Monday, January 31, 2011

Modern technological society and the idiot Greenies

For the first million years or so of mankind's existence, mankind lived like animals. Shelter was whatever could be improvised from local materials and was never windproof and rarely waterproof, the best shelter was caves, but the local critters had that same idea too plus caves are always damp and chilly. The invention of fire helped, but as those of you who've huddled around a campfire in cold weather know, your front roasts while your backside freezes, and when the wind blows the smoke in your direction then you suffocate and must make a choice of either moving away from the fire (and getting colder) or breathing. Food was whatever could be scavenged or killed, and hunger was omnipresent, leaving only on those rare instances when large meat animals could be run down or during the spring and fall harvests of berries and roots. Winters in particular were one long misery, where you hoped you had stored enough food in clay pots to last the winter, and if you didn't, you starved. Death was a constant specter, and happened all too often, generally from diseases related to starvation (if you are starving to death, even the common cold will suffocate you from pneumonia because your body isn't strong enough to fight it off). Most children did not make it through their first year -- disease, exposure, starvation, you name it, all happened. Death in childbirth was common, and after childbirth too due to lack of sanitation and clean water. Anytime there was a group of humans in one location for an extended period of time, water-borne diseases soon cut them down, because water sources became contaminated with human feces.

That's a million years of human history right there -- a history of misery. When I go out into the wilderness, I have all the modern conveniences -- a tent made of silicone-impregnated nylon, water purification equipment, a small camp stove capable of heating water and cooking food, a down sleeping bag, ridiculously warm clothing including waterproof outwear, the works. I have the best gear that modern technological society can provide me. But when the weather turns miserable, I'm miserable.

The difference is that this is a choice on my part. I can turn around and go home, and bask in the warmth of central heating, take a hot shower to sooth my aches away, sleep comfortably on a soft mattress. And while I'm miserable, I'm far less miserable than that poor sod even 1,000 years ago, who would have been soaked to the skin and sleeping "cowboy style" on his bedroll with a sheet of canvas over him. The chances of me dying of exposure during a typical backpacking trip are basically nil. My gear is too good, my preparations too extensive, my checking of the weather reports too comprehensive (thus why I was unable to take the long backpacking trip at Christmas that I'd hoped to take -- I'd check the weather report every day, and every day said no).

And all of that -- central heating, hot showers, soft mattresses, weatherproof homes -- is now dependent upon modern technological society with its extensive transportation network and energy-intensive factories. Contrary to popular belief, homes simply don't use that much energy -- less than 22% of the energy used in America is used by homes. THe majority by far is industry and transportation, which together account for almost 60% of energy use. Unless you've tried to put together a small fabrication shop, you simply have no idea of how much energy is required to actually build stuff. Even a small MIG welder needs a full 30 amps of 240 volt service to operate, add in a plasma cutter (ditto), grinders, cutters, large air compressor, and so forth, and you're using more energy than four average households just for the modern-day equivalent of an old-timey blacksmith's shop, one capable of welding together bicycles from tubing and welding the frame of an automobile back together. Actually *manufacturing* an automobile takes dozens of welders, a large assembly line, a fleet of trucks to haul the parts to the assembly plant, paints comprised of a variety of complex chemicals that themselves require significant energy to create, casting and forging plants for engine and transmission parts, and so forth. And there's not much that can be done to make this process significantly more efficient. The laws of physics state that melting steel to weld things together or cast things is *always* going to require a lot of energy, period. Modern engines may have significantly less metal in them than 40 years ago and correspondingly take less energy to manufacture, but it's always going to be a significant amount.

In other words, modern technological society is energy intensive. And without modern technological society, you end up with a mass die-off of virtually every species on Earth, because the Earth simply won't sustain billions of hunter-gatherers.

The problem with solar, wind, and other "green" energy sources is that they simply won't provide sufficient energy to sustain technological society. That apparently is a feature, not a flaw, to the Greenies who push those to the exclusion of the only other non-global-warming-causing energy source available to us, nuclear power. They want us to all go back to being primitives. The problem is that 99% of humanity dies if that happens. The Greenies smugly assume that they'll be part of the 1% that inherits the Earth at the end. Methinks they're deluding myself, personally... there are very, very few people who remember how to live in pre-industrial society, and none (zero) of them live in the United States today. The inheritors of the Earth if modern society collapses will be subsistence farmers in the equatorial jungles, not anybody you or I know.

But wait, I'm speaking sense here, and who cares about sense when there's an ideology to sell? Siiiighhhh... radical righties, radical lefties, about the only real difference is that the righties have power and the lefties largely don't. I do wish, however, that they did not insist upon living in some alternate universe of cotton candy trees and pink unicorns rather than in this universe, where reality simply, well, is, regardless of your ideology...

-- Badtux the Industrialized Penguin

The drums of the South

Compare Steve Shelley's drumming on yesterday's song to his drumming on this Southern primitive song by Cat Power ("Ice Power", off Chan's first album Myra Lee). The drum track he's improvised for this track is only barely there... but then, so is the guitar. The emphasis is upon Chan Marshall's voice and the cryptic lyrics, not upon the instrumentation, and if Steve had put any more of a drum track on this song it would have been completely wrong.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, January 30, 2011

No bigotry to see here...

move along.

Because everybody knows that there's no more racism and bigotry left in America, and thus Roger Stockham wasn't really being a racist dick-head when he threatened to blow up a mosque in Dearborn, MI. Because it's not racism and bigotry when your target is Muslims, right? Right?!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

The most underrated drummer of the past two decades

Sonic Youth in April 2009. This is one of the rare Sonic Youth songs where Steve Shelley gets to move his drums out from behind the guitars and actually gets to drive the beat of the song for a significant amount of time.

As I've previously noted, Steve Shelley has had the poor fortune to be the drummer for a variety of guitar-oriented bands where the purpose of the drummer was to stay behind the guitars and keep time inobtrusively. Dramatic drum solos and drum flourishes were not appropriate for the music that his bands were playing. You can hear him do a couple of playful things from time to time, like the various time shifts and transitions in this song, but for the most part Steve Shelley's been a lunch pail drummer for indy bands -- he shows up, in a workmanlike way he improvises a drum track for their guitar-oriented music that's *just right* for what the song writer is trying to do with that song, he goes home, he shows up backing a different band the next day, same deal, wash, rinse, repeat. He's there to do a job, i.e., provide the appropriate drum track for whatever song he's backing, he's not there to stroke his ego.

The problem for his reputation being that, since his drums never come out from behind the guitars and star on their own accord, people just aren't paying attention to what he's actually doing back there. And what he's doing back there is some damn fine drumming in a variety of styles to fit whatever band (or even song) he happens to be backing at a given point in time.

Compare/contrast with Keith Moon's playing here, on the other hand, where Keith Moon is high as a kite and quite ready and willing to move the drums out in front and steal whatever spotlight he can steal:

'Nuff said. Steve Shelley *could* play drums like that, if he wanted to. But Shelley's there for the music, not for the self-aggrandizement. He has Keith Moon's chops, but he keeps them behind the music where they belong for most of the songs he's backing. He's a lunch pail player, and unfortunately, as with everything else in this world, the lunch pail guys just don't get their due.

Next up this week: More bands backed by Steve Shelley. Listen carefully to Steve's drumming. Note the wide contrast of drumming styles and techniques that he uses for whatever song he's backing, which range from heavy metal to the lo-fi Southern primitive of early Cat Power. Enjoy!

-- Badtux the Musical Penguin

Rain, rain, rain

It has been raining here since yesterday afternoon. Not much to do but huddle with the kittehs who are desperately seeking heat (despite the fact that the furnace is on and has the place at a nice toasty 70F!)...

-- Badtux the Cocooning Penguin

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Party of Rape

The Republicans have introduced a bill that will change the definition of rape as used to determine whether an abortion can be funded. Under the new definition of rape as proposed by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), rape isn't rape unless you have the bruises to show it. But I'll let someone else tell you about it -- "Under the proposed law, for example, women who become pregnant after being drugged and raped would get no assistance. And children molested by sexual predators would get no assistance unless they were sufficiently beaten."

Yes, I just linked to Charles Johnson's disgusting right-wing blog Little Green Footballs. When a bill is so disgusting that even Chuckles is disgusted by it, you know it's disgusting.

The Republican Party's message: Sorry foster kids, you got raped, you gotta bear your rapist's baby to term unless ya got the bruises to prove it. That's just plain wrong. Just sayin'.

-- Badtux the Disgusted Penguin

Die quickly

Ezra Klein asks, "What is going to be done about the plight of those permanently unemployed because they're too young to retire but nobody will hire them because they're too old?".

Well, the Republicans have a plan for that too. Too young to retire but too old to work? It's the same basic plan as their retirement plan for the poor once Social Security is dismantled, as their health care plan for the bottom 98% of the population once health care reform and Medicaid are dismantled, and so forth. Don't get unemployed, and if you do, die quickly. Duh.

Not that Preznit Hopey Changey has any other plan, other than, well, hopey for changey. Or as Vice Preznit Pie-hole put it, "hang in there". Uhm, yeah. Hope is not a plan. Just sayin'.

So we have one party that's incompetently evil, and another party that's evilly incompetent. Sigh. WASF.

- Badtux the Snarkily Disgusted Penguin

Righteous wrath

Sleater-Kinney - "The Last Song" off their self-titled debut album. Raw and brutal... and pretty much the opposite of yesterday's video, which was delicate and sweet. Huh.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Once upon a time, grifters were largely a minor plague upon the countryside. Like lone coyotes, they were cunning but lean scavengers barely surviving as they wandered the countryside looking for easy prey to work their con games on. They'd find a mark, some hard-working but dim sort who'd managed to work hard and get ahead by being a productive human being, and con him out of everything he'd ever earned, but working cons one by one is hard work and takes a lot of time. So grifters were a plague upon the land, but a controllable plague, one that law enforcement could easily handle.

But an odd thing has happened to America over the past forty years or so: The grifters have learned to cooperate. Like coyotes, which are now running in packs whereas before they were solitary predators, they can now pull down large prey. Coyotes running in packs are now pulling down full-grown cattle and even the occasional Canadian folk singer. And grifters running in packs -- labeled as "speculators" (meaning they don't actually create anything, they instead "speculate" on what future values of things may be, and extract cash from the spread) or "bankers" (see Goldman Sachs -- which again doesn't actually create anything) -- have pulled down entire nations (Greece and Ireland) recently.

You look at virtually our entire ruling class here in America today -- the CEO's and the top college administrators, the politicians and the bankers -- and what you see are grifters. They don't create anything. They don't produce anything. The head of General Electric doesn't know how to build a jet engine or a nuclear reactor. The workers do all that. All the head of GE does is pull in tens of millions of dollars extracted out of the pockets of the people who create and sell the things his company produces. He has a big office where he does nothing but figure out new cons to extract people's money for his own pockets and for the pockets of his fellow grifters who are major "investors" or on the board of directors or who are CEO's of other companies or etc. This grifter class generally drifts from company to company, leaving each company poorer in their wake and nobody seems to ever notice that they are making obscene salaries to make their companies worse. Or, rather, many of us notice, but the grifters have solidified their hold on power by managing to fool most of the people most of the time, a.k.a. won elections, and so the people in power who could reign in the grifters are, err... grifters... so... well.

Of course, the grifters don't have any inherent power of their own other than their ability to con the rest of us into believing they do. General Electric cannot fire their entire staff if their entire staff goes on strike until their CEO takes an ordinary salary rather than looting the company, there simply aren't enough skilled jet engine engineers or nuclear power plant engineers on the planet to take the place of the ones currently working for GE, but the grifter class has conned its workers into thinking that they'll just be fired if they try to claim some of the wealth that they create for themselves rather than allow the grifter class to have it all. But that's all it is -- a con. Sadly, the majority of Americans have fallen for it.

Welcome to Griftopia, fellow productive citizen… now empty your wallet into the nearest grifter’s pockets, or be put out onto the streets to wander as a homeless bum. It’s your choice, after all. You could have chosen to be a grifter too, but instead you chose to be a productive useful human being. Silly you — and me.

- Badtux the Grifter-scryin’ Penguin

Rusty memories

Joan Baez live in 1975, "Diamonds and Rust". A classic.

And let me get this straight. I go from art-metal to electronica to folk all in the space of three videos? What can I say, the penguin has eclectic tastes...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

My state

Didn't post yesterday because of the State of the Union drinking game. You know the one. Every time Preznit Hopey Changey says the word "hope", drink a shot. "Change", two shots. Proposes a right-wing policy, three shots. Repeats right-wing talking points as if they were actual facts, four shots. By the end of the speech, a penguin is in no state to comment on *anything*, and the next day can't remember where his head is, much less use it to post.

Preznit Hopey Changey is about as disappointing as they come. His SOTU address had nothing in it that would actually help real Americans, who need jobs, who need protection against corporations intent upon outsourcing their jobs to China, who need help protecting themselves against banks that have plundered their retirement savings with fraudulent "mortgage-backed securities" and health insurers who continue to refuse to provide the contracted-for health care without repercussion, and... and... instead, he repeats the same right-wing talking points that have become "conventional wisdom" in the constrained bubble of the Washington elites.

I wasn't particularly enamored of Bill Clinton. Clinton was, as Alan Greenspan put it, "the best Republican president of the past thirty years". But at least Clinton had a plan, a strategy, a clue for escaping the bubble that Obama is encased in. It reminds me of a story that Richard Clark says about when Clinton ordered cruise missile attacks against Iraq. So he has to go on to television to justify these attacks... but did the missiles actually hit targets in Baghdad like they were supposed to? Is he going to make an idiot of himself by talking about an attack that never happened due to technical problems with the missile that caused it to hit, say, Saudi Arabia instead? He call in the generals and they say, "We don't know, it's night there, we won't be able to really tell until the morning when we can send a surveillance flight over." He calls in the CIA and they say, "we don't know, our agents in Baghdad report in on a schedule and their next scheduled reporting time isn't going to be until later this week." Bill thinks a few minutes, pulls out his rolodex, shuffles through it... and calls a Friend Of Bill who works for a major newspaper that he knows has a reporter in Baghdad and asks him if that reporter has seen or heard anything unusual like explosions or such. And gets the satellite phone number for that reporter, which he then uses to call that reporter, who says "Yes, air raid sirens went off and there was a huge explosion in the direction of one of the Presidential palaces." And, satisfied, goes on television and makes the speech. But there don't seem to be a collection of Friends Of Obama accumulated over the years who Obama can use to escape the bubble. Clinton famously loved to say "I feel your pain" but largely got away with it because people felt he really *did* feel their pain, on a personal and emotional level. Obama, on the other hand, does not seem to understand the pain ordinary people are feeling right now on anything other than an intellectual level. He makes stirring oratory about it, certainly. But the perception of Obama as out-of-touch on a personal level with the pain that ordinary Americans are feeling, and isolated in an intellectual bubble that leaves him incapable of touching Americans on a personal level where they live, is growing -- and if he doesn't do something about escaping that bubble, his one-term Presidency is going to make that of Jimmy Carter look like a rousing success.

-- Badtux the Political Penguin

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Transient noise bursts with announcements

What a title for an album! This is Stereolab, with the song "Pause" from that album. Mary and Laetitia's voices are like a cool drink of water amongst the noise...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Two girls prove $1M/mile waste

So the border fence being built across the southern border of the United States costs $1M per mile, and the southern border is 1969 miles long. So what are we going to get for our $1,969,000,000 (that's $1.9 BILLION dollars)? Well... a fence that two sorority girls off the street can climb over.

Let's face it -- short of killing unarmed men, women and children, you can't stop people from crossing the border with a fence. East Germany may have been able to stop people trying to cross their border, but East Germany was a brutal vicious Communist dictatorship that had no problem killing unarmed people guilty of nothing other than wanting to cross a fence to get a better life. I find it interesting that today's inbred racist white trash assholes want to act just like Commies... maybe we should call them all "Comrade"?

-- Badtux the Fencing Penguin

An 8-beat shuffle

One thing I'm working on is my timing. It's clear that my timing sucks at any complicated music. So for this particular track, I set an 8-beat shuffle at 88 beats going on the drum machine, and then laid down a rhythm guitar track. Once I had a rhythm track, I could then lay down a lead guitar track without killing my timing. Still left to do is a boogie-woogie piano track, a harmonica track (Key of "G" harmonica), and of course a vocals track with the lyrics. Then I'll fade the drum track in on the front of the song and out on the back of the song to keep it from sounding too robotic there.

So anyhow, here's the song with the drums, rhythm, and lead guitar. Unlike the last one, this isn't just a jam, it's an actual structured song intended to go with actual structured lyrics with hook and all. You'll just have to imagine the bluesy singing and boogie-woogie piano at the moment, because I haven't finished the lyrics yet and my arthritis started acting up on the piano part (boogie-woogie piano is pretty intense). Note that it can take me a dozen takes to get a track laid down right, so we're talking about a couple of hours worth of piano pounding to get the piano track right... *not* easy on my joints, even two run-throughs tonight without the recorder on (just to get the feel of what it sounded like with the piano) made them ache :(.

-- Badtux the Musical Penguin

Taco meat filling

I wasn't going to comment on Taco Bell's "beef" tacos, which turn out, according to a lawsuit filed recently, to be only 36% actual beef with the rest of the "taco meat filling" being, well, fillers. I mean, okay, so their "beef" tacos are actually only beef-FLAVORED tacos. Is that surprising? And do I care, really, given that I live two blocks from a real taqueria where I can get *real* tacos where they slice the meat off a big hunk of real beef right in front of my eyes? If there's any surprise, it's that Taco Bell's "taco meat filling" has sufficient beef in it that beef comes first in the ingredient list.

So color me bored... until Taco Hell releases this statement:

'At Taco Bell, we buy our beef from the same trusted brands you find in the supermarket, like Tyson Foods. We start with 100 percent USDA-inspected beef. Then we simmer it in our proprietary blend of seasonings and spices to give our seasoned beef its signature Taco Bell taste and texture. We are proud of the quality of our beef and identify all the seasoning and spice ingredients on our website. Unfortunately, the lawyers in this case elected to sue first and ask questions later — and got their "facts" absolutely wrong. We plan to take legal action for the false statements being made about our food.' Greg Creed President and Chief Concept Officer Taco Bell Corp
What the fuck?! Let me get this straight. People are reporting the allegations of a lawsuit... a genuine news story... and this dumb fuck is threatening to sue them over it? And why am I calling him a dumb fuck? Well, it's simple. He just turned a simple lawsuit, one of undoubtedly thousands filed against Taco Bell every year, into a 1st Amendment issue. Someone starts threatening to sue folks for reporting the news, that gets my feathers ruffled, yo.

So that's what turned it from a "Yawwwwn!" food quality story that I had no intention of covering to a First Amendment story that's got my attention. Because when some dumb fuck corporate fat cat tries to bully the news media into not covering a genuine news story about a lawsuit against his company, that's a genuine *story*, yo, and Mr. Greg Creed just made it one where before there wasn't.

-- Badtux the Censorship-sniffin' Penguin

BTW, can Taco Bell sue over allegations made in a court of law? No. The whole *point* of the court of law is to determine whether the allegations are true or not. You can file a lawsuit alleging that Barack Obama is a secret Muslim Nigerian in a court of law and there's fuck all that Obama can do other than file a motion for dismissal based upon lack of evidence. He can't sue the people reporting on the lawsuit either because of that whole 1st Amendment thingy. In short, if Mr. Creed had consulted his attorney rather than jerked his knee, he would have realized that he's making an idiot out of himself with these nonsense threats. But then, you don't get to be CEO of a major corporation nowadays by being the brightest bulb in the chandelier, you get there by being the most venal, back-stabbing sales lizard on the planet...

Arty metal

Serj Tankian, both as one of the leads of System Of A Down and as a solo artist, is most associated with nu-metal -- a form of heavy metal characterized by staccato guitars and vocals, anti-establishment somewhat-cerebral lyrics, and driving pace.

Back in October of last year he released his latest solo album, Imperfect Harmonies, and his fan base is... well, they don't quite know what to think about it. It's more of an art-rock or rock opera album, adding electronica and orchestral elements to his basic hard rock sound.

Still, it's starting to grow on me a bit. This is " Reconstructive Demonstrations". Someone has compared Serj to Frank Zappa, which is an interesting comparison -- Serj has written orchestral music as well as heavy metal, just like Frank, and is politically outspoken, just like Frank. That said, it's like comparing herring and chocolate... both are very good, but they also have quite different flavor.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, January 24, 2011

The politics of spite

World Nut Daily has joined the right-wing pogrom against public employees by railing about public employees' "outrageous" pension plans. At which point I say to the folks whining about these "outrageous" pension plans, "are you going to give up your Social Security?"

The deal is that public employees, with the exception of federal employees hired in the past 25 years, do not get Social Security. Their pension from their state or local government is all they get. And the reason the pension funds are underfunded is because they got looted -- the money in them got "invested" into worthless securities that scammers assured them were as good as cash (said scammers being called "credit rating agencies" -- S&P, Moody's, and Fitch being the Big Three and still in business, still pulling the same scam with no repercussions). So let me get this straight. The pension funds got looted because the politicians let scammers steal all the funds out of them, and the employees should pay for that?! That ain't right.

So what's the deal with the right wing attacking public employee pensions? Well, it's part of their ongoing anarchist project to destroy the effectiveness of government so that corporations can further loot the country by taking on the former functions of government (setting up hydraulic empires in major sections of the economy to assert control over the people). And they get a lot of the white trash "spite vote" to go along with this because the white trash lost their pensions when all the good-paying industrial jobs left the country, and rather than ask "Why don't we get pensions at our place of employment?" they instead attack anybody who has more than them because, well, just because they're mean spiteful people, I guess. If not, they'd be going after the politicians who've allowed our good-paying jobs to be outsourced overseas... but, y'know, attacking the people who really did you harm is no fun, especially if you're too stupid to understand what those people have done to you. Far easier to just attack anybody who has more than you, to try to bring everybody else down to your level...

-- Badtux the Unspiteful Penguin

Ominous expectations

Yesterday's song let Steve Shelley's drums get up front and thump away prominently. As I noted yesterday, one reason Steve Shelley rarely gets the props due his skills is because he mostly plays for guitar-oriented bands where having the drums up front and center would be wrong for the song and wrong for the band.

When Chan Marshall was 22 years old, Steve and Tim Foljahn, who together with Chan were the band Cat Power, cajoled her into a basement studio where they spent two days recording enough songs for two albums, mostly in one take since these were songs they'd already toured through pretty much every venue in New York City and Atlanta and knew backwards and forwards. Steve produced and mixed those albums, including this song, "Great Expectations". Listen for Tim and Chan's guitars uneasily circling each other in a nervous dance as Chan chants her eery dark and angst-filled lyrics. As you're listening to that, back off your attention a bit and listen for Steve's drums. They're there -- they're just thumping ominously in the background where they won't draw attention from the dance of Tim and Chan's guitars and Chan's voice. That's the sort of genius that not every drummer is capable of, but that Steve not only can do when asked, but instinctively knows to do when it's what's right for the song and even how to produce and mix the song so that the drum stays where it needs to be for the song, unlike the stereotype of the "dumb drummer" who knows only how to beat the crap out of his drumset.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Google officially ruins YouTube

One of my secret weapons for finding interesting music videos for you guys to watch was using YouTube's "Recommendations" function, which found new videos based on my past video viewing. Except Youtube no longer has that function. Instead, they just deployed a new home page that is entirely different. So anyhow, I tried using it tonight and... errm. It won't show more than eight recommended videos when I hit the 'More' link, and it always shows the *same* eight videos, hitting the "load more videos" button doesn't show any other videos, it just shows that same eight in a different order.

Siiiigh! "Progress". For some definition that reads, "breaking shit that worked in order to justify being employed by Google". Crap like this is one reason I'm glad that I decided to hang up whenever Google recruiters call me. I'm not stupid enough to design a user interface that lousy, which utterly disqualifies me from being a Google employee.

-- Badtux the Grouchy Penguin

Sunday, January 23, 2011


I wanted to comment on the fact that the BLS released the wage data for 2010 and they showed that, as has been true for the past ten years, median worker wages fell. But I have a headache, and we already know that here in Griftopia, the grifters who create nothing get the big bucks and those of us who create -- who design and build and grow the food and fix the cars and so forth -- get the shaft. Reminds me of someone who said "Goldman Sachs games the rules." Uhm, no. Goldman Sachs *writes* the rules, thanks to their influence in Congress -- rules which allow the grifter class, i.e. them, to siphon off the wealth of those of us who build and create, while themselves creating nothing (remember, wealth isn't money, wealth is STUFF, the stuff you BUY with money -- money in and of itself is just toilet paper with pictures of dead people on it, worthless in the absence of stuff only for wiping your butt and lighting fires).

So anyhow I was going to write a long article about that but my head hurts, so I'm going to bed. G'nite, y'all.

-- Badtux the Morose Penguin

Ministering Youth

You may recognize the drumming style here. That's Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth, who is probably the best drummer since Keith Moon bit the dust, but sadly underrated by everybody who rates drummers because he knows when to keep his drums out of the way to let his mad guitarists take center stage, whether the band is Sonic Youth, Cat Power, or, in this case, The High Confessions, with their song "Chlorine and Crystal" off the album Turning Lead into Gold. Though in this song, his drums are righteously ominous and up front.

Talking about how Steve keeps his drums out of the way of his guitarists reminds me of a Cat Power song "Great Expectations" where you have to listen closely to realize that there's a slow steady thump...thump...thump from Steve's drums in the background as Chan and Tim's guitars circle each other in an uneasy dance, but Steve (who also produced and mixed the album) kept the drums out of their way because that was what was right for the song, to the point where it takes a moment to even realize that there's drums thumping away back there, they merge into the guitars so seamlessly. Any drummer with halfway-decent chops can pound the shit out of the drumskins doing drum pyrotechnics like a madman. It takes a great drummer to know how to *not* do pyrotechnics when that's not right for the song, while still keeping the drums going to drive the song forward. It's Steve's sad misfortune to be mostly a drummer for guitar-oriented bands where putting his drums up in front of the guitarists would be wrong for the song and wrong for the band.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Bill Callahan, "Too Many Birds".

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Too Much Information

So I got out of the shower and toweled down, looked at my face, looked back at the towel, and... WTF? Why is there fresh red blood in significant amounts on my towel? I don't *feel* like I'm bleeding, nothing's hurt, so what's happening?

Then I remembered what my doctor said about angiomas, which are red vascular masses that appear on the surface of the skin sort of like a wart, except they're made of blood vessels. He said he didn't want to remove the ones I have in various non-obvious places because they bleed like a stuck pig when they're damaged (because they're collections of blood vessels, duh) and they're totally benign, so unless they were bleeding regularly he recommended leaving them alone. So the question was, which one was bleeding?

So I started checking myself out in the mirror, nothing seemed wrong with the ones on my upper body. Then I noticed big blotches of blood on the floor beneath me! So... err.... I checked "the boys", and yeppers, big blotch of blood dripping down ye olde sack, where like a number of middle-aged men I have a collection of small angiomas presenting as small dark bumps. Apparently I had toweled the boys too vigorously when drying off, and disturbed one of these things. A wad of tissue paper to sop up the blood showed a very small hole where one of these things was bleeding, and a surprising amount of blood swiftly poured out to replace what I'd just sopped up -- the boys have a good blood supply, yo. And keeping pressure on it for a few minutes didn't work -- it started bleeding again when I took the tissue off.

So I decided to lie down while applying pressure in order to reduce blood pressure, and was reading the above link (and a number of others) on my iPad while doing so, and that reduction in blood pressure (and reduction in panic level!) did the job. Relieved to find out that I'm not dying... but definitely more information about that area of the body than I wanted to know on a nice Saturday morning!

-- Badtux the Bloody Penguin

NBC, Comcast, and Olbermann

So Keith Olberman's been fired from MSNBC. In case you're wondering whether he was fired due to poor ratings:

FOXNEWS SHEP 1,786,000
FOXNEWS BECK 1,780,000
CNN PIERS 1,025,000
CNN COOPER 740,000

In short, while MSNBC is a poor also-ran to Fox News, Olbermann's show had more viewers than any other show on CNN or MSNBC. So it's not ratings that led to Olbermann being fired. If it were ratings, administration hand job boy Tweety Mathews at Hardball would be looking for a new job, not Olbermann.

Some liberal bloggers are speculating that Comcast is behind Olbermann leaving. The question is... why? Comcast is a for-profit corporation. They're not Rupert Murdoch's not-for-profit right-wing propaganda network, all they care about is money. Olbermann was pulling in ratings. That's money. It just does not make sense. Neither does the notion that Olbermann left because he didn't want to work for Comcast -- he'd actually tweeted that the Comcast merger would be *good* for MSNBC, because MSNBC would be back on basic cable again and Fox News pushed to "Premium" status (MSNBC was pushed to "Premium" back in 1997 because for-profit GE charged more for MSNBC than Rupert Murdoch's News Corp charged for Fox News, which Rupert designed as a propaganda organ rather than as a for-profit venture).

My best guess: The folks at MSNBC who are going to get cleaned out by Comcast, especially Phil Griffin, decided to sharpen their knives and take out Olbermann, who they detest, before they themselves end up on the street. That's the only thing that makes the least bit of sense. In that case, we might see Olbermann back on MSNBC again at some point in the future... it just depends on how fast Comcast moves to clean house.

Not that I'll watch Olbermann of course. Frankly, I found him to be too strident for my taste. Rachel Maddow in my opinion does a better job of eviscerating right-wing nutjobs, she does it with a smile by maneuvering them to impale themselves on their own knives. Still, there were a lot of people watching him, and wherever he ends up, that will likely still be true, because in these times an honest voice is just damned hard to find...

-- Badtux the News Penguin

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Big Lie

I haven’t talked about Rep. Steve Cohen’s comment about the Republicans using Goebbel's "Big Lie" technique about health care reform because frankly I think he didn’t make the sell. I know what he’s referring to, but the average American would just be baffled. But he’s certainly correct that we have a political party and their propaganda arm (Fox News and talk radio frothers) who regularly engage in the Big Lie technique pioneered by Goebbels, where even lies that can be debunked simply by looking at a calendar get repeated over and over again until people believe them (like “Obama’s bailout of the bankers”, which happened in 2008 when TARP was passed, said legislation which was proposed by the Bush Administration and signed by, err, President George W. Bush, not Obama, who did not take office until January 20 2009).

But now we have Republicans saying that Cohen is *just like* Caribou Barbie when it comes to language comparing political opponents to Nazis. Say wha?! We’ve established that Cohen is telling the truth about the Republican Party using the Big Lie technique, so that makes his case of "intemperate language" utterly different from Palin's, where Palin was not telling the truth about being the victim of a “blood libel” — nobody has libeled her by accusing her of participating in secret rituals where she kills Christian children and bakes their blood into matzoh balls, as far as I know. So Cohen (who is Jewish, BTW) is "anti-Semitic" because he made a "comparison between Nazis and Republicans"? Err, no. Telling the truth isn't anti-*ANYTHING*. It's just the truth -- unlike Palin's "blood libel" lie.

-- Badtux the Propaganda Penguin

What are they afraid of?

The National Shooting Sports Foundation's Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT)Show just concluded in Las Vegas. Amongst the rules of the show: No personal firearms within the premises, and all display firearms had to have the firing pins removed or disabled.

Gosh, what are they afraid of? Don't they know that guns don't kill people, only people do? And that if everybody at the gunshow is armed that makes the gun show safer? At least, that's what they're always telling the rest of us. Hypocrisy, much?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Go away

The Mighty Fang is upset that I'm disturbing his nap on his warm vibrating cat-a-lounger...

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Noise! Noise! Noise!

Scout Niblett screams out the words to her song "Nevada" in a live experimental video recorded at a bar. Damn, that beat-up old Mustang has some *grunt* to it! Makes me want to head over to the music room and beat up my short-scale Fender, yo...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Delta IV Heavy flies

The launch of a spy satellite on the only heavy launch vehicle the U.S. has left was successful today.

In case you're wondering what a Delta IV Heavy is, it's a regular Delta IV rocket with a bunch of strap-ons. This isn't a new concept, the Soyuz is basically the same thing, as was the Space Shuttle. But usually what strap-ons mean is that you didn't have the technology to build engines big enough to put the payload into space that you wanted to put into space. And the end result is what you expect from trying to scale up technology never built to haul heavy loads to orbit -- the Delta IV Heavy can carry 23,000kg to low-earth orbit. The Saturn V, by comparison, could carry 118,000kg to low-earth orbit.

But of course we can't build Saturn V's anymore. Instead we're reduced to building crappy-ass Soyuz clones with strap-on rockets. And so empires die, not with a whimper, but with a slow sizzle of collapsing capability until the final days when the barbarians walk across the border and the empire collapses without a fight...

-- Badtux the Industrial Penguin

Flower time

Kathleen Edwards, "Asking for Flowers" off her album by the same name. Funny that a Canadian can do "Americana" better than most Americans...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sending crazy people into combat is a bad idea

You know it. I know it. Anybody with a lick of common sense knows it. But it took nearly ten years of near-constant combat before the U.S. Army finally figures it out and starts screening soldiers for mental health problems *before* they deploy.

-- Badtux the "Are they dumber than rocks, or just dumber than trees?" Penguin

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Start of a song

Deadly Lies.

Noise, noise, noise.

Haven't added the vocals yet. Still working on the keyboards, I'm not satisfied with any of my current keyboard takes, so I just mixed them all into this particular mixdown. Still trying to figure out how to properly set the beginning and end in Presonus Studio One, it's much easier to deal with than Logic (whose workflow was driving me nuts, thus why I went ahead and spent a few dollars on what's supposed to have the easiest workflow in the industry) but it's new to me so I haven't figured out all its ins and outs yet, so the very tail end of the song (that's supposed to slowly fade out) somehow got chopped off. Still some quite glorious noise though :).

-- Badtux the Noisy Music Penguin

They destroyed the town to save it

Words fail. Nothing's left of Tarok Kolache in Afghanistan but bounced rubble.

Ah yes, the smell of napalm (and burned and/or rotting corpses) in the morning... it smells like VICTORY! Worked so well in Vietnam, didn't it?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Mysterious enigma

In 1994, a 22-year-old Chan Marshall went into a basement studio with Steve Shelley on drums and Tim Foljahn as second guitarist, and spent two days recording enough songs for two albums. The resulting Cat Power albums were mysterious and enigmatic, with Tim and Chan's guitars warily circling each other as Steve's drums accentuated the proceedings with appropriately ominous thumps. Many of the songs are clearly angry, some sad, some wistful, and the fact that these songs are being recorded in a basement means that sometimes there just isn't enough source material to get a good mix, but I don't think you can listen closely to the two albums that came out of this -- Dear Sir and Myra Lee -- without feeling that you're listening to something raw but rare and special.

This song is "The Sleepwalker", by the band Cat Power off of Dear Sir. It is supposedly a cover of a song released in 1984 by a New Zealand band called This Kind of Punishment. I tracked down the original song, and yes, some of the lyrics are the same, but it's not the same song. The original is a somewhat pedestrian "my woman done me wrong" song. Chan's "cover" re-arranges the lyrics to create a mysterious and sometimes angry and violent song of alienation, longing, anger and sadness, perhaps a reflection of the real-life tale of the betrayal of a daughter by her father.

I can't imagine what it's like to create your best work when young, then have to try to live up to it for the rest of your life. Nowadays Chan appears to have turned Cat Power into a Las Vegas lounge act, full of shmoozy samey songs crooned in a cigarette whisper. I guess she's happier now, her demons somewhat at rest rather than being dragged out to create something painful like her first four albums, but I find her recent stuff pretty much unlistenably boring. I'm sure the Las Vegas lounge set will like them though -- nice non-threatening background music for the casino crowd. Given the utter lack of retirement options for indy musicians who are no longer young I can't really blame her for making a retirement plan of crooning to the Geritol set, but I'll just go back to her earlier more interesting (if less technically "perfect") stuff, thank you very much.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cool book

Zero Days, by Barbara Egbert, the story of a mother, a father, and their ten year old daughter who through-hiked the entire Pacific Crest Trail in one season. The weak link in the trio, BTW, turned out to be the mother, who had to drop out a couple hundred miles before the end of the trail because her knees totally disintegrated. The kid was fine -- was by the end of the trail hauling a larger percentage of her weight than the adults were, yet was spending half her time yelling "Come on, slowpokes, keep up!".

I'm not ever going to hike the entire Pacific Crest Trail in a season. I know my limits, and spending that much time away from my beloved books and kittehs isn't happening, not to mention that I like my comfort. The occasional three-or-four-day backpacking trip along portions of the PCT is all I'm interested in, enough to let me see some of the best scenery, but also enough to know that civilization is underrated (especially that part of civilization called HOT SHOWERS). But here's two flippers up for those few brave fools who do this trip. If we had more such fools doing senseless things like through-hiking the PCT, and fewer fools doing senseless things like shooting federal judges, bombing civil rights parades, and disrupting town hall meetings with shouts of "Keep your government hands off my Medicare!", the world would be a much nicer place...

-- Badtux the Appreciative Penguin

Now who could have done that?!

Radio-controlled bomb found along MLK Parade route in Spokane, Washington.

Could this have been done by the same sorts of people as the small group who did this one? Or maybe it was done by the same sort of person who did this one? Or these? Or this one?

So you think all those bombings and assassinations are by right-wing extremist lunatics out to turn back the clock on civil rights for women and minorities? No no no no! Clearly, dear soul, you listen to the wrong media. Why, any moment now I expect Caribou Barbie, Rush Limpdick, and Weepy Beck to come out and tell us the real culprits here, who are clearly LIBERALS, yo!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Young Jenny

Jenny Lewis looks like she's maybe 15 years old in this video. She was actually 25. A lot of actresses are vain and wouldn't be caught dead with a shaggy 'do and t-shirt. Somehow Jenny managed to survive being a child actress in Hollywood without going that route, though she's certainly developed a style of her own since this video was shot in 2001.

Oh yeah, the band is Rilo Kiley, the song is "Wires and Waves".

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, January 17, 2011

And it's Perfect Token Negro day again!

Only way I figured it out was because I got no mail today, because, well, apparently that's how we celebrate Perfect Token Negro Day in America. We certainly don't get the day off from work, that's for sure, 'cause PTN Day is one of them there token holidays, to be ignored by everybody except white folks who claim that it means there's no longer racial discrimination in America.

Since it's Perfect Token Negro Day, the day we celebrate the perfect wise gray Uncle Tom who, like, was non-threatening and civil and shit like that, I guess I'll instead let a black man who wasn't a Perfect Token Negro speak about courage, civil disobedience, protesting, and the hypocrisy of those who claim to be defending "the American Way" while violating every word they profess to believe in with their words, actions, and laws:

In case you're wondering what the first part is about -- the black sanitation workers in Memphis were paid less than the white sanitation workers and were relegated to the dirtiest jobs with no chance of advancement to the cushier jobs such as driver of the garbage trucks (all of whom were white). The city refused to give equal pay and equal working conditions to the black workers. The workers went on strike for better working conditions and recognition of their union. The city got an injunction prohibiting the strike and threatened to arrest anybody who picketed and fire anybody who didn't show up for work. And MLK was saying, "Ignore that injunction, ignore the threat to fire all of you, ignore the fact that the racist white cops are going to be out there with their dogs and clubs to beat you down, stand up for your rights or be thought cowards by history." And pointing out that *his* butt was on the line there too, and he was likely to not live as long as them given the state of things but he wasn't going to turn away just because of fear for his own life, so if they let themselves be turned away because of fear of not getting a city paycheck, well. He shamed them. There was no more talk of ending the strike. The strike continued on the next day -- and MLK Jr. was killed that next day.

A rabble rouser, a union organizer, someone who advocated disrespecting the law... clearly this MKL Jr. person was *NOT* the Perfect Token Negro that white America celebrates (well, mostly ignores, actually) today... but what the hey. If MLK Jr. was around today, he'd probably be in Gitmo for daring suggest that standing up for our liberties and ideals was more important than safety, so I guess we couldn't celebrate his actual life... that'd be too, well, scarey, yo!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Young Bjork

With her last band before going solo, The Sugarcubes, singing "Cold Sweat". Such ferocity in her singing!

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

And in today's wingnuttery...

The Coplay Whitehall Sewer Authority's sewer plant is getting overwhelmed with rainwater every time it rains, causing raw sewage to overflow into the stream it outputs its water into. The EPA doesn't like that both because this stream is upstream from drinking water plants and because it's just plain nasty to have brown turds floating in your waterways, and has threatened them with fines if they don't fix their overflow problem. So the sewer authority has checked the sewer lines in the streets to make sure none of them are connected to storm drains or anything like that, and they look good. Then someone brought it to their attention that it had become customary in their area for people to attach their downspouts and sump pumps to the sewer line instead of dumping the water out into the lawn to soak into the ground. And a bing! went on in their heads, and they sent out a notice that sump pumps and downspouts were *not* to be attached to their sewer lines -- and that they'd be inspecting every home attached to their system to make sure that none of these unauthorized sources of rainwater were attached to their system, and giving notices of noncompliance with health regulations to the people who were overwhelming their system with rainwater, and, if the noncompliance wasn't fixed, they'd start passing on the EPA fines to those people too by using their statutory authority under their state's public health ordinances.

Now, there's a reason for sewage treatment plants, and it's simple public health. A sewage treatment plant that isn't, err, treating, is a bad thing (like, duh?). In third-world nations, water-borne illnesses are a major cause of death. Cholera is of course the biggy that gets all the PR, but there are literally dozens of diseases that get similar results, such as guardia, cryptosporidia, hepatitis, and typhoid. Here in America they became almost unknown after sewer and drinking water treatment plants were instituted, to the point where a single case of typhoid causes a major freakout of the general public.

But none of that matters to the wingnuts at World Nut Daily. It's a violation of your right to kill your neighbor with your fecal matter to have the sewer district inspect your home! Even if the only thing they're dong is looking at your downspouts and tramping down into your basement to inspect your sump pump's discharge, why, it's government overreach! Thus a huge headline, "Feds come knocking for home inspections", even though the Feds are involved only in that they're going to fine the sewer district if the sewer district doesn't stop discharging human fecal matter -- shit -- into the upstream of several other water district's drinking water treatment plants.

Yeppers, World Nut Daily says you have a right to make your neighbors drink shit and die of water-borne illnesses! Wow, why am I not surprised? What's next from World Nut Daily: a screaming headline proclaiming laws outlawing murder are a violation of your fundamental human right to kill people anyway you want? Talk about a bunch of murderous sociopaths... but hey, we're talking about the right-wing in America, after all, and as I've pointed out the body count from the right wing in America is pretty darn high, whether it's the body count they've done directly or the body counts that result from their disastrous policies such as the "War on Drugs". So why should we be surprised that World Nut Daily would stand up proudly to defend your right to kill people with your turds?!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Sunday, January 16, 2011


P.J. Harvey, "A Place Called Home", off of Uh Huh Her if I'm recalling correctly (correct me if I'm wrong, please :).

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Body counts

It is interesting that when you bring up the fact that right-wing terrorists are killing people here in America, the first thing that right-wingers do is shout, "Bill Ayers!" There's one major issue with their comparison, however:

Mr. Ayers, like every other left-wing terrorist in the past 60 years in the United States, targeted *PROPERTY*, not *PEOPLE*.

The “Weather Underground” targeted property, not people.
The “Earth Liberation Front” targets property, not people.
The “Black Bloc anarchists” non-organization targets property, not people.

Are you starting to see a pattern here?

There is only one set of terrorist groups here in America that target people rather than property, and they are ultra-right-wing groups.

  • Osama bin Laden’s group? Ultra-right-wing (wants to impose Sharia law).
  • The Dominionist groups that bombed abortion clinics and kill doctors? Ultra-right-wing (wants to impose Mosaic law).
  • The militia groups that want to kill immigrants and liberals? Ultra-right-wing.
  • The racist hate groups that want to kill racial minorities? Ultra-right-wing.
There is not a single left-wing group in the whole bunch of folks who want to kill, kill, kill. And there is a reason for that. Left wingers have a fundamental respect for human life. They want human life to be better. Right wingers, on the other hand, believe property is more important than human life. They want property to be protected from all those awful people who might actually, like, *need* it in order to even survive. Thus right-winger Jan Brewer’s death panel in Arizona, which cut off the transplant funding for Medicaid there and has thus far killed two people… the amount of money required would have been literally 10 cents for every Arizona taxpayer, but 10 cents in the pockets of Arizona taxpayers is apparently more important to right-wingers than human lives, which right wingers consider worthless, apparently.

Right-wingers disagree with this, whine that their ideology isn't what causes all these dead bodies on the ground. Yeah right. Bullshit talks, but I look at the reality on the ground, not bullshit. Those dead bodies simply *are*. Whether it is children pulled from the rubble of the Oklahoma City federal building or bodies pulled from the rubble of the World Trade Center or the people killed by Jan Brewer's death panel, these are bodies resulting from right-wing ideology. Left wing ideology results in live people. Dead people vs. live people. Results *matter*. And if I must embrace an ideology, it will *not* be one that results in a trail of dead bodies.

- Badtux the Body Count Penguin

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Laura Nyro was a dark-haired Jewish girl from New York City who somehow managed to sound like a combination of Motown and 60's pop. She was fucked over by the record labels then, and she's *still* being fucked over today fourteen years after her death -- they managed to block her selection to the Rock&Roll Hall of Fame despite the fact that her songs became major hits for major stars like Peter Paul & Mary, Three Dog Night, and Blood Sweat and Tears, and they're refusing the clearances for her son to put together a tribute album.

This one is "Eli's Coming", released as a single in 1967 and available on her album Eli and the Thirteenth Confession released in 1968. Forty-two years after its release it still sounds great...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, January 14, 2011

Free speech and threats

There have been a number of laws proposed in the aftermath of the Arizona shooting that would punish speech that advocated acts of violence. The upside, say advocates of such a law, is that random crazies would have only their own voice inside their head to tell them to kill, and thus be less likely to kill. It would also dial down the heat of the rhetoric in the political environment and make it much more likely that we could figure out some way to get along rather than kill each other.

The other side, on the other hand, says it'd be a violation of the 1st Amendment to outlaw general threats. Note that specific threats of a specific act of violence against a specific person are already illegal, and nobody has ever honestly proposed that we legalize these. So what is the difference between saying, "Kill George Soros", and "Kill the Jews"? Either one is a threat. Just ask any Jew who has ever been the target of the latter what goes through his or her body when someone advocates "kill the Jews". It's a sick feeling at the pit of your stomach, a fluttering of the heart, a panic'ed feeling in your head... it's the exact same as a specific threat against a specific Jew, in other words. And, in my opinion, should be treated the same way -- just as it is in every other Western nation, and just as it was here in the United States before Brandenburg v. Ohio in 1969.

So here's my question to those who say that outlawing advocacy of violence is tyranny: Was the United States a tyranny before June 9, 1969? Is Canada a tyranny? Is Great Britain a tyranny? Is Australia -- a nation which doesn't even have a Bill of Rights in their Constitution because a Constitution is just a piece of paper and they rely on democracy, not a piece of paper, to defend their liberties -- a tyranny?

If outlawing advocacy of violence, as EVERY SINGLE WESTERN DEMOCRACY did after the events of 1939-1945 where some German dictator used violent speech to incite his people to exterminate most of the ethnic minorities of Europe, is "tyranny" -- does that mean that only the United States is free, and only since June 9, 1969? Or are you saying that, unlike every other citizen of a democracy on this planet, Americans simply can't handle such a ban on violent speech? If the latter, why do you hate America?

As for the argument, "but who decides what's violent speech?", we have a mechanism for that in a democracy. It's called a COURT OF LAW. The whole point of a jury is to listen to the facts of a case, then decide whether something is a violation of the law or not. Juries also have a bad habit of refusing to enforce laws that they feel step over the line, such as the recent case that I referenced here where a Montana court couldn't seat a jury because they couldn't find a juror who'd convict someone arrested for less than an ounce of marijuana. In short, we already have the mechanism in place to decide things like this in a way that respects our democratic processes and the rights of our people.

In short, I believe Brandenburg v. Ohio was wrong. Advocating violence has no place in political speech -- what the 1st Amendment was written to protect -- and we have examples all over the world that outlawing advocating violence does not result in tyranny and does *not* impact the ability of people to engage in the vigorous political discourse of a democracy. Go read the British press such as the Independent or the Guardian or the even rougher tabloids. They criticize their government in ways that would have the editors of the Washington Post and New York Times collapsing on their fainting couches with a case of the vapors. If that kind of vigorous political discourse is "tyranny", then I say we need more of it here in America, yo!

-- Badtux the International Penguin


Who said that old-timey protest songs are gone? Here's David Rovics with his song "Who Would Jesus Bomb"....

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Quit picking on her!

Quit picking on Britney Palin!

Well, no. It's just so much fun to pick on that vacuous bimbo (of whom one female banker says, "she's set back feminism by fifty years"). Palin's rhetoric is stupid and, intentionally or not, things like her now-famous "crosshairs" targeting liberals for defeat in the November elections hints at the violent rhetoric coming from the real eliminationist right, people like Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck who have suggested exterminating liberals (then claimed "it was a joke!" when called on it), but as far as I know she hasn't herself issued one of these:

So while I think Palin deserves the condemnation she is getting for the "blood libel" nonsense, I think she does have a point that she's being unfairly targeted in general as a source of the violent rhetoric that flourishes in the right wing. She's not the one who fantasized about a terrorist attack on San Francisco. That was Rush Limbaugh. She's not the one who said a suicide truck bomb targetting the New York Times would be a good idea. That was Ann Coulter. She's not the one who said the murder of Nancy Pelosi and Michael Moore would be a good thing. That was Glenn Beck. Palin is an idiot, and intentionally or not, her rhetoric certainly hints that she holds eliminationist views. But heaping special anger at Palin ignores the role of the real sources of these views -- which, as the embattled Sheriff Dupnik of Tucson AZ points out, emits especially from conservative "commentators" like Ann Coulter and the hosts of hate radio and Faux News. *NOT* from Sarah Palin, who may wink at such rhetoric, but not to the extent of issuing a liberal hunting permit like Ann Coulter regularly does.

-- Badtux the Eliminationists-r-GOP Penguin


British scenesters Her Name Is Calla with another one of their interminable droning songs. Makes quite nice background music on the penguin's iceberg when he's in a mellow mood, though. The percussionists standing around the corner for 4+ minutes before coming out to skiffle the snare and give a few tentative taps of the drum is certainly a dramatic device, but one that works fairly well...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Blood libel

False accusations that Jews engage in the ritual murder of Christian children and use the blood of said child in their ritual matzoh date all the way back to 1144. These false accusations -- the "blood libel" -- has been used ever since then to justify campaigns of exterminations against Jews. The most recent genocidal workout the "blood libel" got was when Adolph Hitler used it to justify his campaign of extermination against Jews.

The most important thing about this "blood libel" is that there is no blood. That is, there are no dead Christian children. No secret rituals. No blood baked into matzoh. No nothing. The Jewish faith forbids the consumption of blood under any circumstances, ritual or not. Thus millions of Jews have lost their lives over the years due to an accusation that they took the lives of children, when no such thing ever happened.

So when Sarah Palin comes out and says that people who accuse her of cheering on violent extremism are committing "blood libel", I gotta wonder what the fuck she's talking about. I mean, look:

See the girl in the picture above? Her name is -- was -- Christina-Taylor Green. She was nine years old. She was born on September 11, 2001. She was the granddaughter of a baseball legend and was the only girl on her Little League team, playing second base. She was a good Catholic girl in Tucson, Arizona, who recently had her First Communion at St. Odilia Catholic Church. And she is DEAD. D-E-A-D. Her blood ran out of her little body onto the sidewalk of a shopping center in Tucson, forever stopping her little heart. Her weeping mother is going to spend the rest of her life staring at that picture wondering, "what would Christina-Taylor have become if she hadn't been murdered?"

It cannot be a "blood libel" if there really *IS* a dead child, if there really *IS* blood. Just sayin'. Not to mention that the main target of this vicious act of terrorism, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, is, err... Jewish. As are most of the victims of the "blood libel."

So color me confused. Unless Sarah Palin has suddenly converted to Judaism and been falsely accused of baking the blood of Christian children into her matzohs, all she managed to do was demean the murder of a young child by calling it a "libel". What, she doesn't believe that Christina-Taylor Green is dead? She thinks the media merely made up the blood on the pavement in Tucson? What, if anything, is going through the empty vacuum that is Caribou Barbie's "mind" anyhow?! That blood was *real*. Not a libel. And the only victims of this senseless act of terrorism are lying in hospital beds in Tucson, or in coffins -- not in Wasilla Alaska, meth capital of the world.

-- Badtux the Sickened Penguin


BettySoo is a Texas singer-songwriter, and this is "Whisper My Name". Remember that Texas is the state that outlaws dildos. I guess womenfolk down there need other things to help'em get off. If this sweetly sexy song doesn't help'em, they're hopeless.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Angry vs. violent

So the tighty righties as usual are trying to say that the shooter of a liberal judge and a liberal Congresswoman was, err, a liberal, and they probably are going to convince their echo chamber of gullible people who shout "keep your government hands off my Medicare!" of this "fact". So what, nobody outside their echo chamber of morons, cretins, and venal evil sons of bitches gives a shit anyhow.

But our so-called media is really missing the boat when they focus their sights upon "angry" rhetoric. Look. There's plenty of shit that makes me angry. It makes me angry that in the richest land on the planet, the amount of money that Sheriff Joe Arpaio wastes losing lawsuits over violating the civil rights of his prisoners every year would have saved the lives of at least two people murdered by Republican governor Jan Brewer's death panel. I am angry that my tax dollars are used to kill women and children in Afghanistan. I am angry that every effective method of ending the current recession by creating jobs via government action is stymied by a Republican Party that is more focused on scoring political points in some sick game of one-upmanship than upon the good of our nation.

What I am not, however, is violent. I do not state or imply that entire classes of people are vermin who should be exterminated, the way that mainstream Republican pundits on hate radio and Faux News regularly expound. I do not advocate taking up arms against our democratically elected government. I do not advice killing people, which is what the right wing is saying when they talk about "watering the tree of liberty" -- they're talking about murdering people who don't agree with their ideology. I don't "joke" about killing the staff of the New York Times the way that Ann Coulter "joked", I don't advocate violence in any way or form other than as delivered by the justice system after a fair trial before a jury of one's peers in a duly constituted court of law.

And that is the fundamental difference here between right-wing rhetoric and left-wing rhetoric. Left-wing rhetoric is often angry. But for all of Keith Olbermann's angry rhetoric, can you point me to one instance -- even ONE instance -- where he advocated violence? NO. Because lefties simply do not advocate violence. Even the more radical lefties I know, the ones who wanted George W. Bush hanged for treason, were quick to clarify "after a fair trial in a court of law that finds him guilty" when I cornered them on that statement. Can you point me to *one* mainstream left-wing voice that has ever advocated violence? Hello? Hello? Is anybody out there?

-- Badtux the Nonviolent Penguin



Radiohead, "No Surprises", off their 1997 album OK Computer.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, January 10, 2011

My genius cat

Some of you may recall that The Mighty Fang is not the brightest of kittehs. As in, he's fat, lazy, stupid... and soft and cuddly and furry and purry and loving, which excuses all of that. Still, watching the exploits of the mighty Maru, I sigh at the thought that I'll never make any videos of my kittehs doing genius things like Maru does.

Some of you may also recall that I bought a fancy automatic cat feeder to take the human (me) out of the amount of food that the kittehs get. This worked out pretty well at first. The fat furballs would beg and beg and beg me for food, but the automatic cat feeder has no "give the cat an extra meal" button on it, so I'd throw up my hands and say "sorry, dude, I can't do that" and they'd just have to pester me until the thing dropped its meal into the bin and they ran upon hearing the sound of kibble hitting the bin.

So I have Mencken on my lap and he's purring, and suddenly I hear the sound of kibble hitting the bin... an hour before there's supposed to be any kibble! So I head over to the machine and... uhm... The Mighty Fang has FIGURED OUT A WAY TO MAKE THE MACHINE GIVE OUT KIBBLE! He sticks his paw *way* into the guts of the thing, and tweaks something or another that makes a couple of chunks of kibble dribble out, he eats those couple of chunks, and then sticks his paw up there *again* and does it again.

Shoulda figured that the one bit of brilliance that The Mighty Fang would ever show would have something to do with getting food.... heh!

-- Badtux the Genius-cat-owned Penguin

Thereby proving the point

The Sheriff of Pima County got a lot of heat from teabaggers about his comments about an environment of eliminationist rhetoric bringing the crazies out of the woodwork to attack and kill people. Other bloggers have noted the same thing -- that the right wing rhetoric has been full of talk about "2nd amendment solutions", "watering the tree of liberty", and other such incitements to commit acts of violence against liberals and others that they dislike (such as judges who rule that swarthy Messicans have rights too). And... gosh darn it, they get threats against them from teabaggers. Thereby proving the point. Not that the teabaggers understand that. Huh, go figure.

-- Badtux the Exasperated Penguin


Asobi Seksu, "Nefi & Girly" off their album Citrus. Just some well done dream pop...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, January 09, 2011


Jenny Lewis is not going to go down in the annals of music with Grace Slick, but that's okay. She makes me smile. It's not just the backstory (child star *not* f*cked up by Hollywood). It's not that she's cute as a button and sings like a diva. I think it's just that she seems so doggone happy to be out there singing these songs that's so refreshing, and it rubs off.

This is "Acid Tongue", off the album by the same name.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

The bottom line

By now all of you have read or heard about the shootings of a Federal judge and U.S. Congresswoman in Arizona. Federal judge John Roll, who made rulings of law that infuriated right-wing zealots to the point that he had four death threats against him in the past year, is dead, and U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is likely to survive but probably is disabled for life due to a bullet that went through her brain.

It appears that this is an act of right-wing terrorism against America. As with most terrorist attacks, from what details have been released about a middle-aged man picking up Jared Lee Loughner at home and driving him to the meeting, it appears that the usual template of the suicide bomber was used here -- find a loser, fill his head up with nonsense about how all his problems are caused by the targets, then set him loose to kill. Given what has been said about Mr. Loughner, it seems unlikely that he himself chose the targets, even the U.S. Army didn't want Loughner due to his lack of intelligence and emotional instability. Somebody loaded him up as a weapon, then set him loose to kill.

One thing this should make clear is the fundamental difference in values between liberals and conservatives. Liberals believe in democracy -- that the people have a right to decide who shall lead them, even when the people choose unwisely. Thus why liberal opposition to the election of George W. Bush focused upon irregularities in Florida and Ohio and the actions of the U.S. Supreme Court and Electoral College, and why there were few threats of violence, explicit or not, against Bush, unlike regular threats of assassination against Obama that have popped up on bumper stickers everywhere in conservitard country. Indeed, Bush's main fear was that he might encounter protesters who were exercising free speech and thus might bespoil his perfectly empty mind with ideas that he didn't want, not fear of people exercising "2nd amendment solutions".

Conservatives, on the other hand, distrust democracy. By and large they do not believe that the people should choose their leaders. They believe that only the *right* people should choose who leads America -- generally white property owners, if you look at conservative "Tea Party" rhetoric surrounding "voter fraud" and their desire to repeal the 17th Amendment (which allowed direct election of Senators). Conservatives fundamentally believe that the majority of Americans are idiots and unqualified to choose who leads our nation, they regularly rant about the "tyranny of the majority" that they claim will destroy the nation. Liberals, on the other hand believe in free and open elections that respect the will of the majority, no matter how delusional or stupid the majority may be. That is because the only way for a minority to impose their rule upon the majority (as vs. persuade the majority to go along with it) is at gunpoint, and tyranny imposed at gunpoint is not a liberal value.

The other fundamental difference this points out between conservative values and liberal values is one of respect for human life. Even radical left-wing groups that advocate violence, such as some of the radical Earth First types and Black Bloc anarchists, advocate violence only against property, not against people. They smash in the windows of Starbucks stores and blow up SUV's, they don't assassinate people. As far as I know the last American left-wing act of political violence against human life was the assassination of President McKinley by an anarchist in 1901, and the revulsion against that led to basically the destruction of the mainstream anarchist movement in America.

Conservatives, however, make no bones about "Second Amendment solutions" when the majority elects politicians that conservatives don't like. They believe democracy is a "tyranny of the majority", i.e., "will of the majority" is "tyranny", and that killing people -- i.e., using their guns to restore themselves to power- - is a proper response to this. Some go further and argue that we in fact live in a tyranny imposed by a minority, utterly ignoring the fact that every single one of the sorry sons of bitches in Congress plus the President were elected by the majority of voters in their respective district, state, or country as a whole rather than imposed by some outside dictatorship, but it's unknown how many conservatives believe in such a thing, and it's irrelevant anyhow to the basic point that violence against human beings is an accepted conservative value. Thus abortion doctors killed, the Oklahoma City federal building bombed, and so forth, all by right-wing terrorists. Once you dispense with the notion of respect for human life, crossing the line and actually killing someone is much easier.

So that's the difference, folks: One side believes in democracy and life, the other believes in dictatorship and death. And on that note, I leave you, because my purring cat deserves my attention more than the despicable bunch of people who committed this act of right-wing terrorism against America.

-- Badtux the No-longer-conservative Penguin

Friday, January 07, 2011

Classics week continues...

Grace Slick was so young, and so fierce...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Hiking food

When you're off on a day hike, you can strap on a daypack and get your back all sweaty. Or you can strap on a fanny pack with water bottle holder, shove your lunch in your jacket pocket, and head on out.

Here is a typical dayhiking lunch when I'm doing this:

-- Badtux the Cheesy Penguin

Thursday, January 06, 2011

The Birds

Various left and right wing blogs as well as Twitter are all atwitter about dead birds. Well, I have news for you: Dead birds happen all the time, because, well, birds are bird brains. I, for example, currently have a dead bird reposing within the grill of my Jeep and am wondering how to get the corpse out of there. But he isn't dead because of some secret military experiment or anything. He's dead because he was a fucking moron.

Which is the point. Birds aren't very smart (other than penguins, of course :). Thus the phrase "bird-brain". When you panic a bird, it'll dart out into traffic and get run over, or it'll run into a cloudburst and get brained by golfball-sized hail (probably what happened with the "8,000" dead birds), or otherwise do something stupid and fatal, as the fate of the birds who run into the blades of the windmills at various passes here in California attests. And there's nothing to be done about it because, well, birds are birds, doh.

So anyhow: Meet your new master, a turtle that's hell on wheels:

That is all...

-- Badtux the Zoological Penguin

Classics week continues

Yet another of my favorites. French disco is rather philosophic, yo.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Día de los Reyes

Today marks the Feast of the Epiphany, end of the twelve days of Christmas. This is the customary day for gift exchanges in many Christian cultures because it is the day that the three wise guys finally arrived in Bethlehem with their totally inappropriate gifts after putzing around for over a week because they came across so many unlocked cars to 'jack and had trouble finding a good chop shop in a foreign land.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin


Shit floats to the top

Which of course is why Weepy Boner, person of (orange) color, weeped his way into the seat of Speaker of the House yesterday. Dude can't even hold a gavel without weeping...

-- Badtux the "Dude is mental, yo!" Penguin

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

We still know

Prophet, poet, ornery misogynist old man. Music for the new era. Yeah, still on my "best of" until get a chance to look up some new music, got the Jeep unpacked yesterday, still need to sort everything into its correct place and clean up the damage done by the kittehs while I was gone.

-- Badtux the Busy Penguin

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Enigmatic beauty

Didn't have a fresh video for today (been out in the desert, duh), so here's one of my favorites from past years -- a young Chan Marshall singing "Cross Bone Style".

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, January 03, 2011

Love waltz

Leonard Cohen, "Take This Waltz".

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

The mummy lurches

Me, on Thursday of last week, investigating an old smelter in central Nevada...

-- Badtux the Snow Penguin

World Nut Daily praises white extremists

The usual, the usual. In this case, Kinston, NC kept electing black Democrats to office. In retaliation, Barbour Haley's beloved Citizens Council (relabeled of course for the new millennium) got passed a new ballot initiative outlawing putting party affiliation onto the ballot, so that voters would have trouble seeing who was the black Democrats just by looking at party affiliation, thus hopefully depriving the black candidates of a few votes and getting more whites elected. The Justice Department sued, and a judge agreed that the ballot initiative is illegal -- because the entire intent of the law was to get more whites elected, it's illegal under the Civil Rights Act of 1965.

World Nut Daily's writer is incensed, incensed I say, at this untoward interference in local affairs! Why, if the whites of a town want to insure that their own get elected via hook or by crook (mostly by crook in this case -- as in, crooked), it's their own affair, and the Feds should not get involved!

Remember, whenever you see a Republican talk about "state's rights" or "local autonomy", what they mean is a state's right to discriminate against people of color (and other minorities). It's just short-hand for bigotry and hate. That's all.

-- Badtux the Helpful Penguin