Badtux the Snarky Penguin

In a time of chimpanzees, I was a penguin.

Religious fundamentalists are motivated by the sneaking suspicion that someone, somewhere, is having fun -- and that this must be stopped.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Musings from a major city

I walk out the hotel, past the security guard, and head uphill towards the Denny's. I step over a white surgical glove. I decide I want to learn what is going on in the world, and walk past the Denny's towards the gas station on the corner to buy a newspaper. I cut across the parking lot. There is a spot where the cashier of the gas station and anyone in the Denny's can't see. There are needles and syringes scattered all around on the asphalt.

People, if you are going to shoot up, will it kill you to pick your shit up? That's just, like, fucking *gross*, y'know? I realize that if you cared about being nasty and disgusting and gross you wouldn't be shooting up, since shooting up is guaranteed to make you nasty and disgusting and gross, but c'mon, people. Have a little fucking pride, okay?

Meanwhile, right-wing politicians continue to pound their fists upon their podiums and demand more prisons, more police, more penalties. Dudes, that shit ain't working. Those fucking needles in the parking lot are proof enough of that. Like the war in Iraq, the war on drugs just ain't working, and ain't been working for, like, THIRTY FIVE FUCKING YEARS now. More of the same ain't gonna make it work one damn bit better. It's time to admit defeat, and do something else. Like, say, treat addiction as a medical problem, not a criminal problem, and quit trying to outlaw something that losers have proven capable of acquiring anyhow despite all our attempts to stop them. Playing Big Brother just, in the end, does not work. All it does is make me have to step over syringes and white surgical gloves in the parking lot of a Denny's in a big American city when all I fucking want to do is buy a paper to read with my breakfast.

But crap, that's just me making sense again, and we all know how much use that is...

-- Badtux the Realist Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 7/02/2007 08:56:00 PM  6 comments  

Sunday, June 17, 2007

War Porn

War. Death, destruction, killing. To quote a great poet, "War. Huh. What is it good for?"

War does not create. War does not add anything. All war does is destroy. All war does is consume. War does not help economies, because everything created to fight wars does nothing to make people's lives better. Instead, the bullets and bombs and weapons are destroyed by the act of using them, as if the output of those factories had simply been thrown into a bottomless pit. War takes wealth, and turns it into murder.

Yes, murder. I use that word. War is murder. War is the taking of human lives. War is blood and guts and dead children lying in streets and the smell of piss and shit and the screaming of women and wails of children as they die in the crossfire. War is starvation and thirst, as the supply lines of civilization that keep civilians alive collapse in a hail of bombs and bullets and children shit their lives out in the street from drinking contaminated water and women are shot in the head and guts as they venture out of their homes searching for water and food for their children. Those who fight wars do not do anything glorious, unless you are the serial killer Hannibal Lector and believe that the removal of human life from this planet is the most reverent and sacred act that can be done. War is organized murder committed by governments in pursuit of whatever interests the leaders of those governments are pursuing.

Those who fight wars stink. Literally. For the warrior, war means that bathing becomes a seldom-done thing. The cake of dirt and rancid sweat and oil turns your hair into an oily greasy stuff on top of your head that, trapped under your helmet, fells like some sort of animal clasping your scalp. The acrid smell of rancid body oil and sweat and dirt is a bitter taste in your mouth (your nose has long since shut down and no longer smells it). Your underwear is filthy with urine and with feces because toilet paper is in short supply on the front lines. Sometimes you lay on top of your shit -- if your squad is pinned down and you can't move and you gotta go, well, it's a case of shovel a little dirt out on one side of whatever hole you're hiding in using the butt of your rifle, roll over, drop pants, dump, wipe with whatever you got to wipe with, roll back over, shove a little dirt back to try to cover it up enough to keep from squishing it all over you when you move around. This is oh so glorious and glamorous. And never seen when the war porn comes on.

If the war porn -- the movies, video games, and books that describe war -- ever tried to reflect the reality of war rather than some airbrushed glamorized fiction, people would run screaming from the movie theatres. Teenage boys would stare in shock at their video games as their brother or sister or mother or father were dismembered by a bullet in front of their face, begging for mercy, begging for a bullet to put them out of their misery. But of course the war porn does no such thing. Instead, it paints war as glamor and courage and bravery, as a glorious quest that turns a boy into a man.

And so we soak in war porn, every day. War porn comes on our evening news, a curiously sanitized pornography where war happens, yet nobody dies, where there are no dismembered bodies of children lying around on the ground after a 500 pound bomb blows up a daycare, where the men fighting the war look like movie stars instead of people who are very much in need of a bath, where the smell is never described. The smell. Ah yes, the smell. It is, indeed, lucky for the war pornographer that television has no way to transmit smells.

And so the death and destruction goes on, and everybody salutes and goes "hip hip hoorah!" as the war porn plays on their movie and tv screens. And the word "war", which should be a filthy word like "cunt", "nigger", "fuck", and "bitch", instead is used as a word for glorious quests like the War on Drugs, the War on Terrorism, the war on... well, I suppose this is all appropriate, in a way, since the War on Drugs, War on Terrorism, etc., involve the mass destruction of thousands of human lives as white American claps and says "Yeah! Another porch monkey caged! Another spic sent to jail! Another sand nigger killed like a dog! U S A! U S A!". But the horror of war is not, of course, what most people think of when they see the word "war" used in this way. Instead, all they see is the airbrushed glamor of the war porn in which they are immersed each day.

And so it goes, in the Delusional States of America, land of the war porn and home of the sheeple...

-- Badtux the Porn Penguin

Comment on this over at the Mockingbird's place

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Posted by: BadTux / 6/17/2007 11:28:00 PM  

Monday, April 23, 2007

Weeds of Mass Destruction

niCk (Mem Beth) suggests legalizing growing marijuana for your own consumption since it's a victimless crime.

Silly niCK. Marijuana makes you feel good. If it makes you feel good, it must be Satan's handiwork, like dancing and women wearing pants. Worse yet, it's a method of feeling good that doesn't require sending large sums of money to Big Pharma for Happy Happy Pills, since it is literally a weed that you can grow on your own on your back porch. Big Pharma employs hundreds of thousands of people and pays hundreds of millions of dollars of bribe money to politicians every year. So not only would legalizing marijuana be doing Satan's work, but it would also hurt dozens of hard-working legislators who would have to work for a living instead of live off the Big Pharma payroll, it would hurt dozens of millionaire Big Pharma executives who'd lose a few thousand dollars of their bonus money, but most importantly, it'd hurt all the regular working people who work for Big Pharma, who would lose a few cents off their paychecks if Big Pharma could no longer sell Happy Happy Pills by the bucketload.

Knowing all that, I have just one question for you, niCK: Why do you hate America?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 4/23/2007 07:58:00 PM  10 comments  

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Mechanism and policy

In the light of day, my previous message seems a bit alarmist. First, it was a response to the 2nd amendment nuts who say that guns defend against tyranny. As I showed, guns are useless against tyranny. The Shiites of Iraq had guns. We now know just how *many* guns -- the country was freakin' FLOODED with guns, piled high and deep in everybody's garden with ammo to match. That didn't help them against Saddam's tyranny.

Still, there are some easy objections to make. First of all, the police forces of the United States are highly decentralized. It seems unrealistic to believe that the mechanism of a police state is already there. Yet the War on Drugs proves that even this decentralization is, in the end, a fraud -- by offering the appropriate carrots to state and local governments, the federal government has managed to get pretty much every law enforcement agency onto the same page.

The next thing that comes up is, "but surely the police would refuse to enforce a stupid or oppressive law?" Ask the black residents of Birmingham Alabama how many policemen refused to enforce the oppressive laws that prohibited black people from having equal rights. Hint: None. Zero. If it is the law, police officers will enforce it, even if it's a law as stupid and ridiculous as outlawing a naturally growing herb or mushroom that anybody can obtain just by walking in the woods. The "War on Drugs", and, for that matter, New York City during the RNC convention when thousands of people were snatched off the streets by police officers and taken to internment camps for the duration, proves that what was true when Police Chief Bull Connor released his thugs against civil rights marchers in 1963 is just as true today. If the law says to do it, they will do it. Policemen who have a problem with that do not stay policemen, they leave the profession.

So the mechanisms are there. What is lacking, what seperates the United States from being a police state, is the policies. Our political processes have not turned this mechanism against ordinary citizens in a major way because our political processes, while creaking towards the precipice, are still a ways away from completely collapsing into such disorder that a "strongman" can come forward and gain the support of the majority of the people in order to restore order. Any government, in the end, depends upon at least the willing aquiescence of the majority of the population in order to continue existing. Saddam was not popular, but the majority of Iraqis clearly had no problem with him being their Dear Leader (otherwise, as we have found out, they most certainly had the weaponry to depose him at will), because he maintained a safe and orderly society, and for most people that's all they care about. Most people don't care about these lofty philosophical ideas and stuff. They just want to work, eat, raise their children. They just want to be left alone. All that is necessary is for a sustained political collapse to occur with resulting disorder, and the police will not only enforce the dictates of a strongman -- but the majority of the populance will support them in this.

The mechanism is there. All that is necessary to put it into play is policy. And that's a scary-assed thing to see, because it gives major players in the political game the incentive to speed the collapse of the political process. Dear Leader is just a symptom of a game that's being played, and I suspect we will see far, far worse in the future, especially as the economy starts to crumble under the weight of Peak Oil...

-- Badtux the Apocalyptic Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 4/04/2007 10:56:00 AM  0 comments  

Practicing for a police state

Three words: War on Drugs.

Here is how it works. There is no knock on the door. Instead, a heavily armed and armored tactical assault team surrounds your home in the dead of the night while you are asleep. They cut the power and phone off, then simultaneously with stun and flash grenades smashing through your windows, officers smash through your door with a battering ram, followed by other heavily armed and armored officers. As you stumble out of your bed, blinded and deafened, said officers bring their weapons to bear upon you. If, at that time, you try to bring your own weapon to bear on them, you are dead, period.

Every day, this happens somewhere in America. The people this happens to typically are vicious and well armed criminals, far more accustomed to killing and violence than you and I, but they go down, and they go down because the tactics of police state America have been perfected. No matter how many weapons you, or I, gather in our home, we have as much chance against these tactics as the criminals they are being tested upon, because the police have the advantages of surprise, concentration, and effective body armor. All that is awaiting is the order. All that is awaiting is the order on official paper from a judge, saying to round you up for the camps.

And the police will read that order, then they will come for you. Because that order will say you are a criminal, and every policeman knows his job is to round up criminals. Police officers have spent the past forty years building up a collective culture of disdain for civilians as cops left the streets for police cars and riot gear and became heavily armed paramilitaries complete with tanks and assault weapons rather than members of the community. A police officer handed a judge's "no-knock" arrest warrant to round you up will do it. Period. And if you dare attempt to resist, you will be dead. Period. That is how it works in police state America. The mechanisms are all there. All that is lacking now is someone saying, "Begin", and setting the wheels in motion.

Hopefully that day will never come, where the word comes down. But the mechanism is in place. And, like a professional full-time standing army (which George Washington warned about as a danger to the nation), sooner or later someone will decide to use it...

- Badtux the Apocalyptic Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 4/04/2007 01:00:00 AM  3 comments  

Friday, March 02, 2007

What can we do about out-of-control schools?

That is a question asked by The Quaker Agitator. I have some answers. Not answers that he, as a practitioner of non-violence, is likely to agree with, but answers.
  1. Acknowledge that for a significant number of students, the correct environment is more akin to a juvenile detention center than to a traditional school. This isn't a popular notion, but I should not have been required to teach students who had probation officers due to having committed violent crimes. Neither my principal nor myself had the training nor the backup personnel or facilities available to deal with violent criminals. These students need to be in a more institutional setting where there are personnel trained to deal with violent criminals and "timeout cells" available for removing violent criminals to spend time if they disrupt a class. They don't need to be in neighborhood schools where they disrupt the education of children who wish to learn.
  2. Fix the system of discipline for special education students. The current system gives perverse incentives to principals to refuse to discipline said students, because if the student is suspended or expelled the district is require to provide home schooling for the student, and the money to do so is taken directly out of the school's budget. With 20% of students now "officially" being classified as ADHD, there is a hard core of "special ed" students who will basically tell you, as a teacher, "you can't discipline me" -- and they're right.
  3. Fix the system for financing schools. Right now, schools are financed on either a per-pupil or average-daily-attendance basis depending upon the state. This gives a principal a perverse incentive to not expel (or in ADA states suspend) a violent student, because if he expels a violent student, he loses money for educating the kid. Losing $6,000 out of the school's budget due to expelling a single student might mean, for example, that the school is no longer able to purchase toner for the copiers, we're talking a big deal here. Principals should continue to receive money for students who've been expelled or suspended due to discipline infractions.
  4. Fix the basis for assessing principals' performance in the discipline arena. Discipline assessment should not be done by counting up the number of suspensions and expulsions and patting the principals on the head if they have fewer suspensions and expulsions than their peers. Assessment of principals should be done by, for example, issuing survey forms to teachers where said survey forms are then turned in anonymously so that they cannot be tracked to a particular teacher (otherwise retaliation becomes an issue). Principals should not be rewarded for ignoring discipline problems, but currently they are.
  5. Quit deferring to criminal parents. I'm serious. There are a significant number of parents who have been convicted of violent crimes, who are currently drug abusers, or otherwise not suited to make any sort of positive contribution to the education of their children. Yet when their child is disciplined, they are quick to come to the defense of their child in ways both legal and non-legal, both with threats of violence (mock drive-by shootings are quite effective there) and with threats of legal action. In many cases the principal and school administrators back down. Instead, those parents need to be arrested for making threats, and there should be mandatory jail time for threatening school personnel, rather than the current situation where at best a judge will fuss at them and fine them. Violence is one area where I support the notion of zero tolerance.
  6. Require local police departments and judges to properly protect schools from violent criminals. Often local police departments simply refuse to respond when a principal or teacher calls them due to violent crime happening on-campus, basically saying "none of our business." But violence is the reason police departments exist in the first place. If a student is behaving in a violent manner, the police need to respond, and if they do not, there needs to be a legal infrastructure in place so that top police department personnel can be punished for refusing to respond.
  7. End the War on Drugs. The War on Drugs rewards kids for violent behavior, as they use violence to defend their "turf" from others who would sell drugs in that neighborhood. Often this violent behavior is brought into the schools themselves. We need to quit rewarding violence.
Some of these are going to be controversial. The notion that children can be violent criminals who need to be treated like violent criminals, for example, is offensive to many people who insist that children are innocents and not capable of evil. But reality doesn't care about us being offended. Reality simply is.

Chances of ANY of this happening? None. Nada. No way. Everybody prefers to simply stick their head in the sand and refuse to admit we have a problem with violence in our schools. Far, far better to ignore the problem than admit that it is a problem, and that we're going to have to spend time, effort, and money implementing often-controversial proposals in order to solve it. And so it goes here in the United States of Delusion, where reality is something that other people worry about...

-- Badtux the Former Teacher Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 3/02/2007 12:40:00 PM  9 comments  
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I am a black and white and yellow multicolored penguin making his way as best he can in a world of monochromic monkeys.

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