Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, June 05, 2004
Poor Form, Peter

Kudos to the non-geek marketing types who composed the marketing letter for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, wherein the first lines are:
    Human Space Colonies in the 21st Century?

    The Viking Orbiter and the Mars Rover have brought us one step closer.
Whyever would a serious student of the space program focus on the Viking Orbiters when the program included two landers of its own. In the nineteen-by God-seventies?

I suspect the person who wrote the copy just didn't know.

Friday, June 04, 2004
Another Radio Voice

Kelley, who does the Suburban Blight blog, has been posting audio clips.

When the Blog Radio Revolution occurs, listen for her daily show.

Read The F'n Manual

Note to "international" news organization CNN: Before you open your vacuous mouths and list Bill Clinton as a potential vice-president, why don't you read the manual, which quite clearly states:
    Amendment XII

    The electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate;--The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;--the person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President. The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.
    Amendment XXII

    Section 1. No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.

    Section 2. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several states within seven years from the date of its submission to the states by the Congress.
I would say, "Let's not quibble over the words elected and eligible," but we know certain factions within this country want the courts to decide members of the executive branch as long as the courts decide the right way.

Trust Him, He Measured It

Via Fark we get news of a Colorado man who's having a "property dispute" with the government. His solution is a bit of, um, civil disobedience involving an bulldozed he armored and some ordnance. What type of ordnance, you ask?
    [County Emergency Manager Jim] Holahan said the driver was also firing from the vehicle with a 50-calibre [sick, as in "spelled the Continental way, and that's sick"] weapon. There were no reports of injuries.
You read the article, and then you tell me how Holahan gauged the size of the weapon from his desk.

Is it time to ban government "property disputes"? Bulldozers? No, but it must be time to ban fifty calibre weapons.

Book Review: Skylar in Yankeeland by Gregory McDonald (1997)

How could I pass any novel by the author who created Fletch when the library's offering donated (not library copy) hardbacks for a quarter? I couldn't! So even though this particular novel only hit my shelves recently, it enjoys the LIFO processing that the most compelling, and quickest-looking, reads enjoy. Let's face it. Brian's book shelves don't enjoy proper rotation, which explains why The Sound and the Fury and its companions in a big Barnes and Noble Faulkner four-pack are enjoying the beginning of their second decade of dust-gathering, but this book flew off.

This book is a sequel to a book called Skylar, which I have not read. This book makes some reference to the earlier book, but it's not required.

The plot, basically: Skylar, a country boy from Tennessee, comes to Boston for to go to a prestigious music school on a scholarship. Before he gets that far, he stays a couple nights with his wealthy relations. Sort of like if I lived with the Kerrys, maybe. But I digress. He's a bird in the water, so to speak (ah, what one does to avoid clichés!) since he exudes native simplicity. Underneath it, though, he's pretty sharp. So the book riffs on this disparity between how it's done in The South and in Yankeeland. The book is billed as a crime novel, but there's little, incidental crime in it. Much of the pleasure in the book comes in the character interplay.

Let's see, we've got five million dollars' worth of jewelry missing, and Skylar's thirteen-year-old cousin is strongly suspected of murdering her junior high rival. We've got Skylar's older cousin's fiancé hitting on the strapping country lad and then dreaming rape sequences when he doesn't respond. We've got rich relations on the brink of fiscal disaster. As Skylar appears, these things happen around him, and he gets to be the straight man and observer ot the mysteries' resolutions.

Granted, the characters are somewhat stereotypical. If this were Steinbeck or Morrison, undoubtedly I would use the word "archetype" instead. Still, it was a quick and amusing read, and well worth at least twice as much as I paid for it. It's particularly amusing if you are more non-coastal in nature and aren't one of the bad archetypes lightly mocked by the good archetypes. A good, quick read.

Galling as Big As Church Bells

Here's a new twist on the Nigerian scam, playing to the Christian (which is a code word in many places, undoubtedly, for "rube") audience:
    From: Pastor Mrs VICTORIA ANI


    I am the above named person from Kuwait.
    I am married to Dr. VICTORIA ANI who worked with Kuwait embassy in Togo
    and Nigeria for nine years before he died in the year 2001. We were married
    for eleven years without a child.

    He died after a brief illness that lasted for only four days. Before his
    death we were both born again Christians. When my late husband was alive
    he deposited the sum of$15.6Million (FIFTEEN Million six hundred thousand
    U.S. Dollars) with one Finance Firm in Europe. Presently, this money is
    still with the their bank.

    Recently, my Doctor told me that I would not last long due to cancer problem.
    Though what disturbs me most is my stroke. Having known my condition I decided
    to donate this fund to church or better still a christian individual that
    will utilize this money the way I am going to instruct here in. I want a
    church that will use this fund to fund churches, orphanages, Research centers
    and widows propagating the word of God and to ensure that the house of God
    is maintained. The Bible made us to understand that Blessed is the hand
    that giveth.

    I took this decision because I dont have any child that will inherit this
    money and my husband relatives are not Christians and I dont want my husbands
    hard earned money to be misused by unbelievers. I dont want a situation
    where this money will be used in an ungodly manner. Hence the reason for
    taking this bold decision.

    I am not afraid of death hence I know where I am going. I know that I am
    going to be in the bossom of the Lord. Exodus 14 VS 14 says that the lord
    will fight my case and I shall hold my peace.I dont need any telephone
    in this regard because of my health and because of the presence of my husbands
    relatives around me always. I dont want them to know about thisdevelopment.

    With God all things are possible. As soon as I receive your reply I shall
    give you the contact of the Finance firm in Europe. I will also issue you
    a letter of authority that will empower you as the new beneficiary of this
    fund. I want you and the church to always pray for me because the lord
    is my shephard. My happiness is that I lived a life of a worthy
    that wants to serve the Lord must serve him in spirit and truth. Please
    always be prayerful all through your life.

    Any delay in your reply will give me room in sourcing for a church or christian
    individual for this same purpose.
    Please assure me that you will act accordingly as I stated herein.
    Hoping to hearing from you
    Remain blessed in the name of the
    Yours in Christ,
    Pastor Mrs VICTORIA ANI.
Man, that hits all the exotic locations. Kuwait! Togo! Nigeria!

I almost responded just to get the letter of authority. I wonder how much that cost?

Galls As Big As Church Bells

A GaBaCB award to Staff Sgt. Robert D. Whisenant, who recently became eligible for two purple heart medals in two weeks in Iraq. What does he think of it?
    "I may be eligible for two Purple Hearts, but with 10 months left to go I'm not looking for three," Whisenant said jokingly.
Thank you, sir, may you not have another.

(Link seen on One Hand Clapping.)

Thursday, June 03, 2004
Remember, My Students of Paranoia

They don't have to be out to get you to get you.


Andrew Sullivan psychoanalyzes voters in the middle of the country:
    My own hunch is that these voters do not like a massive increase in government spending, a huge jump in public debt, and a post-war policy in Iraq that seemed blindsided by reality. But here's my other belief, and it's about Abu Ghraib. The images from that prison shamed America in deep and inchoate ways. Traditional conservative patriots in particular were appalled. The awful truth is that this president presided over one of the most damaging blows to American prestige and self-understanding in recent history. He may not have been directly responsible; but it was on his watch. And he ensured that no one high up in his administration took the fall for the horror. I think traditional patriots were saddened, shocked and horrified by the abuse and, to a lesser extent, the Bush administration's self-protective response to it.
How can you doubt this man? His last hunch was that these very same people are over-represented in government and undertaxed.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004
Defending Wal-Mart

In today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch, David Nicklaus defends Wal-Mart. Good to see someone with a proper capitalist attitude writing on the business page.

    Wal-Mart may be a danger to competitors or even to retail clerks' unions. But it's hard to imagine the retailer damaging an entire state.

    Yet that's the claim of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which last week listed Vermont among the nation's 11 most endangered historic places. The threat, the National Trust's news release said, is "an invasion of behemoth stores that could destroy much of what makes Vermont Vermont."

    Preservationists should stick to saving historic buildings and neighborhoods from the bulldozer and wrecking ball. When they try to keep one company out of an entire state, they're really fomenting class warfare.
Not class warfare. They're trying to foment a Marxist revolution.

Solving the Cruising Problem

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports on a new initiative to curb cruisers: advertisements on the back of city buses which are meant to be seen by people driving in cars. That's the kind of innovative thinking that would put abstinence-education information on condom wrappers, which someone somewhere surely thinks the government is not funding enough.

But speaking of cruising, a resident intones:
    The common notion of cruising is "totally inconsistent," with what really occurs, he said.

    McNeely said the cruising he sees goes far beyond high school kids heading up and down Highway 100 on a Saturday night.

    "You have the loud, loud music going. People getting in and out of cars. People riding down the street hanging out of the sunroofs, hanging out the windows," McNeely said.

    And it's often lewd, he said, with cruisers stopping to urinate in yards, and young women flashing their breasts from passing cars.

    "It's likely they'll be topless as well as bottomless with a thong on," McNeely said.
What, loud music, obnoxiousness, and chasing members of the opposite/preferred sex? What is McNeely's idea of cruising, riding along in a calaboose?


Winds of Change has the best description of the enterprise-caliber, best-in-breed, all-in-one billion dollar software solutions swallowed hook, line, sinker, rod, reel, and angler forearm favored by large companies and the government, and they're not even talking about information technology.

Pah! I Got Nothin'!

When I read this post at protein wisdom, I wanted to break into song:
    Looking out at the words rushing out of my keys
    Looking back at the commas gone by like so many speakers' fees
    In ninety-one I was sophomore in English 101
    I don't know what my point is now, I'm just running on

    Running on - running on sentence
    Running on - running fine
    Running on - running outta thoughts
    But I'm writing more lines

    Gotta fluff what can when you're paid for each word
    Trying not to cut your check by up to two thirds
    By twenty-nine, I was pundit one and I called the Web my own
    I don't know when those clause ran into the clause I'm on

    Running on - running on sentence
    Running on - running fine
    Running on - running outta thoughts
    But I'm writing more lines

    Everything I know, everything I type
    People keep on reading my low tripe
    I don't know about anything but me
    I can go all night, that'll be all write
    If I can get me a book deal before I leave

    Looking out at the words rushing out of my keys
    I don't know how to tell you all just how badly this verb feels
    I look around for editors I used to turn to shut me up
    Looking into their cubes I see them running too

    Running on - running on sentence
    Running on - running fine
    Running on - running outta thoughts
    But I'm writing more lines

    Buddy you really stet me
    You know the way I wrote was fine
    I'd love to stop it now but I'm writing more lines
    You know I don't even know what I'm hoping to find
    running outta thoughts but I'm writing more lines
Peh. I got nothing. Apologies to Jackson Browne.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004
Pop-Up Mocker Updated

Again. I've got nothing better to do than to make fun of pop-up ads. Sad.

My New Money-Making Scheme

So I saw this sign along the side of the road, and I knew it was my ticket to wealth:

$25-$500 Fine
For Littering

I may have an English degree, but I know my math. $25 - $500 = -$475. Since that's a fine of -$475, that must mean the government will have to pay me $475, or give me a tax credit or something, each time I litter!

I can't wait to get started.

Looky Here, Lewey Lap

Another Harper's fan joins me in thinking Harper's isn't worth the paper it's printed on.

KMOX Contributes to National Security

Kudos to KMOX radio for an on the scene report of a possible sighting of a potential person of alleged Middle Eastern complection today. I think it was Kevin Killeen, reporting live from Illinois, who filed this report, transcribed from memory and appropriately snarked-up:
    I'm reporting live from <highway> and <highway> where several acres' of petroleum storage facilities sit unguarded behind a chain link fence. This morning, witnesses saw an SUV parkerd by the side of the road taking pictures. Inside the SUV, a dark-complected man with dark hair and a woman sped off at a suspiciously high rate of speed when approached. Authorities are investigating.
That's it, fellows. You get the gist of the report there. Something suspicious was reported, but nothing is known yet, but we're going to broadcast it live to prove we have a news team here comprised of three people and a van. Also, we're going to identify in great detail the location and how soft the target is. Back to you, Carole.

:: snort ::

Monday, May 31, 2004
Congratulations to Badnarik

The Libertarians have nominated Michael Badnarik for President.

As some of you remember, I met Michael Badnarik in January.

(Link seen on Q and O.)

Sunday, May 30, 2004
Congratulations Are In Order

Congratulations to El Guapo and La Linda, who are expecting El Guapito or La Guapita any day now; although they're refusing to divulge the name of the child, sources (scrying bubbles in a schooner is very effective regardless what the so-called "scientists" say) indicate the couple have chosen Guinness if it's a boy or Abita if it's a girl.

Also, a note of condolence to El Guapo, who will lose his nine-month-long designated driver at roughly the same time.

Perspective for Geek Gamers

Hey, geeks, you think the world revolves around you and your predilections for HALO, Half-Life, Counter-Strike, EverQuest, Asheron's Call, and other high-end FPS extravaganzas?

David Kushner in Wired magazine begs to differ. He knows that the biggest audience for online gaming is older women who like simple, easy to pick up and easy to put down games.

Gentle readers, I know this is true. For the two most hardcore gamers I know, in terms of time spent at the keys, are my aunt and my mother-in-law. Even more than Heather and her StarCraft, even more than me with Civ III. Take it to the bank.

Book Review: Bob Greene's America by Bob Greene (1993)

This volume contains two previously published collections of Bob Greene's work, 1983's American Beat and 1985's Cheeseburgers. Twenty years old. The pieces, collected from his column in Esquire called "American Beat" (who would have guessed?) and his columns in the Chicago Tribune, have held up rather well.

As part of his style, Greene often introduces the man, the visitor, or the writer into the story just like that. An abstract common noun, which allows the reader to pour himself (or herself, I suppose) into the story. This abstract serves as an observatory proxy, and appreciate the narrative device. I tried to identify what, specifically, I like about his columns, and I like this technique.

The subject matter, as well as the length, vary from piece to piece, but since this comes from the near apogee of his professional status, Greene gets to travel all across the country and talk to any number of important people, from Gerald Ford to Meryl Streep. I like the writing style, and I'm impressed with the lifestyle affected by the narrative voice. The book was well worth the $6.00 I spent on it, especially since it's really like $3.00 for each book contained in the volume.

Listen, friends, I know I promised I would zing Bob Green a couple of times for the indiscretion that led to his downfall, but jeez, I read a couple of bits about him after finishing the book, including "The Sad Saga of Bob Greene" from Chicago Magazine and "The Confessions of Bob Greene" from Esquire, and I don't want to jump on the petty bandwagon with other, more-refined and urbane columnists from Chicago and the media watchers who chatter like nightingales trying to capture the souls of the departed and downfallen.

Say It Again, Steyn

Mark Steyn, from his Chicago Sun-Times column today:
    But that's the difference between then and now: the loss of proportion. They had victims galore back in 1863, but they weren't a victim culture. They had a lot of crummy decisions and bureaucratic screwups worth re-examining, but they weren't a nation that prioritized retroactive pseudo-legalistic self-flagellating vaudeville over all else. They had hellish setbacks but they didn't lose sight of the forest in order to obsess week after week on one tiny twig of one weedy little tree.
What he said.

Book Review: Midworld by Alan Dean Foster (1975)

I picked this book up at Downtown Books, Milwaukee's premier used book store, last weekend. I felt like I needed some good throwaway fiction to intersperse amongst the serious fiction I read (and by "amongst" I mean before). So I bought a lot of Alan Dean Foster because I like Alan Dean Foster. The Spellsinger series, the movie novelizations, and so on.

At 179 pages, this book promised a quick read, which is important to a young man on a quest to read at least sixty books this year (and since this is book 29, I am ahead of schedule, but why wait until December to start taking shortcuts?). It was.

The book takes place on a heavily-forested world, where descendents of errant colonists have gone back to nature to survive. The tribe thinks a hunter named Born a trifle mad, or perhaps a trifle smart; he's brave in an often incautious way. So when a strange metal demon falls from the sky, Born leads a troop to view it. When the rest of the group flees, only Born remains to discover the strange giant people within it. They tell him fantastic things and enlist his aid in returning to their station.

Foster does a marvelous job engrossing the reader in a strange and wonder-filled world. Although the setting is fantastic, Foster introduces the character, the environment, and the social structures well. That reflects what's best about good sci-fi, and unfortunately about all that's good about this book. Because the plot's really a puffed up short story or novella, and the world in which it is set ultimately resolves into a Gaia-humping, collective-consciousness-espousing piece of mid 1970s drivel. Of course, that's my visceral reaction to my disappointment. The texture and the colors are so well-executed that I wish the whole picture depicted something better.

I mean, I paid three whole dollars for it.

Pop-Up Mocker Updated

Don't forget to check out my snarky site devoted to the worship of pop-up ads. If you're smart and using one of the newer browsers or some other suppressent techologies, this might be the only way you get to see these peculiar forms of art.

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