Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, February 26, 2005
Special Shout At

And I'd like to send this little shout at to Netscape, whose 7.2 browser has a setting to block unsolicited pop-up ads, but whose default home page,, gets around the browser setting and throws a pop-up ad anyway.

That's smooth, fellows. Way to destroy any brand loyalty you might have had from us old-school dogs.

Eliminate Cost, Retain Value

Proper socialist education yields expected results: Yale students demand financial aid changes:
    Fifteen Yale students staged a sit-in at the university's admissions office Thursday while nearly 100 others rallied outside urging the school to offer more financial aid.

    The 10-hour demonstration ended peacefully Thursday evening when police led the 15 students out of the building and cited them for trespassing.

    Some protesters called on Yale President Richard Levin to reduce by half the amount of money students on financial aid are required to pay. The students said families earning less than $40,000 a year should not have to contribute any money.
So the students are standing up for the lower middle class and demand free educations for themselves. Oddly, though, they're not also championing throwing open the doors of Yale to everyone who completes high school and providing them with educational opportunity to further serve the interests of Man, never mind the smaller class sizes and watered-down talent a larger professorial pool would require. These protestors want to retain the value of the Yale degree; they just don't want to pay for it.

Meanwhile, in the Post-Dispatch Business Section

Standard "Republican Spending Restraint Kills Grandmas" template stuff in today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Cuts may leave some out in the cold:
    For Betty Jenkins and thousands of other Missourians, juggling grocery, utility and medical bills on a fixed income is a day-to-day struggle. The task becomes even more daunting when temperatures dip and home-heating bills reach triple digits, she said.

    Jenkins, a retired social services worker in her 60s who lives on Social Security and disability insurance, said the cost of heating her six-room home in north St. Louis County can top $100 a month during winter. To get by, she turns down the temperature every afternoon and occasionally has relied on federal assistance to avoid disconnection of her gas service.

    She and other Missourians who depend on home-heating aid may have fewer resources to draw from next winter because base funding for the country's biggest energy assistance program would be cut by $85 million, or 4.4 percent, under President George W. Bush's proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. Missouri would see funding trimmed by $1.9 million; Illinois would get $4.9 million less. The amount of emergency aid available nationwide also would be reduced by a third, to $200 million from $297 million.
I expect these sorts of stories from the Post-Dispatch, which could appropriately be printed in actual red ink. But I don't understand why this is a Business story.

Also missing from the story: calls to private citizens and charities to help out. Because although the Post-Dispatch and its idealogical contemporaries pose as champions of the common man, but it's startling how little faith they have in us helping others without government coercion.

Government coercion where the government takes its vig off the top to pay for its own salaries and costs, and then splits the proceeds among sports facilities and their attendant highly-paid commissions, pay offs to corporations to pleasepleaseplease don't move away, and then, if there's anything left, to replace private charity and its warmth and benevolence with externally-imposed duty and bureaucracy.

Felix Silla Never Let Us Down

Kenny Baker, the man inside the R2D2 suit, has been busted for driving under the influence in Britain, where he was probably doing something dangerous like driving on the right freaking side of the road.

    Kenny, 70, was banned yesterday for being just over the booze limit.

    The 3ft 8in actor admitted having two glasses of wine before driving home after rehearsals for a play.
With a person that size, it wouldn't take much, ainna?

Poetry Hint Of The Day

Homage and fromage don't actually rhyme.

Friday, February 25, 2005
My Next Flight to Europe is Leaving Never Ever

Remember that Twilight Zone episode about the monster on the wing? Doesn't European regulation make unholy creatures who live to destroy seem tame by comparison?
    A BRITISH AIRWAYS jumbo jet carrying 351 passengers was forced to make an emergency landing after an 11-hour transatlantic flight with a failed engine.

    The fault occurred on take-off from Los Angeles but the pilot declined all opportunities to land in the US and instead continued on three engines for 5,000 miles to Britain.

    The incident happened three days after a European regulation came into force requiring airlines to compensate passengers for long delays or cancellations. Under the new rules, if the pilot had returned to Los Angeles, BA would have been facing a compensation bill of more than £100,000.
That will promote tourism.

Deploy the Lovecraft

Lileks on people who knock the iPod:
    Let me speak for millions here who just want to listen to music: I don’t care about Ogg Vorbis. If Ogg Vorbis came to my house and waved tentacles at me demanding in a slobbery moan that I kneel and submit, I would shoot it. I don’t know what it is and I don’t care.
Ïa! Ïa! Ogg Vorbis the Infernal Codecs with a thousand bits!

Undoubtedly, certain swarthy cultists are swaying and chanting esoteric eldritch hymns even know. Probably amid a foetor, too.


Does using the word bollix in an office e-mail create a hostile work environment, or is it merely tacky?

Because I can handle tacky.

Hunter S. Thompson: Whiny Little Jack

Ann Althouse has more information about Hunter S. Thompson's suicide. It's worse than I thought.

Thursday, February 24, 2005
Damned If It Don't

The Federal government often gets sued for the legislation it passes and the rules it enacts, but now it's getting sued for not arbitrarily muddling in citizens' lives:
    A consumer group sued the federal government Thursday, saying that salt is killing tens of thousands of Americans and that regulators have done too little to control salt in food.

    Despite advisories to take it easy on sodium, Americans are now consuming about 4,000 milligrams a day -- nearly double the recommended limit to keep blood pressure under control, the Center for Science in the Public Interest said.

    So the CSPI renewed a lawsuit first filed in 1983 to ask federal courts to force the Food and Drug Administration to declare sodium a food additive instead of categorizing it as "generally recognized as safe." This would give the agency the authority to set limits for salt in foods.
What's next? Moving Morton's over the counter, limiting me to three cartons at a purchase, and putting my name in the database of users? Who funds CSPI and thinks its works are in the public interest? Why doesn't CSICOP sue the CSPI because there's just the slightest chance of confusion between the organization of scientists who expose crackpots and the organization of crackpots who use junk science?

Canadians Cantankerous Over NHL Season Loss

Apparently, the Canadians are still blaming us for the lost NHL season, for they've decided not to let the United States protect them from nuclear missiles:
    Prime Minister Paul Martin said Thursday that Canada would not join the contentious U.S. missile defense program, a decision that will further strain brittle relations between the neighbors but please Canadians who fear it could lead to an international arms race.
You know, Canada, you'd need to show some spine to warrant enemies who would attack. You're safe.

Book Report: Hostage by Robert Crais (2001)

This book finally makes good use of the multiple points of view that Crais has been doing for the last couple of novels. This time, though, he goes a little further and adjusts the timeline, so when one point of view leaves off at a climactic moment, another will pick up a couple of minutes earlier and carries the story through the cliffhanger in the preceding section to the next cliffhanger, where the process repeats. For the most part, it works.

The protagonist, Jeff Talley, burned out as a hostage negotiator in LA and came to a smaller town to hide from the failures in his past and his disintegrating marriage. His undead lifestyle shatters when a couple of young toughs rob a convenience store, kill the clerk, commit a home invasion on their escape, and hold the family hostage after killing a cop. Unfortunately, the house belongs to a mob accountant who has evidence in the house that would put the local don away for life. So Crais ratchets up the tension, with a sort of "Oh, man, what else could possibly go wrong?" suspense that Clancy affords us, and then the story just kinda....disappoints.

Amid the tension, we get a couple of "Why would they do that?"s and a couple of blindsidings added for the sake of a couple pages of mock tension and an ultimate deus ex mobina that left me wondering.

So it was a good read but a disappointing book. Soon to be a major motion picture!, and I look forward to the movie. Not only because Bruce Willis stars, but also because it probably won't be a lot like the book. It will take a similar premise (I hope) and not end badly.

My Next Flight is Leaving Never

Remember that Twilight Zone episode about the monster on the wing? Doesn't this remind you of that?

Me, too, unfortunately.

That Will Do The Trick

To combat SQL databases that are free if you could only properly download and install the things, Microsoft announces a SQLServer price cut:
    The company plans to introduce SQL Server 2000 Workgroup, a version for small businesses priced at $3,899 per processor, in the first half of this year. It will also add several features to the upcoming SQL Server 2005 update, which is due in the summer, and extend a reselling relationship with Dell, which will allow its customers to get support from the PC maker.
Yeah, that ONLY FOUR GRAND will surely reel in cash strapped small businesses and startups.

When All Your Credibility Is Gone, Why Not?

An ABC news special tonight, anchored by Peter Jennings: The UFO Phenomenon -- Seeing Is Believing

Extra special nod, sadly, for the radio commercials who play up that ABC News is asking the things the government won't consider!

Credible. I would say incredible, but I too easily believe ABC News would do this and treat it as a serious matter, since that's what its audience believes, and some beliefs are valid because one believes them. A select few, anyway.

Renewable Energy Source

Rocket Fuel Found in Breast Milk of Women in 18 States

Excellent! I expect the President to call for increased lactation to help the United States achieve energy independence from foreign sources of petroleum.

An American Way

Headline in Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Quarry doesn't dig development: Operator fears new residents will gripe about dust, noise:
    In the usual tug of war over suburban development, residents clamor to keep noisy businesses away from their backyards. But in this no-stoplight village, a stone quarry operator wants the backyards to stay away from his business.

    Bill Halquist, the president of Sussex-based Halquist Stone, is objecting to a $30 million development that could bring 220 condominium and apartment units - and, he says, a population of new residents to complain about noise and dust from his processing plant.

    "They wouldn't let us put a plant 54 feet away from somebody's house," Halquist said. "So why are they putting a house 54 feet from our plant?"
He has every reason to fear. Look at how people who have moved into homes abutting highways have agitated for sound barriers when they discover why the properties were so cheap, or residents who have moved into neighborhoods near gun clubs that have forced the existing gun clubs to close.

Some would say it's the American way, since settlers have displaced the native Americans and have remade the country to suit themselves, but criminey, haven't we gotten past that yet?

I guess we have; now instead of smallpox and bullets, now we abuse the power of the majority and the overweaning, controlistic government.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Spyware Sneaks In Through Blogging Software

CNet reports: Spyware infiltrates blogs:
    Hackers are using blogs to infect computers with spyware, exposing serious security flaws in self-publishing tools used by millions of people on the Web.

    The problem involves the use of JavaScript and ActiveX, two common methods used to launch programs on a Web page. Security experts said malicious programmers can use JavaScript and ActiveX to automatically deliver spyware from a blog to people who visit the site with a vulnerable Web browser.

    Spyware tools also have been hidden inside JavaScript programs that are offered freely on the Web for bloggers to use to enhance their sites with new features such as music. As a result, bloggers who use infected tools could unwittingly turn their sites into a delivery platform for spyware.
Well, when you're not technical and you're cutting and pasting code from unknown Web sites into your blog templates, you're assuming that the code's author hasn't put a little something extra in it.

This is not new; remember when I uncovered that Bravenet counters were delivering pop-up ads when used on blogs?

No? My moment in the investigative sun, and there was a solar eclipse that day.

Caesar, Render Unto Us What You Have Rendered Unto Us Before

Clergy challenge Blunt's plans to make deep cuts in Medicaid:
    A broad spectrum of big-name religious leaders came together Tuesday to announce their intention to challenge Gov. Matt Blunt's proposed Medicaid cuts.

    The meeting at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown St. Louis came on the heels of a boisterous rally Sunday at Lane Tabernacle C.M.E. Church in St. Louis, which was organized by clergy members of the Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN.
I'm saddened that these non-government sources want to make up for the shortfall of Christian charity under their watch by government funds. But then, the government is often the easiest solution for tough problems because it allows the citizenry to wash its hands of effort to do good.

Something for Cagey

Sure, Cagey throws me a bone and reminds me that the Atari 2600 was only # 9 in MobilePC's The Top 100 Gadgets of All Time, but come on, it's a magazine entitled Mobile PC--who could have foreseen that laptops and PDAs would weigh heavily?

As a retaliatory strike, I say to him: How many of these classic games do you recognize by their screenshots? It should be easy, old timer, since you've probably played at least one of them at an Atari Party sometime and you've played the close sibling of another.

(Link seen on A Small Victory.)

What a Difference a Headline Makes

Governor promises to veto bill on tax limits

No doubt if a the parties of the governor and the legislature were reversed and the bill were profligate, injudicious spending of some sort, the governor would threaten to veto the bill; but as the governor has stated to do something (that the newspaper staff believes is) good for The People, it's the milk-and-honey of a promise.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005
It's About Time

I was having trouble filling my days without the Scott and Laci Petersen show. Fortunately for me, CNN has already locked onto another target.

My life has meaning again!

In Every Search, A Story

Today's search hit from Yahoo:

greeting cards, Can I trust you again ?

Look right next to the I'm Sorry You're A Male Slut cards. Because you know no man wanted to want a greeting card to prompt a reconciliation like this.

Send Picture Books, Please

Hey, I was not aware of this, but there's apparently a blogospheric challenge to read and review 50 books this year.

Heh. The picture book I reviewed yesterday was my 14th of the year.

I am in good shape, but I won't officially enter into the challenge because I don't want to advertise that I have no life. As long as I mention it on the blog here, it will remain a well-kept, unread secret.

(Link seen on Signifying Nothing.)

Monday, February 21, 2005
Special Shout-At

I just want to give a special shout-at to Atari, Bioware, or whatever genius that decided I need to type

90 characters of CD keys

to install Neverwinter Nights.

90 characters, I kid you not. Three lines of six blocks of five characters of nonsense. In one step, in one screen, in small print on the inside of the manual. Ha ha!

I guess I got them all right, since it installed, but maybe I put a 0 instead of an O and the BSA is helicoptering in right now. Given my track record with games, the four or five minutes represents the most fun I will spend on the game, but they got Heather's thirty bucks, so who cares if they spit on me and exacerbate my mypoia?

Book Review: Kittens and Cats In Colour intro by Christine Metcalf (1971)

Well, I've explained that sometimes I cut corners to make my annual quota of sixty or seventy books and that I sometimes count pamphlets as books to make sure I stay on pace. So let me expand my repetwa to picture books. This bit of kitty porn contains a rambling introductory essay about cats through history and then 80 pages, in living British colour, of cats and kittens.

Hey, don't get me wrong, the pictures are colorful and playful and lack inspirational clichés, but I am going to make an admission here that might get me permanently banned from Carnival of the Cats: Pictures of other cats aren't that inspiring.

Part of my appreciation of cats lies in their dynamism, in their movement, and in their activities and play and moods and the particular facial expressions I've grown to know over time. Thirty-some year old stills really aren't my bag. But I inherited this book from an aunt, the former crazy cat lady of Lemay, and I've looked through it and at each of the pictures and will continue to think of her whenever I dust this book on my read shelves. Granted, she only bought it to try to sell on eBay some years ago when I led her down that dark and destructive path, but there you go, and there I go with that damn Robert Crais turn of phrase IN MY HEAD.

Perhaps I am now the crazy cat blogger of Casinoport. Who doesn't particularly like picture books about cats.

What's the Problem?

St. Louis County cuts a program, and the program performs well:
    A recent survey of Choices reported that 95 percent of its graduates last year remained out of jail and drug free for at least a year. This is good news for a program that was badly hobbled after St. Louis County reduced its funding from $950,000 to $200,000 last year.

    The budget cut forced officials to reduce the number of counselors in the program from eight to two, cut the number of inmates it served from 320 to 147 and shorten the overall program from 120 to 90 days. A midyear grant helped officials add another full-time and part-time counselor.
Sounds like they streamlined the course and targeted those inmates who the program could help. Probably at the expense of people who were looking forward to killing time over the course of 120 days of their sentences and then looked forward to scoring some dope after their sentences were up.

But undoubtedly, this represents a travesty because MORE TAX MONEY COULD BE SPENT!!!! Proponents of spending a million dollars where $200,000 would do have scoured the St. Louis County ordinances to discover that the Law of Diminishing Returns does not apply here.

Hunter S. Thompson Must Have Hated His Wife

It's one thing to take your life, but this indicates Thompson either hated his wife or didn't even think of her:
    Pitkin County, Colo., Sheriff Bob Braudis said in a brief telephone interview that Thompson was alone in his kitchen of his Woody Creek home when he shot himself with a handgun. His wife was at a gym, Braudis said.
He left her to walk in on his mess. What a jack.

(Link seen on Michelle Malkin.)

Not Another One

Lileks today:
    Wednesday will have a special surprise, and yes, I know I’m sounding like a grade school teacher.
Exclusive speculation: THE BLEAT IS GOING GROUP BLOG.

You read this groundless speculation here first.

Sunday, February 20, 2005
Meanwhile, I Just Closed the Office Window

Ann Althouse posts some pictures from my beloved home state (Wisconsin, dear Gentle New Readers, if any).

Down here in the relatively tropical Missouri, I just closed the window in the home office. We've had them open quite a bit this spring so far.

Quiz Time

Free Will links to a quiz called the Moral Matrix.

Here's how I did:

Apparently, that means:

As a Robert Crais character would say, "There you go."

A Good Idea, But...

Powerline's Hindrocket suggests:
    Leach's belief that the anti-hunting forces are just getting warmed up is undoubtedly correct; as another hunter quoted by the Times observes, some of the hunting opponents "would protest the opening of a meat pie."

    This is one time when we can say "It can't happen here," and really mean it. America's hunters are too powerful; I suspect they're also better armed than their English counterparts. I think it's time for the NRA to open a branch in England.
    [Emphasis mine]
Huh, too bad they don't have a second amendment to defend in England.

Subsidy Sense Tingling

It starts with an anecdote:
    Lou Emery used to sell donuts and bus rides out of town until a company man came by this month to tell her the Greyhound had made its last stop here.

    He broke the news gently to Emery and the rest of the crew at Daylight Donuts on Interstate 44, about 65 miles southwest of St. Louis. The man gathered up Greyhound's equipment and apologized for shutting down the service. He left the slightly rusted bus sign in the parking lot.

    Now the bus doesn't stop anywhere around Sullivan for miles. And most residents didn't even hear about it.

    "It was never in the local paper or anything that we had lost it," Emery said.
The whole story has the tone of a prelude. These people can no longer get transportation! Greyhound is losing $140 million a year! States have tax money or the ability to get tax money! Certainly, states should support this piece of Americana that allows dozens of people to travel every day!

Stories like this, and the inevitable calls for tax money to help a relatively few people make relatively few trips, confuse an offered service with a duty. If private business won't lose money providing something, the government should. That's asinine, and perhaps it's even a straw man, but isn't that the sense you get?

You know what the government can do to improve Greyhound's business? Stop propping up airlines. When airline ticket prices go up, Greyhound will once again become the idolized piece of Americana because it will compete with train service for people who cannot afford to pay as much for a airline ticket as it actually costs to ferry the person there.

Upon Watching Pale Rider (1985)

If Clint Eastwood were a novelist and not someone within the movie industry, I would read his books, werd.

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