Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, August 14, 2004

This woman, who's a real *UNT, told me this joke today:
    An old woman, watching the news, sees the traffic report and calls her husband, who's on his way home. "Honey, be careful on 270, they say there's someone driving the wrong way."

    He says, "One? There's hundreds of them!"
My mother's sister is so spunky. When used regarding a six-year-old, that adjective's just precious. Applied against anyone over fifty, the adjective's condescending and ALMOST SEEMS TO BE SPOKEN SLOWLY AND LOUDLY, have you noticed?

Friday, August 13, 2004
And Brian Is Shamed

Only 45.36489% geek on the Inner Geek Geek Test.

However, now that I know what to study for it, I will do better next time.

Oprah's Big Day In Court

From CNN:
    Oprah Winfrey was expected to make an appearance at the Cook County Criminal Court -- for jury duty.

    A spokeswoman for the talk-show host confirmed Friday that Winfrey would report Monday.
She won't get picked for a jury, but it's good to see she's doing her civic duty when she could have easily gotten off.

Blogging Through a Hurricane from a Safe Distance

Instapundit's keeping track of nutbars blogging in the path of a hurricane.


Listen, boys and girls, I read Condominium, and I have effectively, pre-emptively evacuated myself to the middle of the country for the duration of every hurricane season and, just in case, all of the other seasons as well.

Oh, sure, you more worldly types laugh, but I still remember the fear of a seven-year-old young man in 1979 who knew just enough geography and just little enough meteorology to fear Hurricane David. Don't worry, his supportive mother said, hurricanes only occur on the ocean. But I had enough imagination to suspect hurricanes could come up the Gulf of Mexico, up the Mississippi River like a steamer, and then across the state of Wisconsin to imperil me in Milwaukee.

Sure, some of you laugh at the notion, and my therapist tells me that I, too, will someday find humor in it.

But not yet.

Marine Corps Bumper Stickers

Strategy Page has a list of Marine Corps bumper stickers. Check them out.

Yes, I mean you, Mom.

News Producers on the Other Side of the Line

So if you or I lip off to a TSA official at the airport, we're going to prison for a couple years for some handy felony or another.

So these two men show up in full "I Am A Terrorist" regalia at a charter helicopter hangar in the St. Louis suburbs in Illinois:
    Arlene Thomas grew suspicious when two men with out-of-state drivers licenses and a large wad of cash came into her Sauget helicopter hangar Wednesday morning and said they wanted to see St. Louis landmarks from the sky.

    The men, whom Thomas described to police as of "Middle Eastern descent," were carrying a duffel bag and a backpack and drove up in a rental car with Texas license plates.

    The signs pointed to terrorism - that's exactly the impression the two men, an NBC News producer and cameraman, were trying to create.
They're met with a warm greeting:
    Thomas called police, who searched the bags and the men and found a butane lighter, box cutter, two knives, duct tape, a powdery substance and a bottle filled with a clear liquid. The men also had maps of New York, Chicago, San Francisco and St. Louis with major landmarks highlighted in yellow.
But because they're news people, they're special:
    Four hours later, the NBC employees were released without charges but with the wrath of airport director Bob McDaniel.

    "I'm absolutely outraged that NBC News is out here trying to create news rather than report news," McDaniel said after meeting with members of the Transportation Security Administration. "This clearly scared the hell out of a lot of folks and wasted a lot of valuable resources, tying up emergency forces, and all of it was entirely unnecessary."
NBC defends its actions:
    NBC defended its actions in an e-mail statement to the Post-Dispatch, saying that the employees did nothing wrong in determining the security measures at helicopter charter services.

    "Nothing they did or carried was illegal," said NBC spokesman Allison Gollust. "In Illinois, the system worked and ... our reporting will include this part of the story, evidence that civilians like those in Illinois are making attempts to keep the skies safe."
Spare us the sanctimony, hey? You're pissing in the pool of resources and are diminishing the vigilence of the population by making them wonder, hey, is that a terrorist, or just a national news media exposé on how small town hicks profile men who look middle eastern and who are doing perfectly legal, but suspicious, things while carrying perfectly legal, but suspicious, things.

And in your own way terrifying people for your own gain. What does that make you again?

Thursday, August 12, 2004
Book Review: Selected Poems 1956-1968 by Leonard Cohen (1972)

This book collects four of Leonard Cohen's first volumes of poetry, including Let Us Compare Mythologies (1956), The Spice-Box of Earth (1961), Flowers for Hitler (1964), and Parasites of Heaven (1966). The book also includes some never-before seen poems, kind of like the bonus material you get on a greatest hits album. Except this collection is not greatest hits, it's all the filler material, too.

I first heard Leonard Cohen, as I am sure many of my generation did, in the film Pump Up The Volume, where Cohen sings the theme song of the protagonist. Unfortunately, the credits and the soundtrack do not credit Cohen, so all this young man got was the Concrete Blonde rendition. But I persevered and discovered the I'm Your Man album. Good album. Leonard's got a rich voice, and the songs are literary and lyrical in the best sense of the word.

So it helps to read the book with knowledge of Cohen's voice. The voice can carry much of what the words cannot.

Cohen's poems tread the mystical, where they allude to Judaica that I don't understand. Then he's throwing all sorts of Catholic imagery into the poems, which I don't understand as well, but I'm more familiar with them; I went to a Jesuit university, you know.

The best section is The Spice-Box of Earth, wherein Cohen explores relationships in greater detail than the others. I could relate more to the poems, as I was once a young man seeking to get laid by young women. I appreciate the sensual confusion in the coffeeshop pheromones and cigarette smoke. Heck, the section made me feel ten years younger. I remember longing and loss.

But even the best poets have their off poems (apparently, Emily Dickinson had 1767 of them), and unfortunately readers have to wade through them. I took from this book no other poems I could recite from memory than when I began (I could recite "For Annie" which I remembered from an anthology I'd read before I heard I'm Your Man).

But I liked the book okay. I feel smart, reading poetry in my spare time and all. So if you don't mind some free verse with a distinct coffeehouse flare, you won't mind this book.

Post script: I would never knowingly participate in a poetry slam in which Leonard Cohen took part. He's got enough A material, and he's got the voice. 'Nuff said.

Another Invasive Species Threatens Ecosystem

From the New York Times: Red-Footed Falcon Debuts in Western Hemisphere:
    So Mr. Laux, an ornithologist who has led birding trips all over the world, recruited island friends with telescopes and digital cameras to send images of the bird to Jeremiah Trimble, an expert birder and curatorial assistant at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology. When Mr. Trimble arrived at his office on Tuesday, he looked at the photos, consulted his reference materials and left immediately for Martha's Vineyard. Mr. Laux had spotted a red-footed falcon - Falco vespertinus - the first reported in the Western Hemisphere. And now birders from all over are arriving to see it.
Undoubtedly, this single bird will eat all the tasty small rodents and will mate with the local falcons to spawn a new race of super falcons with European accents. We cannot allow this to happen. We must kill it now, and we can grill it later!

Unless it eats snakehead fish, in which case we should bring a dozen over from its native habitat so it can eat all the tasty snakehead fish and mate with local falcons to spawn a new race of snakehead-eating super falcons.

Man, I am glad I am a Republican, because being environmentally sensitive is confusing and tiring. One snakehead fish is bad, because making the local ecosystem more diverse with token representatives of outside species can ruin the delicate balance of a natural system which has survived for aeons, but a single red-headed stepchild falcon is a tourist attraction, good for the local economy.

As the partially-educated like to quote, "Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."

No Sympathy For The Devil

Here's the teaser for Bill McClellan's latest column in the St. Louis Post-Distpatch: After 30 years, he's faced with life on the outside. So I started to read it.

Here's the heart-rending:
    "I'm about ready to give up," he told me Tuesday afternoon, and I thought for a moment that he was going to cry. I asked if he were happy to be out of prison, and he shook his head.

    His story was front-page stuff 30 years ago. He was 36 years old, and by all accounts, a simple man. He had a seventh-grade education. He had never been in trouble.
Man, that does sound like a rough bit. He's been in prison for a long time, and a lot of the world undoubtedly must seem strange to someone who flashed forward three particularly changing decades. I sympathized with him. Hey, armed robbery, drug dealing, maybe a repeat offense for burglary, and suddenly you're in a time warp.

Except this guy:
    In November 1973, his wife left him and took their young son. Epps went to the police and filed a missing person report. He said he thought his wife's family knew where she was. A patrolman drove him to his in-laws' house, but they said they had not seen her. The patrolman took Epps back to the station, but he returned to the house and shot and killed his wife's mother and her grandparents.
End of sympathy, and shame on you, McClellan, for presenting him as a tragic figure. Yes, I see he's only had a seventh grade education and thus missed the Don't Kill Your Inlaws unit in eighth grade social studies, but I am not sparing any of my compassion on him.

Couldn't you have written about another little man who needed defending from the iniquities of the real world, McClellan?

List of Columnist Who Bill McClellan Is No

I don't normally read Bill McClellan because I think he's obnoxious, and find his columns common, predictable, and rather simplistic. It's obvious he's trying to champion the common man, but I don't care to read about most of the people whom he champions.

To make it clear, I have created this handy chart of columnists you can easily use in the sentence, "Bill McClellan is no...."
John Kass Bob Greene Mary Schmich Clarence Page
Steve Chapman Eric Zorn Richard Roeper Neil Steinberg
John O' Sullivan George Will Anna Quindlen Mike Royko
Studs Terkel Robert Novak James Lileks Mark Steyn
Jim Stingl Whitney Gould Mike Nichols Andrea Peyser
Steve Dunleavy Charles Krauthammer Michelle Malkin Anne Applebaum
Robert J. Samuelson Bob Rybarcyzk The Night Cabbie David Nicklaus
80% of college op-ed columnists. Catherine Galasso-Vigorito Most Suburban Journal Opinion Shapers
That's a start.

This is the only time I am going to mention it. If I let my animosity towards other commentators eat at me, I'll start writing like Neil Steinberg.

Many Layers to A Story

This story begins like a feel-good libertarian story of the year:
    Two girls found the lemonade business sweeter than ever Wednesday, after the St. Louis Health Department shut their curbside stand the previous day.

    Mim Murray, 10 and Marisa Miller-Stockie, 12, of St. Louis, have been selling lemonade together for three summers in their neighborhood north of Forest Park. The two friends hope to save enough to buy laptop computers before starting seventh grade in a few weeks. Last summer, they made more than $100.

    But on Tuesday afternoon, a city Health Department inspector told the girls they lacked the proper business licenses and were selling unsafe ice cubes, the girls said. The girls were selling Country Time lemonade from a powder mix and store-bought ice cubes near the corner of Des Peres Avenue and Forest Park Parkway.
Yay! Laissez-faire! But wait, this is in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, so I am suspicious there must be some angle within it to turn my libertarian blood hot.

Oh, here it is:
    A nearby resident, O.V. Carreathers, 48, of the 5900 block of Pershing Avenue, had complained about the stand on Friday to the city's Citizens Service Bureau. The girls took the day off on Monday, but the inspector tracked them down on Tuesday.

    "I just didn't want them on my property," Carreathers said Wednesday. "I just didn't want them blocking my walkway."

    Mim and Marisa said their stand had been on the grass between the rear of Carreathers' property and the parkway. They said Carreathers had threatened to spray them with a garden hose if they didn't leave.

    "That's not the American way, dude," Mim said Wednesday.
Those damn kids are nothing nothing but squatters who seek to profit from using some capital owner's resources for free. Now that's a story the Post-Dispatch can trumpet. The Man takes it again! Yay, plucky pint-sized property rights usurpers!

Sounds like Mim has learned the American way, dude, and it's not her great-grandfather's American Way. Bleh. I think I am drinking too coffee, which heats my libertarian blood rather quickly.

Not On His Spectrum

Rush Limbaugh's going off on Steve Chapman's column in the Chicago Tribune today, wherein Chapman goes off on Kerry's new hawkishness.

Limbaugh offers this column as a sign of the left's solidarity fraying. Limbaugh calls Chapman a liberal. Perhaps his imagination cannot fathom an isolationalist libertarian.

Poor form, Rush. Read a little more, and don't oversimplify it for your radio audience. We're not as dumb as you think we look.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004
Man the Forward Moonbattery!

With oil prices going up and temperatures unseasonably cool, isn't it obvious to anyone else that Enroniburton has secretly reversed global warming to pump up its profits this winter?

Am I the only one connecting the dots dancing before my eyes? Come on, people, wake up!

And Your Little Dog, Too

So authorities investigate a burglary in Georgia and bust the homeowner and his son for having an AT-4 anti-tank missile and some other things that they apparently picked up hiking (illegally, of course) on the ranges at Fort Stewart. They've even been arrested on the base before. But the best part of the story is the charges levied against the pair:
    The charges included illegally possessing automatic weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, as well as harassing an endangered gopher tortoise with a Rottweiler, said Steve Hart, spokesman for Hunter Army Airfield.
Apparently, the pair had not parked illegally while conducting their expeditions onto the gunnery range.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004
Suggested Slogan

John Kerry: It's Time for a Kurt Waldheim in America.

This Is Your Plane

This is your plane on crack.

Any questions?

Monday, August 09, 2004
Title the New Hit "Whiteys Just Don't Understand"

Will Smith explains to a Frankfurt (Germany) newspaper:
    When asked if 9/11 had changed anything for him personally, Smith answered:

    “No. Absolutely not. When you grow up black in America you have a completely different view of the world than white Americans. We blacks live with a constant feeling of unease. And whether you are wounded in an attack by a racist cop or in a terrorist attack, I’m sorry, it makes no difference.”
I'm not going to write off Will Smith movies because he's an enjoyable actor, and although Hindrocket from Powerline doesn't remember, he started out as an amusing rapper.

I don't think I'll look to him for political insight, though. Or judgment, really, for joining the cavalcade of stars who make their politics known in Europe but wouldn't poke their American audiences in the eye directly.

All Other Problems Apparently Solved

Apparently, having solved all other problems, the Federal government can turn its focus to guaranteeing car loans to sub-prime consumers:

    Dubbed "Ways to Work," the program is run through Provident Counseling Inc., a 145-year-old St. Louis nonprofit agency involved in a wide range of social service work, from afterschool children's programs to anti-drug and alcohol counseling. In many ways, the car program offers a "last hope" for working St. Louisans who otherwise might not be able to buy and drive their own cars, said Karen Jackson, loan coordinator for the program. Provident is scheduled to officially kick off its "Ways to Work" program today, in festivities at its offices at 2650 Olive Street.
    Money to kick start the program - $345,000 - came this year from the Department of Transportation and is expected to help St. Louis-area residents buy 50 to 60 cars the first year. Jackson said the federal grant requires that Provident obtain matching "dollar-for-dollar" support from the community, either in cash or in-kind donations.
The headline? Carless can now get federal help in securing a new ride.

Make that a free ride.

Sunday, August 08, 2004
Is Brian Media Diverse?

Over at Signifying Nothing, Chris Lawrence Takes Michelle Malkin's Media Diversity Test (original Malkin post here.) He scores 60 out of a possible 100, which indicates he's slightly more...what, Midwestern, conservative, something...than the major media.

Here's how I did:

Question Answer Comment
I have never voted for a Democrat in my life. No. I voted for Chris Liese over his competitor 4 years ago, for example, because I received a flyer at the polling place which said his competitor was in favor of strong sodomy laws. It was all I'd heard about the challenger, and it was that he was against homosexuals.
I think my taxes are too high. Yes. I think all taxes are too high, not just mine. The government wastes money, period, because it can always get more.
I supported Bill Clinton's impeachment. Yes. Perjury is a crime. Whether it's about sex, or about the color of the sky.
I voted for President Bush in 2000. Yes. I volunteered for the campaign and I displayed a yard sign. Of course, I supported McCain first.
I am a gun owner. Yes. I hate to admit it because my admission on the Internet flags me if They decide to confiscate all guns.
I support school voucher programs. Yes. Why not? If you think the government redistribution of wealth should be directed to a goal other than increasing the size of government, you should be, too.
I oppose condom distribution in public schools. Yes. Do the students need them for school? No, don't answer that.
I oppose bilingual education. No. I do, however, think that speaking, reading, and writing proper English are important to survive in society and oppose any education that would have students believe that speaking a tribal language inherited from their ancestors is equal to speaking a common tongue.
I oppose gay marriage. No. I don't think the state should deprive long term gay couples who want to commit of the same privileges granted to heterosexual couples. I don't think marriage should be a state issue. So I don't condemn religions who prohibit gay marriage, either. I'd rather the state eliminate the concept of marriage and issue Civil Union licenses used by couples when they marry in the churches of their choice. Or don't.
I want Social Security privatized. Yes. Actually, I want it eliminated, but if privatization is all I can get, I will take it. Somehow, though, I suspect that "a bankrupt nation, much like they enjoy in Europe" is what I will get.
I believe racial profiling at airports is common sense. Yes. What, ethicity counts as a special factor in college admissions, but not in anything else? Give me a break.
I shop at Wal-Mart. Yes. Before I accidentally married the woman of my dreams, I bought most of my new clothes at Wal-Mart. Now, though, she's informed me that better quality jeans make my butt more attactive, to her at least, so who am I to argue?
I enjoy talk radio. Yes. I gauge my work day by talk radio. 7-9, Weber and Dolan. 12-3, Rush Limbaugh. 5-7, Hugh Hewitt. It's entertainment more than enlightenment, come on.
I am annoyed when news editors substitute the phrase "undocumented person" for "illegal alien." Yes. It's small potatoes, though, to a greater problem in newsrooms across the country. They have a greater latitude to play linguistic tricks because people are less literate to identify them.
I do not believe the phrase "a chink in the armor" is offensive. Yes. I'm not even offended by off-handed racial epithets that target my race. If someone's speaking them to get a rise out of me, though, I will respond to the context. But it's not the words. It's the speaker using the words effectively to elicit the response he or she wants.
I eat meat. Yes. Well, tonight I ate fish, but it's all the same to the lower life form that I exploited for my further existence.
I believe O.J. Simpson was guilty. No. I don't believe anything. I wasn't there, and he was not convicted. I don't believe he's innocent, either, though, and he's got a cloud over him that I don't think is undeserved.
I cheered when I learned that Saddam Hussein had been captured. Yes. I'll mark this as a yes even though I didn't shout, "Huzzah!" I remember where I was, and I called out to tell Heather that they did, which is good enough for me.
I cry when I hear "Proud to be an American" by Lee Greenwood. Give me five points. I don't cry, but I do feel close sometimes when I hear this song depending upon the context.
I don't believe the New York Times. Yes. I don't believe any source of news. They all tell me some facts interspersed with their interpretations. I have to treat it with the same skepticism I treat anything anyone tells me. Less, actually, since I haven't vetted the media as well as I have vetted my closest friends.

Final score: 80/100

What does it mean? I'm different from Chris. Also, Michelle Malkin would probably think of me as a relative comsymp, much like I think of Alex Knapp of Heretical Ideas.

I guess we're diverse, which is good, ainna?

Atari Party 5: Fellowship of the Joystick Photos

In case you didn't think I had actual friends in the real world, I have posted the photos from Atari Party 5: Fellowship of the Joystick.

Of course, this could mean I married a woman with many friends, but I don't dwell on it. Too much.

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