The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

On school shootings

Posted By on February 21, 2018

“five of these incidents have occurred over the past five-plus years since 2013, claiming the lives of 27 victims (17 at Parkland)”


So, that’s an average of 5.4 fatalities per year.

Firearms homicides in the US average around 15,000 per year.


This means school shootings are 0.03% of firearms homicides per year.

So, you ask, if it’s such a small problem, why is it getting so much attention vs the more workaday crimes like drug gangs shooting it out on urban streets?

For that, I look to history, and ask this question – why is marijuana illegal?

The answer is here:

The TL;DR is a cooperation of interests, which result in:

  1. Expansion of government power (Anslinger and the DEA)
  2. Selling newspapers (Hearst)
  3. Chemical industry (Dow, pharmaceuticals, synthetic fibers)

So, flip back to today – school shootings and calls for gun control easily tick the boxes for (1) and (2). Not sure there is a (3) in this gambit, but I have some theories about industry players trying to solidify their hold on government contracts by reducing competition, even though it means sacrificing the civilian market.

Wake up – you’re being manipulated to ignore the elephant in the room that is gun violence resulting from the war on drugs, because that serves the purposes of the statists – it justifies their increased militarization of police forces, surveillance, and so forth, so they’re not going to do anything to stop that anytime soon. All they’d have to do is just end it. Look at how rapidly the violence ended once alcohol prohibition was repealed. The same thing would happen with drugs. But, they don’t want that. Not government, not big pharma.

You are being played.

Goodbye Licorice

Posted By on August 14, 2017

I buried Licorice (aka Meeps) today. She was a sweet kitty, and died on the back porch with the setting sun. She was our Allison Reynolds (Ally Sheedy’s character from Breakfast Club), a basket case who needed to be drawn out of her shell with patience and lots of ear scritches. After a couple of years, she would come up to anyone on the couch to get cuddles. She loved to go outside, chase things (especially flying things) and sleep in the sun. She had the softest fur.


You will be missed, sweet girl.

Final 2016 pics, and some 2017 pics.

Posted By on April 4, 2017

Kids – 2016

Kids – 2017

Black authors (black history month)

Posted By on February 3, 2017

So, it being February and all, and how social media “friend of a friend” stuff works, someone asked folks what their favorite book by a black author was. So, I answered “Showdown”, by Larry Elder. (I know, a political book? From me? Total surprise, right.). But then I got to thinking, this book is 15 years old at this point. Why don’t I have anything more recent than that? Well:

  1. Wargame and RPG books often only have authors’ names – no pictures or bios. So, for example, I only know that Jerry Grayson is black because they had his head shot next to his bio on the 7th Sea RPG Kickstarter. That stuff is never in the end product.

  2. I’ve been reading stuff mostly digitally for about 10 years. So, unless it’s an author I’ve read in paper, and thus have seen on a book jacket, I have no idea. For example, I’m currently reading Hammer’s Slammers by David Drake, and I have no idea what his skin pigmentation is.

So, anyway, assuming that (2) is becoming more commonplace, I have to ask – does it matter? I mean, if you get a book, that’s just text, aren’t we closer to (and let me borrow a phrase here), judging people not on the color of their skin, but rather on the quality of their arguments (or fiction, or research, or writing; depending on what all you’re reading)? On the flip side, if you don’t know the author’s background, then it’s harder to attempt to consider the source when compensating for prejudices and weighing the validity of arguments. I tend to lean towards the former idea (that is, that the ideas are best considered in isolation, to try and separate yourself from any possible prejudices), but I know that others often feel differently.

Anyone else have an opinion on the topic?

President vs. Prime Minister

Posted By on January 19, 2017

I just realized something.. this whole.. disagreement about the recent election has a lot to do with how strangely we do things in this country.

In other countries, they tend to have a President (who handles the diplomatic and statesman-type stuff) and a Prime Minister (who is a policy wonk and does all the beancounter-y stuff). We smush those two together.

Obama was a president.

Hillary Clinton would have been a president.

Trump is no president – but he’d make a decent Prime Minister.

You can disagree on their views, for sure, but I think it’s clear that Clinton’s platform was very focused on the nation as a political entity, and our position on the world stage as viewed from that lens. Trump, on the other hand, is focused on the nation as an economic entity – dollars and cents and the like.

President vs. Prime Minister.

Rex Tillerson

Posted By on January 11, 2017

So, I’ve been thinking about this and, given that the Secretary of State is basically the Secretary of “initiate regime change and unrest in a country or regioin so we can take their oil” these days, maybe Tillerson is a good choice here. I mean, as an industry insider, he knows where all the best oil is, right?


Posted By on January 10, 2017

So, over the holidays, the US, UK and Germany each passed their own MiniTrue acts. Old media will be regulated by the government (who can then decide what the truth is) and a lot of the new media will be treated like old media, or, possibly, just go away.

I have to wonder, though, how much of this is going to matter. I mean, folks could still get their news through the darknet or other sources. Perhaps old-school sneakernet of USB thumb drives? It definitely raises the bar, but most folks don’t really want to be plugged in anyway.

Still, it seems like the vestiges of an old regime trying to cling to power. “The more you tighten your grip.. the more systems [err, people], slip through your fingers”. I wonder if we’re seeing the death spasms of the western powers. I’d like to think they’d be replaced with something better, but I fear that won’t be the case – at least, not in short order. I mean, when Rome fell, the period that followed was called the dark ages for a reason.


Posted By on January 4, 2017

So, it’s all yeecheyed up now because of the rain, but, on Saturday, we did have a good amount of snow and got Miles out in it and convinced him to walk around, play and go down the hill on a sled. He also asked to go back out and play on Sunday. Woot! Max was less interested, but he’s been sick and just kind of wants to stay inside and play with his toys. I get that.

Anyway, link to some snow pics (and, eventually, videos):

Pics for 2016

Posted By on December 22, 2016

Finally got around to sorting through all of our pics.

Kids – 2016

Also, we went to Disney

Penzey’s spices and the election

Posted By on November 23, 2016

So, last week, Bill from Penzey’s sent out an email; at the bottom was the following:

Racism Update: At Penzeys we believe it’s not the use of tools that set us on a different path from the rest of the animal world; what has set humanity in motion is cooking. In our nearly a million years gathered together around the fire, cooking shaped our bodies and transformed our minds. Cooking unlocked our potential and gave birth to reason, to religion, and to politics and government. The kindness of tens of thousands of generations of cooks created our humanity, but racism, sexism, and homophobia can all very quickly unravel all the goodness cooking puts out into the world. As the voice of cooks, we will never sit idly by while that happens.

You may have read Tuesday Night’s email. In it I said: “The open embrace of racism by the Republican Party in this election is now unleashing a wave of ugliness unseen in this country for decades. The American people are taking notice. Let’s commit to giving the people a better choice. Our kindness really is our strength.”

Since I ask you to read my emails, I feel it’s only right that I read each of your replies. In sifting through those replies it was clear that, though not intended, a good number of people seemed to sincerely believe that in my statement I was calling all Republicans racists. In the emails of those Republicans who voted for someone other than the party’s nominee, I sensed genuine pain at having the strength of character to not go along with what was happening, but nonetheless be grouped in with those who were. I apologize for writing something that caused you pain; that is not the person I want to be. You are your party’s future, and you deserve my admiration and respect, and your country’s as well.

For the rest of you, you just voted for an openly racist candidate for the presidency of the United States of America. In your defense, most of you did so without thinking of the consequences of your candidate’s racism, because for most of you the heartbreaking destruction racism causes has never been anything you or your loved ones have had to experience. But the thing is elections have their consequences. This is no longer sixty years ago. Whether any of us like it or not, for the next four years the 80% of this country who did not just vote for an openly racist candidate are going to treat you like you are the kind of person who would vote for an openly racist candidate.

You can get angry at everyone else for treating you like you just did the thing you just did, or you can take responsibility for your actions and begin to make amends. If you are lucky and younger family members are still coming over for Thanksgiving, before it’s too late, take a moment and honestly think about how your actions must look through their eyes. Simply saying “I never thought he’d win” might be enough. But if you have the means, leaving a receipt from a sizable donation to the ACLU or the SPLC accidentally laying around where you carve the turkey, might go over even better.

Or, just do what you do best and volunteer. Through our customers’ support, we’ve given away a lot of our Penzeys Pepper, the Pepper with heart. More often than not, those we meet cooking and serving food to feed those in need are Republicans. You really are a good bunch, but you just committed the biggest act of racism in American history since Wallace stood in the schoolhouse doorway 53 years ago. Make this right. Take ownership for what you have done and begin the pathway forward.

Thanks for reading,


Here is my reply:

Hello Bill,

Well, there’s just a pile of stuff in your most recent newsletter, isn’t there?

First, if you think Trump is a racist, I encourage you to read the following article, which pretty thoroughly debunks that charge:

Second, your “guilt by association” logic is flawed. Essentially, it boils down to:

  1. Trump is racist.
  2. By voting for Trump, you are voting for racism.
  3. You therefore deserve to be treated as someone who voted for racism, even if that was not your motivation.

Were I to subscribe to that logic, the following also holds true:

  1. Obama and Clinton supported drone strikes which murdered children.
  2. By voting for either Obama or Clinton, you are voting for murdering children.
  3. You therefore deserve to be treated as voting for the murdering of children.

Third, you stated:

“Whether any of us like it or not, for the next four years the 80% of this country who did not just vote for an openly racist candidate are going to treat you like you are the kind of person who would vote for an openly racist candidate.”

This is not a plea for tolerance, or for the healing of wounds; it is a passive-aggressive approval that Trump supporters “get what they deserve”. Let me share with you something that someone else said:

“We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that. … We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that,” Cathy emphasized. “We intend to stay the course,” he said. “We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”

  • Dan Cathy, Chick-fil-A

Now, Mr. Cathy has used his business as a platform to make a statement supporting prejudicial treatment and abuse of about 9% of the US population[1]. As a result, I refuse to do business with Chick-fil-A.


You, in turn, have made a statement that supports prejudicial treatment and abuse of about 20% of the population. How do you expect me to be intellectually honest and still do business with your company if I’m willing to boycott Chick-fil-A over something that affects half the number of people?

By this point, you’ve likely written me off as a upset Trump supporter. Nothing could be further from the truth. His trade policies are foolish mercantilist fallacy, and his immigration policies are, for the most part, largely unworkable. He is a pro-surveillance, pro-police state, crony capitalist, big government president-elect. I always vote for the candidate who is the best choice for peace and freedom. This election, I voted for Gary Johnson.

In closing, you should have kept politics out of your newsletters. Barring a reversal of your position and subsequent public apology, I will be taking my business elsewhere.

He didn’t reply to me directly (nor would I expect him to), but, some hours later, he sent out a followup letter to his customer list.

Yesterday’s email made history for us as the most shared and most commented on email we ever sent. If you have not already read it, please do. And if you would like to share it, our Facebook page seems the best place to do it from. Liking our page helps, too.

And we understand some of you will need to opt out of receiving emails from us. Please do it here, rather than as a reply to this email or as an email to me, as we might not get through all of your emails quickly enough for you. I will read every email you send to me, but at an hour or two a day these emails might still be my light summer reading. And remember, we will always be happy for your return!


To unsubscribe, don’t respond to this email. Rather, hit the button below, then “Confirm opt out now” on the follow-up page.

So, it looks like I’ll be ordering from The Spice House. I’ve emailed them, they believe in keeping their political ideas out of their business speical emails.