Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Book Report: Deliver Us From Evil by Sean Hannity (2004)
I received this book as a Christmas gift from my mother-in-law, so I feel almost bad about savaging the book, but since she doesn't read the blog any more, like everyone else but you, gentle reader, I will do so.

For starters, when I opened the book, I thought I would hate it more than I did. Because I don't like the sound of Sean Hannity's voice. I can't fathom how someone with a voice like that could make it big in broadcasting whereas someone with a deep, soothing voice like mine toils away on a backblogwater like this, but there you go. So I prepared to trepid (to coin a verb from a noun like all the cool kids do) this book.

I've found myself avoiding books of the current events polemic sort since I spend a lot of time reading blogs and commentary on the Internet. These books don't add a lot to the columns, to the radio program commentary, to the blog entries of writers who collect or stretch them. Nor do they expect a long shelf-life of backlist sales or continuing relevance. Face it, any of these books with the commentator's picture on the cover is designed to face outward on the book stores' shelves. The minute they're turned spine out, forget it. They're on the remainder shelf.

But I digress. The point of the book is that appeasers of evil are themselves evil. That is, Democrats who didn't oppose the Nazis, the Communists, or the Islamofascists are evil. Hardly a novel idea, but Sean Hannity draws from voluminous sources, duly end-noted, to support his thesis. Unfortunately, my cursory glance at the end notes indicates that most of Hannity's support comes from other commentary making his same arguments. So it's just like reading a log blog entry.

A year after this book was written, it's already showing its age. His roll-up of potential 2004 Democrat candidates for president, for example, was worthless in its handicapping and won't even merit a footnote in history, since history will pick better sources. Considering it collects common arguments, thoughts, and clichés, I will have forgotten this book by the time next Christmas rolls around.

But, on the bright side, I didn't hear Hannity's voice in my head after a couple dozen pages. And the book didn't challenge me, like Sartre, Doestoyevski, or George Frost Kennan, so it didn't take too long.

Sorry, Ms. Igert.

It Pays To Specialize, But Sometimes Not Much
Thieves specialized in taking change from unlocked cars, police say:
    Bicycle-riding bandits rode the trails between Edwardsville and Granite City at night, hopping off their bikes to steal from hundreds of unlocked cars in subdivisions during the past six months, Granite City police allege.

    They didn't damage any vehicles, and it appears they ignored expensive stereos, preferring to steal cash and change, said Capt. Jeff Connor. "Their main goal was to gather all the change they could," he said. And they ignored vehicles with locked doors, he said.
One would hope this crime would bring less of a sentence than, say, a football player killing someone while driving drunk, but with today's court system, who can say?

Carry a Liaision Down The Road That I Must Travel
Just One Minute reaches its hand up the arrears of a French noun and pulls out a verb:
    But, per Shaffer's original account to the Times, Able Danger did not attempt to liase with the FBI until the summer of 2000.
I just felt a great disturbance in the Force, as though a million infinitives cried out at once and were silenced.

Countdown to the Memory Hole
This story made a big splash in the conservative blog clique yesterday and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch covered it, but we can begin the countdown until it's forgotten: Girl's story of dad was a hoax, paper says:
    For two years, Carbondale residents have been riveted by the writing of a little girl imploring her father in Iraq: "Don't die, OK?"

    Only now are they learning there was never any danger of that.

    The Daily Egyptian, Southern Illinois University's student-run newspaper, today will admit to its readers that the saga - of a little girl's published letters to her father serving in Iraq - was apparently an elaborate hoax perpetrated by a woman who claimed to be the girl's aunt.

    In fact, the newspaper will report today, the man identified as the girl's father was never in Iraq, and it was the woman who apparently wrote the letters and regular columns that were published under the little girl's name - and even impersonated the girl in telephone interviews.
For starters, let's be clear this is not a Carbondale newspaper, it's a University newspaper. This doesn't excuse the way it occurred, but it does explain. They weren't professionals. They were professionals in training. As sad as that prospect is, we're not talking reporters nor editors with decades of experience. One would expect most editors on the paper had a couple of years of experience at the most.

It also might explain how the students' ideology could have played a greater role in their ignorance if possible: students don't even have to temper their drive to improve the world by remaking it in their image. In real papers, editors, publishers, and the positions to whom student reporters often aspire have to at least genuflect to the concepts of circulation and shareholders, but school papers exist at the indulgence of the schools and don't have to even consider remaining palatable to customers.

Here's a sample of the writing that "captivated" Carbondale, or at least the university students, or perhaps no one really but the paper itself:
    "I'm rily mad at you and you make my hart hurt,"' she purportedly wrote in one published letter to the president. "I don't think your doing a very good job. You keep sending soldiers to Iraq and it's not fair. Do you have a soldier of your own in Irak?"
Still, I'm probably not the only one to notice that scandals involving more populist/liberal newspapers involve making it all up, a la Michael Barnicle, Jayson Blair, the rest of the staff of the New York Times, Stephen Glass, and so on. Conservative commentators tend to get smeared not for making crap up, but for selling their writing talent for money (numerous lesser lights whose names I forget), for payola (that Armstrong guy I never heard of) or for unrelated issues (Rush Limbaugh).

So there you have my thoughts on the matter. Here are some others:

Friday, August 26, 2005
Crikes, I've got this mosquito bite on my neck like an inch from my jugular. You know that mosquito will be telling his friends about that bite, ad nauseum, for the rest of his life.

Probably a week tops, unless he tries that stunt again, in which case I'll spill my own blood if needed to truncate his existence.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Four Drug Minimum
Lawsuit calls execution method cruel:
    Even as the state prepares to execute Timothy Johnston next week for killing his wife, a lawsuit questioning the method of execution remains unresolved.

    The suit on behalf of Johnston, 44, claims Missouri's three-drug method of lethal injection violates his constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment. It was filed more than a year ago in U.S. District Court in St. Louis, and the court denied the state's motion to dismiss it as frivolous.
Being a logician who understands Boolean logic, if everyone gets the three-drug execution, it's not cruel and unusual.

One wonders what number of injections it takes to be humane.

No Original Ideas Left for Movie Lawsuits, Either
Court reinstates Terminator lawsuit:
    An appeals court has ruled that an Australian couple can sue director James Cameron over an effect used in the film "Terminator 2: Judgment Day."

    Filia and Constantinos Kourtis claim that they came up with the idea for a character that changes shape for a 1987 movie called "The Minotaur."
Meanwhile, ancient tribes from the British Isles have consulted their lawyers for the Kourtises' theft of the concept of the changeling, shapeshifting "monsters" who stole children (like the young John Connor--see?!) and ancient Greeks have filed preperatory paperwork on the title, which refers to a monster first slain by Theseus, whose story was told by entertainers in Athens before even James Cameron was born.

Dancing on the End of a Pin
This distinction seems rather superfluous:
    Al-Banna has been accused of carrying out one of Iraq's deadliest suicide bombing -- the February 28 attack in Hillah that killed 125 people.

    But the Jordanian government and al-Banna's family said he carried out a different suicide bombing in Iraq in which he was killed. The terrorist group al Qaeda in Iraq claimed responsibility for the Hillah bombing.
I mean, does this affect some sort of over/under betting or what?

The Smell of Unelected Legislatures In the Morning
Someone loves them, and no surprise, it's the unelected legislatures themselves:
    Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont came together in 2003 to form a coalition, known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, in order to explore a market-driven cap-and-trade system for carbon dioxide emissions in the absence of mandatory emissions reductions at the national level.

    Phil Cherry, policy director at Delaware's Department of Natural Resources said the proposal, as it is currently written, caps emissions of carbon dioxide at 150 million tons a year starting in 2009. Under the proposed guidelines, emission reductions would be required starting in 2015, which would ramp up to a 10 percent cut in 2020.

    "The proposal is a draft and some of the details have yet to be worked out," Cherry told Reuters. He said that the document will be sent to power producers who will have a chance to comment on it formally at a meeting on September 21.

    Once a final agreement is reached, legislatures or regulators in the nine states will have to approve it.
Not a state legislature and not Congress, but a "regional initiative" appoints itself to make laws for the states under its jurisdiction. I fail to see how this could pass an Interstate Commerce Clause challenge, but then again, it regulates interstate commerce and not individual states' internal legislation.

Well, what else can the rulers do when the unwashed, power-loving masses elect people of the wrong mindset?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Good Governance 2005
Samples of good governance and bureacracy, August 2005:
  • Country Club Hills Mayor is charged with theft and forgery:
      In a plea deal between Hood and defense attorney Clinton Wright, [Country Club Hills Mayor Felton E.] Flagg must come up with restitution at his sentencing or face at least three years in prison. If he pays back the money he stole, Flagg can expect five years of probation, and either 90 days in jail or 120 days on an electronic monitor.

      Afterwards, Flagg said he intended to remain as mayor of Country Club Hills where he was re-elected in April to a two-year term. He referred all other questions to Wright, who said Flagg planned to pay back the money he took. Flagg has been mayor of the city adjacent to Norwood Hills Country Club since 1997.

  • Two convicted in vote-buying scheme in East St. Louis rehired:
      Two people recently convicted in a vote-buying scheme in East St. Louis have been rehired by the city.

      Sheila Thomas and Jesse Lewis were back at their jobs in the department of regulatory affairs yesterday. Thomas is a clerk and Lewis a housing inspector.

      Both were fired after their June convictions and they're due to be sentenced in October.

Norman Mineta Determines Vehicles Are Too Inexpensive, and You Are To Dumb to Participate In Supply and Demand
New fuel economy rules unveiled:
    Speaking from Atlanta, Department of Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta and Jeffrey Runge, the current administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said that under the new plan, the light truck segment will be broken into six different categories based on weight and vehicle type, with the smallest vehicles forced to get better mileage than larger ones.

    Minivans, which are currently bound by federal standards to get 21 miles per gallon, will be required to have a fuel efficiency of 23.3 miles per gallon by the time the program is fully implemented in 2011.

    The fuel economy of small SUVs would improve by as much as nine miles per gallon from their current standard of 19 miles per gallon, Mineta said.

    "This plan is good news for American consumers because it will ensure that the vehicles that they buy will get more miles to the gallon and ultimately save them money," said Mineta.
Personally, I await the dicta that:
  • Bubblewrap completely surround all exterior vehicle surfaces to ensure that the vehicles that American consumers buy will not sustain damage in accidents;

  • Catalytic converters include potpourri burners to ensure that the vehicles that American consumers buy will produce sweet-smelling pollution with each mile driven.

  • Onboard computer vocal reminders of local laws being broken to ensure that the vehicles that American consumers buy will remind them, but not prevent them, from committing moving violatations. (Removed at request of local municipalities and states)

  • White noise machines to ensure that the vehicles that American consumers buy will block out distractions like cell phone conversations, conversations with passengers, the radio, and other sounds which might prove distracting and make driving more dangerous.
Because The Government must make decisions for you, infantile citizen. Increasing costs of petroleum prices won't cause you to alter your travel habits or inspire you to purchase more fuel-efficient vehicles. Instead, like all addictions, your dependence upon petroleum will drive you to steal, rob, and murder to support your habit.

Preemptive Strike
Thought, circa 2011, when Venezuela fields its first North Korean- or Chinese-provided medium range nuclear missiles capable of raining fire upon the entirety of the 48 contiguous states:

You know, maybe Pat Robertson was right.

Monday, August 22, 2005
Free Rhyme for Your Poetry
Gentle poet, here is a bit of advice as you compose your next sonnet for your beloved:

Femur rhymes with lemur.

Unwarranted Snark
The blood is running in the streets of Milwaukee: 4-homicide weekend pushes city to grim point:
    Like a runaway freight train, this year's homicide total in Milwaukee equaled the 88 recorded for all of last year as of early Sunday and gave no signs that religious, civic and governmental efforts to make this a safe summer were slowing the deadly increase.
Snark as follows:
  • Good thing Governor Doyle vetoed concealed carry in Wisconsin, ensuring the safety of its citizens from homicidal predators.

  • Sure, it's another record, but what's the count when adjusted to constant 1980 homicides?

Book Report: Caravan to Vaccares by Alistair MacLean (1970)
I bought this book at the library at the same time as I bought Partisans, and for the same price. So pretty soon after I completed Partisans, I cracked open this book.

It, too, presented a quick read with a typical MacLean plot. A caravan of gypsies has come to France, bearing dark doings and dangerous characters. A British layabout and a French Duc, as well as a couple of vacationing British hotties, encounter dark doings and dangerous char--oh, I said that already, didn't I?

There's something familiar about MacLean's works when one has read a number of them, more than once. Since he eschewed series characters and instead worked with similar heroes, the books carry enough difference when looked at as a whole to remain engaging without becoming metronomic. So if you can pick it up for a quarter, I'd recommend this book. Maybe even a buck.

Getcher Urban Legends Here
Panera Bread, parent company of the St. Louis Bread Company and the name by which it conducts business elsewhere, was formed by an Egyptian cult, the Pane of Ra movement. This group believes that the consumption of bread prepares one for the afterlife, and that if one has bagels with hummus or some other concoction of cibatta and cream cheese, one can survive the journey.

Sunday, August 21, 2005
Tasers Hurt Cops, Too
Police chief sues maker of Taser gun:
    A police chief in Boone County has filed suit against Taser International and two police equipment supply companies, saying he was severely injured when shocked with a Taser weapon during training.

    The suit by Jacob "Pete" Herring joins more than 30 others from around the country that claim Tasers caused or contributed to injuries or deaths. More than 7,000 law enforcement agencies worldwide use the devices as a nonlethal alternative to firearms, according to company numbers.

    The suit by Herring, chief of police in Hallsville, Mo., says he suffered at least two strokes, loss and impairment of his vision and hearing, neurological damage, a head injury and "significant cardiac damage" after being shocked by a Taser M26 during a class on April 20, 2004. He seeks unspecified financial damages.
Nonlethal, perhaps. But they're overused in the field, resulting in a number of deaths that could be avoided.

And shocking each other in training, what the heck? Do cops hit each other with batons just so they know how it feels?

What Would Leslie Fish Say?
Angelina Jolie Grabs Monster-Mom Role, Teams with De Niro:
    Finally, an Angelina Jolie movie her kids can watch. Jolie has signed on to star in a big-screen adaptation of the epic English poem "Beowulf" to be directed by Robert Zemeckis ("Forrest Gump").

    The film, like Zemeckis' previous movie, "The Polar Express," will use performance-capture technology to transform live acting into computer animation, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The story of the Scandinavian hero of the sixth century who slays a beast will star Ray Winstone ("Sexy Beast") as Beowulf, who saves the Danes from Grendel the monster, portrayed by the always creepy Crispin Glover ("Willard," "Charlie's Angels").

    Jolie, who played Colin Farrell's youngish mother in "Alexander," will again portray a maternal character in the film, taking on the role of Grendel's mom.
Fortunately, with Zemeckis at the head, it's unlikely that Grendel will be an allegory for the imperialistic American hegemon and Angelina Jolie will channel Cindy Sheehan, but one never can tell with Hollywood....

Government Officials and Their Toys
Schools spend big on recreation centers:
    Bob Lyons remembers - not fondly - the old gym at the University of Missouri at Columbia: It was cramped, had the odor of smelly socks and could get so hot in summer that "you just wanted to die," said Lyons, a recent graduate.

    Contrast that with the new $50 million, jungle-themed recreation center that is nearly twice the size and virtually finished.

    "It's just awe-inspiring," said Lyons, who helps oversee the center's 42-foot climbing tower.

    Eleven large plasma screens line the wall of the "jungle gym." The gym features about 100 pieces of cardio equipment, some of which have individual DVD players.

    In the "tiger grotto," there is a swirling vortex, lazy river with waterfall, whirlpool and dry sauna. Towering above it all is a jumbo, Vegas-style display board that blasts music videos on "ZouTv," an internal station that plays music selections based on weekly Internet polls.
I would dare Mizzou to find a single freaking student that chose the University of Missouri of Columbia over another college because of its swank recreational facilities, but someone at Mizzou could probably trot out some stooge as though a single student or small cadre would justify spending fifty million dollars on such an endeavor.

It's one thing if an alumnus donates a pile of cash for the privilige of diverting students from their studies, but students, and that's all students, not just the "health-conscious" students who want "a gathering place to see and be seen," will have to cough up $150 a year to subsidize a meat market for college students who don't suffer from a dearth of gathering places to find the next one night stand or starter marriage.

No, friends, this is what happens when our localish government agencies become high school cliques, and when expenditures are driven by the all-the-cool-people-have-them mentality. Suddenly, we're shelling out money for bike trails, rec plexes, and whatnot because all the other schools/counties/municipalities/states have them.

Not because they're necessary government services, but because they're cool.

I wish our leaders would grow up.

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