Saturday, November 06, 2010


Took a trip deep into the Stanislaus National Forest today, with a Jeep club doing trail maintenance. Ate lunch in a beautiful setting, and now am back home.

We use CB radios in Jeeps to communicate with each other while on the trail, because we could be strung out over a half-mile stretch and the people in the back need to know if the people in the front run into an obstacle that's going to require everybody to stop, back up, and go around. Lately the "skip" has been coming in -- and with it, the jammers.

Ah, the jammers. These are people who have built beefed-up rigs pushing major amounts of wattage. They get on a frequency and they start talking. And whistling. And gibbering nonsense. And because they're pushing so much power, nobody can talk over them -- they monopolize the frequency. Because that's what they do. They are not there to hold a conversation. They don't want to converse. They just want to stop others from conversing.

It occurs to me that this describes the Republican strategy with the "teabaggers" perfectly. The purpose of the "teabaggers" is not to start conversation. It is to end conversation, by shouting down anybody who might have a contrary opinion. And it works. Just as Channel 4 was unusable this morning because of the jammers, the normal routes of political discourse were unusable in this past election, leaving the megabucks TV ads from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its multi-billionaire contributors (both domestic and foreign) to control the political discourse. And without a means of holding a conversation, the whole political system turns into a jam-up like when the Jeep at the front of the line tries to start backing up without the Jeeps at the back of the line being told. Eventually it can be all sorted out, but with much more difficulty than if the channels of communication had been open in the first place.

Thing is, I can't figure out why jammers hate communication so much. Do they really feel that inadequate as people? Are they scared that their ideas are stupid, so they'll just keep everybody else from expressing ideas and presto they'll be smarter? Jammers baffle me... why would anybody devote so much time to preventing others from communicating? Any ideas?

-- Badtux the Communicating Penguin


  1. If you have an Android phone or I-phone (in development) try TiKL. Turns your phone into a walkie-talkie. Of course you'll need to have cell phone access, but if you do it's really cool & works well. And you wont' be stomped on by jackoffs.

  2. This is something I've experienced since the early 70's. There weren't too many linear amps back then, but the old Johnson blackface and whiteface radios could be "strapped" to remove the wattage choke, and Yeasau had one 200 watt multiband Ham rig that you could drop a 27MHz crystal into.

    By the end of the 70's "linears" that would boost output 75 or 100 watts became available off the shelf. Christmas 1978 recorded peak sales for CB's and linears, then add to that base station rigs with "beam" antennae that could punch out multiple hundreds of watts... and you had potential for a real mess. The Jammers, as you call them, were born in that era.

    Why do they do it? Because they own that channel, of course. They've been using that channel since mama bought them that Cobra 23 for Christmas in 1978. If they can't use it they certainly aren't going to let you.

  3. It's bullying, that's all. The notion of "I'm stronger than you, so I can do what I want." Applies whether it's stronger physically so you can beat people up, stronger in transmitting power so you can overwhelm legal-wattage signals, or stronger in money terms so you can outspend to promote your message.

    With the latter, it might be a case of thinking their position is so stupid or unpalatable to the public that it must drown out competing messages. But there's truth to the saying that "a lie repeated often enough becomes the truth." Ram that meme -- "Tax cuts for rich people will help you poor people" -- often enough, and a majority of sheople will believe it. That's because people are fundamentally stupid.

    As for your CB jammers, that's disguised aggression. Think about the psychology of power. You theorize on the nature of power from time to time. Consider the aberrant behavioural side of it.

    You're not big physically, Tux, and you have empathy for other people. But what if you were a big guy who could beat other people down physically, and you didn't give a shit what their feelings were? I see patients like that in hospital, although usually they're in a de-powered state due to illness, and I saw a lot more in the U.S. when I worked in psychiatric facilities and a Florida state prison. Some people are just bent, whether it's from mental illness or abuse. They're going to lash out for no good reason, merely from rage.

    The lashing-out can take many forms, even down to amped CBs. (Frankly, I didn't know that anybody still used them, but that's because that sphere is not part of my world. One reason I read blogs is to expand my view of what's happening in the world.) I'd bet 2:1 odds that the men -- it was male voices overriding, right -- are physically weenies who have been pushed around in the meat world, so they satisfy their twisted need for power by blasting others off the airwaves.

  4. Dope, there are no cell phone towers where we go. We have to carry our own radios. CB is cheap and available. I'm not aware of any mobile GMRS transceivers (the kind that plug into 12v power and have an external antenna) so that's not an option. 2M ham radios are an option but a) are expensive and b) require a license, so few people have them. Which keeps the jammers away, but...

    Mule: Since the only place I use CB is well away from civilization where even the base station with the directional yagi isn't going to usually reach, I've not had much recent experience with the CB jammers. But now we seem to have recently had some sunspot activity, so the skip is picking up... and plopping that unholy odious mess into the middle of nowhere, hundreds or thousands of miles from where it was emitted.

    Bukko: You describe the phenomenon, but not its reason for existence. Yesterday I listened to a cheerful song called "We All Die" (really! Its author considers it to be happy song!). I suppose we must all tell lies to give our existence purpose, since otherwise the black infinity of the universe makes it clear that it's all pointless since nothing we say or do will be remembered even the tiny distance of 5,000 years from now, an eyeblink in the life of the universe... but the lie of power seems really destructive. Siiiiiigh.

    - Badtux the Bleak Penguin

  5. It's all about power tripping, whether jamming the CB channels or the political ads.

    As for the CBs, I didn't notice so much when I got my first CB in the 70s (I was way back in the sticks UP on the Tundra), but really noticed when I was trucking in the 90s. There were all kinds of people on the CB making all kinds of noise and hogging the channel. Some seemed to think because they had a CB, they were a radio station and broadcast their favorite music for the rest of us to listen to, or just made funny noises and gibberish.

  6. so basically what you're saying is that many monkeys have a instinctual desire for power, and when they have no real power, express this by making sure nobody else has power (and communication is power) too? Boy, monkeys are funny, especially the hairless ones who delude themselves that they're something other than monkeys with delusions of grandeur...

    - Badtux the Astounded Penguin

  7. Living in a depression is, to a very large extent, a matter of destructive social mindset.

    This is just one manifestation.

    Life's a bitch - no?


  8. Of course my comment was purely facetious. There must be some long winded, jargon filled psychological answer for your "jammers" behavior, but stripping the phenomenon to the core it is exactly what Bukko suggests... bullying.

    Of course not all of it is intentional jamming. From my place is West Texas I once conversed very clearly with a fellow in a little Alaskan town called Wainwright... which I think is somewhere that they can see Russia from their back porch. At the time I was using an non-amplified 4-watt CB in my truck. The nearest town to me was Big Lake, just 12 miles away, and I couldn't talk to them.

    You obviously know the difference between intentional and random, Tux, but skip can sure be interesting.


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