Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, March 06, 2004

Thanks to a little help from Kelley (and a couple of pints of Guinness, I discovered:

What Kind of Drunk Are You?

Book Review: Time Flies by Bill Cosby (1987)

When I drove to Milwaukee, I listened to a couple of Bill Cosby CDS that were originally released as Bill Cosby LPs in the late 1960s, when Cosby was fresh from I-Spy and before he embarked on the Fat Albert thing and The Cosby Show. If you damn kids don't know what an LP is, Google it. I enjoyed his warm storytelling style of humor and the easy chuckle-style amusement it brings, so I stopped by Downtown Books in Milwaukee and picked up a copy of Time Flies, a book written during the height of his Cosby Show celebrity.

The tone of the 30 year-old Cosby's stories contrast with the book written by the 50-year-old Cosby; the book deals with Cosby turning 50, and he reminisces about his former glory as an athlete and talks about the loss of memory, physique, and other things that come while the eternal footman goes to the coat check room for you. The essays don't mourn the loss with disappointment or rancor, but more a nostalgia. I liked the book and read it pretty quickly.

An interesting, extra poignant moment in the book is when Cosby compares his aging physique to that of his son, Ennis, as they play basketball together. The young reaching its prime, the older recognizing the fundamental shift and the nature of the cycle. Ten years later, the cycle was broken when Ennis died, but seventeen years ago, they played basketball together, and the father thought of his mortality while the son didn't recognize his own.

Unfortunately, the publisher or someone has seen fit to include an introduction by Alvin F. Poussaint, M.D., that really detracts from the book as a whole. Before Cos can start, the doctor has started talking seriously about the prospect of aging and the fears faced by aging people (as opposed, I suppose, to dead people, who are very mellow indeed). We readers could have figured out Cosby's overall message without some therapidiocy slathered onto the actual text before we read the text. Thanks, doctor, for getting me in touch with my inner senior.

Friday, March 05, 2004

A Robert J. Samuelson column in the Washington Post about The Future of the Welfare State (registration required) triggered a thought. When Samuelson says:
    But Europe relies heavily on a sales tax -- the "value-added tax" -- that, in theory, falls on consumption and not investment or work effort.
I think, you know, some people want to introduce a national sales tax, or consumption tax, in these United States to replace the income tax. I hadn't given much thought to the stupidity of the consumption tax, but here's my epiphany: A consumption/sales tax rewards people like Scrooge McDuck who throw all their moneys into savings and vaults but don't purchase things, which keeps the economy going. Of course, when Scrooge McDuck dies, the inheritance tax kicks in and the heirs get less than the sum of Scrooge's savings, which they can save or spend (with applicable consumption taxation). Holy cow, Taxman!

Perhaps less taxes would spur the economies. But less taxes means less government dole, and how can one get elected with the latter?


Via The Meatriarchy, we see government largesse funding an artiste who mocks religion:
    How about a performance artist who:

    "suspended himself naked, filled his mouth with his own blood and assumed the lotus position. In Liaison Inter-Urbain he dug a shallow grave, inserted a vial of blood into his anus and contorted himself so that the blood flowed into his mouth."
I think governments should pay good cash money only to artists who pry out their own eyes with spoons and hang upside down from trees to gain true knowledge. Put that on my 1040 form; I'd check the box to depopulate artists who suck in more ways than one.

Ya Think?

In an essay on CNet, Dan Schoenbaum states the obvious:
    Instead of exponentially increasing business productivity and allowing us to realize the full potential of our ever-faster and more powerful hardware, software consistently grows more complex, bloated, cumbersome and slow.

    It is no secret that the majority of IT initiatives fail. Software is hard to write, hard to understand, hard to deploy, hard to use, hard to manage, hard to maintain and increasingly hard to justify. We spend billions of dollars building, implementing, fixing and fighting with our software, and yet we demand little in return, meekly accepting that our investments come with no quality or performance guarantees.
    IT projects fail because we often approach the software development process with reckless abandon. We have thrown the proven engineering principles and processes that other disciplines adhere to right out the window. We are lax in planning, we have few standards and design principles.
The solution is to embrace the concept of total quality throughout the SDLC (software development lifecycle) and hold to the virtues of some other contemporary buzzwords and blah blah blah.

This gets written and discussed ad infinitum, but if ignoring it completely is what it takes to get one more sale in the current quarter, then those are the sacrifices with which we have to live.

Thursday, March 04, 2004
A Nickel's Worth of Free Advice

The St. Louis Regional Commerce and Growth Association has commissioned a highly-paid professional to come up with some suggestions about improving the business environment in St. Louis, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The consultant offers a couple of suggestions as well as a couple of head pats for what this charming provincial little city on the frontier is doing right.

To summarize:
    Those assets include affordable living, a renowned medical school and several unique cultural and historical amenities such as Forest Park, he said.
That's the head pat. This metro area of two million people has cheap housing, a medical school, and "unique" amenities like Forest Park. That sounds more like Columbia, Missouri.

The biggest drawbacks?
  • Often, however, talented workers leave the region because its corporate culture stifles entrepreneurs and leaves little opportunity for up-and-coming, creative employees, Kotkin said.

  • But in order to compete effectively with cities like Kansas City and Minneapolis, the region must first address several obstacles, including "standoffish attitudes toward outsiders, as well as a legacy of racial divisiveness," Kotkin said.
Uh huh. Neckties too tight, xenophobia, and racism. Platitudes, platitudes, and more platitudes for $75,000. I think I want to start a company called PlATTITUDES! and get in on this racket.

Here's my nickel's worth of free advice, St. Louis (and I address the city because no one else in the country understands the extreme difference between the city of St. Louis and the rest of us in St. Louis County):
  • Elevate the level of the elected officials in St. Louis. Let's face it, if they're peeing in trashcans during debates or pouring a pitcher of water on the adversaries as directed by the voices in your head, they're not governing, and they're only serving as trivial punchlines. This is what people from around the country see in your city.

  • Instead of world-class, tax-funded sports facilities for football, baseball, hockey, basketball, la crosse, volley ball, arena football, soccer, and tournament bridge, how about some world-class roads instead of the cheese graters you have downtown? I don't have an off-road vehicle. And I don't go downtown.

  • Hey, how about some tax cuts? I mean, I don't live or work in the city because I don't want to pay the one percent of vig the city taxes off of my earnings to pay for commissions that recommend world-class sports facilities and then paying for luxury boxes in said sports facilities for said commissions into perpetuity.

  • Hey, has the state removed the accreditation for your schools yet?
Hey, my advice's free, and it's better than the stuff assembled as a discussion of the $75,000 answer:
    Some ideas already have been developed by a group of young professionals assembled by the RCGA to discuss the report. Those ideas include creating a system to welcome new workers to the area, devising a mentoring process to link executives with younger workers and establishing an annual entrepreneur contest.
That's what you get when you assemble young professionals whose neckties are too tight.

Ten Women in History Who Weren't Important to Anyone But Modern Journalists

MSN has a bit on Ten Women Who Changed the World, and I didn't realize it was getting to be chick history month again. Upon further review, perhaps it's not, since MSN and its content partners iVilliage and/or Lifetime put their logos on this list of important women:
  • Amelia Earhart
  • Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Betty Friedan
  • Shannon Faulkner
  • Anne Morrow Lindbergh
  • Margaret Sanger
  • Elizabeth I
  • Mother Jones
  • Jackie Kennedy Onassis
  • Katherine Graham
:: cough, cough ::

Excuse me? That's the best this particular person could scratch up for women who changed the world? An aviator, the wife of a president, the wife of a president and then the wife of an industrialist, the wife of an aviator, a college student, someone responsible for birth control promotion, a queen, an union organizer, a feminist academic, and a journalist?

This sounds more like Ten Women Who Made A Young Columnist Able to Do A Simple Job She Likes and Sleep with Whomever She Likes on Her Way To Marrying Well. This isn't Ten Women Who Changed History. This is Ten Women Who Enabled Sex and the City.

The only members of the list with which I agree are Elizabeth and maybe, maybe Eleanor Roosevelt. But jeez, if you want to hit women who have changed world history, here's a short list of world-wide (and now dead) heavy hitters from the top of my head:
  • Dido, the original, not the pop singer, you damn kids.
  • Elizabeth I, okay, she was tough.
  • Joan of Arc, kept the French from surrendering and speaking English.
  • Boadicea, who led a people.
  • Cleopatra, who ruled an empire.
  • Mother Theresa, who arguably helped a lot of people.
  • Susanna Rowson, who had the best-selling book in early America, until
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote an abolitionist novel that outsold it.
At least the writer of this piece didn't pick Viola de Lesseps, for crying out loud.

The Black Card

Snopes has a wonderful right up on the American Express Centurion card. It's so exclusive, it's by invitation only, and it carries a $2,500 annual fee.

I want one. Please hit the PayPal jar to the left. Thank you, hordes.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Wizbang! points out that the story in this post about a guy who wore a devil costume to see The Passion of the Christ was a spoof.

But it can't be. I saw it on Fark, so it's gotta be true. Next you're going to tell me is that the things in their photography ontests are faked.

Keep Perspective

Via the Ranting Professor, I came across a bit in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (registration required, but go ahead and tell them you're Bud Selig) about how the coastal upperclass media types view members of their audiences who are not from those silly little states across which you can drive in an hour.

Yummy bits:
    Questions are not being asked. Meanings are not being interpreted. Certain neighborhoods are not being visited. Certain lives are not being explored in a meaningful way. And, through the prosecution of basic journalism, agendas are being set that do not reflect the way the other half, without the bulging 401ks, lives.

    For instance, how many people on air or in print came from families that had walked a picket line? How many know how to bait a hook or gut a deer? (I'm bad at both.) How many have felt the economic insecurity that stalks the working poor? (And I'm not talking about the few weeks at college on the Ramen noodles diet.)

    How many have had real experience with the criminal justice system, who have had home visits from social workers, who have scrambled to call the probation office, who know the awful taste of government cheese?

    My feeling about the growing social distance was reinforced most personally during the investment of Wisconsin by the national press. I traveled with the Howard Dean camp, and there saw again how the elite media outlets employ people who, when they dip into smaller places away from Dupont Circle in Washington or the Lower East Side in New York, treat it as some sort of anthropological adventure.
It's not just the media who do this; it's any condescending person who thinks that New York, D.C., or Boston is the center of the whole universe, not just the condescender's. By the same token, we must remember, too, that our Midwestern experience is not the end-all be-all, even if it's down to earth and touch with physical reality. As individuals, we should keep some open minds toward all kinds of experience, even if it's Ivy League education; just recognize that each experience offers perspective which might provide insight into different situations. It's always a good idea to mix a cleric in with your fighters and magic user when you go dungeon-crawling.

And another point: USDA cheese doesn't taste awful. It tastes like cheese.

Thank you, that is all.


For those of you who, like me, enjoy seeing a little tail in windows, click here.

Not safe for work if you work for a big corporation that totally bogarts Admin rights on your PC, werd.

They Gave A Demonstration, But No One Came

A mother whose daughter was killed by a drag racer wants vengance to deter future teenagers from acting stupid:
    The mother of accident victim Megan Landholt urged a stiff prison sentence for a teenage street racer who pleaded guilty Monday in the collision that killed her daughter in south St. Louis County last year.

    Barbara Landholt said she wanted to make an example of the driver. She told Judge David Lee Vincent III that Jeremy Ketchum "and people like him cannot go on and think that this is not a big deal. We have a chance to set an example here. A message has to be sent to the drivers of these cars."
I don't want to knock this woman's pain, but kids getting into their cars on Saturday nights don't read the St. Louis Post-Dispatch or their court dockets to keep up with the consequences of their actions. They don't think about their actions, much less the consequences. Automobile accidents, death? That happens in another school district every couple of years.

So putting the guy who killed your daughter in prison for a long or short time won't do much for the greater good, and it probably won't save another daughter from a drag racer, drunk driver, or cell-phone yakker. It will, quite frankly, end the life of another, albeit dumber, kid, and maybe that's just retribution. Iit's not, however, an example since not many are paying attention.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004
Lite Posting Because We Sucks

So go read Hockey Pundits instead.

(Link seen on The Patriette.)

Maybe They Ought to Make It A Felony

Looks like someone's got the bright idea that cops ought to pull over people who are not wearing their seatbelts as a primary offense. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that some institutionally-important, but realistically-challenged hack explains:
    "Enacting this bill is the single most important life-saving and deficit reduction measure you can take this session. It costs nothing, but will save much," Healing said in prepared remarks to the Senate Transportation Committee.
That's a bit frank, isn't it? After all, we could make the world safer if we only made driving without a seatbelt a felony, but that wouldn't exactly produce revenue, would it? We could make the world much safer by putting private citizens--you know, the only ones who hurt themselves--into straight jackets and feeding them Ritalin.

Jeez, just what I need, the ability for a cop to pull me over because he thinks he saw me without a seatbelt. Speed can be measured from outside the car. Driving without a brakelight, ditto. But seeing whether the people in the car are wearing seatbelts is not something easily seen from someone outside the car. It's an excuse to pull people over, and a damn lot of work for a cheap ticket.

Monday, March 01, 2004
Vote Mom for Unfree Markets

Gee, Thanks, Mom, for sending me this unenlightened e-mail forward:
    >A car company can move its factories to Mexico and claim it's a free market.
    >A toy company can outsource to a Chinese subcontractor and claim it's a free market.
    >A major bank can incorporate in Bermuda to avoid taxes and claim it's a free market.
    >We can buy HP Printers made in Mexico. We can buy shirts made in Bangladesh.
    >We can purchase almost anything we want from many different countries BUT, heaven help the elderly who dare to buy their prescription drugs from a
    >Canadian (Or Mexico) pharmacy. That's called un-American!
    >And you think the pharmaceutical companies don't have a powerful lobby?
File this under When AOL Members Vote!

Lest I Forget

Visit GDay Mate. That Australian's got a set o' Information-systems-industry-venom sacs on him.

I'm almost surprised I haven't seen Steve Irwin holding him by the arse on Animal Planet.

World Stops, Briefly

Holy Toledo, and Santa Akron, but the SFGate Web site has a reasonable column on't. Jennifer Nelson explains how the reaction to The Passion of the Christ shows the media's disdain for Christian religion.

    No matter what your religious affiliation is, the story of Jesus Christ is an interesting and compelling story of human behavior. I am not Jewish, but I would love Hollywood to produce a major motion picture about Hanukkah, which commemorates the victory of the Jews over the Hellenistic Syrians and is an important lesson in religious freedom. But if such a movie were made, do you think the Hollywood elite would wrinkle their noses and ask, "What would propel Spielberg to make a movie about Hanukkah?" I don't think so.

    In the end, Gibson, who is a conservative Catholic, spent $30 million of his own money to tell a story he believes is important. Every week, movies are released that some filmmaker feels is significant. So, in the spirit of the message on bumper stickers I see on Volvos in Berkeley, "If you don't support abortions, don't have one," if you don't like Gibson or his religion, don't go see his movie.
Johnk yeah!

Protest Too Much

So Jean Boutros Boutrous Aristide claims says U.S. forces kidnapped him because they wanted him out of power. United States officials, including Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, and Scott McClellan have issued denials. How stupid is that?

A more appropriate response would be for Donald Rumsfeld to stand behind a podium and say, with all appropriate hand gestures:
    Question: Did the United States Special Forces kidnap Jean-Boutros-Boutros Aristide?

    Rumsfeld: You need to ask yourself this question instead: Do you think that the United States armed forces and their special forces have enough technology and expertise to perform an operation of this nature. Look at Aristide. One day, he's the unpopular ruler of an oppressed country, and then suddenly he wakes up in the savannah with just the clothes on his back and a cell phone with which to call everyone he knows to complain, to ask for cab fare home, or to plead for some anti-lion underwear. Do you think that the special forces within our country can insert into hostile territory, infiltrate a tyrant's security, tranquilize or otherwise stun him, extract him, fly him half way around the world in a matter of hours, and deposit him into an environment that is both alien and hostile to him. Do you imagine Iranian clerics shocked to find themselves nuzzled by caribou in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge, or Fidel Castro coming to alone on a road on the Isle of Wight, or Kim Jong-Il awakening one night in a Philadelphia crack house, surrounded by gang bangers. What, do you think Aristide's departure was a trial run of some sort? Are you all planning to be the next Tom Clancy with these plots?

Maybe God Only Saw Fit To Strike Him With Gummi Bears

In Indiana, a college kid decided to wear a devil costume to a screening of The Passion of the Christ. In the self-aggrandizing manner adopted by college students everywhere, the kid explains himself thusly:
    When asked what he hoped to accomplish by his actions, Wendell said he likes doing things to get a reaction. He was also inspired by a biography he read about the Marquis de Sade.

    De Sade was an 18th century writer who caused scandals with his libertine behavior in pre-revolutionary France. De Sade was once arrested for desecrating the Holy Eucharist to see if God really existed. Wendell said his stunt was along the same lines.

    Wendell, an atheist, said, “If God really existed, He would have struck me down for dressing as the devil.” He also wanted to prove “that Christians aren’t as forgiving as they portray”. Wendell says his actions were also partially due to a genuine dislike of Mel Gibson.
Buddy, maybe God didn't see your hijinks as worthy of the amperage involved in a lightning strike and had a more fitting punishment for you:
    Once inside the movie, Christians began pelting Wendell with Gummy Bears, Ju-Ju Bees, and popcorn. Management got involved after a 75-year-old woman, Hazel Meyer, poured a 64-ounce Coca-Cola on Wendell.
(Link seen on Fark.)

Sunday, February 29, 2004
He Says What I Have Been Thinking

Daniel Henninger says what I think about the forces who would stand athwart innovation and technology and shout, "Stop!"

Fear, regulation, and litigation will strip America's wealth and innovation to benefit of a bunch of trial lawyers and politicians. As well as our rivals on the Pacific Rim.

More Amendment Ideas

For more comments on amendments we could use to the constitution instead of a gay marriage ban, consult

Update: Lest I forget, Owen wants to enable Congress to override the full faith thingamabob.

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