Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, February 05, 2005
Hockey Season Continues

Listen, fellows, you won't miss hockey if you go to Sports Juice, which carries Internet streams of many AHL hockey games, including those from the Milwaukee Admirals and the Worcester Ice Cats.

Because it amalgamates the streams from their sources, you get an interesting hodgepodge. For example, a Christian music station carries the Milwaukee Admirals, so you get the commercials and promos you would expect on a Christian station. The stream for the Worcester IceCats (formerly the farm team of the St. Louis Blues before the NHL collapsed) carries the live feed from the mics on the commentators instead of the radio feed, so you get to hear what the commentators say to each other during the breaks.

For example, tonight the commentator expressed belief that you would think the Missouri River Otters would be doing better than they are because of the players they have after reporting the signing of the former Blues defenseman Barret Jackman.

You know, we should cross the river to see a UHL game before the season is over....

Paradox Warning!

When my beautiful wife and I were in the grocery store, a disparate pair of magazine headlines intruded upon the sane world in which we live:

A Tabloid Paradox
Click for full size

So Brad Wants Jen Back! and Jen Fights to Get Brad Back!? Yeeks, these are direct opposites by implication. Tabloids should be careful since their regular readers, who seem to care about the state of Bradnifer's marriage, might suffer from brain implosions when trying to comprehend how Brad is fighting for Jen and Jen is fighting for Brad.

Fighting whom?

Yeah, I know, I bought the magazines and only encouraged them. Shaddup.

Book Report: Sunset Express by Robert Crais (1996)

This book is where the Elvis Cole books become an obvious series, and that's not a good thing for a standalone novel.

The plot revolves around Elvis Cole's experience as part of a high-profile defense team of a wealth restauranteur whose wife's body is found after she was beaten to death. Although investigators find the murder weapon on the estate of the husband, Elvis Cole uncovers proof of a kidnap plot the husband asserted. Or perhaps he's being made a patsy by the nationally-reknowned lawyer heading the defense.

Unfortunately, Elvis has the evolving love with Lucy Chenier, which means that we have to deal with passages and chapters which deal with the series storyline, which detracts from the novel storyline. As a matter of fact, the middle of the book features a section where Cole has apparently solved the murder and is being feted as a hero but when Lucy grows distant. So the reader, or at least I, had to bridge this bit of emotional baggage with only the hope that something else would happen in the remaining 150 pages. Of course, as I am a glutton even for bad writing, I waded through the chapters until another problem/mystery presented itself, but that's a hard fjord to cross, brother, and might poor practice.

I admit, I prefer series that are less sequential and where the books are self-contained units where the characters' growing/aging/lives don't represent a chunk of individual books. But then again, I prefer not to need to read books in order to get the most of them.

Still, it's a fairly good book. Worth a couple bucks used. Even better when it's a gift.


Attention other husbands out there: Les Miserables is not an up-and-coming blues band. Your wife is tricking you to see a singing play. Don't fall for it, or you, too, might find yourself having nightmares about living in a world where everyone communicates by singing, and you only understand one word in four.

Or so I heard.

UPDATE: Another band geek weighs in.

Friday, February 04, 2005
It Could Be Worse

Professor Bainbridge muses on Donald Rumsfeld's reluctance to go to Germany:
    So Donald Rumsfeld is afraid to go to Germany because he might get arrested on war crimes charges. So much for the NATO alliance, eh?
Well, that's only on the good end of the spectrum. There's always a chance that German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and some of his other leather clad apparatachiks might firebomb his motorcade or beat him to death with a brick.

Because that's the caliber of leaders to which some would have America aspire, or to whom America should kowtow.

Thursday, February 03, 2005
Keeping Costs Down

As Farrah explains at Cam
    To run an effective, popular blog takes a significant amount of time. Time that is taken away from revenue generating activities (like a day job) and that money needs to be recovered somehow.
Here at MfBJN, we keep our costs down! Our secret?

We run an ineffective, nonpopular blog!

And we pass those savings on to you!

(Link seen on Michelle Malkin.)

Spot the Errors

Trek fans, spot the error in this story about the end of Star Trek: Enterprise.

Here, let me help:
    Enterprise, the fourth spinoff of the 1966-69 flagship, and the first prequel, contributed 98 episodes to the institution when it signs off on May 13. That's the shortest run since the original series was axed by NBC after only 80 adventures; it's the first spinoff series to last less than seven seasons.
Let's count the spin-offs, in reverse order:
  1. Star Trek: Enterprise

  2. Star Trek: Voyager

  3. Star Trek: Deep Space 9

  4. Star Trek: The Next Generation
That's for, by golly. You damn kids! You always, always forget:
  1. Star Trek (The Animated Series)
Which lasted only two years, so it's the shortest Trek series yet and it illuminates that there has been hot new Trek action in every decade since the 1960s, which somehoe coincides with the same decades in which Cher has charted hits..... Hmmm....

(Link seen on Signifying Nothing.)

Make Your Prediction

So, gentle reader, what do you think will result from this crime?
    As the store's alarm rang, thieves made off with 32 rifles and handguns from a Fremont gun shop early Wednesday, less than two weeks after police announced they will soon ignore burglar alarms unless there was a confirmed crime.

    Irvington Arms owner Martin MacDonald was livid over the break-in at his shop, where burglars used an aluminum baseball bat to break the front door and smashed display cases with a crowbar before making off with $20,000 in weapons.

    MacDonald blamed the break-in on the Police Department's policy -- announced last month but not effective until Feb. 18 -- that officers won't respond to burglar alarms unless they are told there is evidence of a break-in or security breach.

    "I think they basically invited crime into the neighborhood," said MacDonald, 35. "It's on every channel and in the newspaper. They might as well have said, in bold print, 'Commit robbery in Fremont,' because the PD won't respond. This was unacceptable."
Will the community of Fremont:
  • Scale back its police non-intervention program, ensuring that perhaps someone should drive by places with their alarms ringing.

  • Ban the sale of guns in Fremont, because if it ain't in Fremont, it can't be stolen in Fremont, and when only outlaws can put guns for sale that other outlaws can steal, those other outlaws will have to steal the guns for sale from someone else, preferably in a different jurisdiction.
If you're here for anything but a weird Google search involving hot pix of one sort or another, you know which one I think Fremont will implement.

Finally, a Timeline and an End Strategy

Global warming: scientists reveal timetable:
    A detailed timetable of the destruction and distress that global warming is likely to cause the world was unveiled yesterday.
Excellent. I ask of you, gentle reader, if you're brave enough to make it to the bottom of this article, please e-mail me the exact date of the end of the world because of global warming.

The Montessori Method is for Sissies

I'm involved in some personal study on Visual Basic.NET and have picked out an appropriate text, but sometimes it's hard to sit down and actually read and study. So last night, I developed the Noggle Method of education:
  1. Open a beer.

  2. Read a chapter or two of the book.

  3. Watch an episode of The Simpsons.

  4. Repeat.
Last night, I read almost a hundred pages. Sure, I can't remember much of what I read, but that's another feature of the Noggle Method--apparently, not only is the learning quicker, but so is the forgetting.

Also, my self-esteem is pretty high.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005
The Upside of the Down Dollar

Story in the San Francisco Chronicle: Delighting in the dollar's decline: Foreign visitors find bargains abound in S.F, other tourist areas:
    While Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan is worried about the weak dollar, it has been a boon for foreign visitors and San Francisco's tourism industry.

    The precipitous drop of the dollar against the euro and other major currencies has increased the buying power of foreign tourists. Hotels are seeing more overseas guests, and business at shops and restaurants has picked up.
I'm no economist, but having people want to buy your goods and services sounds good to me.

Post-Dispatch Headline of the Day

From the morning's Law and Order round up:

    Man is killed in crash after police attempt to stop him

    An Alton man was killed late Monday after he drove off at high speed from an East Alton police officer and crashed a few blocks later.
Wouldn't it be more appropriate to say Man dies in crash while fleeing from police?

Well, not in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, whose unofficial motto is "It's always the police's fault."

Book Report: In the Shadow of the Bear by Michael Sheehan (1990)

I bought this book from the Bridgeton Trails library for a quarter. Why? I don't know.

This book is the worst piece of pulp writing I've read in a long while, if not ever. Check it out:
    Behind him, Burke heard footsteps clambering up the winding staricase to the left of the catwalk. He sprang up and dashed toward the guard he just killed. Scooping up that man's weapon as he moved past him, he continued to the end of the catwalk and paised at the top of the second winding staircase. He turned and crouched, an AK-47 clutched in each hand.

    At the far end of the catwalk, a face appeared as a guard reached the top of the steps located there. Burke squeezed the trigger and his weapon chattered out a message. The face fell from views, a shriek rending the air. Burke began to back down the first few stairs. He crouched there, just below the level of the catwalk.
Oh, boy. It's 180+ pages of this edge-of-your-seat-because-you-want-to-put-the-book-down excitement. A DEA agent, Burke, investigates a drug mastermind who has kidnapped a professor to help him transubstantiate drugs into other materials for easy smuggling. Why someone with the power of transubstantiation would need to smuggle drugs instead of just making drugs out of, say, sawdust and packing peanuts, is a question left unanswered. So Burke investigates.

My, I don't know why this book is so bad. The writing is hypermasculine, but it doesn't fit together. The main character is a bottle of actions and vague generalizations about how drugs are bad. At about page 90, I started finding the writing style amusing enough to carry me through the other half. Skimming helped.

The pacing? Ill. We get to the climax, where the bad guy has fled his laboratory to a secret helipad in the Canadian wilderness, the normally explosive climax plods. The DEA finds the helipad by intercepting signals from a Russian spy satellite--the one dedicated to watching the Canadian wilderness, apparently. During the course of the bad guy's quick escape, Burke goes back to headquarters, gets equipped, and then spends just under thirty minutes assembling a hang glider so he can sneak up on the secret escape base which lies in a ledge in a sheer cliff--the perfect fortress!

Burke crashes his hang glider and has to rappel down the cliff, and the author spends three or four pages of the text describing rappelling technique. When the bad guy finishes up killing all of his henchmen but not the professor and his daughter, Burke is outraged at the carnage even though his body count at least doubles the butchery of the bad guy. Apparently Burke lives with himself because his mayhem has the rule of law behind it.

Then the bad guy is eaten by a grizzly bear, and the professor's daughter serves a pastry called bear claws to the triumphant Burke and her father. Haw, haw.

I know, I have fallen in among the cabal of conservative commentators who reveal the endings without warning the audience, but think I'm okay here because:
  • Of my regular readers, only my beautiful wife has made it this far; even John D. has bailed by this point

  • I'm doing you a favor; the ending is only as good as it could be, which in a book like this, isn't worth getting to


Groundhog Sees Shadow


Tuesday, February 01, 2005
Celebrate the Centennial

Cathy Young writes about Ayn Rand on her 100th birthday.

A very good piece which captures all of the beauty and all of problem that is the capital O in Objectivism.

What's the Point?

Britain: U.S. Must Help Avert Climate Catastrophe:
    Britain, arguing that climate change is now unstoppable, urged the United States on Tuesday to sign up to life-saving cuts in greenhouse gas emissions as environmentalists warned of approaching Armageddon.
Well, if it's unstoppable, what can we do? Hurry up and cut down in the Amazon because I want some fresh rainforest lumber for a new deck.

And please have an SUV tow it straight from the interior of Brazil.

Government Ownership Society

Your land doesn't belong to you, citizen, except at the government's leisure. Story:
    Every month for 20 years, Gentle "Jim" Day mailed his $1,222.22 mortgage payment on his business, Royal Auto Repair.

    He finally paid if off last year. But now Day, the son of Arkansas sharecroppers, faces losing his land and business.

    An agency backed by the city is preparing to take Day's business by eminent domain to make way for something called a "Media Box."
A development group gets to take a commercial business owned by a private citizen for a mostly TBA addition to the "arts district."

I don't know about you, but I always suspect that government officials love these underused and underserving "arts districts" as personal come-ons to easy living and easy loving artists and wealthy, divorced or surviving spouse patrons of those arts. Arts districts don't tend to serve the entire community, contrary the Utopian wishes of their proponents. Arts districts serve the upper crusts of society who go to the theatre, the symphony, or the opera. Sorry, but save for school field trips, that doesn't tend to include the majority of Americans.

So now the city of St. Louis will forcibly seize the land of a working man to make something for the benefit of the well-to-do. Typical.

On a final note, I must include that this is a triumph for the Democrats who run St. Louis. I thought the Republicans were supposed to look and act like Mr. Moneybags from Monopoly Chance cards. I guess it's just whoever's in power.

A Final Word on Vietnam

From John Cole:
    "Vietnam? You mean the Democrat conceived, Democrat initiated, and Democrat run war that is widely regarded as the only war the modern United States has ever lost? That Vietnam?"

Monday, January 31, 2005
Remembering the Old Times, Back Before the AHL Became The Big Leagues

Internet Hockey Database, featuring the best compendium of stats anywhere.

(Link seen on Hockey Pundits.)

Just Childish

It's hard to believe that a grown-up wrote this column with Bill McClellan's byline in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
    A young woman left a message on my voice mail. She said she was driving on Highway 40 when she noticed an SUV practically on her bumper. The driver flashed his lights at her and then pulled up next to her. He was a middle-aged man, and he snarled and yelled something she couldn't make out. When he finally pulled ahead, she realized what the incident had been about. She has an anti-Bush bumper sticker, and the SUV had one of those "W-04" stickers.

    "I have a question," the young woman said. "The conservatives won. Why are they still so angry?"
If only he had left it alone with the mindreading, wherein he could tell from his desk at the Post Dispatch downtown that the other driver was not, in fact, upset because the woman who called Bill McClellan obeying the unwritten Missouri traffic standards and driving in the passing lane while doing about or below the speed limit.

No, then McClellan has to explain how conservatives are the dweebs, geeks, and nerds from high school while liberals were the cool kids, the cheerleaders, and the athletes.

The man's next step is fingerpainting his columns, folks, I kid you not.

Sunday, January 30, 2005
Verb Abuse

CNN Headline: Explosion targets Spanish hotel. I'm not a physicist, so take what I am about to say with a grain of sodium chloride, but

Explosions don't target things; people do

Headline writers use this cheap personification when they want to hide appropriate subject of the sentence, the actor who made the typically bad thing happen. To say "Basque Terrorists Target Hotel" makes the Spanish separatists sound just a little mean, doesn't it? Better the explosion itself --an act of nature that just happens under just the right circumstances, such a combination of Semtex and detonator-- take the rap than to single out the people who actually performed the deed.

Headline writers also use this when they want to emphasize an inanimate object's role in the event, especially when the prevailing windsom indicates that the object itself is bad. That's why you get SUVs running down grandmothers and guns killing innocent bystanders.

Personification is a nice device in fiction or creative non-fiction. Journalists should probably avoid it, except when their journalism is fiction or creative non-fiction. Come to think of it, perhaps journalists are already adhering to this maxim.

Another War Criminal Heard From

In the weekly antiques column from the Saturday St. Louis Post-Dispatch, we find this war criminal:
    On or about June 3, 1945, I was one of three men in the 101st Airborne Division who explored Hitler's hideout on a mountain near Berchtesgaden, Germany. The 101st was the occupying force in that part of Germany. We climbed through an open window into the living room. Nearby was a small dining room with cupboards full of china. I took two dinner plates and mailed them home. I had the plates framed when I got home, and they have been hanging in my house ever since. The plates are white with a scalloped, gold-painted edge. The border of each is decorated with two red dragons and an abstract floral design. In the center there are two stylized red birds posed in a fighting stance. The only mark is a set of two crossed swords. Can you tell me how old the plates are and identify the maker? The design looks Chinese to me.

    There are photographs showing Hitler and his cohorts using these dishes in the Eagle's Nest hideout. The dishes were manufactured at the Meissen factory in Saxony, Germany. The pattern, known as Meissen Red Dragon, has been made since the early 1700s and was used not only by the German High Command, but also by several European royal families. Write down the story about how you came to own the plates, and be sure your family has a copy. Although no one is likely to consider your plates anything other than wartime souvenirs, you should be aware that ownership of items removed from Germany and other European countries during World War II can be legally challenged. Your plates could be worth $1,000 or more with proper documentation.
Geez, Luis, why don't you just spare yourself the trouble and mail those plates to the German consulate? Because we all know, history will prove that Hitler was only almost as bad as George W. Bush, and that taking a couple of plates which can still be recovered and their $1000 of worth go to a good German rates more outrage than direct or indirect participation in the deaths of millions of people and burning much of Europe to the ground, because, you know, that took place a long time ago.

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