Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, July 22, 2006
St. Louis City Makes Do Without FEMA
When searching for a scapegoat or man-made entity to shake its impotent fist at after the recent storms, the city of St. Louis settles on Ameren UE:
    City officials expressed frustration today that Ameren Corp. has kept them in the dark while more than half of the city remains without power.

    Mayor Francis Slay -- whose own home has lost power -- said the utility has been "playing it very close to the vest" about when power would be restored to St. Louis.

    "They have been very, very vague," Slay said in a briefing to aldermen at City Hall. "They don"t really promise anything specifically -- I think intentionally so."
Dear politicians:

When dealing with actual concrete things, such as incompletely troubleshot interruptions of service, undiagnosed downed lines, and incomplete timetables of unknown repairs on undiscovered problems, people in the real world don't make rash promises that they probably cannot meet. Although this is commonplace in your industry, how about you just shut your yap, sweat with your constituents, and never consider about how your efforts to hamstring public utilities might actually have helped lead to the situation you're in now?

Nah, nevermind. Use this as a pretext to puff your three-pieced chest up and to further meddle with all the incompetent power of preening government.

Almost a Blog
Robert B. Parker's "blog" on

One post with 61 comments from readers. I cannot fault him for not keeping up with it; blogs are facile mechanisms for writers who aren't doing five pages a day, no more, no less, for profit.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Parenting Advice
When improvising a lullaby for your newborn, it is perfectly acceptable to rhyme baby with astrolabe. The kid will not call you on it.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Apparently, Our Deadly Heat Waves Are Lacking
How can we feel national pride in our deadly heat waves?
    At least six deaths have been blamed on the heat, and the weather was suspected in at least three others.
Compare to the more nuanced, reasonable, and thoroughly progressive, socialist-minded continent, as demonstrated by France:
    The death toll in France from August's [2003] blistering heat wave has reached nearly 15,000, according to a government-commissioned report released Thursday, surpassing a prior tally by more than 3,000.

    Scientists at INSERM, the National Institute of Health and Medical Research, deduced the toll by determining that France had experienced 14,802 more deaths than expected for the month of August.
Hopefully, government intervention, regulation, and meddling can solve the crisis we're having in the lack of actual deaths in our deadly heat wave.

You Keep Using That Word I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means
The words: the "market." The you: The Brookings Institution:
    Low-income residents of 13 cities across the nation pay extra for many everyday services, sometimes thousands of dollars more over a whole year, a study to be released today shows.

    By taking out higher-interest mortgages, shopping at rent-to-own furniture stores, using check-cashing businesses instead of banks and buying groceries at convenience stores, the nation's working poor households pay much more than moderate- and high-income households for life's essentials, says the Brookings Institution study, which analyzed services in San Francisco, Oakland and 11 other cities.

    The report -- "From Poverty, Opportunity: Putting the Market to Work for Lower-Income Families" -- calls on government officials to create laws to curb services that gouge low-income consumers, and it proposes reproducing fledgling programs the authors found across the country.
No word on whether how the Brookings Institution wants businesses to recoup their losses on the higher default rates of those in poverty. Perhaps the government should just create laws to curb poverty, risk, and rain on days you wanted to go for a bike ride since it's that easy.

Satanism Rears Its Ugly Head In Columbia, Missouri
Oh, sorry, I guess it's not really Satanism, just a prosecutor using a law targeting Satanism creatively to punish someone who abused her child:
    Boone County Circuit Judge Gary Oxenhandler sentenced Erma McKinney on Monday to 21 years for assault, 10 years for child abuse, eight years for child endangerment, and seven years for child endangerment in a ritual or ceremony. McKinney will serve the first three sentences concurrently and the last one consecutively.

    McKinney was convicted in May. The ritual or ceremony charge was brought because McKinney told police she punished her son with a hot shower more than once.
I demand my legislators do something! and make sure that assault with an active shower head is an additional felony, because 30 years just ain't enough.

Monday, July 17, 2006
Book Report: The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Rupert Holmes (1986)
You know, the St. Louis Reperatory Theatre put on this play this play last year, and I didn't have the inkling to go. I mean, face it, I hear Steven Woolf on the radio hawking the shows, and his forced enthusiasm kills any I might feel about a play. I mean, this one is a musical, and everybody knows how I feel about musicals (hint). So I didn't go, and reading the book, I'm sorry I didn't.

I picked this book club edition for a couple bucks at one of the book fairs I attended this summer. I think it was St. Charles, but come on, St. Charles, St. Louis, Kirkwood, Belleville, Webster Groves....they're all beginning to blend together. I'm not reading the books fast enough to keep their origins fresh.

Aside from that, let's dwell on the fact that this is a book club edition. Now, I've done my turns with the Book of the Month Club and the Quality Paperback Club (and the Writers' Digest Book Club) beginning in the 1990s, but they didn't offer contemporary plays. Is there a Broadway Book Club out there, or is this disappearance representative of the death of middlebrow culture? I mean, not to put too fine of a point on it, where has drama-loving middlebrow culture gone? In the olden days, plays and theatre were cheap and popular entertainment, with stars accountable to their audiences both in their performance and their lifestyles. Now, our popular entertainment is phoned in from somewhere else, delivered via unresponsive screening technologies by stars who don't know their ultimate audiences, but feel contempt for them. What happened? Oh, yeah, theatre tickets stopped selling for a penny and snotty little English and Drama majors started getting uppity, using the rarification of their academic experience to distance themselves from the dirty, unthinking (or wrong thinking) plebes. Probably more of the former than the latter.

This particular work breaks down the fourth wall in a rather interesting fashion. It does the normal play-within-the-play thing as well; the story revolves around the last, unfinished work of Charles Dickens as presented by a turn-of-the-century British troupe. Ergo, all actors are playing actors playing characters in the play. Throughout, the Edwin Drood action stops as the drama personnel of the British troupe make asides, discuss their parts, and so on. Ultimately, the British troupe asks the audience to help finish off the play, as Dickens died before revealing the Solution of Edwin Drood.

So the play, this play, the Mystery of Edwin Drood, offers a novel and amusing presentation of several conventions and must be very interesting to see in performance, except now I know all possible endings. It's like watching Clue: The Movie over and over again even when the mystery is gone. Come to think of it, I do that, too, so I guess I'd go see a production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood if I got the chance.

As far as the St. Louis Reperatory Theatre goes, I guess I'll make my way over there, too, and give Steven Woolf the benefit of the doubt. Especially since we've moved to Old Trees, Missouri, and now we're so close to it that I sometimes bang my shin into Loretto-Hilton Center when trying to find the bathroom in the dark.

Books mentioned in this review:

Sunday, July 16, 2006
Beating Instapundit Like An Oil Drum
Who's the number one Google hit for "anti robot bigotry"?

MfBJN, of course.

The number 2 hit? Some obscure academic's Web site.

I bet I beat him for Samus Aran naked, too.

Is That Some Kind of Metaphor?
As jets soar, so does temperature:
    The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for the Milwaukee area today, cautioning residents - who sweated through highs in the mid-90s on Saturday - to prepare for even higher temperatures and humidity.

    The advisory, the first of its kind this year, is expected to be in effect until Monday morning.

    Darrin Hansing, a meteorologist with the weather service in Sullivan, advised residents to stay indoors and drink plenty of fluids.

    "Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are very possible in these types of situations if people don't take the proper precautions," he said.

    Little relief is in sight until the end of the week.

    The weather service predicts a hot and humid day today, with highs in the upper 90s. Residents can expect 90-degree days until Thursday afternoon, said Peter Speicher, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Sullivan.

    "There's a front coming in from the northwest," he said.

    Milwaukee hit a high of 94 on Saturday.

    Temperatures in Fond du Lac climbed to 95 and reached a high of 91 in Lone Rock. It was 97 in Sheboygan and 93 in Madison, Kenosha and Racine.
No, wait, somewhere around paragraph 24, after all the normal admonishments to turn on your air conditioners, you freaking northerners, and don't put the pets in the sweat lodge, we get the tie to the weekend air show:
    The Milwaukee Fire Department also set up three sprinkler tents around the Veterans Park area for the TCF Bank Air Expo on Saturday, Lt. Tim Halbur said.
We then get a couple short paragraphs about the air show and how people coped with the French-killing temperatures at the air show. I guess that's where the Journal-Sentinel sent its photographers to cover the heat wave, or maybe it couldn't afford to take pictures of and write stories about both the heat wave and the air show, so the paper did its part in conserving energy by combining the two stories in a surprising and haphazard way.

Living in a Hidden Fee Economy
Drives me as mad as anything, that companies tack on service charges and other means of bleeding you after hooking you in with a low price or rate. Economists are making their theories, and Christopher Shea reviews.

Bottom line, it helps the savvy consumer by soaking most idiots.

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