Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, July 09, 2005
Smoking Now Abrogates Contractual Obligations
Jury finds heavy smoking to be grounds for eviction:
    In a case that tobacco law specialists say is one of the first of its kind in the nation, a Boston Housing Court jury ruled that a South Boston couple could be evicted from their rented water-view loft for heavy smoking, even though smoking was allowed in their lease.

    The landlord who rented the Sleeper Street unit to Erin Carey and Ted Baar ordered them out within a week last November, after neighbors complained of the smoke odors filtering into their apartments.

    Carey and Baar, who each smoke about a pack a day and run an information technology sales business out of the one-bedroom unit, fought the eviction, arguing in court that the converted warehouse's shoddy construction and aging ventilation system were to blame for the wayward odors.

    Last Friday, a jury ruled in favor of the landlord and the eviction. Even though the landlord could have written a nonsmoking clause into the lease and didn't, the jury found that the couple's heavy smoking violated a more general clause banning ''any nuisance; any offensive noise, odor or fumes; or any hazard to health."
Beware the word any within your contracts.

Of course, this is not so much a smoker's rights issue as an issue for all of us. Within any of the standard contracts that govern our rights--from the terms of use for our Web hosts, to the service contracts for ISPs or cellular phones, and into the terms of our leases or mortgages, any number of the clauses are written to make the big corporation with the shrewd attorneys and uninformed, gloss-overish salespeople who only want you to sign the standard contract so they can get their commissions. Those corporations won't renegotiate the finer points with you because you, individual customer, are not worth the trouble.

But when someone wants to cut you out, revoke your lease, or foreclose upon you, they rely upon these nebulous things within the contract stacked against you to do so.

This Must Be On A Loop
  1. Bombing in Western country by Moslems kills innocent Westerners.

  2. Moslems worry, loudly and publicly, about backlash.

      Arab newspapers urged Britain on Friday not to turn against Arabs and Muslims after bloody bomb attacks in London blamed on al Qaeda Islamist militants.

      While all editorials condemned the onslaught, some linked it to Britain's part in the Iraq invasion or its backing for a U.S.-declared "war on terror," which, they said, ignores the injustice of occupation fueling militancy in the Middle East.

      The Friday prayer preacher in Tehran said Britain, which has said Thursday's attacks bore the hallmarks of al Qaeda, should remember that Osama bin Laden's group was a U.S. creation.

      Beirut's English-language Daily Star predicted that Muslims would suffer more discrimination after the carnage in London.
Everyone remember the mosque bombings after 9/11, or the internment? No, me either. So rest assured, Islam, that we in the West can even control our radical outliers in response to the slights and subtle injustice of carnage and thousands of dead innocent bystanders while the majority of the Islam watches silently and probably roots for the radicals in your culture who have, if not your overt support, at least your overt rationalization.

"In spite of the fact that all acts of 'Islamic' terrorism blatantly contradict Islamic teachings, such acts serve to further distort the image of Muslims and Islam," it said.

Friday, July 08, 2005
Word Problem
If John is as dumb as a sack of hammers, and if Mary is as dumb as a three-quarters-full sack of hammers, who is smarter?

Arithematically, we might express it this way:

JohnIQ = 1s(h)
MaryIQ = .75s(h)

So on the surface, it would look obvious that John is smarter than Mary, but this assumes that the intelligence factor of multiple hammers is measurable in a number greater than 1. However, if each individual hammer actually reduces intelligence, that is, each individual hammer's contribution to overall intelligence actually detracts from overall intelligence, in which case Mary, by having her intelligence diminished by a smaller number of hammers in the sack, would have the higher intelligence.

Man, I should have taken more, that is to say "any," mathematics in college. However, as I do hold a degree in English, I can identify quickly within the word problem the patriarchy's obvious oppression of Mary, wherein she's only worth three quarters of the hammers of an equivalent male. This realization provides me with enough indignation to determine that to answer this word problem is to support the capitalists that hold Mary down. Also, I need to determine whether the hammers within the sack represent the proletariat and whether, by keeping them in the sack, both John and Mary (Biblical names--ergo Christians) are actually oppressors, but that's another word problem of its own....

UPDATE: For my gentle European and Canadian readers working on this problem, I'd like to point out that 1 sack of hammers (SoH) is equal to 2.54 boxes of rocks (BoR), the metric measurement.

Mohair Supply Also In Jeopardy
London attacks fuel debate over U.S. transit security:
    Debate erupted Thursday over federal funding for U.S. mass transit security after four bombs in London ripped through several commuter subway trains and one bus, killing at least 37 people and injuring hundreds more.
So heavily-subsidized, under-used transportation concerns (Amtrak, metro rail programs, and so on) need more subsidies to handle their security. Which should be a standard feature of the service or a risk assumed by the consumer, I would expect.

I suppose the alternative is providing an unimpeachable and unavoidable extension of the TSA to cover these public/private companies. No word on when the Federal government will begin providing additional security for restaurants, shops, and other soft targets, but it will probably follow the realization that these groups can band together to lobby to push off another cost of business onto the taxpayer.

(Link seen on Law, Terrorism and Homeland Security.)

Dark Day
Evan Hunter, who wrote Ed McBain detective series, dies at 78:
    Evan Hunter, who wrote the Ed McBain 87th Precinct detective series as well as novels including "The Blackboard Jungle," died of cancer of the larynx, his agent said. He was 78.
The world is somewhat darker without the possibility of a new 87th Precinct novel. However, with a backlist of over 50 books, we have plenty of good reading to revisit.

Thursday, July 07, 2005
Wherein the Author Uses The London Bombings to Flog His Political Points
Still believe them when they tell you surveillance cameras make you safer?

Sea Lion Attacks Lifeguard:
    A lifeguard in Santa Barbara, Calif., is recovering Wednesday after being attacked by a sea lion in the waters off El Capitan State Beach.
I suspect a conspiracy with collusion amongst the sharks, alligators, pit bulls, and now the sea lions.

Please Don't Feed the Moonbats
AP reports on the London bomb attacks:
    British police told the Israeli Embassy in London minutes before Thursday's explosions that they had received warnings of possible terror attacks in the city, a senior Israeli official said.

    Israeli Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had planned to attend an economic conference in a hotel over the subway stop where one of the blasts occurred, and the warning prompted him to stay in his hotel room instead, government officials said.

    Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said he wasn't aware of any Israeli casualties.
Israeli warnings spared Jew lives. Where have we heard that before?

  • Power Line guesses correctly!

  • Michelle Malkin thinks the record will be corrected. Forget it, once AP ran the story, it became the truth forever to be covered up by, well, facts.

Book Report: Naked Prey by John Sandford (2003)
This book represents the third of the Lucas Davenport series that I inherited from my aunt. It's the second book following Chosen Prey, so certain personal situations within Davenport's life have resolved themselves. Not really to the detriment of this particular item in the series, as they really only provide characterization and background in this book instead of Important Life Decisions which the main character must face.

Lucas Davenport now works for the state of Minnesota (crap, I ruined it for the single reader who's made it this far into the review). He's got fewer of the previously-developed characters within the Minneapolis police department to prop him up, but a richer supporting cast of temporary (but perhaps recurring) characters to help him out.

The plot deals with a northwestern Minnesota car theft/drug dealing ring exposed when small-time members decide to kidnap and kill children for ransom. Well, they only kidnap for ransom and then kill, but the whole thing comes crashing down when a murderous Republican comes to town and inadvertently destroys the compassionate drug-reimportation smuggling ring run by some Catholics with conscience.

Aside from the laughable political aside and the other implications, the book makes a quick read. I like the Minnesota winter as a character slightly more than the millionaire political appointee detective main character, but Sandford makes the book compelling enough to read if it falls into your hands.

"Do you want to buy more in the series?" my beautiful wife asked. "Not for more than $1 a book," I replied. So there you have it. A good set of stock novels set in the upper Midwest, but in a Democrat stronghold (which the books remind you).

Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Starting a Rumor
Hey, did you hear that Roger Waters and Dave Gilmour were seen going into King's Rood Studios outside of London on Monday?

Me either, but since this is the Internet, it might be true. If true is a synonym for "made up on the spot."

Spam of the Day
    opt-in broadcast email advertising is a completely legal method of reaching millions of people with your message instantly...

    is your business or organization utilizing broadcast email advertising to reach millions of people a day for free...?
Funny, I didn't opt in for that....

Wisconsin Lottery Discriminates Against The Poor, Journal-Sentinel Imagines
Apparently, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel wants to paint that picture. Poor get poorer in lottery land: Higher-poverty areas win less:
    Nearly one-third of all state lottery tickets sold in southeastern Wisconsin last year were sold in poor neighborhoods, and players in these areas hoping to strike it rich have not seen as many big payoffs as the rest of the region, a Journal Sentinel analysis shows.

    Longtime lottery player Tim Butler, who lives on Milwaukee's west side, didn't need to see the numbers to know that he and his neighbors are not exactly reaping big rewards from their investment in lottery tickets.

    "I have never won any decent amount of money with tickets I bought in the inner city," said Butler, a Milwaukee County bus driver, shortly after returning home with another $20 worth of Pick 3 and Pick 4 tickets.

    He said in the seven years he has been buying lottery tickets - usually several every day - his biggest prize has been $500 won in the Super Cash game with a ticket, he makes a point of noting, that he purchased on the city's south side.
By far the worst abuse of statistics to support a cracked hypothesis that I have seen in my lifetime.

Shame on the Journal-Sentinel. Analysis?

(Submitted to the Outside the Beltway Traffic Jam.)

Great minds move in tandem? Who knows?

All I know is that Inaniloquent and Dustbury both mentioned the Champaign County Rifle Association's Burma Shavesque signs yesterday.

What are the odds of that?

Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Scientists flip over new dolphin:
    A NEW, dinkum, species of dolphin has been found living in the crystal waters of the Great Barrier Reef.

    The Australian snubfin dolphin, or orcaella heinsohni, was originally believed to be the Irrawaddy dolphin, found in coastal waters and rivers in Asia and northern Australia.

    But James Cook University Townsville marine researcher Isabel Beasley said yesterday investigations carried out in collaboration with Dr Peter Arnold from the Museum of Tropical Queensland revealed enough differences to identify the mammal as a new species.
When species die out, the environmentalists blame humans. So do we get credit for new species?

Supply and Demand Strike Fear In IT Hearts
Coding for $15 an hour?
    Could a computer coding job paying just $15 per hour signal something's wrong with the tech world?
A generation of IT workers have come into the marketplace assuming that they're due exorbitant salaries. So if the salaries fall, their world ends, and so must ours, they project:
    Even so, the ad's wage does make one wonder if guest worker visas and the rise of offshoring are undermining U.S. tech careers--and by extension threatening the country's tech leadership.
Ho hum. You know what killed US automotive manufacturing leadership? Giant corporations and unionized employees who made the enterprise cost ineffective. If United States born developers price themselves out of the market, whose fault is that?

Oh, yeah: the government or the Other.

Wilmington Man Attacked by Alligator in Lake!

Granted, the alligators remain behind the pit bulls and the sharks in the standings, but the summer's not yet half over.

Monday, July 04, 2005
Three Steps Not Given
2 dead in apparent murder-suicide:
    It seemed like a regular night at Mr. Frog's Bar on Brewster Avenue before a gunman entered about 6 p.m. Saturday, police said.

    His first shot hit a man in the head. Then the woman he was dancing with and the gunman were fatally shot. Police, who have not released the victims' names, are investigating the incident as a murder-suicide and have no suspects.

Steinberg Blames Republicans for Kelo
Isn't that what I should make of this?
    Nowadays, intrusive government is a liberal worry. Between the Patriot Act and the Supreme Court deciding that any claque of local official can, at their whim, seize your house and give it to his brother-in-law to develop into a Starbucks, Democrats have inherited the difficult task of keeping our leaders from seizing control of an ever-increasing slice of our lives.
I think I am having vapors. Someone wave a beer under my nose to revive me.

The man once called me a genuis. Just so you know what his standards really are.

Someone Understands Mass Transit
The transportation columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (transportation columnist?) compares light rail to buses:
    So for $550 million, here's how many more buses Metro could have put on the road every day of the year for 16 hours a day: 241 new bus routes for five years; 120 bus routes for 10 years; 80 bus routes for 15 years; or 60 for 20 years.
So why does the government prefer light rail schemes to buses?
    But Metro says about half of the passengers who ride MetroLink make between $50,000 and $75,000 a year. Only 17 percent of bus riders make that much. In fact, more than half of them make less than $15,000.
Quite so.

Book Report: Chosen Prey by John Sandford (2001)
This bookis the second of the three that I have inherited from my aunt and all three are well along in the series. I'm glad I read the preceding book, Easy Prey, since that book begins with some characterization of the main character and his relationship with his team.

Chosen Prey jumps right into the chaotic world of Lucas Davenport and his special Minneapolis police team. Well, no, it starts with a quick insight into the mind of the named criminal, a sex fiend academic (do I repeat myself?) named James Qatar who likes to do kinky things to artsy blondes and then kill them. We know this in the first chapter, because the semi-omniscient narrator follows Qatar to a tryst.

So the book is a race between Qatar and the police, who must track him down before he kills again. Or at least must stop him before he depopulates Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

The book's pace captures the nature of the frantic team investigation captained by Davenport. His personal life interrupts, as his True Love and recently (Easy Prey) returned Weather wants to have a child and marry Lucas. The sub plotline would detract had I not read the preceding book and known who she was and why this was different or difficult for Davenport.

It's an okay turn for a series book, but I'd hardly recommend it as the first in the series, as the author expects the reader to be familiar with the characters. Heck, I probably missed most of the inside humor. On his worst day, McBain does a better police procedural and characterizes the familiar so even the uninitiated can pick up on them. Sandford doesn't, and he doesn't seem to try. Of course, this isn't much of a police procedural, either, since the main character is at a high level and although he does do some interrogation himself, he's also a millionaire zipping around in a Porsche (when the weather's good) and a deputy chief with all the resources of the police department at his disposal. So it's not so much a police procedural as as a simple suspense page turner.

So Sandford's no Ed McBain, but no one really can hold a candle to that. He's no Randisi either, and he actually suffers from that particular comparison. Unless he really is Randisi in a different pseudonym.

Blogger Problem
Wow, it looks as though each post I put up yesterday overwrote the preceding entry, so instead of 3 posts, you only get the last one, and that's not without some work since Blogger wants to overwrite it with this post.

Allow me to assure you that you are definitely missing out on a lot of my eloquence, but rest assured that the only post that displays for yesterday is in fact probably the best.

I guess I shall have to return to the habit of saving all of my posts outside of Blogger. Again.

Sunday, July 03, 2005
Here's what some are saying and how that's headline material for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
  • Both sides fear "stealth" nominee, observers say

    One wonders what observers these are. International appointment observers? Professional observers? I know it doesn't include me, because the Post-Dispatch never asked. But then, citizens are not engaged observers and independent thinkers. They're children to whom the press must explain things like they really are, not how they are portrayed on Fox News.

  • Ranchers don't always report cattle diseases, some say

    Some ranchers? Some cattle diseases? No, wait, the "some" does refer to ranchers. Some ranchers say the other ranchers do illegal things. Why would businessmen say ill things about their competitors? Who cares, it's news!

  • Man kills himself after standoff, police say

    Of course, the Post-Dispatch wants you to know that what follows is only the police story; actually, it's entirely possible that the police shot him dead with his own gun or that a Republican strangled the man and staged the whole crime to cover it up and used illegal capitalist profit to buy off the police. So of course the police would say it was attempted murder-successful suicide.
  • Iran's president-elect wasn't hostage taker, ex-secret agent says

    Of course, that's Saeed Hajjarian, a top adviser to outgoing President Mohammad Khatami, so we have an Iranian ex-secret agent defending the newly-minted (and not elected) Iranian president. But the Post-Dispatch has conveyed as much gravitas as it can on the report by noting that it's a secret agent and someone who would know. Theirs, ours, it's all the same to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

  • Vote fraud verdict won’t change results of Nov. 2 election, officials say

    Of course not, as a Democrat was elected. However, the story only seems to quote one official, and he says "I think it would be really difficult for a losing candidate to get a judge to overrule the election code," which is a far sight from won't. Perhaps the other officials said won't. Perhaps it was just the headline writer.
So does the St. Louis Post-Dispatch include or alter the "x says" portion of its headlines to flavor the following story? Eh, who knows. All I know is that they waste an awful lot of words on he-said, she-said, they-said.

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