Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, May 15, 2004
It's Not a Flip Flop If You Neither Flip Nor Flop

Best of the Web Today pointed to a New York Post story wherein John F'n Kerry says he'll support Bush's proposal for more spending on Iraq:
    John Kerry yesterday said he'll back President Bush's call for $25 billion in extra funds to support U.S. troops in Iraq, after taking lots of heat for voting against $87 billion for the troops last fall.

    "The situation in Iraq has deteriorated far beyond what the [Bush] administration anticipated. This money is urgently needed and it is completely focused on the needs of our troops," Kerry said in a statement.
Note, however, Kerry has not affirmed that he will bother showing up in the Senate to actually cast a vote on it. Working in the Senate is the job for which American taxpayers employ Kerry at a salary of over $150,000 a year, but for which Senator Kerry has been calling in sick for much of the year.

Book Review: The Official Darwin Awards 3 by Wendy Northcutt (2003)

I got this book, in hardback, from the Quality Paperback Club for like a buck. I've been a fan of the Darwin Awards since I joined the IT industry and realized that I had an Internet browser right on my computer desktop and learned all the amusing little sites with which I could amuse myself when I needed a break from breaking the software (even when I was a mere technical writer, I was hell on code, werd). So I'm already familiar with the concept of the Darwin Award.

A Darwin Award goes to people who make spectacularly poor decisions that lead to their own deaths. Not just bad decisions; having a few beers and then driving up the Pacific Coast Highway while calling your ex-girlfriend and then going off the road and into the surf, that's a bad decision, but not spectacularly bad. Spectacularly bad is drinking a couple of beers, climbing a telephone pole, and peeing onto electric wires. Macabre, no doubt, but amusing from a distance.

Because the book comes from a Web site, one has to wonder what the book format brings that the Web site does not. For example, I've read F'd Companies as well as and urban legend encyclopedia that resemble printed versions of Snopes, and in many cases, the answer is not much. As it is with this volume.

The book, as a value-added nod to the print medium, also contains an essay that begins each chapter. Unfortunately, the essays are rather short--600 words or less, I reckon--that lightly touches upon a topic unrelated to the chapter. These essays are light overviews of topics such as how the entries are picked, flame wars on the Web site, and transgenic animals, and they offer the depth one might find in a syndicated newspaper feature. A short one. But they're unrelated Each actual Darwin Award vignette is properly sized for a screen of text, so each is about a page or so in print. They're quick and easy to read. That's the plus for the book, but it's also what's on the Web site. So now that've said something nice about the book, I'll sum up.

This volume doesn't add much to the Web site, so it's worth the money if "the money" is only a buck and/or you like to read this stuff offline or cannot type into a Web browser.

Do They Really Understand Why There Are Prices?

/. links to a story on the BBC which says Microsoft might have to raise prices to pay for its exorbitant legal fees and fines.

From the BBC story:
    Microsoft is objecting to the size of legal bills submitted by lawyers who brought an anti-trust case in California against the software giant.

    Microsoft told a California court that consumers could suffer if it has to pay the full $258m ('/£146.7m) bill.

    The legal costs are part of Microsoft's settlement for over-charging consumers buying its software in California.

    "I wouldn't have put it in if I didn't think we earned it," said Eugene Crew, the lead attorney against Microsoft.

    "Somebody ends up paying for this," said Microsoft attorney Robert Rosenfeld. "These large fee awards get passed on to consumers."
Insightful commentary from the Slashdot poster:
    Do they really understand why there are laws?"
Spoken like a professionally overpaid, but open-source free-software-loving burgeois Marxist. Let me explain, once again, the real world. Companies want to make money. To make money, they design, build, or provide things or services. They then offer to exchange same for a quantity of money that covers their costs as well as make a tidy profit. The profit margin's really determined by the demand for the thing or service, and it cannot equal zero or a greater number (m >=0). So when the cost of providing the good or service goes up, such as a result of regulation or litigation, the price of the good or service goes up. End of story.

Information wants to be free, quoth some developers making upper five or lower six figures, who don't work for enough soup to sustain themselves and a simple pallet in the corner upon which to sleep.

We Got Your Shadow Government Right Here

How presumptuous that John FU Kerry is conducting United States foreign policy on behalf of the flocked-up sheep citizens he's bound to fleece slaughter protect:
    Sen. John F. Kerry said Friday that despite public declarations from France and other European countries that they would not send troops to Iraq, there were indications some of the nations would be willing to change course with the right diplomatic effort.

    "There are senators and … diplomats who have had conversations with other folks that I think indicate that — given the right equation, given the right statesmanship and leadership — it is possible to have a very different level of participation," Kerry said Friday at his Washington campaign headquarters.
We used to have a set of united states hereabouts, wherein we spoke with a single voice internationally. Now, the red states have their duly-elected spokesman, and the blue have the self-appointed messianic one.

(Link seen on Wizbang!)

Friday, May 14, 2004
Pop-Up Mocker Updated

A link to a story about a spyware maker whose pop-ups were previously mocked and a new pop-up reviewed. Why don't you just click this link now: Pop-Up Mocker

"So-Called" Watch Day 2

Shame on the editorial staff at The Wall Street Journal:
    The rise of terrorism and so-called asymmetric warfare only reinforces the wisdom of making distinctions between legitimate POWs and unlawful combatants.
I would say, "A pox upon their writing abilities! A blight upon their style!" That, however, appears redundant and already happening.

Jonesing for a Quiz?

Microsoft Encarta's got a short one that tests your abilities to fill in the blanks for proverbs.

I scored 10 of 10 immediately. Perhaps it's harder for people who rely on Microsoft Encarta for any portion of their educations.

Slight Amusement

Visit Slightly Amusing, the Web site of Brad Simanek. He's a contributor to Top 5 stuff and is worthy of a chuckle or two.

Some People See a Whale Tail; I See A Loophole

Looks like Louisiana's about to extend its nanny state to picking clothes for its children by outlawing low-riding pants:
    House Bill 1626, also known as the “Baggy Pants Bill” states: “It shall be unlawful for any person to appear in public wearing his pants below his waist and thereby exposing his skin or intimate clothing.”
Have your attorneys file for an exclusive disjunction injunction. It will confuse the judge, undoubtedly, just as easily as I have confused myself and you.

Sounds Like a Hostile Workplace To Me

Hidden in the ombudsman column of the Boston Globe wherein said ombudsperson explains the chain of events that led to the Globe printing a story about a rabble-rousing city selectman or whatever anachronism those staid New Englanders have in lieu of alderpeople who pee in trashcans during a filibuster who waved around a bunch of photographs depicting American soldiers raping Iraqi women--photographs long debunked here in the blogosphere as having come from topical pornography--we find this interesting admission from the ombudsperson:
    Various sources last week said the photos displayed by Turner came from a pornography website, and they may well have, although I could not trace it to the source.
One has to wonder how hard Christine Chinlund scoured the Web for a particular set of pornographic pictures and how many sites she reviewed in the course of her research. And if it constitutes a "hostile workplace" for her co-workers, or if "I was looking for the source of photos of alleged improprieties on the part of American soldiers" works when the boss catches you.

(For more information, see Media Log by Dan Kennedy for May 14, 2004.)

Comic Relief

It's good to remember that some absurdity remains in the world:
    Cuban President Fidel Castro launched an immense anti-American protest on Friday with denunciations and ridicule of President Bush, saying the U.S. leader was fraudulently elected and trying to impose "world tyranny."

    The Cuban leader led a sea of Cubans past the U.S. diplomatic mission here on the oceanfront Malecon Boulevard in a demonstration organized by the communist government against new U.S. measures aimed at squeezing the island's economy and pushing out Castro.

    The crowd chanted "Free Cuba! Fascist Bush!"
Are you sure they weren't using a noun of direct address in their chants? "Free Cuba, fascist Bush!"

Thursday, May 13, 2004

"So-Called" Watch: Linda Feldmann, The Christian Science Monitor:
    Bush's gains were notably big in the 17 so-called battleground states, those that were decided by a close margin in 2000 and promise to be close again this fall.
(Thanks, Pejman, for the link which gave another quarter-turn to the stick in my maw.)

Major Media as Reality Television

Let me see if I get the attribution straight: An Instapundit post refers to something on Roger Simon's blog which resulted, ultimately, in an essay on The American Thinker.

Read that essay.

The lead:
    How do we account for the continued strength of President Bush in the polls, relative to his presumptive Democratic opponent, despite the stream of bad news from Iraq? Much of the journalistic and intellectual establishment is plainly baffled …and dismayed. The answer is not that complex: the public, unlike the class which defines itself as living the life of the mind, understands that we are at war, a war in which our very survival is at stake. This is a gut-level cognition.

    Those who pride themselves on their ability to spin chains of logical reasoning, and sometimes arrive at a counter-intuitive conclusion, instinctively recoil from the obvious lesson, especially when it validates the positions of their political opponents. For them, the battle against the hated Bush is more important than the battle against Islamicist terror. Theories which blame the West as the source of all evil take precedence over actual evil, stariung them in the face.
My tangental epiphany:

Major news media are the same as reality television.

Face it, they're not just people who point cameras and shoot stuff. They're content providers who need to sell a story. They don't just dish out facts and events. They start with a story, and then they cut the video and stage it as needed to have a narrative arc, complete with villians who are just people trying to do the best they can, but whose actions the "narrators" cast in unflattering lights and out of context--but within the narrative arc.

Major news media are nothing but entertainment, folks, and the pictures they paint and the artistry they employ might be actually, you know, entertaining or compelling. If they weren't talking about something vitally important, and if they weren't trying to base it as a true story. Perhaps "Inspired by Actual Events" would better describe it.

"So-Called" Watch

This damn cheap verbal construction sticks in my craw and wiggles and twists. I don't care to hear this abomination spoken (and I have one friend who applies it to his conversations like barbecue sauce on over-cooked hamburgers), and I find it disreputable when professional writers use it in things for which they were paid.

Current offenders:
  • Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times:

      Conservative commentators who seized on this tragedy to complain that the so-called liberal media was more interested in abused Iraqi prisoners than a murdered American civilian are either lying or stupid.

  • Sara Shipley, St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

      The Howard Bend Levee District is nearly finished with a $25 million upgrade designed to protect against a so-called 500-year flood, or one that has a 1 in 500 chance of happening in any given year.
Face it, "so-called" is the "alleged" without the elegance and without, you know, actual allegations. So-called is the drop-in equivalent of an "authorities say" asterisk in a headline, a written sneer that would be denied if someone questioned a speaker who added the equivalent tone of voice. It's making air-quotes with the English language, and it deserves all the mockery we can summon.

I'm almost tempted to start a "So-Called Watch" blog, but given the underwhelming popularity of Pop-Up Mocker, I think not.

Richard Roeper Scores a Twofer

In his column today, Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times endears himself to the other half:
    You go first. In a recent column you brought out the big guns, God and the Vatican, to condemn Rush Limbaugh for his support of the troops in the so-called Iraqi prisoner abuse. Who you gonna call on now to comment on the televised beheading of an American civilian -- the liberal high authority Michael "Freaky" Moore? Let's just see if this cold-blooded murder gets as much air time from the media as the naked butts of Iraqi prisoners.

    Alberta Dabrowsky, Lake Zurich

    The entire world should be condemning that horrific, cowardly murder. As for press coverage: the beheading of the American civilian is a huge story and was treated as such. Conservative commentators who seized on this tragedy to complain that the so-called liberal media was more interested in abused Iraqi prisoners than a murdered American civilian are either lying or stupid.

My response, of course, is that I read his column online every day Monday through Thursday, so I guess it's obvious which of the two I am.

Mr. Roeper can be reached for comment at

Dear Mama Gena

I, too, have a crush on my best friend!

Should I tell her?

Are You A Psychic, Too, Because Your Columnist Name Sounds Like What A Psychic Would Call Herself -Notice How I Subtly Slipped A Second Question Into My Letter For Free

Why Do They Hate Us?

At, Peggy Noonan examines the terrorist threat to Newark. Her analysis:
  • Because the Port of Newark is an easy target:

      He [Tony Soprano] comes across a documentary about the potential use by terrorists of the nearby Port of Newark. The Port of Newark, the biggest port on the eastern seaboard, receives millions of ship containers each year; the feds say they can check only 2%; terrorists could easily smuggle in a dirty nuke.

      Tony becomes alarmed. He knows Port Newark. The mob is there, his people are there. It is corrupt, lazy, badly run. Suddenly he realizes there's nothing between his home and kaboom but a chain-link fence and a mall.

  • Because the Port of Newark is an attractive target:

      Port Newark is just beyond the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. A hit on Newark would cause panic in al Qaeda's great target, New York--stock market crash, terror in the streets. A hit on Port Newark would deal a blow rich in practical and symbolic terms.

  • Because New Jersey is becoming the center, in America, of the movement for cloning:

      But there's more and for me it's more central, and the reason my pings began. New Jersey is becoming the center, in America, of the movement for cloning. Its governor just signed the most liberal cloning bill in the United States. There is money in cloning research, and status: We're the coming intellectual center of science! We're not just the Meadowlands and the mob, we're Princeton and Einstein! There is greater suburban affluence to be gained, and higher tax revenues for politicians to spend on community centers built through no-bid contracts by big contributors. The Robert Torricelli Psychotherapy Institute for the Differently Abled. The Jim McGreevey Carpal Tunnel Trauma Research Facility.
Cripes, spare me further "Why do they hate us?" projection of whatever bugaboos the commentator has about America in the discussion of terrorism. Who cares? Don't solve the projected problem, eliminate those who would blow up Newark for whatever reason.

And prevent Peggy Noonan from being cloned, ever. For her sake, and for the sake of generations of future Americans who read conservative commentators.

Steve Chapman Speaks Word to Power

Steve Chapman, in today's Chicago Tribune says (registration required):
    Some newcomers are planning to move to Chicago, and the invasion sounds as though it will be a grim affair. "They're a negative for the city," said one fearful alderman. They're guilty of "treating people wrong," said an angry minister. They exploit a "slave mentality," charged another clergyman.

    You'd think Genghis Khan was riding in our direction, with his marauding hordes in tow. In fact, the would-be migrants are from Wal-Mart, whose chief crime is to become one of the most successful companies in American history. All the giant retailer is threatening to bring is a few hundred jobs and a lot of inexpensive products. But critics want the City Council to block the project.
Bobo opponents want to block it because it's Wal-Mart. But it's a good company, an employer, and a seller of things people want to buy. Get off the anti-capitalist chic and let it in.

Just don't let the local government throw people out of their homes or provide tax breaks.

(Originally seen on Daniel Drezner because I must be slow today getting to my Chicagoland papers.)


Modern Drunkard's first annual Alcoholics Unanimous convention is this weekend in Vegas.

Remember, pilots, you are our designated fliers. Not even a little tippling for you.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004
The Worst Part About 13 Going on 30

The worst part of the movie 13 Going on 30, which I only attended because I love my beautiful wife very much and she's a great Jennifer Garner fan, is that they got 1987 so very wrong.

For those of you who don't know, which I pray is most of you, the main character is 13 in 1987 who wishes she were 30. The plot is bang! She is 30, and it's 2004, and she doesn't remember anything between now and then. Now that we have that pesky plot out of the way, I can lay into what was really wrong.

Take, for example, the three musical touchstones from the 1980s that reappear throughout the movie:
  • "Love is a Battlefield" by Pat Benetar. The 13 year old in 1987 knows this song by heart. This song was released in 1983 on Live From Earth. It was a very big deal back then, but by 1987, it wasn't popular.

  • "Thriller" by Michael Jackson. Again, since this album was released in 1982, when the main character would have been 8 years old. By 1987, Bad had been released, redefining Michael Jackson as "tougher" or something. Regardless, the youth of 1987 thought Michael Jackson was gay, werd, and no one would have thought to imitate the dance from the video, which was not getting that much airplay on MTV in 1987.

  • Worst of all, the main character has a crush on Rick Springfield, and she apparently kisses her middle school love interest to the song "Jessie's Girl", which came from 1981's Working Class Dog and didn't get airplay that a person born in 1974 would have remembered until the 1980s stations started cropping up around the turn of the century.
Those are just the musical misfires in the movie. In 1987, at her thirteenth birthday party, her best friend buildss her a dollhouse which contains a stereo and all the record albums she could ever want. Jeez, Louise, record albums? As a dream of a middle schooler in 1987? Audio cassettes had supplanted records by then. Memo to other inept writers: Betamax was gone by then, but laser discs were still struggling along.

Please, spare me the constant Rick Springfield crush notes. In 1987, a girl would more likely have a crush on Jon Bon Jovi or George Michael or Prince.

Even the subtleties of this faux 1987 grate. The love interest shows up in a Trans Am, with long hair over his ears. Teased long hair, okay; mullet, possible. Short, gelled spikes? That was cool in 1987. But the heartthrob wears hair about five years out of style.

I wouldn't be so agitated by it if they had not specifically set it, within the first minutes of the movie, in 1987. Sure, as we get older, time periods expand so that what's hip in a particular year is not as important as whether we like the artist or not. Quick, Matchbox 20 had their first hit....Oh, sometime in the mid-to-late 1990s, wot? But when you're 13 (or 15, as I was in 1987), each individual year and the particulars of fashion are very important, and their impressed into our psyches.

Which is why the authenticity of this movie really did not impress me. It's obvious that some older writers reached into the grab-bag of the i980s and came out with a couple handfuls of things they might have remembered. Hey, it's all good retro stuff, huh? Unfortunately, they risked offending, yes, offending a major set of Generation X who lived those years at that age. Or maybe just me.

Brian and the Argotnots

Today, friends and readers, I coin for your amusement a term in the testers' cant, a secret language spoken to confound developers. Just as developers confound us with talk of materialized views, mainClasses, and environmental PATH variables (all of which we testers know to be fictional), we testers have devised our own secret language with words and terms we can use to explain problems and then, with exaggerated patience and a healthy eye-rolling, define those terms for the silly developers who really don't know anything about testing.

Today's term: a zool.

Zool: a row in a database, added via an INSERT command, or rendered in the presentation layer (client application or Web interface) that is expected to contain information, but because of defective behavior of the software does not.

Used in context: "There is no data, only zool."

Try to use it in a sentence today. Extra credit goes to those who use it but don't actually work in IT.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004
Book Review: Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck (1935)

As some of you know, I've been reading Steinbeck on and off for the last couple of years (Of Mice and Men review); what I said then holds true. Steinbeck's as accessible and as easy to read as Hemingway, which means I've read a bunch of him, and the Faulkner I was supposed to read in college remains on my to-read shelves.

This book deals with a group of Mexican-Americans who live in Tortilla Flat, a small, er, suburb of Monterey populated by Mexican Americans. It's set immediately after the first world war. The main characters are layabouts. It's not so much a novel as a collection of anecdotes or loosely-related stories, a la Winesburg, Ohio. Actually, considering that the pastime of the main characters is stealing or trading for gallons of wine, perhaps this book should be called Winesburg, California. But it's not.

To keep with the spirit of the book, I drank much red wine while reading it. The level in my bottle went down, down, and perhaps I enjoyed the book more for it. Still, I couldn't apply too many lessons of the book to my life, since none of my neighbors have chickens I can steal, and because I like to think my life has more meaning than acquiring money for wine. I'm a Guinness man, don't you know?

Still, the ultimate point of this book might be that there's more to life than laying about and drinking. However, the thin characterization and even the thin narration don't really compel the reader to make those conclusions. It's sort of like an epidode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. We were lazing about, stealing for wine, and an incident occurred.

Unlike Star Trek: The Next Generation, though, you can sound a bit snooty when you say, "This reminds me of Steinbeck's Tortilla Flat...." So if you like quick reads in Great American Literature, pick it up. Especially if you can score it as part of a Steinbeck set at $1 each like I did. Werd.

Book Review: The Far Side Gallery by Gary Larsen (1984)

This book is 20 years old. You like the Far Side? That's yesterday's newspaper. The Far Side has been out of business for so long, most young people today--indeed, most in that coveted 18-34 demographic--won't remember it. Sort of like if you talk about Opus, or Bloom County, or Calvin and Hobbes in five years, or Dilbert in ten or fifteen (although perhaps Dilbert, like Hagar the Horrible, will remain in the funny pages longer than in the culture).

So I'm ashamed that this book is now one of those cultural artifacts I'm fond of reading--especially since I remember it in its pre-artifact days. The wry, outlandish humor remains, but I wonder how much of it would fly in today's world. Particularly the gags with the mushroom clouds. Of course, in the early eighties, we had a Republican president that contemporary conventional wisdom thought was bringing humanity to the brink of its extinction. Looking back, the sepia-toned memories are less frightening since the bigger story turned out well. But I digress. Mushroom clouds? Not so funny. Office politics and corporate shenanigans? Funny and relevant, for a couple years yet.

Still, the book's amusing enough in itself. One typically encounters Far Side cartoons individually, tacked on cubicle walls from Far Side calendars (or at least that's how I encounter them on my beautiful wife's cubicle wall). En masse, such as a great book like this, one encounters a greater number of cartoons of varied punchlines, which means the end result is average--wherein the cubicle wall is very selective, choosing one or two cartoons from a year's worth of cartoons reprinted from several years' worth of cartoons.

Perhaps I just read this book too quickly (a single night). But I didn't spend too much on it (4 books for 4 bucks plus shipping and handling from Quality Paperback Club), so I'm pleased with it. If you're a Far Side fan, it's worth it. If you're not, it's like a collection of Andy Capp's greatest hits. Well, no, probably a bit better than that since most of us can identify with cattle on the moon better than English ruggers, but you get my point.

Escalating the Level of Discourse to Violence

Check out John Kerry's bravado here:
    Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry warned his political opponents on Monday against attacking his outspoken wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, saying, "They're going to have to go through me."
That's a pretty metaphor, Massachusetts. But we here in the midwest respect our elders just enough to not beat them to a pulp when they start talking smack.

Who Are They Kidding?

Important insight from WebMD Health News:
    Commercials featuring topless models with buff bodies and unattainable physiques may make the viewers feel depressed and unhappy with their bodies.

    Sound familiar? It is, but this time it's the men's turn to feel insecure.
Actually, it doesn't sound familiar at all, but then again I have what they call "self-esteem" mostly because I have an accurate depiction of why my body is the way it is, and I'm content with it. Sure, I'd like a little flatter stomach, but that would require more time on the gerbil machines and fewer Guinnesses.

So pardon me when I am skeptical when a woman psychologist from Central Florida University intones, seriously:
    "The level of muscularity and attractiveness that are idealized in the media often are not attainable for the average man," says researcher Stacey Tantleff-Dunn, professor of psychology at the University of Central Florida. "Men see more of a discrepancy between how they want to look, or think they need to look, and the image they see in the mirror. Such discrepancies can cause the dissatisfaction and low self-esteem that lead to extreme and often unhealthy actions, such as eating disorders, exercising too much, and steroid abuse."
You know what I think when I see an idealized level of muscularity and attractiveness in the media? I think, "Hey, I'm in the media!" or "Hey, man, I wish I had time to spend four hours a day in a gym; of course, I would spend it drinking Guinness and reading or napping in a recliner, but the time would be nice."

Now, Lift It Up Slowly

Over at A Small Victory, Michele has posted another photograph that's certain to drive all the boys wild.

Some of us like the tall, dark, sexy ones.

Monday, May 10, 2004
Iraqi Prisoner Abuse

I have not posted on this topic much, gentle readers, because the zone has been quite flooded with floor-to-ceiling coverage of the topic. It's a bad thing, but not as bad a thing as it's been made out. The coverage certainly outweighs the offense.

I don't have anything to add. Read what this guy says about it. He covers it.

(Link seen on Instapundit.)

Are You Appositive?

Pardon me while I mock the editing of the piece entitled Aisles of Fraud? Faked Slip-and-Fall Accidents Cost Customers, wherein we find this gem:
    Debbie Williams, a fortune teller, was caught faking a fall in aisle nine of a New York City grocery store. Williams — who is also a fortune teller — knew she was going to fall before she walked into the store.
I must be psychic, too, because I knew before the second sentence that Debbie Williams was a fortune teller!

Global Obesity Not America's Fault

Thank goodness experts have acknowledged that global obesity is not solely the fault of the United States.

However, we should be act unilaterally and institute the world-wide famine, as previously planned, to reduce the weight of people who currently are getting too much to eat. Do it for the Children!

Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others

Charles Schmucker, senator from a tiny little state called New York, posits more Federal tax money, contributed by people in Mississippi and Wyoming, should go to New York:

    The federal government should give New Yorkers unused housing subsidies earmarked for other states, Sen. Charles Schumer said yesterday.
From the many, one, brother, as long as it's one of the populous states whose overregulation is choking its populace. Put your fingers around my neck, too, please.

She Turned Me Into A Newt

Newt Gingrich, on, explains a double standard at work:
    The media coverage of the violations of American law against Iraqi prisoners is in peril of setting a dangerous double standard for America and the Arab world. The administration must be very careful in explaining how we feel and what we will do. Otherwise our enemies will use our own words as an excuse to exploit this double standard.

    To be clear, a very small number of Americans did a terrible thing at Abu Ghraib. And because we live under the rule of law, and we take protecting the Constitution seriously, the accused will be investigated and, when guilty, punished. The incidents themselves are to be condemned.

    Some have called for Donald Rumsfeld to resign. However, he has led the process of exposing the wrongdoing and investigating the charges. Moreover, he will see to it that the accused get a fair and honest trial, in which there is a presumption of innocence until guilt is proved and the guilty are punished. That due process is something we as Americans should be proud of, and unequivocal about. In view of Mr. Rumsfeld's significant contribution to our security, this incident will be but a footnote.

    Explaining our anger at these misdeeds and our determination to punish the wrongdoers is appropriate. Appearing overly contrite or overly apologetic, however, will be a big mistake.
What he said.

Sunday, May 09, 2004
Bare and....What's the Other One?

On the front page of its NewsWatch section, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch offers pro and con, emphasis on the con, of whether another casino would be good for the St. Louis area:
  • (No) Opponents of new casino tell tales of addiction's toll
      Looking back, Connie realizes she should have seen the problem. Her family members always wanted her to take a separate car to the casinos - they knew she would want to leave long before they did.

      She should have known the $50 here, $100 there that they borrowed was not a coincidence. She had lost a few bucks playing bingo before, she knew grocery bills were hard to cover sometimes. No big deal. They always paid her back.

      Had she been asked three years ago to vote on a new casino in Lemay, where she lives, "heck, yes, I was all for it," said Connie.

      The loan requests grew larger and more frequent.

      "They ran themselves low on one person, and they couldn't go to them anymore, so they would start on other people, and pretty soon, I realized they were all hitting on me," Connie said of her family members.

      None of these relatives had gambling problems before casinos came to the St. Louis area. They had never visited Las Vegas. There was a history of alcoholism in the family, and Connie smoked through three pregnancies before she finally quit.

      "I know about addiction," she says.

    So we start with an anecdotal lead that, I guess, will support the argument that government should pad the harsh walls of reality to make it safe for the least responsible or intelligent members of society, because if they can, stupid people will do stupid things.

  • (Yes) Supporters for new casino see cash for education
      Last week, Hancock High School Principal Jason Naucke bluntly told his students that if they even considering drinking, don't bother showing up for the prom. Fifth graders got a one-hour lesson from a police officer about the consequences of joining a gang, the 15th week of a 17-week course urging them to reject drugs and violence.

      Just another week in the "values" curriculum at Hancock Place School District, while the district's superintendent was pushing for a casino to come to the neighborhood.

      A casino means money, and Superintendent Ed Stewart hasn't seen enough of that.

    A new "casino" would mean "tax revenue" that "scare-quoted" "educators" could [Please punch up with use of term so-called. --Ed.] use in promoting "values" in their so-called curricula, and the unintelligent educators "educators" don't capture the "irony" of raising money from gambling while promoting other "values" (which are obviously "scare-quoted" because anything valued by someone other than the journalist is "suspect"). Thus begins the story favoring the casino.
Criminey, I pay money to have this delivered. At least I am getting some use out of it now that hockey season's over.

The Most Insidious Pop-Up Ad I Have Ever Seen.... now chronicled at Pop-Up Mocker.

The 'Hard Emotions' of Conservation

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch profiles the president of the St. Louis Zoo. The lead: How he fired up his wife to think about conservation:
    Perhaps the only wild creatures Melody Noel studied in law school were F. Lee Bailey and Alan Dershowitz. But today, Noel is an expert on penguins, cheetahs and addaxes.

    "Farmers in Botswana are shooting cheetahs because they eat their livestock," Noel said. "It's going to take some creative solutions and some time to work through the problem."

    Noel has no background in biology, but she is married to St. Louis Zoo president Jeffrey Bonner. And anyone who lives in Bonner's world - whether for two decades, like Noel, or two years, like the Zoo's 1,000 employees - invariably adopts his passions.

    "I am a perfect example of a convert," said Noel, who practices domestic law. "These are not things I thought about before, but he knows how to get people fired up."
You mean, farmers shoot wild cats that attack their domesticated animals? The horror! As mountain lions return to scourge the mountainous country of our own United States, I only hope the farmers in Botswana only use one bullet per cheetah and have a nice, fashionable pelt to wear afterwards.

But what's the point of the anecdote? The great Mesmero can convince people who would marry him to join him in an inchoate collection of beliefs about the circle of life as it exists outside of Disney cartoons. So what makes him different from any other professor?
    Now Bonner wants to convert St. Louisans and one of the city's most beloved institutions. Soon, he promises, visitors will see a new sort of St. Louis Zoo, one that confronts the destruction of the wild, the slaughter of endangered species and the hard choices the public must face if it wants to change the world. This new Zoo that Bonner envisions looks a lot like the old one: The train still runs, sea lions still flip for fish and Raja still roams the sprawling River's Edge. But with the fun comes a sober message of conservation and responsibility.

    "What we have failed to do is really show people the world around us. In Africa, the loggers are putting in the roads, and the hunters go in with their AK-47s and slaughter every animal they see.
I guess he's saying that he would prefer Africa to continue with substinence farming, famines, and starvation, since that lack of development didn't threaten nature.

How daft is he?
    To Bonner, who studied anthropology, the human element matters most.

    "The environment is never the problem. It's the people that are the problem - always the people," he said.
Pretty damn daft, if you ask me. People are always the problem. Except people like him.
    "Conservation ultimately requires compromise," Bonner said. "I think people struggle with that all of the time, but if you look at the big picture, there are ways of balancing your lifestyle with the good you do."

    In Bonner's case, he drives a sport utility vehicle, eats meat and wears leather shoes.
So he proffers this compromise: cattle farmers, African loggers, everyone outside of a pampered urban setting, you've got to do what he and his type dictate, based on theories and "hard emotions." He, on the other hand, will continue to make six figures, eat meat, drive a sport utility vehicle, wear leather shoes, and promises never to get attacked by a big cat while jogging or allowing his pets or livestock to tempt carnivores. Also, he's willing to suffer through puff pieces in the newspaper and colleagues who gush:
    Jerry Borin, director of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, calls Bonner "a big-picture person."

    "He is always two or three steps ahead but he brings people along," Borin said. "That's important in the zoo community. We are not that large of an industry, and by nature we have to cooperate."
That big picture? It's a large, flattering self-portrait depicting Bonner as nobility, willing to do what's best for his serfs, whether it's popular or not.

What does a mountain lion or cheetah think of a zookeeper who's not afraid to admit he wears leather?

Sorry, I couldn't help it. I am also toying with a global outreach program called "Bullets for Botswana," but that takes more effort than making jokes.

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