Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Fred Thompson Reminder
Everyone else is linking to them, so I'd hate for you, gentle reader who doesn't read political blogs, to miss these pieces of text regarding the next President of the United States:

Reminder: You're Old
Remember the Marathon candy bar, and its Western-themed commercials on Saturday mornings?

Yeah, the candy bar hasn't been made in 25 years. That one.

Book Report: Santorini by Alistair MacLean (1987)
Wow, who knew? I found my initial Alistair MacLean books back in the old Community Library, a volunteer and donation operation that operated out of a strip mall in High Ridge until it got its own tax levy and became the Northwest Jefferson County Library or whatever. It was more homey and plucky before it became a government-funded bureaucracy, something shared between those of us who enjoyed books before it became a burden to the taxpayers who didn't. In the intervening years, my appreciation for Alistair MacLean has waned somewhat, too.

MacLean's books about World War II and the early cold war period are enjoyable because they're slightly exotic in tone and style as they are intricate in plot. MacLean, of course, was British, so his heroes are often British with their stiff upper lips mimicked in his slightly stuffy and distant prose. But more contemporary works (The Golden Gate and Floodgate come to mind) don't work for me because they're contemporary--in those decades I can somewhat remember.

This book deals with an American bomber carrying nukes that crashes into the Mediterranean. A British frigate investigates and finds a Greek shipping maganate who might have caused the sabotuage of the bomber so he could recover the nukes. The British naval officers on the frigate must outwit the mastermind and handle the armed and dangerous nuclear weapons at the same time.

250 pages, roughly, so it's a quick read. Paragraph-based dialog makes it easy to skim, and the action does move along quickly, but the characters are pretty superficial and the book lacks the twists that characterize the best of MacLean's plot-driven work.

But I bought it for a quarter, so it's worth my time and money at that.

Books mentioned in this review:

Maybe I should have dropped by the NRA convention while it was in town:

You are 51% of a gun nut!
You're probably either a seasonal hunter or someone with a decent head knowledge of guns. Start shooting for groups, and you could really be a force to be reckoned with!

My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on knowledge
Link: The Gun Nut Test written by slayer1am on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

(Link seen on Exultate Justi.)

Friday, April 13, 2007
Senseless Shooting in Illinois
Cahokia fire kills mother, 3 children

I am trying to figure out the use of passive/active voice in St. Louis Post-Dispatch headlines. I think the rules are something like this:
  • If it's an intentional act of causing harm performed by a perpetrator of a crime, it calls for passive voice: Man Is Killed In Robbery.
  • If it's an act of nature that can show no mens rea, use a transitive verb that implies intention in the active voice: Cahokia Fire Kills Mother, 3 Children.
Does that about cover it?

Thursday, April 12, 2007
Book Report: Fat Ollie's Book by Ed McBain (2002)
This book, written only a couple of books before Fiddlers, focuses on a lesser character from the 87th Precinct novels: Fat Ollie Weeks. This is appropriate, that is a lesser character, as he works in the 88th Precinct, but he's been known to participate in the boys' criminal investigations from time to time, ah, yes. When a councilman is shot before a campaign event, Ollie is the first man up, but he involves Carella and Co. because the vic lived in the 87th. During the course of his initial crime scene inspection, Weeks discovers that his car has been broken into, and someone has made off with the case containing the book he's very proud to have written.

The book lightly interweaves three plots: the investigation into the councilman's death, Weeks's investigation into the theft of his book, and the crook who stole his book's interpretation of the book, entitled Report to the Commissioner. McBain even includes the text of the 36 page "book" written by Weeks, poorly, throughout the book. Remarkable that he (McBain) could write something bad enough to represent the amateur detective/First Grade's work. I mean, I remember when I wrote that poorly, but I'm not sure I could do it now one cue (although perhaps I do it perpetually, which is why I lean away from fiction these days, thank you very much.

Also, as the book focuses on a bigoted character used mostly as comic relief throughout the other books, it gives McBain a chance to do some extra characterization to make Weeks's character sympathetic.

I liked it. I bought it for a buck at a book fair. It's worth more than that, but I'm cheap.

Books mentioned in this review:

Internet Rumor Du Noir
Joe Hill? He's not Stephen King's son.

He's one of Stephen King's good clones.

Widow Sues To Make Airline Travel More Tedious
We all know about the long lines that await when we go to the airport to catch a flight, but a recent widow is suing to make sure airlines check your IDs as you leave the plane, too:
    After the plane landed at Chicago O'Hare International Airport on April 13, 2005, passengers and flight crew disembarked and the jet was taken to another gate for cleaning. Workers then discovered the bathroom was locked from the inside and found Matsuo's body -- about two hours after the jet landed.

    "How could you lose a passenger?" Watts, who did not fly with her husband that day, told The Indianapolis Star. "If I was somewhere on that plane, I would hope someone would notice."
Oh, sure, she's not suing for the express goal of lengthening the disembark time or making it more likely that you'll miss your connecting flights; she wants the money. But be assured, gentle reader, this is what you'll come to know as a result.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007
I Do Not Think That Word Means What You Think It Means
U.S. Military Says Iran Helping Iraq:
    A U.S. military spokesman said Iran is training Iraqis to make deadly roadside bombs. EFPs or explosively formed penetrators, hurl a molten, fist-sized copper slug capable of piercing armored vehicles.
That's only "helping" Iraq if "Iraq's" goal is trying to kill Americans. According to AP, I guess that's the case.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Cosmic Impact of America's Refusal to Abide by Kyoto Accords
Sunspots reaching 1,000-year high:
    A new analysis shows that the Sun is more active now than it has been at anytime in the previous 1,000 years.
Natural cycles beyond the grasp of human control or outside human impact are inconceivable to some people. Certainly, this must be part of a Republican plot to impair global communications right before the 2008 election cycle.

Monday, April 09, 2007
Book Report: Hidden Prey by John Sandford (2004)
This book precedes the last book I read (Broken Prey), so I put them in the wrong order when I lined them up on my bookshelf. As I've mentioned before, the events in Lucas Davenport's life are background material, and the plots of the books are the important things within the novels.

This one differs from the rest, which differ from each other pleasingly. Davenport looks into the murder of a Russian sailor who formerly worked for the KGB. Was it a Russian mafia thing? A spy thing? Or could it be a hidden sleeper cell within the northern reaches of Minnesota?

Two things detracted from the book:
  • A Russian security operative, Nadya, who is sent to oversee the investigation. No problem. Overreliance upon her saying, "What is this (insert American idiom)?" That can be a problem when overused. As a matter of fact, it was a problem.

  • 2 typographical errors: an extra space before a comma and the misspelling of Del's name as Dell. Come on, guys, you gotta try harder.
Also, I've nticed that Sandford's novels have common pacing: 250-275 pages of chasing herrings and investigating followed by 50-75 pages of manic chase the real criminal action. As such, the climaxes often are forced and kinda rush past you. This book is no exception.

Books mentioned in this review:

Sunday, April 08, 2007
With Warnings Like These
Mmm, a lollipop:

A lollipop.
click for full size

Looks good, doesn't it? Not if you have certain food allergies:

A deadly lollipop.
click for full size

That warning says: Allergy information: Made in a facility that processes milk, eggs, soy products and wheat.

The allergy information is on the label where it's twisted around the stem; if you're like most people, that lollipop is in your mouth before you even look at that portion of the label, if you look at that portion of the label at all.

And if you suffer from a severe allergy to any of those food groups, your throat is probably already closing off.

But, hey, you can't sue.

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