Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Today in stupidity...

Just got home after a long day at work, so going to blog about stupidity rather than about the economy. Everybody already tweeted about Michelle Gaffman's notion that the U.S. has an embassy in Iran (we don't, and haven't since 1980). Then there was the story from last week about how Russian hackers had hacked into a water system's SCADA and burned out a pump, cutting off water to the town. Except they didn't -- the "Russian hacker" turned out to be the water system's IT consultant who ssh'ed in while on vacation in Moscow and Berlin to diagnose a problem with the system, and the "hack burned out the water pump" turned out to be just a worn-out water pump that the water system knew was failing that finally gave up the ghost. So the Department of Homeland Security spun up this whole story about the Russian hacker menace that, err, wasn't, out of thin air apparently because if there are clean undies in any IT machine room they wanted to remedy that situation. Go figure.

So what other stupidity? BAE gets into a fight with a Medal of Honor winner. Even bets on who wins that one -- the Marine, or the international mega-corporation. And Teabaggers continue to whine that they're overtaxed... despite the fact that the only nations that collect less in taxes than the United States are third-world hellholes.

And finally, yet another GOP politician caught trading meth for sex with a gay prostitute. So now we know how Sheriff Patrick J. Sullivan Jr. stayed so slim as he aged... it was all the exercise in the closet that did it for him.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin


Welch indie band The Joy Formidable, with "Whirring", off their debut album The Big Roar.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The future

What does the future hold for Arielle Metzger, one of the subjects of yesterday's story? I mean, she's obviously an intelligent and articulate young woman. What does the future hold for all these children, the 25 million children living in dire poverty, and the tens of millions who aren't far from it?

First things first: When you're living under conditions of such dire poverty, pretty much everything seems beyond your grasp. College looks like it might be a possibility in abstraction, but the reality is that a haphazard education caused by being homeless and moving from school to school makes scholarships problematic and grant and state subsidy programs have been gutted to the point where they'll no longer pay for poor children's college educations. Finding a way might happen, but it would be through heroic efforts and the chances... slim.

What other careers might she look at? My guess is that by this time next year she's going to be working as a waitress or as a clerk to make money to bring home to the family. She's going to do this because it's life, that's what you do, you do whatever it takes to get by, and it's what you can do if you're young and reasonably good looking and have no skills other than your ability to charm people. She's going to go to school tired and sleepy in the mornings, she's going to go to work a couple of hours after she gets out of school after studying that amount of time, and then go to sleep. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Hopefully she won't get pregnant. But a lot of girls in her situation do get pregnant, because that would qualify the teenb and the child for AFDC, housing subsidies, and a lot of other assistance they don't get as homeless teenagers.

Could she have been the next great composer? The next great inventor? The physicist who finally solves the problem of nuclear fusion? A soccer star? One of the great actresses of the world? The biomedical doctor who finally finds a cure for the common cold? We'll never know, because ten years from now she'll be taking someone's order in a restaurant, her looks will have already started to fade from the years of poor food and lack of access to good medical care and information about exercise and keeping yourself fit, and that's going to be her life, forever.

That is the sad thing of all this refusal of America and Americans to collectively take care of our children: The waste. The utter waste. Arielle is not an idiot. With sufficient bootstraps, she could make something of herself far better than her current fate. What good for our nation have we thrown away, by this refusal to invest in our children? And what kind of a nation, what kind of people, is it, anyhow, that views a few dollars of tax money more important than children?

-- Badtux the Sad Penguin

Nothing left

Tom Morello with a special guest, "Lazarus On Down" from his 2008 album (as The Nightwatchman) The Fabled City.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, November 28, 2011

CBS commits journalism

It's only life.

Just something got in my eye and a case of the sniffles, that's all.

On the way to Banana Republic-hood

Investors are fleeing the markets and parking their money in U.S. Treasuries at effectively *negative* interest rates. Why? Because it's become clear that the markets are rigged. Whether you're talking about bond markets where worthless "mortgage-backed securities" that turn out to be backed only by liar loans are marketed as AAA-grade "just as good as Treasuries" bonds, or stock markets where computerized trading algorithms get special access to the markets on the part of the major brokerage houses to suck all the profits out of the market long before they get to you, the old rules seem to no longer apply.

But of course, there *are* rules nowadays. They’re just completely corrupt rules, like “You take without conscience or shame. If you see a blind man selling pencils on the street, steal the pencils. Steal his pennies. Steal his dog.” In short, our rulers view us as a nation of suckers, to be fleeced at will.

But the problem is, you can’t run an economy that way. Not efficiently, anyhow. What you end up with is a corrupt banana republic where people don’t even bother trying anymore because if they get ahead, the oligarchs will just find some new way to take everything away from them again anyhow, so why bother? Corruption on that scale corrodes everything in an economy. It just doesn’t work.

- Badtux the Non-corrupt Penguin
(thus why I’m not rich).

Sad lonely country blues

Randy Rogers "I Met Lonely Tonight", off his 2010 album Burning the Day...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Quote of the day

"The H13 is quite possibly the stupidest design for a bulb ever foisted on the public. The terminals are so small that they overheat, even at stock wattages, and melt the plastic housing of the connectors."

The H13 is what my new Jeep has in it for its headlight bulb. I think Chiseler chose the H13 because the bulb has a seal around it, thereby keeping water out of the headlight proper. Sealing water out of headlights that use H4 bulbs is somewhat difficult due to the design of the H4 bulb, usually there is some cumbersome rubber shielding involved to attempt to seal around the socket to keep water out, and it's rarely 100% effective. So given that one requirement was that the Jeep Wrangler be able to fjord water that was up to the battery terminals (which in turn are higher than the headlight bulbs), this must have seemed something reasonable to the Jeep engineers. Too bad that the bulb itself sucks, for the reason mentioned above. And Chiseler deciding to make this a reflector-centric design rather than a lens-centric design didn't help, it looks cool but the light pattern sucks donkey dicks (I was outside trying to adjust these things to get a good light pattern for the past hour or so and it just cannot be done).

So it goes. The good thing is that a Jeep. What that means is that someone's already come up with a kit to put decent H4-based headlights in the thing :).

-- Badtux the Wrenchin' Penguin

Mississippi River take him down

This is a number of songs run together, but the first one is named "Take Me Down" and is basically the funeral plans of musician Coco Robicheaux, October 25, 1947 – November 25, 2011. May the Mississippi River take his ashes down. He keeled over from a massive heart attack while holding court with fans and admirers at a New Orleans bar. If ya gotta die, I guess that's how to do it with a bang...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Saturday, November 26, 2011

My Black Friday

I was in Death Valley National Park, hiking up Johnson Canyon to look at the ruins of Hungry Bill's Ranch. What were you doing on Black Friday?

-- Badtux the Desert Penguin

Cue Dien Bien Phu

Pakistan cuts off NATO supply route to Afghanistan.

US/NATO forces are 100% reliant on fuel driven in from Pakistan. There is no way to airlift enough fuel to keep US forces operational. There's enough fuel in-country for everybody to get to Bagram to be airlifted out, but that's about it.

The supply situation just became as tenuous as Dien Bien Phu's supply situation became once Ho Chi Mihn got artillery onto the slopes overlooking its airstrip. Pakistan has always been problematic as an ally against the Taliban because, uhm, they *created* the Taliban. So now the question is, what is the U.S. going to do? Bribe Pakistan to re-open the supply route? Escort U.S. supplies with U.S. troops and dare Pakistan to do something about it, which, given the fact that the average Paki is about as hyper as a ferret on meth about his "manhood" is almost 100% guaranteed to start a shooting war?

This penguin now returns to his vacation for at least another two days. What a thing to wake up to with my morning coffee though :(.

-- Badtux the History Penguin

Monday, November 21, 2011

The end of the world is today

So says James Howard Kunstler at Clusterfuck Nation.

There is not much more for me to add to that, other than to hope he's wrong.

-- Badtux the "Interesting times" Penguin

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Why now?

There haven't been large-scale campus uprising for literally *decades*. Why are we starting to see them now? Why didn't we see them before?

Well... basically, kids are graduating from college with unpayable debt, can't find jobs, and their little brothers and sisters now in college are seeing what happened to their older brothers and sisters and saying "This isn't right" -- and also seeing that they have nothing to lose . So they get expelled for taking part in a student uprising. So what. A college degree did how much good for their older brothers and sisters? None. What do they have to lose, other than a worthless piece of paper and a bunch of debt?

The *only* time you see large-scale uprising and disturbances is when there is a large number of people who have nothing to lose. I study history so I remember past uprisings and disturbances and recall the two ways of ending them -- imposing totalitarian dictatorship, or implementing a "Fair Deal" where hard work and study will get you ahead in life and thus people have something to lose if they instead participate in an uprising or disturbance. Well, there's also the third choice -- the uprising accomplishes the toppling of the government, at which point things go to bleep in a handbasket. That's the choices -- Madam Guillotine, Vladimir Putin, or FDR. Which one do our 1% choose? We'll find out, I suppose...

-- Badtux the Vacationing Penguin

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Must See

Wonkette today features A Children’s Treasury of American Cops Brutally Attacking Citizens. Like a fashion show of fascism, yo.

But never fear. The Atlantic's editor sez it's not the fault of the cops. Because of course they are just following orders. And if those orders called for a Final Solution? Well...

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Friday, November 18, 2011

On vacation

The penguin's daily rant, plus the penguin's daily music festival, are on vacation until November 28. Until then, I will leave you with some cats to admire:

-- Badtux the Holiday-celebratin' Penguin

Bonus cat:

I want a poney

The Stone Poneys were the first band Linda Ronstadt had any kind of success with, and the last band she played in before going solo. This was their one and only hit in 1966 when Linda was 19 years old (this performance is in 1967 when she's 20 years old), written for Linda by Mike Nesmith of The Monkees, who thereby redeemed his soul from Satan where he'd checked it in while trying for TV success.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

The Goat Rodeo

So Herman Cain fell out of favor because he loves him some white meat (and dark meat too, but white meat was what offended the teabagger faithful), which meant that Newt the Reptile became the Republican frontrunner for the Not-Mitt-Romney position. Except, err, Newt the Reptile, aside from being cold-blooded and slimy and in general having a, err, likeability, problem, turns out to have taken over $1.5M from the exact same Freddie Mac he blasts as being "corrupt", then had the audacity to lie about it.

So now disappointed teabaggers need another candidate. This candidate should be personable, and should have a fine knowledge of geography (another one of Herman Cain's downfallings). This person should have experience in the limelight and experience dealing with a hostile press. Furthermore, this person should be looking for a *short time* gig, since the Not-Mitt-Romney job only lasts a few weeks before a press corps with the attention span of a hummingbird moves on to the next Not-Mitt-Romney. Oh yeah, and intelligence. Should have intelligence on roughly the same level as the Teabagger base.

Searching for this new Presidential candidate was hard work, but I think I finally found the perfect candidate to run against Mitt Romney for the Republican Presidential nomination:

Oh wait, while Caitlin Upton is certainly personable and is as smart as the Republican base -- yes, smart, S-M-R-T smart! -- she's only 22 years old and thus doesn't meet the Constitutional age requirement. Oh well!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Job creators

A conversation with a "job creator":

JC: "I took over a failing furniture chain and saved fifty jobs by managing it properly."

ME: "No you didn't. You just kept fifty jobs from moving to other furniture stores."

JC: "No, if that furniture chain had gone under, those jobs were gone!"

ME: "People would stop wanting to buy furniture if that furniture chain went under?"

JC: "Uhm, no."

ME: "There were no other furniture stores that people could go to?"

JC: "Well, there were other furniture stores, true, but..."

ME: "So wouldn't those customers just go to other furniture stores?"

JC: "Uhm, I guess."

ME: "So, wouldn't those other furniture stores need to hire more people to deal with the additional demand?"

JC: "I... guess."

ME: "So aren't the customers the job creators, who create jobs by buying furniture? Money is fungible. If they aren't spending the money in your furniture store and creating jobs in your store, they're spending it in someone else's furniture store and creating jobs there."

JC: "I... I don't want to talk to you anymore." Stomps off to find someone else to impress.

-- Badtux the Practical Economics Penguin

More duet

Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan - "You Won't Let Me Down Again", from their 2010 album Hawk. Mark has one of those voices that is so indie that it makes indie singers slit their wrists in despair... sadly, outside of indie circles he's way not known as well as he should be. Sigh!

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Where Occupy should go next

Mao Zedong was a major grade-A monster, but one thing he knew was guerrilla warfare. He *won*, in case you don't recall. So here's one of his dictums: "When guerrillas engage a stronger enemy, they withdraw when he advances; harass him when he stops; strike him when he is weary; pursue him when he withdraws."

In other words, when faced with a stronger enemy, *LEAVE*. Let the coppers stand around a deserted square wondering what to do. Then when the police go home -- which they will -- *show up somewhere else*, doing something unexpected. The point of the guerilla is to confuse and bewilder and exhaust the opponent by never presenting a fixed target for the opponent to concentrate upon, *not* to hold ground against an opponent armed with superior weapons -- and the 1% can afford to buy a *lot* of weapons (and the police forces to wield them), given that they own more assets than the bottom 90% *combined*. We have the Internet now. We have dark forums where flash crowds can be near-instantly marshaled to show up at random points. We can have the 1% exhausting their limited manpower resources scrambling frantically all over the place trying to suppress flash mobs and deal with instant protests outside of banks, political offices, and Wall Street establishments. The G is about *movement*, and in that respect Occupy's camps were the wrong idea entirely.

Okay, so that's tactics. The other thing Mao focused on was the strategic long view. What is the objective? Mao's objective was to overthrow the Nationalist government and install a Communist dictatorship with him as its head. But what are the objectives of the Occupy movement?

One thing I'll point out is that the American people are basically conservative. They aren't going to embrace a Communist revolution anytime soon. Note that I say "basically conservative" in the old sense of the word, not in the "rabid right wing radicals" sense of the word. True conservatives don't want wholesale change, what they want are changes around the edges to make the system work better. So what are some conservative goals?

  1. Prosecute the Wall Street fraudsters who caused the real estate bubble and collapse. They stole us blind -- their fraud of selling bundled liar loans as "AAA investment grade securities as safe as U.S. Treasuries" cost me 1/3rd of my retirement savings, for example. They need to be perp-walked and jailed and their ill-gotten gains removed.
  2. Tax the rich. If these frauds had been taxed at Eisenhower levels they wouldn't have perpetrated these frauds because it wouldn't have been worth their while, since the money they obtained via fraud would have mostly gone into the U.S. Treasury.
  3. Break up the too big to fail banks and restore banking competition. If they're too big to fail, they're too big to exist.
  4. Regulate. Regulate the banks. Banks should exist to be banks, and should be prohibited from gambling on Wall Street with their customers' funds. Regulate Wall Street. We need full market transparency (meaning, none of these weird derivatives that hide the core product beneath layers of obfuscation), we need to regulate credit rating agencies to eliminate their incentives to provide fraudulent ratings, and we need a zero tolerance for any misrepresentation, as well as transaction taxes to slow down trading and provide an incentive for long-term investment rather than the rigged casino game that is the current situation on Wall Street.
In short: Go back to the New Deal policies that led to this nation's period of greatest economic growth in the period 1945-1980. All this risky experimentation that the right wing keeps urging on us? Radical nonsense. Communism, anarchism, anarcho-socialism, or things of that notion? Radical nonsense. Americans are conservative, and the notion of going back to a Golden Age of finance and taxes rather than forward to some new untried system is one that would appeal to way more Americans than you'd think.

I don't think you'll find many of the bottom 99% who would argue with the above, other than perhaps the crazed Republican core, who repeat the 1%'s cant as if it were holy scripture because they worship the wealthy as their gods. But there's not much that can be done about religious zealots of that sort other than interfere with their ability to make new converts to their religion. But if you start with conservative goals -- jail the thieves, regulate, tax, break up the too-big-to-fail banks -- the zealots will look like exactly what they are: crazed zealots in thrall to their high priests of the 1%, to be ignored by all sensible people.

-- Badtux the Sensible Penguin

Creepy name calling

Yann Tiersen and Shannon Wright, "No Mercy For She", off their album Yann Tiersen and Shannon Wright. Yann Tiersen is a French film scorer. Shannon Wright is an American indie artist. Together they make very creepy music...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin


Over the past two days, a nationwide crackdown on the Occupy movement occurred. If this crackdown wasn't coordinated by Homeland Security then I'm a featherless waterfowl. Update: I'm not a featherless waterfowl after all. Talk about not being surprised!

So, uhm, why did the Obama Administration dispatch Homeland Security to destroy the Occupy movement or at least their tent encampments? Well, it was all about optics...

Uhm, that's a photo of a Hooverville, of probably the most famous one, the one that encamped right on Herbert Hoover's doorstep demanding jobs and money. The Obama administration, being populated by cowards, was scared that the Occupy movement's tents would get labeled as "Obamavilles" by the right wing. And of course the Obama administration then did what it always does whenever they suspect the right wing is even going to *threaten* to say boo -- they caved. Preemptively. Duh!

Now, as I've previously pointed out, the Occupy movement was a problem looking for a solution in the first place. Basically it was an expression of outrage at the fact that things are getting worse for each succeeding generation of Americans, that working hard and doing well in school no longer suffice to get you ahead -- all statistics show that Americans work harder and are better educated today than they've ever been before in American history, yet the average 35 year old man makes less money than his father did at age 35. That's fucked up, yo.

So anyhow, Obama didn't really give a shit about any of that, probably even agrees with the Occupy that things are fucked up, but his team was cowering in terror because, uhm, Newt Gingrich is now the not-Romney candidate in the GOP primaries after Cain self-destructed. And Newt the Reptile is reputed to know a bit of history, unlike the rest of the gang of morons and loons that are the Republican clown college. Newt might look at one of those pictures of an Occupy encampment and say, "Hey, it's an Obamaville!". Can't have that happen, right?

So anyhow, nothing's changed. Everything's all fucked up, still. But that doesn't matter, all that matters is optics -- making sure that there's nothing that Newt can point to and say, "hey look, an Obamaville!". Because it's all a game, to the people who rule us. They're not hurting. They're millionaires. They made their nut. So they don't care. They don't have to. It's all about winning with them, and America? Americans? What, you think they give a shit about America and Americans? In what universe? One where the unicorns are pink and cotton candy grows on trees?!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Empty hole

Trespassers William, "Alone", off their 2002 album Different Stars.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, November 14, 2011


From a former social worker: True story. 7years ago as a case mgr at a homeless center I broke the rules to let in a young mother w/2 kids. It was very cold.It was night time. I got the cold pizza from the kitchen and she cried. 2 months later, while at the center she killed the 3 year old.

I had forgotten about that. Blocked it right the hell out. Like so much of my time in the career.

funny pictures
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

But we have to cut taxes for millionaires so they can create jobs in China...

-- Badtux the Sad Penguin

Delayed cat blogging

Sorta the story of the past half century...

-- Badtux the Cat-admirin' Penguin

Hard times

Long-time folk singer Eliza Gilkyson, "Hard Times in Babylon". Just another musician who is woefully unappreciated despite having made music for more years than all the teen pop-tarts on the charts combined.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

The problem

Poverty is at levels not seen in the United States for fifty years. A 35-year old man today makes less money than his father made at age 35. The Federal Reserve's attempts to print money to increase employment succeeds at increasing employment -- in China, since we don't make anything in America anymore.

Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party are flip sides of the same coin -- the (correct) perception among many Americans today that things are wrong. The only real disagreement is what is wrong. And the core problem with both movements is that they both are wrong about why our economy -- and our society -- is so screwed up.

More on that when I'm not so darn tired (been working on Jeeps -- yes, plural -- all weekend long)...

-- Badtux the Hints Penguin

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Lost soul

Courtney Love / Hole, "Dear God", off the 2010 Hole album Nobody's Daughter. This particular song was written and produced by Linda Perry, who apparently had befriended Courtney during the period where Courtney was in and out of jail and rehab on drug charges. The album sold abysmally, nobody cares about Courtney Love or Hole anymore and the album is too sad and painful for most people to enjoy. Courtney got what she wanted -- she became famous, perhaps infamous, and now what?

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

A song for our time

"Save The Rich", by Garfunkle and Oates. A bit tongue-in-cheek? You don't say!

-- Badtux the Amused Penguin

Oh yeah, a bonus picture from OWS:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Please sign this petition

It will be read and acted on by White House staffers if we obtain sufficient signatures. Please, this is a very important issue, and if you truly care about your nation, you should sign it ASAP.

-- Badtux the Tongue-in-beak Penguin

Friday, November 11, 2011


Canadian indie group The Organ, with "Steven Smith" from their 2004 album Grab That Gun.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A vision

Hoisted up from comments, by Bukko:

The entry hall at Dachau, where prisoners were processed as they came in, now has a lot of historical information explaining Hitler's rise to power. (Sorry if I've rattled on about this before on your blog, Tux, don't mean to bore you if this is repetition.) It laid out the "tick-tock" of THIS machination to put Nazis in control of a local legislature, THAT judicial decree oppressing different people's rights, ANOTHER takeover of an industry so that it could be used to manufacture weapons... The bit-by-bit descent into madness.

We see the rise of barbarity as a smooth thing now, compressed as it is by the hindsight of historical perspective. But to the Germans living through the 1930s, caught in the middle of the details, would they have any ability to sense on the grand scale how things were coming apart?

I feel that same way now as I see the U.S. doing its slow-motion collapse. Life is getting nastier. It seems to be building to a vicious crescendo. Each little event, every new "Don't taze me, bro" degradation -- it's part of a pattern that's ramping toward monstrosity. A century into the future, is there going to be a historical multi-media display located in some monument to horror, detailing how the days we're living in today were part of the accretion of details that led to the unimagineable? Can we see it, when we're in the midst of it?

Some people see it. I've been a careful observer for the past forty years and seen the slow slide happening, somewhat less slow over the past ten years when the national security state has ramped up to another level. But given that the only people who can do anything about it are either too apathetic, too narcotized on their drugs of popular culture and entertainment, or too busy fiddling crazy dance tunes to do anything about Rome burning in the background, I don't know what to do other than be that voice saying, "we are going the wrong way, this way lies atrocity." There were such voices in Nazi Germany, before the horrors really started. They were silenced eventually, but perhaps they were the lucky ones, those who did not sell their souls to horror.

-- Badtux the Apocalyptic Penguin

Shamelessly swiped

-- Badtux the Non-Randian Penguin

Texas mosh

Joe Ely at the famous Threadgill's in Austin, set up with a mosh pit for some reason. This is "It's a Little Like Love" off his 1998 album Twistin' In The Wind.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Dear spammer

If your message starts out with "I am a sweet and attractive young woman ...", it might behoove you to consult a dictionary of American baby names to find a name that would match that description. I'm afraid that signing the message "Ross Gordon" isn't going to cut it.

-- Badtux the Laughing Penguin

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Bitter rain

As I type this, police officers are beating students in Berkeley. At least one student is lying bleeding on the ground and ambulances are being kept away by the police until the situation is "secured", whatever that means. Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania the Penn State students are rioting over the firing of Joe Paterno and the cops are just standing around with their nightsticks stuck up their asses, because hey, it's just kids letting off steam, it's not as if they were threatening the profits of the 1% or anything, right?

To say that I am disgusted beyond belief is an understatement. I cannot blog further on this tonight. So I will give you some bonus music that is all too fitting:

-- Badtux the Sickened Penguin

A non-response response

Some notes: Rugged Ridge is an importer of Chinese-manufactured Jeep parts. Bushwacker is an American company that claims you should buy their product because they're made in America. So who gives better customer service? Well, let's see: > ________________________________________
> From: Badtux
> Sent: Sunday, October 16, 2011 10:52 PM
> To: Customer Care
> Subject: Replacement of a single damaged component
> I have a LJ and flat flares. I ran the passenger front flare into a tree
> while offroading and crumpled it. No big deal, it's a Jeep, I just
> straightened it back out and screwed it back on with a bigger washer
> where the screw pulled through the flare and all is well. Except now I
> want to sell this Jeep and that flare looks wrinkled. Is there any way I
> can buy just that piece (the flat C-shaped piece)? Your retailers don't
> stock components, just whole sets, so they're no help here...

On Oct 17, 2011, at 9:21 AM, Customer Care wrote:

> Hi Badtux, Thank you for contacting Bushwacker. You can purchase a front pair from your local retailer. This is much better then purchasing a complete set of 4 flares.
> The part should be 10055-07 >

> Sincerely, >

> (redacted)
> Customer Care
> Bushwacker, Inc.
> Due to the large volumes of email we receive, please reply to all with history and keep your responses at the top of the email.

To: Bushwacker Customer Care:

Hello, thank you for your non-responsive response. I remembered that I had three members of a set of Rugged Ridge 7" oversize flares in storage and purchased the missing flare (ironically the same one -- passenger front) from Rugged Ridge via their vendor Quadratec, and am replacing your flares with the Rugged Ridge flares. Again, thank you for your lack of service.


BTW, the fender flare came in today -- the day after I ordered it, drop-shipped from Rugged Ridge. Yeppers, appears that the Chinese have better customer service than the Americans. So I should support the American company... why?

-- Badtux the Wrenchin' Penguin

The brighter side of dark

Omaha's Saddle Creek Records is ground central for emo, and when a couple of young women from Atlanta moved to Omaha, it was only natural that they went from being alterna-chicks to doing that Saddle Creek sound. This is Azure Ray, "Beautiful Things Can Come From The Dark", which alas does not appear to be on any of their albums... it is, however, available from iTunes and presumably other electronic music stores as a single.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The cult

Regarding the black bloc and throwing bricks through plate glass windows: I’ve read the anarchist tracts. I’ve listened to the black bloc types try to explain why their tactics are useful. None of it makes any sense at all in the real world, where the majority have no problem with the violence inherent in the system as long as it's directed against people who do things like, well, throw bricks through plate glass windows. It’s like a cobbled up philosophy thrown together to attract alienated kids who want to feel powerful, sort of a cult now that I think about it, a cult that’s amazingly similar to Ayn Rand’s cult of perfect freedom without responsibility. And as with the Rand cult, it has absolutely nothing to do with leftists or left-wing causes, and black bloc in the midst of a protest should be treated the same as teabaggers in the midst of a protest — i.e., as a hostile force with a philosophy and goals completely incompatible with our own.

-- Badtux the Left-wing Penguin

Lizard church service

The Austin Lounge Lizards, insisting that their God is the "One True God" and yours is a fake. Just some Austin snark, y'all ;).

-- Badtux the Snarky Pengui9n

Monday, November 07, 2011


I was going to write an article about the new numbers that came out that show that 16% of Americans live in abject poverty, the sort of poverty that is utter misery as vs. the paradise depicted by the right wing, but it's too goddamned depressing. You just know that the right wing is gonna start whining that our poor aren't *really* poor 'cause they're not starving to death because they get food stamps, so there. Doesn't change the fact that being poor in America sucks. I've been poor, and believe me, I much prefer being *not* poor. Asswipes making fun of the poor are just assholes and bastards who ought to immediately have their trust funds revoked, their bank accounts seized, their homes and Mercedes Benzes repo'ed, then thrown on the street in some far away city to make their way. I can guarantee you that after a few months of living on the street they won't think the same about being poor.

- Badtux the Disgusted Penguin

Wrenchin' Penguin

I decided to change fender flares on my old Jeep because one of them was crumpled a bit. So I had three fender flares in storage, and needed to order a fourth, which I did. Then I headed out to storage and about halfway there, noticed that my speedometer wasn't working. Then about halfway home, my check engine light came on. Siiiigh!

Okay, so I got home, plugged in my code scanner, and it was a 501 -- "Speed sensor not working". Duh. So the next thing I did was notice that it was friggin' *cold* outside, so it was time to move the Jeep into the garage where it was significantly warmer. Well, easier said than done, so I spent about an hour cleaning out the garage to the point where there was enough room for a Jeep (eep!).

So anyhow, got the Jeep into the garage, rolled under the Jeep on my creeper, popped the speed sensor off, and... err... nothing wrong? So I revisited the installation directions and realized that when I'd replaced the O-ring on the speed sensor to deal with a transmission fluid leak last week, I'd installed it with the wrong rotation and it wasn't engaging the pinion in the transfer case tail. Sigh!

So now it's installed correctly. And how I managed to go a whole week without noticing that I didn't have a speedometer *still* confuses me. I guess I'm just so familiar with the sound of the engine in that old thing that I never bother actually looking at the speedometer!

-- Badtux the Wrenchin' Penguin

Lying stars

Trespassers William, "Fall in the Sound", off their 2002 album Different Stars.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

How to repair your Jeep


-- Badtux the Wrenchin' Penguin

A dilemma

Jack Abramoff has wrote a book. He apparently names names about Congressmen he bought and what he bought from them, as well as names names about other lobbyists who are doing exactly the same thing today. I am lusting to read that part of his book (not so lusting to read the other part of the book, which is standard boiler-plate small government GOP stuff).

Problem: political pressure meant that no conventional publisher would touch Jackoff's book. Meaning that it's being published by... World Nut Daily Press ("We're batshit crazy and so are you if you read us!"). The notion of sending my money to Birther Central makes me vomit in my mouth a little.

What to do, what to do...

-- Badtux the Overly-curious Penguin

Sunday, November 06, 2011

"Expose the violence inherent in the system"

That's one of the purported motives of the Black Bloc. The problem is, most people already are aware of the violence inherent in the system. As long as that violence is expressed towards people they don't like, such as criminals and minorities, they have not a single problem with it.

This is one reason why I insist that the purported motives of the Black Bloc are total bullshit, and that the actual motive is to discredit left-wing causes. And who benefits if that happens? Hint: the Koch Brothers dance a jig every time the Black Bloc shows up at a left-wing protest. Just sayin'.

-- Badtux the "Just the Facts" Penguin

Sad mountain

Slaid Cleaves, "Green Mountains and Me", from his live album Sorrow and Smoke: Live at the Horseshoe Lounge. Just some Austin singer-songwriter goodness, y'all.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Is the Black Bloc a COINTELPRO operation?

It happens over and over again, wherever a successful left-wing protest movement is underway. A peaceful march is going along, and suddenly mysterious black-clad ninja wannabes step out of the crowd and start throwing rocks through windows and throwing rocks, bottles, and firecrackers at police officers. In response, TV news shows only the violence and covers the cause that the protest was about not at all, newspapers print outraged editorials about how violent, vile and despicable left-wingers are, and the majority of people shake their heads and turn on Rush Limbaugh, who, after all, has never thrown a brick through a window.

Is the Black Bloc a COINTELPRO operation? That's certainly a question worth asking. The fact that they show up *only* at left-wing protests, not at any other events that attract crowds, is rather... odd. As is the fact that they show up in geographically far-removed places with no visible means of funding for such widespread travelling. And while the Black Bloc claims to be anarchists, anarchists of my acquaintance have nothing but disdain for the Black Bloc and their tactics, pointing out that smashing the windows of a Starbucks is hardly the same thing as smashing the power structures that anarchists believe must be removed in order to bring anarcho-paradise of voluntary syndics of like-minded people blah de blah.

So asking the question, "who funds the Black Bloc and arranges for them to arrive at left-wing protests" is hardly the odd question it might first seem. They show up in too many unlikely places to be there accidentally and appear to have no agenda other than to cause property destruction and general annoyance to police officers. If they are not paid provocateurs, they certainly behave like such. Note that I'm not saying that the individual members of the Black Bloc are all employees of X (for some mysterious X), but whoever is guiding and influencing them certainly seems to be very successful at generating news stories that discredit left-wing causes and it's certainly a reasonable question to ask, "is this a COINTELPRO operation intended to discredit left-wing causes?". Just sayin'.

-- Badtux the Cavuto Penguin

Tired penguin

Today went up into the Sierras with a group to do trail maintenance on probably the last day we could get in. There had been about three inches of snow yesterday and it was completely beautiful, with the trees frosted like giant Christmas trees and the ground carpeted with snow. The following photo, taken with my iPhone from its windshield mount, doesn't begin to capture how pretty it was...

I am tired, so will leave you with that...

-- Badtux the Beauty-admirin' Penguin

Bashing Avon

Okay, this is sort of out of place here, because usually the bands I feature here are pretty much unknown or if they're now known, they were unknown when I first featured them. This is Queens of the Stone Age with their song "Avon", live, with Dave Grohl (ex-Nirvana, Foo Fighters, etc.) sitting in on the drums and bashing the shit out of them. What can I say, somehow I managed to get on this song and was, like, "fuck, he's beating the shit out of those drums, I gotta put this on my blog" even though this video has over 2 million views. So it goes :).

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, November 04, 2011

Another vet almost killed by Oakland PD

This time they got a Ranger, Kayvan Sabeghi.

Now, the spin the officials are going to put on it is "he was violent and resisting arrest and thus had to be subdued by force." At which point I ask: Where are the bodies?

Uhm, bodies, you ask? Yes, bodies. If a U.S. Army Ranger is violent, people die. That's sorta the whole point of being a U.S. Army Ranger. And lest you say, "but he was unarmed and the policemen were armed!", dude. That doesn't matter. Not at all. If you're close enough to a Ranger to put your billy club on him, if he wants you dead, you are *DEAD*. Period.

Those cops are damned lucky that Sabeghi was *not* violent, or there would be a *lot* of funerals today. One of them undoubtedly Sabeghi's, but probably five or six cops woulda ended up dead too before they got him down. So keep that in mind as the officials spin and spin and spin. Rangers are hardcases. If a Ranger decides on a course of violence, there *will* be bodies. There are no bodies here. Draw your own conclusion.

-- Badtux the Military Penguin

Update: Aside from being a former U.S. Army Ranger, Kayvan is a small businessman who co-owns a popular brew pub and was walking towards his home when he was accosted by the police. So we ain't exactly talkin' about no dirty fuckin' hippy here, we're talkin' about the Oakland PD did the beat-down not only on a war hero, but on a genu-wine JOB CREATOR. Yay Oakland. If you was tryin' to solidify your claim as the hellhole of California, u're doin' it rite.

Low down

Justin Townes Earle, "Mama Said". Got that old time low down flavor to it, but not coming up with where it came from at the moment... just that Hank Williams, Townes, and Justin's daddy are beamin' about now.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Non-violence and the State

The problem with violence is that all you have is whatever hand weapons you can gather, while The State has fighter jets, tanks, bombs, and atomic weapons. Violence is a loser's game unless you have an external source of support to provide you with weapons and money (since you'll have to somehow pay for the ammo to keep the weapons working), or unless there is a good chance of the security forces of The State coming over to your own side -- in which case they're in the driver's seat, not you, and typically Bad Things Happen (i.e., usually it's *not* an improvement).

It is far, far better to simply take over the State -- i.e., co-opt its members, elect your own to office, refuse to vote for anybody who accepts corporate money, etc. -- than to do violence against the state. The former is possible -- that's pretty much what the Christian Taliban did to take over, after all, they took over the State via non-violent means. The latter, on the other hand, is just a recipe for disaster. Even if you win, you lose.

- Badtux the Non-violent Penguin

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Some apparently necessary rape prevention tips

Yeah, women are always getting lectured about what *they* should do to prevent rape, but what about rape prevention tips for *guys*? Here's a few tips:

  1. If you're walking alone at night and you see a woman walking alone, DON'T RAPE HER
  2. If you come across a girl who is too drunk to consent, the safest course of action is to NOT RAPE HER
  3. If you see a woman in a short, tight skirt - even if she's not wearing underwear - DON'T RAPE HER
  4. Don't put drugs in women's drinks.
  5. If you pull over to help a woman who's car is broken down, try to remember to NOT RAPE HER.
  6. Carry a rape whistle, so that if you feel as though you are about to rape, you can blow it and call for someone to come stop you.
  7. Use the buddy system! If you're unsure you'll be able to keep yourself from raping, go with a friend who can step in and stop you from assaulting women!
  8. Just to be safe, never climb through a woman's bedroom window, jump out at her from an alley, or stalk her on a dark street with the intention of raping her.
  9. If a woman yells STOP, DON'T, or RAPE, take this as a cue to STOP RAPING HER.
Hopefully this clarifies the situation a bit, yo?

- Badtux the Sadly Snarky Penguin


Celebrity wars

The Decemberists "16 Military Wives" off their 2005 album Picaresque.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Waiting for the explosion

I've previously talked about the concentration of wealth -- about how 60% of Americans are dirt-poor, lack access to the fundamental capital to make anything of themselves due to everything being hogged by the top 5% and especially the top 1%, and how this is not a tenable situation in a democracy. I view OWS (and to a lesser extent the teabaggers) as a symptom. People are seeing that things are getting worse for most people while certain people (the 1% in particular) thrive, and they don’t know what to do about it, so first thing they start doing is complain about it — the OWS protests. The oligarchs are betting that putting down the OWS protests with force will make everything okay for them, but the problem with that notion is that OWS is a symptom, not a cause. Suppressing OWS won't relieve that pressure building up underneath, it will simply deny it an outlet -- and it will keep building until either there is an explosion and Very Bad Things happen, or the oligarchs are forced to impose a police state so blatant and obtrusive that the notion of America as a free country would be ludicrous to even the ill-informed.

OR the oligarchs could come to their senses and realize that their current route is to either the guillotine or irrelevance. The guillotine if the explosion happens, and irrelevance if they impose a police state. Because the end game of police states is always the secret policemen taking over — see, e.g., Vladimir Putin in Russia, and the imprisonment or exile of many of the Russian oligarchs who crossed swords with him. The only solution that would allow our oligarchs to preserve their own importance is to return back to the New Deal regime of regulation and taxation that served the nation so well in the period 1945-1981, but that would require our oligarchs to be smart, and due to inbreeding (less than 10% of our oligarchs got there because of merit, the rest got there because of winning the lucky sperm contest and being born rich or going to the right school with the right people and getting a "Gentleman's C" like Dubya), they’re not all that smart anymore…

Americans have figured out the game is rigged, and they want it fixed. They want the America of their parents and grandparents, when hard work and education provided you with a living. If something isn’t done to take us back to when that was so, all hell will break loose, with uncertain results. Well, let me rephrase that. The results will be *disaster*. Because I can't think of any violent revolution, anywhere, that has ever ended up well. They always ended up with thugs of the worst kind in charge. Maybe mailing Marie Antoinette Action Figures to the CEO's of the Fortune 500 and to every Senator and Representative would make that clearer (note that the outcome of the French Revolution was *disaster* for France -- virtually every French male between ages 18 and 35 ended up *DEAD*), but frankly I doubt that our feudal overlords are smart enough to "get it". More likely they'd just arrest you for terrorist threats or some shit like that...

- Badtux the Waiting-for-the-explosion Penguin

Childeish Farewell

In the tradition of old English folk music, Cath and Phil Tyler sing "Farewell My Friend". This one is fairly recent and you can see how Cath isn't nearly as young as she was in the video from two days ago... but she still has her voice, that much is for sure.

Okay, I promise I'll get away from pre-American-Revolution folk music shortly, this one just sort of falls out of the prior two days. You know how those connections work....

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Fucktards at Chiseler Corporation...

... had a design defect in the OBDCII wiring for the 2005-2006 Jeep Wrangler which won't allow the heated O2 sensor readiness test to complete and thus the Jeep won't pass emissions, but the fucktards want to charge an arm and a leg to implement the TSB that fixes the issue -- which involves cutting the crossed wires and un-crossing / re-soldering them so they go to the right place. And of course because emissions testing is only required for cars that are 6 years of age or older, I detect this bullshit on their part only after the emissions warranty (5 years / 50k miles) is over.

A word of advice to anybody wanting to buy a car from Chiseler Corporation: DON'T. These asswipes are the most crooked, evil sons of bitches on the whole fucking planet. I can't *BEGIN* to list the ways that they refuse to stand behind the quality of their piss-poor piece of shit products. Anybody who buys one of their products better damn well know how to do their own work and how to fix shit themselves, because their dealers just swap out one defective part for an equally defective part over and over again (like the gas tanks on the 2001-2010 Jeeps that can't withstand E10 gasoline as mandated by the Feds in many locations, it causes the check valve gasket inside the tank to swell and stop sealing, meaning that a) it's no longer crash-worthy and b) gas spits out the hole when the tank is full, instead of the check valve stopping it). You also better be damn good at fabricating your own replacements or fixes for parts that were defective from day one and still won't work today, such as the oil pump drive assembly in the 2005-2006 Wrangler, which is completely broken and will ruin your cam unless you fabricate a way to lubricate the top end of the assembly (which is sealed WITHOUT ANY LUBRICANT AT ALL and will eventually seize). Chiseler is *STILL* selling defective OPDA units *TODAY* that will ruin your camshaft just as surely as taking a sledgehammer to it.

So anyhow: To anybody thinking that Fiat's acquisition of Chiseler would change things: It has. FOR THE WORSE. Fiat completely cut off ALL independent mechanics, who no longer are allowed to use the scan tool needed to repair recent-model Chiseler products (only authorized dealers can get the web site authentication codes needed to download the codes and definition files into the new tools), and Fiat/Chiseler *NO LONGER SELLS FACTORY SERVICE MANUALS FOR THEIR VEHICLES*. None. Nada. Nope. Zilch. If it breaks, they require you to take it to the dealer, period, so that the dealer can swap in *ANOTHER* defective part identical to the original that is *GUARANTEED* to break and cause major damage.

Summary: If you buy a Chiseler Corporation product, you're fucked in the head. These are some evil sons of bitches. You want a product from a company that's doing it right, that stands behind their product, buy a Hyundai/Kia (Kia is owned by Hyundai, different nameplate). Just sayin'.

If there was any alternative to the Jeep Wrangler as a serious offroad vehicle, I'd buy it -- but, alas, there isn't. Not sold in the United States, anyhow. Suzuki refuses to bring in their Jimny ever since Consumer Reports panned it as "dangerous" (it used to be sold here as the "Samurai"), Land Rover Defenders and Mercedes G-classes are selling for six figures here because only the most luxurious models are imported (not the basic cheap models sold elsewhere) and aren't as good offroad as a Wrangler in any event, and so forth. It just pisses me off that I have to support Chiseler Corporation in order to pursue my hobby of ghost-towning and mine exploration, sigh!

-- Badtux the Wrenching Penguin

An old, old story

This song predates the American Revolution. Music historian Tim Eriksen set it to guitar (the original would have been accompanied by lute) but sings it in much the original style. "I Wish The Wars Were All Over".

-- Badtux the Music Penguin