Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, April 30, 2005
In the Wild, He'd Be Dinner

When the frightening roofing salesman comes, Tristan hides under the bed:

Tristan hiding under the bed


When You Don't Post Right Away

When the missing Georgia woman appeared in New Mexico with a tale of abduction, I scented some fully-processed bovine food. But I didn't post fast enough, since she's admitted she was not abducted after all.

    Wilbanks, whose disappearance set off a nationwide hunt, called her fiance, John Mason (search), from a pay phone late Friday and told him that she had been kidnapped while jogging three days before, authorities said. Her family rejoiced that she was safe, telling reporters that the media coverage apparently got to the kidnappers.

    But Wilbanks soon recanted, according to police.

    Ray Schultz, chief of police in Albuquerque, said Wilbanks "had become scared and concerned about her impending marriage and decided she needed some time alone." He said she traveled to Las Vegas by bus before going to Albuquerque.
I'd recommend that her fiance be skeptical about her new story, too; I expect she's got something in her Sent Mail folder and IM archives regarding New Mexico or Nevada.

But I'm just the suspicious type. That's why I have tapped my own phone to see what my beautiful wife is plotting.

Friday, April 29, 2005
Headline: Heh

What are the odds of that?
    The legislation would limit the number of gambling boats in the state to 13 — and all the slots are spoken for.
The state limits gambling boats to 13. That's rich.

Of course, I oppose the legislation. It's arbitrary and capricious whimsy on the part of the government. 13, not 14. Why 13? Because that's how many boats currently exist or are pending.

As a good libertineertarian, I oppose all limits on gambling as long as it's not run by the state and favor removing the government's statewide monopoly (the lottery). As for fools who gamble more than they can afford, well, let the wiser help part the fools from their money. Letting fools suffer consequences from foolishness; it will help cure them of their foolishness.

Double Jeopardy and Three Strikes

I don't favor recreational arson and illegal gun possession, but I'm happy with this ruling:
    Defense attorneys argued successfully that state Supreme Court rulings dictated that Charles' 1983 arson and attempted murder convictions could be counted only as one strike, as they stemmed from the same attack. Prosecutors contended that the crimes were separate because Charles had committed arson to destroy evidence that he had drugged his son before setting fire to him.
The man lit his child on fire, and prosecutors charged him with arson and attempted murder. Same thing, but the single action led to two felony counts. This incident occurred 1983. If he tried that today, he'd also get felony counts of using fire in commission of a crime, leaving the scene of a crime he'd committed, possession of arson accellerants, felony child abuse, felony child endangerment, and possibly smoking during the commission of a felony. Needless to say, he'd fall not only under three strikes laws, but also striking out the side which probably demand summary execution.

This ruling would indicate that pissed-off prosecutors won't get automatic life sentences for the criminal whom they convict if only the prosecutors can find or stretch three felony counts to blanket a single crime.

Because you never know when blogging against law enforcement to incite changes in criminal laws , blogging across interstate lines, and excessive use of italics in blog posts might criminalized, and by a single act that doesn't neccesarily involve violence or wrongdoing, you might be eligible for life in prison.

(Submitted as an entry to Outside the Beltway's Beltway Traffic Jam, if only the trackback thing would work.)


Apparently, certain segments of organized labor oppose environmentalism:
    Operating Engineers Local 520 in Granite City formed an informational picket Monday at the Jennison-Wright Superfund site on West 22nd Street over the use of non-union labor to clean up the site.

    The local began the picket about 7 p.m. and will continue its protest at the contaminated site until cleanup work is completed. That could take about three months. The cleanup is being done by Bodine Environmental of Decatur.
Cost-effective, efficient enviromental clean-up that allows the EPA to stretch its budget and clean more sites? Not if it costs union jobs!

Thursday, April 28, 2005
Spot the False Dilemma

Perhaps following the lead of Washington University protesting students, high school students staged a protriot when the school district superintendent fired their best friend, the principal:
    During today's three-hour protest, students chanted and walked through neighborhoods as well as taking part in fights, vandalizing cars and trying to break into a store as they walked along Chambers Road to the district's administration office, 1370 Northumberland in Bellefontaine Neighbors.
That, my friends, is a protriot: a riot in the guise of a protest. Get a couple of picket signs and apparently the media, or at least the St. Louis Post-Dispatch will overlook a little assault and battery, a little property damage, and an attempted breaking and entering as long as it serves a cause. Not necessarily even a good cause.

No, gentle reader, I just wanted to demonstrate my superior logic skills, gleaned from the several sessions of Philosophy 001 - Logic classes at Marquette University through which I did not sleep. Ergo, gaze upon the following passage and note the false dilemma:
    School officials say Ukaoma was dismissed because of poor performance. However, teachers, parents and students say the School Board is vindictive and that Ukaoma was the best principal the high school has ever had.
It is entirely possible that Ukaoma was both. Given how the student body is inspired by his presence and now his absence, I suspect such is the case.

Short Memory

Some dude in the LA Times thinks Google should buy a newspaper:
    It's only a matter of time before a Yahoo or a Google decides to buy an old media company in order to differentiate itself by offering high-quality, proprietary news. Or a company like Amazon could buy a prestigious newspaper publisher and reinvent itself as a portal, leapfrogging over those that treat news updates as a commodity.
Mickey Kaus disagrees and lists two good reasons why not, concluding:
    I'll invest kf's retained earnings elsewhere, thank you!
Professor Bainbridge calls it a provocative business plan.

I have one word for them:


Too Quick a Judgment

The "authorities" say it was an accident:
    According to the City of Los Angeles' Department of Animal Services, which conducted an investigation, the horse was running when it stepped on its own lead rope and broke its neck. Animal Services is ruling the death an accident.
Don't believe the whitewash. Ask yourself:

What had the horse seen that would drive it to suicide?

Book Report: The Weather of the Heart by Madeleine L'Engle (1978)

I bought this book from the local library's discard pile for a quarter because I recognized the name and because I recognize that I don't get enough poetry in my reading diet. Reading this book didn't really change that anemia.

The first poems in the book, including "Within This Quickened Dust", "To a Long Loved Love" (1-7), and "Lovers Apart", dealt with concrete images dealing with common themes in poetry. Their language was descriptive and evocative.

Unfortunately, she too soon declines to abstractions meant to evoke abstractions, particularly her love of God. She even evokes Emily Dickinson about three poems after I unfavorably compared the two. L'Engle's poems deal with similar subjects and have similar layers of abstractions twisting upon themselves, but when the poems start out bad, they end bad; with Emily Dickinson, they might be unfathomable, but sometimes a turn of phrase embedded within the poem can redeem the poems. Not so with L'Engle. Which made them easier to read, or more to the point, easier to scan and forget.

Senator Bond-and-Spend

Looks like "Republican" Senator Bond wants to spend lots of money, and those lots aren't enough:
    The Senate has opened debate on a highway bill that would send billions of dollars to Missouri and Illinois for key road and bridge projects over the next six years.

    "This bill is long overdue," Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, R-Mo., a lead sponsor the legislation, said as lawmakers began debate on Tuesday. "Our roads are deteriorating, (highway) safety is deteriorating."

    But even as he championed the legislation, Bond and other lawmakers said the $284 billion price tag was not enough to meet the nation's needs. And they vowed to include more money in the bill, even though the White House has signaled that $284 billion is the maximum the president would accept.
Jeez, spending lots of Federal money is good because it's spent in Missouri! How short sighted does Bond think we are?

Probably only as shortsighted as we actually are.

We Got Your Orwellian Right Here

Over at Q and O, McQ invokes Orwell describing Zimbabwe's plan to slaughter animals in national parks to feed the peasants. McQ says:
    Rather Orwellian wouldn't you say? Killing animals in "conservation areas?"
He overlooks the direct Orwellianism in this quote from a Zimbabwe official included in the post:
    "Killing of animals for any reasons other than conservation can be very disastrous," said one National Parks official.
You can kill some animals to save others because All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005
It's Humor, but It's Truth

Teachers' Union Suit Sparks 'No Bureaucrat Left Behind':
    Dubbed 'No Bureaucrat Left Behind' the new plan would address teachers' union complaints about unfunded federal mandates by removing the mandates, the funding and the federal role in public education.

    "When I read the NEA lawsuit," said Mr. Bush, "I realized that as long as we funnel education money through Washington D.C., we provide teachers' unions with an excuse for their poor performance. Blame Bush. Blame Congress. Blame the Department of Education. But if all the money is raised and spent at the local level, then taxpayers can hold the unions accountable."
If only. I suspect Bush would only offer to spend the same money on public or private schools, which wouldn't be the same thing.

My Hero

Security for the Paranoid:
    I use very long passwords for everything, even with the lamest accounts I have. I require my kids to use at least 14 character passwords on our home network and I'm considering issuing them smart cards. No one else, not even my wife, knows my network password.

    I don't just throw out shredded documents; I spread the shredded bits into my garden to use as mulch.

    I don't do it because I think someone is going to go through my trash to reassemble bits of my research notes. I do it because it's good security. I try to run my own network the same way I tell my clients to.

Public Benefits Trump Private Rights

At least California's Attorney General is not hiding his totalitarian instincts:
    "The weighing of public benefits versus private rights tilts heavily in favor of the public benefits," he said.
He's speaking about a bill to force ammunition makers to put unique identifiers or serial numbers on each and every bullet sold in the state of California. Let me just bullet point (hem) the problems:
  • He likens it to bills that established DNA laboratories:

    Lockyer likened the proposal to previous legislation that advanced law enforcement investigation efforts, such as funding for DNA labs.

    Except that funding DNA laboratories probably didn't issue unfunded mandates to private companies and, ultimately, consumers. But don't worry, there's government pork, too, since the state would need a new technological money pit into which it can throw good money after bad.

  • The bill will help solve crimes, but will not prevent crimes:
    "We're going to solve (more) crimes if this bill becomes law," Attorney General Bill Lockyer testified.
    You see, citizen, this will not prevent crime, but it will increase the case clearance rate after crimes are committed. If someone wants to shoot you dead and doesn't care or doesn't reason it out, those bullets with little numbers on them will kill you just as dead.

  • Limited practical benefit:
    The proposal would provide investigators with a huge leap forward in their efforts to trace ammunition at a crime scene to the person who fired it. Though ballistics testing enables police to connect a bullet to the gun that fired it, its use in investigations is limited because investigators need to recover both the gun and the bullet to confirm a match.

    While bullets used in a crime may have been lost or stolen from their original purchaser, knowing who that person is will provide a starting point for investigators that they previously have not had, supporters say. Randy Rossi, the director of the firearms division at the state Department of Justice, likened it to "a license plate falling off a car when driven from a crime scene."
    So it's a starting off point for homicide investigations and nothing more, since the bullets might have been lost, stolen, or altered to remove identifiers. How many investigations are we talking about?
    Noting that California homicides increased to 2,400 last year from 2,000 the year before -- with 45 percent unsolved -- law enforcement officials urged senators on the committee to vote for the bill. Nearly three-quarters of the state's homicides in 2003 were committed with a firearm.
    In 2003, Californians committed 2000 homicides, of which 1500 were purportedly with firearms, of which 45% are unsolved, which would make one believe that this new imposition might offer leads in 675 cases a year or fewer.

    Once the kinks are worked, at taxpayer's expense, out of the system.

    I suspect the eventual success would match that of Maryland's ballistic fingerprinting program.
Never mind, though; ultimately, the goal is to drive all bullets and guns out of the hands of non-professionals and to ensure that those guns in the hands of professional law enforcement are safely in a security camera viewing room while the guns in the hands of the professional lawbreakers are pointed at the law-abiding.

California lawmakers are doing something!!!1!, which should get them in the paper and, occasionally, on the blogs.

That's an Interesting Way To Characterize His Fumbling

Pro Bowler Green arrested in domestic violence incident

Me, I hope this turns out to be nothing. So far, none of the stories give evidence that he did anything other than possibly hanging up a 911 call.

Oddly Reasonable

I don't normally read left-of-center blogs, but I find Blame Bush! oddly compelling....

Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Waukesha County Board Repeals Law of Supply and Demand

Laws of economics are more malleable than those of physics as far as Waukesha County, Wisconsin, are concerned, and municipal government bodies can repeal them at will:
    Hoping to control health care costs by slowing industry expansion, the Waukesha County Board today rejected a hard-fought plan for a new hospital in the county's fast-growing western region.
That's right; to keep prices down, Waukesha County wants to keep supply down.

Too bad it wasn't a sports facility of some sort instead of a health care provider, undoubtedly the government of Waukesha County would not only have approved the building, but would have made the citizens pay for it.

An English Treat

Concern over rise of 'happy slapping' craze:
    In one video clip, labelled Bitch Slap, a youth approaches a woman at a bus stop and punches her in the face. In another, Knockout Punch, a group of boys wearing uniforms are shown leading another boy across an unidentified school playground before flooring him with a single blow to the head.

    In a third, Bank Job, a teenager is seen assaulting a hole-in-the-wall customer while another youth grabs the money he has just withdrawn from the cash machine.

    Welcome to the disturbing world of the "happy slappers" - a youth craze in which groups of teenagers armed with camera phones slap or mug unsuspecting children or passersby while capturing the attacks on 3g technology.

    According to police and anti-bullying organisations, the fad, which began as a craze on the UK garage music scene before catching on in school playgrounds across the capital last autumn, is now a nationwide phenomenon.
Oddly enough, this fad probably won't catch on here in America. Particularly the right to carry states.


But, honey, look!

Vitamin-fortified danish

It's a vitamin-fortified danish! It's good for me!

I think I'll have two.

Book Review: The Official Rules at Work by Paul Dickson (1996)

I bought this book for $5.98 at Barnes and Noble because it looked interesting and because I had a gift card to blow.

It's a collection of aphorisms and "laws" coined by columnist, commentators, and humorists covering the workplace, and to be honest, covering working for the government in a lot of cases. It's a quick read, and a lot of the axioms and maxims provide crystallizations of core truths in a handy fashion that allow you to quip them. For example, I'm going to use It's easier to defend consistency than correctness as soon as possible.

Also, it was a quick read while I work on the longer fiction books that I'm reading. And to let you, gentle readers, that I am still literate.

Roeper on Tattoos

Roeper on tattoos:
    You can't call the tattoo craze a craze anymore, as it's been going on for more than a decade and it crosses all demographics.

    Still, one day it will ebb. Today's 10-year-old will become tomorrow's 20-year-old, who doesn't want to have anything to do with what mom and dad think is cool. I can see a college kid in 2015 saying, "My mother has my name tattooed on her neck. I mean, is she old-fashioned or what?"
I have no tattoos and never got a piercing. I saw Larger than Life which features a retired circus painted lady. Elderly, and covered with tattoos. That was the future tattooed people have embraced, and they don't know it.

Inadvertent Movement Member

Apparently, there's an insurgency of fiscal apathy in the Republican Party: the Not One Dime movement, wherein Republican contributors withhold contributions.

According to the MAWB Squad (and Captain Ed), this movement captures the frustration many feel with the Republicans in the Senate regarding judicial nominees. Sandy of the MAWB Squad says:
    You don't seem to be listening to me. We are not giving to the Republicans until they act like the majority party.
My own personal extra spending money (that won't be sent to the GOP to earn a new gold membership card) comes from my disgust not so much with how the Republicans govern the government, but how the government governs its citizens. I'm more upset with excessive regulation in broadcast, excessive spending in most endeavors, and so on.

Monday, April 25, 2005
What Cats Think

They hate you.

Governments Muscle Out Private Swimming Pools

Sink or swim: Neighborhood pools struggle to compete with public facilities:
    Chesterfield, Manchester, Ballwin, Des Peres and other West County communities have built elaborate aquatic centers in recent years.

    Those facilities are among the factors swamping some neighborhood and subdivision swimming pools, once the staple of the suburbs but now finding it tough to compete with the publicly funded pools.
You know, certain people condemn Wal-Mart for this sort of behavior. Local governments want to prove that their micromunicipality is as good as the next, so they waste tax money on these wet amusement parks and "invest" in a future of rising costs of maintenance for these facilities. Meanwhile, they raise our taxes to fund pension plans for police and government employees and to take care of other ongoing expenses for which the local government is short of funds.

All this to duplicate services offered by these private groups, local gyms, and the YMCAs.

When did the equation building waterparks = governance enter our civics textbooks? Probably when the governments found that they could just write it in.

Two Words that Don't Belong Together

Corset piercing.


Although I don't mind corset Peircing, wherein a woman in lingerie extols Pragmatism. Philosophy majors have the strangest kinks, ainna?

Sunday, April 24, 2005
Time to Upgrade My PDA

Friends, Romans, and gentle readers who might or might not be men, the time has come for me to buy a new Personal Data Assistant (PDA). I bought my current PDA two years ago to support a trip to Milwaukee. I was taking a number of photographs and wanted a handy mechanism to capture details about each as well as blog entries that struck me while I was on the road. I'd once bought a miniature cassette recorder for the same purpose, but I realized soon that they would require transcription, a skill I lack. So I bought this PDA to help capture those thoughts and to provide me with instant access to the phone numbers and other data I might need while away from my desk, my computer, and my address book.

My PDA When I bought my PDA, it was top of the line, and I imagine its features are still quite enviable. Its memory is 80 sheets/160 pages of writable memory. This particular model is compatible with most styluses on the market, including the erasable and the non-erasable data transfer devices. Unfortunately, I prefer permanent encryption styluses in blue ink; once data is written with these styluses, the memory is consumed and cannot be re-written. In most cases, 80 sheets should provide enough usage for any number of lists, ideas, phone numbers, and other data.

This particular PDA, unlike others I've owned, does not have plugable memory cartridges that I could swap out after all memory has been filled.

Notice, too, that I have installed an aftermarket, third-party searching application that will immediately take me to the unused memory. Unfortunately, the original PDA didn't include that hardware, which proves that all of those hardware guys are in cahoots.
My PDA This picture identifies the need for the update; the wear and tear of daily use, wherein I thrust the PDA into my back pocket over and over again, has cracked the external casing. Although the external case hasn't failed to the point where the memory's contents would be lost, I don't want to risk a catastrophic memory failure, which would occur when I pulled the PDA from my pocket and its memory devices would spill out behind me, lost to the wind or the vagaries of a mud puddle I might have crossed.
My PDA This particular entry into my PDA's log denotes its age, as it became this blog entry. Circa 1993. Back before the earth cooled, and when blogging was not the means of controlling the world.

This particular PDA entry comes from the very trip when I bought this PDA, when it was shining and new.

Yikes, it also refers to an incident in 1996 where I drank champagne alone at Sybaris Fantasy Suites because I'd ended a relationship after booking the $400 a night room. I'd blush, but it's two-thousand and something now, and blushing is SO TWENTIETH CENTURY.
My PDA When I uploaded the information from the PDA to an eventual blog entry, a thought, and a reminder for a short story which I have yet to complete, the PDA entry in memory was marked as used, but unfortunately, that didn't free the memory for further use. This was a limitation of these old PDAs. Also, inclusion of the words "Insane Clown Posse" mark a limitation of an obsolete piece of technology.
My PDA Do I remember drinking Mint Juleps at Sutton Place with Jewel Accents? No?

Those must have been some effective Mint Juleps. The whole thing leads to some pleasant speculation and imagination, particularly to what someone named Jewel Accent must look like....

Aw, crikey, those are carpet styles. Jewel Accent kinda looks like the things I step on when I'm stumbling from the bed to the bathroom at three in the morning. How exciting is that?
My PDA Yet, when I look upon the amount of memory remaining within my current PDA, I still have a lot of annotation to perform, a lot of shopping lists to jot, a number of spontaneous ideas to collect, and one or two friends whose numbers I want to keep handy.... I don't want to purchase a new PDA just yet.
Because just face it: I have PDA memories, written to disks the size of legal pads or pocket notebooks, from 1990 on. Using the PDAs that I'm used to, with the scratchouts and the incomplete sentences, I have captured memories and trains of thought that I can use for future blog entries, short stories, poems, and whatnot. Were I a slave to Bluetooth or its predecessors Mauvetooth and Aquamolar or other proprietary and since-forgotten file formats, I'd be file.sol with my personal history.

I expect, then, I'll select another similar PDA when I actually retire this one (in about 40 pages, give or take). Because although I dabble every day in the binary dits and dahs of digital communication, I still value the scratchings in the Noggle TTF that relate my current, older self to the thoughts I had last decade, last year, or only yesterday.

Winning Repeat Business

Nugget from this story: Skydiver Dies After Striking Plane in Fla.:
    Skydive DeLand, which organized the jump, said Saturday's accident was not common. The death was the second involving the company this year.
Two deaths this year by April, and the accident wasn't common? Brother, that's too common to us consumers.

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