Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Good Book Hunting: August 25, 2007
The Ethical Society of St. Louis had a books, music, and video sale today, and we happened to find it. Hardbacks were $1 each or 3 for $2; paperbacks were $.50 or 5 for $2; cassettes were .50 each or something; CDs were $1 each; and albums were $.25 or 5 for $1. Which explains the carnage that was to occur:

Ethical Society book sale results
Click for full size

I got:
  • The Running Man, the movie tie-in paperback.

  • How to Take a Trick a Day with Bisquick because I'm interested in learning more about prostitutes and pastries, and Through-the-Years Cookbook because the two were a quarter together.

  • The Fall by Camus because I have been buying Camus lately, and it has become a compulsion.

  • St. Louis: A Concise History by William Barnaby Faherty, S.J., and Gateway Guidebook because I live here and might as well learn some trivia about it.

  • Yo, Millard Fillmore by Will Cleveland and Mark Alvarez because I'd like to bone up on my presidential trivia.

  • Hoaxes! Dupes, Dodges & Other Dastardly Deceptions by Gordon Stein and Marie J. MacNee because these sorts of compilations serve as good idea sources for essays and the stories I used to tell my officemate when we'd stare out the window.

  • Be Happy!, a 1972 hardback collection of happy little thoughts simply because the book has pictures like this:

    Someone being happy


    Someone else being happy

    Brother, any review of those pictures make me instantly happier. I mean, if my sideburns ever show up in my silhouette, shoot me with a silver bullet.

  • Ernest Hemingway: A Life Story by Carlos Baker because I think Hemingway's writing is the bomb and I think his biography is riveting; let's see how this guy does with it.

  • Reagan's America by Garry Willis and Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness by Peggy Noonan because I've suddenly been seized with the urge to read more about those halycon days. I don't think the Noonan book deals with that time period, but.

  • The Death of Common Sense: How Law is Suffocating America by Philip K. Howard because Walter Olson shouldn't have all the fun.

  • 100 Love Sonnets by Pablo Neruda because I'll soon need to wash the voice of Sylvia Plath out of my head.

  • The Braille Woods, a chapbook by Ann Townsend, simply because I could. Chapbooks are good as they give small doses of an individual poet.

  • Dave Barry Does Japan because I'll need to see if he's still as funny as I remember.

  • Strange But True: Mysterious and Bizarre People by Thomas Slemen because (see Hoaxes! above).

  • Digital Darwinism by Evan I. Schwartz because I think I'll have some time for it in 2009.
Hmmm, I seem to have misplaced Poems of Friends, which I picked up and intended to buy.

For audio, I got:
  • My first Zamfir!

  • Timeless by local jazz singer Anita Rosemond

  • Pure by Hayley Westenra because she's hot.

  • An Adam Sandler comedy cassette.

  • The Grease Soundtrack, obviously.

  • A record of T.S. Eliot reading his poetry, including "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock".

  • The Sinatra Christmas album.

  • And misc big band stuff, including a 10 record set.
Not a bad haul considering my collection and Heather's stack cost a total of $16.50.

Good Book Hunting: August 18, 2007
I've been a bit remiss in posting the Book Hunting for last reason, and I'm sure you'll see why; I am ashamed:
One lousy book
Click for full size

I bought one lousy book, Dr. No. Heather, because she's into more modern thrillers, found a number of hardbacks to grab and a couple of cassettes and records (she's now got one of those USB record importers to create digital audio files).

This might well be the first time she's out-purchased me.

What a Cute Little Library
What a cute little library.

Of course, gentle reader, you know that we at MfBJN take great pleasure in the Noggle Library, but we like to see the kids these days accumulating books as best they can.

Of course, as you know, I am only currently working on my 76th-79th book for the year, a total which Tamara K. apparently reaches every couple of weeks.

Friday, August 24, 2007
Egypt Must Have Misplaced It
West Nile reported in Edwardsville

ACORN Preparing To Sue Missouri; Voter Fraud Made Too Difficult
ACORN threatens suit over drop in Mo’s voter registrations:
    The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, also known as ACORN, joined with others Thursday in sending "a letter of intent to sue" to the Missouri Department of Social Services.

    ACORN, Project Vote and Demos (a national, non-partisan public policy, research and advocacy center) contend that the state has failed to comply with "a requirement of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) to provide voter registration opportunities in public assistance offices."

    The letter was sent in connection with the release of a Project Vote report detailing concerns because voter registrations at public assistance agencies "have dropped from 143,000 in 1995-1996 to just 16,000 in 2005-2006."
Could that be that all the people who receive assistance might have registered to vote in the last 10 years?

Nah, it means that someone creative, like ACORN, should be able to "find" 125,000 additional voters each and every year until a Democrat becomes president for life.

Thursday, August 23, 2007
Life Imitates Sick Jokes
Pit bulls at Vick's house face deadline:
    More than 50 pit bulls seized from Michael Vick's property face a Thursday deadline to be claimed. If no one comes forward, they could be euthanized.

    Federal prosecutors filed court documents last month to condemn 53 pit bulls seized in April as part of the investigation into dogfighting on the Vick's property. No one has claimed any of the dogs, which are being held at several unspecified shelters in eastern Virginia, the U.S. Attorney's office said Wednesday.

I, For One, Fear The Austrians When Provoked
U.S. missile shield is provocation: Austrian minister:

    Austrian Defense Minister Norbert Darabos has called U.S. plans for a missile defense shield in eastern Europe a "provocation" reviving Cold War debates.

    "That the United States are installing a defense shield in eastern Europe is a provocation in my view," Darabos was quoted as saying in an interview with daily Die Presse on Thursday.
It's the dreaded Austrian Navy that I fear most.

Why see it static on the screen when a woman can, erm, enunciate it for you?

(Link seen on Ace of Spades HQ.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007
I Do Not Think That Word Means What You Think It Means
Apparently, the reporter is ignorant of that place of business:
    The Overland Police Department this afternoon sent out a plea for help in solving an armed robbery that happened at a toy store last Wednesday by sending out a photograph and video of the gunman. An armed robber held up Priscilla's Toy Box at 10210 Page Avenue in the city at 8:55 p.m. on Aug. 15, according to police.
Friends, that's not a children's toy store. So I hear.

UPDATE: Well, I guess someone at the paper noticed, as the word "toy" has gone down the memory hole.

Book Report: Deadly Welcome by John D. MacDonald (1959, ?)
This book, one of John D. MacDonald's paperback originals reprinted when his Travis McGee novels took off, covers a story of one Alex Doyle, former resident of Ramona Beach, Florida, and his return home. Back around the end of the war, orphaned Alex Doyle decided to join the military; on the night before his induction, he went drinking for the first time and awoke from his overindulgence with some cash stolen from his adopted family's store in his pocket. Run out of town (but allowed to join the military instead of jail), Alex Doyle serves honorably and joins the State Department. But when the Department of Defense needs a scientist to return to the organization, they turn to Doyle to shepherd him back because the scientist married a Ramona Beach woman and settled there. To get the scientist back, Doyle promises to solve the scientist's wife's murder.

It's a short novel, a paperback thriller. I liked it well enough. It lacks the depth of some of the Travis McGee series, but come on, it's a paperback thriller.

Worth a couple quarters if you find it at a book fair, or a couple bucks if you're a raving John D. MacDonald fan like me and find it in a used bookstore.

Books mentioned in this review:

Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Town Councilchair Quarterbacks Go Three And Out
Sometimes when a municipality decides that its ideas about how to design and run the business are better than the business owner's, the business owner decides not to play:
    Menards has dropped plans to build a warehouse store at the east end of Grafton near the I-43 / Highway 60 interchange, saying village officials insisted on too many changes in the company's plans, a Menards official said Monday.

    "We just went as far as we could go revising the plans, and finally we said it wasn't worthwhile," said Marv Prochaska, the company's vice president of real estate. "At some point, you have to operate your business, and it was beyond the point where the deal made any sense.

    "It was just numerous, numerous small things that all added up to way too much, and it just didn't make any sense," he said.
Look on the bright side, Grafton! That's sales tax revenue you never had, so you won't have to worry about what to do if the location started making less year over year.

Monday, August 20, 2007
Disproving Lileks's Theory
    Morgan Freeman in uniform = good, though.
Evidence against: Dreamcatcher.

In Lileks defense, I happen to be one of six people in the country to have watched Dreamcatcher.

If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em
Google opens click-fraud Web site

Book Report: Puppet on a Chain by Alistair MacLean (1969)
I forget which book fair I bought this book at this year; I do remember thinking it was great to get a copy of a non-book club edition of Alistair MacLean's work, but when the Book Fair Employee put this in the box, she tore the dustjacket almost completely. Swell.

I probably hadn't read this book since high school. It's centered around an Interpol narcotics investigator going to Amsterdam to sniff out a big, organized crime syndicate shipping heroin abroad. It's interesting that it's a commonplace crime handled as though it's bigger than it is. Some of the response to the drug thing is over-the-top, but this was early in the war on drugs, before it became commonplace I suppose. The point of view is a little different from many MacLean books in that this is a storyteller first person. Unlike other first person points of view, where the I is supposed to play it straight, this storyteller withholds information and foreshadows later events to make a better story. I think it's a good point of view, a bit of the double-effect narrator going on, and think I should try it again.

A good read, quick enough (a little over 2 nights for me) and probably readily available at book fairs or the link below if you're interested.

Books mentioned in this review:

Sunday, August 19, 2007
Book Report: Ghosts by Ed McBain (1980)
This book, an 87th Precinct novel coming from the old tradition of hardback mysteries under 200 pages in length, is a throwback even at its publication date. The phone numbers within it appear as town plus five digits. In Isola. In 1980. So I guess it was on the shelf for a decade or so before publication.

In it, Carella investigates the murder of a known writer whose fiction books were so-so, but whose nonfiction book on ghosts was a runaway bestseller. The murderer also killed a woman outside the writer's apartment building, and then moves on to kill the writer's editor and try to kill the writer's girlfriend, a medium--but the killer attacks the woman's twin sister inadvertantly. In the course of the investigation, Carella encounters some actual ghosts, marking one of the few if not the only time the supernatural makes its appearance in these books.

It's a decent enough thriller and a quick enough read.

Striking, though, is the back of the book which features two long paragraphs of praise for Ed McBain and this book from Stephen King. Ed McBain's been plying his trade for 25 years, and the book company puts an endorsement from a relatively recent, although popular, upstart to sell more books. How Mr. Lombino must have felt. Of course, he probably sold more books on account of it, so he probably was okay with it, as he was a professional.

Books mentioned in this review:

Answering My Wife's Question About Transportation Budgets
The other day, I commented that Ronald Reagan allowed for a federal gas tax 25 years ago because of the state of the interstate highway infrastructure. I made the comment that transportation budgets are always diverted to other things, and she jumped on my "always." However, I think I have a better insight into government nature than she does.

This column enumerates some of the ways transportation,that is, gas tax, money is spent that doesn't involve maintaining roadways:
    As recently as July 25, Mr. Oberstar sent out a press release boasting that he had "secured more than $12 million in funding" for his state in a recent federal transportation and housing bill. But $10 million of that was dedicated to a commuter rail line, $250,000 for the "Isanti Bike/Walk Trail," $200,000 to bus services in Duluth, and $150,000 for the Mesabi Academy of Kidspeace in Buhl. None of it went for bridge repair.
    Minnesota spends $1.6 billion a year on transportation--enough to build a new bridge over the Mississippi River every four months. But nearly $1 billion of that has been diverted from road and bridge repair to the state's light rail network that has a negligible impact on traffic congestion. Last year part of a sales tax revenue stream that is supposed to be dedicated for road and bridge construction was re-routed to mass transit. The Minnesota Department of Economic Development reports that only 2.8% of the state's commuters ride buses or rail to get to work, but these projects get up to 25% of the funding.
Here's how it works:
  1. Government get general tax revenue.

  2. Government spends tax revenue on shiny things, not maintaining core government services (law enforcement) or infrastructure (roads).

  3. Shortfall in core services funding becomes an emergency requiring raised taxes/dedicated taxes.

  4. Government gets dedicated tax revenue in addition to general tax revenue.

  5. Government spends general tax revenue on shiny things and new dedicated tax revenue on shiny things, not on core services or infrastructure.

  6. Shortfall in core services funding becomes emergency requiring raised taxes.
The problem does not lie in the amount the government is getting and spending; it lies in the things the government buys.

But don't tell the government or our elected/unelected "leaders" that. They like shiny things.

(Link seen on Instapundit.)

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