Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, May 06, 2006
Having Destroyed Earth's Climate, Bush Turns His Sites On The Rest of the Solar System
New Storm on Jupiter Hints at Climate Change:
    The latest images could provide evidence that Jupiter is in the midst of a global change that can modify temperatures by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit on different parts of the globe.
Almost as though climate change happened cylically, naturally, and without the intervention of a sentient species.

But in the good news within this bad news for environmentalists:
  • It will be overlooked by the tinny orchestra of the media and public consciousness.

  • Al Gore has an opportunity to his ultimate action film, this time set in space and maybe starring Vin Diesel.

Spurious Assertion of the Day
Within a piece about computer security on Macintoshes, Arik Hesseldahl makes the following spurious assertion:
    There’s two problems with that statement: First off, Mac users on average pay more for their computers, are self-selected because they tend to know more about technology than your average PC buyer, and by and large are a bit more affluent than those who buy cheapo commodity Windows PCs.
Macintosh users also self-messiah themselves as above the common rabble, so of course they're smarter and prettier than the Windows-using hoi polloi. But more technical? Not in my limited experience.

I work in a part Macintosh, part Windows shop, and I have had to research and teach some fairly basic Macintosh procedure, such as editing the hosts files and whatnot.

That is, they're normal users who happen to use Macintosh. On the one hand, some of them are more technical and into the glamour of their chosen technology; on the other hand, that technology and the operating system are pretty much idiot proof, so you don't have to learn much about the technology since the GUI doesn't crap out.

On the other hand, Windows machines are pretty much a commodity, so the basic user knowledge baseline is much smaller, but anyone with any curiosity into the technology will have to learn to get it working correctly. Additionally, since they're default still for youngsters learning, most extremely savvy people will start on Windows PCs, whether they end up on Linux or OS X or one of the even more compartmentalized niche OSes whose acronyms are only known to cabals of the initiates. Maybe these bring the technology savvy average up enough to account for the monkeys trying to compose The Tempest in Microsoft Works or, heaven forfend, Microsoft Paint.

Still, the assertion that Macintosh users tend to know more about technology than your average PC buyer merits an objection, your honor. Perhaps Macintosh users tend to have more hubris about technology than your average PC buyer. Which plays into the hands of those who would threaten the Macintosh users' security with viruses, trojans, and worms (oh, my!).

A Boy Named Schmuck
The headlines were amusing the first time I saw news about this fellow, but they've lost something personally for me, but maybe you'll still get a kick out of them:

Schmuck honored as national coach of year

If you were born with a name like Schmuck, you could reasonably expect to be picked upon in school. Which makes this fellow's career choice all the more self-flagellating, as he's a high school sports coach.

Your One Stop Shop for Freaky Things, Werd
To quote a fellow award-winning blogger, THE REAL HONOR IS BEING NOMINATED, but it's nice to be number one on the Google search for a website that has werd freaky things on it.

Thanks, searcher, but do remember to offset the aside with commas and make Web site two words: a Web site that has, werd, freaky things on it.

Friday, May 05, 2006
Your Paranoia Shidoshi Knew This Would Happen
Keyless entry, OnStar, and so on and so forth. You saw convenience, and I saw it coming:
    High-tech thieves are becoming increasingly savvy when it comes to stealing automobiles equipped with keyless entry and ignition systems. While many computer-based security systems on automobiles require some type of key — mechanical or otherwise — to start the engine, so-called ‘keyless’ setups require only the presence of a key fob to start the engine.
Of course, you know me; I thought that the keyed ignition system was inviting danger and a step back from cranking the engine.

Have a Nice Day, from Family Direct Services, Inc.
An unsolicited greeting from the first company my mortgage broker could sell my name to:
    Our records indicate you are not participating in our recommended MORTGAGE PROTECTION COVERAGE. You may now be eligible if you are UNDER AGE 76.

    The ECONOMICAL term life insurance can PAY OFF YOUR MORTGAGE should you or your spouse DIE. It provides the SECURITY YOUR FAMILY NEEDS at the PRICE YOU WANT.
Well, if I DIE, I think normal insurances WOULD help my spouse PAY HER MORTGAGE (since, by dying, it would really no longer be my mortgage, would it?), and even if I were inclined to UP MY COVERAGE, I would probably look for a REPUTABLE INSURANCE COMPANY and not some fly-by-bulk-mail OPERATOR who probably won't even EXIST by the time I die (hopefully sometime in the twenty-second century, the later the better) and who interrupts my daily junk mail destruction with UNSOLICITED REMINDERS OF MY OWN MORALITY, IN BOLD AND CAPITALS AS APPROPRIATE.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006
The First Thing To Do When You're In A Hole
After blowing $26,000,000 on a software system it won't even use, the executive vice president of the University of Wisconsin system offers a mea culpa. Or the bureaucratic, non mea culpa equivalent:
    "We're very sheepish," Mash told the state Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities. "We couldn't make this work. We've got to dig ourselves out of this hole."
Dig themselves out of the hole? What the heck does that mean in the public sector? Oh, yeah, it means you'll have to get more tax money to cover your mistakes.

In the real world, this fellow and/or one or two of his ill-informed cohorts would be out of jobs. But in the rarefied world of the public sector, no doubt a little sheepishness and an expression of desire to dig one's self out of a hole will save him.

And maybe even make available another $26,000,000 in budget to spend.

MfBJN Joins the Fight Against Obesity
To join all the cool non-for-profits and organizations now trying to stake their claim on the public consciousness, public health funding, and class action settlement dollars, Musings from Brian J. Noggle joins the fight against obesity, wherein obesity is any shape to your body that does not come from a starving, distended belly by offering the following appetite suppressant as a public service announcement:

Radish shortcake, with extra whipped cream

That'll make you put down the bag of Doritos, eh, chubby?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006
It's a Little Early to Celebrate, Edmonton
Just because the number 8 Edmonton Oilers eliminated the Detroit Red Wings in the first round of the playoffs is a little early to start stocking up the celebratory fireworks:
    On Friday cops found a 1-Teck 9 fully automatic nine-millimetre handgun, an SKS assault rifle and a rocket launcher.

    On Sunday, they also seized two handguns, a shotgun, 1.4 kg of cocaine, six vials of steroids, four grams of marijuana with a street value of $60, a samurai sword and one bulletproof vest.

Words That Do Not Belong In Country Songs, Part V
Groovin', as in "When the Sun Goes Down":
    'cause when the sun goes down
    we'll be groovin'
    when the sun goes down
    we'll be feelin' alright
Kenny Chesney, you used to be a cowboy. Why, you once stole a horse from the Law. But the beachfront property addled your brain, and suddenly you're sounding like something out of a 50s sock hop....granted, one where you've snuck in some booze, but come on, groovin'?

Exception to the Rule: I guess you can talk about groovin' if and only if you're singing about a plunge router, perhaps in a song entitled "If I Could, I Wood" about being briefly lonely when your woman tells you to choose between her and your sweet basement workshop.

Monday, May 01, 2006
Weber and Dolan, RIP:
    Milwaukee radio veteran Jay Weber, longtime co-host of "Weber & Dolan," has been selected to host his own program, beginning Monday, May 8.

    Weber's new program, The Jay Weber Show, will be heard weekday mornings from 8:30 a.m. until 12 p.m., in the slot now occupied by "Weber & Dolan."

    Bob Dolan, Weber's partner on News/Talk 1130 WISN for the past seven-and-a-half years, asked for and received permission from the station to withdraw from his on-air duties, in order to spend all of his time managing and performing within Dolan Productions LLC, a television production company that he recently formed.
Frankly, I have feared this coming since the move. Well, actually, I've feared it every time that their contract has come up for renewal. I've listened to Weber and Dolan since its inception, accidentally.

I caught it first in probably 2000. I was toiling away in a dark computer testing lab by myself and spent the days dialing around the Internet, looking for something to listen to. I lit upon WISN as a voice of home and enjoyed Weber and Dolan before Dr. Laura in the mornings.

Man, I've listened to them for a long time. I've listened to them with five different employers--DRA, MetaMatrix, Tripos, Jeracor, and infuz. I've listened to them through a series of streaming audio providers and their individual foibles and incompatibilities. I've listened, and laughed, through sundry Packer seasons. Tragic as it sounds, when I worked from home, I would often comment to my wife about what Weber and Dolan had talked about that day as though they were co-workers.

But they're breaking up, finally. I guess all good things must pass. Like childhood stars who've passed through cuteness and puberty, I guess these fellows need to expand their repertoire before they're typecast. Okay, I understand. But it saddens me still.

I probably won't listen to the Jay Weber Show. Part of the draw of the pair was their counterpoints to each other. Jay could be a bit curt and arrogant, but Bob tempered it with his laid-back nature and old-fashionedness. I wish both the best of luck, but I guess it's iTunes for me in the mornings now.

Book Report: Bosstrology by Adèle Lang and Andrew Masterson (2003)
I bought this book for $1.00 off of the extreme remainder table at Barnes and Noble in Ladue while engaging in a gift-card-fueled orgy of new book buying at the beginning of the year. $1! For a trade paperback! With this profligate spending, it's a wonder I could buy a new, larger house to contain all of my books.

This book, subtitled The Twelve Bastard Bosses of the Zodiac, appears as a sequel of sorts to a previous book entitled How to Spot a Bastard by His Star Sign. It does the normal office humor bit, identifying various poor management types as cardboard personalities and then associating them with a sign of the zodiac. It's a conceit that could have carried a ninety or a hundred page book, tops. However, the schtick goes on twice as long as it needed to, and overall suffers as a result.

One of the authors must be British and the other American; the book uses a lot of British turns of phrase (bum, arse, and so on) but a large number of American pop cultural references. Perhaps those were dropped in for this, the first American Edition. It didn't really impact the quality of the material, but it was noticeable.

Also, I'd like you to know, I don't share many characteristics with the Pisces bastard boss identified in the book. That doesn't mean I'm not a bastard boss, only that my bastardism is self-determined, free will-like, and not predetermined by the universe. Thank you, that is all.

Books mentioned in this review:

Don't Be Whiny
Maybe Google wants to become the next Netscape: New Microsoft Browser Raises Google's Hackles:
    With a $10 billion advertising market at stake, Google, the fast-rising Internet star, is raising objections to the way that it says Microsoft, the incumbent powerhouse of computing, is wielding control over Internet searching in its new Web browser.

    Google, which only recently began beefing up its lobbying efforts in Washington, says it expressed concerns about competition in the Web search business in recent talks with the Justice Department and the European Commission, both of which have brought previous antitrust actions against Microsoft.

    The new browser includes a search box in the upper-right corner that is typically set up to send users to Microsoft's MSN search service. Google contends that this puts Microsoft in a position to unfairly grab Web traffic and advertising dollars from its competitors.
How come Google hasn't complained that all Gecko browsers, such as Mozilla, Firefox, and Netscape come standard with Google cued up in the unavoidable search bar? Oh, right, because this little tweak benefits Google.

Remember the last time some pioneering Internet company turned away from innovation and tried to protect its market share in Washington?

Neither, apparently, does Google.

Words That Do Not Belong In Country Songs, Part IV
Makin' it shake, as in "Boot Scootin' Boogie":
    I see outlaws, inlaws crooks & straights all out makin' it shake
    Doin' the boot scootin' boogie
Ronnie, it's okay to adopt a musical persona that's from KC, but it is not appropriate to channel KC and the Sunshine Band. Boogie's bad enough, but the graphic depiction of what happens during a boogie is too much.

Exception to the Rule: It's okay to make it shake so long as you're performing some act of violence upon it, such as grabbing a grizzly by the throat and throttling it vigorously.

Sunday, April 30, 2006
Book Report: The Stainless Steel Rat for President by Harry Harrison (1982)
Sometimes, I take a long time to select which book to read next after I complete a book. I look at my bookshelves bulging with choices and, quite frankly, am overwhelmed with the possible selections. Sometimes, though, the books leap off of the shelf in a meaningful segue. Of course, immediately after reading The Case Against Hillary Clinton, I picked up The Stainless Steel Rat for President.

Like The Case Against Hillary Clinton, I bought this book from the red dot, three for a dollar shelves outside Hooked on Books, but I didn't buy the two on the same visit.

I've tried to read The Stainless Steel Rat for President on at least one other occasion, but its tour-de-farce tone didn't draw me in, and I moved onto other things.

This time, though, the over-the-top voice and the story of how the intergalactic criminal and undercover operative known as the Stainless Steel Rat ventures to a banana republic of a planet whose thriving tourism industry funds a repressive dictatorship. Penned in 1982, it offers a fable of a criminal fixing an election to free a backward, galactically latino people. If I wanted to, I guess I could dig out some sort of political posturing of the time and a backlash or support of Reagan, but wow, it would take some effort. I vaguely remember when one could read politically-based fiction without trying to determine whose side the author is on.

Regardless, it's an entertaining read, clocking in at the old school under 200 page mark. An entry into a series, but not a chronological or particularly serialized series, so you can enjoy it if it's your first Stainless Steel Rat book or if you haven't read a Stainless Steel Rat book in a decade. In short, it's good old school science fiction. Well worth my thirty-three and a third cents.

Books mentioned in this review:

Words That Do Not Belong In Country Songs, Part III
Jimmy Buffett, as in "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere":
    At a moment like this, I can't help but wonder,
    What would Jimmy Buffett do?
Alan Jackson committed this particular travesty. For the love of Pete, Jackson, do you see Hank Williams or Willie Nelson or Merle Haggard or Waylon Jennings or Johhny Cash drinking freaking hurricanes? You're treading a fine line here trying to work into some beach cowboy territory. I know the kids are all into it these days, but come on. A country duet that involves Jimmy Buffett? What's next, the Wiggles? Exception to the Rule: You may refer to a Jimmy buffet if you're eating in the back of your old GMC SUV.

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