Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, January 24, 2004
Tony Blair Breeds Prostitutes

Drudge links to a story in the News of the World about an eighteen-year-old British student who's going to sell her virginity on eBay to pay for her schooling.

Let's enumerate the sordid details, shall we?
  1. She's only eighteen, and she's only still a virgin because she's a lesbian.
  2. She's going to the university to get a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Policy.
  3. She's hard up because she's working 3 shifts a week.
  4. The government is only giving her £3000, which leads poor Rosie to say:
      "The government has made it difficult for people like me to follow their ambition to study.

      "I wish we could concentrate on learning rather than constantly worrying about money or working to get by.

      "I think Tony Blair and Charles Clarke are encouraging a class divide, which is wrong and goes against all of Labour's principles."
  5. In Social Policy in British universities, false dilemma logical fallacies are proper rhetoric for socialism:
      "I'm not willing to sacrifice my future for the sake of a part-time job, so I am faced with two choices—years in debt or prostituting myself on the internet for my education."
  6. Her lesbian lover supports her as long as she is safe, but is angry that she's [Rosie] in this position.
  7. A British newspaper presented this as news.
British kids these days. Fortunately, we won both the revolution and the War of 1812, or these would be our future leaders and Socialist Policy setters. Our own are bad enough.

Update Your Hockey Lexicons

Heather and I went to see the St. Louis Blues lose to the Dallas Stars this evening, and during the course of the evening I came up with some terms that I think should make their way into common hockey parlance. So please update your hockey lexicons to include the following:
  • It's like football with polearms. Heather got four choice tickets from her employer, so we brought along a co-worker from España. I like to boil things down succinctly to apt metaphors which don't require too much scrutiny. No, stop, don't closely compare hockey to soccer wherein the players carry halberds and attempt to decapitate each other. The National Hockey League is trying to get away from that image.

  • You know, every time someone shoots the puck between the goaltender's legs, it's going five-hole, or sometimes when a commentator has a flash of cross-sport brilliance, the puck goes through the wickets. I prefer the puppy's gone home through the doggie door. How does that work for you?
Sports commentators, you don't need to pay licensing fees for these terms. However, a mention of my name, Brian J. Noggle, would be nice, or a gift from my inexpensive Amazon wish list perhaps. Thank you, that is all.

I Am Stunned, Stunned I Tell You

This story in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle indicates that men who drink more than fourteen drinks per week and women who drink more than seven drinks a week might be abusing alcohol. Is that really "abusing" alcohol?

Alcoholic beverages, such as delicious Guinness Draught, are designed for human consumption. Consuming them, and even consuming lots of them, is actually using them properly. Now, taking a couple bottles of Jack Daniels Old #7 Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey, pouring them over a couple of derelict sofas, and lighting them on fire, that's alcohol abuse. Whiskey is not supposed to be an accelerant in arson. It's supposed to be a slight intoxicant.

On the other hand:
    "I'm stunned by some of this information," said Roxanne Klingensmith, a deacon at St. James Episcopal Church.
The deacon should ask herself, How often do I seek out information that stuns me? Information should educate or, well, inform; if it produces a physiological effect such as immobilization and if one frequently finds oneself stunned or seeking stunning information, one might well suffer from informationism and might abuse information.

(Link seen on Fark.)

Line Forms at the Left

Tim Blair links to this remarkably in-depth recap retrospective on the Jennifer Lopez/Ben Affleck relationship which publicly lasted 18 months or at least two movie promo cycles.

Within it we find this job description:
    One reason for the final demise of the relationship is said to be Jennifer's desire to settle down and have a baby. Another, according to Us, was her chagrin at Ben's partying ways.
My bachelor friends, if you would like to impregnate and perhaps share a house (and bed) for the long-term (two years? three years?) with Jennifer Lopez, send your resumes to:

Jennifer Lopez
C/O United Talent Agency
9560 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 500
Beverly Hills, CA 90212


Jennifer Lopez
C/O International Creative Management
8942 Wilshire Blvd
Beverly Hills CA 90211

Please include a photograph.

Thursday, January 22, 2004
If They Want You, They've Got You

The other white African-American links to a cautionary tale about a family that was a little different from the rest, and the felony prison sentences that resulted.

A Quiz for AC

Loyal reader AC loves when I waste his time with quizzes, so might I recommend this one:

What Video Game Character Are You? I am Kung Fu Master.I am Kung Fu Master.

I like to be in control of myself. I dislike crowds, especially crowds containing people trying to kill me. Even though I always win, I prefer to avoid fights if possible. What Video Game Character Are You?

(Recommended by my beautiful wife.)

Wednesday, January 21, 2004
Next Step: Making Opaque Walls Illegal

San Mateo, California, has made private karaoke booths illegal since people can do illegal things in public places where the public cannot hear you.

I'd like to point out that opaque walls are a greater danger, since people can do things behind those walls which the public and law enforcement officials cannot see, but I would hate to give them ideas.

Barbecuing Your Own Pork

Apparently, the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority that was formed in 1989 to build a megolithic publicly-funded dome stadium to lure a football team is still in business, even though its job was completed in 1995. It's paying six figures to its members, maintaining a luxury suite in the Trans World Edward Jones Your Name Here! Dome, and setting itself up to be a gravy train for two more decades.

What, you mean the vaunted Civic Leaders are in it to feather their own nests at the expense of the taxpayers? I am shocked, shocked I tell you!

How long until Richard "Il Dick" Gephardt can join in now that his small-potatoes, low-paying political career is over?

Please Your Masters

A bit of candor from a municipal official regarding property rights, that is, the municipalities right to revenue from property superceding an individual owner's "rights":
    But until now, its attractiveness has not resulted in a use of the land that pleased Richmond Heights, said City Manager Michael Schoedel. Instead, the property had been home to a Steak 'N Shake, Burger King, a gas station and other similar establishments.

    "The Galleria is clearly our bread and butter, and we wanted something across the street that would support it," Schoedel said.
If the owner preferred to use the land for a Steak 'N Shake, Burger King, a gas station, and other similar establishments? Who cares what the owner wants? Property rights come from the State's pleasure.

Steinberg Edges Closer to the Blog Side of the Force

Neil Steinberg's back to two columns a week in the Chicago Sun-Times. His new Wednesday column, though, is a collection of short pieces about various subjects.....

Add a couple links, put it on the Web, and it's a blog!

Come on, Neil. You know we want ya ta.

Daddy, Where Does Petroleum Come From

Professor Reynolds has the word about people who claim that Bush's Mars program is all about sending Haliburton to Mars to look for oil.

Honey, if Haliburton finds oil on Mars, there are far greater things to worry about than the rich getting richer.

Such as:
How will the discovery of freaking life, albeit dead and decomposed, on another planet impact the Religious Right's support of Bush?

Werd to Your Mother

One of them damn venture capitalists explains why CEOs fail.

Build your own checklist, and mark it up for your CEO!

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Andy Kessler writes in that one can self-publish a book and succeed.

Maybe we won't be residing this year after all, honey.

Layer Up, Prosecutors; It's Cold Out There

In this story, we find (under the heading of "Now, Honey, Do as I Say, Not as I Do") another example of clever prosecutorial layering:
    The 10-minute pursuit Friday morning ended outside Del Mar Pines School with the arrest of Stacy L. Taylor for investigation of evading arrest and child endangerment.
Got that? Child Endangerment. Mother runs off from a ticketing officer, and suddenly she's under the stormcloud of a nebulous criminal charge.

Any moving violation can now become child endangerment. Speeding? Rolling through a stop? What if someone were to be coming the other way? The Children might have been endangered!

I think this post makes me guilty of conspiracy of child endangerment or perhaps incitement of child endangerment.

Two Google Searches I Could Do Without

Unfortunately, I score highly on:
  • "+too+much+qa"
    Too much QA? There's never enough QA, much less too much.

  • leather-futures
    Perhaps I should be proud of this one. I am a Googlewhack.

What If Seattle Needs a Wal-Mart?

Kim du Toit is all over a story in the Seattle Workers' Revolution story about Bill Gates buying properties surrounding his home and letting friends and family members live there. In some cases, the original owners are still there, living in Bill Gates's house.

And this accumulation of property by a capitalist must be stopped, or so the story implies.

But let's get to the point of the knife. The municipal government's worried about its money:
    If other residents follow Gates' lead, that could present some challenges for the city of 3,000, said Medina City Manager Doug Schulze. Much of the money the city gets from the state is based on population. If people buy up surrounding houses and don't have people living in them, the city's share of state funding might decline, he said.
Ah, yes. Lest we forget, the government has a right to revenue from property owners. Or so it's assuming.

That's why your house is worth less to your local government than a dozen empty parking spaces in a Wal-Mart parking lot, and why this local government is beginning to make noise about preventing a man from acquiring property legally. For the neighborhood, and undoubtedly for the Children.

Return of the Architects

It sounds like a Dr. Who episode, all right, but it's not. Ozguru probably should have called his post Revenge of the Architects for all the damage the vice presidents of technology and software architecture do.

Oh, how we know how you feel.

What About Poor Melissa?

How short are the memories of technology writers, or how short do they think their audiences' memories are?

Every new threat reminds them of the last threat.

When will we see another Melissa? Another Morris Worm? Never, because those damn kids don't remember Melissa, and they won't remember Code Red, Nimba, Bugbear, or Beagle/Bagle by this summer.

Fighting for the Little Guy

Once again, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch issues the clarion and unfurls the banner of fighting for the little guy. In this case, it's a 412-pound truck driver fired because he couldn't fit behind the steering wheel of the truck he was supposed to drive.

We covered this in my collegiate class on ethics and contemporary issues. It's not discrimination if it disqualifies you from the physical duties of the job. You don't see many 4'8" centers in the NBA, nor will you see paraplegics as warehouse pickers. If a person just cannot do the job, the employer has no obligation to continue paying that person for nothing.

But this guy, and his mighty champion paper, want him to retain his position and pay without doing the work. Instead of hanging onto the old, perhaps he should look for new opportunities. Like being a dispatcher, where he can sit all day.

That's forward thinking, and that's not what people or the Post-Dispatch do.

Monday, January 19, 2004
Woe, Woe Upon Me

I am only the number 8 Google hit for sexy grocery baggers.

I guess I better hit the gym with Heather more frequently.

Silicon Valley Street Seethes, Whines

(Headline style appropriated from Charles Johnson.)

Speaking of outsourcing, Alan Lacy, CEO of Sears hits the nail on the head, and undoubtedly United States developers will shriek as though it was their collective thumbnails he hit:
    But I think, beyond that, to me, a very interesting trend right now is the whole non-U.S. opportunity that's available, and ... if you think about personal intelligence and drive being randomly distributed by population -- you know, there are four or five times as many smart, driven people in China than there are in the U.S. And there's another four or five, three or four times as many people in India that are smarter or as smart or have more drive. And if technology is now going to basically reduce location as a barrier to competition, then essentially you've got something like whatever that was, seven or nine times, more smart, committed people that are now competing in this marketplace against certain activities.
Right on, brother. Give the jobs to the cheapest and smartest people you can find.

Don't like it, fellow IT professional? Get smarter, get faster, get cheaper, or get out of the way.

Never mind. Seething and whining plays better to the id and on the network news.

Overheard at a Garage Sale

(Apologies to Trey Givens.)

    Woman (noticing Ayn Rand University Sweatshirt): Ayn Rand, isn't she a writer?

    Brian J.: Yes, she is.

    Woman: She lives in New Orleans, right?

    Brian J.: Uh, no.

Book Review: The Book Wars by James Atlas (1990)

This edition of The Book Wars contains advertisements for Federal Express, now more commonly known as FedEx, facing each chapter. The publisher is Whittle Direct Press, and it's part of a series entitled "The Larger Agenda Series". It's out of print, and Amazon's never heard of it, so no link for you.

Back in 1990, I was starting college, and I read the academia-critical works of Charles J. Sykes (ProfScam and The Hollow Men). So I served my tour in the Curriculum Wars, participating as appropriate, so I'm familiar with the book's message and the time period in which Atlas wrote it.

The Sykes books are definitely partisan in tone, written to inflame the passions and mobilize the troops. This book, on the other hand, makes the reasons for the other side clear. Atlas wrote this book somewhat as a response to Allan Bloom's Closing of the American Mind, which details the fall of the Great Books Curriculum. I haven't read the primary text, so I cannot comment on it.

In this book, though, Atlas explores the reasons that some of the new hippie English Department personnel (sorry, I mean resources) want to overturn the canon. Essentially, they want to introduce new ways of relating to literature, including literature from underexplored cultures. Some want new veins of ore from which they can mine publish-or-perish papers. Some want to stick it to The Man. Whatever the reasons, Atlas characterizes them more as misguided than evil. Which differs from Sykes.

Atlas defends the canon, but only slightly. He remembers a time when Joe Suburban bought Everyman's Library editions (or Colliers Classics) of the canon and read them. Some people might not have understood them, nor picked up all the subtlety that professional interpreters would, but they realized that reading the books could better you.

I attained an epiphany while reading this book. The Curriculum Wars really are meaningless. The Old Booksters and the New Diverse Canoneers fight over the hearts and minds of kids who just don't care. Those who want to read and better themselves will do so. Case in point: me. I read for pleasure and to keep my numble mind occupied. I survived an English Degree no worse for wear.

The real problem is that people just don't do that anymore. Perhaps both sides have made the books inaccessible through constant obfuscation for publication, or perhaps... well, this book obviously doesn't speculate on that.

Regardless, the book's short--under 100 pages less ads--and it inspired me to redouble my efforts to read those great books and small remaining on my shelf. Sykes' books incited me, but this one inspired me.

For Future Reference

TV Shows on DVD lists television series available for purchase on DVD.

Book Review: Rumpelstiltskin by Ed McBain (1981)

Rumpelstiltskin is the first Ed McBain book I didn't like. Not Evan Hunter books--heaven knows the distaste I have for Last Summer--but the first Ed McBain book. I've read quite a few.

It's an early Matthew Hope novel. I don't like the series as much as the 87th Precinct series, to be honest, and I get all of the Florida color I need from Travis McGee novels. But it's not the series that does it for me.

The plot of the book's okay. A former pop sensation (whoops, rock since it was in the 1960s) is going to make a comeback at a small bar. She opens to bad reviews, and then gets killed. Matthew Hope, who spent the hours before her demise having curtain-climbing good sex with her, is briefly a suspect. The deceased had a trust fund due to pay out in a matter of days, so her father and her ex-husband make good suspects, with each standing to benefit depending upon the fate of the dead woman's daughter, kidnapped at the time of the murder, don't you know?

No, the plot's all right, it's the execution thereof that lacks. The book is paced poorly, and there's no pressure on Hope. He's a suspect, but he's cleared quickly. So he's got lots of time to meet new people, have a little wall-scarring good sex with another attorney, and jet to New Orleans for....well, his daughter's around, so no sex, but just foreplay to the blossoming intrattorney relationship.

Meanwhile, the author fits in his characteristic asides, but they're rather clumsy. There's a three page treatise about how a woman can have red hair and blonde pubic hair, including the relationship of melanin levels and genetics in the occurrence as well as the difficulty experienced by a woman in the 1960s and 1970s growing up with it and how it impacts her psychological and sexual development. Wow, that's quite a bit of research, Mr. McBain. Thanks for sharing your report with the class. Fortunately, the three pages end with some lamp-crashing, nightstand-tipping good sex.

It's a short novel, clocking in at about 215 pages. I slogged through it. If you're a big fan, you will, too, but I don't recommend it for someone looking for a good, light read.

Sunday, January 18, 2004
Where There's No Law but a Prosecutor's Will, There's a Way

When a "sexual predator" escaped a Missouri Sexually Violent Predator Unit, he didn't break a law. According to a story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
    It's a crime in Missouri to escape from a jail or prison, and it's a crime to escape from a mental health facility if the escapee was sent there in a criminal process, such as found not guilty but insane.
But the state of Missouri, in its hurry to follow other states' lead into indefinitely extending the finished sentences of certain classes of offenders, managed to create a means of continued incarceration for violent sexual predators, but didn't make leaving those means of continued, un-sentenced incarceration periods against the law.

Never fear, though. Prosecutors have a myriad of laws available for any occasion.

In fact, the interview is somewhat limited that he could give the Post-Dispatch because:
    He said talking about that now could hurt his chances with his current criminal case, a charge of felony property damage for cutting the fence.
What? He must not have dropped the portion of the fence he cut away in his escape or else he would also face a charge of felony littering.

Meanwhile, after releasing himself from indefinite incarceration and a probable unsentenced life term, this guy goes to Florida, gets married, and apparently doesn't commit another sex crime, or any crime for that matter:
    Neither Florida authorities nor investigators here have been able to link Ingrassia to any new sex crimes.
Instead, he's gone south, gotten a job, and gotten married. Granted, it was his wife who got suspicious of his past and led to his return to Missouri. Hey, I'm not some multiple-degreed, highly-paid state consultant, but that sounds almost reformed to me.

But he's cheesed off some officials who feel that their power derives from the respect they feel should be paid to them, so they're going to get him. Instead of a warehouse for undesirables, they'll throw him back in prison, and when his sentence for vandalism is over, they'll return him to his indefinite warehouse.

Don't worry, citizen. It hasn't happened to you. Yet.

One More Reason to Move to Colorado

Not only does it offer a taxpayer "bill of rights," but it might also implement controls on eminent domain.

Boulder and Denver and all of that property-rights-infringing, cougar-loving nutbarism doesn't cover the whole state, wot? In some places, Jeremiah Johnson could live with his guns and his fit wife, right?

Sounds as good as Texas to me.

What I Might Say Were I Thoughtful

Jared at Exultate Justi explains why the Left and the Right don't get along anymore.

I might have said something like this were I yet a reasoning, thoughtful writer.

Fitness Proves Unhealthy


Apparently, a man beat his estranged wife to death with a five pound dumbbell.

A five pound dumbell? We've got dumbbells six times as deadly here in la casa de Heather, but I didn't want to call the perp nor the victim a wuss. Instead, I wanted to point out the New York angle. The husband tried to kill himself after the murder, and failed.

Did his neighbors characterize him as a quiet man, the last sort of fellow who would do this sort of thing? Not in New York:
    "He tried to kill himself, but he didn't try hard enough," said neighbor Ralph Watson. "He was a punk son of a gun for hitting her in the head like that, and if he really wanted to kill himself, he should have jumped in front of a train."

Who Needs Seven?

MSN's Dating and Personals site has a story entitled "7 ways to keep him interested".

Your womenly-affectation advisors are coming up with lists of seven ways to keep us interested? You could narrow it down to one, baby, in most cases.

And if you feel the need to go for extra credit, freshly-baked pastries for number two.

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