Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Friday, January 07, 2005
Embrace the Profundity

Stray 3 x 5 card in my office, frequently shunted about while cleaning but not discarded in case it's important or I would be inspired to remember what it meant:
    There is no mention of the ships docking or crashing or sinking or going back to Miami. No further word at all.
Let that be the final thought, then, for this index card as I discard it, literally. For now there will be no mention of the no mention of the ships.

Google Baiting

Who would have thought Michelle Malkin would need to Google bait with obscenities and vulgarities?

She's going to be number one with a bullet for searches such as topless dancers, suckin, er, you know, on videotape, and shootin bubbles up your, oh, never mind.

Meanwhile, I am still google baiting my way to the top of the search for "Brian J. Noggle is a cheesehead", where I am oddly enough mired in the third position.

Steinberg's Government Overreach

Get a load of this hyperbole from Neil Steinberg today:
    You have to laugh. No sooner do we get rid of one Constitution-shredding attorney general, John Ashcroft, then in rolls another, Alberto Gonzales, the man who called the Geneva Convention "quaint." The man who brought us Abu Ghraib. The man who revised not only American policy, but 2,000 years of Judeo-Christian morality into an ethical system that can be summed up as "torture is fine as long as we do it."
Not only does Steinberg blame an executive for enforcing laws written ambiguously by those who inquisite Gonzales, but he also admits that his entire ethical system is dependent upon what the government tells him to do and it's subject to revision by appointed officials at their whim.

No, no, it's just hyperbole. Ill-conceived hyperbole, but just hyperbole.

Thursday, January 06, 2005
Book Review: Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe edited by Byron Preiss (1988)

To honor Raymond Chandler on the one hundredth anniversary of his birth, Byron Preiss commissioned a number of contemporary writers to try their hands at writing Philip Marlowe stories. So a number of them did, including Roger L. Simon, Roger Crais, Robert J. Randisi, John Lutz, and other known names as well as a bunch of writers I hadn't read before.

As with any amalgamation, the treatment remains uneven. Some of the authors appreciated Chandler's style, and the stories mesh with Chandler's voice and vision for Marlowe. In many cases, the author might as well have taken one of his own short stories and have changed the names and sometimes the gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, and board game affinity to get the check. Still, the book moves quickly, as even the most flamboyantly non-Marlowe stories are just short stories and are decent examples of the mystery fiction.

An interesting omission from this book: Robert B. Parker. After all, he finished Poodle Springs and then wrote the poor sequel to The Big Sleep, Perchance to Dream. By 1988, he'd written a number of Spenser novels and had a television show for which he consulted. That's a why-didn't-he-do-it worthy of investigation!

The book's worth your money if you're an extreme Raymond Chandler fan, like I am, and it's worth it if you're just a mystery fan and can find it cheaply. It's probably not worth Internet prices for the casual reader, though ($20.00 hardback, $7 paperback) unless you're Byron Preiss's mom. Sorry, Byron.

Day Seven

In another scandal, George W. Bush has not interrupted his regular activity to express sympathy for Big Band fans in their loss of revered band leader Artie Shaw.

Seven days, Mr. President, and no word from the White House. You're sacrificing America's international hep cred by not speaking up to give hope and solace to dozens.

You make me ashamed to be an American, and I am thinking of moving to Illinois in protest.

Roeper Responds

In his column today, Richard Roeper responds to respondents:
    Apparently, Republicans aren't the most introspective people in the world. In a column earlier this week, I asked them not to contact me -- but to ask themselves if they would have criticized Bill Clinton if he had been as indecisive as President Bush was last week in reacting to the tsunami.

    Within hours of the column appearing, at least 200 Bush-backers e-mailed or called me to react (often with obscenities and name-calling) to an item in which I specifically requested that they not contact me.

I mentioned this story before, and let's recap Roeper's exact words on this matter:
    To my Republicans friends:
So the people he wrote him are Republicans, but not his friends. Although I can't imagine he has many Republican friends, I'll bet it's a fairly exclusive group, and they probably didn't say a word.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005
Cats Leading Cause of Osteoporosis

Obviously, if a glass of milk appears underneath Ajax's new sunlamp, it's milk for Ajax:

Ajax's Milk

If I ever develop osteoporosis, you'll know why:
  1. The cats drank all my milk.

  2. Too much exposure to felinogen induced menopause in what looked like a healthy human male.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

In a shotgun blast of a column today, Richard Roeper pulls together a series of musings on the tsunami in Southeast Asia (mostly potshots at the West, its citizens, or the current administration) and poses this question:
    To my Republicans friends: Be honest now. If Bill Clinton had waited three days to make a public statement about the worst natural disaster in a generation, how would you have reacted? If Clinton initially pledged $35 million in relief even as we were hearing that his inauguration parties were going to cost $40 million, would you have slammed him for that?

    Don't contact me; I'm just asking you to be honest with yourselves. If you'd find fault with Clinton for such behavior, why didn't you criticize Bush for his slow and uninspired response?
Roeper doesn't quite understand the way our Republican hearts work. If Bill Clinton had offered any relief at all, we would have accused him of trying to distract the media from his latest scandal.

The question elevates a trivial topic to a completely new level of trivial trivialism. The whole "Bush waited three days" nonsense would grate on me if I took it seriously, as seriously as some people (including, apparently, Richard Roeper) do. Who cares what Bush did? He's the President of the United States, for crying out loud, not the Great All Father from whom all teachings and wisdom is derived. He could have said less, or nothing, and my wife and I would have contributed what we contributed. But we're independent people who don't need direction from Annan or Bush.

But to continue dragging Clinton and Clinton bashing into any backlash against left-of-the-aisle trivial carping? Bill Clinton's presidency ended five years ago. To ask what we would have done in 1998, during an unprecedented economic expansion, if a tsunami had hit and had Bill Clinton somehow not managed to publicly bite his lip for three days? What's the point of the exercise?

Other than justification for inane commentary about the three day period in which the president might have, you know, been educating himself to the scope of the disaster, deliberating about the proper response, and perhaps even calculating how much of the United States government's deficit should be spent on non-citizens and its relation to the incredible sums voluntarily given by American citizens to private relief efforts.

What would Clinton have done, and how would his critics responded? Who cares? Unlike some people, I have matured and have moved on.

Place Your Bets

Anyone want to bet whoever wrote/keyed in this headline thinks Bush is stupid?

Post headline
Click for full size

Just asking.

Great Moments in Sentence Writing

A BBC piece entitled "Tribe shoots arrows at aid flight" features a number of illustrations about how pronoun abuse hurts everyone:
    Officials believe they survived the devastation by using age-old early warning systems.
No, I think that the officials survived the devestation by being elsewhere when the devestation occured.

    Scientists are examining the possibility to see whether it can be used to predict earth tremors in future.
The last sentence represents the worst sentence I have seen in a long, long time. "The possibility" doesn't really have an antecedent in the preceding paragraphs; I think the author meant that scientists were going to examine the actual actions of the tribes to determine if, possibly, they have a line on predicting tsunamis that won't cost money.

But the idea of using a possibility kinda scrums me. It sounds kinda Star Trek, ainna? But Captain, we can use the Solar Possibility to metaphase the Enterprise back in time four days....

On a side note to the natives who tried to shoot the planes with bows and arrows: although you, too, have watched the computer players' spearmen hold off your tanks in Civilization III, it's not that easy in real life.

Comic Relief

This certainly didn't happen in Florida after the hurricanes:
    The main airport at Indonesia's Sumatra island has reopened after an accident that dealt a severe blow to efforts to deliver aid to the region worst affected by the tsunami disaster.

    The crucial airstrip in Banda Aceh -- the province's only runway -- was closed for much of Tuesday after an aircraft carrying relief supplies hit a water buffalo on the runway.

Monday, January 03, 2005
Geek Thoughts

I wonder what my collection of Norton Antivirus discs will have. I have quite the set, from Norton 1997 to System Works 2000 with one or more copies of Norton Anti Virus 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004.

Why Philosophers Don't Do Math

So the rest of you probably covered this in the required college math classes that I dodged because I was an English/Philosophy major, but the Packers ended the season 10-6. Is that two games above five hundred or four games over five hundred?

One on hand, the Packers won four more games than they lost, so they were four games above the five hundred mark; however, on the other hand, if the Packers had lost two more games, they would have been at the five hundred mark. You see, we dithering philosophical types can see both sides of an equation, the right answer and the wrong answer, and they both look the same.

Honestly, the proper answer given by a graduate with a degree in philosophy is What do the people interviewing me for this tenure-track position want it to be?

Sunday, January 02, 2005
Time for The Prodigy Story Already?

It first came to my attention when the St. Louis Post-Dispatch did a front-page-of-the-Everyday-section story a couple of years back entitled "He's Twelve Years Old and He's Smarter than You" about a young man, twelve years old (if memory serves me), who was precocious and knew enough mathematical tricks for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to declare him smarter than Brian J. Noggle, or at least the average reader. I've discovered that paper has a habit of running stories highlighting young people with any sort of intelligence as wonderful curiosities.

It must be that time of year again, because the front page of the local news section carries the story "Triplets excel, but aren’t peas in a pod" which starts with this line:
    Meet the 18-year-old Foglia triplets, who use SAT words like "acerbic" when asked to describe one another and who can lose their friends, parents and other adults with obscure, esoteric references.
They use "SAT words" (which means, I think, words that are found on standardized tests designed for high school students) like "acerbic" (which your humble narrator uses that word to describe himself all the time), and this makes these high school students stand out? Stand above the average Post-Dispatch reader, perhaps. Lose friends, parents, and other adults with obscure references? Not only can your humble narrator do this, but so can any other reasonably talented and specialized member of the geek community--which is not as small as one would think.

Note: To demonstrate his facility with the language, your humble narrator might point out that "obscure, esoteric" is redundant, and that the serial comma is not just a good idea, it's the law, but this isn't supposed to be about how smart Brian J. Noggle is. Were that the point of this blog piece, the author would also explain why he thinks Kavita, the name of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer, is such a pretty name, given its Hindic meaning. But we wouldn't want to show off, would we?

I don't know what sticks me in the craw of these stories, which have become quite the boilerplate for the Post-Dispatch. I hope it's more that they treat intelligent young people as anamolies or sideshow oddities than because, well, they never wrote one about me when I was a high school underachiever and am a sensitive, albeit super-smart, young man.

Well, I was, before I got old and bitter.

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