Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, July 03, 2004
Statute of Limitations for Pillage

I am going to write to my Congressman, Todd Akin, and ask him to introduce a bill into Congress that sets a statute of limitation for pillage and other historical wrongs.

In addition to the newly-normal clamor for slave reparations (for an injustice done 140 years ago at the minimum in this country), it looks as though some people are suing Elizabeth Taylor over a painting that's been in her family for two generations now, which is 41 years in absolute reckoning:
    Descendants of Margarete Mauthner allege "View of the Asylum of Saint-Remy" was taken from the German woman during World War II, and are demanding that Taylor returns the painting, which appraisers said could fetch $10 million to $15 million at auction.

    Taylor, whose father bought her the painting at a London auction in 1963, has filed a lawsuit seeking a pre-emptive court declaration that she is the rightful owner of the painting, which hangs in the living room of her Bel-Air estate.
After forty years, descendents are suing, which means that no one involved in the pillaging is available for testimony. I understand it's fifteen million dollars in the balance, but give me a break. Undoubtedly, each dollar and possession that passes through my hands has some unethical heritage in its ancestry if one were to look deeply enough, and with enough imagination, but that does not give others the right to take it from me in the name of their wronged ancestors from millenia past.

When You Have a Topic, Flog It

From my junk mail folder this afternoon:

Junk mail with unfortunate random headline

Gaaaah! My imagination is burning!

Speaking of Farenheit 9/11

Wouldn't this be a more appropriate entry for Farenheit 9/11?

Farenheit 9/11 imdb entry
Click for full size

But What About That Candidate Thing?

Weird, ainna, about how some pundits said that the movie The Day After Tomorrow was going to be the movie to unseat George W. Bush, and then the movie Farenheit 9/11 that was going to lead to his electoral defeat in November, and all I gotta say is, they're betraying (be-braying, more like) a lack of faith in the Democrat candidate, wot?

He Chose Poorly

From a story in today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
    A robber probably figured he found an easy target when he saw a blonde in spaghetti straps walking alone in a Westport Plaza parking lot early Thursday.

    But he picked the wrong woman.

    The purse he snatched was tucked under the arm of an off-duty St. Louis County police officer who wouldn't let it go without a fight.
As Fark would say, jailarity ensues. Unfortunately, Fark has yet to coin the term broken-kneecaparity ensues.

UPDATE: From the "I Wish I Would Have Said That" Department, we offer Aaron of Free Will Blog's take:

You Say Tomato

Barring an official definition or a EU proclamation to the contrary, I can too call a Snickers Ice Cream Bar a power bar, as in:

What did you have for breakfast?

I had a couple power bars and some coffee.

Contributing to the Discussion

Kim du Toit has offered his opinion that Sophia Loren is smoking hot.

We here at MfBJN agree, and marshal this argument in support of the premise:

Sophia Loren on Life cover, November 14 1960

Any Blogger Who's Crazy, Raise Your Hand

From a CNet story about blogs at the nominating conventions:
    "You've got to closely watch what they do," a political consultant recently told me, adding that campaigns can't afford to adopt a casual approach to blogs that pop up during races. "Some of them are really crazy."
Oooh! Oooh! Miiiiister Kottah!

Sorry, I was introspecting and taking a Horshack test, and I saw in it that I am one of the crazy bloggers.

Another Juvenile Practices His First Amendment Rights

Looks like some punk has exercised his first amendment rights to expression through vandalism on Hugh

Click for full size

Isn't that little bastard precocious? Unfortunately, there are some segments of society who would see this as a justifiable protest.

Friday, July 02, 2004
"My Diplo-Sense Is Tingling!"

Headline of the day:

Powell, Annan sense crisis in Sudan

Those diplocrats really are more than the common man!

Book Review: Bobos in Paradise by David Brooks (2000)

I have been a bad dog. I actually finished this book several weeks ago, and I planned to write a longer piece summing up insights I had into it. However, the book got buried on my desk, and I'm not in the mood to write a longer piece on it, so allow me to sum up:
  • Book deals with the rise of an educated upper class (and upper middle class) and how these new members of society alter the culture. It seeks to explain why so many people wear Birkenstocks and shop at Whole Foods and REI.

  • The Bobos (Bourgeoius Bohemians) of which Brooks speaks tends to conmingle the baby boomers with geek culture. It's an interesting mix, and maybe he's onto something, but I think his generalization might be too hasty.

  • The bit about intellectual life, wherein he describes how a person can become a public intellectual, was quite amusing.

  • Book seems dated, particularly in political area, especially when one thinks of foreign policy questions that none of us really speculated in 2000.
I understand that it's chic to savage David Brooks in some literary circles these days, but I found this book accessible and thought provoking in a good way. It encourages musing about social trends, with all the anthropological and philosophical currents that go with it. I want to compare this book to Make Room For TV, but that sells this book short. Both deal with a sweeping orchestra of human experience above the more personal accounts I usually read. So it's a good book, and a good change.

Oh, yeah, I paid $12.50 for it, but I wanted to read it when it came out, so I waited four years and got it for half price. It's good that it's remained relevant enough to be worth the price.

Drink of the Day

The drink of the day at the Lonestar Steakhouse where I and some of my coworkers dined today featured as its drink of the day:

The Oil Baron Rita

Perhaps I look back too romantically to that time of laissez-faire, but I really don't picture J. Paul sucking or any of the Texas wildcatters who made it big sitting around the pool, sucking down margaritas that were an unholy and unnatural neon or DayGlo color. Not unless the main ingredient was whiskey, and it got its color from more whiskey.

No, sir, I think a real Oil Baron Rita would be a spicy Mexicana who the baron kept on the side, and if you had her, the oil baron would have his boys convince you of the error of your ways.

Thursday, July 01, 2004
Headline of the Day

Fed's rate hike signals rebound in economy.

What? Where's the doom?

Neil Steinberg's Friend: Someone You Should Know

From Neil Steinberg's Wednesday column:
    "Fourteen days without alcohol," said my racquetball buddy proudly as we toweled off in the gym.

    "Wow," I said, genuinely impressed, trying to imagine a fortnight unlubricated, "that's impressive."

    "Well," he said, a little abashed, "not consecutively."
The only salvageable part of the column, but one must seek the whiskey in the Amaretto sour sometimes.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004
Again, With Feeling

Pop-Up Mocker updated. Come on, guys, sometimes the posts are kinda amusing, ainna?

Book Review: Love and Marriage by Bill Cosby (1989)

As some of you remember, I reviewed Bill Cosby's Time Flies in February. I liked it, so I have invested in other books by Bill Cosby, including this one, for which I paid $2.95 at Downtown Books in Milwaukee.

I'll give the customary ding to the pop-psych introduction by Alvin F. Poussaint, M.D. Again, this is like throwing a Dr. Phil introduction onto a collection of Andy Rooney pieces, or perhaps Dr. Laura in front of a Chris Rock book. Come on, the difference between the styles jars the reader, and to be honest, if I wanted to read a self-helpish treatise on love and marriage, I would buy a book with pictures, diagrams, and innovations I could not even imagine when I was a fevered twenty-year-old. I mean, it's like getting served a bowl of brussel sprouts in Baskin Robbins before you can have any ice cream. Sure, I wolfed it down, spitting some into my napkin to conceal it, and then I rushed into the main course of dessert.

This book contains two parts. Part one deals with Cos's youthful forays into love, which entails everything you expect: Lust, pounding hearts, sweet agony, heartbreak, loss, and all of the above by age twelve. Cosby captures the adolescent and early adult experiences of the opposite sex and the attempts to find a mate--which they did in the old days; now, I think kids just attempt to mate. So this first section really represents the strength of the book, and the stories are told with Cosby's easy style. Good reading.

Unfortunately, the second part, Marriage, deals differently with his relationship with the woman who finally bagged the struggling stand-up comic who would only decades later evolve into the biggest sitcom star in the business. Perhaps he's mining his marriage with a sitcom eye for humor, but the second half of the book really focuses on the nitpicking, and the little recurrent tense spots, and the stupid fights that occur in many marriages. As a sitcom veteran, Cosby also recognizes that the husband must be made into the often inept and impotent victim, and that's how he paints himself. Henpecked. It's hardly a flattering or inspiring vision of a marriage that's lasted twenty-five years (as his did by 1989), and Cosby longs for an evolution to a state like his parents' marriage of fifty years. Ye gods, he's projecting another 25 years of hard belittlement.

Granted, Cosby hits on the benefits of marriage and at the end alludes to the joys of shared memories, but he disservices the day-to-day, which includes as many (or more, preferably) bright spots as nitterings.

Still, it's an okay read if you're a fan of light comic essays in Cos's style, worthy of a library checkout or a cheap purchase.

We Three Kings

Donald Sensing finds a new variation on the Nigerian scam: American soldiers need help absconding with Saddam's loot.

Do You Feel Lucky, Victim?

A 911 transcript between dispatch and the caller:

    The following is a partial transcript of that call. Items in bold appear to be the voice of the 911 dispatcher.

    911 Office, Tammy.

    Tammy, my ex-husband's here with a gun. He's in here. He's got a gun.

    He's going to kill them, hurry.

    He's got my kids, quick.

    What's his name?

    Parker Elliott.

    (Quick, shallow breathing)

    2005 Forrest Ridge Trail, Culleoka. We've got a male subject in the house with a weapon.

    He just told my kids he's going to kill them if I'm on the phone. He's going to kill me.

    I don't need you to hang up. Has he been drinking?

    He's going to kill me. They're in the hallway with him, and I'm hiding in the closet.

    (First shot is heard)

    I'm hiding in the closet. I'm coming out 'cause he'd not going to hurt my kids. The kids are with him.

    Can they get out?

    I want to make sure he doesn't shoot my kids. The kids are with him.

    They're deterring him. Please, please, he's going to kill them.

    Has he been drinking?

    He's got to be.

    How long has he been out of the residence?

    (Labored, quick breathing)

    The kids are telling him I'm not here. He said if I'm here, he'll kill them.

    He just shot the gun.

    He hasn't seen you yet?

    He's coming. He just shot the gun again. Please! Please!

    What kind of a gun is it?

    A handgun. He's going to the front door.

    (Dispatcher to other emergency personnel) He's inside the house, shooting. He had two children and an ex-wife.

    Oh, he hit one of them!

    Stay in the closet. He doesn't know you're in the closet?

    He can see the phone cord coming in. Oh! He hit one of them.

    (Gunshots. Sound of girl screaming in the background)

    They've got the gun. I think my kids have got my gun. I can't believe I forgot to get it.

    I think one of my children has the weapon. He's shot five times. I'm hiding in the closet, and my kids are out there with him.

    How old are the kids?

    15 and 18.

    (Gunshots and screaming)

    He shot five more. Is that all of them?

    Ma'am, I don't know what kind of gun he has.

    He hasn't shot them yet. My kids are still OK.

    (Labored breathing)

    (Kids screaming)

    He's going to kill me.


    He's coming to the closet! He's coming to the closet! He's coming to the closet!

    (Kids screaming, shrieking)

    He's at the closet. He's going to shoot me. Help me! He's here. He's gonna hit me with the gun.

    (Children screaming in the background)

    Calm down.

    He's still shooting at the kids! Help me!


    Be calm! They're getting there. They're coming.

    He's beating on the doors.

    (Loud banging)

    He's still shooting.

    Parker, don't!

    Parker, no! Please, no!

    He's going to beat a hole in the door.

    Ma'am, calm down. What's your name?

    Please! Freda! Freda!

    (Yell heard from man in background)

    Please, don't hurt my kids! Don't hurt my babies! Parker, no!

    Where are they?

    I don't know.


    Parker, please! Don't!

    (Screams, screams, screams)


    Don't hurt my babies!!



    Freda, what's going on? Freda?

    (Gunshots, gunshots)


    This is E-Com 720. We just heard two gunshots inside the residence. We heard a woman screaming. Now we've got dead silence.


Sleep tight, and don't worry; the almighty proper authorities will protect you. Or at least will fill out the paperwork after you're gone.

(Link seen on Hobbs Online.)

Tuesday, June 29, 2004
Book Review: The Complete Geek (An Owner's Manual) by Johnny Deep (1997)

I can't believe I read skimmed the whole thing.

I bought this book at Downtown Books in Milwaukee for a couple of dollars, and I took a flier on it because I was in the throes of bibliophilic bacchanal, where another two dollars here and another two dollars there, and suddenly there's no room in the trunk of the Eclipse for luggage. So I paid $2.95 for this, over ten times its value.

For starters, it's printed in some comic sans serif font that looks funny informally, is bearable in short doses on the Web, and annoys the hell out of someone trying to read 200 pages of a computerized impersonation of barely-legible handwriting.

Also, its cartoons and cartoonish drawings by a slumming Bruce Tinsley (Mallard Fillmore) are derivative, ultimately limited by the material itself which is centered around the fictitious online journal of "Bill G." who writes a computer friend who's supposed to go out into the Internet to find who the best geek is. Or something. I'm not to clear on what's supposed to tie this collection together.

I mean, there are sections where Bill Clinton is learning from Dale Carnegeek about how to influence geeks, and a section about how to date geeks, and throughout the book asks the reader to tabulate his or her geek quotient through a series of questions. So each chapter revolves around a macro-question and its component subquestions, which appear at the top of each page or so, and meanwhile the chapter is some banter or running storyline about Dilbart (a cartoon cross between Dilbert and Bart, for no particular reason) or Bill G. interacting with his computer bot friend, or the computer bot exploring the Internet cloud.

When it comes right down to it, there's nothing funny in the book. Not a single chuckle, no matter what state of inebriation I was in while reading it.

I am sure it was hipper, edgier, and more timely in 1997, when the publisher could make a buck on anything with Internet in the title, or geek.

Here's an alternate viewpoint.

Do the Math

Techdirt links to a story that says:
    ...20 percent of U.S. residents admit buying products from spam purveyors.
Techdirt also links to a story that says:
    The US has a hardcore group of people who simply aren't interested in using the Internet. Around a third of US adults have rejected the Net, causing researchers to split them into two distinct groups.
That would seem to indicate that 1/3 of the people in the United States connected to the Internet buy things from Spam! Well, it would, except:
  • By 20 percent of U.S. residents, undoubtedly they meant respondents to the survey.

  • It's unclear whether "spam" means opt-in e-mails and e-mails from companies with which the users already have an established relationship.
Other than that, the stories are sensational!

Ebert in Love

Spiderman 2 review:
    Now this is what a superhero movie should be. "Spider-Man 2" believes in its story in the same way serious comic readers believe, when the adventures on the page express their own dreams and wishes. It's not camp and it's not nostalgia, it's not wall-to-wall special effects and it's not pickled in angst. It's simply and poignantly a realization that being Spider-Man is a burden that Peter Parker is not entirely willing to bear.
He gives it 4 asterisks, which I assume is good. Unless they're less than ampersands.

Honesty is the Best [Withdrawal] Policy

Hillary Clinton says:
    "Many of you are well enough off that ... the tax cuts may have helped you," Sen. Clinton said. "We're saying that for America to get back on track, we're probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."
I immediately thought to compare it to the campaign worker who visited James Lileks' house:
    Then came the Parable of the Stairs, of course. My tiresome, shopworn, oft-told tale, a piece of unsupportable meaningless anecdotal drivel about how I turned my tax cut into a nice staircase that replaced a crumbling eyesore, hired a few people and injected money far and wide - from the guys who demolished the old stairs, the guys who built the new one, the family firm that sold the stone, the other firm that rented the Bobcats, the entrepreneur who fabricated the railings in his garage, and the guy who did the landscaping. Also the company that sold him the plants. And the light fixtures. It’s called economic activity. What’s more, home improvements added to the value of this pile, which mean that my assessment would increase, bumping up my property taxes. To say nothing of the general beautification of the neighborhood. Next year, if my taxes didn’t shoot up, I had another project planned. Raise my taxes, and it won’t happen – I won’t hire anyone, and they won’t hire anyone, rent anything, buy anything. You see?

    “Well, it’s a philosophical difference,” she sniffed. She had pegged me as a form of life last seen clilcking the leash off a dog at Abu Ghraib. “I think the money should have gone straight to those people instead of trickling down.” Those last two words were said with an edge.

    “But then I wouldn’t have hired them,” I said. “I wouldn’t have new steps. And they wouldn’t have done anything to get the money.”

    “Well, what did you do?” she snapped.

    “What do you mean?”

    “Why should the government have given you the money in the first place?”

    “They didn’t give it to me. They just took less of my money.”

    That was the last straw. Now she was angry. And the truth came out:

    “Well, why is it your money? I think it should be their money.”
Of course, I saw the story on Drudge and made the connection independently, but before I could post it here, the all-knowing Instapundit commented on it, too.

Upon hearing the quote, my beautiful wife said, "Geez, Hillary, why don't you just move to China?"

And my response: "Because, honey, she wouldn't rule China."

To Coin a Phrase

When you come to a vending machine and see that a bag of chips or a pastry has hung up on the coils (called the bonus vendable) and has not fallen to the retrieval bin, and you decide to buy a product stocked above that bonus vendable (this product is known as the vendable in play, or vip) in hopes that the falling of the vip will knock the bonus vendable item down, too, effectively giving you two items for the price of one.

People use different strategies when playing vendchinko; some people try to buy the next item in the bonus vendable's slot, which yields them two of the same item. This strategy can backfire, however, if the items are loaded incorrectly so that the bonus vendable falls, but the vip hangs up the same way the bonus vendable had been stuck, effectively giving the player only one item for the money and creating a new bonus vendable.

When selecting a vip above the bonus vendable, experienced vendchinko players account for the density of the vip's contents, the packaging of the vip and the bonus vendable, the rotation of the vending coil, and the Coriolis force to maximize their chances of winning at Vendchinko.

So that's why I stand there for so long in front of the vending machines.

Monday, June 28, 2004
What a Difference a Decade Makes

Admit it. When you watched The Adventures of Ford Fairlane in 1990, you thought a computer with three CD drives was ostentatious.

But fourteen years later, you wish you could have a super tower with 30 CD drives just so you could have a DVD player, a CD-RW, a DVD burner, and enough CD ROMs to contain all the copyright-protected games you play regularly without requiring you to reach under the desk every couple of hours to fumble for the little eject button.

Or maybe it's just me.

Waste Some Time Today

How well do you know Spider-Man?

I am at 80%.

I missed questions 3, 10, and 11, but I want you to know I read the whole series about Kane and the Scarlet Spider courtesy of my brother, whose collection of comic books, gaming books, and fantasy novels I accepted in bulk as Christmas gifts for 1995-1998 since he didn't want to ship them to Kanoehe Bay, Hawaii, his next base.

Need I Say It?

Pop-Up Mocker updated.

He Cannot Be Serious

For a man of discriminating taste, Neil Steinberg sure can say some awfully st00pid things:
    It reminds me why Democrats are always at a disadvantage when butting horns against the Republicans -- Democrats think, and re-assess, and the notion of fairness at least floats somewhere in the background.
Got that, children? Republicans are inherently unfair and unreasonable. Democrats, on the other hand, are blinkered by the blinding light of their reason.

Someone tell me he's joking.

I Blame Peer-To-Peer Music Sharing

Summer concerts are failing to attract crowds -- Lollapalooza is the latest victim of the trend:
    Bongiovanni saidticket sales went south about the middle of April, when shows already on sale dramatically slowed and new shows failed to ignite.

    "Price has got to matter," he said. "Ticket prices are elevated to where they are not a frivolous expense." But industry insiders say it's not simply high ticket prices and a bad economy that caused ticket sales to drop, but a variety of larger issues, ranging from the lack of exciting attractions to a growing reluctance to patronize the suburban amphitheaters (called "sheds" in the business) where most of the summer tours play.
Quickly, Senator Hatch, do something to force people to pay $75 dollars to sit on a patch of dirt to watch a band play a number of songs the listeners won't even recognize. Or else music promoters can key the cars in movie theatres' parking lots to penalize consumers for misusing their entertainment time and money.

Sunday, June 27, 2004
Book Review: What Liberal Media by Eric Alterman (2003): Day One

Well, my friends, this book review represents a departure from those which have come before it. I ordered a copy of Eric Alterman's What Liberal Media? The Truth about Bias and the News in paperback and have decided to test the new paint job in our bedroom by reading a flingable book in it. This book fits that bill already. So, in lieu of sticking a number of Post-It Notes (tm) in it and then writing a couple of paragraphs when the heat of the reading is cool, I thought I might let you in on my thought processes as I read the book.

So, day one:

  • Page xi, in the Preface and Acknowledgements, for crying out loud. Alterman acknowledges missing the works of Robert Caro as he (Alterman) pursues an advanced degree in history--so he (Alterman) listens to the complete works of Caro on tape. Cheez, Louise, Alterman, that's not scholarship, that's killing time. When you listen to books on tape, they flow past you in a stream of someone else's conscious narration, and once the words are past, they're gone; you're at the whim of the break in the tracks if you want to listen to a section over again, which is why I rarely do.

    Mostly I listen to books on tape to kill time on long drives to Milwaukee and back, or I used to do them when I had an hour long commute from work (or an hour and a half commute from work to my sweetie's home, a quarter of the way across the state. If you're listening to books for twenty minutes at a crack, you're not paying them much attention. Cripes, I would not dare try to impress upon my mind the serious works of Tacitus or Gibbons through books on tape; I'd require the opportunity to re-read sentences until I grasped their very meaning. Alterman admits he--in pursuit of a college degree, for crying out loud (or swearing out loud in my case)--did less. It's less respect to Caro on Alterman's part than I am paying to Alterman, but it's too late for me to borrow the abridged audio version of Alterman's work, so I am stuck with my dollar's worth (plus Quality Paperback Club's Postage and Handling) of print. Heaven help me, and you, gentle reader.

    Fortunately for the both of us, I skimmed the rest of the acknowledgements.

  • pp1-2 in the Introduction, a lot of name dropping, but I disagree. Whereas Bernard Goldberg and Ann Coulter quote people to indicate bias and slander, Alterman quotes people who indicate there is not bias nor slander. Goldberg and Coulter's quotes represent primary sources, that is, indications that illustrate their points; when Alterman quotes sources who say there is no bias, it's the equivalent of hearsay, since he's not actually illustrating non-bias, but rather people saying there is not bias.

  • p2 in the Introduction, Alterman quotes Pat Buchanan, for crying out loud, as though he (Buchanan) were a member of mainstream-right thought. Who are you kidding?

  • p3 in the Introduction, Alterman refers to Ann Coulter as a blonde bombshell pundette. Ad homenim as Alterman points out that Coulter is an attractive (hem) woman, and hence should be judged lesser than, say, a homely man such as Alterman.

  • p3 in the Introduction FIRST TOSSING POINT this comes a couple lines later:

      In recent times, the right has ginned up its "liberal media" propoganda machine. Books by both Ann Coulter, a blond bombshell pundette, and Bernard Goldberg, former CBS News producer, have topped the best-seller lists, stringing together such a series of charges that, well, it's amazing neither one sought to accuse "liberals" of using the blood of conservative children for extra flavor in their soy-milk decaf lattes. [Emphasis mine.]

    Got that? Alterman is saying that Coulter and Goldberg might as well have committed "blood libel." The tradition to which "Mister" Alterman alludes says Jews use the blood of Gentile/Palestinian children in Zionist rituals of some sort or another. It's often repeated these days in the Arab media to support the tradition of strapping explosives to Believers, women, and children to blow up Israeli civilians whose crime is stopping at a market or drinking coffee in a particular cafe. Damn you, Eric Alterman. I curse you only to the fate you deserve, whatever form it might take.

    I would like to take a moment to apologize to Ajax and Tristan, the felines scared when I flung this book from my hands (towards the door, not the labouriously-painted walls) and to my beautiful wife, whom I upset with my foaming-mouth invective for Eric Alterman. You all deserve a better refuge when trying to sleep. I shall try to read this book alone, with a schnucking hammer with which to beat it, in the future for your peace of mind.
Day: 1
Pages read: 6.5
Chapters: Prefaces and Acknowledgements, Introduction (part of)

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