Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, July 16, 2005
Brian J. Does Potter
Welcome Back, Potter
Click for full size
Warning: Contains Spoilers!

Like everyone else this weekend, Friday night at midnight found me with inked sigils upon my body, attire of coarse robes, and silly-looking glasses. In other words, it was a normal Friday evening. But on Saturday, I too joined America in picking up the latest Potter book, and I read it in one sitting. After which point, I could hardly walk after not having eaten nor napped in the afternoon as is my wont.

This one departs from earlier novels and takes the series in a new direction. Harry Potter, having graduated and decided against wizard graduate school or a career in wizard fast food, returns home to Brooklyn to open a new storefront affiliate of Hogwarts. Thus, at Hogwarts High School, he becomes a teacher and mentor to a group of loveable losers called the Sweathogwarts. Although losers in the muggle world, the Sweathogwarts have power in the ways of disco magic and Potter begins to teach them to use their powers for good and not merely peeking into the girls' locker room.

But evil follows Harry across the ocean, and the Sweatwarthogs must confront an evil called the Woodman who's working for He Must Not Be Named As The Confidential Source. I don't want to give too much away of the plot, but needless to say the Sweathogwarts work together, with Harry offering guidance, and use the power of their authenticity, ethnicity, magic, and 'fros to dispatch the Woodman.

Rumor had it that someone would die in this book, and the rumor has become fact: Near the end, Malfoy comes into the apartment he has leased in Brooklyn to be evil's base of operations. He finds a wand on the counter and as he's looking at it, a nervous Barbarino comes out of the bathroom. Malfoy turns Barbarino into Swiss cheese.

To lessen the impact, the book ends with Potter telling his wife Hermy a humorous anecdote about his great uncle's cousin who owned a fish shop. Perhaps this foreshadowing indicates that the next book deals with evil under the sea? Let the speculation commence!

Friday, July 15, 2005
Casting Call for the Plame Scandal
Getting a jump on the movie version of the Plame scandal, which will be as ageless and relevant as All The President's Men for future generations, we at MfBJN proffer the following suggestion for cast:

The Operative Word (2006)

No poster submitted Directed by
Oliver Stone

Writing credits
Stephen Glass (written by) &
Jayson Blair (written by)

Genre: Comedy / Drama (more)

Tagline: Love. Politics. Bush=Hitler. (more)

Plot Outline: As retaliation for telling the truth about the Bush regime's illegal war in Iraq, an evil mastermind outs an undercover CIA agent, putting her life in danger as she travels the world's hotspots and New York's photo ops to minimize the danger done by the real terrorists, the Republican administration.

Cast overview, first billed only:
Helen Hunt .... Valerie Plame
Jeff Bridges .... Joseph Wilson
Bjork .... Judith Miller
Camryn Manheim .... Maddy Cooper
Ed Asner .... Robert Novak
Paul Giamatti .... Karl Rove
Will Ferrell .... The "President"

Production Notes/Status:
Status Updated:15 July 2005

Since this project is categorized as being in production, the data is subject to change; some data could be removed completely.

Scheduled for release in October 2006. Just in time for elections Oscar nominations!

Poor Form, Peter
A radio station here in St. Louis suspends two morning personalities who had an on-air discussion of how to fight cops effectively. Yes, that's crass and abominable, but free speech and all that. The radio station has taken steps and public outcry should lead to outright firings and "you'll never work in this town again!"-esque corporate blacklisting. None of which is censorship because the government isn't involved.

This, on the other hand, is very, very bad:
    But O'Fallon sergeant Tom Otten is far from satisfied by the punishment. "What does a suspension do? It does nothing. That shows a horrible lack of character and moral judgment"[sic]

    If the deejays aren't fired, Otten vows to write and call his fellow officers to have them contact the KATZ advertisers, and urge them to remove their ads.
Law enforcement officials, even if acting unofficially, should not urge businesses to do anything other than obey the law. Because this police-urged boycott does lend itself to censorship.

Thursday, July 14, 2005
Summer of the Pit Bull! Part XIV
A shocking image of a vicious killer about to strike!

BAN THESE MENACES NOW but leave the chows, akitas, dobermans, and dachshunds alone.

Book Report: The Last Jihad by Joel C. Rosenberg (2002)
The Publishers Weekly blurb that appears on the Amazon page for this book begins, "Timeliness adds considerable juice to Rosenberg's frenzied political thriller, set a couple of years in the future." Riiiiiight. The book is set in 2010. Saddam Hussein is behind a plot to assasinate the president who wants to bring peace the Israel, finally, by talking to Chairman Arafat and with the deus ex discovery of oil off the shore of Israel and the Gaza Strip. Or something.

I bought this book for $5.98 off of the discount rack at Barnes and Noble, using gift cards, natch. I picked it because I thought Joel C. Rosenberg was Joel Rosenberg. I started reading it last week because I heard Rush Limbaugh talking about Joel C. Rosenberg. Friends, don't be fooled. Although Joel C. Rosenberg gleefully blurs the distinction to draw suckers like me in (why else is is Web site when he's diligent about putting his middle initial on his book covers, hmmm?), he's not Joel Rosenberg. He's not even a decent fiction writer.

All right, so I've already mentioned the gripping premise of the book, whose shelf life expired by the end of 2002. Now, I will break down the book's composition for you:
  • 60% meetings
    of the cabinet and president or the president and someone or someone and staff. Includes 4 pages spent on a "tension-breaking" anecdote about flatulence and its counter tension-breaking 3-page story of misunderstaken lesbianism. The characters loved these particular stories, breaking up in laughter I, the reader, didn't share. Most of the rest of these meetings involve various cabinet members debating the stakes of the plot.

  • 12% character sketches
    thrown in simply because the author went through the trouble of creating them. The life story of the minor character of the Chief of Staff? Hey, we've got the material, throw it in!

  • 4% action,
    presented in riveting cut scenes of short length and of pointless peril. Whoa, the helicopter of SEALs almost got shot down by an Iraqi MiG! That was close. Considering that they don't do a fallujin thing in the book, it's wasted space.

  • 8% miscellaneous exposition.
Hey! That doesn't add up to 100%!

Neither does this ordeal of a book. Lord amighty, although I took some snickering amusement from the book (what was it with using rimming BlackBerries all the time, including the middle of a firefight between the Wall Street protagonists and the dreaded uberterrorists in the red shirts? Why do the bad guys send clandestine e-mails to each others' AOL accounts?), I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone at any price.

It's Clancy without the technology. Or suspense. Or any redeeming feature one finds in Clancy.

How many rules of fiction does it break? I just wrote an essay about things fiction writers should avoid, partially inspired by this book. I mean, when he wrote the book in 2001 or early 2002 (that long weekend this book took, three whole days, no doubt), its premise was believeable and compelling, but Rosenberg mistakes the personalities of the enemy (Hussein and Arafat) for systems (the Cold War Soviet Union of countless fiction writers or the WWII Nazis of Alistair MacLean and others). And then he projects their existence almost a decade into the future--probably because they existed for most of his adulthood. Three years later, both Hussein and Arafat are gone, and five years before this book's setting, the world is a different place. Rosenberg also dips technologically into waters that will change by 2010. BlackBerries? Who's going to have a BlackBerry in 2010? We could have chip implants by then. Telling us how careful the bad guys are to empty their deleted items folder in Microsoft Outlook? In 2010? Eight years before this book was published, Outlook was a twinkle in Bill Gates' eye.

This book is the equivalent of a contemporary conservative book attacking Bill Clinton or George W. Bush. They're designed for quick bucks and quick obscurity. This one, on the discount racks as late as 2005, won't be on a publisher's backlist because it's irrelevant and dated before its action takes place.

(Note: Hi, MLI! You're the only one who reads these things in their entireties, and I laud you for making it this far even though I told you in person how bad this book sucked even before Joel C. Rosenberg reached his word limit and destroyed Baghdad with a last minute Deus Ex Nuclea. I hope I've adequately ruined the ending so you never, ever, bother with this book.)

Maybe this C. Rosenberg guy got better after this, his first fiction book, but I'll never know because from now on I shall be vigilant in avoiding the C. and in not taking Rush Limbaugh's advice on fiction. I weep for the portion of my life I sacrificed for this book. I got nothing from it.

From Your Cold, Dead Hands
Ah, so that's what Hillary needs 100,000 new troops: Grand Confiscation Video Game.

I am getting my conspiracy theories in place just in case (Heaven forfend!) she wins the presidency in 2008. I don't want to have to merely parrot the byzantine crackpot gossip of others.

Family Planning
Surprised by a multiple birth? MfBJN offers handy motifs for naming multiple simultaneous children:

Presidential Theme

  • Zachary, Taylor
  • John, Adam
  • Rutherford, Hayes
  • Chester, Arthur
  • James, Monroe
  • James, Garfield
  • John, Tyler
  • James, Madison
  • Jimmy, Carter
  • Franklin, Pierce
  • William, Henry, Harrison

Musical Theme

  • Paula, Abdul
  • Bryan, Adam
  • Rick, Astley
  • Lindsey, Buckingham
  • Garth, Brooke
  • Mariah, Carey
  • Alice, Cooper
  • Bob, Dylan
  • Celine, Dion
  • Missy, Elliot
  • Aretha, Franklin
  • Radney, Foster
  • Peter, Gabriel
  • Lou, Graham
  • Billy, Joel
  • Billy, Ray, Cyrus
  • Terence, Trent, Darby
Okay, so it ran out of funny before I ran out of names.

Summer of the Shark!
Shark chases pup to hospital!

Summer of the Pit Bull!
Newspapers make do with the stories they have: Pit bull chases puppy into house.

Meanwhile, here in the Noggle home, Summer of the Tabby continues as one tabby chases the other around the house. Or is it vice versa?

(Link seen on Ravenwood's Universe.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2005
That's A Big Twinkie
From a story profiling the guy behind Internet Haganah in the Washington Post called "Watchdogs Seek Out the Web's Bad Side":
    He said he has received thousands of dollars in donations, as well as some ominous death threats. One warning came in a handwritten letter mailed to Weisburd's house. Another letter on a Web site declared that he should be beheaded and it listed his address. For his protection, Weisburd keeps a loaded 38mm pistol in the house.
That would leave a mark, to be sure.

(Link seen on Free Will.)

Nontraditional Columnist: Tradition is Inflexibility
Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on the move of the Cardinals from KMOX to KTRS in his column today:
    This is no frivolous enterprise. There are plenty of legitimate, practical business reasons why the Cards are mulling a change. Yet in this parochial old baseball town that clings to routine like a pit bull gnawing on a bone, change is a strange and scary place. That is a quirky little characteristic of the Midwest, where the insular mood is to keep things just the way they always are.

    Tradition, the bedrock loyalists call it. Inflexibility, the mystified outsiders mock it.
Let's reflect upon how baseball crosses generations. When I moved to St. Louis in the middle 1980s, I listened to Jack Buck and Mike Shannon calling two Cardinals World Series appearances. When I returned to Missouri after college, they were still in the broadcast booth. As a matter of fact, Jack Buck called games for the Cardinals for fifty years up until his recent death. Mike Shannon still calls games.

However, in the last couple of years, the Cardinals (singular corporate entity) has provided a number of other guys in the broadcast booth. That "See! You! Later!" guy and Wayne "When Will A Real Market Call" Hagin.

As the Cardinals has proven its flexibility by breaking its bonds to my youth, I've gone to fewer games. Now that the team will play in a new stadium that I don't associate fondly with growing up and which will bear numerous names in its existence and the games will play on a new, lesser radio station, I'll probably listen to fewer games, too.

Because the Cardinals is not a hometown team any more; it is a corporate franchise owned and operated by a company based elsewhere with no respect--none--for St. Louis and tradition other than the tradition of taking money from St. Louisans for baseball.

Of course, we insular Midwesterners wouldn't expect the well-travelled sports columnist to embrace tradition. He's only here in the local paper because it offered the best check for now.

Suburban Cred
That's right, I got my first L.L. Bean catalog today.

You know, it's really got absolutely nothing to do with Rowan Atkinson. Now I, too, am privileged to share in that information with my other Casinoport, Missouri, brothers.

Stage Directions
From Bill McClellan's online presence today:

Stage directions
Click for full size


Unfortunately, someone forgot the Don't include editor's formatting remarks, dang it!

Engaging Discourse
10 Lines To Get Republican Gals -- Like Ann Coulter -- Into Bed.

Geez, I would add, for Republican gals like Ann Coulter, something along the lines of Hey, I see tax policies soaking the wealthy are starving you. Can I buy you a sandwich?

(Link seen on Dustbury, who is currently travelling the country and performing field research on the efficacy of the study.)

International Blog Star Registry
Send me $8, and I'll name a star after you and register it in blog post form on this blog, covered by common law copyright. And since I don't have to waste money on the "book form" at the United States Copyright Office, I can save that filing fee and add it right to my bottom line. Boo-yah!

Perhaps I shouldn't have brought that last bit up as it's not a salient selling point.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Reynolds Overlooks Benefit of Surveillance Camera
In a post on Tech Central Station, Professor Reynolds overlooks certain benefits of surveillance cameras. The professor says:
    As a deterrent, at least, they were a failure. Civil libertarians fear these cameras, with some reason (my guess is that they'll be used more to catch parking scofflaws and to dig up dirt on political opponents than to reduce crime or terrorism) but the real story is their ineffectiveness. Every cop sitting in a control room, eating doughnuts and watching monitors, could be out on the street, looking at things with his or her own eyes and in a position to do something about what he or she sees. Nonetheless, the response to the London bombings will probably include a call for more, not fewer, cameras.

    That's a mistake. As Jeffrey Rosen wrote in a superb essay published just after 9/11 (but sadly no longer available online), London's "ring of steel" camera network never caught a terrorist...
Professor Reynolds overlooks the following benefits (to the watchers, anyway):

T and A.

Monday, July 11, 2005
The Fifty-First State
It won't be Puerto Rico:
    A University of Alberta professor I know sent me a lengthy article he's trying to get published, entitled: "Let's get while the getting's good."

    In it, Leon Craig, professor emeritus of political science, lays out a case for Alberta to declare unilateral independence. And he lays it out well.

    Craig makes no bones about it.

    Alberta, he says, should go it alone.

    Almost overnight, we would become one of the most prosperous nations in the world.

    But -- and this is his key point -- the main reason to secede is not because Albertans would have more money. Not that there's anything wrong with money.

    More importantly, we would create a country that reflects our own political and social beliefs, values and traditions, and our understanding of the common good.

    Canada, says Craig, has been so badly governed since the Trudeau era, it has doomed itself to a Third World, banana republic fate.
When the Quebec referendum was held a decade ago, one of my co-workers predicted the biggest consequence of a free Quebec would not be one more annoying Francophone country in the world, but the states of Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, and Manitoba.

Just think, we could drive to Alaska without a passport again.

Come home to US, western Canada. You can finally charge American dollars for hockey tickets.

Lyrics Never Misheard
The Police, "Wrapped Around Your Finger":
    Aristophanes is not your name
    I know what you're up to just the same
Because classical scholars who know who Aristophanes was also know Mephistopheles.

Recent Reasons to Draft Matt Blunt 2008
Why should we make Matt Blunt president?
  • He's conservativish.

  • He's making all the right people mad by cutting numerous state programs to fit the budget.

  • Because a Generation X president would bypass all the things the Boomers still can do to us.

Summer of the Pit Bull XVII
Seen on the Web site of the Animal Protection Association of Missouri:

Juda Patuta likes children, especially meaty ones.
Click for full size

    Good with children, favorite toy is a blanket and
Funny how that sentence trails off, as though the copy writer couldn't finish it, ainna?

Current standings, Summer 2005:

Pit Bulls: 20
Sharks: 6
Alligators: 1
Sea Lions: 1

(Submitted to the Outside the Beltway Traffic Jam.)

Illinois Secedes
Well, Governor Rod Blagojevich won't surrender his arms:
    Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich put the Pentagon on formal notice Monday that he will not approve its proposed move of F-16 fighter aircraft from the 183rd Fighter Wing in Springfield to Indiana.

    In a letter sent to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, the governor argued that under federal law if he does not consent to the realignment, the change can not legally be made.
What do you think it means?

McClellan on Kelo
I often disagree with Bill McClellan of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, but when he pans Kelo, who am I to argue? He says:
    City Councilman Barry Greenberg was the only city official who attended the meeting. Good for him. On the other hand, it was awkward to see the relationship the people have with the councilman. They had to restrain their anger. He has the power to ruin them. He will be voting for or against the development plans.

    I have a duty to look at these plans, he said solemnly.

    Why? That's what I wondered. Since when do local officials have the responsibility to decide whether to use eminent domain to let developers take away homes and businesses? By the way, ideologically, this seems to be an equal opportunity crime. It was the liberal wing of the U.S. Supreme Court that recently declared local governments have that right, but the mayor of Maplewood is a former radio executive who yanked the Dixie Chicks off his station when they criticized George W. Bush. It's as if both sides of the political spectrum have come together to agree on one thing: Money rules.

Sunday, July 10, 2005
Suspect Taken Quietly; No Congratulatory Demonstrations
Family sets up murder suspect's surrender:
    Kevin Johnson, the suspect sought in the shooting death of a Kirkwood police sergeant, was arrested without incident in north St. Louis County on Friday afternoon, police said.

    Johnson, 19, was the subject of an intense manhunt after Tuesday's shooting of police Sgt. William McEntee. McEntee was responding to a call in Kirkwood's Meacham Park neighborhood just before 8 p.m. when he was shot several times.

    Johnson surrendered at the Ventura Village Apartments on Jacobi Drive and Nemnich Road, police said.

    Northwoods Police Chief Greg Moore said Friday night a detective in his department received a call from one of Johnson's family members just after 5 p.m. Friday.

    Moore said Johnson "wanted to turn himself in without any fanfare and without being harmed."

    The detective who received the call and another officer drove to pick up the family member, then headed to Ventura Village Apartments, Moore said.

    When they arrived, the relative directed them to an apartment near the back of the complex. Moore said another relative greeted them at the door.

    Johnson was sitting on a couch in the apartment with his hands in front of him, Moore said.

    Moore described Johnson's demeanor as "humble and cooperative" as he was taken into custody.
Well, in an alternate universe, the one painted by racial agitators, the cops don't need an excuse to kill a young black man, and when one is suspected of shooting a middle-aged white police man, the police will surround his hideout and kill him and some nearby blacks in a hail of retaliatory gunfire.

That didn't happen in this situation; as a matter of fact, the aphrension of the suspect was smooth and without conflict. Perhaps we don't live in the racial agitators' alternate universe after all, but this possibility hasn't inspired any marches.

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