Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Friday, February 06, 2004
Light Posting 2Nite

Sorry, guys, for the light posting tonight, but my beautiful wife wanted to watch a a Clint Eastwood western.

When the perfect woman asks you to spend a perfect evening with her, you should comply. Just a bit of advice, fellows, in case there are any other perfect women out there for you.

Great Minds Title Alike

Brian J. Noggle, The Cynic Expressed, 1997: Weapons of Mass Hysteria

Victor Davis Hanson, The National Review, 2004: Weapons of Mass Hysteria

Funny, we were talking about the same thing, too, sort of.

Thursday, February 05, 2004
The Female Mullet

The Professor, who like me has an intelligent and attractive wife, links to The Feathered-Back Hair Site.

Why do men like us him linger over sites like this?

Compare and Contrast Assignment

Class, here's your compare and contrast assignment for tonight:

Police in the Middle West:
    Three men from the West Coast were hauling more than horses Tuesday afternoon in their trailer, authorities said - they also had $835,500 in cash stashed in a hidden compartment.

    An Illinois State Police trooper and U.S. Customs agents found the money after the trooper pulled the 1999 Dodge pickup over for speeding about 3:50 p.m. Tuesday on Interstate 55, north of Litchfield, said Trooper Doug Francis, a spokesman for the agency's District 18.

    The discovery wasn't mere happenstance. U.S. Customs had tipped off police that the trailer might contain cash, Francis said.

    When the three men allowed police to search the truck and trailer, a drug-sniffing dog alerted on the vehicle, Francis said. Officers did not find drugs, Francis said, but "something was there at one time or another."

    The Illinois State Police seized the cash pending further investigation.

    Lt. Brian Hollo, the district's interim commander, said that state and federal statutes give police the power to seize money if they believe it is drug-related.

    Hollo said it was the largest cash seizure ever for the district, which covers Calhoun, Greene, Jersey, Macoupin and Montgomery counties.

    But police had no legal reason to hold the men or their three horses, so they were free to continue their trip, Francis said.

    As for the money - Francis said, "If they can come up with proof that the money is theirs, we'll give it back to them."
Police in the Middle East:
    At night, the police presence is most evident. On the city's central streets, they make high-speed patrols, at times in groups that make the task appear more like a joyride. There are no other cars to be seen and there's virtually no one on the streets, save the employees of Baghdad's single 24-hour shop and the handful of restaurants that stay open late, mostly to serve the cops.

    The police, however, do not receive credit for the apparent drop in crime. "It's because no one stays out," said Hassan Mahdi, the owner of the 24-hour shop. "The police are no good."

    But just because the streets are filled with police does not necessarily mean they're safe. A journalist walking back to his hotel at around 3am on a recent morning made the mistaken assumption that it would be fine because only police were out. He was stopped and asked for his identity card three times during the 10-minute stroll. The third group of police also took US$100 from his wallet, after he showed an American passport.
Extra credit if you can work in this joke (reprinted here from another essay:
    I'm reminded of the joke about the man who offered a woman $1 million to sleep with him - her resonse was a hasty "Sure!" When he countered with an offer of only $50, her response changed to "Absolutely Not! What kind of woman do you think I am?" His response ... "Lady, we've already settled that question - now we're just haggling over price!
(Link to Iraqi story seen on The Art of Peace, where I browsed at the behest of Winds of Change.)

Wednesday, February 04, 2004
A Quiz for AJC

How geek am I?

    You are 38% geek
    You are a geek liaison, which means you go both ways. You can hang out with normal people or you can hang out with geeks which means you often have geeks as friends and/or have a job where you have to mediate between geeks and normal people. This is an important role and one of which you should be proud. In fact, you can make a good deal of money as a translator.
    Normal: Tell our geek we need him to work this weekend.

    You [to Geek]: We need more than that, Scotty. You'll have to stay until you can squeeze more outta them engines!

    Geek [to You]: I'm givin' her all she's got, Captain, but we need more dilithium crystals!

    You [to Normal]: He wants to know if he gets overtime.

    Take the Polygeek Quiz at

That's almost as geek as you want a doc-u-matic 3000. However, I would like to point out I am geek enough to have troubleshot the result code provided by ThudFactor before prompted, and I am slightly more geek than Trey Givens upon whose site I first saw the quiz.

P.S. Trey, I know what your pseudonym means--you're so 0wn3d!

A False Lead

The Red Herring has a blog.

(Link seen on The Buzz Machine.)

Under the Beltway

Over at Wizbang!, Kevin Aylward describes what happens when you write to your member of Congress:
    Inbound letters and calls are ‘issue coded’. For example, if you write a letter to your representative in which you urge the member to support gun control legislation, the staff members who open and read the mail enter a record of the correspondence and select a gun control issue code. If you address multiple topics you get multiple codes.

    The staffer at that point has the option of creating a response (which as I recall they usually do) by picking one or more items from a list of issue talking points.
Keep that in mind when any of you (El Guapo) write to your representative. Your call is important to us....please stay on the line and you will be answered in the order your call was received.....

It also explains an experience my mother had writing to her representative, Richard "Il DicK" Gephardt. She wrote complaining that her particular military command was becoming a fully non-smoking environment; his reply was that he was really trying to keep the command open.

She voted for Wheelehan, Federer, and would have even written in her dog's name on even-numbered years to keep from voting for him.

Closer.... Closer

Not only is he back to two columns a week, but Neil Steinberg draws ever nearer to joining us:
    I'm halfway to a Republican.
The glass is half full!

To Coin A Phrase

    To blight: (tr.v.) To condemn, as a city, the lawful property of one person or corporation to hand it over to another corporation or person, to enhance the revenue of the governing municipality.
Sample usage:
    The Board of Aldermen in December 2002 agreed to blight the Target site, allowing the city to ask a judge to condemn it.
Put that in your usage guide and burn it.

Fallacy of the Distributed Middle

I hope it's not too anti-Semitic of me to make fun of a a turn of phrase by "officials" of the Jewish Community Center (JCC, or as its otherwise known, "The J") in Broken Heart, Missouri. In addition to razing a larger building for a small one as its membership declines, the leaders are looking for way to save money to help bridge a budget gap. This includes:
    Increased use of off-campus sites for JCC programs, turning the JCC into a center "without walls."
A center. Without walls. Without, perhaps ideally for these "officials," without a center.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

My sophomore year in high school, I took a class in Creative Writing with Ms. Williams. It was Mrs. Williams, actually, much to the dismay of fantastic fifteen year-old boys. But I remember the class vividly. For an early exercise in creative writing, the delightful blonde nymph respected shaper of young minds, divided the class into groups. The assignment: to write a page of a short story. When the groups finished their segments, we passed the story to the group on our right, who would add a segment to the story, and so on, until each group had a turn with the story. Here, Tyrone Jackson was born.

Ah, Tyrone Jackson. The middle-aged rabbi from Thailand. Dan, Troy, Jim, and I concocted this character from the fevered imaginations of our adolescence, somewhere amid the giggling (which we would have called chuckling, but our voices were still changing, so it was probably giggling). We injected Jackson into every story passed to us. He suffered a number of untimely deaths and dismemberments once the group to our right determined what we were doing. At the end of the exercise, the groups had to rewrite their original stories using elements from the other groups' contributions. So our group, ignoring the ignoble assaults on our hero, rewrote the story. Or Dan, Troy, and Jim did; I abstained, as they were not doing our hero justice. Although we got a passing grade turned on whatever they turned in, I was not satisfied. I had greater dreams for Jackson. Thus begat The Further Adventures of Tyrone Jackson.

My first book, hem, was a collection of short stories that chronicled how Tyrone Jackson would have infected all other stories and myths before him. However, each hero must have his arch-enemy, and Jackson discovered his when he met the leader of the Venusian invasion in the undersea base wherein the Venusians were keeping Jackson's pet bunny Manerd.
    "Lyndon LaRouche? You're the dude from those dippy TV specials!"
Lyndon LaRouche became Tyrone Jackson's archenemy. When Jackson consulted with his guru on Mount Everest, it was LaRouche sending the Soviet Spetsnaz after him....or James Bond....or maybe MacGyver, who happened to be mountain climbing at the time. When Tyrone Jackson stole Doctor Who's Tardis, he uncovered Lin Don La Ru was the mortal enemy of Tai Ron Ja Sing in feudal Japan. LaRouche was the all-powerful Denfather in the alternate earth where the Cub Scouts had taken over. Like some archetype or eternal conflict, wherever Jackson encountered his match, it was LaRouche. Jackson always won, though, but LaRouche got away to fight another day... or in another time....

So when I went into the local polling place tonight, the collection of aged election judges asked me whether I what ballot I wanted. "Democrat," I said. When I was alone in my voting stall and confronted with my allotment of possible choices, I voted for Lyndon LaRouche.

I admit, I have heard his commercials on KMOX radio comparing Ashcroft to Hitler. I have not seen any of his television specials, either, whether sixteen years ago or last week. But I voted for him anyway. Not because he's got a chance of winning, and not because I think Joe has a chance of beating el Johnissimo. But for old times' sake.

LaRouche has been a punchline of mine for almost twenty years. Who knows if I'd ever get a chance to vote for him again?

Somewhere, amid the hundreds of lost loose-leaf pages of Tyrone Jackson's further adventures, undoubtedly Jackson is cursing the the villian's luck once again. And tomorrow, when I review the election results, I shall recognize my vote among LaRouche's handful.

All Right

Although I went into the polling place with every intention to vote for LaRouche, it rankled. I was throwing away the right I had to determine the fate of the nation, or perhaps the direction of the nation, to a joke, a private joke that only me or Jim or Mike (the only possible owner for an extant remaining copy of The Further Adventures of Tyrone Jackson) would get, and I don't even talk to them any more.

Around the world, people don't have the opportunity to select their own leaders. Selected not elected, RIH you gamers. Here, when presented with my duty to myself and my countrymen, I made a selection almost arbitrarily.

Yet, were I to vote my conscience in this Democrat primary, it wouldn't have mattered. Joe Liberalman might have been the best of a bad lot, although I have to admit I have no idea who Fern Penna is or what Fern Penna might do for our country. I only had the ballot because Missouri's an open primary. I'm voting Bush in the November election regardless. 'Nuff said.

But I Voted

I also voted a hearty, hi-ho, heck no, to the Metropolitan Sewer District's bid to float a bond issue or raise taxes, or whatever MSD might have meant with this glurge:
    To comply with federal and state clean water requirements, shall The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District (MSD) issue its sewer system revenue bonds in the amount of Five Hundred Million Dollars ($500,000,000) for the purpose of constructing, improving, renovating, repairing, replacing and equipping new and existing MSD sewer facilities and system, including acquisition of easements and real property related thereto, the cost of operation and maintenance of said sewer system and the principal of and interest on said revenue bonds to be payable solely from the revenues derived by MSD from the operation of its sewer system, including all future extensions and improvements thereto?
Hell, no. Because when the costs are overrun and the revenue projections fall short, or if you're too busy lining the pockets (and maybe a couple of purses and handy bags to carry the ph4t l00t), guess what? Time for another big IOU or rate increase.

If you cannot deal with it from the revenues already derived hereto from the operation of the sewer system, don't do it. Sewer system! Pah! We drink bottled water, wine, and beer here at Honormoor and we wash our dishes in Listerine. A pox on ye all!

On the other hand, congratulations to MSD for being corruption free for 128 days now. Nothing that half a billion dollars wouldn't cure.

(Funny how tax/rate increases/bond issues end up on the ballot for elections with light turnout, ainna?)

Monday, February 02, 2004
Er, Hiss Hiss!

Blogger's got some RSS/Atom thing. You can find an XML summary of what I have been doing lately here.

I am expecting a lot of linking now, dammit, formerly-blue-haired guy.

Book Review: Years of Minutes by Andy Rooney (2003)

I know, you readers understand that if I am reading a book from the last two years, it's probably a gift. And you're right. my beautiful wife gave me this volume for Christmas, and I've read it already. During lunches at work, mostly, which identifies one of the best parts of Andy Rooney and other broadcast essays: They're short capsules that render themselves easy to read in short doses. Unlike books you cannot put down, which require you to invest large blocs of time, books of short essays allow you to pick up the book and put it down and pick it up and put it down again. Such books fit easily into the working day and the busy nights of modern men. And let's face it, I've sampled Rooney and Charles Osgood, and Rooney wins hands down.

This particular book captures a number of Rooney's "A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney" segments from the television news magazine Sixty Minutes (as do many of his collections). The book starts in 1982 and finishes with some from 2003. It offers an interesting retrospective of a chunk of history I recognize as my formative years, as seen from a man who's older than I am now. I don't think that means much, but he does reflect on four presidential administrations, including two terms of Reagan and Clinton.

Some people don't like Rooney because he's a curmudgeon, but I don't hold that against him; after all, I am a curmudgeon in training. I do recognize that he's a little to the dovish side of me when it comes to foreign policy (he's all butter and no guns), but I find enough wisdom in his damn kids bits and other non-political things to enjoy his writing.

One thing I don't appreciate, though, is his reluctance--even defiance--in using apostrophes. Throughout this book, he doesn't use apostrophes in contractions--at least not consistently. In the introduction, before I can no longer enumerate the typos, he informs me he's not using them because he composed the pieces to be spoken on television, so he's omitting the apostrophes since he didn't pronounce them. It's a jarring read, especially since he later brags about how many grammar books he has on the shelf behind his desk. Still, I forgive him, since the editors of his other books and his contemporary pieces on the Web site have convinced him that most things should read easy, too.

What of this book? It's a font of wisdom and foolishness. It's an I-Ching, not quite the touchstone that apparently is The Godfather, but its 500+ pages offer insight into the modern condition that most classic philosophers don't.

Book Review: Rainbow Mars by Larry Niven (1999)

This book extends the world created in Niven's "The Flight of the Horse". The book comprises the short stories, "The Flight of the Horse", "Leviathan!", "A Bird in the Hand", and others, as well as a new novella "Rainbow Mars".

The short stories were published independently between 1969 and 1973, so they're designed for independence and are farily self-contained. They describe enough of the world in which the stories are set that the reader can pick up what he or she needs to know as he or she needs to know it. In a slightly dystopian future, the UN rules the world and the position of Secretary-General is an inherited position, inherited by idiots. The sceintific arms of the UN compete in bureaucratic battles for budget, and the time travellers need to keep the current Secretary-General amused with their procurement of extinct animals. They try, but often they fail with results that we in their past will find amusing.

The longer work "Rainbow Mars", coming almost thirty years later, builds upon these earlier stories. A new Secretary General is more interested in astronomy than extinct animals, and the time travellers have to find a way to keep themselves relevant--and they do. They need to bring an extinct Martian from the past.

Larry Niven demonstrates that he's got a great talent for weaving myths, traditional stories, and classic science fiction stories into a narrative that pays homage to many (too many perhaps). Unfortunately, the people who put this book together put it together in the wrong order. "Rainbow Mars" should not lead off the book; it should follow those that came before it to provide context; although I had read the short stories earlier, I could have used the refresher. I guess the people who put the book together wanted to realy differentiate this volume from Flight of the Horse and Other Stories. They didn't do us readers any favors, though.

So although I'd recommend the book for the Niven fans amongst us, I'd recommend you not read it in the order in which the publisher presents it. Read the short stories, and then the novel. Especially if you can score this book for two bucks like I did.


All-Clad is not sky clad.

Whew. For a moment, I thought Amazon was advertising to cash in on the single-breast exposure thing.

Personal Thank You

Undoubtedly, the klaxons and swirling red lights down in my workplace NOC that flash each time something triggers the Echelon-strength Internet content filters in the bowels of the sys admin's secret lair at my workplace echoed and, well, swirled today as I visited many of my favorite Web logs and "news" portals today.

Jeez, my workstation saw a bitch's worth of teats today, guys, as each of you salivated over the Miss Jackson flesh we might better have appreciated fifteen years ago (and then there's the drawing of Jessica Rabbit courtesy of Kim du Toit).

When I'm terminated for Internet abuse, I expect each of you to hit my tip jar to make it up.

Thank you, that is all.

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