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Yay Google:

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A link to the actual song itself. Which, uhm, is an anti-war song decrying the violence that invariably accompanies war, and the people in undisclosed locations who invariably are the ones who profit from war.

This is the kind of bullshit that has Congress and the President investigating Big Tech. I thought we were through with all this censoring of anti-war songs after Pete Seeger was allowed to sing “Where Have All The Flowers Gone” on the Smothers Brothers Hour in the late 1960’s after decades of being blacklisted. But I guess we’re in a new Gilded Age where being anti-war is once again a reason to be censored, because war is good for their profit margin. Yay.

– Badtux the Censorship Penguin

I have been vaguely following the recent Britney Spears conservatorship stuff. Talk about a sordid mess. It’s clear her father only views her as his money bags and wants to retain control over her in order to continue exploiting her for money. Her father got the conservatorship because Britney was a bratty drug-addled neurotic mess, but it’s clear that nobody around Britney has her best interests in mind, just their own.

I also viewed a documentary, "Once Aurora", which follows a young Norwegian pop singer (ages 18 thru 20 at the time) through two years of her life as her management tries to build her up into an international superstar. What struck me was the difference between her life and that of Britney Spears at her age. Like Britney, she was pushed to perform to the point of exhaustion by male managers around her. Unlike Britney, she’s not a bratty drug-addled neurotic mess, her parents have a comfortable life in a beautiful home overlooking a beautiful fjord and have no desire to exploit her, only to support her (they are not wealthy, being a midwife and a garage door salesman, but nobody in Norway is truly poor like here in the United States), and even her manager, while grumpy and pushy, seems to have a respect for his young protege’ that only grows over the course of the documentary even as he is disagreeing with how tightly she is controlling what’s going onto her next album.

Then I think about the cultural differences involved here. In Norway, nobody is truly desperate. Aurora’s management could dedicate years to building up their young charge and thus give time for that mutual respect to arise between management and their young singer as they try to make her into an international superstar because Norway’s social safety net meant that nobody had to worry about being hungry homeless and starving. Aurora’s parents have a comfortable life without any input from Aurora’s money because of Norway’s egalitarian society thus have no incentive to exploit her. Thus the Aurora of this documentary seems surprisingly level-headed given the situation that she finds herself in. Yes, she’s on a bit of an emotional roller coaster, teenage girls do that drama thing really well, but all things considered she’s maintained her sanity and self-worth surprisingly well because Norwegian society is supportive, not exploitive, and while she has the record industry types trying to exploit her she also has that support from her entire society. Norwegians may consider her weird, but they also consider her one of their own.

Meanwhile, the United States is a dog-eat-dog world where you have to make all the money you can make as soon as you can make it because there’s always going to be a new face to take your place. Poor Britney was exploited from day one as her parents used their little moneybags to build an affluent lifestyle for themselves. She never had any opportunity to just be herself. The end result was the self destructive behavior that we saw once she managed to temporarily wrench herself out of their control — shaving of head, quickie marriage, etc. – and the continued neurotic and self-destructive behavior we see from Britney even as it becomes clear that the conservatorship is no longer necessary in order to protect her from herself.

If American society was more supportive rather than so exploitive, we wouldn’t burn through our most talented youth so quickly. Who knows what Britney Spears would have accomplished if most of the people around her had been supporting her rather than trying to exploit her? But then, if American society was more supportive, we wouldn’t be America, I guess, for better or for worse.

– Badtux the People-watching Penguin

* The documentary. I really can’t recommend actually buying it unless you’re fangirling over Aurora because honestly who needs to spend that kind of money just to learn about some Norwegian pop star, but pirate versions are available elsewhere on the Internet if you’re curious. 

Pure silk

"A 19-year-old girl without any prior professional music background did this. She wrote the lyrics, composed the melody, sang the song in the purest way that humans expected to connect with: no instrument, only the voice alone. It is not only beautiful. it’s magic."

Just a quibble — she was signed when she was 17, so technically she has two years of professional music experience by the time of this performance. But no formal vocal training, no formal training in songwriting. Her voice is pure silk….

Badtux the “Wish I could sing that well” Penguin

My subconscious invented a new kind of zombie last night for my morning nightmare: the Returns Zombie.

It’s five years after the zombie apocalypse. Civilization is returning, sort of. With the collapse of governments after the politicians were turned early in the epidemic because of their insistence upon glad-handing with their constituents, even the walking dead ones, there are no police forces, just private security forces like ours. We handle the hard problems — as long as you pay us. So we’d been hired to clear out an old big box store and secure it for re-opening.

Call me Slade. I was a trouble-shooter for the Company. When the ground troops ran into a situation they couldn’t handle, they called me in. And this one looked like a doozy — I counted at least two dozen blood-spattered officers standing around looking grim, most wearing body armor and carrying shotguns.

"What’s the situation, sergeant?" I asked.

"Grim, sir," the sergeant replied. "I lost two good men in there. There’s just too many of them."

Well, we had ways of handling mass zombie infestations. The owner of the building might not like our methods but (shrug). He hired us to get rid of the zombies, not to keep his building intact. I know. I read the contract on the way over.

"Brains zombies?"

"Worse, sir. Returns zombies."

I shuddered in horror. Returns zombies. The zombies of middle aged women with "I demand to see the manager" haircuts, the magpies of zombies. They collected random junk and demanded "Return…. return…." and you had to take the junk and give them a pile of cash for it or they turned into deadly screeching horrors. We’d tried giving them a store voucher for their returned goods. Once. We lost five good men that way before managing to pull back behind an armored door for two days as they moaned "Manager…. manager…." outside the door before they finally lost interest and wandered off.

Okay, we knew how to handle returns zombies. We needed a kill box. And a lot of money. Luckily returns zombies aren’t really good with numbers. A pile of one dollar bills will satisfy them even more than a single hundred dollar bill. It’d take a few hours to round up that much money but the problem was solvable.

So I sent out some men looking for a nearby kill box, and radioed headquarters to round up the cash. It wasn’t as if dollar bills were worth anything except as toilet paper anymore, after all. The current currency was potatoes. Money you could actually eat was far more practical in today’s age. There were potato banks that issued potato vouchers against the potatoes in their vaults. Luckily returns zombies haven’t figured out that potatoes — or potato vouchers — are more valuable than the dollar bills they covet. Too bad for them, but good news for us.

—-

– Badtux the Fiction Penguin

I live in a suburb slightly to the south of Oakland California, and our police department sucks up 48% of discretionary spending in our city. (36% of the total budget, but there’s things like bond repayments that aren’t discretionary). Our PD isn’t brutal and corrupt like Oakland’s, but they’re utterly ineffectual. You call them about anything — illegal fireworks, illegal sideshows, whatever — they whine that they don’t have the manpower to do anything about it due to Defund The Police, despite the fact that the PD’s budget is the highest that it has ever been in our city’s history and has not been cut or re-directed at all (our mayor is like 90 years old and doesn’t hold with any of that newfangled social work stuff).

What it is, is that they’re sulking because those meany Black Lives Matter people said bad things about them. Like fucking toddlers throwing a tantrum, they’re just smack on their back in the middle of the grocery store aisle screaming and throwing their arms and legs around because Mommy wouldn’t buy them the latest sugary cereal and instead told them they were going to eat a healthy cereal, young man. Geeze. What a bunch of crybabies….

Honestly, at this point I think “Defund The Police” would be a good idea. If they refuse to do the job even when we give them the highest budget in our city’s history, why have them?

— Badtux the “If the PD isn’t doing the job, why have them?” Penguin

Apart from the thousand or so people executed by the police every year, there are tens of thousands who are brutally beaten each year to the point of needing a visit to the ER. Many of whom are guilty of nothing but contempt of cop.

And this happens nationwide, even in supposedly “liberal” states like California.

— Badtux the Brutality Penguin

Cops are quick to say that if it wasn’t for them, we would be overrun with criminals. That overlooks two things: Misters Smith, Wesson, Colt, Winchester, and Mossberg, all of which are more effective at stopping crime than a cop who is 30 minutes away, and the fact that cops suck at doing their job in the first place — they manage arrests and convictions in only 2% of major crimes.

I want effective cops, cops who catch and convict criminals, not cops who think their job is killing unarmed black men and beating dirty hippies. But it seems like I am not going to get my wish. Today’s undertrained roid raging officers aren’t capable of getting the job done. It’s time to re-think policing and start over from scratch because it’s clear today’s police are incapable of reform — we have been trying for decades, and it just ain’t happening.

— Badtux the Pragmatic Penguin

May be an image of text that says '1,161ews.13h WORKER.EXE HAS CRASHED UNEXPECTEDLY Next WORKER. YOU STRESS LEVELS ARE RISING. YOUR PERFORMANCE IS FALLING. REPORT TO THE MINDFULNESS BOX FOR A BREATHING EXERCISE IMMEDIATELY. THIS TIME WILL BE DEDUCTED FROM YOUR BREAK. Gizmodo Gizmodo 1d Amazon Introduces 'AmaZen' and Zen Booths for Its Overworked Warehouse Staff dlvr.it/ dlvr.it/SZC6f Mindful Practice Room FASTENM torecharge the internal battery.1'

Amazon noticed that workers were taking too long of breaks to pump milk, make quick phone calls home, etc., so they have installed these portable break rooms closer to where their serfs err workers are working in order to reduce the time it takes to get to a break room.

— Badtux the Serfin’ USA Penguin

“These are people who go out everyday and do a job most of us shutter at as it is incredibly dangerous, all while trying to keep our streets and cities safe for the law abiding people! You seriously are trying to compare a police officer’s job hazards to a carpenter? A roofer? Or fishermen?? Wow! I guess I live in a different “bubble”.”  — Judy in Newark CA

Dear Judy:

I’m talking about actual numbers from OSHA and actual numbers that I personally compiled from the Officer Down Memorial Page, which claims to have information on every single police officer who dies in the course of duty. They both say that the job of police officer is not as dangerous as many other jobs with similar educational requirements and you have a much lower chance of being murdered as a police officer as you would have as an average citizen of Oakland, California. If you refuse to believe the numbers because they do not agree with your personal biases… (shrug). The numbers remain the numbers.

I will say that the job of a police officer is not easy. It’s a job that requires a combination of both diplomacy and firmness to be done correctly, and you’re usually dealing with people who are… unpleasant. But the numbers don’t lie — it’s not even in the top ten of most dangerous jobs, whether you use OSHA’s numbers or plug the raw data from ODMP into a spreadsheet yourself.

If your police officer friends say different, ask them how many officers they’ve personally known who died on duty, and what did they die of. My guess is that no police officer of your personal acquaintance has ever been murdered while on duty — only three Fremont police officers have ever died in the line of duty all back in 1970’s, one of them was a heart attack and two of them were auto accidents, while no Newark police officer has ever died in the line of duty, and the last Alameda County Sheriff’s Department deputy who was killed in the line of duty was Deputy Sheriff John Paul Monego who was murdered on duty in December 1998 and is the only Alameda County sheriff’s deputy to ever be murdered on duty in the past 100 years. Most current police officers in the Fremont and Newark police departments have never personally known any police officer who was killed in the line of duty for good reason — because it’s a fairly rare event.

– Badtux the Alameda County Penguin

During 2020, at least 110 American journalists were arrested or criminally charged in relation to their reporting, and around 300 journalists were assaulted, the majority by law enforcement, according to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, of which CPJ is a founding member. The Tracker is working to verify more than 930 total incidents in 79 cities.

These are numbers that you would expect from a 3rd world police state upset about press coverage of their heavy-handed actions, not from a supposed advanced democracy. About the only ray of sunshine in the whole situation is that while American journalists were arrested in unprecedented numbers last year, at least they were not being summarily executed.

Yet.

— Badtux the Serfin’ USA Penguin