Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, February 28, 2004
Buy Paperbacks, Kim

Kim du Toit has become enraged about a book he has read. Well, no, operates pretty much from a baseline state of mere rage; however, he read a book that caused him to bellow.

As you all know, I heartily recommend that you read books with which you disagree, or which might anger you, in paperback. This will not nick your drywall or shatter your tchotchkes.

They also make great targets for skeet shooting if you're so inclined. Complete with flapping action. I think du Toit's so inclined.

Sometimes the Punchlines Write Themselves

Headline in the Springfield News-Leader:

County's gonorrhea cases increase

Rise linked to loss of a state-funded job to track sexually transmitted diseases.

Automatically-generated punchlines:
  • With more time on his hands, he could concentrate more on his true passion, spreading the clap.

  • With enough state-funded jobs, eventually all disease would be eradicated.

Friday, February 27, 2004
A Stay at the Compulsory Resort

Just in time to take advantage of the new jail-term-for-illegal-parking described below, St. Charles, Missouri, has decided it's going to send a bill to lodgers in its Compulsory Resort, previously known as the city jail:
    The County Council voted Tuesday night to require such inmates to set up installment repayment plans within six months after they get out of jail. Failure to do so could spur the county to seize and sell the ex-offenders' property to get some money back.
So after someone gets out of jail, after having his or her income interrupted, possibly losing a job if he or she had one, and making the next job more difficult to get, the lovely city will send a bill which might lead them to suing and seizing property--whatever's left after the fines for the offense, that is. You city legislators have an interesting theory of reintegration and recidivism-prevention you have there, sirs.

Perhaps we should quote the article more fully:
    The County Council voted Tuesday night to require such inmates to set up installment repayment plans within six months after they get out of jail. Failure to do so could spur the county to seize and sell the ex-offenders' property to get some money back.

    The council also passed a pay increase for council members elected later this year and a bill requiring council approval for naming or renaming most county buildings.
Policy made by a cash-hungry government makes awfully poor government of the government, by the government, and for the government. Fellows, you think police speeding ticket quotas suck? Wait until you're slapped with a six month sentence at a double-occupancy government facility because the County Commission on Revenue's assistant commissioner needs an office redecoration.

Because the Legislators Need Busy Work

True to form, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch starts this article on policy off with an anecdote:
    Jennifer Bresee was infuriated by the note she found tucked beneath the windshield wiper as she finished shopping at Wal-Mart.

    If you're truly handicapped, you can get a license plate indicating such at the Missouri Department of Revenue license office. If you are merely enjoying the convenience of parking here at the inconvenience of a handicapped person, shame on you.

    Bresee did indeed have handicapped plates. But the note's author apparently noticed only how healthy Bresee looked as she got out of her car and walked into the store. Had the accuser waited a bit longer, the person would have seen Bresee limping all the way back to her car.

    "I have multiple sclerosis, which is most times very invisible," said Bresee, 26, explaining that even a short trip to the store can exhaust her and cause severe leg pain. "Many times, walking back out of the Wal-Mart you can tell, rather than walking into the Wal-Mart."
So obviously, to make Jennifer feel better, the state must do something? I guess that's the point the writer of this bit has in mind. However, the something that state legislators have in mind is the obvious: dial up the punishment for people who abuse handicapped parking privileges:
    It also would make abuse of the privileges a Class A misdemeanor, punishable up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. The legislation would impose the same penalty on doctors who write notes for people who don't need the special plates.

    The measure (SB 1144) was approved 30-0 by the state Senate this week and now awaits a House vote.
A year in jail for illegally parking. Thank goodness our legislators are finally making laws that make sense rather than making feel-good laws with which no person with a heart can disagree.

Remember Your Position, Serf

Wisoconsin Attorney General Peg Lotsalager reminds citizens of their place regarding casino regulation:
    It's more important for the state to be able to regulate casinos than to let the public see the records, Lautenschlager's opinion says.
The right of the state to earn revenue trumps the right of the public to keep tabs on what the state and the casinos are doing.

Because states' rights, you know. Don't think to hard on that, citizen; it's a class C felony to reflect on the role of government.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004
Today's Civic Lessons

Sorry, kids, I don't have much to post today, so I will have to send you elsewhere for your civics lessons today. I recommend:

Tuesday, February 24, 2004
I Think It Has Something To Do With a Movie

Here's the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's film critic Joe "Bonwich was the food critic at the RFT, Dammit" Williams reviewing The Last Passion of Christ or whatever the damn thing is called.

It is anti-Semitic because Joe knows anti-Semitism when he sees it:
    In Gibson's version of events, the only earthly reason our hero is subjected to this interminable flogging is because he was betrayed by Jews. Those who feared that "The Passion of the Christ" would have an anti-Semitic subtext will have their worst fears confirmed. The unmistakable villain of the movie is Caiaphas (Mattia Sbragia), the leering, lip-smacking high priest who orders Jesus arrested and pays hecklers to demand that he be crucified. By comparison, the Roman overlord Pontius Pilate (the excellent Hristo Shopov) is a fair-minded if fretful bureaucrat who only consents to have Jesus executed to avoid civil unrest.
I don't know, but I think it would have been a tad inauthentic to make the villain a Swedish media magnate. I thought "authenticity" meant something to people who critique the cinema.

But who am I to argue with the multi-lingual intellectual Williams? After all, he's apparently fluent in a dead language:
    In a scene that has been the subject of much prerelease debate, Gibson plays it coy, eliminating the subtitle when the Jewish onlookers shout, "Let his blood be upon us and our children," but retaining the offending line in Aramaic.
Since he heard the line spoken and knew what it meant, one can only assume that Williams knows Aramaic, ainna? The other safe assumption might be that Williams has read other criticisms of the movie and is basing his column on what other people said about it, essentially making bullet points into paragraphs as best he can.

But I digress. Let's play some more "Where's the Anti-Semitism?" with Joe:
    Except for Jesus' disciples and the two Marys (Maia Morgenstern and Monica Bellucci as the mother and Magdalene, respectively), the Jewish characters are sinister and slovenly. Even some Jewish children are demonized, as they morph into monsters and drive the apostle Judas to suicide.
Jewish children, demonized as they morph into monsters. Heck's pecs, I haven't read the New Testament yet, but if they have cool special effects written right into the stage directions like that, perhaps I should. Still, I have a little trouble as a, you know, thoughtful person in thinking that these children which morph into demons to torment Judas morph into demons because they're Jewish. I think they might have morphed into demons because Judas was tormented, and Jewish children fit into the scene. Munchkins would undoubtedly have been better to prevent anti-Semitism charges. But the Holy Land ain't Oz.

For some inexplicable reason, Gibson's scholarship becomes a question, not the movie:
    Like his father, who claimed last week that the Holocaust is mostly fiction, Mel Gibson is neither a theologian nor a scholar. Historians - the kind who look at evidence - surmise that Jesus of Nazareth was executed because he fought back when his Middle Eastern homeland was occupied by the world's most powerful army. That doesn't fit the obviously heartfelt agenda of the director, who adheres to an embattled offshoot of Catholicism and often portrays a martyr in his movies.
Like me, who last week drank Milwaukee dry of Guinness Draught (well, okay, just one pub), Joe Williams is neither a concert violinist nor professional elephant trainer. But what does that have to do with the price of tee shirts in China? Not an annpacking thing, but it does ad homenim Mel Gibson, particularly the sweet bit about what Mel Gibson's father said last week wherein Williams hopes some transference occurs in the reader's mind between the father and the son.

Gibson's neither Scotch nor Danish, either, but he was in Braveheart and Hamlet, and he had a heartfelt agenda in them, too. To make a film.

Suddenly, if the johnking history, that is to say the interpretation of history currently favored by professional academics, is the final arbiter on critical relevance then Shakespeare's about to be unemployed. Methinks John Williams better hie himself hence to the University to retain his job, but he's probably already the journalistic equivalent of tenured.

I don't imagine I'll see the film in the theater; maybe on DVD. However, I couldn't let this review pass unsnarked. Thank you for understanding.

We Get Results

Another author finds himself mentioned on MfBJN. This time, it's Michael Craig, author of The 50 Best (and Worst) Business Deals, which I reviewed in December. Michael writes:
    I noticed that you read, reviewed, and enjoyed my book, The 50 Best (and Worst) Business Deals of All Time. Let's not get into WHY I'm doing a Google search of my name. Just call it a sickness that goes with being an author.

    Thank you for the kind words. When I complete the next book - it's about the highest-stakes poker game ever played - I'll shoot you a copy. And if that doesn't work, I'll just mail it to you.
I told him not to worry about Googling himself and thanked him for his kind words, which I suspect he would have for anyone who compared him to Sun Tzu.

Funny, Ann Packer hasn't written. Come to think of it, I think I shall add annpacker to my pantheon of profanity.

Monday, February 23, 2004
I Tried, Spoons

Spoons links to a Flash-requiring quiz by that's supposed to tell you the type of person to whom you're physically attracted. The quiz brags that it's based on a fifteen-year study, undoubtedly funded by members of Congress.

I tried to take the quiz, but I got to the section where the quiz wanted you to select, from among the women you found attractive, the women who you thought would find you unattractive. I couldn't think of a single woman who would find me unattractive, and it booted me back to the beginning.

No matter; we know the sort of woman I find dead-sexy.

Enough Already

I'd call it a pet peeve, but both pet and peeve sound kinda cute, and what I'm about to explain represents more of a junkyard abhorrence; it's got a spike collar and a low growl in the throat whenever the subject walks by.

I hate "so-called."

Any time a writer, particularly a professional paid writer or journalist throws this amalgamation into a serious news article or essay, I question the credibility or maturity of the writer. No, I want to punch the johnker right in his or her stunted vocabulary.

So-called is alleged with a sneer, with a sense of condescension that intimates that we, meaning the liberally-educated author and his or her intelligent readership, understand the facade of the following noun for what it is, a cheap manipulation of truth built by the Orwellian right-wing/administration/conservative/techno/military/industrial/business/ (breath) /capitalist/Christian/Zionist/Machiavellian/fascist complex/conspiracy.

Get a thesaurus, pinheads, and leave the so-calling to the adolescents.

(This rant spurred by Roger L. Simon, who made the mistake of linking to Noam Chompsky's op-ed piece in the New York Times.)

Thanks, But I Have a Psychological Disorder Hobby Already

Here's a new bit on Snopes: Geez, Mikkelson, thanks for the graphic details and the extreme tips, such as:
    People tend to leave frequently-used articles where they are normally put to use, which means most of us unthinkingly deposit our toothbrushes on the sink or counter in the bathroom. A better strategy would be to place them in the medicine cabinet between brushings. It pays to keep in mind that while you may remember to close the lid before flushing, not everyone else in the household will always be as diligent.
Actually, there are numerous other tips, but I'm not going to implement them. I spend so much time being a paranoid neurotic that I don't have any time to add another set of obsessive-compulsive tasks. Sorry.

Check Your Premises

In his Star-Tribune column, Lileks invokes some statistics, or rather alludes to an article which referred to a study that includes statistics about tall people earning more money:
    Tall People are more likely to be paid more money. Each additional inch adds $789 annually to your paycheck. The natural conclusion: If you want a new car, figure out the payments, then head off to Tijuana for an illegal shin augmentation.
Pardon me while I add a hearty "You don't say" to the conversation. Once you get beyond 6' 4", brother, you're looking at actors, basketball players, and Michael Crichton. Undoubtedly, these fellows alone skew the averages quite upward. I am only 6' 0" and I can think of plenty of runts who make more than I do. Of course, I am in the IT industry, and everyone in IT makes more than the cheap QA help.

What was my point? Oh, yeah, read this guy Lileks. He's an obscure Minnesotan columnist, but just because someone is from the upper Midwest and not Wisconsin is no reason to let him toil in his obscurity.

Sunday, February 22, 2004
More Proof I Am A Bad Seed

As my former officemate and my wife can attest, I like my gum (loud).

Brother Lileks intones:
    Gum has CARBS, you know. And carbs are from SATAN.
So now you know, but I have already corrupted you, too. Only eighteen more people, and I fulfill my contract. Twenty-eight more people and I earn my first incentive bonus.

My Favorite Suburbs

So as I passed into Milwaukee, I spent some time musing upon my favorite suburbs there. I passed through Wauwautosa, an inner ring suburb and my favorite suburb of Milwaukee. Its homes are older, brick construction and are well-maintained. The flukish shape of Milwaukee, stretched oddly from the downtown to the Northwest in a sort of trapezoid, means that Wauwautosa is closer to downtown than the part of Milwaukee in which I spent more than a scattered third of my life. Its proximity to the city and its inclusion within the web of mass transit in Milwaukee County means that Wauwautosa is more reminiscent of a neighborhood than an individual municipality, but Tosans have a municipal government of their own, I think. Maybe they just think they do.

I compare it to the suburbs in the St. Louis area that I like. If you're judging from criteria that include security/personal safety, brick construction/history/cohesiveness, and proximity to art, in St. Louis you can pick two of three sometimes, and maybe one in others. For example, Casinoport has, well, relative safety. Closer suburbs in St. Louis County like Webster Groves or Kirkwood have almost all three, but hey, I live to romanticize Milwaukee, so they're no Wauwautosa, ainna?

By the way, if you're insisting I round out the list, I prefer West Milwaukee and West Allis. Sorry, Owen, but those outer communities like Menomonie Falls, Brookfield, Franklin, and anywhere the Milwaukee County Transit System cannot take me in forty minutes of bus riding with one transfer don't make the list.


As you might have noticed, gentle readers, I have not posted in a while. I spent a luxurious weekend in my favorite travel destination, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I celebrated my birthday by helping yet another friend move. It's not that I have a lot of friends in Wisconsin, it's that they move around frequently.

It wasn't all hard work; I got to spend a couple nights at the beautiful Hyatt Regency, enjoying the skyline from the 17th floor because I specifically requested a low floor. I felt somewhat cosmopolitan in my hotel room, with my laptop, writing blog entries and whatnot. The Hyatt offers wireless Internet access in all of its rooms now, a plastic placard let me know. Swell. So how come you're getting this dump now, instead of as it happened on Friday and Saturday?

Because my laptop is an IBM ThinkPad. You know how new ThinkPads have numbers after them? My laptop does not; it's an original ThinkPad. Its carbon-dating establishes its origin circa 1993. It runs Windows 3.11, but it has almost 20 Mb free on the hard drive of the original 40.

I fail as a TruGeek(tm) because I don't need the latest in equipment. After I reset the date and time (or not) to workaround a dead CMOS, I can type text into my laptop's Wordpad using a microscopic keyboard. That's why I bring the laptop around, in case I get inspired to start on yet another unfinished but promising novel concept. It's a typewriter in which I can cut and paste, and from which I can import the result into a real word processor on my main PC through the world's last 3.5" floppy disk. Plus, it can play one or two really slick games I downloaded from BBSes while I was in college.

I don't need a tablet PC or a new AMD 2000+ laptop with 20" screen. I paid an extra $40 in 1997 for a used notebook with a color monitor, for crying out loud. I don't have a Personal Data Assistant, and I don't even use the free magazine giveaway electronic addressbook to organize the dozen phone numbers of my friends or the two dozen names on my Christmas card list. iPods? I can whistle off-key for free, you damn kids!

So, did you miss me? Is that why you're reloading?

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