Here’s the problem: Social media isn’t a charity. It’s run for profit.

There’s an interesting anomoly here: The most heavily curated social media, like Nextdoor and Facebook, is also the most overrun by racist science deniers.

Which doesn’t seem to make sense. If you have moderators who are overseeing the site, how come they don’t deal with racism and science denial when they see it?

Well, there’s two kinds of moderators, both of which are cheap (or even free) and are used in order to save money. The first kind is volunteers. And volunteers swing towards those who have the most time to volunteer: Old white people. Old people of color are busy raising their grandkids (raising the kids is a community affair there), while younger white people generally don’t want their racist conservative old folks involved in raising their kids. 

So the volunteers tend to overlook much of the racism on these sites, because hey, they came of age when the n-word was in daily use amongst white people and everybody “knew” that those “porch monkeys” were just inferior to white poeple, so they just don’t see racism as, well, racism. And when it comes to science, well, they just don’t understand all that newfangled stuff. So they go with whatever Faux News says, since they’re also a demographic that heavily watches Faux News.

The second kind of moderators tend to be poorly educated white Southerners. They’re hired because they’re cheap. You can go into someplace like Jacksonville Florida and hire a whole building full of what we’d call “poor white trash” back in the day for less than it’d cost to hire that same building full of people in India, once you consider training costs and the extra costs of dealing with bribes and bad infrastructure in India. Thing is, they’re even more poorly educated than the Indians would be. And racist. And don’t understand anything about science, so they go with whatever right-wing media says, since they’re also a demographic that is heavily viewers of white-wing media.

So that’s the dillema. We want accurate science on social media. We don’t want racism on social media. But the most heavily curated social media is the worst social media *because* it’s most heavily curated — because the curators themselves are racist science deniers due to social media hiring the cheapest labor they can find. The end result is that anti-racist voices are drowned out, and pro-science activists are actively censored on those platforms. Because. Money. Money trumps all. The good of society…. bah, when did that ever make investors rich?!

  • Badtux the Gresham’s Law Penguin

 

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So the coronavirus is now starting to hit *hard* in Europe. Countries that once were smug about their handling of the situation, like Germany, are now finding out that nope, they’re not immune either. Germany’s infection rate is going up and up, and their death rate is rising too. France is even worse, the death rate in France is higher than in the United States.

I haven’t been posting on a daily basis because my job depends on having one product available and ready for a major billion dollar corporation next week. If we don’t have money from them, we’re out of business. So I’ve been basically working 9 to 9 on that. At least I don’t have to commute anymore, and can take breaks to do things like e.g. go shopping this afternoon.

Shopping was a weird experience. There was no shortage of bread, eggs, and milk, the basics I was looking for. They even had some luxury items in like Nathan’s All-Beef Franks and ‘kraut. I didn’t check on toilet paper, paper towels, or hand sanitizer, since I still have plenty of those. Most people were masked. Most people did social distancing, but not all. We had lines on the floor 6 feet apart to keep us 6 feet apart while waiting in line to check out. Reusable bags aren’t allowed anymore inside the store anymore because they’re a possible source of infection, so instead my groceries got put into the cart and I got to bag them at the tailgate of my Jeep. I was gloved and disinfected everything including my gloves, then when I took off the gloves, made sure to use the sanitizer on my hands (and on the key I’d used to unlock the Jeep!) before touching anything inside the Jeep. Unfortunately a few people did not do the social distancing, they were the same people wearing neither gloves nor mask.

They say that this thing is mostly being spread by asymptomatic people and the normal droplets they emit. So wearing a cloth mask is now recommended to keep you from infecting other people, even though it won’t stop you from being infected. We’ll see how that goes.

It looks like the red states are going to be failed states shortly. Meanwhile we seem to have flattened the curve a bit here in the SF Bay area by being out in front so early in social distancing and closing things down. Meanwhile distribution of gloves, gowns, and masks to hospitals has completely broken down. Some hospitals have hoarded closets full of the stuff, and other hospitals can’t get any no matter how much they want to pay. The situation isn’t helped by the fact that much of our supply of these goods come from China, and huge amounts were recalled because of contamination. Back in WW2 we dealt with that by having the Federal Government handle rationing via ration tickets and allocating critical goods so that they got to where they needed to be without any hoarding, and also price controls to keep profiteers from driving up prices of goods beyond the ability of ordinary citizens to pay, but that was when we had a functioning federal government with a competent President. Unfortunately we have neither of those now.

The Captain of the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt jumped on a grenade for his crew. He knew he was ending his career when he sent a letter above his chain of command, a chain of command which was doing nothing to help his sailors, but he did it anyhow. He was relieved of his command quite loudly and publically… and his sailors were, let us say, respectful of him as he left his ship for the last time. To say the least. Many of those sailors, off the record, say that Captain Crozier was the best skipper they ever served under. I’ll also note that the TR didn’t have the running rust that I see on so many of our supercarriers today… it looks like a ship that’s taken care of. That’s what a good captain does, he inspires his sailors to go above and beyond.

I was somewhat surprised, actually, by the very public way in which Captain Crozier was relieved of duty. Usually the Pentagon, when a flag officer makes them look bad like that, said flag officer is “asked” (ordered, actually) to retire. A couple of weeks later he slinks off quietly to a rocking chair in civilian life, underneath the notice of the press but a warning to the other skippers that stepping out too far is not going to be tolerated. But for some reason the Trump Administration wanted to make a huge spectacle of this. It’s par for the course with the Trumpanzees, it’s all about spite with them, not about the good of the service. So now they’ve told the sailors in the U.S. Navy that they’re supposed to die of coronavirus in order to avoid making the perfumed princes in the Pentagon look bad. You know that has to be making moral go into the crapper, as well as causing a lot of powerful people like Senators to Have Questions that the Pentagon has no good answers to.

BTW, for those who say that his letter let our adversaries know that we had a disabled task force — no. Every single carrier task force out there has a Chinese submarine following it around reporting on its movements, as well as satellites, spy planes, and outright spies. The moment the TR came into dock in Guam and started offloading sick sailors, the Chinese knew what had happened. They knew the TR had stopped in Vietnam just as Vietnam’s COVID-19 epidemic was getting started. They aren’t idiots. They had civilization with cities and agriculture while we Europeans were still hanging out in caves with spears while dressed in bearskins. Expecting our adversaries to be stupid is, well, stupid. Because he stepped outside the chain of command Captain Crozier’s career was over the moment he jumped on that grenade for his crew, but usually that kind of thing gets handled quietly with no drama — the captain gets quietly told to retire, he retires, a new captain takes over, no drama. Now we’ve told our adversaries that we have fucking amateurs running our Navy. Yay.

Basically everybody at a local nursing home has the coronavirus. Nursing homes have been hell on Earth for at least the last 40 years. Nobody gave a shit because the prunes went there to die anyhow, so who the fuck cared if they died a little sooner rather than later? Now all the understaffing and lack of basic cleanliness and infection control is coming home to bite the assholes who own these hellholes on the ass. Well, at least we won’t have to worry about overcrowding in the nursing homes anymore. Because they’ll be fucking empty, yo.

Goodbye to Bill Withers, who passed away due to heart failure:

Ain’t no sunshine where he’s gone, six feet under.

So, Hobby Lobby illegally reopened stores in two states…. then when braced on it, Closed all stores and furloughed all employees without pay and without allowing them to use vacation time. Which, by the way, is illegal as hell here in California — you gotta pay them their vacation time. And by furloughing the employees rather than laying them off, Hobby Lobby also fucked with their unemployment benefits in many states. Hopefully state regulators come down on these sick Christofascist fucks like a ton of bricks and their shitty-ass stores never re-open. Assholes. Fucking assholes.

So in the red states, you still got the dumbasses insisting that the “beer virus” ain’t real. This shit is starting to knock them down like pins at a bowling alley, but they aren’t going to admit they ought to be paying attention to experts rather than deranged megachurch pastors and talk radio gasbags. But hell, these stupid-ass motherfuckers are gonna be denying there’s a such thing as COVID-19 all the way until the time they cough their lungs out in the middle of a Walmart and gasp their last breath as they slump over the handlebars of their Hoverrounds. These are some stupid-ass motherfuckers.

Oh yeah, the #Covidiots keep coming up with more conspiracy theories. Rush Limpdick’s conspiracy theory above was only one of them. Another one is that the whole coronavirus thing is actually because of the gay agenda. Which apparently flies over America with its gay ray of gayness sprinkling magic coronavirus particles everywhere or some shit.

Sprinkling gay coronavirus all over America since 2006

I dunno, these religious dumbasses don’t make sense, they don’t have to, because their sheeple are even dumber than they are..

Meanwhile the refrigerator trucks keep rolling into New York City to collect the bodies of the dead….

– Badthx the Plague Penguin

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From Nextdoor: “My friend is looking for a lawyer to do their will and trust quickly. Her husband is a doctor and there is a good chance he will be affected with covid19. Let that sink in.. while we are complaining about boredom.
And if anyone has a recommendation, please let me know.”

A lot of medical personnel are not expecting to survive this. There are a lot of wills being updated right now.

ICE wants masks for their deportation agents

So ICE is going to almost literally rip the masks off of nurses’ faces so that they can safely pursue their vendetta against brown people. WTF, America? People are going to literally die if nurses don’t get the masks they need. Meanwhile, nobody dies if ICE has to temporarily suspend being mean to brown people. Why are people who save lives (nurses) worth less than people who literally put lives at risk by putting toddlers into concentration camps?!

So, I had to go to the office to do a couple of things ( replace a hard drive in a RAID array, reset a switch and give it an IP address so I can get into its configuration UI to configure it).

Before I did that, I went by the Big Lots and bought a couple more boxes of that dark chocolate brownie mix, because chocolate (!!!). They had plenty of baking powder, which I don’t need (I have two cans), but no yeast. I went to the Lucky the next exit down and scored some Brawny paper towels, needed because I only had 3 rolls of paper towels left, but they didn’t have any yeast either — is there a run on yeast? Did Hair Twitler say yeast cured COVID-19 or something?

After scoring the paper towels, I headed in to the office and did what I needed to do. Doing this on a Sunday guaranteed there would be nobody around to infect me, though my boss and his wife were in the back room working on their Burning Man art project, as if Burning Man is actually going to happen this year (we’ll see, I guess, but I doubt it).

Then it started raining — just like every other day since the declaration of “Shelter In Place”. I was going to stop by Costco on the way home and fuel up including putting some into the gas can, but I’m not doing that in the rain, thank you very much! I outran the rain and then decided to try the *other* neighborhood Mexican grocer to see if I could find some bakers’ yeast. Success!

So I’m at home now, and a batch of dark chocolate brownies is baking in the oven. I’m going to open up the pulled pork and make pulled pork sandwiches with coleslaw for supper tonight, with chocolate brownies for dessert.And now it’s raining outside here. I’m going to be 300 pounds by the time this is all done, between not being able to go outside and walk because it’s raining, and all this baking!

Oh yeah — since there was only three packets of bakers’ yeast, I’m going to set up a sourdough starter tonight. I’m going to try to make a plain old sourdough bread once it’s ready five to seven days from now.

Oh yeah, basic supplies: Lucky had plenty of general purpose flour, but no bread flour. I forgot to check for beef franks. The Mexican grocer had plenty of eggs and milk and lots of meat, but no beef franks. Plenty of chorizo though, of course! If I was going to make white sausage gravy for biscuits’n’gravy that’s what I’d use, it’s a yummy sausage and goes just right in that recipe. Of course, first I’d have to bake some biscuits, but I have a drop biscuit recipe around here somewhere that works real well. But not today!

Update: The pulled pork sandwiches were okay, but the brownies are great. Dark chocolate brownies… mmmmm!

Ah yes, the ferals are doing fine. Snowy and Patches are sleeping curled together in one cat bed most of the time, but earlier today were sleeping in two different cat beds as other cats came and went eating kibble on the patio (on the patio because it’s raining outside and I didn’t want the kibble to be wet). Chuck and T’Challa are doing fine too. Here’s the scene on my patio a bit earlier today:

Snowy, Patches, and Blaze — three feral cats.

And here’s Chuck in the cat trap:

The cat trap worked!

Right now Chuck and T’Challa are chasing each other up and down the central hallway of the house like a herd of stampeding cattle. Meanwhile I have servers howling in my ear as I do some work for the office. So it goes.

– Badtux the Still-alive Penguin

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The vast majority of people with money did no work themselves to obtain that money, they simply used the law to claim wealth created by their workers, the people who actually add value to the economy. Most were born relatively aflluent in possession of valuable assets that the workers need in order to produce value, and used that position of ownership to tell the workers “you will work for me and give me ownership of all the wealth you create and I will give some small portion back to you in exchange, or you will die starving on the streets.” Capitalism is, in essence, legalized theft of the output of the workers for the benefit of a relatively few wealthy people who claimed ownership of the means of production and have the guns to back up their claim.

The reality is that the rich would not be rich if not for government guns backing up their claims of ownership to everything. If the workers at the widget factory went out and sold the widgets themselves, rather than giving them to the “owner” to sell, they would be prosecuted in a government court for theft of what the workers actually created (not the “owner”, who created nothing, merely claimed ownership of what the workers created). It is only by having government guns backing up those claims of ownership that the rich can be rich. Which is why it’s so hilarious that so many of the rich claim to hate government, when they would have nothing if not for government guns backing up their claims of ownership.

Does this mean that I believe in communism? The answer to that is “No.” Thus far, capitalism has proven to be the best system for producing wealth, and wealth has proven to be the best way of improving the life of the public as a whole. It does mean that I have little patience for the owner class crying crocodile tears over the possibility of the working class reclaiming a slightly larger share of what they produce in the form of “free” health care, “free” college, and so forth. Yeah, they’ll be slightly less wealthy if we tax them for some more of the wealth created by the workers in order to benefit the workers. So what? They still have far more than any person could rationally consume in any human lifetime, and they created none of it in the first place. Allowing them to grift seems to have better outcomes than the alternative, but it’s still a grift, and if we let them grift a bit less in order to provide the same damned services to the workers that actually produced the wealth that the rest of the civilized world manages to provide to their citizenry, well, I ain’t gonna cry about that.

– Badtux the No-patience-for-hypocrites Penguin

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Here is an example of a typical logic error: assuming that one of your premises is true without actually any proof that it is true. It’s called the “False Premise Fallacy”. In this case, we don’t know whether premise #1 is false or true (well, in the second example, we know it’s false because we know who invented spaghetti and it wasn’t a flying spaghetti monster), thus conclusion (statement #3) could be either false or true depending upon whether premise #1 is false or true.

So then you have to determine whether premise #1 is false or true. In the case of proofs of the existence of God, it’s turtles all the way down — every attempt at a logical proof ends up requiring proving a premise that in turn requires proving a premise which in turn requires proving a premise, and you never get to the bottom of that infinite rathole, as you’d expect from attempting a logical proof of something that cannot be measured, observed, or detected by any scientific instrument nor modeled by any human mathematics. In the end, mathematics (which logic is) simply isn’t the correct tool for attempting to prove the existence of the ineffable.

But the use of false premise logical syllogism extends beyond the infinite rathole of the proof of existence of God. It’s a common technique in politics, for example. Ronald Reagan’s argument about welfare is a good example:

1) People who have Cadillacs are rich
2) There are welfare recipients who have Cadillacs
3) Thus welfare recipients are rich, and we must cut welfare benefits.

The problem is that I just did a search on the SF Bay Craiglist and I can go out and buy a well-used Cadillac for $1500, or about the same as a well-used Chevrolet. (Note that used car prices are propped up here in California because the state will pay you $1K to take an old car off the road in order to reduce emisisons). Past a certain point most cars lose all value because they’ve reached their lifespan. (There are a few car brands, like Porsche, where this is not true because the older cars are in high demand as restoration targets, but they are the exception rather than the rule). Thus Reagan’s argument was false because his first premise — that people who have Cadillacs are rich — was false. There’s plenty of people who have old Cadillacs that they purchased for the same price as an old Chevrolet. Not as many as there are owners of old Chevrolets, but that’s because they didn’t make as many Cadillacs in the first place.

So keep this in mind whenever you’re reading political punditry, because it’s a staple of asshole politicians everywhere. When you see a politician doing shit like this… well….

– Badtux the Logical Penguin

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Pray Gamble & Explode (PG&E) needs to be forced into Chapter 13 dissolution and its assets sold off to companies that are actually competent. Continuing to make rate-payers bail out this incompetent and *dangerous* company is irresponsible malpractice on the part of our state government. PG&E’s rates are double or even *triple* what rates are in most areas of the country and are the #1 reason why I don’t have an electric car — buying gasoline for a hybrid car is far cheaper than paying the disastrous rates that PG&E has extorted from the rate-payers of this state. And for those of you saying “but it’s because California is so rugged!”, average electrical rates in Nevada are *HALF* those of PG&E — even though Nevada is even more sparsely populated and rugged than most of California.

This company is incompetent, dangerous, incapable of providing electrical service for rates competitive with other electric companies, keeps blowing up or burning up parts of the state due to their incompetence, and should just die, die, die, die, die, die, die, die, DIE.

— Badtux the Irate Overcharged Penguin

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San Franciscans raise $46,000 to stop homeless shelter in wealthy area. Apparently they prefer the homeless to be sleeping in the streets in their area (which is close to transit and services, thus why the homeless hang out there) rather than being in a shelter receiving services.

There’s something about being wealthy that seems to suck the soul out of people. They lose all empathy, all willingness to interact with people not exactly like them, and become Smaug the Dragon huddled miserably on top of their pile of treasure glaring gimlet-eyed around them viewing anybody not them as a threat to be driven away with fire if at all possible, or at least with lawyers, pretty much the same thing actually when you think about it. I don’t know if it’s just that you have to be a vicious sociopath to become rich in the first place, or if it’s the wealth that makes you an ass, but there seems to be very few rich people who are actually good people, and if you look at their background, usually they are the few rich people who came from lower class or diverse backgrounds. The rest… are asses. Asses who worship a bad science fiction writer who wrote crappy books about the power of individual achievement while she collected social security and started some pseudo-philosophy called “objectivism”, which can be summed up in five words: I got mine, fuck you.

And sadly those asses, these small minds huddled atop their piles of hoarded treasure, run the world.

— Badtux the Hobbit Penguin

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Yet another “responsible gun owner” shoots his nuts off. A headline that repeats on a regular basis.

This dude’s first mistake was in buying a Hi-Point 9mm pistol. From a review, talking about its accuracy: “Should you try to fire toward your opponent and hope the round doesn’t stray into a crowd, and that the loud noise scares away your attacker? Or do you just drop the magazine and throw the thing at them? If you have a pretty good arm, I wouldn’t discount the second option. It might be your best bet.”

Accompanied by a bench test sheet showing that if you shoot for his head, you’re more likely to hit his testacles. I have never seen a bench test so terrible as what this reviewer got from the Hi-Point 9mm. This wasn’t a pattern. This was random chance that he hit the target at all — at nearly point blank range, with a pistol sighted in on the target in a bench vise!

Makes you wonder if this dude was trying to commit suicide, and managed to hit his balls instead :).

– Badtux the Snarky Gun Penguin

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