Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Thursday, May 20, 2004
She Wants A New Drug

To make a short story long, I sent a link to my beautiful wife who is a Starcraft player (dudes, she's not only a sultry babe, but an übergeekette, too). She then reads the piece linked to, and she says I should read it, too, because it's called The Ultimate War Sim, and so I do, but not because I am into Real-Time Strategy (RTS) games, but more because she's a babe and I am hot for her, but it's funny, so you should read it, too, gentle reader.

Gen X Grows Middle-Aged

Hold on to sixteen, as long as you can.
Changes come around real soon and make us women and men.

Government of the Government, by the Government, for the Government

CNet reports that the New York Public Service Commission ruled that VOIP company Vonage is a phone company, and hence is subject to regulation by....the New York Public Service Commission!

In other news, the Federal Drug Administration has ruled that Vonage is also a pharmaceutical company, subject to FDA regulation; the TVA has classified vonage as a valley in Tennessee and subject to TVA oversight; and the State of Massachusetts has disaccredited it as a school district and is beginning action to take it over.

Since when do government entities get to actually pick new companies and new technologies to assimilate into their particular bullish labyrinth? Oh, since always, I guess.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Read It and Weep With Laughter!

Well, probably not, but I have updated Pop-Up Mocker.

Unwritten Mandate to the Airline Transport Authority

Drudge linked to this violin-soaked lamentation from the Airline Transport Authority, wherein the protagonists of their own melodrama lament fuel prices and their own inability to profitably run businesses:
    US airlines have warned that the continuing sky-high price of fuel has "all but wiped out any chance of a profitable year for the industry". [Revel in the British style, gentle readers, of placing the punctuation outside the quotation marks.]

    The comments of their trade body, the Air Transport Association (ATA), came after Continental Airlines became the latest carrier to raise ticket prices.

    To try to ease the high price of oil, the ATA called on President George W Bush to stop stockpiling the fuel.
Please, President Bush, stop thinking first of the strategic military needs of the country whom you've sworn to protect, and start thinking of the bottom lines of one of the most heavily-subsidized and ineptly-run industries. Do it for the children!--namely those poor waifish children of airline executives and their lobbyists, who can scarcely afford a summer abroad with the high ticket Pprices on their free rides.

Here's the ATA's president giving what passes for "strategic thinking" in the airline industry:
    "We agree that the strategic reserve is an investment in the nation's future," said ATA president and chief executive James May.

    "However, any investor will tell you that you buy low, sell high. Unfortunately the government is doing just the opposite."
The strategic reserve is not an investment. Not even a hedge. It's a vital necessity to keeping our military functioning should the flow of just-in-time petroleum stop or slow. The government is not buying oil to make a profit. It's not buying at the best time. It's buying when it can, which is now.

Unfortunately, that's not what's best for James May. Too bad, James May.

Also, did anyone else notice the weird tesseract in the BBC's story?

Second paragraph:
    The comments of their trade body, the Air Transport Association (ATA), came after Continental Airlines became the latest carrier to raise ticket prices.
Last paragraph:
    Continental's price rises were later mirrored by United and North West.
Whoa. Where am I? When am I?

Heather Has A Kindred Spirit

Kate at Small Dead Animals is a fan of Mark Helprin's novels. As some of you know, my beautiful wife is a great fan of Helprin, and A Soldier of the Great War is her favorite book.

Not to make you feel slighted, gentle reader, but you know Heather really likes you if she's given you a copy of that book for some holiday. What, you got a copy of Virginia Postrel's The Substance of Style? Sorry, that's the consolation prize in the contest of Heather's friendship.

Good Advice, Forsaken When Relevant

I give Kass and Steinberg and Roeper all the linky-love they get in the blogosphere, but I haven't linked to the Chicago Tribune's Mary Schmich. You know, she wrote the column about wearing sunscreen, which contains these immortal lines:
    Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.
Oh, how I should have heeded those words in 1997, when I was but five and twenty. Now that I am older and broken down, I know the truth in the beauty, strength, stamina, and wit I possessed when I was young. But I am an old man now, and that's all gone.

It Was Toilet Paper

MSNBC has picked the Worst (and Best) Television Series Finales, wherein they find M*A*S*H worst of all:
    1. "M*A*S*H*" -- "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" (Feb. 28, 1983)

    M*A*S*HWe know, we know, there are lots of you out there who think the two-and-a-half-hour finale is pure genius, but we think after 10-and-a-half increasingly sentimental seasons, the still top-rated show had lost the plot -- literally. In the syrupy, self-righteous swan song, earnest Everyman surgeon Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda, who co-wrote and directed) suffers a nervous breakdown after witnessing a mother smother her baby on a bus. He recovers and returns to the 4077th in time for the war to end. Tears, manly hugs, and more tears build up to the big heart-tugging conclusion. As Hawkeye's helicopter takes off, he sees that best bud B.J. (Mike Farrell) has spelled out "goodbye" in stones on the ground. Someone give us a schmaltz-ectomy -- stat! Still, 106 million people tuned in for the pop-culture event (it's still the all-time ratings champ), many of whom we expect will write in to tell us just how wrong we are.
Undoubtedly, they've already gotten numerous letters pointing out that Honeycutt spelled out goodbye with rolls of toilet paper, not stones.

I just wanted you, gentle reader, to know that I am much smarter than someone who's actually figured out a way to earn money getting paid writing for the Internet.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004
Fun With Kerning

On the News page of the New York Post today, we had this headline:

Funny looking link

That particular word is flick, F-L-I-C-K. No matter what your first glance told you.

And Your Little Dog, Too

A little unwritten mandate to the NPR news types who led off the 3:30 newscast with a two-sentence "story" that relatives of and former Abu Gharib detainees want the soldiers who humiliated them put to death. That's the whole story. A throwaway line with no balance or other information, undoubtedly crafted carefully to work "Abu Gharib" into the the top of another newscast. Obviously, all those liberal arts classes did not go for nothing.

A hearty and somewhat louder unwritten mandate to you for giving this sort of barbaric, disproportionate punishment proposal a forum, which might lead some people to even entertain the notion that that West Virginia private is going to face a firing squad or a stoning for stripping clothes from a detainee or for making an Middle Easterner put a shoe in his mouth. How dare you? How <omitted> dare you?

What do I mean an unwritten mandate? Well, gentle reader, as this is a family blog, I won't actually type it here, but suffice to say that when it's a spoken mandate and I am feeling particularly combative, I tend to pronounce the verb portion to rhyme with awk.

Monday, May 17, 2004
Sheer Hatefulness

Everybody sing!

Outside my window there's a whole lot of trouble coming,
The cartoon killers and the rag cover clones.
Stack heels kickin' rhythm of social circumcision.
Can't close the closet on shoe box full of bones.....

Kangaroo lady with her bourbon in a pouch
Can't afford the rent on a bamboo couch
Collecting back her favors cause her well is running dry
I know her act is terminal, but she ain't gonna die

Slim intoxicado drinking dime store hooch
Is always in a circle with his part-time pooch
Little creepy's playing dollies in the New York rain
Thinking Bowie's just a knife.
Ooh the pain.

I ain't seen the sun since I don't know when.
The freaks come out at nine.
It's twenty to ten.
What's this funk that you call junk?
To me it's just monkey business.
Get back!

Blind man in the vox that will probably die,
The village kids laugh as they walk by.
A psycho on the edge of this human garbage dump
And the vultures in the sewers are telling him to jump.

Into the fire from the frying pan, tripping on his tongue, For a cool place to stand.
Where's this shade that you've got it made?
To me, it's just monkey business.

Monkey business, slipping on the track.
Monkey business, jungle in black.
Ain't your business if I got no monkey on my back.

Monkey business, slipping on the track.
Monkey business, jungle in black.
Ain't your business if I got no monkey on my back.

The vaseline gypsies and silicone souls dressed to the socie-tees.
Your hypocrite heartbeat and cheap alibis can't get you by that monkey.

M-m-m-m-monkey, monkey!

Monkey business, slipping on the track.
Monkey business, jungle in black.
Ain't your business if I got no monkey on my back.

Monkey business, slipping on the track.
Monkey business, jungle in black.
Ain't your business if I got no monkey on my back.

Monkey business, you can't tell me
(Monkey business) if I've got the business.
(Ain't your business) no monkey on my back, yeah! huh!

Monkey business, ness, business.
Don't give me your business, baby, woah ay!

Dudes, when I was in college, one night I did sit-ups keeping in time to that song. I am pleased to announce I didn't vomit nor did I cry for my mother when the next song on the cassette, "Slave to the Grind", began.

(Michele deserves it for slandering one of the greatest forgetable hair hard rock bands of the late 1980s.)

Do Gun Prohibitions Make You Safer?

Ponder this story: £40m Heathrow gold robbery foiled:
    A gang of men got out of the van and threatened warehouse staff with at least one firearm and other weapons, including knives, Scotland Yard said.

    The gang tried to steal the gold bullion at the warehouse and force their way into a secure area containing a large quantity of bank notes, police said.
In a nation where citizens don't carry guns, the bad guys feel safe trying to steal $70 million dollars with one gun and a couple of knives.

Thieves would not be so bold in great swaths of the United States and in Israel.

Compare and Contrast

Class, today's compare and contrast courtesy of and The subject: Sarin gas munitions in Iraq. Right-click and select View Image to see full image for each.
10:17 am
Fox Headline, 10 am
"Nerve Gas Released By Iraq Roadside Bomb"

Important stuff up first. Nerve Gas. Iraq. Roadside Bomb.
CNN Headline, 10 am
"Artillery round in Iraq emits sarin gas, U.S. military says"

The incident's diminishing begins. It's just an artillery round emitting a gas, not an improvised explosive device.

Kudos, too, for using the Authorities Allege Asterisk rhetorical device to make the teller of the incident into the story.
3 pm
(sorry, no screen caps)
"U.S. Confirms WMD in Iraq" None.

Main headline involves story of Iraq Governing Council leader.
7 pm
Fox Headline, 7 pm
"Sarin, Mustard Gas Found in Iraq"

Elaborating and emphasizing the WMD.
CNN Headline, 7 pm
"Busy Hurricane Season Ahead"

Nothing to see here, folks..

Within nine hours, CNN had decided that further evidence of Iraq's non-compliance with U.N. mandates regarding banned weapons and weapons systems are no longer important. Not as important as seasonal weather patterns in the Caribbean, anyway.

Update: Ravenwood noticed it, too.

Kass on Abu Gharib

John Kass, of the Chicago Tribune, reflects on what Abu Gharib says about America (registration required). Cripes, what to excerpt?
    You might see these photos as evidence that we should never have been in Iraq, that we're no different than our enemy, that we should pull out now.

    I'd respectfully disagree with that.

    We are different. There is no moral equivalency here, despite what some politicians want you to believe.

    Those Americans who committed outrages at Abu Ghraib should be sent to prison, and not only the enlisted people and the strange woman with the dog leash, but their commanders as well. Let's be clear on that. Torture and the mass murder of innocents was Saddam's policy. That is not our policy. Just as the severing of heads and putting it on video is not our policy.

    As a political tactic, comparing the United States to Saddam Hussein promotes uncertainty in selected constituencies, particularly the young. It is absolutely necessary that we reject it, because it saps American confidence. It is dangerous.

    There is no other option but to accomplish the mission in Iraq, to develop some stable government and turn the country over to the Iraqi people. Yes, that might mean that U.S. forces will be there for years.
That should give you a taste, but you'll have to read the whole thing to see him quote Victor Davis Hanson.

Help Fight Spurious Lawsuits and Radley Balko report on the next target of Big Litigation: the alcohol industry.

Friends, Romans, countrymen, this cannot stand. I urge you to each contribute heavily to fill the coffers of the defense funds for the brewers, vintners, and distillers. I myself like to contribute and show my support by stopping by the liquor store frequently, and I plead that you do the same. And invite me over.

Thank you, that is all.

Sunday, May 16, 2004
Kudos to the Editorial Page Editor

Thank you, wise leaders of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, for choosing this photograph to accompany Kevin Horrigan's column this Sunday entitled "The moral clarity of death by Apache".

Instead of, say, any of these.

I would say, "Shame on you," but that requires someone able to feel shame.

(Thanks to Meryl Yourish whose "Meirav was two" post led me to the photos of the Hautel children.)

Deploy the Crack-Addled Analysts!

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has uncovered:
    Black students in the St. Louis area are more likely to attend a school in a district that is virtually all black than they were in the 1960s.

    Fifty years after the highest court in the land declared school segregation illegal, the region's student population as a whole has become more diverse. But still about half the area's students - white and black - attend public schools where nearly all the children look like themselves, a Post-Dispatch analysis shows.
As part of its long commemoration of the Brown v Board of Education, the paper concludes that schools are still segregated. The paper, however, misunderstands or misrepresents a basic concept in segregation: Segregate is a transitive verb, wherein a subject segregates a direct object. Segregation was bad when governments segregated people based upon race because it did not allow them to choose the schools their children attended--the government assigned it by race. With Brown v Board of Education, the Supreme Court said that separate facilities for members of different races were inherently unequal.

Once governments quit segregating pupils by race, segregation ended. However, the Post-Dispatch, arguing in favor of expensive forced integration programs, intimates that since schools are not integrated, they're still segregated. But schools are now segregated by choice, as people send their children to schools where they live and can choose where they live or they can send their children to private schools.

Hold on, some people would argue, parents are not free to choose where they live! A family living on a single service industry salary cannot live in the Ladue school district! Therefore, they are not free! They're segregated to places they can afford to live and are thus not free and their children should be bussed to Ladue!

If you think that, I have two words for you: But since this blog is read by my mother-in-law, I won't say them, but I will think them very hard in your general direction. First, you're misrepresenting freedom to choose as freedom to make any choice or take any action. Freedom to choose means you can choose what's available to you, not among all possibilities real or imagined. Just because I'm not free to travel astrally between the galaxies, soaring on the cosmic wind, that does not mean I am unfree to choose between the possibilities available to me. So parents are free to move, if they want, to places with better schools and/or to make sacrifices for their children's educations if that's what they value.

As for anecdotal evidence, I can only offer the following: A close friend of mine attended the Principia, an elite high school in the St. Louis area. Her mother had gone there. So she did. Of course, her mother made extreme sacrifices to send my friend to the Princip. Her mother was a single mother, raising two children in Colorado and New Mexico, but she moved the family to St. Louis and made sacrifices, deals, and relied on the help of others to ensure her children could attend the school she chose for them. She chose. Period.

So feel free to continue to ignore the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's perspective on this issue, and continue to take care of your children and your schools instead of forcing the government to waste its limited resources on creating a sixties Coke commercial world of properly rainbowed schools of which the Post-Dispatch would approve.

More Civil Rights Every Day

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch approvingly reports:
    The mother of accused serial killer Maury Travis, whose bizarre hanging death in the St. Louis County Justice Center was ruled a suicide, filed a suit Friday against the county, the architects who designed the jail and the contractors who built it.

    The federal suit by Sandra Travis Harden claims her son's civil rights were violated by negligence and building flaws while he was supposed to be on a suicide watch after his arrest in June 2002 on federal charges involving two kidnappings.
Her boy killed himself, but his civil rights were violated because the government did not restrict him enough so that he could not kill himself.

Don't dwell on it too long, gentle reader, for it might cause your head to explode, and I don't want to violate your civil rights by not preventing you from being informed.

At which time, I guess, your survivors could sue my family, the makers of the components within my computer, my Internet Service Provider, blogger, and the company that built the comfortable chair in which I am sitting. Also, to spare the company litigation, I would like to point out I am not drinking a delicious Guinness at this time.

Leave the Metaphors to the Professionals, Son

Dan Caesar writes in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
    With a week of retrospective, that seems to have played out to a "T" in the Blues' nixing Fox Sports Net's desire to keep Ken Wilson, who had broadcast Blues games for a record-tying 20 full seasons.
Geez, I think that's supposed to be a metaphor. Is he talking about tee-ball? A tie? I don't know.

Let's Eat

Bald eagle will be taken off threatened species list.

I mean, we already serve the runner-up for Thanksgiving.

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