Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, November 13, 2004
Fortunately for Law and Order, It's Soon To Be a Federal Offense

Voters in Columbia, Missouri have apparently passed referenda decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana: Voters cut marijuana penalties:
    Decriminalization means if you're caught in the city with a small amount of marijuana, "you don't get arrested, you don't go to jail, and you don't get a record," according to Dan Viets, a Columbia defense attorney who helped spearhead the effort to pass the propositions. He's also defended clients against marijuana charges here for 18 years.
Fortunately, though, the United States Congress will undoubtedly move quickly to make it a Federal crime to possess a joint to cover situations such as this where residents of a particular area try to determine their own standards of behavior.

New Government Seizure

Here's an interesting story: U.S. orders airlines to turn over passenger data:
    The government on Friday ordered airlines to submit personal information about all passengers who flew within the United States during June so it can test a new system designed to identify potential terrorists.

    The records sought include the names, addresses and itineraries of passengers who traveled on 72 carriers, including AMR Corp.'s American Airlines and UAL Corp.'s United Airlines, the Transportation Security Administration said.
You know, about 500 people complained during open comment period about how this invades their privacy, or how it invades the privacy of people who flew during this period, but it also violates the property rights of the airlines that collected that data. Instead of being compensated for the information they've collected, the TSA (hereafter to be known by the acronym TAY-za) just says, "Stand and Deliver!" without subpoena or judicial process.

It's a continuation of a dangerous precedent that starts with eminent domain and what's next? Source code for applications so that Homeland Security can audit it? The contents of an author's first draft manuscript to ensure it's not incitement of some sort? Your grandmother's brownie recipe to make sure it lacks hashish?

But the government continues to find new and innovative ways to get private property from us, ainna?

Friday, November 12, 2004
The Safety of More Cameras

Here's a heartening story for those who like security cameras: Apparent kidnapping videotaped by California mall camera; woman put in trunk of car:
    Two men were caught on a mall's security camera as they chased a woman through a parking lot, then grabbed and stuffed her into the trunk of a car, authorities said.

    Shoppers nearby seemed to notice the incident Sunday night, but none attemped to stop it.

    Police on Thursday were still trying to determine the identities of the woman, who appeared to be in her 20s, and two men seen on the tape made at Corona Discount Mall about 40 miles southeast of Los Angeles.
Remember, the camera doesn't make the victim less dead or less in-the-trunk-of-the-car; it gives the authorities, safely seated at a desk before a monitor, clues to who did it.

Now, class, how would this scenario played out differently if the woman had been carrying a gun?

To add fun to the story:
    "It's very discouraging right now and it's really difficult for us, because we don't know who the victim is," he told KCAL-TV. "And it's obvious that some kind of crime occurred."

    The department had received several calls from witnesses and others in recent days, but had no solid leads, Officer Jesse Jurado said. He said investigators had not yet ruled out the possibility that the incident was a hoax.
Because the camera caught it so clearly, the authorities think it might have been a hoax. So instead of using the camera to determine if the shooting were justified as self defense or not, the discouraged authorities are confused. Was it the crime of kidnapping, or the crime of confusing the authorities and making fun of their cameras?

I guess they'll know when they find the body.

Wisconsin Expats March on Local Fox Affiliate

That's what the headline will be on Monday if this story is any indicator: 'Warner Factor' influences KTVI:
    KTVI now is dedicated to Kurt Warner.

    Channel 2, the local Fox network affiliate, was hit with a barrage of complaints and significantly lower ratings two weekends ago when it switched from the lopsided New York Giants-Minnesota NFL game to the much closer Detroit-Dallas contest.

    "It's the Warner factor," KTVI general manager Spencer Koch said, referring to the presence of former Rams standout and fan favorite Kurt Warner as the Giants' starting quarterback. "We learned our lesson. We're now a 'dedicated market' for the Giants."
They're planning to pre-empt the Packers/Vikings game this weekend for the Arizona/NY Giants game. Don't they know this means open rebellion? And we'll have an open Sunday to plan it!

Choosy Beggars

Here's what you should put in a "perfect" Scouting for Food bag this year:
    • 2 cans of hearty soup, stew or chili supply many nutrients;
    • 2 cans of tuna, chicken, salmon or luncheon meat contain protein and iron, and canned salmon is a source of calcium and omega-3 fatty acids;
    • 1 can of fruit supplies vitamins A and C, folate, potassium, fiber and other healthy substances;
    • 1 can of 100 percent pure fruit juice contains vitamin C and often beta carotene;
    • 1 can of vegetables supplies beta carotene, vitamin C, folate, complex carbohydrates, fiber and potassium;
    • 1 can of tomato or pasta sauce contains lycopene, a healthy substance that is more available to your body in canned and cooked tomatoes than in fresh tomatoes;
    • 1 canned meal offers a variety of ingredients and nutrients;
    • 1 can of beans contains plenty of protein, complex carbohydrates and fiber; and
    • 1 can of evaporated milk makes an excellent source of calcium and protein.
Here's what you're getting out of the Noggle home again this year, same as last year:
  • Any cans of meat, such as Spam, we received as a joke.

  • Any stray cans of stuff that I bought on sale as a bachelor (but was too lazy to prepare) which archeological digs have uncovered in our pantry.

  • The annual can of clam chowder that I buy because I like clam chowder (but was too lazy to prepare). Because Heather doesn't like the the smell, she gets rid of the can by any means necessary.

  • A can of mandarin oranges. Where do they keep coming from?

  • A can or two of corn or beans that we have, which we would eat on our own but because we have an extra, we throw it in.

  • Any cans of french-cut green beans bought by mistake. Probably by me.
I mean, come on, it's charity. I give surplus and cast offs. Whenever someone starts telling me what to give, I think he or she is about one step away from telling me what he or she wants to take and one and a half steps away from just taking it.

Nobody Learns Latin Any More

Back in the old days, we could say ex post facto, but apparently nobody in Webster Groves studied Latin:
    Some of the chickens have to go, too, and/or some of Silpoch's pigeons, under a resolution passed Nov. 2 by the Webster Groves City Council. It stipulates that Silpoch may keep a total of a dozen birds, no rooster, at her Grant Road home. She now has 44 birds; the council has given her until Jan. 2 to find homes for the remaining 32.
You see, it was once tradition that the government could not pass a law and punish you for behavior before the law was passed. But now, as far as owning property is concerned, the governments can and do strip you of your possession by fiat whenever it wants.

Book Review: The Big Fix by Roger L. Simon (1973)

I bought this book, a 2000 paperback reprint of the 1973 novel, for five bucks during my book buying spree in Springfield this weekend (wherein I bought 26 new books for myself, which I cannot fit onto my swamped to read bookshelf and must stack on the floor). Mr. Simon, I want you to know that I bought it at an 80% off store, not a used book store, so I hope you'll get your pennies at the end of the quarter from the purchase. Unlike other bloggers whose books I have bought used.

Well, the quality of the book drops from the cover, wherein Ross MacDonald lauds it, to the introduction, where an apparently hashish-enhanced Richard Dreyfuss, that guy who co-starred with Mike the Dog in Down and Out in Beverly Hills (and, I guess, The Big Fix movie, which would make him keenly insightful into American detective fiction). Dreyfuss gushes about the sixties, man, and how Moses Wine is all that and a big bowl.

The book certainly pays homage to Ross MacDonald and Raymond Chandler. The setting is a light version of Ross MacDonald's California, not the romanticized landscape of Chandler. The main character is well-read and intelligent man, albeit one who indulges where Philip Marlowe would abstain. Sure, Marlowe drank, but tells a naked Carmen Sternwood to put her clothes on and go home. Wine? He smokes all the dope and hash profferred and takes the freebie from the prostitute. So the main character is likeable enough, but not someone whom I'd want to emulate. So he falls underneath Marlowe, Spenser, and others in the genre. I'm sure Moses Wine is a good role model if you want to be a self-indulgent adolescult (or however you would spell it phonetically to get the proper ess sound out of the sc) like some baby boomers, particularly those I would imagine in California. But not for this stoic-worshipping hard-boiled reader.

The plot, in a timely enough fashion, revolves around a barking moonbat whose support could derail a Democrat candidate's chances in the primary, and a cabal of rich shadowy figures have their own reasons for it. Moses Wine has to delve, rather easily, into leftist political groups and individuals to find out why. Here's a hint: It involves Satanism and gambling, but no overt Republicans, although holding companies and corporations play a role.

It's also quite the period piece; as I was reading it, I was imagining it in the fashion of Altman's The Long Goodbye which came out the same year.

I did have a little trouble keeping up with the characters and their roles when I was reading a chapter a night, but it eventually cleared into a climax which would have ended differently undoubtedly if Moses Wine carried a gun--which he doesn't, of course.

But I enjoyed it, thankfully, since I bought the rest of the Moses Wine series except for Wild Turkey for five dollars a throw this weekend. Because he's a blogger, see, and I hope someday he'll repay the favor.


In a reasonable post about gay marriage over at Just One Minute, the author offers an update to "refute" an argument by his opponents:
    MORE: For folks viewing gay marriage as a basic human right, this stratgy is deeply annoying. OTOH, my casual research suggests that this "basic right" is recognized in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, and nowhere else.
Poor form, Peter. By analogy, we could argue that self-defense and ownership of the means to self-defense as a "basic right" is deeply annoying because it's only recognized in a few places. Whether something is a "basic right" or not does not depend on what governments recognize it or not. Instead, a basic right is something which governments should not prohibit.

Marriage is a special case because not only does it represent a behaviour that governments should not regulate--the right to copulate with and spend time with someone-or-more and to raise a family with someone-or-more --but it also adds a layer of government regulation on top, kind of an incorporation of that relationship to confer benefits on it.

Ergo, although government does not, in most cases, restrict the behavior in question, it does confer special benefits upon a certain subclass of that relationship--that one instance of a man and a woman. Marriage is not a basic right, nor are any "rights" of this sort where the government, instead of not prohibiting a behavior, rewards a behavior. These bennies that stem from the government are never a right as they do come from the government at the government's indulgence.

But a lot of people blur the definition of basic right, intentionally or not, to include what their government gives to them instead of what their government cannot take from them.

Thursday, November 11, 2004
More Other Things I Remember

In response to Other Things I Remember, reader (not "one of my readers", my reader) KG sends in his list of things he remembers:
    • TVs that took 2 minutes to come on and left a white dot in the middle of the screen for 10 minutes after you turned it off
    • The UHF knob
    • Changing channels by hand
    • Pop Tarts packaged in a zip-strip foil package
    • When Kelloggs Corn Pops were called Sugar Pops, Smacks were Sugar Smacks and Super Crisp was Super Sugar Crisp
    • When you missed Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer at Christmas (or Charlie Brown, or any seasonal show), you MISSED it. Better luck next year.
    • When you rented videos, you also rented the player.
    • 8 tracks (to this day, I will pause in certain songs waiting for the track to change)
    • Six to eight weeks for delivery
Hey, I remember eight tracks, too. And musical recording media you had to flip, such as records and cassettes. To this day, I think of the CDs that I upgraded from older media as having two sides. As for pausing in songs, I assume he means singing them, and I'll have to admit that yes, when singing certain songs (Billy Joel's "You're Only Human (Second Wind)"), I still sometimes truncate lines to accommodate a scratch in the my 45. Forty-five revolutions per minute record, you damn kids, not caliber.

So here are some other things I remember on a good day:
  • Drive In Movies
    Not in their heyday, of course, and not as a necker. It was cheaper to go to the movies by carload than by individual tickets, so my parents and other parents would combine the families into an Impala and off we'd go. I saw Xtro for the first time at the drive in. Come to think of it, it's the only time I saw the movie.

  • Air Raid Drills
    Not that putting my head between my knees against the wall of the school corridor would have extended my life by a single millisecond when the concussion wave of a nuclear blast hit, but that's the official policy of schools and government everywhere: we care, and we're making a show of doing something, no matter how ineffective.

  • Basement Rec Rooms
    Anyone with mostly dry basements, some wood, and some second hand carpet had a room with an old sofa and perhaps a console stereo where they could send the kids. Or maybe those were Wreck Rooms, I don't know. Sure, people have dens and whatnot, but they're upgrades now, with new furniture and elaborate entertainment facilities.

    Or perhaps I am just lamenting the lack of a rec room in this house which I could convert into a sweet bar.

  • Bell Bottoms, the Original
    I remember these all too well because by the time they were handed down to me / recycled from the neighbors, it was 1981 and I was the only kid in school wearing them yet. I was retro when retro wasn't cool.
That's all I can remember now. Now old Brian needs his nap, and maybe sometime I'll tell you about the how good it was and how much better behaved children were in the 1980s. Or at least my parents asserted that the rest of the children were, why couldn't I?

Basic Flaw in Educational System

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch does some fine investigative journalism--namely, examining public records--to uncover a fundamental flaw in the public educational system as exemplified by the St. Louis City schools. The problem: lots of money going to administrative personnel, including a number who make over $100,000 a year. Story: High-paying salaries triple in district.

Too many administrators drawing on too much gravy. I mean, how many assistant superintendents do you need? There's too much infrastructure designed to perpetuate itself and its funding, and too little of the money goes to teachers and to purchase resources that actually directly impact the students.

I don't disagree that you have to competitively pay administrators, or that some administration is necessary, but I do question the number of employees who spread the gravy around.

Crunch Time

I'm reminded of a project manager who once used, "We all have to pitch in and give a little extra when crunch time comes...." when I read this story:
    Within weeks production had accelerated into a 'mild' crunch: eight hours six days a week. Not bad. Months remained until any real crunch would start, and the team was told that this "pre-crunch" was to prevent a big crunch toward the end; at this point any other need for a crunch seemed unlikely, as the project was dead on schedule. I don't know how many of the developers bought EA's explanation for the extended hours; we were new and naive so we did. The producers even set a deadline; they gave a specific date for the end of the crunch, which was still months away from the title's shipping date, so it seemed safe. That date came and went. And went, and went. When the next news came it was not about a reprieve; it was another acceleration: twelve hours six days a week, 9am to 10pm.
Remember to be Machiavellian with your employers because they most certainly treat you that way; once you've given them 50 hours for a crunch, they will expect 50 and will ask you for 60.

Tales from Psuedo Bachelorhood IV

DVDs III and IV: El Mariachi and Desperado.

Wow, with El Mariachi, I felt sophisticated since it was a foreign film with subtitles. It didn't hurt that I could recognize or improve upon the English subtitles with my on-the-spot translation.... Perhaps students who want to learn Spanish should watch more videos with subtitles as part of immersion learning. This film certainly had a Western feel to it.

Desperado, on the other hand, does diminish the experience somewhat. Of course, watching them back-to-back, one immediately recognizes the casting of the original Mariachi, Carlos Gallardo, as Campo. Still, the moviereminds me of watching a third person shooter video game. And although Selma Hayek's navel is nice, come on: the hair looks a little coarser than the vibrant, auburn locks that make a man's heart race.

Also, is it just me, or are the villians in both movies kinda gringoesque?

Perhaps I'm just sensitive. Or perhaps Robert Rodriguez is demonstrating his anti-Anglo bigotry. But since I could empathize with the universal nature of his hero, I forgive him.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Further Adventures in Pseudo Bachelorhood III

Movie #2: Blue Steel (1934) starring John Wayne.

This is the B-side of the double feature DVD I picked up for like $6.00. Hey, I have to hand it to Leisure Entertainment, these transfers are pretty clear and crisp, but this is a 1934 movie, chock full of horse riding and bad men and the double-crossing land grabber. However, it's only fifty-five minutes long, so they cut things like characterization and sped up some of the horse riding to make the cut. Still, it's the Duke.

Oddly enough, I dreamt of an Indian last night, even though neither of the Westerns I watched had Indians. They were cowboys-and-bad-cowboys pictures.

Further Adventures in Pseudo Bachelorhood II

DVD #1: Angel and the Badman starring John Wayne.

Okay, so there's a guy with a checkered background and a hot Quaker babe. Why is it that all of these movies I watch when Heather's away remind me of her? Except she's not a Quaker, she's more an Unreal Tournamenter. But that's beside the point.

Also, what's with the GFW final scene of the pic, where the marshal says that only the man who carries a gun needs one? The headlines are full of people who could have used guns but didn't have them. Damn the person who wrote this flick, I hope the HUAC got him blacklisted.

Well, I exaggerate. But that's prone to happen at 0:14 am.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004
Other Things I Remember

Here are some things that I can actually remember, and it makes me feel old:
  • Party lines.
    No, not dollar per minute means to talk to people in your area, free means to be unable to use the phone because your neighbor won't get off the phone. I kid you not, certain parts of Jefferson County, Missouri, had them until 1987. On the other hand, since my neighbors were probably listening in on my phone calls for the latest intelligence about my household (and were always available to offer their unwanted commentary on it--kinda like blogs), I learned to speak in code on the phone which helped me when I became a technical writer--and wrote in technospeak to confuse the person who was catching an unwanted glimpse of how the software worked through my documentation!

  • Television tube testers in drug stores.
    Back in the early 1980s, they still had these. I remember seeing them when my mother would send me to the store with a buck and a note for the clerk to sell the nice ten year old boy a pack of cigarettes. Undoubtedly, only the government's belated intervention that made such errands punishable by the drug store's death have kept me from smoking even though my mother persists in shortening her lifespan.

    But kids today won't remember a time when the man of the house would pull out a screwdriver when the television went on the fritz (things never go on the fritz nowadays, either; they gon in the trash) and would hunt for a suspect tube. When he found one, he could take it to the 7-11 to check to see if it was working or not and could buy another tube to fix his own television. Kinda like we geeks persist in doing with our computers. But our children won't be able to operate on the miniaturized bucky-ball spinning computers of tomorrow. So enjoy the pre-retro chic that we have now, I guess.

  • Snow on televisions.
    Speaking of televisions, you remember what snow looked like? Remember how you would adjust the antenna to fix it? Remember the first television you could put on an interior wall of your home because the antenna was strong enough? The television was 19", and it seemed huge.

  • Television dinners with aluminum foil trays.
    Not that I eat many television dinners these days, but I know they're designed for microwaves now because more people probably have microwaves than ovens. You could take the trays, rinsed out of course, to the recycling facility with your aluminum cans.

  • Yugos.
    Cheap little cars from an Eastern Bloc country. A country that no longer exists, in a bloc that no longer exists. Kinda like a communist Gremlin or Pinto, but at least the American punchline cars had longevity.

  • PCjr
    Okay, I don't remember much since my rich uncle got one and wouldn't let me touch it, but it was a home computer, and it had a color screen.

  • Rotary phones.
    When I was in college in 1990, I needed a touchtone phone to handle the interactive voice response for class registration. I had to buy the first touchtone phone in my father's house and I had to pay a monthly surcharge on the phone bill for the privilege. Come to think of it, I am probably still paying for it somewhere.

  • Ghetto blasters.
    Remember dudes with Afros walking through the projects with large radios on their shoulders? You damn kid, never realizing that the iPod was not the first personal musical device. Although, come to think of it, the iPod is personal, whereas the ghettoblaster was not.
Well, it's not the Beloit College Mindset List for Incoming Freshmen, but it's enough to make me want to swizzle the Geritol given to me as a joke--I think--for my last *0 birthday.

Perhaps I shall swizzle more beer instead.

Further Adventures in Psuedo Bachelorhood

Checklist of things to do when Heather leaves:
  1. Turn on lights in all rooms in house.

  2. Turn on all radios, softly, so I don't have to walk into an achingly silent room.

  3. Practice Unreal Tournament 2003 to catch up with her 733t skillz at it while she's off away from the Arena.

  4. Order pizza.

  5. Drink beer.

  6. Watch DVDs.
Same as last time.

Monday, November 08, 2004
Book Review: On the Run by John D. MacDonald (1963)

When I was in Milwaukee in October, I visited Downtown Books and bought a number of John D. MacDonald paperbacks, including this one, immediately after I read Judge Me Not. Well, okay, it was the next morning, but I plunked down $1.95 each for five of them.

On the Run runs long at 144 pages, but the title page indicates it was based on a story published in Cosmopolitan. A lot of the filler material includes long passages of declarations of love between the protagonists and a lot of early 1960s I'm OK, You're OKism. Also, orgasms for women are good, and women who want them are not too much for a man to handle, they're just right.

The premise, or at least the tease on the back cover, is that a man on the run from the mob is startled to find a beautiful woman who claims to represent his unremembered rich grandfather who wants to find his estranged grandchildren before he dies. The Man On The Run (MOTR) thinks it's a scam, but he soon falls for the Cosmobabble of the liberated woman, who happens to be the rich grandfather's nurse.

The book represents the worst pacing I have ever seen in a John D. MacDonald book, and I really hope he chalked this one up as an experimentation in style and a departure because he wanted to grow as an artist. However, at its slight weight, it's interesting enough to follow to its conclusion, one of the darkest I have ever seen in a John D. MacDonald book--although the dark ending matches the beginning of The Green Ripper.

Well, sorry, MacDonald fans for blowing it for you.

Wall To Wall

Heather's got a surprise coming when she returns from her business trip this weekend--I'm recarpeting!

Please, don't anyone ruin the surprise.

Is That An Order?

My wife said to me last night, "Honey?"

"Yeah," I said.

"Never mind," she commanded.

Which puts me in quite the logical bind. The next time she tells me to do something and I don't do it, she'll be angry, but I am only following orders. Of course, if I do the next thing she tells me, I am also not minding.

Just to be safe, I think I shall sit in the recliner and pretend I didn't hear.

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