Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Good Book Hunting: October 6, 2008
Last Saturday, I did not go book hunting per se; I went to my mother's yard sale and spent all day down there, talking to the little old ladies (and my mother) and whatnot.

However, I did get a handful of material that I bought from others, received as gifts, or reclaimed instead of donating:
Books from our garage sale
Click for full size

The stack to the left represents some children's books for the boy; the center stack, which I will not enumerate here, includes the aforementioned magazines, craft books, and home improvement materials I've reclaimed. Since they've been mine since the early part of the century when I was an eBay seller, I'm not trying to convince you they're new. They haven't been in the household for a couple of years, though.

New material includes:
  • Orvieto, a book about the city of Orvieto. Because I hadn't had one before, you know.

  • From Gold to Grey by Mary D. Brine, an 1886 collection of poetry given to me by one of the women at the garage sale because she knew I collected old books.

  • The Path of Vision by Bessie Mona Lasky, a collection of musings and paintings given to me by the same woman.

  • Richtofen: The True History of the Red Baron, mostly because I had been thinking of the song "Snoopy and the Red Baron" and its sequel "Snoopy's Christmas" by The Royal Guardsmen, and I need something to give me the real story.

  • A pair of Nat King Cole audiocassettes.

  • A pair of noir films, The Big Combo and Raw Deal (not the Schwarzeneggar film).

  • A Cary Grant three pack on VHS, including His Girl Friday, Charade, and Penny Serenade.
So the weekend wasn't a total loss as far as acquisitions are concerned.

Friday, October 12, 2007
Another Day, More World Points
Today's mail contained 2 Bank of America World Points credit card offers with the same nonprofit group branding:

More points

The only difference is the free gift offered.

The next step, of course, is five credit card offers in a day with no difference whatsoever! Since I'm not interested, perhaps someone who'd steal my identity by stealing my mail or taking advantage of a misdelivery will!

This even beats my last batch of credit card offers.

A phish disguising itself as a warning about phishing scams. Brilliant!


Although this phising scam warns the recipients that Citizens Bank Money Manager GPS users have been the target of phishing scams containing misspelled words, it obviously does not note that phishing e-mails often contain weird capitalization or lack punctuation, but then again, valid e-mails often contain these problems.

To be really helpful, it would include a tip about checking your status bar (that bottom line of text in some e-mail clients) or the mouseover text (in some e-mail clients) to make sure that the target of the link is the same as the link text, or it would explain that subdomains with legitimate-looking text are irrelevant if the actual domain, that is, the last thing before the .com, is not what it's supposed to be (such as

But that would sort of spoil the phishing exercise, wouldn't it?

Thursday, October 11, 2007
When Rec Room Furnishings Go Bad
Spanish Lake bar sold cocaine, police say

I understand the jukebox was running numbers, too.

Book Report: The Case of the Fiery Fingers by Erle Stanley Gardner (1951, ?)
This is the second Perry Mason book I've re-read this year; the first was The Case of the Cautious Coquette in April. This volume is published by Walter J. Black, the same fellow that does the Classics Club and Dickens editions I've been collecting; now that I look at it, they use the same binding. No doubt these were inexpensive books sold as part of a Perry Mason book club, and the fact that I see so many of these titles in the wild indicates they were probably early volumes in the series.

In this book, celebrating its 56th anniversary this year, Mason consults with a nurse who wants to prevent the murder of her charge by a husband after her (the charge's) property. Mason can't do much for her, but gets roped into defending the nurse when she's accused of theft. Then the charge actually dies, and Mason must defend the accused--the dead woman's sister who also consulted with Mason with an incomplete hand-written will.

A quick read and a good mystery. There's a reason Mason was popular in fiction and on television for fifty years.

Books mentioned in this review:

That's How The Army Meets Its Recruiting Goals These Days
Corvette goes airborne, lands on a mobile home in Swansea.

Chevys in the 82nd. What will they think of next?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Obvious Solution Eludes Government Officials, Sycophants
Late tax payments rise again in county:
    Milwaukee County, including some of its most affluent suburbs, had a double-digit increase in the percentage of property owners unable to pay their tax bills in 2007, a trend that began last year with a 26% surge in the value of tax delinquencies in the county's suburbs alone.

    In all, 17,960 Milwaukee County properties were delinquent as of September on taxes levied for the current year, up 14% from 15,754 as of September 2006. The City of Milwaukee and 14 of its 18 suburbs posted double-digit percentage increases in delinquencies, representing almost $37 million in unpaid taxes this year.

    Much of the blame has been levied on the mortgage crisis, in which a proliferation of nontraditional mortgages and predatory lending practices over the last two years have put many buyers - even those in higher income brackets - in over their heads.

    But economists and credit counselors point to numerous pressures in a weak economy where minimal wage gains are being eaten away by the rising cost of everything from food and utilities to mortgages and taxes. Since late summer 2006, ground beef prices have risen by 6.7%, chicken breasts by 6.9% and whole milk by 26%, and the federal Energy Information Administration on Tuesday predicted an 11% increase in Midwest winter heating bills.
What else has gone up?
    A few dismissed the notion that rising tax bills played a role, though Milwaukee County taxpayers owed at least $35 million more in taxes this year than last, according to the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance.

    "The tax bill doesn't go up enough to cause that problem," said Chris Swartz, village manager in Shorewood, where delinquent property owners owed an average of $6,600 a parcel, second only to River Hills.
Of course not. Given the choice between heat, food, fuel, and property tax bills, where do you think people's priorities lie?

No doubt the municipal officials are ready to pillory private industry for forcing people to choose to spend their money on non-essentials.

In Lieu of Payment, She'll Take Children's Kittens
Cop who fell on the job sues family of baby who almost drowned:
    In January, 1-year-old Joey Cosmillo wandered into the backyard and fell into the family pool. When his mother hauled him out, he wasn't breathing. Rescuers were able to bring him back to life, but he suffered severe brain damage and cannot walk, talk or even swallow. Now, his family faces another burden: One of the rescuers, Casselberry police Sgt. Andrea Eichhorn, is suing, alleging the family left a puddle of water on the floor that afternoon, causing her to slip and fall.

Taste the Condescension!
Man, I love the anthropological-style essays about hipsters who move to suburbia and report their shocking findings!
    The second morning after I moved into my first officially "owned" home, I woke up to find my somewhat decrepit mailbox bashed in by vandals.

    I was rattled. As an Asian, I thought perhaps the bashing was meant as a kind of message to me: You are not wanted here - or something to that effect.

    Home ownership was, to me, a strange thing. You'd think it would give you a sense of belonging, of security. But for me it was a foray into territory that as a woman, and half Chinese, seemed off-limits, even though I was born here.

    It didn't help that my new next-door neighbor flew the flag in his front yard well past the Fourth of July and, I would discover, straight into winter.

    I live in Santa Cruz, so my initial reading on the mailbox bashing seemed improbable. Still, I was shaken. The neighborhood was suburban style, and filled with a lot of folks of retirement age who had lived in the city since before it had become "progressive" - since before anyone had heard of the word at all.

    Later on that day, as I was strolling along my block, I noticed that almost every one of my neighbors also had their mailboxes bashed in - except for those who had taken time to hand paint their mailboxes with flowers or hummingbirds, or who had added accessories to make their mailboxes into caricatures of cats or frogs or sharks or what have you. I mused that at least it was nice of the (I supposed) teenagers with the baseball bat to grant some forbearance for attempts at mailbox aesthetics.
She's lucky she moved to suburbia in California, because let me tell you, if that half-Chinese woman had moved onto my block, I would probably have not even noticed. Dramatically!

And she could have reported how the people in this tribe walk their children, fly flags with strange foreign emblems (giant green and gold Gs), and refuse to mow their lawns religiously.

Somewhere, somehow, hipsters are all caught by surprise by the revelation that people who live in homes instead of condos, lofts, or urban apartments are people, too!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Book Report: North Webster: A Photograpic History of a Black Community by Ann Morris and Henrietta Ambrose (1993)
Like the preceding books Webster Park: 1892-1992 and How To Research the History of Your Webster Groves Home, I borrowed this book from the library; unlike those, however, it is still publicly available for purchase at, so I might get a copy.

This book tells the story of North Webster, a small community in the northwestern part of Webster Groves that is mostly black in racial makeup. The book traces its origins as a couple of freedmen's houses in the middle of the 1800s to its annexation by Webster Groves in the middle 1900s and its integration into the community.

Of course, the best part about this book is the moments and tidbits it provides: Douglass High School became the first black high school in the county, and Carl Sandburg spoke there. The book tells about the young men from the town that joined the 92nd in World War I and their participation in the dedication of the World War I memorial on Big Bend and Lockwood--a war memorial that has since been moved so that the contemporary right-minded folk don't have to think about the sacrifices and participation in war, but can soothe themselves with a giant sculpture designed to rust.

The book is about 50 pages of text with a large number of names of residents throughout the years (I suspect that much of the narrative comes from family remembrances) combined with eighty pages of photographs from the local residents.

An interesting piece; I've added it to my Amazon Wish List, not that you gentle readers are obligated to show me the love you have of this backwater blog with gratuitous gifts.

Books mentioned in this review:

Monday, October 08, 2007
Book Report: State's Evidence by Stephen Greenleaf (1982)
I picked up this book because I liked its cover and its book jacket flap blurbs. Of course, now that I look more closely, the cover is kinda weird:

State's Evidence cover

I mean, there's a tire with a shiny hubcap on the pavement, and there's the hot chick (ca 1982) witness to a hit and run reflected in it. However, if the perspective of the reflection is to be believed, she's either a legless panhandler on a little cart or coming out of a manhole in the street. Or the car and the obligatory hard-boiled hat are somehow on a platform three to four feet above the pavement level where the woman is standing.

Okay, so the hard-boiled detective, series character Tanner in this case, is supposed to find a model who witnessed a hit-and-run where the hitter was a local crime boss and the hitee was really a hit. That's what the flap says. Inside, the Tanner character and his Greenleaf author try to throwback to Chandler and Macdonald (Ross)--the detective even mentions reading those authors at one point. The language is seriously over-the-top riven with metaphors, sometimes two to a sentence or five in a paragraph. It made for some slower reading.

Then, after a bit, the language didn't jar me, so I thought perhaps this Tanner fellow was hard in the line of the greats. The book, set in El Gordo, California (literally, The Fat Man) uses the California landscape prevalent in the classics, and the book plays in the elements of the idle rich, gangsters, and mixed-up youth.

However, ultimately, it's not up to the level of the names it tries to invoke. The plot gets just one not too twisted and the resolution is a little too tidy.

I won't dodge others in this series, but I'm not ordering them all right now. It's below Robert Crais and Robert B. Parker but not completely unworthwhile.

Books mentioned in this review:

Neighboorhood Activists Agitate For Blackouts
Given how easily the power has gone out over the last year or so, you would think that residents would agitate for the local power company to do something. Actually, you're right. A series of "show trials" where the power company officials had to do some 'splainin before the elected officials and their hangers-on, the press.

And when the company, AmerenUE wants to do something, what does it get? You bet! Residents agitating that AmerenUE is doing something:
    Pam Schnebelen realizes that AmerenUE officials are going to have a tough time deciding on a route to build miles of transmission lines through Jefferson County.

    But, they better not come through the LaBarque Creek watershed area in northwestern Jefferson County, she said.

    "They are not going to build in this watershed," Schnebelen said. "They'll have to take any landowner to court to get an easement, because they can't compensate in dollars for the environmental impact involved."

    Schnebelen, 57, Judy Browne-D'Amico and Bob Coffing, 68, all members of the LaBarque Creek Watershed Landowners Committee, recently invited the Journal to see the LaBarque Creek watershed area. The area includes private property as well as public lands and is located off Route FF near the St. Louis County line. It covers about 13 square miles.
Why can't private industry use the same magic that the government uses to be all things to all voters?

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