Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, August 12, 2006
Dominique Lurks
When you look into the bookshelves, the bookshelves look into you. Sometimes.

Dominique among the books

Book Report: RPG World Volume One by Ian Jones-Quartey (2004)
I am pretty sure I bought this book as part of a bag of books at the Webster Groves Book Fair. It doesn't matter, really, but I know you really dote upon my books' lineage, gentle reader, and I try to recreate it as accurately as I can for you.

The book collects a number of strips from an online comic, RPG World, and presents them, get this, in a hardback book. A graphic novel, if you will, from an online comic. How about that? Of course, I don't really follow online comics much; I mean, I see the Cox and Forkum and Day by Day like any good conservative blog reader who, you know, reads blogs that have the strips or cartoons printed on them, but I don't see the sites out. Heck, I don't even follow Calico Monkey, even though it's flashed by an acquaintance into whose debt I remain for setting me up with my current sweet gig.

But put it in a book? I am all on it!

The story follows the action of the characters in a video game for the PlayStation as they go about their quest and side quests and deal with the mechanics of the game. It's an amusing conceit and is full of jokes available to those familiar with the genre. I liked the book and liked that it took me only a couple of hours to read it. Unfortunately, just because I read it doesn't mean I'll follow the online version of the comic. Because I'm a luddite enough that I have certain things I don't tend to do, and follow comics online is one of them. But if I find another book of RPG World somewhere in the wild, I'll pick it up.

Books mentioned in this review:

Friday, August 11, 2006
Simple Answers for Stupid Questions
To tuck or not to tuck that is the question
    “Most men want to wear the accepted norm, and for years that used to be khaki pants, a tucked blue shirt and black belt,” explains Gregg Andrews, a fashion director at Nordstrom.

    Now, he says the uniform is premium jeans and a striped button-down shirt that is untucked.
Not in my world, mister. Do some sit-ups, by a real holster for your concealed carry needs, and tuck it in.

Wherein Brian J. Strikes "Never" From His Libertarian Dictionary
Mehlville agency will seek lower tax rate:
    The Mehlville Fire Protection District will propose yet another reduction in its property tax rate at next week's tax rate hearing.

    The Board of Directors will propose a tax rate of 69.8 cents per $100 assessed valuation for 2007, Chairman Aaron Hilmer said.

    "The reason we lowered it even further than we originally intended was (that) as we looked at the amount of reserves that we had, they were just stunning . . . what we built up in the last 18 months," Hilmer said. "This is in addition to building a new firehouse, buying a new fire truck, ordering another one, getting three new ambulances, new staff cars, upgrading medical, etcetera. So we looked and saw we were projecting eight to nine million dollars in reserves, in addition to new taxes we're bringing in, and that's why we decided to lower it even more."
I'm writing in the name Aaron Hilmer for 3rd District Congressional Representative this year.

Thursday, August 10, 2006
Ask Dr. Creepy: Movie Stars As Inspiration
Dr. Creepy Dear Doctor Creepy,
I'm trying to find creepy actors whose mannerisms--and creepy characters--I can use as inspiration for emulation in every day life. I like Edward Norton and really like Crispin Glover, especially for his role in
Williard. If I choose one to imitate for maximum creepiness, who should it be?

Creeping 2 Creepy

Dear Creeping to Creepy,
For starters, you poser, do not use numbers for words; there is nothing creepy about Prince-hop.

Secondly, you've presented Dr. Creepy with a false dilemma in choosing between Norton and Glover. Both have their finer points as creepy character actors, but ultimately their other work will overshadow their best roles.

And although some might suspect that I favor Ronald Lacey, whereas I do hold the immortal Toht close to heart at all times, if I could have all junior weirdos out their emulate one frightening modern character actor, I would recommend David Patrick Kelly. The short, high-pitched actor commands attention and makes skin crawl in any motion picture in which he appears, from his role as Doyle in Last Man Standing to T-Bird in The Crow. Certainly, although Sam the Sleazeball appeared to reform in The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, did you really believe that the flower-toting, woman-defending fisticuffs were genuine and bound to last? I couldn't. And his pièce de résistance remains the too-brief role of Sully in Commando.

Working his nonhandsomeness together with his diminutive height and high pitched voice (which sounds lispy, even when it's not), Kelley combines pathetic with the fear that violence might erupt at any moment. My friends, that's the essence of creepy, and no one has it like David Patrick Kelley.

Dr. Creepy

I'll See Your Conspiracy Theory And Raise You
George W. Bush has ginned up the fake "air terror" alert to make it inconvenient for you to fly. So you'll have to drive to your destinations and will have to buy gas at Big Oil's gouge--nay, plunge router!--prices.

You silly fools who think it's all about influencing an election... you've forgotten It's All About Oiiiil!

Said The Fat City Lawyer Cat
Hard to think how this could be taken pejoratively:
    "This is a bunch of good kids from Fulton," said Weiser's lawyer, Carter Collins Law. "As far as I can tell, they're a bunch of little country mice. And I don't mean that in a ... pejorative way at all," she said.
From what children's story book did this condescending attorney pluck did this particular bunch? The Little Country Mice Who Chewed Through MoneyGram International's Wires Accidentally And Got a Lot of Cheese Nationwide?

I don't know if I ever want an attorney defending me to try the Forrest Gump defense. I mean, who does this attorney think is more naive, her clients or anyone listening?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006
To The Winners Go The Spoiling
Voters approve increasing license fees for businesses:
    St. Louis voters approved an increase to the business license fee, dealing a victory to Mayor Francis Slay's assault on crime.
And a victory to Francis Slay's assault on companies located in the city limits.

How is this a victory in the assault on crime? Is Francis Slay's opponents in this war on crime businesses? Giving the questionable government of the city of St. Louis more money to squander as it sees fit (and more money in the general fund for slush like sports commissions) doesn't directly impact crime. But if the "assault on crime" is all about raising money, I guess I stand corrected and it is a victory.

9th District Court of Appeals Defends Property Rights
Federal appeals court rules against workplace PC privacy:
    If you think the Web sites you access on your workplace computer are nobody else's business, think again.

    That was the message today from the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, which upheld a Montana man's conviction for receiving obscene material that his employer found on his computer during a late-night raid.

    "Social norms suggest that employees are not entitled to privacy in the use of workplace computers, which belong to their employers and pose significant dangers in terms of diminished productivity and even employer liability," said Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain in the 3-0 ruling.

    He said other courts have consistently ruled that employers are entitled to monitor their workers' use of computers as long as they had disclosed that policy to their workforce.
Unlike some respected legal minds, I don't think this is a defeat for privacy rights; instead, it's a victory for property rights. Because even though some people would phrase it this way:
    If you think the Web sites you access on your workplace computer are nobody else's business, think again.
Because let's not forget, it's not your computer, it's your employer's. It's not your Internet connection at work, it's your employers. And anyone who would give you rights over that property which you don't own takes rights away from the actual owner.

Apparently, this runs counter to established case law regarding searches and seizures and where arbitrary edges of the invented right to privacy lies. Friends, this strikes me, like much law does, as to arguing what sort of pin angels can dance upon. From the distant, forest sort of view, it doesn't matter whether the gumdrop trees are green or blue because it's still a candy forest in a child's imagination. But I haven't finished law school.

I suspect that throwing computers into the story has triggered automatic responses from the digitally-inclined libertarians amongst us. After all, information wants to be free, unless it wants to hide in the shadows of privacy's billowing petticoats. Because it's computers, it's different and twenty-first century.

But it looks to me, simply, that once you've established that the employee has certain rights to use the employer's facilities and materiel as the employee wants, we cannot stop easily at the compter namespace. No, the employee then should have certain privacy rights to be free from monitoring, from both the employer and the government, in other facilities or with other employer-provided mechanisms for communicating and productivity.

Conference rooms become cones of silence, in which you can conduct personal business without fear of eviction for actual meetings. Why not plan your family reunion? Letterhead and printed envelopes become diplomatic pouches, wherein you should expect everything you write, type, or print upon them to be private, for the addressee only. Don't forget the 900 numbers on your phone system. The Man blocking them surely infringes upon your privacy and its emanated right to a psychic reading.

No, the 9th District here accidentally protected the rights of property holders from those who would virtually squat upon those items. Regardless of search, seizure, or illegal activity, the computers belong to the employers, and the employees have no right to their network connections, memory, or hard disk space for personal use.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006
A Metaphor I Could Have Lived Without
Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes of Floyd Landis:
    His lies are so bad that they remind me of my dearly departed grandmother who used to blame her flatulence on our aging cocker spaniel, even though the foul aroma was wafting directly from her flowery frock.

    So the Liar King Landis tries to ignore the foul smell of guilt wafting all around him and blame it on everybody and everything but my lovable dead dog.
Burwell is purportedly a professional writer. Can we just nominate him for the Pulitzer, nay, the Nobel Prize for Literature! right now?

Monday, August 07, 2006
Milwaukee Admirals Celebrate Halloween Every Day
The Milwaukee Admirals have a new look and a new logo, and it's goofy:
    In conjunction with its new slogan "Never say die," which has been teasing local billboard readers for the past month, the Admirals introduced the new logo: the admiral of a ghost ship. A pirate explained to the crowd that the admiral had been at the bottom of Lake Michigan for the past 20 years and that this was what was left of him.

    The new logo is quite a bit edgier than the last logo of the salty seaman admiral. The new admiral, designed by Joe Locher of Yes Men of Milwaukee, is a skull with a black admiral's cap with ice blue trim.

    The team's new colors will be black, ice blue and silver, replacing the old red, white and blue. "We wanted to do something that would be really popular with the younger crowd," Locher said. "We wanted to avoid the idea of a trendy logo, yet we wanted to tie it in to the heritage of the team to have it make more sense."
Yeah, a skeleton logo in black, white, and ice blue. That'll impress the kids these days. What, did they think they weren't selling enough merchandise to the gangbanger crowd that flocks to Raiders apparel?

Plus, let's just savor that insight from the marketing man again:
    "We wanted to do something that would be really popular with the younger crowd," Locher said. "We wanted to avoid the idea of a trendy logo, yet we wanted to tie it in to the heritage of the team to have it make more sense."
Avoiding a trendy logo yet tying it into the heritage of the team.

Obviously, this fellow's skill lies with imagery, and not expressing cohesive concepts in language.

(Link seen a while back on The American Mind.)

Is It That Time Already?
In April, I sent a letter cancelling my subscription to Reader's Digest's The World's Best Reading series of classic literature editions.

It must be the beginning of the month, because I've got another invoice for a book whose shipment I refused. I'll have to drop another letter in the mail saying I won't pay this invoice, either, since I freaking cancelled five months ago.

Reader's Digest Association: It's Like AOL from the Ninteenth Century.

Sunday, August 06, 2006
That One Kid Must Be a Fish
Illinois to track liquor sales to minor

In other news, the remainder of Illinois' under-21 population has breathed a sigh of relief that the Man won't be watching them.

Sherman Parker Arrest Complete Statement
Sherman Parker or someone at his campaign has sent me the complete statement he issued after his recent arrest:
    Below is the fulll text of a statement I sent to the Post Dispatch regarding the story that is in today's (Saturday) paper about my unfortunate incident this week: On Monday, July 31, 2006, after erecting campaign signs in St. Charles County, I was pulled over on Highway 40 and detained by a Missouri State Highway trooper. I was not initially stopped for a traffic violation or any violation of the law. I did not receive a ticket for this stop. After checking my driving record, the trooper later determined that a bench warrant had been issued for my arrest for missing a court date for a speeding violation in Chesterfield.

    I had previously written the court a letter requesting to reschedule my court date since this date was during the legislative session. In the course of the ensuing weeks, with the session winding down and attempting to get my congressional campaign into full gear, I neglected to follow up with the court, and thus a bench warrant was issued without my knowledge. Prior to this incident, I had never been arrested by any law enforcement officer anywhere.

    At the present time, all my fines have been paid, and I now want to put this embarrassing matter behind me. I apologize and I understand, that as an elected official, no one person is above the law. I must strive everyday to set a higher example. I very much regret that this incident may detract, in these last few days, from the issues I have been stressing in this campaign such as: improving healthcare, economic development, and the rising cost of energy.
As I'd hoped, it's straightforward and doesn't avoid blame for a procedural error leading to his bench warrant and doesn't go off on the cop who arrested him. No indignation, no racial overtones, just a statement about what happened.

On a side note, aren't bench warrants neat things? Personally, I wonder sometimes if there's a bench warrant out for me. I mean, a speed zone or red light camera ticket mailed to the wrong address, and suddenly I could be calling my wife to bail me out of jail. One wonders if this is a good mechanism for minor law enforcement, but then again, if one is like this one (me), one knows that it's not about law enforcement as getting revenue and asserting authority.

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