Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, July 23, 2005
Quick Hits
Some quick hits from my browsing at iWon, where I still hope I will win the million bucks or whatever they have left to award:
  • With Bush's help, GE courts Indian PM, nuke sector:

      Just over an hour after the White House's surprise pledge to help India develop its civilian nuclear power sector, the head of General Electric, the American company that could benefit most from the policy change, sat down for a celebratory dinner.

      The host was President Bush; a few feet away was India's prime minister, Manmohan Singh, and his top aides. GE Chief Executive Jeff Immelt, a contributor to Bush's presidential campaigns, had a coveted seat at the president's table.

      Bush's announcement on nuclear trade with India -- followed by a formal dinner in the State dining room -- was not just a victory for Singh. For GE, the only U.S.-owned company still in the nuclear business, it marked a possible turning point in a years-long push to re-enter the Indian nuclear power market, which it was forced to leave in 1974 when India conducted its first nuclear test.

    I'm not sure how this conspiracy fits into the whole Bush Works For Big Oil thing, but if our country's nuclear industry has fallen to only a single company continuing to work on nuclear industry, I blame the same groups who banged the trash can lids of China syndrome and called them symbols in the 1980s. They drove the other corporate entities out of nuclear energy. If freaking PETA made nuclear power plants, green and with no harm to animals, it would benefit them, too, but PETA just plays dress up and engages in useless theatrics. So who do you think would benefit from a compact designed to get real work done? Oh, yeah, companies that do real work.

  • LAPD Recruits Computer to Stop Rogue Cops:

      Dogged by scandal, the Los Angeles Police Department is looking beyond human judgment to technology to identify bad cops.

      This month, the agency began using a $35 million computer system that tracks complaints and other telling data about officers - then alerts top supervisors to possible signs of misconduct.

    Let's watch libertarians and civil rights zealots experience the Kirk-driven conundrum in this one. One on hand, it's a potentially-problematic invasion of privacy, but on the other hand, it's pigs, man!

    Personally, I am ambivalent on this one. It's an employer tracking employee behaviour. LAPD cops, if you have a problem, you have a right to become SFPD or security guards. I don't think that it's inappropriate to track efficiency and productivity or other performance on the job, even for police. However, I would like to see the program extended to the other, more dead, weight of the government. Track the behavior, complaints, and productivity of every state employee, and bring down the wrath of firing and embarrassment upon anyone who's not carrying their share of the taxpayer-funded load.

  • Pressure on U.S. to Use More Surveillance:
      Pressure is building for greater use of video cameras to keep watch over the nation's cities - particularly in transportation systems and other spots vulnerable to terrorism - after the bombings in London.

      The calls have come over the last few weeks as British investigators released surveillance footage of the bombers in the deadly July 7 attacks and then put out frames of suspects in Thursday's failed attacks.

      "I do not think that cameras are the big mortal threat to civil liberties that people are painting them to be," Washington, D.C., Mayor Anthony A. Williams said Friday.

    Civil liberties matter less than actual safety, dear Mayor-Who-Hasn't-Been-Caught-Smoking-Crack-Yet. Note that the cameras in the July 7 blasts, which killed a pile of people, did nothing to stop the killing. They only provided handy images with which to assign blame.

    But that's what contemporary government is all about, ainna? Letting things happen, and then assigning blame. Assuming one survives to spectate the whole thing, of course.

  • Spoof of Bush Wins Faux Faulkner Contest:
      A scathing parody that likens President Bush to the "idiot" in William Faulkner's novel "The Sound and the Fury" has won this year's Faulkner write-alike contest - and touched off a literary spat.

      Organizers of the Faux Faulkner competition are accusing Hemispheres, the United Airlines magazine that has sponsored the contest for six years, of playing politics by not putting Sam Apple's "The Administration and the Fury" in its print edition - only on its Web site.

      "One of the things they asked was that we didn't have profanity or any obvious sexual content. We watch for that. But anything else, like a political subject, was funny, it was parody. ... We felt that that shouldn't be censored," said Larry Wells, who organizes the contest with his wife, Dean Faulkner Wells, Faulkner's niece.

    I agree. Let's prevent censorship. Allow me to stand in front of the jack-booted Bureau of Proper Bush Worship thugs preventing Hemispheres from printing its views. But pardon me if I recognize that Hemispheres understands that blatantly anti-Bush twaddle could offend over 50% of its clientele and decides not to print it, or that Faulknerian anti-Bush twaddle appeals to less than 10% of its clientele who both hate Bush and have actually made it through The Sound and The Fury.

    Because, brother, the fact that you can villify Bush and write like William Faulkner might make you a genius in literary circles, but that doesn't make you salable. As you probably already know.
Geez, acting as a one man sanity patrol can be tiring. I think I need another beer.

Irony Alert
A murder victim and DNA evidence on the scene, but the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports on a lack of progress with unintentional irony:
    But investigators have a growing list of people who did not kill Angela Lee.

    That list has been compiled with the help of DNA evidence, found at the scene, that has been compared with voluntary DNA submissions from "people of interest," said Mike Sheeley, a master sergeant with the Illinois State Police.

    About 30 people have been cleared after giving DNA samples at the request of authorities, he said.

    It's one example of how the science of DNA is helping to solve crimes that aren't easily solved - including crimes in a village surrounded by corn fields.
No, dear Post-Dispatch reporter, this is not an example of how DNA is solving crimes. As a matter of fact, it illustrates the opposite, perhaps: DNA evidence alone will not solve a crime.

Now, 30 "persons of interest"--that is, suspects without the presumption of innocence--have now logged their most personal essence permanently within the law enforcement machine for nothing but for the right to be not suspected of a crime they didn't commit. And the killer remains at large.

Perhaps if we had a nationwide database of all DNA, excised from birth. But we'd also have the same, or better, crime closure rate if the state merely implanted us with chips at birth. Somewhere where we can't pull them out before committing crimes, like in the brain.

A matter of degree, not kind, my friends. And we're giving up the kind rather easily.

Friday, July 22, 2005
Book Report: Borderline by Gerry Boyle (1998)
I picked up this book from my to-read shelves for two reasons:
  • I just read a book based on a movie starring Madonna, and this book shares the title with one of her early hits.

  • The Robert B. Parker endorsement on the front cover: "Gerry Boyle is the genuine article."
Man, I hope I get a book published before Robert B. Parker dies so I can get a quote. That would be the highlight of my life, werd. (Except for you, honey, but fortunately you're not entirely consistent in reading this far into book reports, so I might be safe.)

The book chronicles a freelance writer, former New York Times reporter (not that there's anything wrong with that), who is working on a travel story following Benedict Arnold's march and assault on Quebec when he finds a mystery. A man has stepped off of a bus at a rest stop in a small Maine town and didn't get back on. Jack McMorrow's curiosity is piqued, and when he finds the man was travelling under a false name and paid for his ticket with a bad check, his big city reporter instincts take over.

So McMorrow investigates this possible crime amid his paying job, an article that follows the path of Arnold's march on Quebec and ultimate rebuff at the hands of the English at Quebec. As he meanders through his investigation, the police don't believe him, and actually offer to set him up for a crime to get him out of their small town.

As such, this book has a very Existential subcurrent running through it; McMorrow's connection to history, personal life, and alienation from the professional law enforcement led me to think of it in those terms before the author/main character invoked the names of Camus and Sartre. So I related to the character in a way I hadn't before, and I didn't mind so much the slow pace of the book or the ultimately less-than-climactic resolution.

I won't dodge Boyle's work in the future, and I might even spend a couple bucks on further hardbacks in this series. I'm wonder, though, whether prolonged exposure to the book's pacing and its ultimately only slightly heroic main character might wear upon me.

More Fun With Juxtaposition, Courtesy AP
AP illustrates the fun one can have with juxtaposition, especially when it's a non sequitur:
    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a surprise visit to volatile Lebanon on Friday to encourage a new democratic government outside Syrian control and better relations between the two Mideast countries.

    Hours after Rice left the city, witnesses said an explosion rocked a busy street of restaurants and bars in a Christian neighborhood of Beirut.

    "We would like to see the day when there are good neighborly relations between Syria and Lebanon based on mutual respect and equality," Rice said at a joint news conference with Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Foud Saniora earlier in the day.
Meanwhile, somewhere in the city where this asinine story was written, someone was undoubtedly murdered. Please, gentle reader, infer what you will that I included the two things in the same sentence.

That Will Play Well In The Middle East
Here's an AP account of this morning's shooting in the London underground:
    Plainclothes police chased a man in a thick coat through a subway station, wrestled him to the floor of a train car and shot him to death in front of stunned commuters Friday, witnesses said. Police said the shooting was "directly linked" to the investigations of the bomb attacks on London's transit system.
Execution style. That differs from other accounts, such as this one:
    At Stockwell Station, armed officers opened fire on the suspect after he hurdled a ticket barrier and raced along a platform.

    Police screamed at passengers to evacuate and are thought to have shot the suspect as he stumbled on to a train.

    Alarmed onlookers said they saw up to 10 plain-clothed officers chasing an Asian-looking man before opening fire.

    Metropolitan Police chief Sir Ian Blair said the shooting was "directly linked" to ongoing anti-terrorist invetigations in the capital.

    He said the man had failed to comply with instructions from police before he was shot dead.
That sounds a little less Western police are gangstas shooting Muslims for sport, doesn't it?

Property Rights Hit Again; "And Stay Down!" Citizens Cry
Pluck Big Bird from chimney, Greendale orders:
    The Village Board has ordered a blue Big Bird sculpture down from its nest atop a chimney of a historical home, where neighbors want it removed.

    Trustees voted unanimously this week to deny the special use permit application of artist Al Emmons, who with his family created the chimney ornamentation through their company, Creative Construction of Wisconsin Inc., for the home at 5595-97 Bluebird Court.
The opponents have interesting ideas of their rights:
    "It's changed our way of life. It has infringed on our privacy. It has caused a lot of heartache on the street," said Ardith Weitkunat, a Bluebird Court resident. "This is totally inappropriate for the top of a house."
Legislation of taste and the right to not see things one wants to otherwise it infringes on privacy. It's right in the Constitution, somewhere; if we bothered to read it, we could tell you where.

Situations like this underline how few rights you have ceded as a property owner, citizen. If the neighbors don't like what you want to do with your property, you cannot do it:
    "That's what upset me the most. He wasn't given permission to do this," he [another neighbor] said.
Of course, municipalities want to preserve property values or preserve heritage. You don't want to have a junk yard next to your house!!! Well, most residential property, especially in municipalities that are zoning-happy, rapidly price themselves out of the junk yard market. Businesses in residential areas will serve residents. You're not going to tear down a subdivision of $40,000 homes to put in an animal rendering plant.

But once again, when you begin ceding your rights about what you can and can't do with your property, you won't stop. You cannot decorate as you want, then you cannot smoke in your home or shop, and then you won't be allowed to drink soda or eat fast food there (in case The Children would get fat because you do).

There's no line that divides one prohibition from the next, no principle which would preclude the other, regardless of how one rationalizes.

Hence, we should Save Blue Bird!

(Submitted to Outside the Beltway's Traffic Jam.)

MfBJN: Unrecognized Civil Liberties Chicken Little (CLCL), Squawking?
Michelle Malkin claims some exclusive insight, exclusively for the registration-only New York Post about New York's random backpack searches in the subway system.

I squawk here about my concerns, gentle reader, because the searches will become ineffective as suicide bombers subject to search blow themselves up at the turnstiles instead of on trains.

Nah, the chicken little hawks ("I'm a chicken little hawk. Are you a chicken little?") think, that won't happen. Checkpoints are never targets in the Middle East, ainna?

Thursday, July 21, 2005
The Wages of Campaign Finance Reform
Over at Draft Matt Blunt 2008, I take to task a Columbia Tribune columnist who defends state employees--in this case, Medicaid caseworkers--who tell recipients of state aid to call their legislators to demand more aid.

This is the face of the future with strict finance reform. "Merit"-based state employees with vested interest in expanding their budgets and power can speak to potential voters who have a specific interest in one set of public policies. And you, citizen, cannot.

A Few Good Half-Lives
What is the half-life of A Few Good Men?

At least 13 years, as these fellows recreate the courtroom scene using Half Life 2.

Memo to Magazine Circulation Departments
To questions for you, largely rhetorical since you're megalithic corporate entities swaddled in corporate procedure and disregard for individual customers:
  • Why is it that when I am not a subscriber, 12 issues of your magazine cost $10, but when I am a renewing "preferred customer," 12 issues of your magazine cost $36?

  • Doesn't it occur to you that this might explain why I don't freaking renew?

Post-Dispatch Columnist: Keen Insight Into Own Stereotype of Opposition
Sylvester Brown digs shallowly into his knowledge of Bush supporters to explain why we're delusional in his column today, "Isn’t it time we accepted the truth about Bush?":
    BACK IN THE EARLY 1980s, comedian Richard Pryor used to tell a story about a woman, so in love with her man, she tolerates his obvious indiscretions. Once, after catching her beloved in bed with another woman, Pryor told how the man persuaded the woman he did nothing wrong.

    "Who you gonna believe — me or your lying eyes?" the man asked.

    While listening to the comedy routine recently, I finally figured out why President George W. Bush has managed to deflect scrutiny and backlash for his actions. Most Americans, it seems, look upon Bush like starry-eyed lovers. No matter what he's done or what's happened on his watch, most refuse to see their "man's" reckless behavior for what it is.
Who are you going to believe, me or this lying mistaken columnist, who faults Bush for:
  • Forget the flimflam, sleight-of-hand, word manipulation Bush used to justify invading Iraq — a country he claimed possessed a cache of nuclear and chemical weapons. It wasn’t about WMDs, he later told us with a straight face. We’re fighting for more democratic, nobler causes.

    Wow, Sylvester Brown got dinged for making that very same claim before. See also Instapundit posts here and here. Perhaps like me, Mr. Brown just wants the attention from Instapundit and the readership he brings.

  • And what about those “secret memos” that were all the buzz in Europe?

    That's the discredited Downing Street Memo.

  • A news story about a politician who vengefully jeopardized the life of a government agent — now that’s juicy stuff. Surely such a story, even if remotely true, would signal the end of any political career.

    Gunning for Rove with BBs. Yawn.
So that's what our lying eyes--the media--would tell us are important. Not elections in Syria, Afghanistan, or Iraq. Not the recovery of the economy. Not the nomination of judges who are not voted on in the Senate. No, believe what columnists like Brown tell you, America, or you're a fool in love.

(Submitted to the Outside the Beltway Traffic Jam.)

What We Have Here Is A Failure To Imaginate
DC officials have a rather silly idea about how to deal with potential suicide bombers in the Metro stations: random backpack searches:
    Subway riders may face random police checks of their bags under a security measure being considered in the nation's capital, the latest city to look for ways to deter terrorism on rail systems.

    No decision has been made on the idea for the city's 106-mile Metrorail system, and the logistics would be difficult. But “it would be another tool in our security toolbox,” says Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein.
All right, class, let's hit the highlights of how this would not work:
  • If the random searches occur in crowded stations or, heaven forfend, crowded trains, what's the difference of detonating the backpack on schedule or when the Metro cop says, "Hey, you!"? Not much to a suicide bomber.

  • Fine, you say, search all backpacks before people get into the system. Capital idea! As in waste of capital except for the new TSA hires for screening backpacks who will draw new salaries and government benefits.

    But when you look at an airport, a subway, or other mass transit system, you have two locations where passengers are grouped and vulnerable: In the little metal tubes, and in the queues. Adding a new queue checkpoint where everyone regardless of train, plane, or bus has to crowd together will give terrorists and malcontents a fatter opportunity to wreak their havoc and up their body counts with a bomb.

  • Searching backpacks won't stop bombers wearing bomb belts. Or bomb shoes. Or whatever other nefarious creativities will arise to subvert the check and balance mechanisms put in place to deal with a very specific threat.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is on the cusp of creating yet another perpetual inconvenience for temporary appearance of security.

At worst, these measures will be ineffective or even more dangerous than the current situation, and at best will only send the bad guys to blow something else up.

But at least the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority will have done something!!!

UPDATE: As a story seen on Outside the Beltway indicates, New York will begin random searches. I hate to be the first cop to try to search a suicide bomber.

San Francisco's Right to Riot
Cinnamon Stillwell takes a look at the "protest" environment in San Francisco, where criminal miscreants have the right to vandalize and commit mayhem and police are sued for everything but getting their skulls fractured by rioters (but attorneys are still looking into that).

Mark Their Words
Cigarette tax just the start, some say:
    The state's pursuit of more than $1 million in back taxes and penalties from online cigarette customers could hint at the Department of Revenue's plans to go after taxes on computers, books and other goods bought over the Internet, tax attorneys and analysts said Wednesday.

    Department of Revenue officials disputed that speculation, saying they would pursue only online cigarette customers.
Sure, those particular officials say that now. But in a couple years, Wisconsin will have a different set of officials whose priorities will be to raise even more money, and the precedent--getting back taxes for Internet sales--will have been set by their predecessors.

So how much have you bought from Amazon in 10 years? Plus interest, thanks.

Not All New Positions Are Executive Level
St. Louis Post-Dispatch insightful report: Low-pay jobs outgrow high-pay positions!

    The St. Louis area added thousands more "bad" jobs than it did higher-paying "good" ones from 1980 to 2000, according to a report released by the Federal Reserve this week.
Unfortunately, "leaders" will use this as an excuse to funnel taxpayer money to their friends who own businesses.

Eric Mink: Late to the Rove Scandal
Hard-hitting, easy- (if at all) thinking Eric Mink weighs in on Karl Rove:
    t's ironic that political genius Karl Rove - and perhaps others - could end up in prison for exposing the identity of an undercover CIA agent. Ironic, because their essential mistake in doing so was one of identity: their own.
Excellent work, Mink! Now, tell the rest of us what you think about the electoral mess in Ohio!

New motto suggestion for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Commentary on the news for the people who don't care or pay attention by people who don't care or pay attention!

UPDATE: McGehee illustrates that Mink might be just in time.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Book Report: Desperately Seeking Susan by Susan Dworkin (1985)
I bought this book at a garage sale in my old eBay days. When cleaning out the backstock of those old books, I decided to add it to my personal library since I've never seen the movie, but I was kind of familiar with the plot. So I read it.

What do you want? It's the novelization of a romantic comedy about Baby Boomers being New Wave in the middle 1980s. Man, they actually used to novelize those things. Now, that tradition is only upheld for books that geeks and fanboys will buy.

Roberta, an aging (26!) and disenchanted suburban housewife, lives vicariously through the personal ads, particularly a series of ads wherein a man desperately seeks Susan. When she follows the directions to one of Susan's rendezvous, Roberta becomes more immersed in Susan's life than in her own.

I took two things away from this book:
  • If Madonna had been born 20 years later, she would have been one of the first stars with a sex tape accidentally leaked to the Internet.

  • I find it unintentionally amusing when I read books where characters in their mid twenties think they're old. You don't really get old until your middle thirties, anyone in his or her middle thirties will tell you.
Now I'll have to get the commemorative twentieth anniversary two-DVD retrospective that's due any day now.

eBay Changes Rules to Benefit Community; By Coincidence, Also Results in Additional Revenue for eBay
eBay tightens rules for sellers:
    eBay said Monday that sellers could no longer accept PayPal payments from buyers without accepting credit card transactions, thereby avoiding PayPal fees. eBay acquired PayPal in 2002.

    Sellers' practice of restricting PayPal payment methods "was creating a bad buyer experience," said PayPal spokeswoman Amanda Pires. "It would be like walking into the grocery store and filling up your cart, getting to the check stand with your credit card and being told sorry, even after you saw the credit card logo outside the store."

    Under PayPal rules, sellers can accept payment through bank transfers or PayPal balances for free. But sellers in the United States who accept credit card payments are charged between 1.9 percent and 2.9 percent of the value of the transaction, based on volume.

    Pires sought to quell concerns that eBay was tightening the restrictions merely to boost PayPal's fee collections.

    "We got a lot of community feedback, which is why we're changing this," Pires said. "And it was a very small percentage of sellers who were doing this."
Sure. Like they're responding to community feedback to lower seller's fees. I used to spend a lot of time selling inexpensive books on eBay, mostly books I picked up for a buck or so at garage sales and sold for five to ten dollars. Eventually, I calculated that eBay was making more money from my effort than I was.

Community that, eBay.

New York Times Condemns Activist Judiciary
In perhaps a great case of Laphamization, the New York Times is lamenting judicial activism before the judge is even confirmed:
    One of the most important areas for the Senate to explore is Judge Roberts's views on federalism - the issue of how much power the federal government should have. The far right is on a drive to resurrect ancient, and discredited, states' rights theories. If extremists take control of the Supreme Court, we will end up with an America in which the federal government is powerless to protect against air pollution, unsafe working conditions and child labor. There are reasons to be concerned about Judge Roberts on this score. He dissented in an Endangered Species Act case in a way that suggested he might hold an array of environmental laws, and other important federal protections, to be unconstitutional.
Isn't it a shame how much power the judiciary has?

Only when it's wielded by judges of whom the New York Tomes disapproves, apparently.

(Link seen on Michelle Malkin.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Presented as Straight News
Survey: 25,000 civilians killed in Iraq war:
    Nearly 25,000 civilians have been killed since the start of the Iraq war, according to a group that tracks the civilian death toll from the conflict.

    The Iraq Body Count -- a London-based group comprising academics and human rights and anti-war activists -- said on Tuesday that 24,865 civilians had died between March 20, 2003 and March 19, 2005.
    [Emphasis mine]
Swell. How did this survey come about? Did the anti-war activists ask people if they had been killed in the Iraq war? Close.
    "Our data has been extracted from a comprehensive analysis of over 10,000 press and media reports published since March 2003. Our accounting is not complete: only an in-depth, on-the-ground census could come close to achieving that," the group said.

    "But if journalism is the first draft of history, then this dossier may claim to be an early historical analysis of the military intervention's known human costs."
At least CNN did add a bit of a rejoinder, some paragraphs down, from people closer to the conflict than press and media reports:
    The Iraqi government disputed some of the finding of the report.

    "We welcome the attention given by this report to Iraqi victims of violence but we consider that it is mistaken in claiming that the plague of terrorism has killed fewer Iraqis than the multinational forces," said the prime minister's office, citing recent terror strikes, including the Musayyib bombing that killed nearly 100 people on Saturday.

    "The international forces try to avoid civilian casualties, whereas the terrorists target civilians and try to kill as many of them as they can."
So it's really unclear to me why this piece puts the claims of academics activists above Iraqi government officials and U.S. government officials. No, wait, come to think of it, it's clear....

Brian J. Kills the Small Talk
Them: How is Heather?

Me: I'm sorry, HIPAA regulations prohibit me from sharing medical information about my wife with a third party.

A Real Estate Challenge The Noggles Share
Where to put the books:
    WHERE do you house 10,000 books? In an apartment with plenty of shelf space, of course.

    So that's what Thomas and Katherine Cole needed when they moved to New York.

    Mr. Cole, 71, who retired five years ago as a classics professor at Yale University, likes working from home, which means having on hand the thousands of reference works he might need. (He is writing a literary study of Ovid.)
We can aspire to 10,000 volumes. We've got to be at several thousand now. Our next house will need a room dedicated to being the library. Probably not a finished room in the basement which might flood. You see, we've thought it over.

When Scienceocrats Attack!
A new study questions whether conversion of corn into ethanol actually expends more energy than it stores. When confronted with contrary data, modern scienceocrats do the obvious: they attack the study on merits other than scientific:
    Researchers at the National Corn-To-Ethanol Research Center at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville said there are several federal studies that cite the opposite and said the recent study is harming their ability to reduce the United States' dependence on foreign oil.

    "It discourages me," said Martha Schlicher, director of the research center. "People tend to remember negative news instead of becoming educated in what may not be as interesting. I worry that in a time so critical for energy security and the environment that this detracts from getting accurate information to consumers."
Forget about the data. How do you feel? The director of the research center nust feel discouraged, because if scientists cannot disprove this data, then something more important than truth lies at stake:
    At a time when businesses, state officials and farmers are investing millions of dollars in ethanol research, researchers at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., and the University of California at Berkeley found it takes 29 percent more energy to turn corn into ethanol than the amount stored in the resulting fuel. [Emphasis mine]
If ethanol proves to as effective as mixing snake oil with banana oil, who's going to want to pay to maintain research facilities to studying the proper ratios, and more importantly, to keep directors salaried?

Allow me to quickly consolidate the new, revised, and more better

Twenty-First Century Scientific Method

  1. Observe some aspect of the universe.

  2. Determine that the aspect of the universe impacts some large corporation, public policy initiative, or both.

  3. Write grant proposals and get funding for research into the aspect of the universe.

  4. Organize and attend conferences to confabulate with others who are thinking about the aspect of the universe, or perhaps just related fields, or perhaps unrelated fields--after all, the universe is holistically interrelated.

  5. When funding is about to run out, invent a tentative description, called a hypothesis. You can make it all up if you want; it only needs to be believeable enough to warrant more funding.

  6. Use the hypothesis to make predictions and as progress report or new grant proposal fodder.

  7. Receive more funding.

  8. Test those predictions by experiments or further observations and conclude you need more funding to conduct further research.

  9. Repeat steps 6 through 8 until retirement age.

Monday, July 18, 2005
Book Report: Ring of Truth by Nancy Pickard (2001)
I inherited this book from my aunt, which explains why I've read a chickthrilla. That in itself lends itself to some interesting contrasts with the crime fiction I tend to read, where every protagonist has a shot in an equal fight with amateur bad guys. Here, the protagonist is a foot shorter and a hundred pounds lighter than commone adversaries. Weird.

This book revolves around a true crime writer who has put to bed a book on a south Florida crime of passion. A minister who has argued against the death penalty has been convicted of killing his wife to cover up an affair or to be with his lover. Coincidentally, he's now on death row in the next cell from the inmate whose cause the minister championed. But as she sends the book off, the narrator has some niggling doubts about the crimes, and she investigates a little more.

The book intersperses chapters of the fictional true crime book with current thoughts of the true crime author/sleuth, Marie Lightfoot. It struck me as odd that the chapters of the book are all in third person past tense, but the current investigations are in the first person present. I mean, that's just weird. I'm sure the author (Pickard, the real author) used the conceit to differentiate the fictional book from the real fictional book, er, story. It's more jarring than it needs to be, though, and I could have done without it.

Overall, it's a serviceable book with an interesting plot but with an ending and whodunit resolution that seems sudden, but part of that's the function of the first part of the book including a higher portion of fictional chapters from the true crime book, which presents the story as it's thought to be, and the last part of the book includes a higher portion of contemporary investigation of the fictional author. I don't regret reading it, unlike some books with which I have burdened myself of late, but I won't actively seek out other works in Pickard's Marie Lightfoot or Jenny McCain series on the basis of this exposure.

Brett Favre could easily win election to anything in Wisconsin. But how would I feel if he were to run as a Democrat, like Heath Shuler?

It's too depressing to speculate.

Libertarians Tear Hair Out In Missouri
Nudity or lap dances in strip clubs? Now illegal!
    Adult entertainment businesses plan to ask a judge to block a new law that would prohibit lap dances and full nudity in Missouri strip clubs.

    The Missouri chapter of Adult Club Executives plans to seek an injunction next week against the law, scheduled to take effect Aug. 28, said Kansas City attorney Richard Bryant, who represents the group.

    The legislation, signed Wednesday by Gov. Matt Blunt, would prohibit customers and employees younger than 21 at strip clubs. It also would ban nudity and require seminude employees to remain at least 10 feet away from customers and behind a 2-foot-high railing. The bill would prohibit employees from touching customers.
Drinking in public? Now legal!
    For revelers in Kansas City's downtown entertainment district, the party won't have to end at the door.

    A law signed by Gov. Matt Blunt will allow patrons to stroll in and out of restaurants and bars without dumping their alcoholic beverages. Kansas City officials are reworking the city's alcohol ordinance to make it conform with the state's law.
We Libertarians would rather not trade one vice for another because we just cannot choose which one we like best.

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