Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, December 20, 2003
Another Flashback

Did anyone else type 0 NEW at the end of high school programming class to teach someone in the next class that he or she should really clear the memory before typing in his or her own program with line numbers starting on 10 and running it?

Oh, come on. You never even thought of it?



Michele at A Small Victory has her Vic 20 skin up.

I saw it, and I had a flashback.

In the immortal words of Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones:
    10 POKE(53280,0)
    20 POKE(53281,0)
You damn kids won't get it, but you old school geeks will.

Except you Apple II geeks, but we'll be talking to you in the playground after school.

Thursday, December 18, 2003
The Sound of Advice

MSN's dating expert offers some advice for dating a celebrity.

Hey, my beautiful wife is becoming rather popular in the cool blogging cliques, so perhaps I can pick up some tips. Here's the points:
  1. Assume it will end.
  2. Protect yourself.
  3. Enjoy all that celebrity jazz.
Man, that's depressing. All pessimism and exploitation.

Perhaps I should wait for the advice for marrying an immortal goddess of beauty, baking, and bicyclery column.

Advice for Rybarcyzk

Bob Rybarcyzk says:
    So last weekend we got our first real snow of the season here. I like snow and all -- it's real pretty and covers my questionable lawn quite nicely -- but snow has serious drawbacks as well.
Dude, autumn already takes care of that with leaves. I mean, I had to snatch some from the brown lawn bags at the end of the neighbor's driveway since I don't have any trees in my front yard, and then I had to manually spread them on the lawn much more evenly than Nature would have, but it covered the weird desert camoflauge colors that Soysia takes on in August when you properly scalp the lawn to two inches in the summer drought.

So my lawn still looks good even now that the good old fashioned Wisconsin Snow has been replaced by the Missouri Snow, which is what Wisconsonites call "rain."

Thanks, Honey!

I absolutely love the Trivial Pursuit DVD Pop Culture Edition that you got me for Christmas or for my birthday next year, or maybe Christmas next year.

Greed Is Redux

Radley Balko must read my blog. The day after I link to the Gordon Gekko speech, he posts a column about how greed drives innovation.


Wednesday, December 17, 2003
Book Review: The 50 Best (and Worst) Business Deals by Michael Craig (2000)

I picked up this book on one of the book-buying binges Heather and I shared last month. I found it in the business section of A Collector's Bookshop, Sheldon's new hole in the wall in Maplewood. He doesn't have much on hand, yet, but I expect that to change. Regardless, this looked interesting. So it is.

Craig has structured the book around 10 common sense rules, with each chapter containing a capsule analysis of several deals that epitomizes the rule, or proves how ignoring the rule can break a deal. For example, one rule is "Take advantage of your adversary's weakness" (Chapter 2). Essentially, it boils down to buy when the seller has to sell. France needed a hunk of money to finance its European wars, so the United States got the Louisiana Purchase at the bargain basement price of three cents an acre.

Because of Craig's background as a big dog attorney means he focuses a lot on the leveraged buyouts of the 1980s. To be honest, all I really remember about them is the mythology handed down as received wisdom, mostly from people who disapproved of them. However, as encapsulated in these vignettes, it makes sense in some cases. Even breaking up companies that are underperforming. Call me a capitalist.

The book weighs in at under 200 pages, and the easily digestible chapters and sections make it a book you can put down. And pick back up. I read this book at work, during lunch breaks, without missing beats. Some books are good for that.

So this book is worth a read. The rules are common sense, but the rewards for following them, as well as the negative sanctions for not following them, offer concrete illustrations that The Art of War does not.

Greed, For Lack of a Better Word, Is Good

So after reading that book, I had to go and watch Wall Street to get a nut's-eye view of the 1980s and the corporate raiders and LBO artists.

Man, what a cool movie. I rather liked Gordon Gekko, who rose from humble beginnings as a city college kid to become what he was. I mean, read his speech to Teldar stockholders. It's a pretty rousing bit.

But almost to the end of the movie, in the confrontation between Gordon Gekko and Bid Fox over Bluestar Air, suddenly Michael Douglas opens his mouth and Oliver Stone's economic theories come out. He calls capitalism a zero-sum game and vomits forth a Paul Krugman column.

Stone's projecting. Everything he captures right about capitalism in the movie he negates with this single speech, where capitalists are fleas and Martin Sheen's working man is the noble dog.

Saturday Night I Was Downtown, Working for the FBI

    Well I'm gonna be forgiven
    If I wanna spend my living
    With a long cool woman in a black dress
    Just a 5-9 beautiful tall
    With just one look I was a bad mess
    'Cause that long cool woman had it all
    Had it all, had it all, had it all...
Day two thousand, four hundred, and seventy-nine two. Surviving on beer, popcorn, and cherry flavored Craisins.

Hurry home, honey. I miss you.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003
Put a Pig's Head on a Stick

Fark links to a story about an incident at a party wherein one person spilled a beer upon another, which led to a person getting shot in a rather Orient Express manner--the original shooter passed the gun onto friends who proceeeded to put a slug into the offender.

Man, I am glad the Atari Party never gets out of hand like that. With all those offended people throwing a superball at each other to break down the defenses and destroy the corner icon of the other, someone could put an eye out!

Crap! Should I have included a "spoiler alert" above when I mentioned how Murder on the Orient Express turns out? Man, I suck!

My apologies to my newbie Agatha Christie fan demographic. (Wait, no such demographic exists? To whom will I appeal?)

I'll Fetch My Rifle

I think the St. Louis Major Case Squad is summining a posse. That's what I get from this headline, most of the way down the page: Man, I love those interns who write the headlines for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Law and Order section.

Monday, December 15, 2003
Brian Gets His Second Perfect Score

Well, friends, I have gotten my second perfect score on a philosophy test. My beautiful wife led me to a test that rather simplistically asks a dozen questions to determine how your thinking relates to those of profound thinkers from ages past. And I got 100!
  1. Ayn Rand (100%)
  2. John Stuart Mill (86%)
  3. Jean-Paul Sartre (74%)
  4. Aristotle (65%)
  5. Kant (64%)
I would have to explain my seeming embrace of utilitarianism as a recognition of the tension between assuming rational people will follow the rules and the embrace of the rule of law to ensure that everyone minds a handful of codified manners. Which also explains why I won't vote Libertarian for an executive branch position, sort of. While I'm sure that you, a reasonable person, will understand that theft is wrong, I'd rather have the pooled power of the State to enforce it in case you forget.

Also, there's the problem with shoehorning my thought into a radio button answer, and the interpretation of the questions. However, let us recognize that the greatest good for the individual is also the greatest good for the greatest number. Some will fall through the cracks willfully or not, but that's the nature of the statistics. All the children cannot be above average.

What about my other perfect score? Funny you should ask. My only perfect score on a college exam was my sophomore year in my Philosophy 104: Ethics. Man, I wonder how well I would have done in that class if I had bought the textbook? (Ask me sometime about paying your way as you go through a prestigious private university, and I will tell you how to get around niceties like textbooks.)

META Group Recommends Mind Wipes At Exit Interview

The META Group, a bunch of people marketing themselves as people you can pay to think for you, alerts us to this great danger - Camera-Enabled Phones Pose Significant Liability for Most Enterprises, Warns META Group:
    STAMFORD, Conn. (December 9, 2003) — With the cost of adding cameras to mobile phones becoming marginal ($2-$5 per phone), META Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: METG), expects the majority of phones to include this capability within two to three years. However, for many organizations, cameras represent a significant liability or security risk — such as inappropriate candid shots of employees, pictures of production lines.

    While the quality of most cameras in current phones is poor, it nonetheless represents a potential channel for leaks of sensitive data or other images that can produce unintended consequences. META Group recommends setting up a clear policy of no camera-enabled phones.
While META Group invites any of you with change in your pockets to visit its Web site for a vigorous upturning and shaking called its "high-value" approach to generating quotable blather, META Group does not address the similar dangers of disposable cameras, regular cameras, or human memory that can also capture and transmit proprietary information to your world-class, best-in-class, best-of-breed enterprise caliber solution's competition. But none of these buzzwords would yield hits in a current search for "relevant" news. Which is what META Group's really trying to do, to get you, a key decision maker in your organization, to look at them like a precocious child who can recite poetry it doesn't understand.

Look in wonder, friends. I wonder who pays these guys, and if I can get in on the grift.

(Link seen on Hans's site.)

Geeks Reflecting

Trey Givens, Deuce's older brother, leads me to the following self-awareness:

You are an Intrepid-class Scout, Starfleet's
frontline sentry. You're a bit of an enigma.
Your grace and intelligence may go unnoticed,
but people rely on you for your insight and

Which Class of Federation Starship are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

I feel pretty.

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