Friday, November 30, 2007

Florida fun police go after motorcyclists

A state representative in Florida has an idea:

South Florida has a motorcycle problem, and lawmakers are introducing legislation to show bikers that they'll go a long way to punish those who break the rules. Stunt riding (including wheelies), excessive speeding, and concealable license plates will get you a 10 year ban on your motorcycle license, mandatory jail time, and an impounded bike. If the punishment sounds like the medieval practice of cutting off the hand of a man for stealing, that's exactly how State Representative Carlos Lopez-Cantera wants it.
In my opinion, this does not go far enough at removing hazards from the road, though. So I submit these suggestions for Rep. Lopez-Cantera's consideration:
  1. All drivers going 50mph in the fast lane should immediately have their license destroyed on the spot, car confiscated and be given one of those electric mobility scooters as their form of transportation, since it is obvious that they are no longer capable of driving a car.
  2. Drivers talking on the cell phone while driving should not only get a one month prison term and $5,000 fine and have their car confiscated, but they should have their mouth stitched up so that they must eat through a tube in their nose for the next ten years. That'll teach'em not to talk so much!
  3. Changing lanes without signalling: Since your turn signals obviously do not work, the cop who stops you is required to smashe them in with his sledgehammer, rip the turn signal stalk off the steering wheel, and call a tow truck to have your car hauled to where its turn signals can be repaired. You are then not allowed to drive without a DMV employee in the car and are required to make left and right lane changes 1,000 times properly using your turn signal each time prior to being allowed to drive unattended again and must pay the full salary of the state employee who supervises this. Each time you improperly signal during this process you will be tasered on your crotch just to remind you what you're supposed to do with that "turn signal" thingy.
  4. Driving down the road for more than a mile with your blinkers on: Your cell phone, radio, and any other noise-making gadgetry in your car is smashed with a hammer, and you are then required to change lanes 1,000 times properly using then cancelling the turn signal for each lane change before you are allowed to drive unattended again. A hearing exam is also mandatory.
  5. Stopping at the top of a freeway ramp: Since obviously your accelerator and steering mechanisms do not work, your car is immediately towed to a wrecker yard and smashed to be 6 inches high as a menace to the driving public. You are then banned from driving anything other than one of those electric mobility scooters since obviously you are incapable of properly maintaining and driving an automobile and obviously will never be capable of doing so
I am sure that this modest proposal will meet with the approval of all. Yessiree, Rep. Lopez-Cantera be da man! Just the man we need to deal with all the menaces to the driving public, whether on two wheels or four, doncha think?!

-- Badtux the Motorcyclin' Penguin

Friday Fat Kitty Blogging

"I'm not fat, I'm just big-boned!"

Err... right. Whatever ya say, mighty mighty one...

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Mission accomplished!

No Child Left Behind has been so successful that... we've gone from #5 to #11 in international reading comparisons.

Time for Dear Leader to land on an aircraft carrier and strut under a “Mission Accomplished!” sign with his mighty, mighty codpiece leading the way again! Because, of course, it really IS “mission accomplished”. The stupidification of America is the mission, didnja know?!

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Go give Dennis or Ron some bloggy love

If you make a donation up to $250 today, they get 1st quarter 2008 federal matching funds in the same amount.

Dennis Kucinich for President (click "Donate")
Ron Paul for President

Remember -- vote for the "crazies". Because haven't we had enough fun with the "sensible people" running our country into the ground?

-- Badtux the "I donated to Dennis" Penguin

Thursday, November 29, 2007

"Dictator" Chavez?

I’m not a big fan of Hugo Chavez, I think he’s an ignorant goon, but he was elected by an *overwhelming* majority of the vote in elections that were judged free and democratic by impartial third-party observer. Polls of the general Venezuelan population by impartial U.S. polling organizations (as vs. local polling organizations owned by the Venezuelan equivalent of the neo-cons, the former ruling class pissed that a “peasant” got elected instead of one of their own) find that his support is still well over 60%. Calling him a "dictator" is like calling Jack Daniels “soda water” — it just ain’t correct. Not that this will stop the wealthy elite who run the American press from calling Chavez a "dictator", of course. They're upset that their counterparts in Venezuela are no longer allowed to run the place. "Mob rule" (i.e., rule by the majority) is abhorent to them, and thus all the anti-democratic rhetoric regarding Venezuela coming out of the American press, which might as well be the Soviet press insofar as its "reporting" goes.

In the end, Chavez is a symptom, not the disease. The disease is a diseased U.S. foreign policy which supports true dictatorial regimes such as the white-skinned former ruling class in Venezuela (which disenfranchised the dark-skinned majority and ran the place as their own personal banana republic) because they’re “pro-American”, and opposes any attempts at democracy in “sensitive” locations like Venezuela because “they might elect a government hostile to America”. When you do this, you *guarantee* that when the people eventually *do* get to vote for the President of their choice, they’re going to vote for someone anti-American. If we had a sane foreign policy, Chavez would just be a disgraced former army sergeant bitterly eking out a living on a tiny subsistence farm on the edge of the jungle. We made Chavez, in the end, through our own interventionism in Venezuelan affairs.

Oh, and for the hoity-toity effete of the former ruling class upset that they had to wade through a sea of their former slaves to vote in the last election, and their thousands of college-age children "rioting" in the streets (kinda like the College Republicans "rioting") — cry me a river. The Indios of Venezuelan were treated like the blacks of the American South. They were Venezuela’s niggers, disenfranchised, often murdered when they tried to register to vote, and relegated to the worst jobs on the margins of society. They were slaves in all but name. And the United States supported that treatment of them for many decades because the whiter-skinned ruling elite was “pro-American”. So now the white minority population of Venezuela is rioting in the streets because the dark-skinned majority is now taking back some of the nation's wealth that the white population stole over the years? Oh wah! What you dish out is what you get back, in the end. I have no sympathy. None. Zero. Zilch.

-- Badtux the Geopolitical Penguin

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

"Heritage, not hate"

That's what those who support flying the Confederate battle flag (the "Stars and Bars") always say.

Funny, I grew up in the American South during a time when white bigots waving the "Stars and Bars" regularly made sweeps of "nigger town" to go "nigger knocking" in order to "keep the niggers in their place" because black people had gotten this notion that they might be equal to whites and it was necessary to deal with "uppity niggers" (note -- all terms in quotes are direct quotes from these bigots, not my words). That's the heritage I remember -- a heritage of hate.

The Confederate battle flag, like the swastika, may have originally had another meaning, another heritage. But you can't tell me that it is any way appropriate to fly the Confederate battle flag anywhere that a black person can see it, given the heritage of hate that it embodies. Emmett Till, Addie Mae Collins, Herbert Lee, Willie Brewster, and hundreds of others killed by battle-flag-waving bigots have completely destroyed any other meaning that the battle flag may have once had. Flying the Confederate battle flag today is akin to flying a swastika-emblazoned flag and yelling "Seig Heil!" outside a Jewish synagogue. It's got nothing to do with heritage, and everything to do with hate. You may not like it, you may think swastikas are just cool symbols and battle flags are neat, but their use as emblems of hate is far too recent in memory for your likings to be relevant. Until the last man dies who saw the battle flag used as a symbol of racism and bigotry, it will always remain a symbol of racism and bigotry. Like it or not, reality simply is.

-- Badtux the Southern Penguin

Overheating penguin

One cat is on my lap, the other cuddled against my side, and my laptop is sitting on my tummy as I lie in bed.

Life is good.

-- Badtux the Cuddly Penguin

Seig Heil!

Republicans in Virginia require loyalty oath to vote in Virginia primaries. The loyalty oath reads like this:

Ich schwöre bei Gott diesen heiligen Eid, daß ich dem Führer des Deutschen Reiches und Volkes Adolf Hitler, dem Oberbefehlshaber der Wehrmacht, unbedingten Gehorsam leisten und als tapferer Soldat bereit sein will, jederzeit für diesen Eid mein Leben einzusetzen.
Well, uhm, not exactly, but close 'nuff!

Do these guys hate democracy, or what? Seig Heil!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Random cuteness

Scene: I am loading up my motorcycle to ride back home. I look to my left and there is the ultimate cuteness -- a young blond girl maybe six years old, wearing full camo complete with camo hat, holding a puppy and cooing soothing words to it and the puppy licks her face. I turn back to the right and walk a few steps and hear a woman say something along the lines of, "George, look at what your daughter is doing!" and look back. The young girl is licking the puppy's face in return.

-- Badtux the Random Penguin

I feel safer, Part 912,223,342

Canadian jets took over U.S. air defenses while F-15's were grounded because, well, because they've been worn out doing ground attack duties in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Yeah, that Iraq war in particular really makes me feel safer...

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Monday, November 26, 2007

Beware the Photos of Mass Destruction!

It seems that finally the U.S. military is going to do something about Bilal Hussein, a member of the AP's 2005 Pulitzer Prize-winning photo team that they've held without charges for 19 months now. They're going to send him to an Iraqi court with only a few hours notice for his defense attorney to prepare a defense for the crime of, err, ah... uhm, well, not shooting at people… not blowing up people… but, uhm, err… taking photographs of bad people.

Wow. Musta killed a lotta people with his camera. Why, our brave men and women in uniform just trembled in terror when this sod came at them with his dastardly Camera of Mass Destruction. I can see it now, our brave GI’s on patrol in Ramadi, and suddenly… a soldier falls to the ground. “Sarge! I’m hit! I’m hit!” “What’s the matter, Private?” “The nasty terrorists … TOOK A PICTURE OF ME! Oh the horror!” “Medic!” (Medic trots up, looks at the dying soldier writhing on the ground, looks back at the Sarge). “I’m sorry, Sarge, there’s nothing to be done. He’s been killed by… by… A PHOTOGRAPH OF MASS DESTRUCTION!”.

Phew, boy are we lucky that the perpetrator of such dastardly deeds against our soldiers is now off the streets! But never fear. If the Iraqi court releases this evil heinous perpetrator of Photos of Mass Destruction, the U.S. military has sworn that it'll take custody of him themselves again so that he will not use his camera to perpetrate photos of mass destruction again. I feel safer! Yeargh! U S A Fuck yeah!

—Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Sunday, November 25, 2007

In the desert

It's funny, how some people look at the desert and just see rocks and dirt and dead things. I post a photo of my campsite in the desert, and these people think it's some sort of horrible place, rather than one of the most interesting places on the planet. What's with that?

-- Badtux the Puzzled Penguin

Back home

This migration was much more pleasant than the one last year, despite the fact that I didn't get to do what I'd set out to do (a particular loop trail). Part of it was a cute-as-a-button Asian REI chick who rolled into the campground on the same day I did on a dual-sport motorcycle. She'd bought the motorcycle, strapped on some saddlebags, strapped her sleeping bag and tent onto the luggage rack, and simply set out for the desert. But really, I'm about twenty years too old for that kind of action, so I mostly just warned her that the multitudes of proposed rides that the swarm of male dual-sport riders around her were proposing were probably a bit, uhm, over-aggressive, for someone who'd never ridden a motorcycle offroad before. Given that her initial reaction to anything that sounded like adventure was "Sure!", somebody had to be the voice of reason there :-}.

Anyhow, one reason I got back so late is because I had to do surgery to my mule in the parking lot of the hotel where I stayed last night. On my morning checkout, I added 1/3rd of a quart of oil to bring it back up to the top of the window, filled the chain oiler with oil, and eyeballed the chain. I was primarily looking to see if I needed to turn the flow up or down on the chain oiler, but that was when I spotted that the master link had lost its clip.

Luckily (well, no luck involved) I had a chain riveter and a couple of rivet-type master links in my bags. That of course required kicking one of my side bags under the skid plate to get the back tire off the ground so I could loosen the axle nut and chain adjuster and shove the tire forward to make some slack. Then I discovered that my brand-new chain riveter required a size wrench that I didn't have in my tool pouches. Luckily a dirt-bike rider that I'd talked with earlier saw me sitting there with tools and parts spread out around me and offered the services of a large pair of channel-lok pliers, which did the trick. I popped off the old link with just a quick squeeze of the pliers (eep!), fiddled with the tool to press on the side plate and mushroom the rivet heads, voila. Well, almost. Took about an hour altogether to do all this and get everything back together and packed. Which put me right into the middle of the holiday traffic.

Heated vests are great, BTW. Coming up I-5, it got a bit nippy. But plug in the vest and put some heat to the trunk, and the cold air hitting my face as it swirled up under the nose of my helmet was bracing, rather than uncomfortable. Much better than dressing up like the Michelin Man, because this adds heat to your body, rather than just preserve whatever heat your body is already producing.

Anyhow, gotta go. The cats had plenty of food, but are meowing for some additional attention. I don't want to make them too unhappy. That might not be good for this penguin's health :-).

-- Badtux the Migratory Penguin

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Big bees

Desert bees build really big hives. See my tiny little motorcycle in the background?!

-- Badtux the Desert Penguin

I can see for miles

I ate lunch amongst the ruins at an altitude high enough for pinion pines. Mt. Whitney is in the background.

-- Badtux the Desert Penguin

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Too much freakin' crap

Time to start dumping shit off the side of the bike, when I sit on the bike it sags on its springs until the kickstand is useless because I got too much freakin' crap in the luggage...

On the road

The Green Mule in a parking lot (crappy cell phone image, okay?).

-- Badtux the Wandering Penguin

Mission accomplished!

Pravda on the Hudson announces Baghdad so safe that 20,000 Baghdadis go home.

Hooray! A few thousand returned, 4,000,000 to go. And another 1,000,000 aren’t returning anywhere. Because they’re dead. D-E-A-D. But hey, it’s just a little thinnin’ of the herd on Dubya’s Messopotamian ranchy, it ain’t like they was, like, PEOPLE or nothin’.

The pre-war estimate of Iraq’s population outside of Kurdistan was about 20 million people. In short, our little war for—uhm, what was the war for, again?—has managed to kill or displace 1/4th of the population of Iraq. A few thousand return to Baghdad? Yeah, big accomplishment. Can we just put a “Mission Accomplished” sign over the place and go home, now?!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Forecast: Light blogging

Not going to be around an Internet connection until Thursday...

-- Badtux the Wandering Penguin

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Penguin's Presidential primary picks

Okay, here's some principles I'm going to use this time. First of all, I'm going to automatically disqualify the "sensible" candidates, those who stick to "conventional wisdom". It was "conventional wisdom" that got us into this mess our nation is in, and "conventional wisdom" ain't gonna get us out. So I say we ought to vote for the nuttiest, flakiest candidates around, because what we need in insane times is a candidate who isn't bothered by insanity.

Oddly enough, the "crazy" candidates in this Presidential race actually make more sense than the "sensible" candidates. Let's take, for example, Republican candidate Ron Paul. Okay, so his proposal to return the U.S. to the gold standard makes absolutely no sense at all. The gold standard automatically builds deflation into the economy, since the amount of gold in circulation rises slower than the amount of goods in the economy. Deflation basically makes dollars more expensive. Deflation is good for rich people with lots of money in the bank, their dollars are now worth more, but is horrible for poor slobs like you and I who actually owe money and have to repay those debts in the now-more-expensive dollars. The gold standard was a major cause of the Great Depression, which is why one of FDR's first acts upon becoming President was to ditch it.

Many of his other proposals are similarly nutty. Still, Ron Paul is the only candidate in the Republican race to not only have voted against the Iraq war, but to have voted against the Patriot Act too. And he's the only Republican to take a clear stand against torture and against "disappearing" terrorists into extraterritorial prisons such as Guantanamo Bay. And he's the only Republican to point out the simple fact that it's America's constant overseas interventions that make America hated, not our "freedoms". As the only anti-war anti-torture pro-habeas-corpus Republican in the race, he is thus the only Republican candidate that any of the few remaining sane Republicans should vote for, no matter how nutty his other beliefs are. In these insane times, Ron Paul's lack of sanity is an advantage, not a disadvantage.

Okay, now over to the Democratic side of things. There is a gnat's difference between the top four candidates other than their gender and ethnicity. You toss their policy proposals on the table and they all pretty much look the same. So let's look at the bottom tier. Mike Gravel is an interesting character, but way too old. He's at a time in his life when he's supposed to be out on his front porch shaking his fist at the kids and yelling "you kids get off my lawn!". Of the rest, there is only one candidate who voted against the Iraq War, voted against the Patriot Act, and proposes a single-payer Medicare for All system for reform of the U.S. health care system, and that's the hobbit -- Dennis Kucinich. Okay, yes he says he saw a UFO. So what? The top candidates didn't see a UFO but they all either voted for the Iraq war or weren't in a position to do so. In these insane times, maybe what we need as President is someone who thinks there's aliens stashed in Area 51. At the very least we might find out whether that's so or not :-).

So that's this penguin's picks for the Republican and Democratic primaries: Ron Paul(R), and Dennis Kucinich(D). Vote for the crazies. Because haven't we had enough fun with the "sensible people" running our country into the ground?!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Changing tires is not a job for wimps

Been busy getting the green mule into traveling shape. The above photo is when I was changing the radiator fluid (and making a mess because the container I drained it into had a leak that I hadn't noticed when I put it under the drain plug on the bottom of the water pump, sigh). That one required removing a bunch of stuff -- side covers, seat, tank, tool tube (that black tube under the bike), skid plate (in front of the bike near that tupperware tool bin). Not difficult, just tedious. Today it's putting the new tires on that you see on the top left of that photo.

Changing dirt bike tires is not a job for wimps, but it's the only way to a) know it's been done right (last time I had a shop do it, the wheel was *not* balanced correctly and they lost one of my really trick stem covers), and b) know you can do it if you get a flat on the trail. I just finished changing the front tire. It took two hours. Now, part of that is because I'm very meticulous. I clean the rim inside and out after I get the tire out, inspect the spoke rubber (tube protector), re-pack the speedometer gear with grease (the bearings are rubber-shielded and sealed so they're immune to being packed with grease, but the speedo gear is not), carefully balance the wheel, powder the tube when I put it in, etc. And in truth, it's not a hard job to change the front tire, it popped off the bead with a firm shove with the axle, then I used a tire spoon/axle wrench combo with a tire iron through the wrench loop to go around the bead and twist the rest off. Then pop it over the rim, pull the tube out, pop the other side of the rim, reverse to install. It's just tedious. Especially the balancing part, though luckily my spoke weight already on the wheel was the right weight to balance it when I got the wheel on my balance rig (the front forks of my bike with the speedo gear removed and the brake wheel cylinder removed to reduce friction to almost zero), it just required relocating the weight about 1/8th of the way around the wheel to make it balance, making this one of the easiest balancing jobs of the past four tire changes I've done on this bike.

But now comes the back tire. That's a PITA, always, because this is a fat tire with short stiff sidewalls that do *not* want to go down into the "pit" between the beads and furthermore does *not* want to go over the side of the rim even when the other side *is* down in the pit. And you have to deal with the chain, and getting the rear brake mechanism (which is on a sliding rail inside the swingarm so it can go back and forth when you adjust the chain) to line up with the axle as you shove it through the hole is always a PITA...

I'll be back in four hours or so with my official endorsements for the Republican and Democratic nominations. They will not be who you expect. Unless you are really acquainted with my bizarre ways of thought, that is :-).

-- Badtux the Wrenchin' Penguin

Friday, November 16, 2007

Bat For Lashes - Trophy

This is an odd bit of art-house indie rock by a Pakistani-Brit (father was Pakistani, mother was British). The cross-cultural influence can definitely be heard in the rhythms and phrasings. Natasha Khan has quite a set of pipes on her too.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Action sequence

This is an animated picture that runs for five minutes long. Please watch it carefully. What? You mean it didn't do anything?

Uhm, yeah. After his initial disdainful "what, why are you bothering me?" look, Laundry Cat went back to his vibrating heat soak. This apparently is the cat equivalent of one of those vibrating heated barcaloungers, because no matter how many photos I took over the next five minutes, he didn't budge one millimeter from the position you see.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Thursday, November 15, 2007

71 Names

Jose Luis Montes De Oca Teodoro, Jopey Draper, Bruce Polite, Peter Wah, Duane Mark Anderson, John Joseph Summer, Maria Cook, Estaban Avail, Hoa Pham, Jonathan James Neilson, Diana Lynn Perea, John Carl Riggins, Sara Rose Tevlin, Patricia Ann Harper, Donald Whitfield, Johnny Ruper, Francisco German Moreno, Lavon Jones, David Tgom, Corneilus Vanderviers, Lindi Dileonardo, Allen Richard Stahl, Chris Ramon Juarez, David Pratt, Chris Long, Nicholas Bartell, Robert Ovedo, Efrem Vela, Robert Cisneros, Elva Garcia Navio, Manuel ROdriguez, Margaret Fay, Stanley V. Brockman, Thomas Farmer, Charles Parton, James Collier, Lee Garcia, Alan Ray Alsop, William Martinez, Rachel Richards, Franjo Plese, Deborah Corrine Leonard, Francisco Contreas, Charles Krinard, Efraim Ramirez, Kyle Baron Barnes, Kimberlie McLaughlin, Yolanda Thomas, Constance Hayes, David Sneddon, Donald Whitfield, Timothy Lee Holcomb, David Nicholson, Clovis Bessard, Rodolfo Cale Gonzalez, Hector Pencer, Phillip Lawes, Bruce William Dunn, Stacy Lee Drayton, Lindi Lawrence, Julie Herrera, Ian Brown, Ruth Carley, Emmanuel Gibson, Andrew Payne Mazilli, Sydney Barrett, Quey Xuan Ho, Quativia Johnson, Loveanisha Johnson, Samuel Criado, Ted Quesada

You walked by them as they sat there on the sidewalk, pretending you did not see them. In the wealthiest area (the Silicon Valley) of the wealthiest nation on the planet, they were the invisible people that nobody wants to acknowledge exist. Some were crazy, some were addicted to drugs and alcohol, some simply didn't have a job and were doing their best to try to figure some way to get out of the gutter, but two things all those people -- the youngest 27 years old, the oldest 66 years old -- have in common is this: a) They were homeless, and b)they're all dead, found on the streets, sleeping the big sleep, remembered only by a few social workers and do-gooders who refuse to admit that the richest area of the richest nation of the planet simply doesn't give a shit about anything that doesn't have a picture of a dead President on it.

And so it goes in the United States of Delusion, where we pretend that we are a kind and charitable people. The 71 people above salute you. Or would, if they weren't all dead.

-- Badtux the non-snarky Penguin

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Those Commie Canucks

They think saving lives is more important than bureaucratic silliness. But our brave men and women of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a division of the Department of Homeland Security) corrected them on that one, holding them at the border for eight minutes while a building burned in the town just across the boundary. Because, y'know, it's more important for everybody's papers to be in order than to save lives. Sheesh. Every red-blooded American knows that. These silly Canucks are just lucky that ICE didn't, well, ice them.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Courtesy of Earthbound Misfit

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

And every day like the last...

I have been slacking off on the news posting lately, I notice. But that is in large part because the news itself has been repeating itself. Iraq is still a mess. Still. A prominent Republican was indicted on corruption charges. Again. Next week, another Republican will be embroiled in a gay or underage sex scandal. Again. I feel as if we are on a roller coaster and we can't get off, we just get to watch the same sights go by over and over again as we whirl around the loop.

Over at Minstrel Boy's place (Harp and Sword), the Minstrel apparently decided to hop off of the roller coaster and go do something else. Good for him. I keep thinking about doing so myself, but I am too... bought... to think too hard about it. Too comfortable. If I emigrated to Canada, for example, I would basically be starting over from scratch, doing the same sort of stuff that I did starting out over here -- driving a rusty old car bought for cheap, living in a spare bedroom that someone rents out to college students, etc. All of which is quite survivable especially with modern resources such as cheap Internet access and so forth, but I am too bought to really want it enough to do it.

And the same is true, unfortunately, for most Americans today. We don't shut down our government and install one that represents the people rather than a secretive and wealthy elite because, well, we're too comfortable. So when the Scaifes of the world tell us, "bend over so I can fuck you up the ass", we just say "thank you, sir! May I have another?" because the alternative is, uhm, well, we might actually have to do something... ick. Ick ick ick. Far better to simply moulder in our chains of silver and gold, wishing it was different... but never making it so.

Badtux the Pensive Penguin

Jeepers!

This is coming to you courtesy of a Nokia N800 Internet Tablet. No moving parts to break while bouncing around in motorcycle luggage, because I am migrating on two wheels for the holidays.

Badtux the Portable Penguin

Monday, November 12, 2007

Granny's got a gun

59-year-old grandmother Army Reservist back from tour of duty in Iraq. Captain Susan Max was given 15 days leave to celebrate her 35th wedding anniversary with her husband, and will be headed back to Iraq in a week. And yes, she carries a gun in an "unsecured" area of Baghdad. She joined the Reserves as a nurse, she is deployed as a Civil Affairs officer because apparently CA officers are in even shorter supply than nurses. That's the folks who work with the pointy tip of the spear, if you know what I mean.

Yep, a nurse has been given a gun and sent into combat. But what do you expect from an administration which allows 25% of veterans lack health insurance coverage? And which doesn't care that 25% of the homeless are veterans? The Busheviks may praise veterans, but really, they don't view them as anything other than political props or nice tin soldiers to move around on the map. What a bunch of friggin' sociopaths...

-- Badtux the Veterans Day Penguin

The shallow end of the gene pool

These following two stories are from a rural Washington State area where, let us say, the gene pool don't run too deep:

1. A 66-year-old man shot himself in both his legs Saturday afternoon while trying to loosen a stubborn lug nut with a 12-gauge shotgun. And surprisingly enough, he was *not* drunk. Obviously a follower of the Dick Cheney school of auto repair. Remember, boys and girls, you should always use the right tool for the job. In this case, 00-buckshot was NOT the right tool. This clearly called for an RPG-7 AP round, or at least Ma Duce (.50 caliber machine gun).

2. Around 10 p.m., several people reported seeing a vehicle towing a 16-foot boat without a trailer. After following a trail of white paint and debris in the road from the driveway where the boat was deposited, an officer arrived at a junkyard on Arsenal Way, reports said. Two men at the junkyard admitted to transporting the boat to the third man's home, saying they were returning it because he had not paid them for an initial removal service. No word on whether a guy was on waterskis behind it at the time, yelling "Faster!".

3. Man who claimed hands and feet were lethal weapons knocked out by attacker. As one commenter said, "Somewhere in Arizona a village is missing their idiot."

Sometimes the snark just writes itself...

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Laundry Cat is not amused

He is, however, bright and shiny clean.

-- Badtux the Laundry Penguin

Borrowed snark

Regarding all the sex scandals involving Republicans recently: "...we should start putting anyone who runs for office as a family values Repub on the sex offender list just to save time." -- Bryan @ Why Now?.

-- Badtux the Outsnarked Penguin

Magic

When I grow up, I want to be able to write songs as good as Bruce Springsteen. The boy is pushin' 60, and gets better every year. (Disclaimer: I'm not THAT much younger, and my songs are pretty darn good too, but not that good).

It takes real chops to write a topical album that'll stand up on its own. The Dixie Chicks managed it with The Long Way Home. Neil Young failed miserably with Living with War. On his latest album Bruce pulls it off, and pulls it off with such slight-of-hand -- such magic -- that it doesn't hit you until later just what you were rockin' down to.

His latest album, Magic, is as good as the buzz says. Musically, it's a Bruce Springsteen album that sounds suspiciously like, say, Darkness on the Edge of Town. Lyrically, Bruce just keeps getting stronger. Bruce's patter at his concerts makes his opinion of our so-called leaders clear, and the lyrics of these songs makes it even clearer... but without bashing your head in. You have to listen, and think. These are grown-up's lyrics, with all the complexity that comes with getting older and maybe a little wiser. These lyrics are the spiritual descendent of songs like Candy's Room and Born in the USA -- songs that at first glance seem to be great rockers, but then you realize that they're about something altogether darker. But these songs, in my opinion, are better. More mature. More subtle. More willing to take chances. Not every song succeeds, but enough do to make this a must-have for this music season.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Saturday, November 10, 2007

New gadget

I've been using a Garmin GPSmap 60CSx backpacking GPS on my motorcycle and in my Jeep. The problem is that my beady little penguin eyes just can't see that teensy little screen anymore. Solution: A new motorcycle GPS, the Garmin Zumo 500 Motorcycle Navigator, which also comes with a car cradle w/speaker that'll announce the turns vocally and which will also announce turns via a Bluetooth headset for my helmet. No more need to stare at teensy little screen to know where I'm supposed to be going...

-- Badtux the no-longer-lost Penguin

Friday, November 09, 2007

Trust none of what you hear

... and less of what you see.

- Badtux the Orwellian Penguin

Snarl

The Mighty Fang dares Karlo and his goons at the BAC to stop him...

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin
Ooops, link fixed!

OJ

Orange juice tastes good. It is full of vitamins and minerals. It is a great drink for after you've been exerting yourself to the utmost, because not only does it rehydrate you, it also helps replenish your body's energy and mineral stores.

This is the only OJ post you will ever see me make. I am aware that the media is talking about a different sort of OJ right now, but who gives a rat's ass?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Whither the "moral compass"?

I just don't know what has happened to this country. Back during the Vietnam War, when it was discovered that U.S. GI's had burned down a village that was thought to be a Viet Cong stronghold, rendering hundreds of civilians homeless, there was outrage. Now we destroy entire cities like Fallujah and there's... (crickets). Back then, the President had to fabricate an attack against America to get support to go to war. Now, the President just says that so-and-so might be a threat sometime, somehow, someway, and the American people happily give him the power to go to war. Back then, Americans were outraged when the President committed criminal acts such as spying on his fellow American citizens. Now... [crickets]. Back then, allegations that the U.S. might send prisoners to 3rd world countries to be tortured ("rendition") would have been treated with horror and disgust. Now, it's "ho hum!".

This nation was hardly perfection during the Vietnam era, but at least we had some moral compass, requiring that the worst atrocities be denied or covered up. Now... not so much.

-- Badtux the Puzzled Penguin

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Did founder of Nuevo KKK steal millions?

CNN implies, but never outright states, that Chris Simcox, founder of the New KKK branch called "Minuteman Defense Corps" whose motto is basically "Keep them Mexicans in their place", stole millions of dollars of donations intended to build an Israeli-style border fence.

If true, I'm not surprised at all. The whole anti-Mexican crusade has been a red herring from the beginning, intended to divert attention from the fact that the reason these Mexicans are here is because our ruling elite prefers to hire illegal Mexican slaves rather than free Americans when it comes to hiring workers. Otherwise the Mexicans wouldn't have a chance in hell of competing with better-trained better-educated American workers. It is the fact that they are illegal, not the fact that they work for cheap, that has allowed the Mexicans to drive American workers out of the construction industry -- contractors appreciate workers who have no rights, who can be ripped off with impunity, who can't complain about unsafe working conditions or lack of restrooms or etc. because the contractor could call La Migra on them, and the whole money thing is just icing on the cake.

Fundamentally, the anti-Mexican crusade is bought and paid for by the same people who hire the illegals, in order to make sure that the illegals stay illegal. Because if they became legal, they'd have rights. Can't have that. In short, the whole anti-Mexican crusade is a scam run by and for the same people responsible for bringing the illegals in, and if Wilcox scammed people out of money, it would be no surprise at all -- I don't know if he was in on the scam from the beginning, but a scam is a scam, and eventually scammers show their true stripes.

-- Badtux the Scam-spottin' Penguin

I'm in my happy place

No, you don't get to know why...

-- Badtux the Happy Happy Penguin

WTF?

Who cares about whether Hillary left a tip at her table, or whether a campaign worker instead added a tip to the bill at the cash register? Uhm, shouldn't we learn something about her policies, about what she's going to do as President?

This is it. This is what our so-called "press" has degenerated into. It's fucking Entertainment Tonite, identical to their coverage of "I'm with crazy!" Katie Holmes+nutty hubby and Brittney Speares' latest child custody hearing. Covering the campaign to choose the next President of the United States, arguably the most powerful leader of any nation since Julius Caesar strode the earth, as if it were just some Hollyweird gossip column is.. bizarre. More than bizarre. It is a crime, and I suggest that every single "reporter" who does that kinda shit ought to be flogged with limp noodles and relegated to a job as a pooper scooper at the Barnum & Bailey Circus.

-- Badtux the Eye-rollin' Penguin

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

#!%@ Motorcycle wiring!

I'm wiring up my headlamp to relays for the low and hi beams, hooked to 14 gauge wiring instead of the wimpy wire that Kawasaki shipped with the KLR. Now, understand, I already have hacked the wiring system on my KLR in a way that makes this job easier. I already had a fuse block under the left side of the cowling that has 14 gauge wire going all the way to the battery, and the only real current draw on that fuse block is the 35 watt grip heaters -- everything else (cruise control, GPS, voltmeter, etc.) is very low draw. When I had to replace the stock headlight socket because I managed to melt it with a 100 watt bulb (oops!), I also used "bullet" connectors inline to connect the old wiring to the new wires in the headlight socket, so that I could later add this relay mod.

Only thing is, I forgot just how cramped and difficult to work in it is under that cowling. Plus the #$%@# wiring is just plain *out of control*. I have more wires than air under there now!

Good thing I don't live in West Scranton, PA or I might really be fucked... Oh well. Got the high beam relay working tonight. Made a *significant* difference in how much light I got out of the dim glow-worm that is the front headlight of the KLR. Next I do the low-beam relay. Oh joy.

Next bike, I buy the bleepin' Eastern Beaver relay kit and be done with it. All this wire-cutting and connector-crunching is for the birds, and I ain't talkin' penguins!

-- Badtux the Wrenchin' (and cursin') Penguin

Bad cop, no donut!

When cops in Phoenix got an anonymous phone call that a guy was suicidal, they went and knocked on his door. When he didn't answer because he was wearing earplugs to sleep, they broke in through the garage, setting off a very loud alarm that woke him up, and then ran when he responded by running to his bedroom and grabbing a gun to deal with the unknown intruders. The Phoenix PD then proceeded to set up a seige of his house and threaten him with death for scaring their two cops. I guess if he'd really been suicidal, he would have stepped out the door with the rifle. Since he wasn't suicidal and that's why they were at the house to begin with, to check whether he was suicidal, the cops should have simply left -- but instead, the guy has been in jail since August for, err, not being suicidal.

Meanwhile, in Philadelphia a guy was sleeping on his couch when two cops broke in his front door. While he was still sleeping, they tasered him, then when that woke him up, he produced his ID showing that he lived there, and the cops tasered him again. Apparently forgetting to turn off your silent alarm is a crime punishable via cattle-prodding in Philadelphia...

We have the funniest little police state here in the United States. It's what I call the "soft" police state, where we have the largest number of police offers per capita of any nation on the planet and more prisoners per capita than any other nation on the planet, yet, because in general police are only harrassing "those" people for "driving while brown", the majority of Americans don't see the sort of pervasive and oppressive police presence that is usually associated with the words "police state"...

-- Badtux the Observant Penguin

Uh oh, I might get arrested for working on my motorcycle...

Woman arrested for disorderly conduct for cursing at her backed-up toilet near an open window.

Good thing it's winter and my garage door is closed while I'm working on my motorcycle... especially after I manage to slice my hand open on a sharp edge or somethin'... just sayin', y'know?!

-- Badtux the Obscene Penguin

Don't mess with me

'cause I got friends in high places, dude, and they'll rip you a new orifice if you do. See?!

-- Badtux the Cat-protected Penguin
For LabKat, who notes that if we don't blog about the craziness of the Bushevik regime, we'd have nothing to blog about other than our cats...

Why motorcyclists wear black

Why do you think? Do you think it's because motorcyclists want to scare people or something?

Actually, it's a lot simpler than that, and explains why my riding gear is black and/or dark gray rather than, say, Hi-Viz Yellow (though I may wear a Hi-Viz construction vest for more visibility). The problem is that riding a motorcycle is a dirty greasy business. First off is the motorcycle itself, especially motorcycles with chains, which are notorious for flinging oil and dirt all over the place. This tends to get greasy grime all over your riding pants. Then there's road grime flung up by cars in front of you when it is raining. I had a Hi-Viz riding jacket that, over the course of four years, slowly went from being bright yellow to a dingy shade of gray not because of grease or dirt but because of that oily greasy slime kicked up by the tires of cars in front of me whenever it rained. That's why my new jacket was black and dark gray and I rely on a cheap disposable Hi-Viz vest for my visiblity. Then there's the times when the roads department pours sealant into cracks in the road, which seems to get kicked up by tires too. And the times you need to kneel to check maintenance items such as tire pressure and chain tension, or where you're cleaning or lubricating the chain, where your knee pads are getting a workout and where pants a color other than black would start looking grimy and dirty.

In other words, black is because any other color starts looking nasty quickly when you're riding long distances on a motorcycle. We're not trying to scare you. Honest!

-- Badtux the Motorized Mule-ridin' Penguin

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Sometimes I wonder...

What would the Bush Administration be like if it wasn't staffed with crazy racist people?

Might as well wonder what Mars would be like if it had oceans and trees, I suspect... I mean, we're talking fiction, after all. A Bush Administration official who wasn't a crazy racist person? C'mon, pull the other one!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Critics of universal health care hate democracy

Poll after poll over a period of years show that the American public is dissatisfied with the current U.S. healthcare system, a dissatisfaction backed up by year after year of international comparison surveys, and those same polls say that the American public wants universal health care for all Americans, guaranteed by the federal government. Yet no Republican is willing to make such a guarantee, and only one Democratic candidate (Dennis Kucinich) is willing to make such a guarantee. The other Democratic candidates intend to either not have universal health care (Obama) or have an unrealistic plan to force Americans at gunpoint to buy private health insurance (Clinton, Edwards, Richardson).

How is it that we have arrived at this point, where the vast majority of candidates for the Presidency clearly hate democracy? Discuss.

-- Badtux the Healthcare Penguin

Monday, November 05, 2007

Thought for the day

A dog may feel gratitude towards a master who throws him a few scraps from the largesse of the master's table. A man never will.

(Comment at The Mockingbird's Medley, BBC).

Ghosts

1. We were both kids. He was my next-door neighbor. He was fourteen, lean and athletic, handsome in that dark Cajun way. His mother left him notes that ended with "I love you." I was jealous as hell, no way that my own parents would ever say or write anything like that, not to mention that I could never have dreamed of being as athletic as he was. The gigantic photo of his big brother, in LSU football regalia, hanging on the wall in the downstairs hall didn't register. Eventually we moved out of that rental home to successively worse and worse places as my father slowly fell into early-onset Alzheimer's and was no longer able to work, but it was a small town and I always knew what was going on, about the successive bad boyfriends that his mother brought home, about him going to live with his father and working in his father's wrecking yard after school and during summers, about the day he committed suicide by crashed his car into a bridge pylon at 100mph. Apparently he always felt he could not live up to his big brother the football hero and one day decided to end it. That was twenty years ago, more or less. I don't know why I was thinking about that when I woke up yesterday morning. I don't feel guilty about his death in any way or anything like that, the memory just popped out of nowhere for no reason I can think of.

2. The Mighty Fang stuck a claw out and ripped a gash in my little finger because I was ignoring him and talking to my brother on the phone when TMF wanted me to get out of bed and feed him. I went to the bathroom and grabbed a bandage out of the first aid basket. This basket is a Christmas basket, stuffed with first aid supplies and stashed in the laundry closet. A little over ten years ago as I was walking out the door of my home next-door to my grandmother's one of my aunts, now deceased, dropped a Christmas gift basket off with me as I was walking out the door to go somewhere and asked me to give it to my grandmother for her. I promptly stashed it somewhere and headed back out to do whatever errand I was going to do and forgot about it, and months later came across it again and was stumped as to which aunt gave it to me for my grandmother so never did anything with it other than eat the food items (summer sausage and cheese). Now they're all dead, for close to ten years, and I still feel guilty about that damned basket every time I go to grab a bandage. I guess that's what differentiates me from Darth Cheney, who feels no guilt at all about sending men to their deaths for the profit of Halliburton, but you'd think that after all this time I'd stop beating myself over the head about that damned Christmas basket...

-- Badtux the Ghost-plagued Penguin

Friday, November 02, 2007

Cat university

Ever wonder how it is that cats all over the lefty blogosphere all seem to have the same set of "awe, so cute!" behaviors? Well, I'm going to divulge one of those things that lefties don't want you to know. There is, in fact, a Vast Left-wing Conspiracy. It is not, however, run by humans. Rather, it is run by the real bosses in those humans' households: Their cats. Why do you think their cats get so much face time on their blogs?!

The Vast Left-wing Conspiracy runs schools to teach lefties proper behavior. Here, for example, Mencken teaches his human the proper technique for half-head ear rubs: -- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Welcome

To the newest member of the vast left-wing conspiracy. Sane conservative John Cole gives the middle finger to the Republican party, re-registers as a Democrat. Says he: "I certainly don’t agree with all their positions, but they are not bat-shit crazy like the GOP. That has to count for something."

Yeah, John, it counts for something, but not much. In the end, we're still all fucked good and hard up every orifice until the vast majority of the people decide that our current leadership class (Republicans and Democrats both) is morally and intellectually corrupt and needs to be either booted out of power or, if they refuse to relinquish power, strung up from the nearest lamp-post. Until then, if the Democrats nominate a cheese sandwich, I'm voting for the cheese sandwich. But only because it's not bat-shit crazy like the GOP, not because I expect the cheese sandwich to do anything for me other than sit there and quietly molder.

-- Badtux the Cynical Penguin

What an asshole

Stupid asshole kiddies advocate inconveniencing millions to get back at "The Man".

Sigh. While accurate in some respects (specifically, about the fact that the U.S. Government is the most powerful entity that has ever existed during the history of this planet, and fighting it is like fighting a mountain, the reason the U.S. government isn't particularly oppressive is because it's so powerful that it doesn't have to be), the rest... bah.

Slow down traffic? What an asshole. All you do is make me waste gas, or if I'm riding my motorcycle to work like I did this morning, make me pass between you (lane splitting is legal here in California). Besides, I don't need to be physically at the office to work. If somehow you managed to bring the entire SF Bay area to a standstill, I'd just telecommute from home. Crap, I don't even have an "office telephone", I have a company-issued cell phone so that my "office" can be anywhere.

Keep your kid from doing homework? Bah. As a former teacher, I can tell you that it wouldn't make a hill of beans of difference to me. As long as your attitude-problem child does not interfere with the learning of other students in the class I would have been happy to allow your kid to be as stupid as his parents want him to be.

Cover up surveillance cameras? Good luck with that one. Most of ours live over intersections and are used to set signal timing and issue congestion warnings. My employer has cameras all over the place pointed at areas we want to be safe, but all that spray-painting them does is cause us to spend money to replace them that we'd really want to use to take on the behemoth corporations that tiny little us is competing with.

As for the other stuff that anarchist idiots often advocate, such as, e.g., a national strike... err, most folks work for small businesses. My employer has a total of 30 employees on American soil, and none of us are rich, and thanks to employee stock options we own a significant part of the company. Why would we want to go on strike against ourselves? I can see it if you work for some big faceless corporation owned by our slave master elites, but really, if you're hostile to our powerful elite, why are you working for them in the first place? And how, exactly, would our going on strike hurt our elites anyhow?

As for the bombing and crap like Baghdad... well, violence scares people. People do violence only if they see no real alternative. Otherwise they'll put up with a lot of shit before they'll do anything violent. Saddam's Iraq, for example, was quite peaceful despite Saddam's viciousness, because while Iraqis had the ability to rise up in violence against the regime, they didn't have the will -- they viewed Saddam's viciousness as preferable to violence. Folks who recommend violence as a method of overthrowing the most powerful government ever to exist on this planet are advocating madness. As Gov. Earl Long of Louisiana was reputed to have told the Legislature when urged to fight a desegregation order, "Are you kidding? We're talking about the government of the U S of A here, they got the goddamned ATOMIC BOMB!".

In the end, people are going to wake up and make things change only when things get so bad that there's no alternative, and even then, the sheeple will merely shift power from one elite power group to another. We are, after all, talking about monkeys. Monkeys are genetically wired to follow an alpha male. That aspect of monkeys will change about the same time that penguins can flap their flippers and fly. We are all, in the end, prisoners of our biology.

-- Badtux the Flightless Penguin

Thursday, November 01, 2007

One of those days

I is tired wurk too hard

One of those deadline days and the stupid bug refuses to be fixed no matter how many workarounds I throw at it... sigh...

Time to sleep.

-- Badtux the Tired Penguin

Slaves

Let's say you're broken down by the side of the road. You step out and open the hood, then stand by the car looking at it helplessly because the radiator hose has split wide open and let your car's life blood run out. You pull out your cell phone to call AAA, and discover that it has no bars -- there's no cell phone service here. Now what?

Now, let's say that two cars are coming down the road. One is a new BMW. The other is a rusty old pickup truck. You try to flag them down. Which one will stop?

If you said "the rusty old pickup truck", you are absolutely correct. I saw this happen myself. A Chinese guy managed to crash his car into the mountainside, and the guy who stopped to help was your typical redneck-looking guy with a scruffy beard and greasy hair driving an old pickup truck. The redneck finally pulled out a chain from the back of pickup and towed the Chinese guy to the nearest source of food and shelter, a small campground and restaurant about a mile away. But why? Why would someone who doesn't have much be the one to stop, while the person in the expensive new car goes right by? And what does this say about the way liberals stereotype rednecks as a bunch of violent evil misfits who should be exterminated as a menace to society (squeal like a pig, huh)?

Discuss.

-- Badtux the Slavery-observing Penguin
Comment at the Mockingbird's place...

As the Iraqis stand up...

Iraqi Army being trained by a U.S. trainer:

Wait -- you mean we're going to give these guys guns?

If the criteria for getting out of Iraq is that these guys will take our place, we're gonna be there for a hundred years...

-- Badtux the "Laughing sadly" Penguin