Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, June 19, 2004
Book Review: The Authoritative Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson (1990)

I bought this book at a garage sale some time ago to sell on eBay. It didn't sell, so I read it. The hardback edition came out in 1990, 14 years ago. You want to feel old? Calvin would be in his early 20s today. No doubt he'd have given up Hobbes by now, unless he were a developer or a cartoonist and he kept Hobbes around to decorate his workspace.

I like Calvin and Hobbes, the cartoon. I liked this collection. Calvin and Hobbes were pretty popular in their day (Watterson, the cartoonist, discontinued the strip in the 1990s). Actually, they became so culturally iconic that even today, ten years later, you can go into an auto parts store and by unlicensed and unofficial decals depicting Calvin urinating on an automotive logo of your choice (Ford seems rather popular). Have you noticed that the last of the iconic cartoons, Dilbert, stems from the 1980s. Remember the 1980s, when iconic cartoons abounded? You couldn't help but bump into The Far Side, Bloom County, Garfield, or Calvin and Hobbes apparel or pop-cultural references. Heck, even Cathy was touted as some zeitgeist for single women. Can you think of any cartoon created in the last decade that has captured that wide of an appeal? I couldn't. I guess it's the same thing television suffers; the fragmentation of the audience. Or perhaps it's the decline of the newspaper. Or maybe they just don't make them like they used to.

So what about Calvin and Hobbes made it successful? I reckon the use of an imaginative six-year-old gave Watterson the opportunity to take on very adult themes and to make them simple. When cutting through the normal nuance and adult-thinking, Calvin could mutter a throw-away punchline that would clarify an issue the way no six hundred word editorial column or two hundred page political book could. Watterson also built in great latitude when he made Calvin an imaginitive six-year-old; his incarnations as Spaceman Spiff, Stupendous Man, and Calvinosaurus keep the material fresh and interesting for the reader, and they probably kept the cartoon fresh for the artist.

By all means, enjoy the book if you're a Calvin and Hobbes fan. If you've never read them, you damn kid, check it out. The material's not dated and will last a couple of decades. By 2060, though, it will be as accessible as Andy Capp or Snuffy Smith.

Guest Blogger Introduction

To keep up with all the cool blogs, I am going to have a guest blogger fill in for those days when I can't think of anything snarky-but-ultimately-forgettable to say. I mean, when I am too busy with a real life to blog.

Ladies, well, okay, Heather and her mom, and gentlemen, which is to say El Guapo, Cagey, Darbo, and that one dude from, here is your new guest blogger, Ajax:

The New Guest Blogger
Click for super size

Expect a lot of hard-hitting posts regarding the infrequency of Fancy Feast, the immaturity of those mean birds who tauntingly flit around outside the window but don't dare come in the house, and the inadequacies of the other cats.

Saturday Morning Musings

As it's the beginning of the first weekend of a vacation, and a warm, clear summer day, a young man's thoughts and stirrings within his heart naturally awaken his yearning to embrace his most sacred love: beer.

Cripes, I am sleeping on the couch tonight for that intro, I know.

So think upon these things, friends:
  • While discussing free trade or something important in the New York Times, Virginia Postrel points out:

      "The U.S. used to import coffee from around 25 countries," says David E. Weinstein, an economist at Columbia University. "Now we import it from 52 countries. Beer we import from three times more countries than we used to."

    Viva laissez-faire, if you can still pronounce it this late in the day.

  • Via Fark, we see this little story: Ain't the beer classy:

      At Detroit's four-star Opus One last month, eager diners paid $55 apiece for an evening of fine food with fine libations. Six bulbous wineglasses stood by their plates. Waiters waltzed by and poured from . . . pitchers of beer? Indeed, dinner began with a cold shrimp and crab crostini, served with an English mild ale, and ended with caramel cappuccino cheesecake, accompanied by a British favorite, dry stout.

      Beer wants to be the next wine. Not the boys at Budweiser but local brewers. These beer artisans will never be able to compete with Bud at football games. But they might stand a chance as an alternative to wine with dinner.

    Call me a traditionalist, but beer really only truly augments three meals: wings, pizza, and chicken. Granted, it goes well with anything, or nothing, but if you were to ask me, "Brian, what beer goes best with brined chicken with cilantro garnish?" I would answer, "Lots."


Hey, everyone's a loser in this story:
    Attorney General Jay Nixon said Friday that Schnucks and Dierbergs stores had been adding a surcharge onto video rental bills that looked like a sales tax but wasn't. He said the companies had kept some of the money.

    Nixon said the two supermarket chains had agreed to stop the practice and pay $110,000 each in penalties to the state.
Salient points:
  • Business, since Dierberg's and Schnucks saw fit to levy a 7% surcharge on video rentals and labeling it a "tax/surcharge" even though the State of Missouri does not levy a sales tax in these situations. By breaking out the extra portion of the price, these supermarket chains do the same thing telephone companies, utilities, and mechanics do: they hide, deceive, and trick customers with extra line items on the invoice to generate extra revenue. Listen, you damn creative business types: mark one price that includes all of your costs of business and tell me up front.

    P.S. Thanks for the statements that you didn't do anything wrong here. Smeg off, you stooges. Even the laissez-faire amongst us recognize you're not victims here.

  • The consumers, who have paid extra seven cents per $1.00 rental for who knows how long. $1.07 isn't so bad for a video rental, but getting institutionally suckered is.

  • The attorney general, who had to conduct a year-long investigation to net $220,000 in fines. Certainly not cost effective, and certainly not where I would allocate assets, but unquestionably, the wrong doers were doing wrong.

  • The taxpayers, who had to underwrite an investigation costing more than $220,000.

Friday, June 18, 2004
Where Was I? Who Was I?

Via A Small Victory, we have this interesting little meandering down memory lane. Where where you when:
  1. Where were you when you heard that Ronald Reagan died?
    I heard he was ailing on my way down to my aunt's house for a garage sale; I read he died later that night when I got home.

  2. Where were you on September 11, 2001?
    At work. The Internet news sites got very slow, and as I walked to get some coffee, I heard a radio in another office with news of a plane disaster in New York. Within an hour, much of the company had gathered in a conference room to watch the only television in our offices, Peter Jennings the condescending Canadian our only available station through the wire serving as the television's antenna.

  3. Where were you when you heard that Princess Diana died?
    I don't know, and I don't care. That particular bit of trivia doesn't matter to me.

  4. Do you remember where you were when you heard Kurt Cobain had died?

  5. Take one for The Gipper: What’s your favorite flavor of jelly bean?
    Mint? Licorice? I don't favor them.

  6. Where were you when Magic Johnson announced he was retiring from the NBA due to AIDS?
    I don't know, and I don't care. That particular bit of trivia doesn't matter to me.

  7. Where were you when Reagan was shot?
    Carleton Elementary School, 41st and Silver Spring, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. When I got home, it was on television. I knew it was important, but didn't know why. I was 9.

  8. Where were you when the Challenger exploded?
    Eighth grade study hall at North Jefferson Junior High School in Murphy, Missouri. A couple selected students each day got to go use the Commodore 64 computers in the back of the library, and they saw it on a small television back there. I was not one of them, but the news filtered to the rest of the study hall. It was announced over the loudspeaker in 6th hour, when I was sitting in Ms. Smith's math class.

  9. Where were you when the 0J verdict was announced?
    Working as an assistant editor at The Paint Dealer magazine, I was working on a Macintosh, compiling the magazine's first annual directory of paint and sundries distributors. Small office, one room shared with the director of distribution, the associate editor, the advertising saleswoman, and me, so there was much discussion. Actually, it was just the director of distribution pontificating, but she could really fill the air.

There you have it.

Based on a True Story

I told my beautiful wife that The Terminal was based on a true story. Here's the Snopes account of Merhan Karimi Nasseri, resident of France's Charles de Gaulle airport.

Marquette Doesn't Try to Panhandle From Me

It's true, but I don't get pleas for money from the university from which I graduated. Why is that? Because I think stories like this represent the mindset of most universities, whose staffs only want development (more money) at the expense of tradition and respect?
    Any true fan of the University of Missouri would not be surprised to hear this tale of how the University of Kansas treats its fans.

    Max and Jackie Kennedy had front row seats in Allen Fieldhouse from the day it opened in 1955. Jackie kept the tickets even after Max died last year. "The hardest thing I had to do was walk in that field house without him," she said.

    But the school told Jackie, 74, that if she doesn't donate $58,500, the seats will be sold to someone else.

    Kansas isn't entirely heartless. They offered her another set of seats. Near the top row. "But it's not like we're tossing her out of the place," said an associate athletic director, Jim Marchiony.

    Kennedy is outraged. "I'm not sitting anywhere else," she said. "I think it's blackmail. It's just unbelievable to me that this is happening."

    Of course, fans who have to sit in bad seats have a different take. "We have probably some of the worst seats in the house," said Janis Holiwell, of Topeka. "We've been making donations every year, and they're not small donations. ... I know they've sat there a long time. But we pay the same amount of money and we sit in very poor seats."

    Mizzou wouldn't treat such loyal fans so shabbily. Why, all Mizzou is charging is a one-time donation of $25,000 for up to eight seats and an annual donation of $5,000 a seat.

    Oh, you also have to buy a season ticket. That's about $816.
Shut your traps, Bobos, and respect your elders. It pains me to have to say it.

Hockey Nugget

Just say no Hasek:
    Hasek said other teams -- believed to be the New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues and Vancouver Canucks -- are also involved in negotiations.
The St. Louis Blues do not need another breaking-down, past-his-prime goalie or another questionable goalie who won a Stanley Cup with a better team. They need to bring up Curtis Sanford and let him be the man.

Not that the NHL matters. Talking hockey is as meaningful as talking about the weather until the lockout ends, or St. Louis gets a WHA team. Whichever comes first.

Thursday, June 17, 2004
Tis the Season for Polling

I just spent fifteen minutes answering my first political telephone poll of the season. I explained that I didn't have any bad things to say about Jay Nixon, the Missouri Attorney General, but I would probably vote for the other guy anyway.

When asked the best thing I could say about him, I said He's not Eliot Spitzer. Second nicest thing would have been He's not Peggy Lotsalager of Wisconsin.

What, with that ringing endorsementand the realization that B. Holden is no Rod Bladjavovich or Jim Doyle, I've got a new slogan for the state of Missouri: Our elected officials don't suck as bad as yours.

BraveNet World

Funny, Frank Herbert, J.R.R. Tolkien, and R.A. Salvatore don't suffer from the literary persecution John Norman does. Here's section 8d of BraveNet's terms of service:
    (d) Associate Bravenet and any Products and Services with any adult material
    of any sort. This includes, but is not limited to, such things as nudity,
    any site, page, image or service requiring any adult verification service,
    anything that users to be 18 or older to view or join or access, and any
    text, image or likeness suggesting sexual and/or inappropriate and/or
    illegal acts of any sort. Without limiting the foregoing, you may not use
    the Products and Services to store, use, contain or display pornography,
    adult novelties, adult toys, XXX material, escort services, Gorean, bondage,
    BDSM, bigotry, racism, hatred, profanity, or any material which may be
    insulting to another person(s) or entity;
No Counter-Earth fan pages for you, children.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004
Veteran's Day in June

If you can have Christmas in July, you can damn sure have Veteran's Day in June. Since Cori Dauber has commented on the fact that many journalists do not know anyone in the military, I want to specifically thank those close to me who have served, including:
  • Raymond Noggle, my grandfather, USMC (purple heart on Iwo Jima).
  • Michael A. Noggle, my father, USMC (Vietnam-era service on Okinawa and in California).
  • Glenda L. Noggle, my mother, USMC (Vietnam-era service at El Toro, California).
  • Kevin M. Noggle, my brother, USMC (6 years because the recruiter promised him Recon--sucker!)
  • James Igert, my father-in-law, U.S. Air Force (Vietnam-era service).
  • Timothy Crowley, friend, U.S. Navy.
  • David Watkins, friend from college, U.S. Army (Ranger).
  • George "Jimmy" Niederriter, friend from high school, U.S. Army (Ranger).
  • Brian Mach, friend, National Guard.
Jeez, I hope I haven't forgotten anyone.

Gentlemen (and Mom), thank you. You've proven your commitment to this country in a way I have not, you have protected my freedom to be a chickenhawk today.

Yeah, I am bragging about knowing them and bask in their reflected glory, but you would, too.

Transitional Equivalence

Hooray for this bit of moral equivalence:
    ABC News reports investigators have tied the man to a terrorist cell set to carry out a series of bombings and assassinations in London.

    The man, a naturalized citizen from Pakistan, was secretly taken into custody in April.

    He is being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan and is said to be cooperating offering investigators significant information about Al Qaeda's plans.

    He is being held as a material witness and his family is now under federal protection.

    The man has told investigators that Al Qaeda is planning more attacks in the United States. He has also revealed a scheme to smuggle terrorists across the Mexican border.

    The suspect's assertions were part of the intelligence that led to recent warnings about a summer threat from Al Qaeda.

    Another man being held today is kidnapped American Paul Johnson.
Got that? A material witness in the custody of the United States is the same as Paul Johnson.

Rage, rage against the dying of the schnucking moral insight that would tell ABC News or its affiliate's writers that these things are not the same, and Paul Johnson is not another man being held in the same way as a material witness.

Link seen on Hugh Hewitt, who doesn't comment on this blatant idiocy.)

Meanwhile, Somewhere Else, Police Join Firefight and Firemen Watch Conflagration

What should we make of this headline from CNN? Jenna Bush Agents Join Fistfight. Pic:

CNN Headline
(Click for full size.)

Article text:
    Bodyguards for President Bush's daughter Jenna Bush were entangled in a fistfight with two men trying to steal a cell phone in southern Spain, a U.S. Embassy official said Tuesday.
So a couple of Secret Service agents prevent a couple of hoodlums from stealing something, and CNN casts it as bodyguards of Jenna Bush joining a fistfight?

That's some damn deep, invasive bias that prevents a journalist from writing facts and where every single news story predigested interpretation. Just open up your maws, little cheepies, and mama CNN will regurgitate its truth down your gullet for your own good.

Social Engineering Sampler

  • Frank W. Abagnale identifies 10 ways to stop identity theft cold. Slow down, Iceman. It won't make you a superhero capable of stopping any or all identity theft in the world, but it will remind you ways to make it harder for the badmen to get your identity. Best line:

      Only amateurs hack into computers; pros hack into people.

    For you damn kids out there, Frank Abagnale is the guy depicted in Catch Me If You Can. He makes Mitnick look like a script kiddie in meatspace.

  • Challenged by a department store honcho, this guy goes into a store and walks out with $3500 in computers without paying.

    (Link seen on IMAO.)
Be careful out there, my students, and remember to trust no one, especially your shidoshi of paranoia.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004
Yea, Verily, Open Another Seal

For Brian J. Noggle agrees with Eugene Kane of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, who saith:
    That's my concern as well. With dozens - or hundreds - of young black people driving at the same time, it's hard to pick and choose who's breaking the law and who isn't.

    I don't have any solutions to stop cruising, but there are plenty of answers for what to do about young people vandalizing homes, assaulting gas station employees and stealing merchandise.

    Arrest them and charge them accordingly. Because that kind of behavior is a crime; it's not cruising.

    Even though we all want to get more sleep and less nuisance, it's important to remember there's a difference.
Cracking down on cruising, or conspiracy, or obstruction, or possession, or regulatory "crimes", or the various other strict liability offenses that divorce mens rea from actus reus in our criminal system.

Of course, that's easy for me to say now because advocating changing this particular law is not yet a crime--although the concept is not inconceivable.

Book Review: Double Play by Robert B. Parker (2004)

My beautiful wife bought this book for me because she knows that I am a high acolyte of Parker. It's definitely a Parker book, even if the main character morphs into a Jesse Stone knock off.

Set in the 1940s, it tells the story of a survivor from Guadalcanal who comes home to a wife who's left him and a life that's left him behind. He doesn't care about anyone or anything, which makes him a good enforcer for the mob and later, a bodyguard. He gets a new lease on life when he's hired to protect Jackie Robinson in his first season of play for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

So you've got the standard elements of Parker: Tough guy former military/boxer. Love interest who's bad for him. Mob gunsels who adhere to The Code. Tough black guy with whom one can explore race relationships. The book blends elements of Love and Glory, the Jesse Stone novels, and Ray Chandler's Philip Marlowe novels (not so much Poodle Springs or Perchance to Dream).

It's interesting to enjoy a little of the color of the 1940s, and it's a heck of a lot better than the last baseball-themed crime fiction story I read. As a matter of fact, I was rather enjoying it in the beginning, when the main character was becoming a throwback to the old school hard-boiled characters, but like I said, it veers too easily into regular, comfortable Parker territory at the end.

Still, I shall buy the last of the three new Parker books this year and the three next year because Robert B. Parker and his Spenser novels raised me, and I am indentured to him. I accept the service, gladly.

Other views: Boston Globe, whose link I found courtesy of Bullets and Beer.

You Want a Metaphor? You Can't Handle a Metaphor!

In her defense, the former commanding officer at Abu Ghraib says:
    In an interview with British Broadcasting Corp. radio broadcast Tuesday, Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski said Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller told her last autumn that prisoners "are like dogs, and if you allow them to believe at any point that they are more than a dog then you've lost control of them."
Sounds like the general needs some intuition into the meaning of simile and its relationship to reality.

Mounting Evidence for Scott Peterson's Guilt

In the trial yesterday, officers presented testimony to how they knew Scott Peterson was the one. According to, the evidence is pretty conclusive:
    Officer Derrick Letsinger said Monday that he didn't smell bleach and didn't notice any signs of a recent cleaning, he did say that he became skeptical after seeing a crumpled rug, dirty towels on the washing machine and a wet mop behind an otherwise "model home."
1. Dirty laundry on washing machine, other cleaning utensils near washing machine in a "model home." That's pretty damning stuff. But it gets worse:
    Another officer, Matthew Spurlock, said there was something else that seemed suspicious: Peterson's alibi. Peterson told him he had been fishing alone on the bay the day his wife died, but could not say what he was trying to catch.
2. He didn't have a particular fish in mind when he went fishing. Everyone knows that an angler goes fishing for a specific type of fish each and every time he goes out. Anyone who says he's just going to catch what's biting is lying, and a potential murderer. Finally:
    During his testimony, Letsinger said Peterson "threw his flashlight down on the ground," before mumbling a curse word. Spurlock testified he heard what appeared to be an expletive and that "it came through what sounded like gritted teeth."
3. Throwing a flashlight, cursing through gritted teeth.

Each tidbit is irrefutable, and when combined into a compelling narrative, we can see that Scott Peterson is guilty. Who needs evidence? Let's burn him!

Monday, June 14, 2004
What Could It Hurt?

Read the new updates to Pop-Up Mocker. It won't hurt too much.

Book Review: Codgerspace by Alan Dean Foster (1992)

This novel certainly doesn't represent the best of Alan Dean Foster's work, but it's an amusing book that hearkens back to the earlier days of science fiction, back when quick, short adventures in Del Ray editions shared a wild story.

When an automated plant that produces AI components becomes accidentally interested in finding higher intelligence than man, it begins building its quest into toasters, lawn care equipment, and other common tools it provides. Meanwhile, on Earth, which has become a park retirement community for residents of the outer worlds, five codgers of the title find an ancient ship of vast proportions which proves that a higher power exists. But what kind of higher power, and what should the oldsters do now that they're in orbit with the armadas of the different human confederations showing up?

Like the last Foster novel I read, this one represents a short story run long. That's part of the charm of this type of book, but unfortunately, Foster doesn't weave the disparate plotlines together well, and some portions of the book run on too long to make the necessary word count for a novel. I think Foster might have found himself bogged down in the writing of the novel; I can even see the point where he followed Raymond Chandler's advice and had a man walk through the door with a gun. Still, you have to admire a novel that combines a universe-altering cheese sandwich, writing advice from Raymond Chandler, and a hint at the Lovecraft mythos? The book was worth the price, $2.95 at Downtown Books in Milwaukee.

Confession: Gentle readers, given the range and the depth of the titles published with the Alan Dean Foster, particularly his penchant for novelizing movies (hey, I liked Outland!), I had the subtle doubt creep into my mind that Alan Dean Foster might actually be a name owned by a publishing house under which numerous people wrote over the period of the last three decades. Apparently, that is not so.


I thought I had mocked this story already, but I have not. What's to mock? What's not to mock about it? A fetus is an American citizen simply for gestating in this country:
    A U.S. District judge in Missouri has blocked temporarily the deportation of a pregnant Mexican woman who is married to a U.S. citizen, calling the fetus an "American" and citing a federal law created to protect unborn children after the high-profile death of Laci Peterson.

    Senior U.S. District Judge Scott O. Wright ordered that Myrna Dick, 29, of Raymore, Mo., who is accused of falsely claiming American citizenship, be allowed to remain in the United States for now and told prosecutors and the defense to prepare for a possible trial.

    "Isn't that child an American citizen?" he asked, according to the Kansas City Star. "If this child is an American citizen, we can't send his mother back until he is born."
Which might lead on to long until states issue driver's licenses to in-utero-Americans, that persecuted minority, and how soon can they be enfranchised to vote in California?


Truly, he has a dizzying intellect. Michael Moore's complaining about a possible R rating for his latest mockumentary. You know, no one under 17 admitted without a guardian.
    Moore said: "It is sadly very possible that many 15- and 16-year-olds will be asked and recruited to serve in Iraq in the next couple of years.

    "If they are old enough to be recruited and capable of being in combat and risking their lives, they certainly deserve the right to see what is going on in Iraq."
Dear Michael: Here in the United States, people cannot go into combat at fifteen or sixteen. Thank you, that is all.

Head Shot

Brian J. Noggle, Internet Pin-Up.

More Good Will from September 11 Squandered

International Red Cross bleats:
    Unless the United States charges Saddam Hussein or releases him from custody by June 30 the nation will be in violation of the Geneva Convention, the Red Cross charged yesterday.
Memo to American Red Cross: distance yourselves immediately or face backlash. I recommend adopting the name American Magen David Adam.

Kim du Toit Fails Test to Ascend to 9th Dan

In a post, we see how Kim du Toit fails his test to attain the 9th Dan of Paranoia:
    ...we Baby Boomers know all the tricks, and I am even more paranoid than Blackfive.
Listen, students, when your shidoshi of paranoia speaks: You never know all the tricks. You are ready ascend when you realize you must know most of the tricks, and you know that anything you do not recognize as a known trick might, in fact, be a trick.

Doubt even this post, my students.

Sunday, June 13, 2004
Galls as Big As Church Bells

Ladies and gentlemen, our first-ever female recipient of the Galls as Big as Church Bells award goes to Suburban Blight's Kelley, who broke an arm while on vacation in Hawaii and flew home to Atlanta, Georgia, untreated because she did not want to miss her flight.

She's more man than I am.

I hope there was plenty of liquor available on those flights.

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