Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, February 12, 2005
Ask Not, "How Stupid Can Your Government Be?"

Lasers warn pilots of restricted airspace:
    The U.S. military is planning a final demonstration Friday night of a ground-based laser system designed to warn pilots who have flown into restricted airspace over the nation's capital.

    During the demonstration of the Visual Warning System, a test aircraft will be illuminated with alternating red and green laser lights, said Michael Kucharek, spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

    "It's an attention-getter, but it's not blinding," Kucharek said. "It's not a distraction. So pilots can still focus on flying the aircraft without endangering anyone or themselves."
After warning pilots and law enforcement to watch out for terrorists using lasers to blind pilots and crash jets, the military is going to use lasers to literally light up plane cockpits like a Christmas tree when they enter restricted airspace.

Not a distraction? Whose lives are you betting?

Apostrophe Abuse Continues

I first saw this new form of apostrophe abuse on a late night car dealer's add (Yes, George Weber, you're the offender). However, I see that even CNN is doing it now:

CNN abuses the apostrophe

The new abuse: putting 05' to indicate 2005. You schnucking cretins, don't you understand the apostrophe represents what was removed? It ought to be '05, to signify that you, like John Donne and William Shakespeare, have removed something where the apostrophe is.

Oh, but no. Now, in addition to being the tick mark to indicate feet instead of inches, according to the new rules, you can sprinkle an apostrophe any where you want to indicate something in the expression has been truncated. Because readers love puzzles, and maybe they'll click the link or go to the automobile showroom to find out just what the illiterate meant.

Free Dog Name

Feel free to use this for your own puppy:

Rowdy Rottie Piper

Public Schooling Pro and Con

Suggested motto for public schooling, 2005:

Bag 'em and tag 'em.

(First link seen on Cold Fury; second seen directly on KdT's site because I read it every day to make sure his library remains smaller than mine.)

It's Not Overexuberant Government, It's Marketing

The cover story from the latest issue of Integrated Solutions frightened me, since it told me about how the state of Washington was earning money: Imaging Success Is No Accident: The Washington State Department of Transportation improves access to collision reports and earns $4 million in additional revenue with a document capture solution.

However, I skimmed to the end of the article and discovered how the state of Washington is "earning" that money:
    Due to the increased efficiency of this document management system, WSDOT is no longer in danger of losing federal funding. The system also is helping the agency raise extra revenue. WSDOT estimates it is now collecting between $3 and $4 million annually for damage to state-owned property that it was previously unable to obtain. "It used to take a long time to get the paper reports for a specific accident," says Stanley. "By the time we tracked down who was responsible, the insurance case was closed."
They're recovering damages from insurance companies for state property, probably non-vehicular, damaged in auto accidents. So losing less money is really earning money.

Unfortunately, although I don't think whomever came up with that turn of phrase--whether a puffing state employee or the writer who was looking for a marketable spin for his piece--meant to engage in Newspeak, but when it's inadvertent, it's much more disheartening.

Friday, February 11, 2005
Althouse Speaks The Noggle Secret

We here in the Noggle Household recycle a lot. But instead of paying several dollars a month to have the locally-contracted waste removal company take a select number of items, categorized just so and following these said rules so that the uncaring garbagemen can dump the recycleables into a single truck and drive it to the dump, we separate a our goods and sneak them to another municipality's recycling center. We can recycle a greater number of items this way, for the same cost in gas, and we're further abstracted from the corner-cutting that will bury our recycleables in a landfill.

But Ann Althouse speaks the real reason we don't put our recycling at the curb:
    Good thing we drank a lot of milk this week so there are plenty of bulky milk containers to cover up all the wine and beer bottles that conveniently sink to the bottom -- otherwise the locals might think ill of us -- but then they'd probably think ill of us if we had a lot of diet soda cans -- or even soda cans, period.
I had to buy a pickup truck to ferry my empties to the recycling facility. Even so, I don't expect that the neighbors think the clinking in the opaque black bags is milk bottles.

How's That Again?

Given the National Hockey League problems, perhaps the writer could have phrased this differently in the story recapping the Milwaukee Admirals thrilling overtime game win over the Houston Aeros:
    In the four-on-four overtime session, it didn't take long for the Admirals to strike.

Now He Finds The Veto

Bush threatens to veto Medicare changes:
    President Bush on Friday threatened to veto any changes Congress tries to make to Medicare's new prescription drug benefit, which takes effect in January 2006.

    "I signed Medicare reform proudly and any attempt to limit the choices of our seniors and to take away their prescription drug coverage under Medicare will meet my veto," Bush said at a swearing-in ceremony for Mike O. Leavitt, the new secretary of Health and Human Services.
Yeah, I voted for him. So now he threatens to veto any attempt to rein in the profligate spending-to-buy-votes. As his first veto in five years in office.

With great power comes great irresponsibility, perhaps, but at least he's not as bad as the other guy would have been, and his foreign policy will allow us to live in a world safer than the alternatives so we can enjoy a future of financial collapse. But man, sometimes I have to work at convincing myself.

You Thought of It, They Did It

Eleven arrested after police find keg party in moving truck:
    Police officers broke up a 21st birthday party and charged 11 people with underage drinking after pulling over a U-Haul moving truck with the revelers inside, officers said.
The most encouraging fact:
    Officers allowed the partygoers to call for rides and no one was arrested.

    But those who weren't yet 21 were charged with underage drinking. If found guilty, each person could face a $255 fine or 30 days in jail.
Fortunately, though, none of the underage drinkers were elementary school kids with butter knives, because that would have been a different story.

Unfortunately, as I make juxtapose the behavior to prove the outrageousness of the zero-tolerance policy in schools yielding felony arrests, some might think the proper way to put balance into law enforcement would be to riding in the back of a rental truck a felony.

How Are Those Radioactivity Detectors Working For Ya?

Missing Halliburton shipment of radioactive material found in Boston:
    A Halliburton Co. shipment of radioactive material that landed in New York in October was lost en route to Texas, and was not found until Wednesday, when it turned up in Boston.

    The material two sources of the element americium, used in oil well exploration was found intact at a freight facility after an intense search by federal authorities. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it was not alerted to the missing shipment until Tuesday.
Boston was under a heightened state of alert in January and didn't uncover this unexplained radioactive shipment with its radioactivity detectors and whatever other means it employed to investigate the dirty bomb threat.

Sleep tight.

The End is Nigh

SCI FI Renews Galactica.

Yea, verily, and the angel opened the eighty-second or eighty-third seal (for lo, I had lost count by then), and the number of Battlestar Galactica episodes where the Starbuck was a woman exceeded those where the Starbuck was actually, you know, a buck who roamed the stars. “By this,” the angel said, “will you know the end is nigh.”

(Link seen on Signifying Nothing.)

Perspective for Hockey Owners, Players

Courtesy of Vodkapundit:
    The last time the NHL failed to award Lord Stanley's Cup, it was due to a global flu epidemic that killed 20 million people. This time, millionaire owners and millionaire players can't agree on a few contractural issue.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

A special tip of the WTF hat to the advertising genius who centered the JC Penney's Valentine's Day ad campaign around the song "99 Luft Balloons".

Book Report: Indigo Slam by Robert Crais (1997)

This is another book in the Elvis Cole series, and as with the last one, it's moving quite to the series. Entire chapters and subplots do not relate back to the main plot of the book and carry on their own see-you-next-book cliff hangers. While my beautiful wife likes this sort of thing, I find that it bogs down the action.

But it's a pretty good book, once more pitting Elvis Cole against organized crime. This time, a Russian mob wants a counterfeiter who's disappeared and has left his kids looking for a private detective to find him. The Russians want to kill him, Elvis wants to return him to his happy home-in-flight, and Vietnamese revolutionaries want him for their own ends. So Elvis Cole has to dodge bullets, former Spetsnaz, and teenage crushes as he sets it as right as possible. When he can squeeze it in between being in love with the lawyer from the other LA and mooning over her.

So he does, eventually, and the final plot twist was obvious from early in the book. Perhaps I,the writer and the paranoia shidoshi, can sniff out a plot like this early, but I flatter myself. It was obvious. I explained it to my wife last night how it would end, and I was right.

Still, a cut above in writing and whatnot. I'll continue the series, and not just because they're on the bookshelf.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005
The Recognition I Crave

MfBJN: Your number one Yahoo! hit for:
brian looks like long term methamphetamine

Thank you, thank you. But I must confess, it's only the two pots of flavored Gevalia Kaffe coffee I drink every day, not crystal meth.

Misleading Headline of the Day

End to Amtrak funding unpopular:
    Wisconsin's top transportation official Monday blasted President Bush's budget proposal to eliminate all federal funding for Amtrak.

    "I think it stinks," state Transportation Secretary Frank Busalacchi said.
Who joins this apparatchik in bemoaning the loss of federal funding for a railway used by a few but employing many?
    Similar comments came from Amtrak management, the National Association of Railroad Passengers and the United Transportation Union, which represents Amtrak conductors.
Oh, yeah, the cool kids.

A more accurate headline more likely would have been End to Amtrak funding met with general apathy by majority, but that hardly tells Journal-Sentinel readers what to think, ainna?

Monday, February 07, 2005
Steinberg Limited to Paper Obits

Neil Steinberg says today:
    I never knew the name of the actor who played Dean Wormer in "Animal House" -- John Vernon -- until he died this week, at age 72. While the obituaries didn't mention it, he uttered one of the great lines in movie history -- "Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son." At least to those of us who struggle with all three.
Obviously, he does not read blogs every day; that line was mentioned in almost all of the blog memorials I read last week.

Steinberg, like many of other commentators, does Vernon disservice by not remembering Vernon's role in Terminal Exposure and Sledge Hammer!.

A good fellow who looked a little too much like John Lithgow for true immortality.

Sunday, February 06, 2005
Book Report: Quotations from Speaker Newt
edited by Amy D. Bernstein and Peter W. Bernstein (1995)

I bought this book from the Bridgeton Trails branch of the St. Louis County Library for a quarter because I am a good Republicanesque fellow who remembers fondly the Contract with America and the disbelief of a Republican House of Representatives occurring for the first time in my lifetime.

The book collects and groups a number of contextless quotes and bon mots that Newt Gingrich said or wrote in any number of forums, including his own books. By his own admission, Gingrich decided early to run for Congress and to do whatever it took to put the Republicans in power. That admission makes the choice of quotes interesting. Gingrich defending Social Security and shrieking that Bill Clinton wanted to reform it. Newt saying on the same day that Panetta was a scoundrel and that Gingrich could work with him. Newt Gingrich in 1984 attacking someone juxtaposed with Newt Gingrich in 1994 loving that person. I agreed with Gingrich on some of his positions as neatly encapsulated in these sentences, but I disagreed with him on many points, including the politically expedient (at the time) defense of social security from a Chief Executive who would ravage it.

As such, the book doesn't really build Gingrich up, but perhaps that's not the point. The treatment's even enough, and although it doesn't leave me witha complete view of Gingrich's thinking, it does make him more resemble a politician than a visionary.

But that's what you'd expect from a book that's just a collection of soundbites.

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