Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Thursday, March 20, 2008
New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg Vows Sting Operations of Other Cities' Inspectors
Inspector arrested in NYC crane collapse:
    A city inspector has been charged with lying about checking on a construction crane that collapsed 11 days later, killing seven people in a dense Manhattan neighborhood.

    Edward Marquette, 46, was arraigned and released without bail Thursday on charges of falsifying business records and offering a false instrument for filing.

    "We will not tolerate this kind of behavior at the Department of Buildings," buildings Commissioner Patricia Lancaster said at a news conference. "I do not and will not tolerate any misconduct in my department."
The mayor points out that the entrenched city officials in his jurisdiction are too tough to root out; instead, he's going to look to impose his will on inspectors and building contractors in places like West Virginia because they don't have sympathetic ears in the New York media.

United States Leader Speaks
Durbin says U.S. needs new leadership.

Hear, hear, Senator! How about turning over some legislators? No, wait, that's not what you're talking about, is it?
    U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told a Springfield crowd Thursday that it will take new leadership in the White House – even if it is another Republican – for the U.S. to ever regain its image abroad.
I got good news for you, Senator: There will be new leadership, it's written right into the Constitution. However, your phony baloney job remains safe, as your predecessors in Congress and the states only did that to the executive branch. How about leveling the playing field and limiting senators to two terms, too? That's still an extra four years of damage you guys would have over presidents.

Another Camel Nose in the Tent
Government officials can enter your property without permission if they have reasonable suspicion of bees or mosquitoes in Florida:
    A Florida County has declared war on killer bees.

    Commissioners in Martin County have unanimously passed an ordinance allowing county employees to go onto private property without permission to kill Africanized bees and treat areas where mosquitoes are breeding.
Of course, if you have a threatening dog on your property, they can now shoot it before applying insecticide, and you wouldn't mind if they took a look around while they're there, would you? What do you have to hide?

Book Report: First Blood by David Morrell (1972)
I bought this book recently because I already had Rambo: First Blood Part II, the novelization of the movie, and thought I should read them in order. Also, it was cheap. I knew the book differed from the film (mostly in that Rambo lives for a sequel in the movie). So I picked it up as an intermission from a longer piece of classical literature that I'm only half way through.

At the onset, I loved the book. Morrell creates the situation and makes both Rambo and Teasle, the police chief who runs him out of town a couple times without true rancor and with only a dash of Respect My Authoritah! Ergo, the confrontation takes on the dimensions of a natural disaster, albeit one at which one simultaneously wants Rambo to get away (even though he snapped and killed a cop) and wants Teasle to capture him.

Unfortunately, about halfway through, the book stalls. Suddenly, Rambo turns back to slaughter more of the cops. Then the injuries start to accumulate, and both Teasle and Rambo get 18/00 constitutions and great feats of holding their poor bodies to keep in the novel. Yes, I know you cannot get 18/00 constitutions (or you couldn't in Second Edition rules, which is when I quit shelling out money for D&D), but Morrell invents it for the book. The climax carries on for 50 pages or so, dabbles in mysticism and the hunter and the hunted, whichever the order is, and then ends poorly.

I'll have to take another look at the film to see which I prefer; however, although I leaned toward the book at the beginning, I'll probably end up preferring the movie.

Books mentioned in this review:

Wednesday, March 19, 2008
First Task: Rename It Mother Gaia University
When you take a religious educational institution and put a layman in charge, you end up with a secular institution. Next case in point: Cardinal Stritch University:
    Cardinal Stritch University has chosen Helen C. Sobehart, associate provost and associate vice president at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, to succeed Sister Mary Lea Schneider as its president, Stritch officials announced Tuesday.

    Schneider, who announced her retirement last spring, will step down in June after leading the Franciscan university for 17 years. Sobehart, 60, will be Stritch's first lay president since it was established in 1937.
Think I'm kidding? Check out the money quote:
    "Reverencing creation," she said, "is just another way to say sustainability and being green. And isn't that the hot topic these days?"
Leaving aside an adminocrat who makes a word reverencing because it's longer than revering, we've got someone who's going to skip over the secularism and take this formerly Catholic university into the service of the Earth Mother.

Pizza Delivery Driver Receives Plaque For Adhering To Company's Concealed Carry Policy
Well, I hope he did since his killer got 34.5 years:
    A 17-year-old who admitted killing a pizza delivery driver received a sentence of 34 1/2 years in prison Tuesday, according to online state court records.

Misleading Headline
Headline: St. Charles votes down cut in utility tax.

    An additional reduction in St. Charles' tax on utility bills was rejected Tuesday night by the City Council after opponents said the city couldn't afford it.
Of course, perhaps to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the government is the people, not the other way around.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Public-Private Gasbag Leaks
When a downtown restaurant owner closes his business after 40 years so his location can become part of a parking garage for lofts, we get this blather:
    But Jim Cloar, president and CEO of the Downtown St. Louis Partnership, said Dooley's demise says less about the area than about how tough it is to be in the restaurant business.
Oh, spare us. St. Louis, like most municipalities these days, is eager to implement Central Planning and 10 Year Programs to dictate the local landscape and businessscape and doesn't care that it has to steamroll individual, independent business owners who have organically grown the sort of businesses and location that the Urban Planners want to beam down from the planet Urtopia.

Monday, March 17, 2008
Warping the Children, Part LVI
My poor children will be the only ones in school who identify this creature:

The dreaded Callmeplissken
The Callmeplissken

Finally, A Hate Crime!
Vandals break windows at Islamic center here:
    Seven windows were broken during the weekend at an Islamic religious center in an apparent act of vandalism, police said. They said it was the third act of vandalism in less than a year at the Imam Hussin Foundation building in the 5400 block of Lansdowne Avenue.
No doubt this will get more play than stories where vandals damage churches or synagogues.

St. Charles Judges Want To Dare Courthouse Shooters
St. Charles judges wonder if police should be armed in court:
    Two St. Charles County judges have questioned the safety and fairness of police officers' bringing their weapons with them to court.

    Court security officers and bailiffs are armed, but other officers — some in uniform, and some in plainclothes — routinely enter the courthouse in St. Charles to testify, file paperwork or participate in their own personal cases. If they show their credentials, they are allowed to enter the courthouse armed. At a judges meeting earlier this month, Circuit Judge Jon Cunningham asked whether the policy should be changed.
Twits on the bench alert.

Sunday, March 16, 2008
This Just In: Centralized, Computerized Data Sometimes Accessed Inappropriately
UCLA workers snooped in Spears' medical records:
    UCLA Medical Center is taking steps to fire at least 13 employees and has suspended at least six others for snooping in the confidential medical records of pop star Britney Spears during her recent hospitalization in its psychiatric unit, a person familiar with the matter said Friday.

    In addition, six physicians face discipline for peeking at her computerized records, the person said.

    Questioned about the breaches, officials acknowledged that it was not the first time UCLA had disciplined workers for looking at Spears' records. Several were caught prying into records after Spears gave birth to her first son, Sean Preston, in September 2005 at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital, officials said. Some were fired.
Forget the anti-totalitarianist spin of central data repositories for a moment, and reflect on the common basics of nosy human nature. When you build these databases, you make it possible for common people who have some access to it for real purposes to access a bunch of it for their own prurient interest.

It's an unforeseen consequence, no doubt, of actions our legislators and leaders take. The consequences, like most, are only unseen by the actual people tasked with Doing Something! but are quite obvious to those of us who know the nature of the human animal.

Lead Supports the Main Idea
The first paragraph of a story in the San Francisco Chronicle (linked on the site's home page as THE FORGOTTEN WAR, as though the Iraq War has slipped anyone's mind), sort of supports one of the reasons for going to war:
    The war in Iraq has gone on for five years now, but there is almost no sign of it in the Bay Area, a region where 7 million people live.
Well, that was sort of the point of the flypaper strategy, wasn't it?

The rest of the piece is a creative writing assignment about how nobody's protesting or the nation isn't rising up or something. It does, however, feature this wonderful simile:
    Yet the war is a presence in the Bay Area, like an underground river, like a storm just off the coast, like a deadly illness that will not go away.
But deadly illnesses don't go away until, I dunno, you die.

Sounds like staff writer Carl Nolte is really saying Death to America, ainna?

I guess you could defend him by saying he's a bad writer.

P.S. I did include your name, Mr. Nolte, so you'd catch this mockery next time you google yourself. Consider yourself mocked!

Good Book Hunting: March 15, 2008
Beware the Ides of March, indeed. Not only did we attend two very disappointing school-based rummage sales, but it's also the annual Eliot Unitarian Chapel book fair. This little affair takes place in the library of a little church in the next suburb over, but its hardbacks are $3.00 and other books are also priced over what I tend to spend. Unfortunately, I had cash in the wallet, a mostly entertained toddler, and the pent-up urge to acquire. So I got a couple books.

Also, since I fancy myself a history writer now with my recent publication in a magazine of that genre, I was looking for idea books or reference material. So I bought some historical biographies that I normally would not have.
Ides of March book fair purchases

I got:
  • Time Enough For Love by Robert Heinlein in paperback because I fear my shelves are low on the Heinlein, high on the Greg Bear.

  • Roadside America, a collection of old highway and small town tourist trapica. An idea book.

  • The Explainer, another Slate compendium.

  • The Life of Emerson, a biography of that transcendentalist.

  • Son of the Wilderness, John Muir, another historical biography. I read something about Muir not too long ago in a history magazine. Also, I have been to Muir Woods and wear the hat while walking said toddler.

  • Catherine the Great. Because I don't have many Russian history books, I guess. I don't know. I was pretty profligate at picking things up at this point.

  • Back to Basics, a Reader's Digest compendium of basic skills. Not the Foxfire series by any stretch, but will prove useful if civilization collapses. Or if I get into the Renaissance festival lifestyle, I suppose. I don't know which chance is greater.

  • The Dark Ages, which also might be helpful if civilization collapses, but mostly this is an idea book.

  • Journey to Cubeville, a Dilbert book to remind me of what it was like when I was a straight.

  • The Great Works of Mankind, a rather seasoned picture book of great buildings and whatnot. Also an idea book.

  • Son in Law, a movie with Paulie Shore. Which I have already seen. Take that for what it's worth.

  • The Eiger Sanction, a Clint Eastwood movie I have not seen. Still, it's only a buck, less than the DVD I would probably have bought eventually.

You can see Heather's single book to the right and the boy's book, Piglet's Night Light. One of the workers at the book fair played me by asking if the lad might like to look at a book while we browsed. She gave him this one, which he flipped through while we pushed him through the tables. As if I was going to take it away from him where we ended. As a side note, he's pretty good with the older children books, but we've begun the transition from board books by letting him flip through magazines so he could get the feel of the lighter paper pages and learn not to rip them or fold them. Helpful tip if you've got kids or books, I suppose.

So we spent like $25 dollars today, and I got 10 new books. As long as I only go to a book fair once every 2 months and stay away from the long science fiction novels or historical biographies, I'll keep even with my purchases. On the other hand, look what I'm purchasing.

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