Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Friday, May 04, 2007
New Democrat Voter Outreach
Not really, but come on, we all know who this object will vote for, don't we?
    In some ways, Hiasl is like any other Viennese: He indulges a weakness for pastry, likes to paint and enjoys chilling out watching TV. But he doesn't care for coffee, and he isn't actually a person—at least not yet. In a case that could set a global legal precedent for granting basic rights to apes, animal rights advocates are seeking to get the 26- year-old male chimpanzee legally declared a "person."
Remarkable. Even better, look at this splitting of hairs:
    "Our main argument is that Hiasl is a person and has basic legal rights," said Eberhart Theuer, a lawyer leading the challenge on behalf of the Association Against Animal Factories, a Vienna animal rights group.

    "We mean the right to life, the right to not be tortured, the right to freedom under certain conditions," Theuer said.

    "We're not talking about the right to vote here."
Where have I seen that before? Oh, yes: All animals are equal. But some are more equal than others.

(Another link seen on Boots and Sabers.)

That Holds Me Back, Too
Want to know why I never went to Hollywood? Because my stone-cold attractivosity would melt the cameras. Jessica Biel understands:
    Last summer's The Illusionist may have given her résumé a prestige boost, but Jessica Biel says "it's still a struggle" to get the parts she wants – partly because she's too sexy.
We should form a support group, but I think my wife would disapprove.

(Link seen on Boots and Sabers; in lieu of actually finding something on my own, I am merely republishing their content.)

Thursday, May 03, 2007
Why Should IE 8 Differ?
Microsoft sez:
    Microsoft's solution would be to make developers shoulder the responsibility if their sites break when rendered by IE 8.
Sounds a lot like their "solution" to a lot of broken things.

Trust the Administrators
Whenever some developer or project manager tells me that a software application does not have to provide bulletproof validation for administrators because they're not as dumb as normal users, I pause a moment to reflect upon administrator genius:
    trumwill: Over the weekend the company changed everything on the network. They sent out an email with our new network passwords.

    morequen: Wait, they sent out *an* email?

    morequen: with everyone’s password?

    trumwill: Everyone’s password being the same, yes. They advised us to create a new one.

    morequen: wow

    trumwill: Which would be possible if we could, you know, log in to see the email. Which of course we couldn’t because our passwords didn’t work.
Administrators are just users put in charge of other users. Smarter? Maybe sometimes. But software shouldn't be written as though its users are Steven Hawking, because sometimes those presumed genius-level administrators are nothing but users tasked with administrative responsibilities.

(Link seen on Dustbury.)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Book Report: Oath of Fealty by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle (1981)
In March, I read Ringworld's Children, but that book did not mar my longstanding default view of Larry Niven's work enough that I didn't pick Oath of Fealty right away. The book centers on a collision between the city of Los Angeles and an "arcology"--a large, mostly self-contained living structure housing hundreds of thousands of people with its own government, economy, and security. A humanist terrorist group wants to destroy "The Hive," so they send some young people on a dry run with only mock weapons. The security force of Todos Santos responds with deadly force, leading a showdown with the political and law enforcement forces of the city that surrounds it.

The book presents a lot of thought-provoking themes, such as a contrast of the way of life for regular city dwellers who live freely and the residents of Todos Santos, who accept certain security measures--the omnipresence of cameras, for example--to make living together in a confined area possible. Todos Santos, aside from the cameras, offers many amenities and philosophies--police are again peace officers, the government does not regulate business and in fact offers loans on good terms, and the citizens are not citizens, they're also shareholders in the corporation that runs Todos Santos.

It's got a bit of the political going on and a large cast of characters, but because it's not built on a number of books preceding it (as Ringworld's Children was), these flaws are forgiveable and aren't so dramatic; one only has to pause to sort out who the character is, not try futilely to remember who the character was from a book one read a decade ago).

Written with Jerry Pournelle and published in 1981, this book precedes the Reagan era and comes out of the 1970s milieu, but it doesn't seem dated. One of the characters carries a communicator/calendar/portable computer that, unfortunately, he has to plug in. Sounds familiar enough 26 years later. Unfortunately, the characters do describe a large set of computer files (27,000,000 bytes) that will take a long time to download at 300 baud. True, but I was downloading faster than that a mere five years after the book was written.

So it's a good book, and I'd recommend it. Especially if you can snag a cheap copy like I did.

For those of you keeping track at home, this is my 38th book of the year, so I am on a good pace to reach my annual goal of 75.

Books mentioned in this review:

Tuesday, May 01, 2007
May The Biggest Kickback Win
City officials in Milwaukee have a dilemma: Developers want free money:
    More than three years after the Park East Freeway spur was torn down, 16 acres of prime downtown land remain barren - and developers say it's time for city officials to help make something happen there.

    "There's gridlock right now, and I'm concerned this thing is going to blow up," said Gary Grunau, who is building the new Manpower Inc. headquarters, just north of the Park East area. "Somebody's got to show some leadership."
"Leadership," of course, is a euphemism for "government giveaways to private business" in forms of tax abatement, zoning variations, and loan co-signing. Of course, this would be a no-brainer, as government officials tend to want to hump the legs of all developers they can.

    Concerns about city financing for hotel projects have been raised by Greg Marcus, executive vice president of Marcus Corp., which operates three downtown hotels: InterContinental Milwaukee Hotel, Hilton Milwaukee City Center and the Pfister Hotel.

    Marcus, in a March 6 letter to Mayor Tom Barrett, said efforts to "subsidize construction of hotel rooms without first stimulating demand for those rooms" will "simply siphon off demand from existing (privately financed) hotel rooms."
It sounds like there's trouble in paradise, right? Heavy hitters in the local industry making noises like this, sounding almost laissez-faire.

Aw, if I believed that, I wouldn't be a good cynic. The government has enough favors for all fat cats. I expect the city of Milwaukee will cosign the loans for the speculative development and will throw sops to existing businesses, maybe even before they're failing on account of the city's meddling in a market economy. After all, there can never be too many cronies in crony capitalism.

Ah, Milwaukee. Briefly, you were more than St. Louis, but you're in a hurry to sink to its post-industrial, post-unsupported business level.

Monday, April 30, 2007
The View of the Vox Populi on the Op-Ed Pages
Apparently, some guy in Arkansas wrote a letter that got printed in the local paper:
    You may have noticed that March of this year was particularly hot. As a matter of fact, I understand that it was the hottest March since the beginning of the last century....

    This should come as no surprise to any reasonable person. As you know, Daylight Saving time started almost a month early this year. You would think that members of Congress would ave considered the warming effect that an extra hour of daylight would have on our climate. Or did they?

    Perhaps this is another plot by a liberal Congress to make us believe that global warming is a real threat. Perhaps the next time there should be serious tudies before Congress passes laws with such far-reaching effects.

    Hot Springs
Ace of Ace of Spades HQ says:
    How could someone be this dumb, and how could a letters-page editor then be dumb enough on top of that to publish it? The hoax warning bells are sounding.
Are the letters page editors dumb? I don't think so. However, if you read many of them, you'll notice that they often contain poorly-reasoned flights of fancy that doesn't elevate the discourse about the subject. As a matter of fact, some papers were apparently not satisfied with the depths of idiocy letter writers could produce and actually started publishing phoned-in comments to up the inanity.

I have to wonder why smaller local newspapers include these little tirades in their pages. After all, printing the paper is expensive and they are supposed to keep the gates to ensure quality or something. Instead, we're treated to idiocy (and the occasional satire masked as idiocy, as this letter was).

Something in me whispers that papers publish this sort of thing because it reflects what the acolytes of the Fourth Estate Church believe of the unwashed masses who read instead of writing the paper. Because they can crack up about the simpletons who believe what they print when standing over the coffeepot in the kitchenette of the paper. Because journalists are different from and better than the common man whose voice they've made heard.

A Word From Our Sponsor

Roadkill Hair Club For Men

Remember those young and carefree days, where the chicks dug your long hair, man, and couldn't help but run their fingers through those shimmering tresses? Too bad you got old and bald. But at the RkHCfM, we can help restore those youthful looks with an even softer feel than before.

Instead of using your own back fur or artificial fibers implanted in your gourd, the RkHCfM uses naturally harvested animal pelts to provide the hair your shrunken self-esteem needs to enlarge to its full grandeur. You'll smile longer and harder than ever before.

Our special process causes no pain to the donor animal (which is already departed, rest in peace) and little pain to you. You can get the color, feel, and texture you want by choosing from a wide variety of available options, including:
  • Possum the economical choice!
  • Raccoon for that distinguished color.
  • Escaped golden retriever the surfer look.
  • And many more!
You can trust RkHCfM to do a good job. Why? Because I'm not only the president, I'm also a member.
Roadkill Hair Club for Men president
Roadkill Hair Club for Men president

Sunday, April 29, 2007
Book Report: Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet (1983)
I bought this book at the Kirkwood Book Fair this year; I think all of these book club edition plays come from the same fellow's library, but different ones are available each year. I wonder what's up with that.

This play, originally from the early 1980s, was made into a movie in 1992, and I wonder how David Mamet could have stretched this into a 100 minute film; it took me less than that to read it. Perhaps the profanity took longer in the performances than in reading.

The story deals with a high pressure real estate group who sells lots in Florida. Some sales people are rising, some are falling, and a new office manager puts pressure on them to sell. One night, one of the men breaks into the office to steal the all-important leads that identify prospects; working in concert with another salesperson, the new burglar will take the leads and sell them to another office for a job there. Hokay. Not exactly Shakespeare here. A quick read, and it will give me something to compare the movie against if I ever see the movie.

Books mentioned in this review:

As A Famous QA Virtuoso, I Expect The Same At My Funeral
Cellist Rostropovich Buried to Applause:
    Mstislav Rostropovich, the celebrated cellist and champion of human rights, was buried Sunday to the applause of hundreds of mourners, an echo of the ovations he received during his life.
Except that those clappers at my interment will be hundreds of developers and project managers happy that their timelines can get back on track.

Layering and Order Marches On
Great moments in charge-layering, where prosecutors can add extra crimes for the same action:
  • A criminal in New York is charged with hate crimes because some of his victims were over 60 years old. That's right, boys and girls, if you're going to commit crimes, make sure you select a diverse set of victims, because if they're of the same protected class, you must hate them.
  • Some former American Idol contestant is arrested, and she's hit with an extra charge of introduction of contraband into a correctional facility. Because she was carrying some coke and the authorities uncovered it while searching her before they actually put her in jail.
Double jeopardy is against the law; however, making the same action or procedures for processing people who committed a crime into other crimes, our system gets to subvert the intent of the Constitution. For law and order and higher personal conviction rates or easier plea bargains.

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