Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, March 27, 2004
Well, Court TV Is On Cable:

Unfortunate headline of the day, from FoxNews.Com yesterday:

FoxNews Headline

Kobe Lawyers Want Sex In Trial

Here's the interactive part of the blog--you get to make your own jokes.

Journalism Schools Need More Math Classes

Here's an Associated Press story for you: Consumers rein in their spending. The online version doesn't carry the subtitle the print version does, but the lead drives the message home:
    WASHINGTON - Consumers, a key force shaping the nation's economic recovery, grew more restrained in February, increasing their spending by only 0.2 percent.
These are the same people who say that a slower increase in government spending is a cut.

I don't know about you, but I wouldn't trust a reporter to tally a split check at a restaurant, much less explain the world or commerce to me.

Duh-Nuh-Nuh-Nuh-Nuh - AU-GU-RY!

Note: I'd apologize for the title, but Metallica should know better. Any time a musician creates a song wherein a single word is presented independently and uniquely, the musician should expect people to use any other word with the same number of syllables in its place to make a relevant song about an occasion. "Battery" is one such song. "Goldfinger" is another, but not applicable in this case. Thank you. That is all.

So I got a rejection slip from a major east coast magazine yesterday. I won't say which magazine; suffice to say the name is body of water + period of time. So I opened the self-addressed, stamped envelope postmarked Boston, Massachusetts, and I got the (new) stock rejection.

The envelope contained a new rejection slip -- a different typeface and whatnot, so it's new to my rejection slip collection, as well as my submission, a poem. If you think that makes me a wuss, you're wrong; the fact that I own cats makes me the wuss. The poetry-writing only reinforces the felinity. How do you feel now, big man, now that you have reduced me to shameful tears?

However, my returned poem bore two interesting marks: a single hole, which would indicate a thumb tack (an even number of holes might indicate staples, and numerous holes might indicate dartboard, but a single hole is a thumb tack, definitely) and a lowercase v above the title.

Is it a good sign, that maybe it just missed the cut? A sign that an intern liked it and tacked it in his or her cubicle before returning it? What do these entrails mean?

I mean, aside from the fact that I now have to send a fresh copy of the piece to a different, as-yet-undetermined target and have to spend another $.74 on the damn thing.

Friday, March 26, 2004
Newt's Fighting Words

Newt Gingrich wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post outlining a GOP strategy for job creation. His basic premise:

    The Democrats think they've found the perfect one-sided debate by presenting themselves as the party that opposes "outsourcing" of American jobs. They hope the Republican Party will be dumb enough to take the bait and be the side that favors outsourcing.

    That kind of binary argument, in which the Republicans take the role of defending the loss of jobs overseas, would be a dead loser for the GOP. Republicans must set up a new, winning argument by focusing not on the loss of old jobs but on the creation of new ones.
Sounds good, until he issues the fighting words:
    Republicans, therefore, should insist, as President Bush has, that real economic growth depends on the right tax incentives and litigation reform to create even more investment, so that the next multinational company will choose the United States as the place to open a new location or headquarters.
He better mean lowering taxes across the board and not just lowering taxes for big corporations who will continue to play municipalities against municipalities, states against states, and nations against nations, each individual corporation sticking up the taxpayers for subsidies and corporate welfare to provide a pittance of jobs which the rest of the smaller companies and individual entrepreneurs in the area will pay for.

No, wait, he's a former politician. Of course he means the latter.

Optimism Until the Fine Print

What's not to like about the headline and lead for this St. Louis Post-Dispatch column?
    Buyer's vision is 100 apartments for Pet Building

    It's happening. Mothballed for months, downtown's distinctive Pet Building has a buyer - and a metamorphosis in the works. Balke Brown Associates has the property under contract.

    Sale terms are not public, but here's the vision: to turn the 15-story office building into 100 apartments for an estimated $30 million.
Yay, team! Go development! Build! Build! Capitalism, rah!

Until the dreaded Fine Print strikes:
    The hurdle - and it's a big one, says Land - is securing the state and federal historic tax credits to make the deal work.
Never mind. It's not capitalism--it's crony capitalism. Any company that can even conceive of buying a property for $30 million dollars should not count on sucking from the government teat, and I mean should not count on my personal tax contribution to make it work.

Who died and made you Suharto?

Told You So

Techdirt follows up and acknowledges that the guy referred to in this post was indeed using a hardware keystroke logger.

And you thought I was mad!

Libertarianism Stops at the Water's Edge

I guess we've uncovered another reason why I, just like the d-42 guy, only scored a 66 on the Libertarian Purity Test: I am all in favor of legalizing most things, but I'll be damned if some international body is going to force it on my country.

Slashdot links to a story in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer about the World Trade Organization deciding that the United States is violating international trade laws by banning Internet gambling:
    The World Trade Organization, in its first decision on an Internet-related dispute, has ignited a political, cultural and legal tinderbox by ruling that the U.S. policy prohibiting online gambling violates its obligations under international trade law.

    The ruling by a WTO panel Wednesday is being hailed by online casinos operators overseas as a major victory that could force the United States to liberalize its laws.

    But the Bush administration vowed to appeal the decision, and several members of Congress said they would rather have an international trade war or withdraw from future rounds of the World Trade Organization than have American social policy dictated from abroad.

    "It's appalling," said Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. "It cannot be allowed to stand that another nation can impose its values on the U.S. and make it a trade issue."

    The decision stems from a case taken to the WTO in June by the island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, which licenses 19 companies that offer sports betting and casino games such as blackjack over the Internet.

    Antigua and Barbuda argued that U.S. trade policy does not prohibit cross-border gambling operations and that the United States would be hypocritical to do otherwise because it wants to allow American casino operations to operate land-based and Internet-based subsidiaries overseas.

    It is not clear precisely why the WTO ruled in favor of Antigua and Barbuda, because the specifics remain confidential. The ruling covers only online casinos based on the islands, but other nations could seek similar rulings.
Cheez, Luis, this makes me want to put on a black ski mask, go to Washington state, and heave a brick through a Starbucks window. So the NWO World Trade Order gets to overwrite the laws of its members now, and to force them to trade in things its members have deemed illegal?

I tell you what, I will support this decision as soon as the WTO forces Smith and Wesson shops in interior China and opens Saudia Arabia to America's pork industry. Until that time, the WTO can stick to doing what it does best, which bureacrats fatter.

On another note, we at MfBJN have created a pool to determine when regime change will occur in Anitgua and Barbuda. What the heck, who needs regime change? I say Antigua for us and Barbuda for our Canadian friends who so lust for a Caribbean paradise. Let the partitioning begin!

Rinsing with Ronin

Sorry for the late start, dear reader, but tonight my beautiful wife and I watched a movie together. We watched Charlie's Angels Full Throttle. Yeeks. It was not like watching a video game, it was like watching the demo mode teaser for a video game. In love with its own mojo, and utterly incapable of any suspense or viewer buy-in.

So of course I had to rinse the taste out of my mouth, and I did so successfully with Ronin. Ahhhhh. Jean Reno. Robert DeNiro. Masculinity and stoicism recharged.

Speaking of which, IMDb indicates that Reno has a house in Paris and a house in Los Angeles, and that he actually lives in France part of the year. I don't know what sort of Persephone relationship he has with France, but can't we liberate him somehow and make him an American citizen? He deserves it. The dude is tough.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004
Hardware or Software?

Techdirt links to a story about a guy getting charged for putting a keystroke logger on a computer where he worked. Mike at Techdirt says this:
    The interesting thing, though, is the only way they caught him was because he was fired from the company and asked another employee to remove the keystroke logger. In other words, it wasn't any real detective work, but him telling someone. This means, if he hadn't mentioned it, it's likely this would have continued and no one would have noticed. It seems likely that things like keystroke loggers are becoming increasingly popular for those involved with corporate espionage - but it doesn't seem like most companies do much to check if their computers are clean from such programs. [Emphasis mine]
Mike's making an assumption, though. Here's the text from the story:
    A California man who prosecutors say planted an electronic bugging device on a computer at an insurance company was indicted on Tuesday on federal wiretapping charges in what prosecutors said was the first case of its kind.

    Larry Lee Ropp, a 46-year-old former insurance claims manager, is the first defendant charged with a federal crime for using a "keystroke logger," which tracks the activities on a computer and feeds the information back to its owner, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles said.
Sounds like a hardware keystroke logger to me. What, you don't know what a hardware keystroke logger is? Of course not, you're not the Shidoshi of Paranoia. A hardware keystroke logger plugs in between the keyboard and the keyboard socket on the back of the PC. It looks like an adapter, but it's got memory on it. Whatever you type goes into the memory and then to the computer, too. Bad guy comes along later, unplugs it, plugs it in on his computer, uses an escape key sequence, and copies the log onto his computer. You don't have to break into the 'hacked' system to get it, and there are no software gotchas to deal with.

Also, it would explain why he needed someone to remove it from the PC, wot? Hey, buddy, just unplug my adapter I loaned to the secretary.

Learn your lesson, my students. Always look at the back of the PC before you start typing. I do.

Try Again, Senator

Medicare's going to run out of money by 2019, its trustees report. And as the sun sets, the whooperwill start shrieking out for the soul of the departing entitlement; only they're understandably chirping at Bush:
    In a conference call with reporters arranged by the campaign of presumptive Democratic nominee John Kerry, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois blamed the Bush administration and its Medicare prescription drug bill for Medicare's shortened solvency.

    'The Clinton administration and Democrats believed save Medicare first,' Durbin said. 'The Bush approach is save the special interests first. ... This is not just about Medicare. It's about the credibility of the Bush administration.'
So you see, Bush and our revered leaders have voted to add a drug benefit which redistributes wealth from workers to retirees, thus accelerating the decline of the entitlement. And Durbin cheeps about special interests.

You win, Senator. The elderly who receive more something for nothing are now a special interest. Those of us funding the free ride are a special interest. We, the citizens and electorate, are nothing but special interests fighting each other for your privileged dispensation or disbursement.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004
Thanks for Ruining My Life

Michael Williams has shown me a set of bots that let you play Infocom games in AOL Instant Messanger.

Lucky thing I don't have that installed at work, or I would conduct furious consultations via AIM all day with important colleagues (if anyone were to see it and ask).

Monday, March 22, 2004
Sell Me Another One

Jeff Jarvis spends a lot of time championing Howard Stern as some sort of Libertarian hero, I'd like to provide my own Stern Update Rebuke from something he said this morning.

Stern held up recent legislation from Charles Schumer as an example of proper legislation as opposed to bills cracking down on indeceny on the radio. Proper legislation, I guess, is overreaching legislation that does not particularly target Howard Stern.

This new bill makes gang murder a Federal crime and apparently adds a number of related offenses. Schumer's out to Federalize crimes already covered by state statutes (I assume it's still illegal to kill someone in New York) and adds another redundant layer of offenses that short-circuit double jeopardy protections of the Constitution.

This is good legislation because it's specifically not bad for Howard Stern.

Behold your leader, minions, and worship.

Beat It

I was sort of embarrassed to admit, after homie Owen prompted me, that:

You are Lawrence Ferlinghetti! Modern rebel and
owner and proprietor of the City Lights
Bookstore in San Francisco, Lawrence
Ferlinghetti is known for his playful tone and
innovative style. He is MY favorite poet, and
the works of lawrence are always eye-opening
socio-cultural critiques in a light-hearted
tone. He is recognized as one of the most
influential poets of the beat era.

Which famous poet are you? (pictures and many outcomes)
brought to you by Quizilla

Disappointing, as I like end rhyme. At least I wasn't Walt Whitman. Or Sylvia Plath. Or Allen Ginsberg.

Steve Chapman Speaks

With his relatively orthodox libertarianism, I am surprised the blogosphere doesn't hang on the Chicago Tribune's Steve Chapman's every column (Mondays and Thursdays, kids). Here he is today on New York's newly-unconstitutional vehicle confiscation law (registration required):
    This is a small but important victory for the proposition that Americans should not be punished without a demonstration of guilt. It's also a blow to the government's habit of using law enforcement to snatch property for its own enrichment.
Word to power. Or power to word. Whichever one won't flip the circuit breaker and make me tromp into the litter-cluttered dark of the basement in my bare feet.

Let's Hear It For Prince

The Prince, that is. By Niccolo Machiavelli. Over at Samizdata, Andy Duncan reviews the book and approves.

I read it in college and have based my view of foreign policy on it. I liked it so much that I was going to name my first cat Niccolo Machiavelli (Mach for short), but I got a girl kitten instead (Dominique Francon, natch).

On a more somber note, Andy calculates the number of books a person can read in a lifetime at 8000. How limiting. Especially since I am not on pace and because I already have 400 of the remainder picked out, purchased, and on my to-read shelves. It's like staring mortality in the face.


Actually, equivalence makes two things equal. This story about the death of the Hamas leader does not actually equivocate:
    Sharon's government has gone after militant leaders using Israeli helicopter gunships in a controversial policy that has resulted in a number of civilian casualties in addition to the deaths of senior figures in Hamas and other groups.
It's controversial because of accidental civilian casualties. Attacks that target innocent bus riders or train riders or just people eating in a cafe or dancing in a nightclub--that's an accepted, noncontroversial expression from an aggrieved people. They're acceptable, but the Israeli policy is not. Thanks for dishing up the unwritten commentary with the facts, AP.
    Yassin was viewed as an inspirational figure by his followers in the Gaza Strip (news - web sites) and West Bank. His death could spur violent protests not only in the Palestinian areas but in the wider Arab and Islamic world, where he was well-regarded as a symbol of the Palestinian battle for independence.
His death could spur violence. Why should it differ from his life?


From Lileks today, expressing his fascist nature to the protestors:
    These people want “freedom,” but only for themselves. Freedom to preen. Freedom to flatter themselves that they are somehow committing an act of bravery by Speaking Truth to Power. But they’re speaking Nonsense to Indifference.
Speaking Nonsense to Indifference. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. But print it out first.

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