Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, July 17, 2004
When Headline Writers Are Paid By The Word

Here's the front page of today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Danton Headline
Click for larger

In a surprise move, Danton pleads guilty.

That headline is twice as long as it needs to be; as a matter of fact, the headline contains a fact and a response to the fact, that the writer of the headline is surprised.

This, my friends, is a cry for help. Whoever felt the need to include his or her reaction into the headline of a marginally-relevant story wants us to look at him or her, the surprised innocent or the surprised cynic who would assume that Danton would plead not guilty and appeal as far as he could before trying an insanity defense. But no, Danton plead guilty. And that's the story, not the author or editor's reaction.

Unfortunately, all journalism nowadays seems to require the professional journalists insert their own voices into the facts.

The One I Turn To For Sociopolitical Insight

Sir Reginald Dwight:
    "There's an atmosphere of fear in America right now that is deadly. Everyone is too career-conscious," he told New York magazine, Interview.


    "There was a moment about a year ago when you couldn't say a word about anything in this country for fear of your career being shot down by people saying you are un-American," he told the magazine.

    The singer said things were different in the 1960s.

    "People like Bob Dylan, Nina Simone, The Beatles and Pete Seeger were constantly writing and talking about what was going on.

    "That's not happening now. As of this spring, there have been virtually no anti-war concerts - or anti-war songs that catch on, for that matter," he said.


    "On the one hand, you have someone like Toby Keith, who has come out and been very supportive of the Bush administration and the war in Iraq - which is OK because America is a democracy and Toby Keith is entitled to say what he thinks and feels.

    "But, on the other hand, the Dixie Chicks got shot down in flames last year for criticising the president. They were treated like they were being un-American, when in fact they have every right to say whatever they want about him because he's freely elected, and therefore accountable."
Elton John seems a little confused about the difference between the right to free speech, which exists, and the right to be loved, lauded, and underwritten by government grants when speaking in ways that people don't approve, which exists only in his fevered flashbacks of 1960s utopian dreams.

Unintentionally ironically, undoubtedly, he voiced these concerns in New York City and was not immediately shot by government speech code enforcement officials.

One of These Things Is Not Like The Others

The article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch begins with a litany of unbulleted things it must want its readers to see as equivalent:
    A stolen SUV.

    Five unsupervised kids inside.

    Police in pursuit.

    An innocent in the way.
Did you spot how they are different? The Post-Dispatch wants you to know how they are the same. That's why you bullet point things like that. To show their similarity. And here's how the Post-Dispatch thinks there the same:
    The elements of St. Louis' ever-unfolding tragedy came together once again in a fierce collision on Kingshighway early Friday.
See? They're all elements in the ever-unfolding tragedy that is the city of St. Louis. Want to know what happened?
    Killed was Gary "Chip" Alter, 24, a recent St. Louis University graduate, a world traveler and a "handsome devil" with unlimited potential, in his mother's words.

    Alter was driving north on Kingshighway from a friend's home in the Hill neighborhood. He took a left to go west on Interstate 44 and home to Manchester.

    About 3:30 a.m., a Dodge Durango was 90 mph northbound in Kingshighway's southbound lanes. It broadsided Alter.

    "My son's life was taken much too soon," a broken Joan Alter said later.
Schnuck it, the Post-Dispatch isn't going to tell you; the whole article is an exercise in passive-voice journalism, where unfortunate things occur. This pyramid structure has all of the important facts at the bottom of the article, building a sleepy storyline that casts no blame except to the abstract iniquity. Here's what happened:
    Five kids, between the ages 12 and 16, stole a Dodge Durango in the afternoon and spent the night breaking into cars while leaving the Durango running; when someone called the cops at 3:30 am, the St. Louis Tin pursued until a cop supervisor told them to back off. After the pursuit ended, the Durango, still fleeing, broadsided another car and killed its driver.
Cripes, if only the driver had been drinking, he'd have a future with the Rams when he got out of juvenile camp and if he finished high school.

Of the four things mentioned in the first lines of the article, one is responsible for the tragedy, but the Post-Dispatch really wants to blur that distinction and reduce all to just equally-weighted "elements," probably because the actual responsible line item isn't the SUV, the police, or the innocent. It's the known juvenile delinquents.

Friday, July 16, 2004
50 Worst Beers

BeerAdvocate rates the fifty worst beers. Surprisingly, Anheuser-Busch products are represented better than those of that great South African Milwaukee product, Miller!

Hey, there's nothing wrong with South Africa. They've let go of apartheid, they gave up their nuclear program before ending apartheid, and they let Kim du Toit escape. What's not to like about South Africa?

What Are The Odds Of That?

When prompted to download the latest Yahoo! instant message client, I found that it "accidentally" stopped my MSN IM and AOL IM clients but restarted itself in its new, badass Windows XP-looking interface.

Undoubtedly, this was a problem specific to my user configuration.

Taking One for the Team

All the cool bloggers are, about an account in Women's Wall Street that apparently details a dry-run of some sort of terror attack in a flight from Detroit to LA:
    When I returned to my seat I was unable to assure my husband that all was well. My husband immediately walked to the first class section to talk with the flight attendant. I might be overreacting, but I've been watching some really suspicious things... Before he could finish his statement, the flight attendant pulled him into the galley. In a quiet voice she explained that they were all concerned about what was going on. The captain was aware. The flight attendants were passing notes to each other. She said that there were people on board higher up than you and me watching the men. My husband returned to his seat and relayed this information to me. He was feeling slightly better. I was feeling much worse. We were now two hours into a four-in-a-half hour flight. Approximately 10 minutes later, that same flight attendant came by with the drinks cart. She leaned over and quietly told my husband there were federal air marshals sitting all around us. She asked him not to tell anyone and explained that she could be in trouble for giving out that information. She then continued serving drinks. About 20 minutes later the same flight attendant returned. Leaning over and whispering, she asked my husband to write a description of the yellow-shirted man sitting across from us. She explained it would look too suspicious if she wrote the information. She asked my husband to slip the note to her when he was done. After seeing 14 Middle Eastern men board separately (six together, eight individually) and then act as a group, watching their unusual glances, observing their bizarre bathroom activities, watching them congregate in small groups, knowing that the flight attendants and the pilots were seriously concerned, and now knowing that federal air marshals were on board, I was officially terrified..
The author of the piece followed up with the proper authorities and the airlines:
    Through a series of events, The Washington Post heard about my story. I talked briefly about my experience with a representative from the newspaper. Within a few hours I received a call from Dave Adams, the Federal Air Marshal Services (FAM) Head of Public Affairs. Adams told me what he knew: There were 14 Syrians on NWA flight #327. They were questioned at length by FAM, the FBI and the TSA upon landing in Los Angeles. The 14 Syrians had been hired as musicians to play at a casino in the desert. Adams said they were scrubbed. None had arrest records (in America, I presume), none showed up on the FBI's no fly list or the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists List. The men checked out and they were let go. According to Adams, the 14 men traveled on Northwest Airlines flight #327 using one-way tickets. Two days later they were scheduled to fly back on jetBlue from Long Beach, California to New York -- also using one-way tickets. I asked Adams why, based on the FBI's credible information that terrorists may try to assemble bombs on planes, the air marshals or the flight attendants didn't do anything about the bizarre behavior and frequent trips to the lavatory. Our FAM agents have to have an event to arrest somebody. Our agents aren't going to deploy until there is an actual event, Adams explained. He said he could not speak for the policies of Northwest Airlines.
Here's what Hugh Hewitt had to say:
    If this account is true, the plane should have been obliged to land upon the first indication of concern among the flight attendants and passengers. Calling the Homeland Security Department: Is this a true account, and if so, are you happy with the actions of the pilot/marshalls etc?
How easily the simple solution eludes us, Hugh. Ladies and gentlemen, if you are on a plane, witness suspicious activity, communicate with the authorities in the air, and although they're afraid and suspect something might be amiss but cannot act because protocol indicates they cannot until an event occurs, make an event. Stand up in your seat and say, "There is a bomb on board this plane." They will land the plane, my friends, and they will take you into custody. You'll face a felony charge or more if they actually find a bomb or bomb-making components on the plane, but if the people around you are crying into their husbands' shoulders and you're facing death, you are not impotent. You just have to work the impotent system to survive and achieve your goals. Why shouldn't you? They will. Bear in mind this tactic is something to use only if you are honestly afraid for your life and the lives of those around you. It carries a high penalty, regardless of if you're crying wolf when there's a wolf around or not. UPDATE: More good ideas here.

High Tech Red Neck

According to Slate's Red or Blue--Which Are You? quiz, I am:
    It's time to get out of the sun. You're looking a little red.
As if a little red, in this case, is bad.

I think the quiz was targeted to people who have lived in Wisconsin and Missouri and attended a Jesuit university. Jeez.

Some other commentators brag that they're purple. That's like saying your proud of your grey morals. As El Guapo indicated last night in a feeble blue defense of Farenheit 9/11, "There are two sides to every store."

"Yeah," our hero responded. "Right and wrong."

Too Much Information

After some introspection, I have discovered:

I am Mary Kate
Which Olsen Twin Are You quiz

I feel freshly-legal.

Thursday, July 15, 2004
Brian Digs Up The Dirt on Michael Moore

So there I was at the happy hour, enjoying a refreshing Sierra Mist with some former coworkers because the bloody establishment stopped carrying Guinness on draught. I had purchased a copy of Michael Moore Is A Big Fat Stupid White Man as part of an intervention program for El Guapo, who apparently saw some value in something in Farenheit 9/11besides the previews beforehand. So the book was lying on the table, which is quite unlike any of Michael Moore's books, which lie anywhere they are, when a former x2 coworker (with whom I had worked at two different companies--hey, it's a not what you know but who you know) joined us. She sat at the table, spotted the picture of the Macy's parade-sized director, and made the noise and shudder with which we conservatives are familiar.

"I hate him," she said.

The group at the table made agreeing noises, except for El Guapo, whose intervention is still in early stages.

No, she insisted, she hated him. Although we knew she was from Michigan, we did not know she was from Davison, Michigan, and that she graduated in 1973 from Davison High School--a year after Michael Moore was lifted by his parents' bootstraps into graduation in that suburban school.

He had anger management problems even then, she informed us. She mentioned he played clarinet, although was third or fourth chair, and that he didn't have a girlfriend in high school. There you have it: the MfBJN exclusive revelation. Michael Moore is an outcast band geek with no girlfriend gone bad.

I know, you're thinking the same thing we all are: If only my former x2 coworker had made the ultimate sacrifice in 1971 and had gone out with that creepy Mikey guy, and maybe even, you know, kissed him, perhaps the world would have been spared his slothful wrath.

But friends, some sacrifices are too horrible to contemplate, much less ask.

Another One That Previously Eluded My Attention

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the latest felony that has come to my attention courtesy of a news spot on the radio and confirmed by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
    The suspect, Dennis A. Hobson, 43, was charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of Maxine Cheeks, 55. Police say Hobson led them to her badly beaten body on a vacant lot off South 14th Street near Soulard Street.

    Hobson's son, Antoine M. Ward, 26, of the 3000 block of Walton Place, was arrested Wednesday. He was charged with abandonment of a corpse, a felony.
Abandoning a corpse is apparently a felony. Because sometimes accessory after the fact just won't do it. My goodness, why aren't all murderers charged with this secondary crime that often succeeds the first?

No Irony to See Here

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, in a story about government-mandated nonsmoking restaurants, cites a number of restaurant figures who say that the whole industry will be non-smoking in the near future because patrons want it.

The restauranteurs interviewed have restaurants with both smoking and non-smoking sections, so they're not in a hurry to do what their patrons want, are they?

Instead, they wait for government to strip them of their property rights, and then they do what they say the public wanted all along.

If I had to guess, I would say that these quotables are mouthing the story line to get the name of their establishments listed in the paper. But I'm just cynical.

LeMond....Le Monde....Coincidence?

Poor form, old boy, criticizing a countryman in a foreign paper:
    The French newspaper Le Monde, which has previously leveled doping accusations at Armstrong, on Thursday ran an interview with three-time Tour winner Greg LeMond, who suggested he doubts his fellow American is drug free. "Lance is ready to do anything to keep his secret," LeMond was quoted as saying. "I don't know how he can continue to convince everybody of his innocence."
I don't know if Lance is mainlining schucking Cheetah urine, but I can smell some amount of pungent envy trickling down someone's leg, Greg.

It Wasn't Me

As previous co-workers can attest, I have always been, well, let's just say "open to the [negative] possibilities" about the fiscal and marketplace health of my employers.

This reputation means I must firmly refute that this internal MCI memo refers to me at all:
    It has come to my attention, that there is a small group of employees who are extremely negative in the work environment (and vocally so), about the future of a) MCI; and b) their current job status in Ashburn. I'm not sure what's driving the doubt or the negative commentary, but I can tell you that it is unprofessional and I ask that you direct your concerns to me, directly, versus continuing the disruptive commentary with other colleagues.
Let me say unequivocally that I have never been to Ashburn.

And in case you're wondering, my current employer's position in the marketplace is non-existent and his fiscal position is tenuous, at best.

It's less satisfying when you're self-employed, though. Also, I have no coworkers with which to kvetch.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004
Please Let Me Break This To Heather, Privately

Friends, I ask you to let me break this news to my beautiful wife when she returns from Buffalo tomorrow. I don't want her to hear it on the news, and I don't want someone else to mention it in an offhand e-mail or phone conversation. I know what it will mean to her, and I want to tell her in a safe place for her, where she's surrounded by cats.

When we saw Spiderman 2 last week, I got out all of my comic books, four boxes' worth, and showed them to her, and she showed me her smaller collection, which included a bunch of DC stuff and one fairly complete set of a single Marvel title. Dazzler. That mutant chick must have served as some role model for my wife as she grew up, and undoubtedly Heather will feel some deep connection to Dazzler, perhaps even a sense of protectiveness to Dazzler and what Dazzler meant to her.

So I just want to be there to comfort my beautiful wife, to hold her if she needs it, and to have some Puffs with lotion nearby, when I tell her that Jessica Simpson will play Dazzler in the next X-Men movie.

The Former Television Critic Weighs In

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which by the way does not include me as a columnist, has former television critic Eric Mink dissing the Bush Administration in a serious column. I guess Mink grew up and turned off the television and started reading the Post-Dispatch for news insights:
    Late last week, yet another august body - this time the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence - issued yet another massive report again confirming that the U.S. intelligence establishment got just about everything wrong when it came to Saddam Hussein's nonexistent biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.

    But buried deep in the Senate report - little noticed and even less remarked upon - is something important that the committee credits the intelligence community for getting right. And it puts the torch to whatever flimsy tissue of credibility the Bush administration had left:

    With respect to contacts between Iraq and al-Qaida during the 1990s, the committee found that the CIA "reasonably assessed . . . that these contacts did not add up to an established formal relationship."
Got that? Without a mutual protection pact treaty, it didn't exist, and Eric Mink is there to analyze it.

Wait a minute, Eric Mink, former television critic, is now the commentary editor for the Post-Dispatch editorial page? Muhahhahahaha! You cannot make this stuff up.

Of course, my chances of being a paid columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch will greatly diminish the next time Mink googles himself. To a slightly lower nil than they were before the search.

Weird Cinematic Musing

Intermittent Pseudo-Bachelorhood, Day 2, wherein our hero watches Beat the Devil (1953) because it's got Humphrey Bogart in it and he got it as a Christmas gift from his wonderful mother-in-law (hi, ML!). Upon reviewing this black and white piece filmed in Italy, which modern DVD technicians have not spent any time at all restoring, our hero muses that only 11 years passed between John Huston blowing a lot of budget in Europe on froo froo drinks for Truman Capote, the screenwriter, and another seminal film shot in Italia: A Fistful of Dollars.

I mean, jeez, man, the shift from black and white to color was huge, man, but that's not all that changed. I mean, look at story pacing and film making conventions and see how they change in that decade and a tenth.

By way of comparison, look at how slowly things evolve after that. For example, the differences between Dirty Harry (1971) and The Dead Pool (1988). Minor. Between Dirty Harry and any of the others in its ilk. Sure, more stuff explodes now, and studios spend more money on fake-looking CGI, but you know, you could watch something from the 1960s and something from 2003 and not feel too out of place.

Crap, I think I had a point when I started this post. I forget it now. Perhaps it was merely to confirm to our hero's wonderful mother-in-law that her Christmas gifts are going to good use--filling those awful, empty hours until her daughter returns.

Oh, yeah, and memo to Hollywood. Explain this to me: Beat the Devil is available on DVD, and The African Queen is not. What are you people doing out there? Hello?

Venting the Venom

Hey, check out Thomas Sowell's latest column, wherein he takes on the notorious extraneous bells and whistles software industry:
    One of the maddening things about some computer programs and computerized products is their making you fight your way through a maze of complications to do simple things. Whether you want to play chess, take a picture, or do some other obvious and straightforward thing, you must first deal with a zillion options to do things you have no interest in doing.

    The fact that there are innumerable features built into any product -- whether computerized or not -- does not automatically mean that you have to deal with the features you don't want.
That's because too much software is designed by developers, many of whom think vi was a pretty good interface.

Best Columnist in St. Louis

The best columnist in St. Louis is David Nicklaus, business columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Check out the wisdom from his latest column taking on light rail groupies:
    With what's spent on the trains, Castelazo and Garrett figure that taxpayers could buy a Toyota Prius for each needy MetroLink rider and have $49 million a year left over.
It's good to see someone in the Post-Dispatch examining the actual return on the copious public wealth redistribution the paper favors as a matter-of-course.

Political Musings from Pseudo-Bachelorhood, Part XIII

Alternate Title: Embrace Your Mythology, America!

So let me get this straight, again: In The Magnificent Seven, Americans ride in to save a Mexican villiage from bandits, who happen to also be Mexican, and they ride out with fewer than the advertised seven. What propoganda! Forty-some years later, "sophisticated" Americans would appreciate no such venture.

Meanwhile, leftists diminish the sacrifice contained within this American myth by saying that:
  • White men oppressed red men
    Of course, ignore the fact that some white men and one partially brown man (Bernardo) saved brown men (and women and children) from oppression from other brown men.

  • Americans fight for their own interests
    Well, these seven Americans got twenty dollars, a low sum by the standards indicated within the film, to protect oppressed Mexican farmers.

  • Americans always win, and their heroes never run out of bullets.
    I know it's out of fashion, but let's run the numbers through this little bit of reality we call arithematic. Seven gunslingers, including those portraued by Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, James Coburn, Steve McQueen, and Yul Brenner ride in. Three ride almost out, but one decides he likes a Mexican babe and stays. Frankly, a less than fifty percent survival ratio is pretty low, even for realism circa the late 1800s that a Western embraces. Particularly that 22.2% returns to America, after defending the foreigners.
Pah, you all can guess what point I am trying to make. I am no Edith Hamilton or Joseph Campbell, but I understand the power of the stories we tell each other about our common heritage, and brothers, Abu Ghraib ain't it.

P.S. In the arithematic of American mythology, the The Dirty Dozen (-11) and The Magnificent Seven (-4) do not yield the same actor in the role of survivor. Just in case you damn kids watched one, I wanted to inspire you to watch the other.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004
Political Musings from Pseudo-Bachelorhood, Part XII

Alternate Title: When Was Hollywood Ever the Friend of Capitalism?

So let me get this straight: In This Gun For Hire, which "introduces" Alan Ladd and co-stars Veronica Lake, the "good guy" is an product of child abuse, and the "bad guy" is an old white guy who's selling poison gas chemicals to the Japanese.

Hey, I appreciate the film as a story, but the theme indicates that Hollywood was not always in favor of capitalism. Remember that heyday of propoganda around World War II? A by-product of the future history, wherein the box office victors, which is to say the American people select those movies which represented John Wayne and company whipping the Axis, represent the remembered movies, and other films which presented a "nuanced" vision of America find themselves, 52 years later, represented by a single copy in Best Buy snapped up by an Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake fan. Undoubtedly, this Best Buy store sighed in relief and ordered an extra copy of The Transporter to cover the shelf space.

P.S. Note to studios: Alan Ladd. Veronica Lake. Raymond Chandler. For the love of all that is holy, release The Blue Dahlia on DVD.


From today's junk e-mail:
                              Dear U.S. Bank valued member,
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           Once you have updated your account records your online banking account will not be
    interrupted and will continue as normal.
                 Please follow the link below and renew your account information.
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Ladies and gentlemen, good grammar and good knowledge of proper English are a stalwart defense against junk e-mail.

Scenes of Intermittent Pseudo-Bachelorhood, Part XII

Wherein our hero copes with life in a large household while his wife enjoys business-related adventures in Buffalo, New York.
    "Crap! I can't get the garlic bread residue off of this cookie sheet! Wait a minute....Heather will never miss one cookie sheet...."
Join us for our thrilling next adventure, when our hero tries to find a new cookie sheet with which to replace the new contents of his garbage can. Where do you buy cookie sheets? Like, Best Buy is all out of them.....

I Hope They Got a Good Price on That Print Job

A hearty, hey, yer knuckleheads to the folks at the Home Handyman Club of America, whose membership I am abandoning since it managed to lose my subscription renewal a couple years ago, and then promptly sent me books I refused and for which they continued to bill me.

As a new example of its genius, it has sent me a professionally-printed envelope that instructs those suckers seeking to renew to enclose the invoice so that the club address appears in the window on the other side. The problem? It's not printed on a window envelope. All the better for our recycling bin.

Man, I am glad I never had these handy fellows over to help me do anything to my house.

Real World Experience Apparently Worthless

Meanwhile, back in the San Francisco Chronicle, David Lazurus reads the grounds in his coffee cup to undercover conspiracy! in the nomination of Francis Harvey as Secretary of the Army:
    President Bush was widely reported last week to be on the verge of nominating local boy Francis Harvey to serve as secretary of the Army. So let's meet the man who may soon be the newest player in the top ranks of the military-industrial complex.

    Harvey, a Los Gatos resident, sits on the board of Bridge Bank of Silicon Valley and is a member of the board of regents of Santa Clara University. But it's a safe bet that neither of these gigs placed him in the running for the Army's senior civilian post.

    More likely, it was Harvey's ties to the defense industry and the influential Carlyle Group that won him the Bush administration's favor.
Okay, let me summarize how this left coaster knocks Harvey:
  • Harvey is former chief operating officer for a division of Westinghouse Electric, a leading defense contractor.

  • Harvey sits on the board of a couple companies affiliated with the Carlyle Group, an investment company.

  • Because the Carlyle Group has had as its "advisers and leaders" (which could mean that among the numerous firms funded or invested in by the company, an investment company for crying out loud) numerous other, well, leaders, it is obviously the American Illuminati Clubhouse.

  • Harvey serves as vice chairman of Maryland's Duratek, which specializes in the handling and disposing of radioactive materials. Oddly enough, the Departments of Defense and Energy do business with firms that handle and dispose of radioactive materials. The Department of Education does not--and that in itself must insinuate something!

  • Harvey is a board member of Carlyle-owned Kuhlman Electric, a maker of transformers. Even though it has no defense contracts, it's Carlyle-owned and therefore must do something bad, of which Harvey is undoubtedly the mastermind, or in which he is implicitly explicitly complicit.
So what does it all mean? That if Harvey is confirmed, he will favor his friends and companies for which he's worked? How will Haliburton stand for it?

I guess the messages we can take away from this column, and those of its wide stripe, are that the only people qualified to run the government are not people who have real world experience managing organizations in relevant fields; oh, but no, the only people qualified for appointment are people who have hidden in academia or in newsrooms for most of their adult lives. These people have integrity, and presumably no friends to help.

Also, the second message is that any appointment from the business world would not throw himself into a new, govern-mental position with the same enthusiasm for maximizing resources and utility that made him or her successful in business and worthy of appointment; oh, but no, once they're on the government payroll, it's all about sucking the teat, unlike academics, intellectuals, or integrous media or entertainment icons.

Monday, July 12, 2004
Activists Are Standing By

This column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch indicates that Missouri currently does not have seatbelt laws for pets:
    On Illinois and Missouri's state highways, though, that's perfectly legal, police say. Not for a dog to drive with no hands, but for one to roam free in a vehicle. There are no laws against it, and a lot of pet owners let it happen.

    In a 2002 survey by the American Animal Hospital Association, 74 percent of 1,200 pet owners in Canada and the United States said they don't use pet restraints while on the road.

    The association, though, said that could cause trouble. It urges owners to use harnesses, seat belt attachments, or carriers.

    "They help protect pets in case of a collision, and they keep pets from running loose and distracting the driver," the association's Web site says.
Undoubtedly, though, a crack team of activists are, well, acting to ensure this travesty will not continue, and that eventually drivers will not be allowed to have any unsecured item floating around the cabin of the car. Fast food wrappers, CD cases, pets, and loose change--by 2013, legislators will mandate that you need to lock all of these down as though you were piloting the space shuttle through re-entry every time you go down to the U-Gas for a lotto ticket and a fill-up.

Let the Cacaphony Begin!

Let this story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch with the headline 3-year-old wounds grandmother with gun lead to a bevy of batties in the belfry rattling their sightless bodies in favor of more gun control legislation because of this stupid, preventable accident.

Because they need a break from their machination mastications that take place in favor of banning cars whenever some SUV-armored pinhead on eating while on a cell phone plows into a Honda and shuts down I-270 for hours.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Sorry, nothing to report. I did, however, want to make this page in my archives the only Google hit for the search "Liz Phair" "Tony Twist" naked.

Sure, there's nothing there now....but give me a few days.

I Guess Nobody Caught Her In Concert

Okay, let me get this straight. Smash Mouth is not allowed to perform at Fair St. Louis because they're not family-friendly.

Now appearing at River Splash, Liz Phair.

Perhaps the bookers had not heard the songs "Fuck and Run" or "H.W.C." (neither of which is particularly work-safe and will earn you content-scanning demerits should you click the links). Of course, I have never heard those songs, but I know Liz Phair might be moderately radio-friendly these days, but family-friendly, she ain't.

Close Second to Censorship

Headline in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Tony Twist wins $15 million verdict. The story goes like this:
    Tony Twist, the former rock 'em-sock 'em Blues hockey player, was awarded $15 million Friday by a jury that concluded comic book artist Todd McFarlane had profited by using Twist's name without his permission.

    McFarlane, formerly the principal artist and writer of Spiderman comics, gave the name Tony Twist to a violent New York mob boss in McFarlane's Spawn comics in the early 1990s.

    In a case that could have broad meaning for artistic freedom, McFarlane insisted the name had literary value and his use of it was protected under the First Amendment, but Twist contended McFarlane had exceeded free speech rights.

    It was the second time for Twist's claims to go to trial. A St. Louis Circuit Court jury ruled in Twist's favor in 2000 and awarded him $24.5 million, but the trial judge overruled the verdict and the state appeals court later ruled in McFarlane's favor citing his free speech rights. The Missouri Supreme Court, however, last year ordered a new trial after concluding that McFarlane's use of Twist's name was driven more by moneymaking than by "artistic value."

    "They made Tony into a Mafia boss," said James Holloran, an attorney for Twist. "He was involved in murders and kidnappings and rapes."

    Reporters have a constitutional right to write freely about Twist as a hockey player, even calling him a "goon" or "enforcer" for his rough play on the hockey rink, but that First Amendment freedom does not extend to using his name for commercial advantage, Holloran said.

    McFarlane's attorneys argued that his use of the name was protected and that no reasonable person would confuse the fictional character with the real person.
McFarlane did not name the mobster Tony Twist. Tony Twist in the Spawn comic book was a nickname given to a mobster whose real fictional name was Antonio "Tony Twist" Twistelli (more detailed Sports Illustrated article). So a tough guy enforcer thug with a name of Antonio Twistelli was given the nickname Tony Twist, an allusion to the hockey player made his living espousing those qualities. Not a rapist nor a murder, but the nature of metaphor is that it's not an exact photograph, merely an outline and comparison.

I get it. I don't mistake an inked mobster with the former Blues favorite. But then, I am capable of cognitive thought, and am not of the great abstract masses purportedly unable to tell the difference.

The use of the Twister's name (hey, will he sue the producers of that movie for stealing his nickname?) represents realistic idiom. When people talk, make slang, and assign nicknames, they often use allusions to contemporary events, celebrities, and sub-celebrities in the public eye. Writers often make idiomatic use of a famous person's name to describe something about their characters and the story. However, this ruling sets the precedent that if the idiomatic use is not flattering, the sensitive celebrity whose name is getting used in a less-than-flattering light (often because the celebrity has done something mockworthy or less than flattering) can sue for millions of dollars, no matter how little the celebrity's actual worth is impacted. Woe to the writers in America, since these little casual asides now must be vetted for legal exposure and liability.

Coming soon, Monica Lewinsky's action against Law & Order and countless other stupid lawsuits. The government, by encouraging (and make no mistake, the precedent will encourage) these worthless lawsuits indirectly prohibits another small measure of free speech in America.

The Personal Is The Political

Count this as a victory for the agitators of the 1960s: personal things take on political overtones, such as getting fired:
    One day after she was fired, former U.S. Park Police Chief Teresa Chambers accused the Bush administration Saturday of silencing dissenting views in the rank and file.

    Chambers' departure may not garner the same spotlight as those of former counterterrorism expert Richard Clarke and former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, but it appears to fall into a similar category: officials who leave or are forced out after questioning Bush administration policies.
Just Jo Functionary doing the job to the best of her ability, but fired because she was a maverick who didn't follow the book? Well, yes:
    Chambers said that she didn't expect to be fired seven months after the Interior Department put her on administrative leave with pay for talking with reporters and congressional staffers about budget woes on the 620-officer force.
You know, we here in the private industry world would get canned and possibly sued if we were to disparage our employers in the media. In government, you get seven months of free money without having to pretend you're working and a gold bullhorn to trumpet the iniquity of it all.

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