Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Thursday, January 10, 2008
The Inflation of Evil
A bunch of kids throw a bag of feces (story). A juvenile prank and gross, but how does it fit on the moral scale? Well, according to the woman hit with the, erm, shrapnel:
    They saw me standing at the entrance, and they did it anyway," she said. "It was very evil."
Not merely evil, but very evil. I wouldn't put it much past naughty myself, but I have perspective.

The teens have been charged (story), and the woman, a school teacher, shows her perspective and forgiveness:
    "I'm glad they charged them," Geusz said. "I wish they could find more charges."
    Geusz said the two oldest boys later came to her classroom at Fort Zumwalt North High School to apologize. She said she asked them to leave because she did not believe what the boys were telling her.
    Now, Geusz said, she hopes the courts will impose a punishment that sends a message, perhaps requiring the boys to pay for her clothes and do community service. "I'd love to see them in jail," she said. "I'd love to see that because what they did is just horrendous."
I guess she's showing perspective by not calling for their outright execution.

Meanwhile, inventive Federal prosecutors are no doubt finding ways of turning this into either a hate crime, a sex crime, or a fraud crime so that these kids can pay a greater penalty and really screw their lives up for a prank gone wrong.

Junk Data Now A Felony
Federal prosecutors have saved the day as they look to gin up charges for the woman whose online foolishness caused a girl's suicide. Well-played, you inventive devils in the executive branch!
    Federal officials in Los Angeles are investigating whether it was fraud for someone to use a false identity on an Internet social network in a taunting blamed for the suicide of 13-year-old Megan Meier.

    Missouri and federal prosecutors in St. Louis previously examined the circumstances but passed on trying to build a criminal case, saying no law seemed to apply.
As a software tester, I make up names and submit them through forms all the time. Good to know that the federal government can now prosecute me for fraud.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Hillary's Villiage Takes A Child. At Gunpoint.
A nighttime no-knock raid because a parent didn't take a child to the hospital after bumping its head? Hey, we don't have SWAT teams for nothing:
    The Garfield County All Hazards Response Team broke down Tom Shiflett's door Friday night and, following a court order, took his son for medical treatment.

    The doctor's recommendation: Take Tylenol and apply ice to the bruises. The boy was back home a few hours later.

    Authorities said they had reason to believe Shiflett mistreated his 11-year-old son, Jon, by failing to provide him proper medical care for a head injury. But Shiflett says his privacy and his rights were invaded, and that he has the right and the skill to treat his son himself. Shiflett, 62, said he served as a medic in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive.
Read the whole thing, and weep. Find how an anonymous neighbor can tip police and caseworkers onto you, and how the report of a hematoma (that is, a bruise can be grounds for a court order and no-knock raid if you're a praying sort of family.

(Link seen on Books, Bikes, and Boomsticks.)

Laws Do Not Apply To Government, Again
Judge: Wage law doesn't apply to local gov't:
    Circuit Judge Richard Callahan ruled that the new law cannot be applied to local governments because the new pay scale applies to an "individual, partnership, association, corporation, business, business trust, legal representative, or any organized group of persons." Callahan decided that doesn't include local governments.
I guess not; the government is neither the legal representative of the people nor organized.

That must make them a motley band of infighting self-anointed rulers of the plebes. I have to agree.

Monday, January 07, 2008
Born With A Lead Spoon In My Mouth
Are you a child of privilege? Apparently, it's all the latest rage for college professors to gin up something to prove that everyone of the appropriate need for guilt feel guilty about their privileges. Over at Dustbury, he's run his own numbers, and that prompted me to run mine:
    Bold each of the statements that applies:

    Father went to college
    Father finished college
    Mother went to college
    Mother finished college
    Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor (An uncle, apparently, got a PhD or something and now teaches at a small college or maybe private high school. Good enough.)
    Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers
    Had more than 50 books in your childhood home
    Had more than 500 books in your childhood home
    Were read children's books by a parent
    Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18
    Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18
    The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively (If they're dressed like me and talk like me, how else could they be?)
    Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18
    Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs
    Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs
    Went to a private high school
    Went to summer camp
    Had a private tutor before you turned 18
    Family vacations involved staying at hotels (We had a family vacation. Once.)
    Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18
    Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them
    There was original art in your house when you were a child
    Had a phone in your room before you turned 18
    You and your family lived in a single family house
    Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home I assume this includes "had a mortgage on".)
    You had your own room as a child
    Participated in an SAT/ACT prep course
    Had your own TV in your room in High School
    Owned a mutual fund or IRA in High School or College
    Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16 (After the divorce and moving 400 miles from my father, he flew us up for one summer. And back, to my mother's relief.)
    Went on a cruise with your family
    Went on more than one cruise with your family
    Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up
    You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family
I guess you wouldn't call us privileged. As for the number of books, I don't know what it was; I didn't start accumulating books until college, paperbacks mostly.

As for the television in the bedroom in high school, that's a big 10-no. However, when we were in the trailer in middle school, we had one in the room my brother and I shared. The 6x8 room we shared.

And as for heating bills, that wasn't brought up; however, when I was at college, a very hoity Marquette University, when my sociology 001 professor asked what Milwaukee welfare benefits were, I guessed wrongly about $250 a month. I got that figure from my youth, when my mother worried that a $250 television repair paid for by a gift from more affluent relatives might trigger an investigation for welfare fraud.

So keep that in mind, gentle reader, whenever you miscategorize me as a child of a suburban or upper middle class upbringing: the fact that I dress nicely for work and that I can quote a lot of classical literature belies my true place as white trash turned into art.

Chemical Warfare in San Francisco
Apparently someone is planting acid bombs in San Francisco:
    A 10-year-old girl was sprayed with hydrochloric acid Sunday after her brother kicked a bottle that had been left on the street in front of a Redwood City church and it ruptured, according to the Redwood City Fire Department.

    It is the fourth time in about a month in which chemical-filled bottles have been found in San Mateo County, Battalion Chief Steve Cavallero said.
The last one was planted outside a Lutheran Church.

Funny how little you can find about that on the Internet.

Sunday, January 06, 2008
2007: The Year's Reading in Review
To brag, here's the complete list of books I read in the 2007 goal year:
  • Home Improvement:52 Weekend Projects by Dan Ramsay
  • Nature Girl by Carl Hiaasen
  • Dr. Kookie, You're Right by Mike Royko
  • Grifters & Swindlers Cynthia Manson (ed)
  • Stanyan Street and Other Sorrows by Rod McKuen
  • Kiss by Ed McBain
  • Robert Frost by Lawrance Thompson
  • Tarnsman of Gor by John Norman
  • Dirty Work by Stuart Woods
  • Mortal Prey by John Sandford
  • High Profile by Robert B. Parker
  • Fields of Wonder by Rod McKuen
  • The Mensa Genius Quiz Book by Marvin Grosswirth, Dr. Abbie Salny, and the members of Mensa
  • Too Far by Mike Lupica
  • Great Tales of Mystery & Suspense Compiled by Bill Pronzini, Barry N. Malzberg, & Martin H. Greenberg
  • Lucky You by Carl Hiaasen
  • Great True Stories of Crime, Mystery, and Detection by Reader's Digest
  • Come to Me in Silence by Rod McKuen
  • Stormy Weather by Carl Hiaasen
  • Ringworld's Children by Larry Niven
  • Ernest Hemingway by Philip Young
  • Winter Prey by John Sandford
  • Broken Prey by John Sandford
  • Forever Odd by Dean Koontz
  • The Prize Winner's Handbook by Jeffrey Feinmann
  • The Case of the Cautious Coquette by Erle Stanley Gardner
  • The King's Henchman by Edna St. Vincent Millay
  • Hidden Prey by John Sandford
  • Fat Ollie's Book by Ed McBain
  • Santorini by Alistair MacLean
  • Terminator Dreams by Aason Allston
  • Night Prey by John Sandford
  • The Instant Enemy by Ross MacDonald
  • Nocturne by Ed McBain
  • The Murder Book by Jonathan Kellerman
  • Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet
  • Oath of Fealty by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
  • Under the Greenwood Tree by Thomas Hardy
  • Another Part of the City by Ed McBain
  • The Retaliators by Donald Hamilton
  • SeinLanguage by Jerry Seinfeld
  • Biloxi Blues by Neil Simon
  • Nick at Nite's Classic TV Companion edited by Tom Hill
  • Tuesday Night Football by Alex Karras and Douglas Graham
  • Chapter Two by Neil Simon
  • Certain Prey by John Sandford
  • Outlaw of Gor by John Norman
  • Heart of Darkness and the Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad
  • The Watchman by Robert Crais
  • The Use and Abuse of Books by Leon Battista Alberti
  • From The Corner Of His Eye by Dean Koontz
  • Dirty Linen by Tom Stoppard
  • Harvest Poems 1910-1960 by Carl Sandburg
  • Suspension Bridge by Rod McKuen
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  • Spare Change by Robert B. Parker
  • Lake Superior Journal Jim Marshall's View from the Bridge by Jim Marshall
  • Candyland by Evan Hunter/Ed McBain
  • Armageddon 2419 AD by Philip Francis Nowlan
  • Sonnets of Eve by Flora May Johnson Pearce
  • Kill City: The Enforcer #3 by Andrew Sugar
  • Listen to the Warm by Rod McKuen
  • All I Need to Know I Learned From My Cat by Suzy Becker
  • 101 Uses for a Dead Cat by Simon Bond
  • Sleeping Beauty by Ross MacDonald
  • The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
  • Tangled Vines Lyn Lifshin (ed)
  • Sweet and Sour by Andrew A. Rooney
  • He Was a Midwestern Boy on His Own by Bob Greene
  • Poems of Flowers Gail Harvey (Ed)
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
  • The Parisian Affair by Nick Carter
  • Ghosts by Ed McBain
  • Puppet on a Chain by Alistair MacLean
  • Deadly Welcome by John D. MacDonald
  • Ariel by Sylvia Plath
  • All Summer Long by Bob Greene
  • Poems of Friendship Gail Harvey (Ed)
  • Be Happy! April Danner (selected by)
  • The Adventures of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
  • Dear Americans: Letters from the Desk of Ronald Reagan Ralph E. Weber & Ralph A. Weber (ed)
  • Detroit by Dale Fisher
  • Versus by Ogden Nash
  • Sight Unseen by Donald Margulies
  • My Poems from the Heart by Pam Puleo
  • Broadway Bound by Neil Simon
  • Panic in Philly by Don Pendleton
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke
  • Seawitch by Alistair MacLean
  • The Sum of All Fears by Tom Clancy
  • How to Research The History of Your Webster Groves Home by Ann Morris
  • Webster Park 1892-1992 by Wilda H. Swift and Cynthia S. Easterling
  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  • Eight Black Horses by Ed McBain
  • State's Evidence by Stephen Greenleaf
  • North Webster: A Photograpic History of a Black Community by Ann Morris and Henrietta Ambrose
  • Case of the Fiery Fingers by Erle Stanley Gardner
  • Raiders of Gor by John Norman
  • Treasures of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism by
  • Lori by Robert Bloch
  • Unfair and Unbalanced: The Lunatic Magniloquence of Henry E. Panky by Patrick M. Carlisle
  • Vienna Days by Kim du Toit
  • Hoaxes! by Gordon Stein and Marie J. MacNee
  • Like I Was Sayin' by Mike Royko
  • Farnham's Freehold by Robert Heinlein
  • Webster Groves by Clarissa Start
  • Now and Then by Robert B. Parker
  • The Black Hole by Alan Dean Foster
  • One of Us is Wrong by Samuel Holt
  • My Enemy, My Ally by Diane Duane
  • In Retrospect I by Kathy Condon (ed.)
  • Tales from the Coral Court by Shellee Graham
  • New York at Night by Bill Harris
  • The Handyman by Penelope Mortimer
  • Downtown by Ed McBain
  • Momisms by Cathy Hamilton
  • The Enforcer by Andrew Sugar
  • The Book of Lists The 90s Edition by David Wallechinsky and Amy Wallace
  • Spill the Jackpot by A.A. Fair
  • It's Pat: My Life Exposed by Julia Sweeney and Christine Zander
  • Dave Barry's Gift Guide to End All Gift Guides by Dave Barry
  • Then We Came To The End by Joshua Ferris
  • Mind Prey by John Sandford
  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture by Gene Roddenberry
  • The Best Cartoons from the Saturday Evening Post
You can find the reviews using that little search box at the top. I am far too lazy to do 125 Google searches to make it easy on you.

Overall, quite the eclectic mix. A lot of John Sandford and Ed McBain, some John Norman, and a mix of genre fiction, literary classics, poetry, and some non-fiction thrown in.

Bow before my reading prowess and my ability to sit in a recliner for whole evenings instead of doing something productive with my life.

Memo from the Laundry Room
If someone gives you red towels for Christmas, that person is not your friend.

I've washed this set twice using the color-lock vinegar method, and they still bleed red. Also, the manufacturer has used a special dye-as-binder method so that the actual washings are taking out as much of the linen as the dye.

So when we put these special towels out when our "friend" comes by next year, she'll think we need more new towels. Red. And the circle will be unbroken.

Good Book Hunting: November 21, 2007 (The Late Edition)
Gentle reader, I have been holding something back from you. It's the results of our November 21 trip to yard sales and what books I bought there. I haven't been buying much in December except for a couple trips to the bookstore or (The Fred File, And Then We Came To The End, Honeymoon with my Brother, and Mark Bowden's Road Work). But in November, our last real excursion of last year, I bought the following:

November 21 book hunting results
Click for full size

We have:
  • An architecture handbook so I can be just like Howard once I get the orange hair dye to take.

  • A book of lists (not the official The Book of Lists) about the best things.

  • A smart-sounding book about Naturalism. I forget what sort.

  • A biography of Tolstoy's wife.

  • Some flat book I forget and am too lazy to look for.

  • A promotional copy of the last Billy Joel live CD.

  • A record containing some gothic and renaissance music.

Heather's stack is to the right.

That lone book in the middle was a mistake; sometime in the transfer of passing back and forth the stack of books and the boy, we picked up the book upon which we had put the stack and there it is. Now it's mine by default.

The end of yard sale season (which is November, oddly enough, here in Missouri) means we won't really go nuts buying books for a couple weeks yet until the sporadic book fairs begin again. Which gives me time to get in some reading, as you'll note below.

Book Report: Star Trek III The Search for Spock by Vonda N. McIntyre (1984)
Book Report: Star Trek III The Search for Spock by Vonda N. McIntyre (1984) As I insinuated in the book review for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, this book takes the script of the movie and what I know if it and goes a little beyond it. Okay, a lot beyond it. And she's the author who gave Mr. Sulu his name, which according to Wikipedia became canon not when she used it in her book, but when it was inserted into the script of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

So, do you remember the movie? Not much either you, huh? Funny how these movies are really so short in actual episodes/incidents/scenes when you come right down to it. This particular movie was the one between Khan and the whales, so it gets short shrift. Also, it reads more like a fattened television script (and the fattening isn't always flattering) than a novel in its own right. And, if you remember, this is the first movie that started the tradition of blowing up the Enterprise. Maybe it meant something in this movie (shock, if nothing else), by the time the Next Generation bunch were blowing them up like they were wooden Hollywood sets and not expensive pieces of government procurement, it was rote and boring.

So the book's worth the time if you're a Star Trek fan (or a Vonda N. McIntyre fan, I suppose).

If not, watch the movie.

Books mentioned in this review:

Book Report: Heat by Ed McBain (1981)
Man, this book is old; Kling is still a new detective and married to the model who might have started cheating on him, The City is a pre-Giuliani cesspool, and the copyright date says 1981. Well, that's about all you can say about it to know how old the book is. Its contents and story have aged well, but it's worth remembering that this series is only middle aged here at about 30 years old.

The main plot: on the hottest week of the year, the boys from the 87th find an apparent suicide in a apartment where the air conditioner has been shut off. This causes them to delve a little deeper, and they discover that several things in the apartment have been wiped of prints--including the thermometer and the bottle of pills the victim used in the suicide. So suicide it probably ain't. In side plots, a recent ex-con decides Kling deserves to die for sending him up and Kling's investigation of the alleged infidelity of his wife.

The book's only 180 pages long, so it reads like a script for a television series in spots, but really, isn't that what we expect of these middle-of-the-series books?
Books mentioned in this review:

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