Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, June 21, 2003
Jewel 0304: The Review

As some of you might know, I purchased the new album from Jewel Kilcher, 0304, when it came out three weeks ago. A member of my adoring public (which means if it ain't you, it's the other one) asked for a full review of it since I, after listening to it once or twice, gushed enough to convince him to buy it. He hasn't spoken to me since. Let this be my apology.

Jewel's got a new sound, as you have read elsewhere. Her other albums have been folksy, with her voice and subtle acoustic guitar giving her a subtle, breathy sexiness in her love songs (think "Morning Song"). When I first heard 0304, with its dance beats and a more confident sexuality in songs like "Leave the Light On", "Sweet Temptation", or "2 Become 1", I thought, wow! It was something akin to seeing the little sister of your bestest buddy blossom from a cute kid into a woman.

Unfortunately, after a couple more listens, the song "Yes You Can" sticks in my head. The song's a celebration of dance club/rave culture casual sex. Suddenly, it's akin to seeing the little sister of your bestest buddy blossom from a cute kid into a woman who happens to be a prostitute. Ick.

Maybe prostitution's a good analogy. After all, she's changed her music and her image to target a demographic instead of trying to please her core audience with some expansion (Dr. Thomas to emergency, please; Dr. Thomas to emergency).

She's sacrificed some of her other, more thoughtful songs about things aside from chasing members of the opposite sex. No "Hands", no "Down So Long", no "Who Will Save Your Soul" (her best song, period). The album changes pace (allowing listeners to recuperate for a minute and slam some ginseng and saw palmetto) with "America", but I saw the same Songwrite-By-Numbers kit in K-Mart.

So I'm disappointed with the album, but it's not all bad. Jewel can carry a playful dance number when she uses her manic voice. You know the one I am talking about. The less breathy (although still breathy), with clear, aggressive notes ("Who Will Save Your Soul" and "Hands"). When she tries to mesh her plaintive voice ("Adrian") into the bubbles of notes and backbeat, it fails. Fortunately, she stays away from the bleats. After all, the albums all about coming together for a night, not breaking up badly.

I give it a two of four whatevers, and I am disappointed because I expect a little more from Jewel. I listened to Pieces of You over and over again, for crying out loud. I hope it's only a departure, as do many of the reviewers on Amazon. I guess it will depend upon whether her new audience is bigger than her old audience.

On Second Thought, Nat....

Maybe it's not a good gamble to demand renegotiation on your recording contract, threaten to return to Australian serials, and hold your breath for more money since you're a big star based on your 1998 album Left of the Middle and your two hits, "Torn" and "Wishing I Was There."

It might be more of a bluff than you think, and if they call you on it, your career might be in real trouble.

Since They've Won The War On Terror

Obviously the FBI has some time to get music swappers.

After all, when smart constraints remain on federal law enforcement of civil offenses, the terrorists will have won!

(Pointer from Techdirt.)

High School PoilitiAngst

Brian's plog--paper log, aka "journal" (because boys don't keep diaries)--entry for January 5, 1989:
    I just heard on the radio that it's two weeks until Reagan leaves office. I have been an admirer of his and true to Dean (Theologian's) [a BBS friend, you damn Internet era whippersnappers] prediction, I have a Reagan-[George H.W.] Bush picture over my mirror. I sincerely hope Bush can handle the country, especially with the new Libyan pressures--the two jets downed yesterday and all [story].

    I wrote my secret pal yesterday & she ought to get it today. That's only my third for the year. The Honor Society Hit Squad oughta get me.

    Up to 50 degrees today! Gawd! It's only January! We need some snow for snowdays.

    Th-th-th-th-that's all, folks!
Yessir, I am easily influenced by what I read, and the Henry Reed series of books (read much earlier than my junior year in high school, thank you very much--as I recall, my tastes around then were fairly heavy into mystery, as my essay "Meeting Robert B. Parker" attests). I started journaling several times in high school, and this particular stretch (my junior year) captures some political thoughts. The remainder is daily life in high school.

Which is why I appreciated my visit to Jared Myers' PolitiBlog. It's got a conservative political bent, but exposed in the life of a high school student. It's the journal entries I would write today, were I short of a score of years.

Oh, yeah, and Wednesday is Hot Conservative Chick Day.

Except he's forgotten the hot Libertarian-esque babes Heather, Rachel Lucas, and Virginia Postrel. Or maybe he just hasn't gotten to them yet.

(Link seen on InstaPundit.)

Friday, June 20, 2003
Kerry's Boolean Criteria for a Fillibuster?

Oh, and check out the Boolean construction in his criteria for a fillibuster. It's not really clear. He'll fillibuster a candidate who
    ((would turn back the clock on a woman's right to choose OR would turn back the clock the constitutional right to privacy OR (would turn back the clock on civil rights AND individual liberties)) AND would turn back the clock on the laws protecting workers) AND would turn back the clock on the environment
That's a pretty convoluted criteria, and a pretty tough one to meet. I reckon no candidate would, which means Kerry's algorithmic condition will never be met. No fillibuster(String supremeCourtNominee) method call at all!

Senator Kerry Threatens to Deploy Evil Kerrybot

Drudge has pointed to a story in which Senator John Kerry, in which the Vietnam veteran claims:
    "I am prepared to filibuster, if necessary, any Supreme Court nominee who would turn back the clock on a woman's right to choose or the constitutional right to privacy, on civil rights and individual liberties and on the laws protecting workers and the environment," Kerry said in remarks via satellite at a meeting of Democratic party officials in St. Paul, Minn.
As you know, Senator Kerry's full-time job these days is running for the Democratic Party's presidential nominee. This requires nationwide, or at lease extra-DC, schmoozing, gladhanding, speechifying, and fundraising--all things you cannot do while not yielding the Senate floor.

Hence, I can only infer that he is planning to unleash an android replica of himself to do one or the other since he cannot be in all those places at the same time.

I just threw in the evil part because it makes the copy snappier. We all know Senator Kerry is not truly evil, just misguided.

Schoolchildren Learn About Suburban Pettiness

Another suburb of Milwaukee is suffering from a shortage of Paxil. Residents in Cerdarburg have created a petition complaining that the colors of playground equipment are too colorful.

If it's not the color of a duck blind, suburban Milwaukee communities don't want it. Heaven forbid their property values not rise as quickly as the next drab suburb over.

Future Brave Man Washes Out of Training

In Florida, a group of kids were swimming in a river even though they could see alligators nearby all day. Of course, when they saw the alligators, they got out of the water. Except for the toughest of the bunch, who might have been trying to prove his bravery. It didn't work out for him.

Do you think we'll get a summer of Alligator Attack! hype from this?

Thursday, June 19, 2003
Scandal: Defects Uncovered During Testing!

Headline on CNN: Missile misses target, officials call it a success. Implication seems to be that the officials (military-techno-industrial complex!) are, um, Mooring the truth a little, too say the least.

After all, the lead intones:
    The Missile Defense Agency conducted a missile defense test over Hawaii Wednesday, and while the warhead did not strike the target, officials said they still considered the exercise a success.

    "I wouldn't call it a failed test, because the intercept was not the primary objective," said Chris Taylor, a spokesman for the MDA. "It's still considered a success in that we gained great engineering data. We just don't know why it didn't hit."
Well, the missile test also did not:
  • Fix the economy.
  • Prevent the Oracle hostile takeover of PeopleSoft.
  • Repair France's image problem with American tourist money.
  • Vote for my slogan at IMAO.
However, none of these was the objective of the test, and hence none represents criteria for success. The engineers, who are working on the project, probably have a reasonable idea of where they are in the development cycle. As a matter of fact, the officials indicate (but are not quoted in their own words) as saying:
    Three previous flight tests were successful, Taylor said, but they used an earlier version of a system to control the warhead's aim and maneuvering. Information from the earlier tests was used for a new design of the system, which was used in Wednesday's test, the Defense Department said. [Emphasis mine]
So the MDA or its engineers redesigned a part of the system and are testing it out for the first time? Note how CNN uses a "but" conjunction in the quote above. I wonder if the second clause, or whatever source from which it came, opposed the first clause. I doubt it. I suspect criteria for the test might have included things like the operations of the independent systems within the interceptor.

No matter the criteria in this individual test, I am glad to see the flaws shaken out before the system's deployed. If the MDA hadn't caught this flaw now, it would have made living in Los Angeles or Seattle much more dangerous a couple years from now. Permanent shadows don't log defects.

Maybe the media should understand the goals and process of testing before they start pontificating.

J. Bradord DeLong: Fellow Minion of Sid

In this column in Wired, DeLong admits his problem:
    In the spring of 1994, I wiped the game Civilization off my office computer. I wiped it off my home PC. I wiped it off my laptop. I threw away the original disks on which it had come. It was clear to me that I had a choice: I could either have Civilization on my computers, or I could be a deputy assistant secretary of the US Treasury. I could not do both. It wasn't that my boss ordered me to - she herself played a mean game of computer solitaire. In this, I was the boss, and I had decided that with Civilization on DeLong's hard disk, DeLong's productivity would be unacceptably low.
I, too, have struggled against Civilization since my esteemed spouse convinced me to install it on my old 486. And then Civilization II. And now the accursed Civilization III.

There have been times when I have removed it so I could better discipline myself to spend more time writing than manipulating little civilizations into conquest or other policy. When I have had to rebuild my computers from software or hardware disaster, I have often delayed putting it back on, but the la belle game sans merci hath me in thrall (sorry, Johnny).

I think he says something else in the piece, but I only saw the name of the game before feeling the compulsion to start a game. The CD's already in the drive, don't you know?

Shareware's Triumphant Return

A CNN article describes how shareware is making a comeback. Well, duh!

The shareware distribution model makes a lot of sense. Smaller applications, many of which are home grown at first, have lower development, marketing, and distribution costs, and the author of the software can pass the savings on. Best of all, you get stripped down versions to evaluate at your leisure for free and for an unlimited time.

It's hard not to appreciate it. Hey, I have been a fan of shareware for over a decade. I still have the original Duke Nukem and Cosmo's Great Adventure loaded on my Windows 2000 box, running in all their two dimensional scrolling glories. Not only do they it run as well on my Athlon 1000+ as on my 286-10, but the replayabilty remains. Todd Replogle, where have you gone?

Hopefully not off somewhere to write the interchangeable first person shooters, like Duke Nukem 3D. I hope you retired off of your old Apogee earnings before sinking to that level.

(Link seen on /..)

Moore's New Tautology Thriller

In defense of his comedy Bowling for Columbine, which critics have pointed out sometimes reflects reality kinda like Silly Putty does, Michael Moore has been quoted as saying "The facts in the movie are correct."

With that in mind, I would like to add:
  • Michael Moore won an Oscar for his work.
  • Michael Moore is a gnork.
  • Morpolians from the third planet of the Ponolia system have begun controlling the thoughts of auditors who count voting results for the Academy.
I assure you, the facts in this posting are correct. The ad hominems and outright fictions, on the other hand.....

Thought for the Day

Courtesy of the Chicago Sun-Times' Richard Roeper:

"The true definition of multi-tasking is to do several things half-assed, all at once."

Wednesday, June 18, 2003
J.K. Rowling Closes Gap to $1 Billion The Easy Way

Authoress J.K. Rowling, whose prowess with fascinating people with 11-year-old boys rivals Catholic seminaries, is closing in on becoming the first billionaire author and has discovered the fast track to wealth. It's not the book royalties or the merchandising rights after all. It's $100 million dollar litigation.

She's suing a newspaper for leaking details about the latest Harry Potter novel for $100 million dollars. Give me a schnucking break.

Oh, and Scholastic's gonna punish retailers who break the rules:
    Retailers signed agreements not to put the book on sale early, with Scholastic threatening to punish violators by withholding timely shipments of future Potter books.
Pah! I always like Tab book club better. Neener neener neener.

Rainwater: Bad or Bad?

Compare and contrast our flood with the Rybarcyzk flood.

We're keeping up with the neighbors, all right. Except Bob doesn't have an Arkanoid or a Heavy Barrel, and he cannot do an Agent Gollum, so I remain King Geek of Casinoport, Missouri!

Thought for the Day

Thinking outside the box is not so good when you're a house cat.

Support Heather's Modeling Dream

Go over to IMAO right now and vote for my slogan entry. If I win the tee-shirt, Heather will get it and will model it in a tasteful and suitably tasty manner. So you see, it's not for me, it's for Heather. All for Heather.

Gangsta Kitsch

St. Louis Magazine has a story in its June issue (not yet online) about St. Louis gangs in the 1920s and their wacky whackings. Written in sepia-prose and laid on a parchmentesque watermark, this piece romanticizes a bloody bunch of men and their battles to control crime, which included mail truck robberies and control of the illegal drug market, which meant alcohol trafficking.

Contrast that with gangs today. Rap music, particularly gangsta rap, idealizes the lifestyle, and I suspect most people who turn to St. Louis Magazine to find dining plans or interior design ideas don't care for gangsta rap and probably hate and fear the thought of current gangland violence.

Is the difference in gang perception based on race? That is, does middle America prefer its gangs Irish instead of another, differently-colored minority?

Maybe a little bit, but I reckon it's more the long, long ago in galaxy far, far away aspect of it. Egan's Rats and the Cuckoos, whose the survivors have died of old age by now, aren't a current threat to law abiding, SUV-driving folk, but today's gangs are.

Someday, I imagine our descendants will read about drive-by shootings with the same amused interest, thinking "Shooting from a car with a nine millimeter pistol! How quaint!"

Tuesday, June 17, 2003
Meanwhile, Back on the Twisted Elephant Ranch

Congresswoman Mary Bono, who is almost the Jean Carnahan of California, is going to start a congressional caucus on property rights and music piracy even though she's rumored as under consideration as head of the RIAA.

Orrin Hatch Crosses All Lines

It's not clear which portions of the Bill of Rights or Constiturion Orrin Hatch considers sacred, but given his interest in allowing RIAAvens to destroy the computer of someone who downloads copyright songs illegally, I could only answer for certain "Article I, Section 3."

Choice quotes from the linked article:
    During a discussion on methods to frustrate computer users who illegally exchange music and movie files over the Internet, Hatch asked technology executives about ways to damage computers involved in such file trading. Legal experts have said any such attack would violate federal anti-hacking laws.

    "No one is interested in destroying anyone's computer," replied Randy Saaf of MediaDefender Inc., a secretive Los Angeles company that builds technology to disrupt music downloads. One technique deliberately downloads pirated material very slowly so other users can't.

    "I'm interested," Hatch interrupted. He said damaging someone's computer "may be the only way you can teach somebody about copyrights."

    The senator acknowledged Congress would have to enact an exemption for copyright owners from liability for damaging computers. He endorsed technology that would twice warn a computer user about illegal online behavior, "then destroy their computer."

    "If we can find some way to do this without destroying their machines, we'd be interested in hearing about that," Hatch said. "If that's the only way, then I'm all for destroying their machines. If you have a few hundred thousand of those, I think people would realize" the seriousness of their actions, he said.
So Senator Hatch, a legislator, wants to cede law enforcement, the duty of the executive branch of the government to private industry. Further more, he wants that private industry to punish a civil offense with damage to personal property (I cannot fight the bold font any longer) without due process and without a warrant (illegal search and seizure).

He wants this to protect an industry that's doing its best to hang itself with mediocre music, boy bands, American Idol, and targetting an audience with no disposable income but with Kazaa.

I wish I lived in Utah so I could vote against him.

    "There's no excuse for anyone violating copyright laws," Hatch said.
Hang 'em high, Judge Roy Bean. Make it a capital strict liablitly offense then.

Monday, June 16, 2003
Excessive Fairness

Aristotle said, "Everything in moderation," and the bureaucrats at the forthcoming People's Democratic Republic of Europe know that since a little moderation is good, a great deal of coerced moderation must be better. Hence, they want to moderate every type of Internet site to ensure that both sides of any issue get equal time to express their viewpoints. CNet's Declan McCullagh has the details.

As I have said before, some think that the linchpin of democracy was the unlegislated mandate called the Fairness Doctrine.

Of course, the same people tend to think that your property, whether it's your radio station or your Web hosting, does not belong to you, it belongs to the hoi polloi, and they get to administer the application of your limited rights to your own property. You're not qualified to decide who gets to speak on your time and your dime.

Sunday, June 15, 2003
Hear, Hear

The only gift I could think to give would be another long, long day fishing, maybe 13 years ago.

It was Father's Day. Love them if you've got them. Tomorrow, too.

Has It Been Seven Years Already?

Wow, it's been seven years since G.J. Meyer published his book Executive Blues: Down and Out In Corporate America and detailed how much it sucks to be laid off from a six figure salary and how he couldn't find a job.

Now Fortune is reporting it's still tough when you're white-color unemployed. Especially if you're white-collar and formerly of high title and high salary.

Once, when I was a young man in college, sitting in the lobby of one of the halls that house classes on the campus of Marquette Univeristy, peddling doughnuts to support a fledgling literary magazine, and undoubtedly trying to win the affection of one of the interchangeable English-major blondes, a security guard imitation cop stopped at the imitation doughnut shop and gave me a bit of advice for which my upbringing and general outlook had prepared me: always have more than one potential source of income. Actually, he probably said "Have more than one pot on the fire," or some other cliche, but as a recovering English major, I hate to repeat it verbatim.

I can, however. summarize the lesson. The gentleman related his life story, or at least his C.V., while eating a doughnut. He hadn't gone to college, but he'd joined the National Guard. Throughout his tumultous employment career, he'd had the one-weekend-a-month-two-weeks-in-summer pay as well as a variety of part-time positions in addition to whatever full-time job he held at the time. Although his life, to that point, comprised the period from the 1960s to the early 1990s, he'd seen enough ups and downs to know that the world didn't owe him something since he was present.

Of course, he didn't have the $40,000 parchment, so one could easily dismiss the ramblings of an overweight rentacop in a grey parka. But when a security guard talks about security, and not just in the physical sense, perhaps one should heed. As both Meyer and the heroes of the Fortune piece could attest, parchments and titles don't offer true security in a turbulent, evolving world.

Personally, I have held innumerable positions in numerous fields, including printing, shipping/receiving, grocery stores, IT, and magazines. I have a handy mix of blue collar skills and mad money skills. Whatever the job market, I will find something, even if it means something less than what I have now. I have also dodged the bullet of getting an superdooper title. Many cash-strapped companies will give you an esteem-building title instead of giving you a raise. Becoming Vice-Mechanic of Doc-U-Matics would make it much more difficult to simply be a Doc-U-Matic somewhere else, and I have deked when appropriate.

So I doubt I'll ever have time to write a book or talk to another writer about being out of work and suffering without my ludicrous paychecks coming twice a month. I'll be too busy working.

(And as my esteemed spouse has indicated, she has some mad 733t skillz at transcription and biscuit making, so no matter how the economy turns, we'll have a hovel to call home.)

What Does The Singular Iranian Mind Want?

According to the BBC, to whom I was pointed by Instapundit, it wants US intervention in its uprising against the ruling theocracy.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which I get delivered on weekends because, well.... hmm, I'll get back to you on that, the Iranian people does not want US intervention in its uprising against the ruling theocracy.

Which is it? The answer is Yes.

Because The People of Iran is not an It, they're a They. Because the individuals within any group of people, especially a group narrowly defined based on ethnicity, location, or nation, hold different and often contradictory positions on any number of issues, you can probably attribute any sentiment to The People and not be wrong.

However, it's an interesting way of flushing out a "journalist" and his or her own personal biases. Whenever reading one of these pieces, you can determine the point of view closest to the heart of the "journalist" (not counting limited omniscient, which is the Point Of View many journalists think they have). The "journalist" projects this sentiment to the People.

Mark Sanford in 2008

I wish our governor was as frugal as South Carolina's Mark Sanford.

Our governor keeps wasting red stamp ink on the budget cuts he keeps vetoing.

To say Noggle, one first must be able to say the "Nah."