Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Thursday, September 23, 2004
Book Review: Melancholy Baby by Robert B. Parker (2004)

Okay, I cannot tell you much about this book because it just came out today, and my beautful wife hasn't read it yet, so I cannot give away the details, except:
  • It's a Sunny Randall book.

  • Parker continues to explore his femispenser side, which I think involves doubting yourself, paying not only attention to your clothes but also your makeup, and crying. Crikey, I think I must have learned everything I know about writing women characters from him.

  • Needs more gun play. Like Checkov said, if you see the big bald black guy in act one, he must fire a couple rounds by act three.

  • The Parkerverse crossovers continue; in the last Spenser book, Spenser passed an unidentified Sunny Randall walking her dog, and in this book....Well, I cannot tell you, but rest assured, this will undoubtedly culminate in a Spenser, Jesse Stone, Sunny Randall, Jackie Robinson, Wyatt Earp, race horse, and Spiderman cross over you won't want to miss! Until next time, Excelsior!

My Congressman Hardly Working

Todd Akin, R. MO, wrote legislation to bar Federal courts including the Supreme Court from hearing cases trying to strike down the words Under God from the Pledge of Allegiance.

If legislators have nothing better to do than curtail checks and balances upon their powers, perhaps it's time to cut them down to part time and reduce their salaries accordingly.

(Text of HR 2028: Pledge Protection Act of 2003.)

Worthy Causes

Beer for Soldiers

Books for Soldiers

The combination, of course, would be Late Night Philsophical Rambling Discussions for Soldiers, but leave that to them.

Laying to Rest an Old Friend

I don't know why I felt the need to post this; perhaps because I spent yesterday reviving and relighting old clone (remember when we called them "clones"?) boxes, including my first foray into Windows 95, an old Packard Bell Pentium 233 (but with MMX technology, werd) which I bought to go in my first apartment in 1998.

This journal entry was written on an old 286-10 box running MS DOS 4.0 and LotusWorks. But I guess we'll come to that by and by.

January 24, 1992

I laid to rest an old friend today. A friend I had known for years, since the beginning of high school. A friend that was always there for me, that I could depend on for a little recreation when I needed it, to impose logic on the topsy-turvy world that adolescence too often proves to be has been placed in the box.

I do not speak of a friend placed in his or her coffin, but rather of my old Commodore 64 home computer. I prefer to think of it as a personal computer, or even a friend. We shared a lot of time together, and I began to feel affection for it, I have discovered now that I have had to put it in the closet.

We first met toward the end of my middle school career in a little hamlet in Missouri where there were few actual people to waste my time on. It was a Christmas gift from my mother, a treasure than in its prime of its technology, the creme-de-la-creme of personal computers. Its actual position in the marketplace and high standing among its users was of little concern to me. It was a COMPUTER. And it was MINE.

It is hard to trace the actual roots of my affection for it in our early relationship. We played a few games together, trivial things now that I reflect on them. But a bond was developing as I fought my way through waves of defending Russians in Rush'N'Attack and evil martial artists in Yie Ar Kung Fu. My old Commodore kept me entertained on nights when the rain rumbled upon the roof of our mobile home or when I was grounded for some minute infraction of the house rules.

Then, as the time we had known each other became measured in months and then years, I grew to learn more about it. Commodore Basic 2.0 was my second language and Spanish only my third. I learned how to program it and make it do what I wanted. It was a novel way of impressing my family, a modern version of the old after-dinner talent shows. Aunts and uncles would come into my room to see what incredible feats I could perform with my toy. We were a team, a Mutt-and-Jeff, a duo, inseparable. I was the brains and it was the brawn.

As most children (or at least those who read the Great Brain books by John D. Fitzgerald) are, apt to consider themselves bold entrepreneurs, we became partners in a series of hare-brained schemes to make ourselves rich. The abortive attempts included a weekly advertising circular, which my Commodore could not handle with any success, and a pay-per-download program service. Neither got very far, but it was not due to a lack of an effort by my faithful computer. The only way it could help me in my attempts at wealth was a secondary position in my lawn-mowing business as a sign-maker.

It helped me with school, too. I used its word-processing abilities to write papers throughout high school, printing them in low-quality dot matrix type when other students were still handing in handwritten research papers. It also saw my first stumbling attempts at novels, hidden away somewhere yet on disks for future generations to view and snicker.

Our relationship faltered as I moved on to college. My time dwindled and my needs changed. I bought a new computer that now occupies the center of my desk, the old Commodore banished to some dark corner of my new room. Our relationship did not die suddenly, for it was still present if I needed a quick game of Tetris to easy my mind or distract me from some impending paper. The usage dwindled, however, and its main function of late has been acting as a dust cover for the corner of a desk. When it came time to clean my room, I came to terms with the distance between us and finally had to make the decision to put it away.

With heavy heart I unplugged the various cords and carefully wound them. I placed the components of the Commodore in its new home gingerly, fearing I might damage its fragile innards by this simple act as opposed to the numerous falls it has suffered over the years. I looked at all the software I had acquired over the years, some games unsolved and some utilities unopened. I then sifted through the stacks of computer related printouts I had accumulated, the half-completed programs and game notes offering a testimony to its past usefulness, and almost pleading for a reprieve.

If the computer were alive, it would dread the threat of the box. I will probably never use it again. The box is a veritable coffin for computers, the bottom of the closet its graveyard. It now rests in peace with my old TIs, other relics of the early years of the computer revolution. I fear I will not use it again, only store it until such a time as I no longer care about it enough that I can throw it away.

Just plastic and silicon and little chips. The dreams and aspirations, the triumphs and tragedies of a million games and a million dreams shared. Goodbye old friend.

If it brings a tear to your eye, you're definitely a geek. Probably reading this on a Linux box, too, you psycho.


Ever had one of your favorite undergarments rust from repeated trips through the washing machine?

What, is it just me?

Wednesday, September 22, 2004
Book Review: A Death of Honor by Joe Clifford Faust (1987)

I bought this book for $1.00 at Hooked on Books in Springfield, Missouri, and it should serve as something of a reminder to me. Avoid the books with the red dots on the spine. If the book store puts them on carts outside, it's because they don't care if someone steals the book.

All right, it's late and I am being melodramatic; the book's not that bad, but its pacing reminded me of walking through thigh-deep water in blue jeans. Sure, it's occasionally cool, occasionally exciting, but you've got to slog a way to get there.

The book is set in a 1987 dystopian future, where the Soviets have pretty much overrun Europe and the East, Canada and Mexico have sealed their borders to isolate us to not piss off the Soviet hegemon, and the only free country is Australia, and everyone wants letters of transit to the promised former penal colony--which is why when Ugarte....sorry, wrong plot there. But America has militarized into a fascist state, where the state raises children and rewards people for procreation. As a result, society revolves around dance clubs with copulation chambers in the back. In this world of countless constitutional amendments and daily terrorist bombings by one aggrieved group or another, crime investigations often fall to the primary suspects--who can exercise their 31st and look into crimes of which they're accused.

This amendment comes in handy when Payne, a bioengineer, finds a corpse in his apartment. After the authorities come several hours after Payne calls them, they leave a yellow claim ticket that gives Payne permission, under his 31st amendment rights, to all materials the authorities gather; Payne originally decides to not investigate on his own, but he's attacked by someone who wants the ticket, so he decides to investigate. Fortunately, he's a bioengineer, because some biology is involved. Interspersed with the interpersonal melodrama in Payne's life and the exposition about the state of the world, Payne does a lot of meticulously and dryly detailed technical things with lab equipment. Perhaps this can be done now. Perhaps it's something in a biologist's current fantasies. Who am I to care? Just the reader, and fortunately a dedicated one at that.

But, as I indicated, the plot offers just enough interest through the first half to make you think maybe, maybe it's going to pick up. And it does, around page 140 (of 273). Finally, action moves along more quickly than explication, revelation replaces mere investigation, or at least the pages turned; perhaps the wind was just blowing more from a righterly direction to give them a good tail wind.

So it's not a good pick up if you're looking for a set-in-the-dark-near-future sci fi novel, or a medical thriller, to both of which this book undoubtedly aspires. However, it's an interesting and heartening bit of historical perspective into the fictional nightmares projected from current evens that are now history. I mean, encircled by the Soviets, with even Mexico against us, and nary a Wolverine in sight? How strangely inspiring that our own current dark times might be so suddenly resolved, all of our worst fears overturned by resolution and confrontation of danger.

Until our future current dark times arrive, of course.

But That's Not Cat5 Cable!

Sheesh, what a messy geek house we have. Coax cable strewn over the guest beds and everything; it's a lucky thing I am creepy and off-putting, for if we had guests, I don't know where the sundry electrical equipment would go if we needed the space for overnight guests.

Fortunately, Dominique has learned to make do:

Coax Kitty
Click for full size

Steinberg on Federal Nations

Here's his potshot from today's column:
    George W. Bush's claim that our goal is to install democracy in Iraq is a recipe for quagmire. Iraq is a Frankenstein's monster of sects cobbled together by the British, a non-nation that flies apart without a tyrant holding it together. America can't be the new tyrant.
The United States is also a Frankenstein's monster of sects, races, and lifestyles cobbled together which seems to hold together without a tyrant.

Which isn't to say that certain leaders aren't in favor of a tyranny of our betters in Washington.

Ask A Simple Question

Bob Rybarcyzk: Is it uncool for a guy to be addicted to 'Sex [in the City] '?

Yes, it is. Man, I sincerely he's trying to impress his girlfriend by professing to the world his abiding love for her favorite television show. Since he's afraid to say those three little words in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Someone send that guy a testosterone emergency kit, stat!

I'm An FBI Agent....Female Body Inspector

Because Federal law enforcement is running out of things to do, our legislators are now going to make video voyeurism a Federal crime. Here's a wonderful quote from Wisconsin representative James Senselessbrainer:
    "With the development of smaller cameras and the instantaneous distribution capability of the Internet, the issue of video voyeurism is a huge privacy concern," House Judiciary chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisc., said after the vote on the second bill.
Also newly illegal on the Federal level: selling "counterfeit labels" attached to copyrighted material including DVDs, CDs or computer programs.

Keep this in mind the next time you gather pitchforks and torches and stakes to march on John Ashcroft's castle or raise your voice into the harmonized kennel whine bemoaning how George W. Bush is crushing civil liberties and implementing a police state, remember who's really giving the executive branch the powers it uses.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004
Hanging with Malkin

Yeah, I am down with the whole cam locking thing, as I spent far too much of my evening assembling a new pressboard file cabinet. Sure, it's a step above Sauder and it's a nice shade of cherry (until it's a nice shade of cherry scarred into dappled beauty of revealed pressboard), but come on, it's the hot dog of wood with painted plastic relish.

I don't want to dwell on the fact that Michelle Malkin has a home office done in pressboard; cripes, I was hoping to escape into the rarified world of furniture that will last to be antiques, made of real wood, and not just pine or maple. But if she cannot escape it by becoming a prized public intellectual, successful columnist, best selling author, and glamourous IMAO t-shirt model, what hope have I?

Aiiiiiiiiieeee! My Eyes

Courtesy of a French, or Quebecker, reader, or perhaps someone who wanted to yank my chain, Google translated my page into French today.

I think I'll take a poll of what looks the most wrong on the page. My vote:
    un "certain branleur."
    Kim du Toit,
    sur la bibliothèque de Noggle.
Being berated by Kim du Toit in French.

I'm not sure to whom that's more insulting.

Hot Pix Here, Somewhere, Apparently

Now that I have upgraded my Sitemeter account to make up for the impending demise of bStats, Blogger's hit tracker, I get to see search engine search words. Clearly. Unfortunately for me.

Because I don't want to know who's searching for kangaroo copulation picture.

No Irony To See Here, Move Along

From Mandrake Linux's download page:
    Since Mandrakelinux is an Open Source product, it needs your financial contribution. Developing a Linux distribution is very costly, so it's up to the community of users to ensure its health. Do you want to help Mandrakelinux become even more robust and powerful? Would you like to see Mandrakelinux become the next standard operating system?

    Before downloading our products, we ask for your support by joining the Mandrakelinux Users Club. The Club was created to fund the development of the Mandrakelinux distribution and to pay the salaries of employees who are dedicated to "external" Free Software projects such as the Linux kernel, KDE, GNOME, Prelude, and others. The Mandrakelinux Club also provides attractive benefits to its members such as specialized Internet services and download of many extra-applications.

    Free Software can only remain healthy with your financial support, so please join the Mandrakelinux Users Club today.
I understand that's why some communities--called "companies"--charge money for things.

It's organic socialism, and I don't mind it a bit; however, applying the same concepts to government leads to all kinds of irritation on the part of us heartless fiscal conservatives.

In case you're wondering, I didn't download from the Mandrake page; I'd rather pay for the convenience of having a set of CDs and some rudimentary documentation without having to read through a bunch of developer-created documentation scattered among Web pages.

Forget the Butler

In testimony why he suspected Scott Peterson in Laci Peterson's death, detective Craig Grogan unloads his litany of probable cause:
    Grogan, the lead investigator on the case, told jurors Monday that there was a lot about Scott Peterson that made him suspicious. Peterson was the last person to see his wife alive, the first person to find her gone, he had an odd alibi and it looked as though the former fertilizer salesman had been making concrete anchors in his warehouse.
There you have it. If you're married to a murdered housespouse and you work outside the home, obviously you kill him or her because you're the last to see him or her and the first to notice him or her gone.

Definitely another argument against marriage and cohabitation, or perhaps against interpersonal relationships at all. Never see anyone! It's the only way to be safe.

(Public service note: don't blog hungry; lack of blood sugar makes on note something silly and leap to spurious assertions. It's the only excuse I can think of.)

UPDATE: Noun/pronoun agreement now corrected, dear.

Kerry on Letterman, The Review

Ann Althouse reviews John Kerry's appearance on The Late Show last night, and she knocks it:
    Kerry cranked out a dismal performance on David Letterman's show last night. He alternated between rerunning lines from his stump speech and plodding through scripted jokes. Unlike Nixon on "Laugh-In" and other candidates who've used pop culture shows successfully, Kerry did not use self-deprecating jokes. He attacked Bush and Cheney and used "Halliburton" as a punchline.
Compare and contrast Kerry and Bush's campaign speeches. Bush cracked jokes at his own expense, Kerry, not so much.

When you're wound tightly into defending your gravitas and authenticity and nuanced intelligence, you have to fear that any crack you put in that image with your self-deprecating humor will cause a complete collapse of the public's understanding of your qualification to lead the country, which is your own sense of worth.

Monday, September 20, 2004
Almost Live Blogging Monday Night Football

So I am watching Monday Night Football because tonight is the only night of the year where I can root for the Philadelphia Eagles, and all I have to say is:

At least Ahman Green didn't fumble on the one inch line yesterday.

It's a reference to what Daunte Culpepper of the Minnesota Vikings did, you damn non-suburbanites.

Man, I need a life.

Hey, What Kind of E-Mail Is That?

In my e-mail box today:

An interesting e-mail


Behold the Power of Bureaucracy

After putting a 3 inch nail into his finger, a Scottish man went to his state-run hospital's ER -- and waited 22 hours before leaving with the nail still in his finger.

Keep that in mind: when every American has health care provided by the government, those who accept that level of help will get care on par with the level of service doled out by the tenured functionaries that serve in departments of social services throughout the country. Meanwhile, those who can afford it, and that will include everyone who makes the mandates, will go to private caretakers. Unless they ban private practice, mandaters exempted, of course.

What I Like

Man, there's nothing that does it for me more than a an attractive young woman in black fingernails showing two middle fingers like Avril Lavigne does in this photo shoot for Maxim.

For me, the mighty flip off is a personal gesture tied to a particular, intimate emotional response I have to another single person. I find Lavigne's deployment of that private act in a photo spread to cheapen the actual act itself, the one I share with people of whom I disapprove, especially those driving SUVs who turn from parking lots onto a road where I am traveling 45 miles per hour.

I know, undoubtedly Lavigne's image masters would indicate that the bird-shooting indicates Avril's punk attitude. She's demonstrating her disdain for all things traditional, blah blah blah. But grinning while showing the middle fingers to the camera only indicates the theatrical, inchoate nature of the "rage." She doesn't mean anything by it, and even if she did, her negative energy is directed at everything and anyone, not against transgressors or actual particular events worthy of cathartic demonstration of defiance.

Plus, it kinda looks like she's flipping me off, and although I have seen plenty of attractive women gleefully making dismissive and embarrassing gestures at me, each one still hurts.

Honoring The Dead

Not so with someone to politicize the dead--especially her son:
    Seth, 24, was in debt after he graduated from Rutgers University in 2002. He joined the army for money and skills that, he was told, would help land him a job with the CIA or FBI -- his dream jobs. "Not for patriotism," said his mother, Sue Niederer, who is now an anti-war activist.
Congratulations, mudder, you have just called your son a calculating mercenary who went into the military only for money and job experience.

Sheesh, I hope my mother doesn't affront me when eulogizing me. But she's a Marine, so (aside from that) she's got some sense.

Sunday, September 19, 2004
Pick Me Up

But, on a happier Packer note, I received my annual Packer Pro Shop catalog, and of her own accord, my beautiful wife selected something for herself out of the extensive lingerie section.

So, in addition to my Brett Favre jersey, I'll have something else to anticipate eagerly. And it ain't the stained glass table lamp.

Half Staff

Set all Packer flags to half staff today as we mourn the loss to the Chicago Bears today:

Introducing the Wife to a Classic

Not only is it purportedly the President's favorite movie, but Big Trouble in Little China attains legendary status because it combines the prodigious talents of Al Heong and James Hong....not to mention Gerald Okamura, best known for his turn as the master in 9 1/2 Ninjas (which is unbelievably not yet on DVD!)

Face it, the movie depicts the lampooned American hero, out of his depth and slightly inept in the face of the world, but with a good heart and good reflexes, he manages to save the day. Conservatism at its best. You hear Rush Limbaugh doing his radio show tongue in cheek, lightly mocking hear Al Franken doing that? Perhaps I would, if I listened.

I watched this movie over and over on Showtime when I was in high school, and over and over on VHS taped from Showtime when I was in college. As a matter of fact, for my Scriptwriting class, when our group was assigned to create the pitch for a television series, I dominated the group into producing Tales from the Pork Chop Express. And now I have shared it with la luz de mi vida.

And she said it was okay.

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