Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, August 06, 2005
Spurious Translation
    A large home. From the French words chat (cat) and eau (water), as it's the place where one waters one's cats.

Friday, August 05, 2005
Who You Gonna Call?
Baldilocks captures a thought I had as well. When the Russians are in trouble with another one of their submarine-anchor conversion projects, who do they call?
    In light of the planned war games between Russia and China, it is interesting that President Putin asked the US and the UK to assist in the rescue effort rather than the Chinese.
Well, yeah.

Hopefully, they called us in time for us to help out this time.

Unintentional Synonym of the Day
Extinct means the same as living in Italy? (Source.)
    Bears have been extinct in Switzerland for more than 100 years until one was spotted last week that is believed to have migrated into the country from neighbouring Italy.

Blood Screening Allies Itself With Disease

Reports: Blood screening helps West Nile fight

Perhaps it's only helping West Nile by providing financial or logistical support, but we need to stomp out blood screening now if we're ever to conquer its friend West Nile.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch Warning Parents Like It's 1999
Instant messaging: A threat to you and your kids?
    It's hard to imagine anything online as "old-fashioned" just yet. Nevertheless, that’s how young teens today apparently view the concept of e-mail.

    Recent research shows most teenagers between ages 12 and 17 prefer "instant messaging," or IM, to e-mail in getting their message across. They cite IM's immediacy and its constant connection, especially to friends, as the reasons they prefer it to e-mail.

    Unfortunately, the same things that make IM appealing to teens also draw another crowd: malicious programmers, spam merchants and online predators. These sinister characters don’t use IM to keep in touch with each other; they use it to keep in touch with your kids.

    Scarier still, most parents don’t know it.
Which "parents" are those? Oh, yeah, the ones who get their "news" from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (which could also be known as the Pre-Contemporary,-Ubiquitous-Technological-Advance).

Hey, I Can See the Shuttle Damage From Here!
Environmental damage seen from shuttle

No word on whether the eagle-eyed spotters can see:
  • The peaceful intentions of the Iranian nuclear program.

  • The leaker of Valerie Plame's identity.

  • The last member of an individual species or two getting extinctated.

  • Karl Rove performing an eldritch, unholy ceremony in Innsmouth to increase his power.

  • The dark shadow of American hegemony creeping across the middle east.

  • Grand Theft Auto actually altering the brain waves of another youth, inciting him to violence.

  • Another shark preparing to attack a tourist in Florida.

  • The National Hockey League discussing when to fire Gary Bettman.

  • Paula Abdul sitting on her sofa with two empty quart containers of Häagen-Dazs Cherry Vanilla ice cream and a picture of Corey Clark, weeping, and occasionally shrieking, "Why did you do this to me, CC?"

  • Robert Novak, stomping around and saying, "Bullshit!"

  • A shark in Louisiana preparing to attack pit bull exiled from Denver.

  • A saddened-but-following-orders animal control officer in Denver gassing a family pet who couldn't escape to Louisiana.

  • Thousands of world health officials scheming for more budget to combat their predicted avian flu pandemic while some unforeseen mutation of something else entirely is preparing to strike.

  • Thousands of people who don't deserve credit cards filling out the forms proffered them by the credit card agencies who then complain about default rates and raise interest on people who actually pay their debts.
Because those astronauts' eyes are especially sharp, you know.

(Submitted to the Outside the Beltway Traffic Jam.)

Plan Your Travel Accordingly
If you're going to the sold-out scrimmage at Lambeau Field tonight, be advised that WISN is reporting that:
  • Hotel rooms are booked as far away as Oshkosh.

  • Green Bay has begun closing some roads for safety's sake.

  • As of 11:00 am, the tailgating has begun in the parking lots.
If you cannot make the game, rest assured it will be on television this evening.

For a scrimmage.

Well, not just a srimmage. A Packers scrimmage.

Suggested Slogan
At Q and O, inadvertently suggests a slogan for the Democrats when he says:
    I woudn't trust the Democratic Party with national security, for instance, any farther than I could comfortably spit a rat.
The Democrats: You can trust as with national security as you can uncomfortably spit a rat.

Thursday, August 04, 2005
I Hadn't Realized They Mined It
One Dead, One Missing in Ky. Mine Accident

Wednesday, August 03, 2005
One Businessman Responds
I missed this last autumn when it appeared in the Washington Post as an advertisement funded by one man, but here is:

You’re a Republican???

    In today's America, ask a growing number of high school and college students; their teachers and professors; the self-anointed media elite and/or hard working men and women of all ethnicities, the question, "What is a Republican?", and you’ll be told "... a rich, greedy, egotistical individual, motivated only by money and the desire to accumulate more and more of it, at the expense of the environment … the working poor ... .and all whom they exploit..."

    I am a Republican ... I am none of those things... and I don’t know any Republicans who are.
Read the litany of what Republicans are. It's our equivalent of Gordon Sinclair.

(This story has been confirmed by Snopes.)

Matt Blunt: The Man to Save The Libertarian Republicans
Matt Blunt Endorses School Choice

New at Draft Matt Blunt 2008!

The Proof Of The Pudding Is In The Re-Entry
As a member of the quality community in good standing (or ill repute, if you're a developer), I wouldn't get too excited about this headline: Unprecedented Shuttle Repair a Success:
    A spacewalking astronaut gently pulled two potentially dangerous strips of protruding filler from Discovery's tile belly with his gloved hand Wednesday, successfully completing an unprecedented emergency repair.
Well, the procedure was completed. As to its success or failure, I reserve judgment until that bird's on the ground in the minimum number pieces are required for the astronauts' survival.

Now the Starting Line-Up
For your St. Louis Who?s:

Starting at center, Trent Whitfield!
Starting at left wing, Jeff Hoggan!
Starting at right wing, Aaron Downey!
Starting on defense, Eric Brewer!
Starting on defense, Jeff Woywitka!
And starting in goal, Patrick Lalime!
Coach Mike Kitchen and the rest of the Blues remind you.....

Jeez, who are these guys?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Run Your SUVs Overnight for The Children!
Are Earth ice ages created by stars?:
    It might sound preposterous, like astrology, to suggest that galactic events help determine when North America is or isn't buried under immense sheets of ice taller than skyscrapers.

    But new research suggests that the coming and going of major ice ages might result partly from our solar system's passage through immense, snakelike clouds of exploding stars in the Milky Way galaxy.

    Resembling the curved contrails of a whirling Fourth of July pinwheel, the Milky Way's spiral arms are clouds of stars rich in supernovas, or exploding stars. Supernovas emit showers of charged particles called cosmic rays.

    Theorists have proposed that when our solar system passes through a spiral arm, the cosmic rays fall to Earth and knock electrons off atoms in the atmosphere, making them electrically charged, or ionized. Since opposite electrical charges attract each other, the positively charged ionized particles attract the negatively charged portion of water vapor, thus forming large droplets in the form of low-lying clouds.

    In turn, the clouds cool the climate and trigger an ice age -- or so theorists suggest.
Burning fossil fuels might be our only hope! We should run our cars overnight. We should also exterminate and bury entire species to ensure our future generations have fossil fuel to burn.

Or we could admit that our understanding of the universe and its component parts have great glaring omissions, and realize that humanity acts in its best interest given its best knowledge at the time it acts....


Book Report: The Precipice by Ben Bova (2001)
I bought this book last autumn at a clearance book store for $5.00 because 1.) I have a fond memory of an old Scholastic copy of Ben Bova's Escape and 2.) I have a fond college-era memory of Cyberbooks. So I opened this book as a break from the suspense I'd been reading lately, and....

I was underwhelmed.

Sure, I see that this is Book 1 of the Asteroid Wars, which unfortunately means that there's some greater arc that the book will set up and that some plot lines will be unresolved at the end of the book, unfortunately. When my brother was in the Marines, he gave me all of his basic training reading material before he shipped off to Hawaii. This reading material comprised numerous books one or one and two of a trilogy, but never a book three....unless it was to a separate trilogy with no preceding books to set the plot up. So I have some experience with this sort of thing. Besides, every trilogy or whatnot begins with Book 1. So I got in on a ground floor opportunity here.

The premise: As the world runs over the "greenhouse cliff" (the Precipice), a space industrialist bucks cutthroat competition and overregulation to use a fusion drive to go to the Asteroid Belt to claim resources that can help the Earth alleviate its disaster.

Sounds kinda stock, with a topical interest whose political ramifications made me put down the book after a couple of pages once before. But I soldiered on this time, friends, For you.

Unfortunately, to accommodate its arc (and its past, which I will hint at now and later), the book spends the first half (200+ pages) on the political and corporate wrangling leading to the funding and the initial reaction to the prospect of the mission. Major yawn, and it was only through discipline that I really made it through. After the midpoint of the book, when the industrialist and his plucky pilots and capable geologist steal his ship to go to the Asteroid Belt without the approval of the government, the pacing picks up, and we're in a rollicking science fiction book instead of some sort of corporate drama set tomorrow. Lester Del Rey, who was clawing his way out of his grave to beat Ben Bova, settled back to rest.

Unfortunately, after 180 pages of a good science fiction story buttressed by 250 pages of corporate wrangling. I found the end unsatisfying because of the extensive lengths Bova went to make the villain available for future novels in the series.

And while researching the book for this report (read: Clicking around on Amazon on related links), I discovered that the industrialist, Dan Randolph, is the subject of a long-running series of novels by Ben Bova. So perhaps I'm not privy to the nature of that series, nor of the significance of this book in that particular pantheon. Perhaps if I had bought the last ten years' worth of Bova work, I'd be satisfied with the book and would recognize its position in the constellation, and admire its beauty as part of the whole.

But I'm too steeped in the world of suspense series, where the books are discrete units that build upon one another, and although later books might refer to earlier works in the series, one doesn't have to read earlier books to understand the significance, and the current book does not have cliffhangers and hooks into the next or the next several for resolution.

So this novel got better as it went on to the new reader, but I don't expect to buy the remainder of the series nor of the preceding series unless I can get them for a buck or less each sometime after I've diminished my stack of to-read books.

The Hundred Dollar Opt-Out
Of course, we know about this, but I see fit to remind everyone that the United States Census Bureau, designed to enumerate people in the various states and districts, has expanded its mission to collect a wealth of information, including:
  • Which best describes this building?
  • About when was this building first built?
  • When did Person 1 (listed in the List of Residents on page 2) move into this house, apartment, or mobile home?
  • How many acres is this house or mobile home on?
  • In the past 12 months, what were the actual sales of all agricultural products from this property?
  • Is there a business (such as a store or barber shop) or a medical office on this property?
  • How many rooms are in this house, apartment, or mobile home?
  • How many bedrooms are in this house, apartment, or mobile home; that is, how many bedrooms would you list if this house, apartment, or mobile home were on the market for sale or rent?
  • Does this house, apartment, or mobile home have complete plumbing facilities; that is (1) hot and cold piped water, (2) a flush toilet, and (3) a bathtub or shower?
  • Does this house, apartment, or mobile home have complete kitchen facilities; that is, (1) a sink with piped water, (2) a stove or range, and (3) a refrigerator?
  • Is there telephone service available in this house, apartment, or mobile home from which you can both make and receive calls.
  • How many automobiles, vans, and trucks of one-ton capacity or less are kept at home for use by members of this household?
  • Which fuel is used most for heating this house, apartment, or mobile home?
  • Last month, what was the cost of electricity for this house, apartment, or mobile home?
  • At any time during the past 12 months, did anyone in this household receive Food Stamps?
  • In this house, apartment, or mobile home part of a condominium?
  • Is this house, apartment, or mobile home–Owned by you or someone in this household with a mortgage or loan? Owned by you or someone in this household free and clear (without a mortgage or loan)? Rented for cash rent? Occupied without payment of cash rent?
  • What is the monthly rent for this house, apartment, or mobile home?
  • What is the value of this property; that is, how much do you think this house and lot, apartment, or mobile home and lot, would sell for if it were for sale?
  • What are the annual real estate taxes on this property?
  • What is the annual payment for fire, hazard, and flood insurance on this property?
  • Do you or any member of this household have a mortgage, deed of trust, contract to purchase, or similar debt on this property?
  • Do you or any member of this household have a second mortgage or a home equity loan on this property?
  • What are the total annual costs for personal property taxes, site rent, registration fees, and license fees on this mobile home and its site?
  • Do you or any member of this household live or stay at this address year round?
  • What is the person's sex?
  • What is this person's age and what is this person's date of birth?
  • How is this person related to Person 1?
  • What is this person's marital status?
  • Is this person Spanish/Hispanic/Latino?
  • What is this person's race?
  • Where was this person born?
  • Is this person a citizen of the United States?
  • When did this person come to live in the United States?
  • At any time in the last 3 months, has this person attended regular school or college?
  • What is the highest degree or level of school this person has completed?
  • What is this person's ancestry or ethnic origin?
  • Does this person speak a language other than English at home?
  • Did this person live in this house or apartment 1 year ago?
  • Does this person have any of the following long-lasting conditions?
  • Because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition lasting 6 months or more, does this person have any difficulty in doing any of the following activities?
  • Because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition lasting 6 months or more, does this person have any difficulty in doing any of the following activities?
  • Has this person given birth to any children in the past 12 months?
  • Does this person have any of his/her own grandchildren under the age of 18 living in this house or apartment?
  • Has this person ever served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, military Reserves, or National Guard?
  • When did this person serve on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces?
  • In total, how many years of active-duty military service has this person had?
  • Last week, did this person do any work for either pay or profit?
  • Last week, was this person on layoff from a job?
  • Has this person been looking for work during the last 4 weeks?
  • Last week, could this person have started a job if offered one, or returned to work if recalled?
  • When did the person last work, even for a few days?
  • At what location did this person work last week?
  • How did this person usually get to work last week?
  • How many people, including this person usually rode to work in the car, truck, or van last week?
  • What time did this person usually leave home to go to work last week?
  • How many minutes did it usually take this person to get from home to work last week?
  • During the past 12 months, how many weeks did this person work?
  • During the past 12 months, in the weeks worked, how many hours did this person usually work each week?
  • Was this person–Mark (X) in one box.
  • For whom did this person work?
  • What kind of business or industry was this?
  • Is this mainly–Mark (X) in one box.
  • What kind of work was this person doing?
  • What were this person's most important activities or duties?
  • Income in the past 12 months.
  • What was this person's total income during the past 12 months?
You see, this has not so much to do with counting citizens to determine how to reapportion congressional representation; no, it's intrusive nature is designed to provide data on whom the government could serve with more wealth-redistribution programs. And don't worry, the Census Bureau assures you that it won't use your information for anything other than the aggregation of population trends. Until such time as it changes its rules, of course.

One cannot find irony in a wasteful, intrusive federal program designed to provide statistics to support and encourage further wasteful, intrusive federal programs; it's the profligate consistency that is the hobgoblin of bureacratic minds.

If you're concerned about your privacy, don't worry. You don't have to fill it out if you get one. Title 13 Section 221 explains the opt-out procedure:
    (a) Whoever, being over eighteen years of age, refuses or willfully neglects, when requested by the Secretary, or by any other authorized officer or employee of the Department of Commerce or bureau or agency thereof acting under the instructions of the Secretary or authorized officer, to answer, to the best of his knowledge, any of the questions on any schedule submitted to him in connection with any census or survey provided for by subchapters I, II, IV, and V of chapter 5 of this title, applying to himself or to the family to which he belongs or is related, or to the farm or farms of which he or his family is the occupant, shall be fined not more than $100.
There you have it. Describe your plumbing, in detail, on demand or face the criminal sanction, comrade citizen.

(Added to the Outside the Beltway Traffic Jam.)

Two Things One Should Not Read Back to Back
Spectator's Hockey Trade Rumours

Plame Flame Thread

Because your first thought, too, might be Valerie Plame to Calgary?

Government Official Thinks More Government The Obvious Solution
The Milwaukee Public Museum's savior knows the solution to problems with the cultural institutions in southeastern Wisconsin: Not enough government:
    As he prepares to take over the Milwaukee Public Museum, outgoing Waukesha County Executive Dan Finley called Monday for the creation of a regional cultural district that would oversee the museum, Boerner Botanical Gardens and other financially troubled attractions.

    "Every one of them is struggling," Finley said. "We've got to come up with a way to support them because we can't afford to lose any one of them."
Because what smaller bureaucracies cannot handle, larger ones can.

    Finley did not specify how such a district would be financed, but said: "This is not about suggesting a new tax."
Because adding administrative apparatus, office costs, and salaries--not to mention public relations, advertising, and perks--is going to, what, come out of the pooled resources of the nearly bankrupt individual entities?

Give me a break. It is all about new taxes spread throughout a wider area to fund perks for Finley and his ilk and to increase their visibility within the power circles of the community. When you see how he's turned around the museum--with extra taxes and extra costs--think what he can do as governor. He probably is.

UPDATE: Owen of Boots and Sabers agrees with my sentiment.

Childhood: Not Yet Illegal, But Soon
In California, a child has hit another with a rock. As it is in California, common sense does not figure into what happens next:
    Until the afternoon of April 29, 11-year-old Maribel Cuevas' only connection with law enforcement was involvement in a mentoring program sponsored by the Police Activities League.

    But that day a rock she says slipped from her hand struck Elijah Vang, 8, in the forehead. A 911 call led to Maribel being arrested by Fresno police officers, handcuffed and taken to Juvenile Hall, where she stayed for five days before a judge released her on the condition she wear an electronic ankle bracelet.

    On Wednesday, Maribel is scheduled to go on trial in Juvenile Court on felony assault charges. Authorities say the rock-throwing incident was too serious to be treated lightly.
Fortunately, Californians don't hang children for being children. Yet.

Monday, August 01, 2005
Beads and Furs Just Didn't Cut It
Headline of the day:

Money will fund riverfront development plan

How much more can the St. Louis Post-Dispatch insult its reader?

Also Good For Handling Illegal Pit Bulls
Local terror fighters think big: A homeland security grant wish list including an armored carrier reflects a worst-case scenario.:
    Denver-area coordinators charged with fighting terrorism want to buy a military armored vehicle - a Vietnam-era troop carrier to move police through gunfire and heavy contamination at the scene of a mass- casualty chemical, biological or nuclear attack.
They're also good for pit bull search-and-destroy missions.

Sunday, July 31, 2005
For Other Doubters
For those of you whom have doubted LASIK surgery, wherein someone peels your eye open like a grape and sucks out some portion of the inside for your betterment, we offer this heartening story of a plucky survivor: He wins $7.25M in botched eye surgery suit:
    A former Wall Street broker won a $7.25 million civil suit after a botched laser eye surgery that he says left his vision permanently damaged.

    The award, handed down by a jury in Manhattan Supreme Court, is believed to be the biggest so far in cases involving LASIK surgery.

    Mark Schiffer, a 32-year-old Yale graduate, said the shoddy care he got from Dr. Mark Speaker and the TLC Laser Eye Center in October 2000 forced him to ditch his Wall Street career and take a job with his dad's security firm, according to his lawyer, Todd Krouner.
Botched? It ruined his life to the point that:
    Mark Schiffer, WG’01, has been named chief financial officer of Safe Banking Systems. Prior to joining SBS, Schiffer worked for Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, Deutsche Bank, and Goldman Sachs.
Yeah, thanks, brother, for raising the cost of eye surgery and all surgery for the rest of us.

(Link seen on Overlawyered.)

Off the Hook
Seems I am off the hook for some intemperate comment I might have made on my wife's birthday as she indeed likes her new music production setup.

However, remember she has a music minor but is a developer by trade when she says:
    Now if I can just find how to CODE notes instead of having to "record."

Fun With Percentages
This graph tells a story: The United States is the stingiest of all countries relative to military budgets.

For example, the United States spends the equivalent of 3% of its defense budget on foreign aid. Contrast this with the Danes, who spend the equivalent of 52% of its defense budget on foreign aid. That is, for every defense dollar Denmark spends, it apparently also spends about a half dollar on foreign aid.

That's a nice story, Bodie. But what this chart doesn't illustrate is the relative size of these budgets. Ergo, it's possible (but I am to lazy to research to prove) that Denmark's defense budget is so low that 3% of America's defense budget dwarfs the 53% commitment of Denmark's.

So one way to bring this into parity would be to raise the foreign corruption contributions and NGO viggorish to 53% of the current US defense budget. The other is to drop the United States' to match Denmark's.

One assumes either would please someone who points to these charts as evidence of the United States' stinginess. Personally, I'll be satisfied with the absolute, real number amount our wise and benevolent (or at least smiling) leaders in Washington, D.C., expend or perhaps a little dissatisfied that it's so much.

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