Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Wednesday, February 18, 2004
Attention, Bachelors!

I saw a teaser for this woman on Effed Company, wherein it said:
    Last great book I read: "I read all of the Ayn Rand books in a month."
Dudes, I married a hot chick because she had a cat named John Galt.

And she's not even read, to the best of my knowledge, the The Early Ayn Rand.

Wait a minute. This woman is indicating that she read, in 31 days max:
  • Anthem
  • The Fountainhead
  • Atlas Shrugged
  • We The Living
  • The (aforementioned) Early Ayn Rand
  • The Virtue of Selfishness
  • Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal
  • Philosophy: Who Needs It?
  • For the New Intellectual
Never mind, Objectivist bachelor straight friends and readers. She's either prone to exaggeration, an outright liar, or a layabout who does nothing but read all day. You don't need that.

Written By A Non Technical Person

From the Financial Times story describing the coming yawn search engine conflict:
    Yahoo on Wednesday raised the stakes in the internet search wars as it abandoned Google in favour of using an in-house search engine on its own web sites.

    With Microsoft waiting in the wings to launch a rival technology of its own, the move sets up a three-way struggle that will challenge Google’s recent dominance of internet searching.

    The coming battle reflects the emergence of search as the internet’s “killer application” since the rise of Google. With more people using a search engine as the starting point whenever they go online, whether to find information or products to buy, control of search has become central to the ambitions of all three companies.
Spare me. When was the last time you used the search feature in Windows? Come on, you know how to do it. Select Start > Search.... or press the Windows key and F. What, don't use it much, if at all? Searching the Internet is a supplemental technology at best. I don't know of many people who have Google as their starting point, nor any search engine. Personally, I don't use a toolbar for searches and I ignore whenever Internet Explorer wants to search for me.

As people become more mature and Internet-aware, search engines will fall by the wayside. When I'm on the Internet, I tend to know where I want to go, and if I use a search engine, I use it to find content, not its paid advertisers.

Sorry, Uncas Ray, John, and Vinod.

(Link seen on Outside the Beltway.)

Where Have The Arcades Gone?

Even if you're not a small time collector like me, you might be interested in reading this lengthystate of the industry piece about what the history and future held and hold for the arcade machine operators.

I've dreamed of opening an old-style arcade. Of course, I'll have to become rich first to have money to lose on it as a hobby.

(Link seen on /.)

Jim Comes Out

In a post on Electric Venom, Jim of Snooze Button Dreams comes out of the closet:
    And no, this is not an "I have a friend with a problem" thing, it really was my cousin. I'm in QA - I don't have to deal with people outside of the company.
Shout it loudly, shout it proudly:

I'm QA and that's OK!

Note: This is not a dig at everyone else in IT; it's okay to be a developer, too. There's nothing of which to be ashamed. Some of my best friends are developers. Or were, anyway, until they read this note.

Apologies to AJC

Dudes, I only scored 12 on the Livin' In The '80s: A Song Quiz.

I sux.

(Curse Fark for the link!)

Tuesday, February 17, 2004
Deep Thoughts

In today's Washington Post, deep thinker John Handey Doug Henning Don Henley uncaps his fountain pen to decry the state of the music industry today.

To recap his wisdom:
  • The big corporations are squeezing out the small labels.

  • The big corporations are putting out crappy music because.....

  • Music executives don't sign new artists that audiences really want because....

  • The big retailers are squeezing out the small record shops by stocking crappy music at high prices, but too low for small record shops to make a profit meaningful contribution.
Actually, I am not really sure what his wisdom is, much like he surely doesn't understand how capitalism works. What the audience wants, someone will sell them, and the music industry is evolving beyond the traditional channels.

Others weigh in:

Cyber Keystone Koppers

I realize it's probably the journalist adding drama to (that is, creating whole) an anecdote, but the lead from this SFGate story doesn't portray the bastions of public safety in too good of a light:
    Washington -- Sitting at his home in Virginia Beach, Va., Joe Yuhasz almost reached for his wallet when an e-mail message popped into his inbox and told him America Online needed to verify his credit card information.

    The site linked to the e-mail looked identical to AOL's billing center, until Yuhasz noticed the domain name was a fake -- a scam commonly known as phishing.
Almost reached for his wallet? Cheese, Louise, even my dear aunt knows better than that.

Maybe it's part of a far-ranging ploy to lull the cyberbadguys into a false sense of superiority.

Missouri Pay As You Go

The Sophorist links to a person who links to a story about Missouri state government offering taxpayers the opportunities to add money to their taxes for common programs:
    If passed, this fund would allow ordinary citizens and every special interest in the state to contribute additional tax dollars to their favorite cause, program, or policy. It would afford the average hard working taxpayers the luxury of avoiding to pay higher taxes in these difficult times, but permit all those people and interests who believe state government should be bigger and should allocate more resources to contribute generously.
On the whole, I think it's a good idea, but I would hate to think of how much "Give Us Money" advertising the programs would spend the extra money on.

Were the programs to receive enough funding through the opt-in tax payment plan, I suspect that the state government would start reallocating that percentage of the program's original funding to other, newer, and more profligate programs.

Monday, February 16, 2004
No Taxes for Ads

Today's poster child for poor use of government funds: St. Clair County, Illinois, spends $500,000 to promote the only airline flying into MidAmerica Airport. An airport built with public funds an hour outside of St. Louis that had no airlines coming in when it was built. And now that Great Plains is broke, despite $500,000 of tax-paid promotion, MidAmerica Airport again sits idle, except for the tax-paid employees wandering around with nothing to do.

Which brings me to what might be the most blatantly bad waste of tax money. Advertising of any sort, for any reason. Particularly to promote private enterprises.

Whether it's half a million to Fleishmann-Hillard to line the pockets of the influence industry in St. Louis or it's a half percent tax here in Casinoport on hotel rooms to promote tourism--the government has no business redistributing wealth from its citizens to already affluent sectors. The government might claim it's out to make the community better, but it means by community its tax base, and wasting tax money on advertising is only one more symptom of an organic government that exists to consume and grow, not to serve its citizens.

And It's The Frontier

This Chicago Tribune story (registration required) discusses the Ohio highway sniper and the journalists hazards a guess why the wires aren't picking up her story and why she's not been making the rounds of cable news outlets:
    The shootings remind a lot of people of 2002's sniper attacks in the suburbs around Washington, D.C., which left 10 people dead before two men were arrested and charged with the killings.

    The Ohio sniper case has garnered what appears to be less publicity, perhaps because only one person has died.
Perhaps. But some of us (which means "Brian J. Noggle") in the middle of the country with a chip on the shoulder (not a cow chip, heinzenjohnkers) suspect it's not garnering much media attention because it's the middle of the country. Were someone to squeeze off a few rounds over the course of a year on the Beltway, that person would get a lot of attention, even if he or she were not shooting to kill.

Because the important people would be in danger. Not mere citizens. The super-citizens who work for the influence industry or the government.

Lileks on Modern Art

James Lileks, in his column in the Star Tribune, muses on a modern art exhibit:
    Headline in last week's paper: "Walker's attendance falls by 30%; Official blames 9/11 for decline in tourism."

    I have a theory, and I'll admit it might be controversial:
    It's possible that no one wanted to see the exhibits."
and offers his grand unified theory:
    Well, you say, you just don't like modern art. Not true. I hate modern art. No, that's not right, either. I may be a philistine, but I am a learned one. I have a complex and nuanced response to modern art, be it the rigors of De Stijl, the furious assertions of Abstract Expressionism, the romantic angularity of Lionel Feininger, the anguished gashes of Clifford Still, the whimsical recontextualizations of Lichtenstein and other Pop Art painters; I understand the challenges that Action Painting made to the outmoded bourgeoise notions nurtured in the dusty attics of the beaux-arts mind-set, and I appreciate the connection between surrealism and post World War I disenchantment with rationality, why Dali was a bit of a poser, why Klee makes us nervous, why Bacon horrifies, and Beckmann can best be understood in the climate of Weimar. All this I know. And my opinion is simple: Eh. If it's not ugly, it's banal. If it's not banal, it's pretentious. If it's not either, it's pointless. Sometimes it's good. Sometimes it's great. (Like Feininger.) But in general:

If you're not cyber-stalking Lileks' writings and reading the Back Fence (his column in the Star Tribune and his weekly Newhouse News syndicated column, you're pathetic. I mean, you're missing out on quality writing. I didn't say pathetic.

Sunday, February 15, 2004
Tax Cuts for the Rich

Missouri Governor B. Holden announces a student loan forgiveness program for those who study life sciences and work in Missouri.

Why do I dare mock such a proposal? I mean, other than mockery is my first language?
    This is a growth industry in our state, and it is an area that attracts the high wage jobs that we need in Missouri," Holden said.
Because the johnking schnuck is going to forgive student loans for people who graduate college and then get high paying jobs in the state of Missouri. Because B. Holden thinks that eligible employees bring jobs to a state. Here's a free clue, B. Holden: cheap labor brings jobs to a state, not a bunch of kids with college degrees and expectations of high pay. I guess that's where you step in to offer other taxpayer-funded corporate welfare "incentives" to companies who would employ the graduates for whom taxpayers paid.

Instead of kids who can walk out of college into high-paying jobs, guvnor, how about some tax relief for the following:
  • Computer science students who end up as supervisors for UPS.
  • Liberal arts students who work as shipping receiving clerks, but who can recite the Porter scene from Macbeth when the delivery truck drivers ring his bell.
  • Drama students who serve coffee at Borders with flourish unmatched by others?
Those poor souls out there who went to college to better themselves but refuse to submit to cubicle, or laboratory, existence deserve more sympathy than fraggles who went to school and walked out of school into any job over twenty thousand dollars a year.

None of them, of course, deserve my fortuitously-earned tax dollars, though, but that sympathy's better than your tax cut for the future rich you're disguising as a program for the children.

Worthy Cause

Here's an organization worth investigating: The Dollywood (yes, Dolly Parton) Foundation's Imagination Library.

From the "About Us" page:
    This program is one of the most important ways I know to improve the educational opportunities for children in your community.

    When I was growing up in the hills of East Tennessee, I knew my dreams would come true. I know there are children in your community with their own dreams. They dream of becoming a doctor or an inventor or a minister. Who knows, maybe there is a little girl whose dream is to be a writer and singer.

    The seeds of these dreams are often found in books and the seeds you help plant in your community can grow across the world.

    I hope you'll agree to become a champion of the Imagination Library in your community. You will be amazed at the impact this simple gift can have on the lives of children and their families. We have seen it work in our own backyard and I'm certain it can do the same in your community, too.
Here's what the organization does:
    Dolly Parton's Imagination Library is all about inspiration and imagination. It was developed in 1995 by Dolly for her hometown of Sevier County, Tennessee. Dolly wanted every preschool child to have their own library of books. The effort received numerous awards and extraordinary media attention which generated interest from across the country. After much thought, Dolly decided to offer her Imagination Library for replication in any community that would support it.

    Each month, from the day the child is born until his/her 5th birthday, a carefully selected book arrives at the mailbox. Kids across the country have shared the excitement of running to the mailbox to retrieve their book. More often than not, the child wants the book read to them now - not later, not tonight and not tomorrow. Right now!
As an attempted author, I can think of no better goal than to increase future readers. For the children!

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