Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, April 17, 2004
Not Quite a Google Whack

Musings from Brian J. Noggle: Your only Google hit for "Mike Danton" naked with "Samus Aran".

Thanks to all my readers looking for naked pictures of the named individuals, who led me to deduce my own infamy.

Andrew Sullivan Goes Mad

Andrew Sullivan has actually gone mad:
    TAX GAS MORE: All of your opposition merely convinced me I was right. Here's my Time column on why raising gas taxes would be a very good thing. Here's Ramesh Ponnuru's critique. Make your own mind up.
Make your mind up, but the more you oppose me, the more I convince myself I am right? I fall upon the thorns of life, I bleed? Yeek.

Here's his argument for greater taxation to improve your behavior, citizen:
    The worst knock against a gas tax is that it is, well, a tax. Who likes that? But with soaring deficits and a war to pay for, taxes are not an option — they're a necessity. The only relevant question is, Which taxes? The case for a gas tax is a straightforward one. Gas prices are strikingly lower in America than anywhere else in the world; such taxes are relatively easy to collect; since an overwhelming majority of Americans drive, few avoid the tax; and by adding a cost to the wanton consumption of gasoline, you actually encourage conservation, accelerate fuel efficiency, reduce pollution, cut traffic and help wean Americans off the oil that requires the U.S. to be so intimately involved in that wonderful cesspool of rival hatreds, the Middle East. So what's not to like?
As a source of tax money, recognize that money will be spent on programs with an ongoing basis, and that if the government successfully modifies the behavior of its foolish, short-sighted, and lesser mortal citizens, the government will need to make that amount of money up elsewhere. Which means deficits or other tax increases down the road.

Pretty soon, we're going to have to stop calling Sullivan a "conservative," aren't we?

Friday, April 16, 2004
Public Service Announcement:

To all of you newbie Internet users who searched Google for mike danton arrested and came up with this blog: Hey, thanks for reading, but remember to go to for breaking news.

The breaking news on Mike Danton arrested is that the St. Louis Blues' agitator forward was busted in San Jose for trying to hire a hit man to kill an acquaintance who thought Danton was too promiscuous and drank too much.

  • Headline: Blues centre Mike Danton charged in alleged murder-for-hire scheme. [He's a winger; I thought you Canadians knew hockey. Also, it's spelled "center" on American teams.]

  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Headline: Danton was learning to play waiting game.

  • (San Jose) Mercury News. Headline: Blues player arrested in alleged murder-for-hire plot
Damn shame, the poor, messed-up kid. Don't tell him I said that, though, because I work in Brentwood.

Leave the Metaphors to the Professionals

Reason's Hit and Run links to an official proclamation that warns hapless American citizens (a redundancy in the mind of Those Who Are Noble Enough to Rule) about Canadian pot:
    "Canada is exporting to us the crack of marijuana and it is a dangerous problem," Walters told reporters in Miami, where he kicked off a campaign to cut marijuana use by Hispanic youths.
Let's examine that metaphor. Canada (Canada!) is exporting to us the most addictive drug of drug. Crikey, it's the cornflower blue of all blues! The Super Bowl of football games!

I think somewhere Walters has opened a rift in the Space-Metaphor continuum. Sure, it's small now, but it's growing, and someday soon discourse will be sucked into incomprehensibility.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Don't Settle For Cheap Imitations

Over at Those, they're sporting an advertisement whose filename is hlnshirt.jpg.

Don't be fooled.

There is only one real hln, the PerfectWife:

Sure, some other InstaWife solutions sound easier (just add water), or more convenient, but there is no comparison.

UPDATE: Hey, you can order the calendar, poster, or mousepad featuring these legs at JC T-Shirts!

Thursday, April 15, 2004
Ravenwood Is No Moderate

Say what you will about the man's politics, but Ravenwood is no moderate:
    I usually preach moderation, but not when moderate is 2 drinks a day? (Only a pint and a half of beer.) My definition of moderation is enjoying something not into excess. As long as I'm not getting drunk every night, missing work, or delinquent on my bills, I don't see the problem. I can stop at any time, and usually about once per year, go an entire month without drinking. (Just to prove I still can.) Besides, I'd rather live fast and die young than lead a long, boring, long, dull, long life.
I'm with you, man: Aristotle was such a sell-out.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004
Worst Ways to Pay a Tax Bill?

MSN's bCentral enumerates what it thinks are the 10 worst ways to pay your tax bill. To summarize, they are:
  1. Get a cash advance against your paycheck.
  2. Get a cash advance on your credit card.
  3. Pawn your diamond ring.
  4. Take out a personal loan.
  5. Charge your tax bill.
  6. Use your home equity.
  7. Gamble on the float (write a check without funds in your account)
  8. Dig into your retirement account.
  9. Hit up the folks.
  10. Pay off the government monthly.
That's the worst way to pay? Come on, fellows, here are some Even worse ways to pay your tax bill:
  1. In plasma. Much of which is not even yours.
  2. With a bag of cash in which the dye pack is yet to explode.
  3. In North Korean Won.
  4. In allocations of barrels Iraqi oil, dated 1998.
  5. Just sign over some Air America checks.
  6. Pay? Constitutionally, I am not obligated to pay income tax.
Remember, I am not a CPA nor does the preceding represent legal advice. Confer with your attorney before embarking on a payment program that might entail jail time. Thank you, that is all.

Puke on the AMT

Slate has a wonderfully insightful imaginative piece on the Alternative Minimum Tax as Bush's Secret Tax on Democrats:
    President Bush and the Republican Congress, who believe fervently in cutting taxes for the rich, are quietly presiding over a most remarkable kind of tax increase for high-income Americans.

    The Alternative Minimum Tax is becoming a miserable annual tradition for a growing group of prosperous taxpayers. (If you've just received a nervous phone message from your accountant—that's probably what she's calling about.) The AMT traces its origins to a minimum tax enacted in 1970 when Americans were scandalized to learn that some 155 high-earning taxpayers owed no income taxes in 1966. The AMT was originally designed so that people who had a lot of income but loads of deductions—through the standard exemption, the ability to write off property taxes and state income taxes—couldn't reduce their taxable income to next to nothing. Historically, it applied to a tiny minority of taxpayers. But with every passing year, more and more citizens are ushered behind the velvet ropes. This congressional backgrounder suggests that 1.8 million Americans paid it in 2001. Newsweek's nearly infallible Allan Sloan wrote earlier this month that "about 2.3 million returns for 2003 got nipped by the AMT." The numbers are set to rise exponentially in the next several years. A two-income couple in New Jersey—he's an accountant, she's a public school teacher—with combined income of $230,000, three kids, and annual property taxes of $15,000, could easily fall into paying the AMT. Even government bureaucrats get nailed. Last year, IRS Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson paid the AMT.
Got that? It was enacted in 1970, and it's Bush's secret weapon. Maybe that's what he was doing when he was AWOL from Viet Nam, wot? Working in a secret laboratory devising a tax scheme to punish Michael Moore and Barbra Striesand in 2004.

I know about the AMT because I once worked for a startup and got stock options, and the AMT could have hit me badly if that company's options had been worth exercising. It's a crazy tax, but then again, I think most taxes are wasteful and most tax revenues are wasted. But the author of this bit "analyzes":
    Republicans don't want to fix the AMT because fixing the AMT would require undoing their beloved tax cuts. Without the billions generated by millions of taxpayers getting slammed by the AMT, the marginal rate cuts would be impossible to sustain for the next several years, let alone make permanent. Without the AMT, the deficit picture would look far worse than it does.
No, actually Congress, which includes both mean Republicans and the kind-spirited but misunderstood by the ignorant heartland Democrats could cut income taxes AND eliminate the AMT if it would only cut spending, which is a far less palatable choice to the political porkivores.

The author of this piece, undoubtedly, is one of the persecuted residents of an enlightened coastal state s unfairly targeted for the AMT simply because he's a nutbar the Republicans want to punish the Democrat-voting states. Tax and spend works much better when only the "spend" part touches you, ainna?

(James Joyner has more, albeit less snarky, about this article.)

Bob Rybarcyzk Sings the Blues

Bob Rybarcyzk has a new chant for the Kiel Center:

    Let's go ahead and get one thing out of the way: the Blues will never win the Cup in our lifetimes.

    Whew. Boy, it feels good to get that off of my chest.

    Let me say it again. The Blues will never win the Cup in our lifetimes.

    Anyone who knows me knows that this is what I say any time the words "Blues" and "Stanley Cup" come up in conversation. It's not that I'm particularly knowledgeable about hockey or am smarter than anyone else. (I think I've proven that fact time and again in this space.) I'm just fairly certain that I'm right.
Unfortunately, I am somewhat more familiar with the Blues, and I agree.

Of course, I can entirely foresee the league collapsing with an extended lockout next year, so this year might be the last chance the Blues get to win anything.

Why You Should Vote Every Time

South Milwaukee's mayor was reelected by a single vote after a hand recount.

It goes to prove that your vote has the possibility of being the one that makes the difference.

Of course, the loser is planning to take the count to court, which further proves that no election will ever be settled in the future by mere vote-counting alone.

Start Your Christmas Shopping Early

In case you're wondering what to get me for Christmas, I wouldn't mind a first edition Hamlet.

Hey, look, one of the 19 copies remains in private hands and is at auction. Since it's up for auction at Christie's, you no longer have to plot your university or museum heist. Of course, since it's expected to go for several million dollars, you'll need to start working on the Bellagio heist pronto.

Oh, wait, I see you're already on it. Thanks.

(Link seen on Fark.)

Tuesday, April 13, 2004
I Agree With Lileks

Lileks today:
    Big tot day, Mondays. No school, no Nana, just us - and since I decree that the TV shall be silenced after two morning programs, that means puzzles and books and coloring and painting and so on. Usually I have the radio or the news on while we play, but like I said last week, I hit a point where I can't take it right now. I just can't take another "we're there for the oil" call. I can't take another 37 minute discussion about whether the PDB said OBL wanted USA DOA PDQ. I browse the news sites and the blogs, then go play with my daughter for the rest of the morning. I think April will be my month off from marinating in the news 24-7, if only to get my blood-pressure down from hummingbird levels.
I am with him on this. I told Heather just this morning, before reading Lileks, that I don't like listening to the radio for news or watching television. I don't like the practiced sneers in the tones or the unsubtle narrative framework offered for the events. So I've stuck with the online news sources.

However, when I'm lost in the day to day hysteria of the 24 hour news cycle, I turn to an unlikely source for perspective. Back when I was an eBay dealer, I purchased a collection of Newsweek magazines, a single year from 1966-1967. I paid $2 for it, okay, and I made the $2 back in selling select issues. But that's not the perspective: no, although Viet Nam was ramping up at the time, each week it was gloom and doom or hope. Granted, Viet Nam didn't turn out that well, but the simple snapshot from the beginning of the conflict showed how poorly the media could predict the course in the early time period.

Contemporary media provide the same bark-level view of the forest. Still, I don't enjoy the spoken news.

Although to be honest I can listen to the students on WSIE because they don't have the fully practiced nuance of newscasters. Heck, in many cases, they lack inflection or even proper pronunciation. So I can take their version of radio news, which is just as well; I'd hate to have to change from Ross Gentile's Standards in Jazz on the drive home from work.i

All Aboard Wal-Mart rounds up a summary of groups suing Wal-Mart. Why? Because it's there. Now shut up and give me some free money, and my lawyers more free money.

Everyone wants to beat on Wal-Mart and Microsoft because they're successful. Looks like we've about bred capitalism out of the country. Good work, social engineers.

New Warning Issued for Old Urban Legend

The Palm Beach Post reports on the scourage of the sex bracelet:
    The multicolored set of plastic bracelets many Palm Beach County middle and high school students are sporting these days aren't just a fashionable fad.

    At some schools, boys and girls snap off one of their classmate's colored gel wrist bands in exchange for a corresponding sexual favor, health department officials told school board members Monday.

    For example, a person wearing a white band may mean she is willing to kiss to the person who pulls it from her wrist. A red band means a lap dance and black is intercourse. The meanings may vary from school to school.
::Yawn:: Back in the eighties, we wore Satanic worship bracelets, wherein the color of the band indicated the animal (white means pigeon, red means chow puppy, and black meant kindergartner, but the meanings varied from school to school) to sacrifice.

I guess we in Generation X didn't get the cool faddish urban legend.

In other news, Boots and Sabers will soon have more comments in their infamous Bracelets for Sex post, dated October 19, 2003, which the the Palm Beach Health Department probably used as in-depth research.

Important Note for Women Readers

Dear women readers:

MSN Dating and Personals offers 7 sure signs he's a mama's boy. They are, to sum up:
  1. If you're talking to him on the phone, if his mother interrupts through call waiting as you tell him you're not wearing underwear, he'll talk to her instead.
  2. He talks to her a lot on the phone.
  3. He cancels a date in which you will not be wearing underwear to help her move furniture.
  4. He quotes his mother a lot.
  5. He compares you to his mother a lot.
  6. His mother decorated his house.
  7. His mother visits his home frequently.
Ladies, that's a lot to remember. You want to know how to tell a mama's boy, as depicted above, in one step? 1. Real men are beating him up right now. That's a lot easier, isn't it?

Besides, the minute you have announced to a real man that you have no underwear on, we're on our way to meet you. We're not going to talk to our mothers. We're probably not even going to follow any conversation really well. If you say you're feeling a draft and a man acknowledges call waiting at all, he's not a mama's boy, he's trying to pass to spare her the pain of coming out.

Don't Let Your Co-Workers Stare Over Your Shoulder

.... as you type instructions into the edit box and watch as the submissive Web model does exactly what you type. Have it your way, any way you want it.

Oh, yeah, slowly...lay an egg.

What did you expect from (Note: Not Mozilla friendly.)

(Link seen on Snopes.)

Monday, April 12, 2004
Purging Binging

The Agitator reports that the definition of binge drinking has been revised:
    Now, the NIAAA has backtracked a bit. It now defines a binge as five drinks in two hours or less for men, four in two hours for women. Seems more plausible, and seems like a definition that would at least put most people over .08.
That's good news, and it makes it easier for us at MfBJN to keep from binge drinking. As part of our non-binge drinking program, we recommend no more than four tallboys in two hours. That way, if you inadvertently consume an additional 40 ounces of cheap beer during the movie, you're still within the bounds of reason.

Grammar God Eye for the Rock God Guy

At Encarta, Martha Brockenbrough takes pop/rock lyricists to task for their crimes against the language.

Unfortunately, although she has a point, grammarians tend to go a little easier on historical lyricists who butchered the language to make a rhyme or to get off on the right foot. There's no word on whether old poets necessarily knew the rules they were breaking, either.

What was my point? Oh, cool grammar post. Go read it, Mz. Igert.


What's funnier than a joke about the French going to war?

A joke about Canadians going to war.

Sunday, April 11, 2004
Book Review: Make Room for TV by Lynn Spigel (1992)

You might wonder why I bothered to read this book, whose full title is Make Room for TV: Television and the Family Ideal in Postwar America. Actually, I wondered a bit myself while wandering through this Marxist/Feminist inquiry into the impact of television on life of the bourgeois in the ten years after World War II. Then I remembered. Because I paid a whole quarter for it at the library. Plus, it just sounds cool if someone asks what you're reading, and you can answer Marxist/Feminist inquiry into the impact of television on life of the bourgeois in postwar period. Not that anyone asked. But I was ready to answer.

So I sloughed through five chapters and 187 pages of this book, remembering for a brief moment (if you count three weeks' worth of head-shaking lunches as "a brief moment") what it was like in college. When I would be assigned something like this, or would be assigned some topic tangentally related to this for a paper whose research would lead me to this book, and I would read some of it because I had to. Let's face it, this thing wasn't aimed for the mass paperback market.

My second problem with this book is the author's faulty methodology. The first, of course, is that she's a Marxist/Feminist academic, but to bring that up would be ad homenim, and people are allowed to believe stupid things because this is still a free country. When it's no longer free, we'll be mandated to believe those stupid things. But I digress.

Spigel builds a history of repression in America in what she calls the Victorian period, willfully or foolishly applying a historical term that denotes a period British history. Calling it the era of the Robber Barons wouldn't have had the same connotation of repression and need, though, so she calls the last portion of the 18th century through World War II "Victorian" for, I would assume, the whole world, not just Britain. Granted, this is just a quibble over language, but since language is how we communicate concepts, I could tell pretty early how different the author and I conceptualize.

So, about the methodology. Spigel surveys magazines from the immediate post World War II period, examines the advertisements for televisions, and compares them with some prepackaged thought in the form of other academic pabulum which agrees with her basic M/F premises. As a result, she tells us about the repressed suburban bourgeois and how television was a tool of The Man to hold them down.

Brothers and sisters, I cannot tell you how goofy the ultimate intellectual content of this book is. Spurious assertions, laughable on the face, abound. Americans felt ambivalent to television because it was used as a weapon in World War II? Spigel forgot to footnote how commercial broadcasts brought the Axis to its knees. Perhaps she just meant sounds carried invisibly, magically through space. The more intellectually rigorous sections of the book do offer two sides to an issue. For example, if men don't help the housewives at home, they're pigs. If they do, it's because they're powerless at work and seek to assert their control where they can, in the home. Truly, Spigel has a dizzying intellect.

Sometimes, though, she makes a coherent, almost reasonable argument, such as asserting that television provided a proxy communal neighborhood at a time when suburban sprawl removed people from their traditional, more urban neighborhoods. Unfortunately, Spigel took this argument elsewhere, leaving me with a small idea with which I could agree. I hold tightly to this single idea, because otherwise I wasted a bunch of time and twenty-five cents, which is about a thirty-secondth of a six-pack of Guinness.

Academic textbooks that share this worldview spend a lot of time analyzing existing metaphors, images, and other artificial constructs and magically reveal, through their scrying, that the premise with which the academic began the inquiry is actually the conclusion. Unfortunately, they (like this book) write syllogisms in space.

So there you have it, gentle readers; the missing book. I meant to do a longer, more reasoned review pointing out where Spigel diverges from reality, but then I realized I have better things to do. Were I an academic, teaching three sections a week, perhaps I could have time to fit it into my salaried day. But it's not worth my leisure time. And this book is not worth yours, unless you're like me: a book slut.

The Bone? I Cut To The Marrow, and Sucked It!

Think you can do better than Congress? Here's the National Budget Simulation, where you can set budget priorities and adjust taxes. Your hero, or mine anyway, scored thusly:

    Budget Totals

    Old budget was $3251.488 billion
    ($2264.172 billion in spending, $987.316 billion in tax expenditures and cuts).

    New budget is $1727.29 billion
    ($1318.51 billion in spending, $408.78 billion in tax expenditures and cuts).

    You have cut the deficit by $1524.2 billion.

    Your new deficit is $-1167.19 billion.


    You've cut so much that the federal budget now contains a substantial surplus. Many economists warn that this budget may help induce or prolong a recession, and ordinary citizens demand a refund. You might want to cut taxes or raise spending.
Oops? That's not a bug, it's a feature!

(Link seen on The Agitator.)

Retreading Water

Channeling Michael Williams, I have posted a couple of my published short stories, including:
  • "An Aluminum Dream", in which an arena usher gets the chance to meet the songstress with whom he's obssessed whose music he likes.

  • "Reading Faces", wherein a literary writer reading on a college campus confronts the worst type of audience.
Read 'em, link to 'em, but don't repost without written consent.

Thank you, that is all.

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