Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, October 04, 2003
It Is Written That In The End Times...

that in the fountain of light in the desert of the lands beyond the sea that a great white tiger shall attack its master and yea, verily, open him like a seventh seal at an all-you-can-eat seal buffet.

Get well soon, Mr. Horn, and reconsider that retirement.

And no, honey, we don't have room for any more stray maneaters.

(Link seen on Fark.)

Friday, October 03, 2003
Sorry I Didn't Clear This Up in Time

My apologies to whomever searched for what is the difference between hasta luego and hasta la vista? and clicked through to find my review of Flappers 2 Rappers by Tom Dalzell.

Briefly, hasta luego directly translates into "Until then," which is a casual farewell.

Hasta la vista, bebe directly translates into "Until the vision (or viewing)," which is a casual farewell. What is "the vision," you might ask? The Rapture? Don't ask me, Professor Michaels was too busy trying to knock the schwa out of our mouths and to make us understand that idiomatic expressions do not directly translate to explain the origin of Spanish idiom.

So there you have it. Both mean "Catch you later." Except one's "Take it easy" and the other is "Peace, out."

Hope that clears it up for you.

The E-Mails Were Right

I have increased the size of my unit by 4 inches!!!!

Well, I have finally replaced the 15" monitor with a honking 19" flat screen model. I'd promised myself one once I finished my novel, but it's taken me a year to get around to it.

Not to channel Ravenwood or anything, but man, I remember when our color televisions grew to 19".

And our mothers wouldn't let us sit this close to them, much less for 10+ hours a day.

Ha, ma! Joke's on you, huh?
Oh, sorry, ma'am, you looked like my mother until I got within six inches of you.

Wait Till I Bring The Heat Gun Into The Office

A link via Instapundit leads me to this story. Although it's about the fallilbility of voting machines, the author thinks the voting machines should be subject to the same sort of scrutiny as electronic slot machines:
    One such outside auditor is Gaming Laboratories International (GLI). To certify a new device, or even a software upgrade, vendors send GLI all of the source code, all of the tools needed to build the code, maybe a development computer, and even an in-circuit emulator if that's how you debugged your code. Expensive? You bet. Accurate? It sure seems to be.

    GLI tears the design apart, digs into the guts, finds back doors impossible to isolate via testing and ensures the customer will lose by exactly the amount specified. Tests check both functionality and threat resistance. Technicians zap every square inch of the gaming machine with a 27 KV prod - because cheaters often try to rip off the devices using ESD to confuse the electronics. GLI jimmies the coin box, and generally simulates all of the attacks observed by those hidden cameras in the casino's roof. That's regression testing of a whole new order.
That's the right way to conduct your quality assurance testing. I wonder if GLI is hiring? I figure the logical progression for my career is to cause actual physical damage. Maybe UL needs a thug.

Regardless, while my resume travels in the mail, I am inspired to bring in a heat gun to work tomorrow to see how the application works when I am flipping bits.

Thursday, October 02, 2003
Buy That Man a Guinness

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Anheuser-Busch has decided not to contribute to Missouri Governor B. Holden's re-election campaign because he vetoed the concealed carry bill. The legislature, of course, overrode that veto, but seems that August A. Busch III is a sportsman and a citizen concerned with his personal security and he's in a punishing mood. Anheuser-Busch as a whole supports candidates like it sponsors sports teams, that is, it gives money to all of them. Except, now, B. Holden.

Title this lesson Beer Baron with Bling Bling Likes Bang Bang, Bye Bye Billy if you like.

Let it be said that I was so pleased with the story that I almost bought a sixer of Budweiser tonight to reward Anheuser-Busch for its stand, until I realized that I cannot drink it and that the other attendees of El Guapo's mixer-sixer party this weekend would beat the bud out of me if I contributed an Anheuser-Busch product while drinking their ten-dollar-a-six-pack contributions. Skull Splitter, anyone? Not me, thanks!

Nationalize the Groceries!

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports on the hardships caused by the closings of Kohl's Food stores (not affiliated with the expanding Kohl's Department stores, and neither of which are affiliated with Senator Herbert Kohl, but it's a long story):
    Fifteen years ago, Mary Brown sought out a senior housing apartment in a neighborhood where she could shop, offering stores she could reach by walking.

    That option disappeared in August when South Milwaukee, a community of 21,000, lost its only major grocery store - the Kohl's Food Store on S. Chicago Ave.

    It's bad enough that the closing, one of 23 Kohl's supermarkets that were shut down, now means a trek to another city - Cudahy's Pick 'n Save or Potter's Piggly Wiggly in Oak Creek - to fulfill a basic need for food. [Emphasis mine]
Insert klaxon sound here. So closing this grocery, which could not make money, has left seniors without the means to fulfill a basic human need, soon to be a basic human right, that is, a grocery store within two blocks of your home, whether it can survive as an ongoing concern or not.

The obvious answer is Foodicare, a new program designed to keep everyone well stocked, or at least give them the ability to fulfill their basic human need without crossing municipal borders and paying sales taxes somewhere else.

I may sound a little snarky, but I empathize, I really do. I mean, to get the really cool exotic beers, I cannot go the Casinport Schnucks. As a matter of fact, I have to go all the way to Creve Couer, to the Dierberg's, a drive of ten minutes!

Once Foodicare becomes law, and I have given up work since taxation levels will have reached such heights that I will have to pay money out of my own pocket to hold down a job, there will be booze within walking distance, and I'll never have to be sober again! Which will qualify my to serve in government, or at least to write violinic pieces in the paper about grocery stores closing and the hardship that presents the glitzing customers.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003
Geek Introspection

Suburban Blight has led me to some introspection:

You are Red Hat Linux. You're tops among your peers, but still get no respect from them.  It's all right with you.  You have your sights set higher.
Which OS are You?

International Politics, Simplified

Michael Williams provides a course on international affairs: International Affairs for Geeks 098: Neutral Good in a Lawful Evil World.

I am looking forward to the expansion of the curriculum to include economics (Platinum versus Gold versus Electrum: Inflexible Exchange Rates and You) and foreign languages (Bree Yark is Goblin for Surrender).

Remember, They're Men of the People

Not that I want to harbor grudges, but remember that Bill Clinton and Al Gore are champions of the working man and the middle class as opposed to the Republicans.

Bill "I never had a nickel until I left the White House." Clinton, who obviously thinks that the $250,000 annual salary accruing while he lived, traveled, and ate free for eight years is a living wage.

Al "I think I will spend $70 million on a cable network" Gore.

Hell, you don't even feel my upper middle class pain, much less the pain of my friends still working for $10 an hour in their thirties. So go smeg off, you class armchair generals.

(Gore post seen on Drudge.)

Tuesday, September 30, 2003
And Two Minutes for Charging

A tragic accident occurred in Atlanta. A promising young hockey player, just a year or so removed from Rookie of the Year and scoring a bucket of goals in the All Star Game, runs his Ferrari into a wall at 80 mph. It's not as tragic as it could have been; he's only got a broken jaw, but his passenger is in critical condition with a fractured skull. They're lucky to be alive, and with any luck they'll remain so.

But here come the prosecutors....
    Atlanta Thrashers star Dany Heatley was charged Tuesday with reckless driving for veering off a road and slamming his sportscar into a wall at about 80 mph -- a crash that left him with a broken jaw and teammate Dan Snyder critically injured with a skull fracture.

    Heatley was also charged with serious injury by vehicle, a felony, and three other misdemeanors -- driving too fast for conditions, driving on the wrong side of the road and striking a fixed object, according to the police.

Striking a fixed object?

Once again, the legislators in their attempts to do something! about crime have given prosecutors bolts of felonies and swatches of misdemeanors to properly accessorize every ill event. Instead of double jeopardy, we have a larger charge accompanied by an exploded view of its component parts. Common sense would indicate that reckless driving comprises driving too fast, leaving your lane, changing lanes without use of the directional signal, and then striking a fixed object, or maybe just narrowly avoiding a fixed object which is a undoubtedly a lesser charge. But before the myopic eyes of the law, these are all crimes in and of themselves.

Kind of like when an estranged husband shoots his wife and gets murder one, using a gun in the commission of a murder, using bullets in the commission of a felony, disturbing the peace, and failure to pay future child support. Slap enough coats of felony on anything, and it will look guilty.

So in addition to having to live with the emotional consequences of his actions, Heatley's now eligible for a Gordie Howe length career in the penal hockey league. Prosecutors will say that these tough laws will make kids think twice about believing they're immortal and driving fast. Because kids have already discounted their own deaths and the crippled and crushed bodies of their friends and have have dismissed the deterent within those threats; a couple years in jail? That's real to the young.

Criminey, the first person to run for office with the stated goal of eliminating three quarters of our redundant and superfluous laws earns my indentured servitude. I am getting tired of having my personal attorney preceding me everywhere and identifying each and every infraction I might commit and running the complex multiplication necessary to determine my total sentence if I jaywalk and cross outside a designated crosswalk at the same time while walking an unlicensed bike.

Monday, September 29, 2003
A Toast

To the Chicago Bears, for keeping up your end of a noble tradition and losing gracefully to the Packers.

You guys played your guts out. Unfortunately, you didn't have many with which to start.

Sorry, Pejman, but it was foreordained.

Sunday, September 28, 2003
Die Hard

John McClane says:
    If you catch him, just give me four seconds with Saddam Hussein.
(Link from Right We Are, who seem to not realize I have them on my blog roll.)

(Speaking of John McClane, what could he do on a Deathstar? A question only a geek would speculate.)

(Also speaking of John McClane, Die Hard IV? Oh, baby!)

Book Review: Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

No, I have nothing better to do than to read Russian short novels, which run about 150 pages of translated, well, Russian writing. And I don't just mean the Russian language.

Notes from the Underground starts out with a 20-30 page commentary on the nature of man, at least as perceived by a Russian narrator, or more to the point, a Dostoyevsky narrator. John Galt's speech, it ain't. This particular narrator breaks down the fourth wall, so to speak, and addresses the reader of his notes directly and patiently builds a case that madness really is the only possible way to defend free will. For if scientists can eventually describe the means by which each man and woman will act in his or her own preceived self-interest in each situation, the outcome is always predetermined by the individual, the perceptions, and the situation. So madness would be the only random number generator (my words, not Underground Man's and not Dostoyevsky's nor his translator's).

I can see how this appeals to college students. On the other hand, I am no longer a college student, so I have little time to sit around saying, "Whoa." Nor am I driven any longer to explain the use of the first part of the novel as a means of discrediting the double-effect narrator who then goes on to rationalize his particular Soren-Loves-Regina, Soren-Spurns-Regina (that's Kierkegaard, you damn kids!) episode. Fortunately, though, I don't have to write those sorts of papers any more, and I don't have to feel guilty for wishing there was just one double homicide with a missing witness that the hero, a down-on-his-luck former police officer turned security guard (with Kirk Guard, maybe) must track down. But I would settle for some narration for crying out loud. Maybe a plot, Fyod?

Part 2, the second movement of the novel, takes us into an example of the narrator's boorishness. As if the first half of the novel didn't. The second part has other characters, to whom the narrator can act as a boor, and then the narrator ends up in bed with a prostitute he might love, but to whom he must be a boor and then whom he ultimately rejects so he can pursue his scholarly life, which seems to be perfecting the art of boorishness. Personally, I only made it through the thing because I'd read Crime and Punishment previously, so I wasn't sure whether this guy would snap and kill his former classmates, his man, or the prostitute. Maybe two of them at once, and then the cobbler on the corner would see it and flee to a retreat on the Caspian Sea..... Never mind.

With this book, I think Dostoyevsky's making fun of academics, but the ultimate irony is that only academics read this mockery of academics.

I spent over a week trudging through this short novel. I've gotten the satisfaction of having read something normal suburban types in middle America don't read, so I flout the stereotype laid upon us by academics. I wouldn't recommend it as a read for everyone, though, unless you want to severely put off your friendly informal book club by recommending it and then cribbing some of the lines from this piece (think it over, El Rojo).

Any Man Who Quotes P.J. O'Rourke Is a Wise Man

Robert Prather quotes P.J. O'Rourke. One more reason to visit Insults Unpunished.

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