Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, November 08, 2003
Meanwhile, Back In Eden

A peaceful, frolicking lion in the Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, Missouri, kills the female lion that shared its cage.

It's the circle of life, it's the wheel of fortune, and the lioness landed on Bankrupt.

These are the animals to whose level some in our society would like to return.

Friday, November 07, 2003
PSA from MfBJ

Apparently I am the #10 Google hit for heroin warning signs.

Why would anyone think that?

Gah! My Eyes!

My site, in French.

Who would do such a thing?

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Looks like there's a whole book on poor governance that pillages American citizens. has a story from the author of Mugged By The State: Outrageous Government Assaults On Ordinary People And Their Property (christmasList.add(book)).

Read it and weep.

Clinton Says

Appease North Korea....make our children pay for our perfidy.

Thanks, bud. Go back to private life now, and keep your bad ideas--which didn't work so well when you implemented them--to yourself.

(Link seen on Drudge.)

Hope for Skinny People Everywhere

Scientists on way to developing obesity pill

(Link seen on Drudge.)

Proud to Fly American

Apparently, there's some feel-good story circulating that tells of how ordinary people supported soldiers on leave by giving up their seats on flights out of BWI to the traveling soldiers. Hmm. Here's the story, according to Snopes:
    Dear Friends and Family,

    I hope that you will spare me a few minutes of your time to tell you about something that I saw on Monday, October 27.

    I had been attending a conference in Annapolis and was coming home on Sunday. As you may recall, Los Angeles International Airport was closed on Sunday, October 26, because of the fires that affected air traffic control. Accordingly, my flight, and many others, were canceled and I wound up spending a night in Baltimore.

    My story begins the next day. When I went to check in at the United counter Monday morning I saw a lot of soldiers home from Iraq. Most were very young and all had on their desert camouflage uniforms. This was as change from earlier, when they had to buy civilian clothes in Kuwait to fly home. It was a visible reminder that we are in a war. It probably was pretty close to what train terminals were like in World War II.

    Many people were stopping the troops to talk to them, asking them questions in the Starbucks line or just saying "Welcome Home." In addition to all the flights that had been canceled on Sunday, the weather was terrible in Baltimore and the flights were backed up. So, there were a lot of unhappy people in the terminal trying to get home, but nobody that I saw gave the soldiers a bad time.

    By the afternoon, one plane to Denver had been delayed several hours. United personnel kept asking for volunteers to give up their seats and take another flight. They weren't getting many takers. Finally, a United spokeswoman got on the PA and said this, "Folks. As you can see, there are a lot of soldiers in the waiting area. They only have 14 days of leave and we're trying to get them where they need to go without spending any more time in an airport then they have to. We sold them all tickets, knowing we would oversell the flight. If we can, we want to get them all on this flight. We want all the soldiers to know that we respect what you're doing, we are here for you and we love you."

    At that, the entire terminal of cranky, tired, travel-weary people, a cross-section of America, broke into sustained and heart-felt applause. The soldiers looked surprised and very modest. Most of them just looked at their boots. Many of us were wiping away tears.

    And, yes, people lined up to take the later flight and all the soldiers went to Denver on that flight.

    That little moment made me proud to be an American, and also told me why we will win this war.

    If you want to send my little story on to your friends and family, feel free. This is not some urban legend. I was there, I was part of it, I saw it happen.
Sounds nice and patriotic, but let's zoom back into the announcement from United, shall we?
    "Folks. As you can see, there are a lot of soldiers in the waiting area. They only have 14 days of leave and we're trying to get them where they need to go without spending any more time in an airport then they have to. We sold them all tickets, knowing we would oversell the flight. If we can, we want to get them all on this flight. We want all the soldiers to know that we respect what you're doing, we are here for you and we love you."
Let's separate the United "we" from the American people "we" for a moment, and translate that shall incensed blogger "we"?

We, a failing corporation in a failing industry now offer some shoddy customer service; as we, said failing corporation, have overbooked the flight to maximize our corporate revenue at the expense of the convenience of our customers, now ask you to give up your tickets to our customers because we American citizens all want to support our troops, right?

What a cynical, manipulative bunch of hooey.

I Feel Pretty

Tiny Little Librarian has led me to the following realization:

girl next door
You are the Girl Next Door. You're the sweet one.
The quiet one. The one that he doesn't realize
he's got until you're gone.

What Type Of Retro Gal Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Wednesday, November 05, 2003
All Your Rights Are Belong to the State

More property rights hijinks. This time, a man who refused to remove junk from his yard is sentenced to a year in prison. He's completely framing it as a property rights issue, and whereas I dispute the aesthetic appeal of the man's "cause," I have to agree. Trying to force him to remove his unsightly possessions from his property--and then seizing them and selling them at auction-- violates his right to own junk. I mean, raw materials for his art.

I really snicker at the judge, though, who said at the sentencing:
    He [the judge] also said it was Davis' neighbors who were victimized - not Davis.

    "What you've done, sir, in my judgment, has torn at the moral fiber of the community, of the state."

    Stephenson held up 21 letters from neighbors, complaining about Davis.

    "You have caused them psychological damage," the judge said.
Moral fiber? Sounds like moral tissue paper, which could be rent by a stiff breeze. And what kind of support group or therapeutic drugs do you prescribe for a freaking neighor with a messy lawn? I mean, with the new perscription drug fiasco coming soon to a protected class near you, the every other house in Jefferson County, Missouri is going to be dopes up, and the other half will be in jail.

Who Is That Again

In his column entitled Tiffany Trips Up: CBS's problems are bigger than "Reagan.", John Fund quotes some member of Congress to flying buttress his argument against CBS, specifically the ill-conceived The Real Beverly Hillbillies:
    Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia suggested that, instead, Mr. Moonves program a reality show that relocated network executives to "the sticks," where they would have to find a job. Mr. Moonves admitted the "phenomenal" opposition to the show left him "pretty surprised."
Doesn't Fund mean the old, out-of-touch, slow-drawling former member of the KKK pork-hauler Robert Byrd?

Come on, as a conservative, you're supposed to bury this seizure, not to quote him as a relevant thinker.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003
Re-Elect This Fellow, Stat!

In Arizona, a county rented some space for a court, and when it couldn't come to an agreement with the land owner for a lease, it opened up a can of eminent domain and took it over.
    "This means municipalities can identify a space they want and force a landlord to lease it to them," said Mike Freret vice president of development for Orsett/Columbia Ltd. "It may mean that if the space they want already has a business owner in it, they could boot them out." Tom Irvine, who represented the county, said that's exactly what it means.
Finally, the tyrants are feeling comfortable to explicitly state their belief that The State grants property rights. Soon, the Bill of Rights will also be recognized as retractable fiats issued by the Elect(ed).

Most important right, and it's only in the Constitution indirectly. That oversight will cost us and our children.

Makes Perfect Sense

This explains why Heather's sultry babe and I am an unshaven slob barricading himself in his office.

It's those five four cats.

And Trevor Linden Is Henry Cameron

This week, a reader asks John Buccigross:
    I never thought I would read a hockey piece with a reference to Howard Roark. If you were to cast the Fountainhead of the late '40s with contemporary actors, whom would you choose? What current hockey player would you have to play Mr. Roark?
To which Buccigross responds:
    Howard Roark was tall, strong and uncompromising. Actor: Ben Kingsley, minus 20 years and plus five inches (He's 5-foot-8). There are no tall, strong, young, uncompromising actors today. Hockey player: Todd Bertuzzi. He plays like he doesn't care if anyone likes him. I love that.
Interesting theory. What about Scott Mellanby?

Hair the color of an orange rind is so hard to come by, and it's awfully hard to see hair color under the helmets, wot?

Monday, November 03, 2003
Which Dictator Am I?

Funny you should ask. Kevin at WizBangBlog led me to this self-discovery:

George Bush

You're not the sharpest tool in the box and often have to make up words to make yourself understood but you certainly know how to work the system as a Mr. President Bush.
You take what you want, get people to do your dirty work but nurture your allies making you a great collaborator and very dangerous enemy.

But that's George W. Bush in the picture. Hmmm. Evil dictator. Hmmm.

Want To Get Away?

Although this guy doesn't care much for winter, I have to tell you, I would trade what he's got for what I have.

Eighty degrees in November. I have the windows open and the ceiling fan on. Cripes! It's November, the ninth eleventh month.

I don't even have weight in the back of the pickup truck (sans stars-n-bars, Howie). What's the point? It will just get wet when it rains for Christmas.

What's a Wisconsinite to do?

Momma and Pappa Bear Were Depressed

Okay, it's not a quizilla thing, but while I was hanging around on MSN, checking Bill Gates's sofa for hundred thousand dollar bills that might have fallen out of his pockets or from the books in which he uses them as bookmarks, I came across an important headline: Are you among the 19 million depressed? I just had to know! Come along with me, then, as I take the test.

17 million! That's a more exclusive bunch than lottery winners, if you factor in dollar and ticket winners. I want to join!
Most of the time? No one told me this was going to be a math test.

Let's see, I spend a third of my time sleeping, so that means if I spend half my waking time sad, that's only 33% and not most. Let's see, I spend 14% of my waking time angry at the crazy other drivers, and 32% furious at thoughtless cretins in the government or who want to get into the government who would dictate my life better than I do, 10% in alcohol-fueled mellowness, 2% in alcohol-fueled blackouts (wherein I could be sad, to be honest, but this is only 2% against the total), and 18.5% of the time in vague meloncholy (is that sadness? What are the parameters for sad?).

Is that 100% of the, just put down No and then click Submit. Interesting button choice. Submit!
Do I have trouble doing or enjoying the things I used to do? I've always been a lazy sack of crap, and it just gets easier.

Man, this question must certainly suck for former athletes or people who peaked early.

Never make it to the crest, and you never have to go down hill, I say, so I click No.
That about covers my life. Sometimes, I stay up until midnight writing even though I get up at five to go to work, and then when I am on vacation, it's arise at ten, nap from noon until one, nap from five till six, and then go to bed at one or two. The Good Life.

Kinda funny that if I don't get exactly the right amount of sleep might be a sign of depression. Might also be a sign of ambition or a life.

At any rate, I must click Yes.
Losing or gaining weight? Once again, the only way to not be depressed is to be status quo.

Personally, I like to attribute my weight gain to any or all of the following:
  • Getting married to an excellent cook.
  • Turning thirty.
  • Getting a desk job.
  • Taking six servings of "breads and cereals" in liquid form each day.
Of course, it could be the depression.

Also, my appetites have changed; I prefer dark beers to pilsners. Why oh why do I go on?? Oh, because it's only question 4. Click Yes.
I can't make decisions (Yes/No)

Sometimes the jokes write themselves.

I struggle to not get too lost in double negatives and click No.
This question's all about feelings. Damn feminine crap.

I know I am hopeless and worthless, so who cares about how I feel about it? I feel fine about it; feeling bad about not having any hope or value outside a couple bucks worth of chemical compounds comprising this hunk of reflective meat won't change a thing about it.

So I click No.
Tired for no reason? Probably not. Usually I get tired because I've been working hard, or I get tired because I'm depressed, but never for no reason. Click No.
Hmmm. If we rephrase this question to "I, myself, think about killing," then we'd have a ooooh boy and how, or its closest equivalent, Yes.

However, since I think they mean suicide, I had to click No.

If I considered suicide, my wife would kill me.
The result?

I am not depressed, so I cannot join that exclusive fraternity, and of course I'm bummed.

But was I honest with myself? Did I lie? What if I lied and I didn't know about it? Was I trying to hide something from this anonymous test? Was it really anonymous, or was Microsoft really storing the results so they could cross-reference my answers and my MAC address to provide a psychiatric profile they could sell to insurers and pop-under ad companies?

Perhaps depression would be the least of my mental health worries.

Who Needs John Galt?

Whereas a cat named John Galt led me to my soulmate, other Objectivists out there won't be so lucky.

Fortunately, there's now a dating service for Ayn Rand fans.

(Link seen on VodkaPundit.)

Who Will Teach Them Right From Wrong?

Here's a sordid story. In New Mexico, a twelve year old (misnomered in the story as a teen) puts some change in the school soda machine and gets two sodas. Woo! He's a hero to his fellow students. When a teacher sees him, teacher says stop that. Student continues. Teacher disciplines student with two days of in-school, whatever that means. And suddenly Rio Rancho, which has nothing to do in the long autumn evenings until cable television reaches their hamlet, talks and talks about this.

Here's the school district's story:
    Rio Rancho Public Schools issued a written statement: "On Monday a teacher observed Mason manipulating the soft drink machine at the school. The teacher advised Mason that getting two sodas for the price of one is the equivalent to stealing. When the teacher observed Mason doing the same thing again on Tuesday, she wrote him up."
That sounds about right to me. Young Mason is taking something for which he did not pay, and worse, he's doing it repeatedly and showing his friends how to do it. When the teacher said stop, young Mason did not stop. So discipline follows.

But witness poor Mason's trauma:
    The boy said the teacher called him a thief and accused him of trying to teach other students how to steal. He was written up, given a two-day in-school suspension and the incident will appear on his permanent school record.

    "It makes me feel very sad that I'm going to be thought as a thief later on in my life," Mason Kisner said. "Heck, I might not get in a good college or get a good job because on my permanent record it will say that when I was a kid, I stole."
Someone should explain to young Mason that he's being taught a lesson here, and that he should not game the system or steal or commit fraud, because it's wrong and because it will eventually carry a longer sentence than two days of in-school suspension (do you suppose that means hanging him by his wrists in the main hallway?).

That someone probably won't be Mason's father, who's too eager to jump into the tantrum:
    "I'm flabbergasted, bewildered, dumbfounded. I can't think of another word to describe how I feel about this incident," said Edward Kisner, the boy's father. "What kind of character is this showing Mason?"
    . . . .
    "I'm very disappointed I haven't gotten a phone call from the school rescinding Mason's suspension at this point," said Edward Kisner. "You know, when you say you're wrong, it's not a sign of weakness."
Obviously, he has no idea of character, but probably a good grasp of weakness.

(Link seen on Fark.)

Sunday, November 02, 2003
Signs You Have Too Much Time On Your Lap

Another Thing To Make Me Feel Old

Daniel LaRusso with a receding hairline.

Book Review: The Dive from Clausen's Pier by Ann Packer (2002)

This particular book is the source of Noggle's Spurious Law X: Never buy a fiction book where the author has included an acknowledgements section. Especially if the author thanks the NEA.. Of course, I bought this book through a book club, so I missed would have missed that anyway.

I bought this book based on these factors:
  • It's set in Wisconsin, my home state.

  • Its plot involves a young woman coasting through her 23 years of life who must evaluate her life's direction when her high school and college sweetheart and bethrothed, with whom she's grown disenchanted but with whom she was coasting toward matrimony anyway, dives from the titular pier and ends up in a coma. Hey, I know what it's like to re-evaluate your life. I was twentysomething once, and I am about ten years shy of my mid-life crisis.

  • I have tinkered with the beginnings of a literary novel with a similar theme and wanted to see what I could steal learn from this book.
So what's not to like about the book?
  1. The author's not from Wisconsin, nor does the author appreciate Wisconsin. The author lives in Northern California, and hence focuses her coastal lens on the quaint people in the Midwest. The main character talks to another former Wisconsin resident, and she calls them Wisconsonians. Damn it, we're not Wisconsinians, we're Wisconsinites. The author also uses the simile bland as Wisconsin. Listen, sister, you don't do that.

    I'll admit, I have a chip on my shoulder about the way some coastal types see the rest of the country. If I even catch a slight sniff of superiority from someone who assumes that the relevant country ends at one piedmont or another, I cross my arms and the person's lost me. Whether it's an author telling me that life doesn't begin until you move to New York City or a billionaire venture capitalist saying that offshore developers are as good as the developers in St. Louis--nay, even as good as the developers in SILICON VALLEY, I get the urge to curl the fingers and let fly. Maybe I'm just wound too tight, but I don't care for the theme.

  2. So let's just elaborate on the plot, shall we? The main character doesn't deal with the aftermath of the aforementioned dive. She goes mechanically about her life, alienates her friends, and then when the boyfriend wakes up, kinda wanders into a breakup with him. Then, bam!, it's section two, wherein she drives to New York City and enjoys some liberation from her Midwestern lifestyle, if you can call "sleepwalks through a relationship with a mysterious and uncommunicative man and through an undirected life in New York" liberation. Just when she's getting into New York, bam!, she returns to Wisconsin and rediscovers friendships she's let go and whatnot so she can sleepwalk through them, too.

    Suffice to say, I didn't care much about the main character, nor did I think much of her "decisions." I thought the mysterious and uncommunicative man bit was cool, until he revealed his secret torment to her when she had returned to Wisconsin. Quite frankly, it was a rather simplistic and unbelievable revelation. I won't ruin it by divulging it here. At least they shared some rather vivid boom chokka wokka in the book, which helped keep my interest. Smuttier than Valley of the Dolls, believe you me.

  3. Come on, the voice of the book, the first person narrator, annoys me. She sleepwalks through the entire thing. Personally, I've been told for over a decade that my female characters are lacking, werd, and I swear, if the main character of this bit represents an authentic feminine point-of-view, you can expect strictly male characters in my work from here on out. Genre fiction set on planets where men reproduce through fission, I kid you not.

    The main character's adrift too much for me to like the book, and I don't see any change in her. At all. So what's the point of the book? I mean, sometimes the point is the character learns something, but the main character doesn't indicate any change, other than she returns home to her "bland" state. Give me a break. The heroine crossing the return threshold? She's supposed to bring something back, darling.
As you might expect from an NEA-funded book, this is a book of "nice moments." Some parts of the writing are very vivid. So what? Unless they advance the story, these moments are meaningless filler. The whole book's meaningless filler, a great big slab of life vignette. Unfortunately, it's an uninteresting life.

If Ann Packer had confronted me with this sort of thing in a writing workshop, I would have given her the business. Of course, that's why I was hated in writing workshops, fellows, and why I stood pat with the B.A. in Writing-Intensive English. This book shows why I am going to stick to the genre stuff, too. The reader will get a pretty good idea of the scope and nature of the book by the nature of the problem, whether a murder or an invasion from the hordes beyond the mountains. With literary fiction, too often the point or plot is lost in the "nice little moments."

Kinda like if a Renoir is lost in the Rossian "happy little trees," if you catch my drift.

Criminey, you people are going to think I never read anything I like. I admit, I'm on a bad streak here, but I have several hundred tomes on my To Read shelf. Certainly, I'll like something.

Equal time: Here are some other reviews of the book, including one from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that fawn all over the piece and validate the NEA awards. Go read them if you want to know what paid people think of the book.

It Takes An NGO

Buried in this Washington Post story about the now-canceled program by which Army units could disburse seized Iraqi funds to solve immediate problems, we have this nugget of wisdom from some flack who's never worked an honest day in his life:
    "Soldiers are not development workers. There is industry skill, a body of knowledge that goes with it. You can't just say 'There's a pothole over there and get it filled' and fix a country," said Dominic Nutt, a spokesman for Christian Aid, a British humanitarian group.
Oh, indeed, I am sure there's some spreadsheet-writing, wining-and-dining-bureaucrats, and tooling-around-in-dark-SUVs one must do before directing someone to fill the potholes.

Perhaps the appropriately named Nutt is a fan of such Top-From-The-Outside solutions that have been so effective in, well, in NGO theory. But those who fix the potholes do more for the people of the country than those who Fix The Country.

An Englishman Weighs In

Kim du Toit has posted a letter from an Englishman who's becoming an American and wants to buy his first gun.

Here's a note to Ozaukee County Sheriff Maury Straub, who is doesn't know anyone who's ever had to protect his or her life with deadly force:
Violent crime in the UK is about 4 times higher than in the US. The conclusion I have come to is that's because of guns (I really, really, kept an open mind about the good/bad things about guns). In the adult years I was in England, (18 to 27, a total of 9 years):
  • my house was burgled 3 times (the third time, my room mate was severely beaten, because he was home)
  • my car was broken into twice
  • car stolen once
  • and I was assaulted twice.
The writer of this letter never had to protect himself with a gun either because it wasn't an option. Hopefully, soon, in Wisconsin and Missouri it will be.

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