Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, March 29, 2008
O'Fallon, Missouri, Happy To Be Pimped
Geez, you lonely municipalities, so busy courting developers that you're okay when those same developers refer to your relationship as one of employee-employer?
    A last-minute change to a proposed tax deal has kept alive plans for a housing development on the polluted site of a former trailer park.

    Under the change, University City-based Highland Homes will get 13 years of tax abatement, not 20 as originally requested.

    The city "thought they were going to get pimped for 20 years," said Bob Shallenberger, co-owner of Highland Homes. "They're not."

    After the change was made, the O'Fallon City Council voted 7-1 to create a "community improvement district" to reimburse Highland Homes an estimated $2.2 million in property and sales taxes to clean up asbestos dumped at the site.
He only talks like that because he loves you, unlike the other municipalities.

Although I wouldn't say the description isn't entirely unfair; after all, through a CID, you're going to take money from the johns, formerly called "citizens," and give them to him.

Friday, March 28, 2008
Author Wants Hydrogen Explosions, Electrical Fires
Auto companies are studying alternative fuel vehicles, but an author apparently wants them rushed to market without thorough study:
    "They're totally just dipping their toes in the water," said Sherry Boschert, author of the book "Plug-in Hybrids: The Cars that Will Recharge America."

    "It's good they're doing something, but it's the automotive form of greenwashing," she said. "They could be mass-producing these things."
Whereas this person thinks that Mother Gaia will only take those whom she wants due to poorly engineered accidents and defects, the trial attorneys across the country agree with her. "The faster these things are on the market, the sooner we can begin litigating," a spokesman said.

Additionally, Ralph Nader has dusted his consumer product deathtrap Mad Libs off of his shelf and licked his pencil. "Indeed, the sooner that big corporations begin rushing hastily engineered solutions to market, the better it will be for all of us."

Don't You Hate It When That Happens?
When you confuse two songs that have the same title and that came out near the same time? For example:

Duran Duran's "Notorious" (1986):

Loverboy's "Notorious" (1987):

It was the video for "Notorious" that I had in mind for some reason. Sadly, I didn't look 80s cool until the early 90s, and that made for some lonely times and few dates at college.

Another similar circumstance: Robbie Nevil's "C'est La Vie" (1986):

And David Lee Roth's "That's Life" (also 1986 -- sorry, no video). Both songs charted at the same time, but fortunately one is titled in French to alleviate the confusion.

Lost and Found
Police say crime dropped in city

If you can identify it as yours, drop by the police station and pick it up.

Orbitz is teamed with the movie 21 in a sweepstakes offering a trip to Las Vegas for winners.

The movie 21 is based on the book Bringing Down The House. In the book, and in the movie I would expect, the group of card counting MIT students are banned from casinos in Las Vegas.

Diplomacy That Works
I recently got into an IM discussion with an old friend who's taken the blue pill. We were talking about how the United States coerces the world to watching Dallas and makes the world hate us with our aggressive military posture. He held up the fact that diplomacy worked in North Korea as an instance where the military didn't have to invade, and everyone loved the United States.

Yeah, it's a good example: build nukes, and the United States will give you things.

Looks like the diplomacy ain't working all that well either:
    North Korea underscored its anger over South Korea's tough new stance toward the communist country with the test-firing of short-range missiles.

    The launches Thursday night also came as the North issued a stern rebuke to Washington over an impasse at nuclear disarmament talks, warning the Americans' attitude could "seriously" affect the continuing disablement of Pyongyang's atomic facilities.
On the other hand, it did go about as well as the conversation, which included casting US soldiers as rapists, too, in all earnestness and intellectual rigor. That is about where the philosophical inquiry ended.

Wait! Facebook Will Change Everything!
I suppose that Web 2.0 will change everything in this instance:
    Time may be running out for lawmakers hoping to pass a controversial civil union bill this year, but supporters are getting some untraditional help to boost interest: a "Facebook" army of more than 8,000 supporters.
This is meaningful because it supports the narrative and preferred mindset of the journalist. I mean, it's 8,000 names on an Internet bulletin board or Internet petition.

Post-Dispatch Covers Bass Tournament
Sorry, it's a fishing expedition of another sort:
    They say it was the town's worst kept secret.

    "People were always saying, 'We saw them here. We saw them there,'" said Florence Streeter, who owns several rental properties in Valley Park.

    And Mayor Jeffery Whitteaker, people said, didn't help himself by refusing to answer questions about his relationship to his secretary last year, during a deposition for a lawsuit over the town's ordinances targeting illegal immigrants.

    Did he have a "social relationship" with the secretary, a lawyer asked him.
So how does that have direct bearing on ordinances covering immigration? Oh, yeah, trying to shame the mayor so he will back down.

I'm not all of a sudden defending adultery, but I also don't care for blackmail or extortion or public shaming for litigious advantage, which is what we're talking here.

Of course, now the secretary's suing for getting fired after the relationship ended, which is why the paper is covering it. But the leading anecdote really highlights shoddy legal work.

Book Report: Mischief by Ed McBain (1993)
Even after reading McBain for 20 years, I'm always amazed that I come across books that I don't seem to have read. Granted, he wrote them over the course of 50 years, sometimes more than one a year. If I tried to read all of them and all of the Evan Hunter books and Smoke books and whatnot, it would take a whole year. Of course, given how many there are, I might have forgotten this one and only think this is the first time I read it.

This is a Deaf Man book, so the cops of the 87th Precinct dial up the dumb. They find the Deaf Man's clues inscrutable until such time as it's too late for them to stop the plan. I knew from the first clue what he was talking about, and I don't live in Isola. But the cops who normally act rationally get a whiff of the Deaf Man, and they live down to his characterization.

Also, this book has a lot of unrelated subplots. The best of his books have a main crime and a subplot with some character soap opera within them. This book includes the Deaf Man's plot, a murder mystery, an abandoned elderly case, Eileen Burke's dealing with her transition to the hostage negotiating team, and Kling dealing with the breakup with Burke and meeting Sharyn Cooke. That's a pile of stuff packed into one limited space, padding the book out to 350 pages and sort of scattering attention.

Don't get me wrong; the writing is still excellent, but the potency is diminished.

I will probably read this book again; either I'll pick it up at a book fair for a buck and forget about reading it now, or I will actually collect all of them and read them all in chronological order for fun.

Books mentioned in this review:

Thursday, March 27, 2008
Ignoring Another Cautionary Tale
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is beating its breast and rending its garments that the latest, biggest public-private partnership is falling apart now that the private corporation, the St. Cardinals (holy enough to lose the Louis) has what it wants (a stadium, tax breaks) and hasn't given the city what it wanted (a cool and trendy business/residential development called Ballpark Village. Stories: So, does that tell the city and other municipalities to perhaps stay out of these boondoggles? Heck, no! What kind of government would it be if it learned its lesson and will limit itself to actual government duties? It's going to get back in the saddle and participate in bigger, more expensive boondoggles in the future.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008
George Bush Now Responsible For Wandering Children
Mother of toddler found wandering lost husband to war:
    A Belleville woman charged with letting her 2-year-old son wander alone in 40-degree weather wearing only a diaper is the widow of a man killed while serving in Iraq.
If you don't have enough bad news to report about Iraq, it's good to see the creative writers who run the newswires can tie so much bad news back to Iraq.

So we can see the real costs of war, of course.

Cautionary Lesson? What Cautionary Lesson?
Collinsville Holiday Inn up for sale:
    The beleaguered Collinsville Holiday Inn will officially go on the auction block May 13 as officials hope to move the property off state books in time for summer.

    The announcement Wednesday is likely one of the last in a tortured history. Part of a large economic development program in 1982, the hotel was built with more than $13 million in state loans that were never repaid. It has been a boondoggle for state treasurers ever since.

    The owners repeatedly claimed financial hardship and refinanced their loans. In 1995, they had tried to buy the property outright for a negotiated sum of $6.3 million, but political infighting in Springfield killed that deal. The debt now has grown to more than $32 million.
That was 1982! Now, the governments who meddle in land use more aggressively 25 years later have just mandated failure right out of their 5- and 10-year plans.

Now, back to the normally scheduled borrowing to help private developers steal land from its rightful owners for another strip mall with promised chain stores designed to reflect and retain the neighborhood's unique flavor.

The Number One Clue You're Not Eligible For Manhood Anyway
If you tell a pollster that you feel pushed around by the world, you're probably not much of a man to start with:
    Many men believe the world is now dominated by women and that they have lost their role in society, fuelling feelings of depression and being undervalued.

    Research shows the extent to which men have had to change within one or two generations, adapting to new rules and different expectations.

    Asked what it meant to be a man in the 21st century, more than half thought society was turning them into "waxed and coiffed metrosexuals", and 52 per cent say they had to live according to women's rules.
Read the whole thing, and weep.

Reminds me of a story when I was a sophomore in college. My grandmother was getting married, and as an usher, I was expected to fit in with the wedding dress standards. Somehow, the color pink was involved. Instead, I decided to wear a white shirt, as I owned white shirts and I don't think pink is my color anyway. So my stepmother, wretched woman that she is, told me that real men weren't afraid to wear pink.

I guess our understanding of masculinity differs; mine doesn't involve bending to the whims of the polls or those who would use the polls to manipulate weak men.

That being said, Winston Churchill was a tough man, regardless of whether your woman allows you to think so.

(Link seen on Instapundit.)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Grammar Day
So first I post a grammar grappler at QA Hates You, now this. Someone would think I was a stickler. However....

Note to AP: A single entity, such as a band, is singular. Not Smashing Pumpkins Sue Virgin Records.

Try to keep up.

When Politicians Write Oatmeal Packets
So I was reading my oatmeal packet the other day, and this politician's answer to a question leapt out at me:

Dino Data as written by a politician

Notice how the answer doesn't actually apply to the question asked.

Well done, copy writer, well done. You'll be in Washington doing your true calling soon.

It Takes A Lot To Hurt That Image
Labor strife could hurt America's Center image:
    There were chains and padlocks on most of the doors of the America's Center Monday, and security guards at the one that was still open. There was the prospect of pickets under the marquee on Washington Avenue and of a work stoppage by all union labor at the convention center.

    This, it would seem, is not the image of St. Louis that anyone wants visiting conventioneers to take away when they come to the Gateway City.
I don't know how that really degrades an image of a big concrete venue surrounded by mostly empty buildings, panhandlers, and little convenient eating or shopping. But if the Post-Dispatch thinks so, the city can surely increase its descent into total bankruptcy installing some ill-conceived fixes.

Not Just A Man
Headline on St. Louis Post-Dispatch story: Festus man killed in Iraq. However, he was not just a man:
    Habsieger, 22, of Festus, was one of four soldiers who were killed in the blast, according to the Department of Defense.
None of the stories identify his branch; to journalists fresh out of J-school, they all look alike, no doubt.

Does it matter? Well, it mattered to Habsieger, didn't it?

Monday, March 24, 2008
Book Report: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (1996)
Wow, this book has something for everyone. Girls making connections in period costume for the women, and the 36-year-old man ends up with a firebrand 19-year-old hottie (played in the movie, apparently, by Kate Winslet) for the 36-year-old men.

This book is Jane Austen circa 1811, the language is more elaborate than one gets into with modern books, so it takes a bit of patience to read compared to pulp fiction. However, it's not a hard, inscrutable language; just something that requires attention.

The book outlines a period in the late teens (marrying and matchmaking age, natch) for two lower upper class sisters: Elinor, the older, who is very sense-oriented, that is, she is proper and full of etiquette and the stoicism required of a lady, and Marianne, who is sensible--that is, captive of the senses. Or maybe I've got that backwards. However, they move in their circles and fall into and out of what passes for love in that class-conscious society.

The ending sort of bothered me; a bit contrived, and even the villains live happily ever after. I'd prefer a bit of comeuppance to them, maybe not a truly Dickensian bad ending, but at least some psychic misery. Austen is too polite even for that.

Books mentioned in this review:

The Blues Season: A Metaphor

Sunday, March 23, 2008
Jamie Lee Curtis: Formerly Healthy
So Jamie Lee Curtis is on the cover of AARP magazine sometime soon, and in reading an article about it, I uncovered this terrifying bit:
    Curtis, who is married to Christopher Guest and the mother of two children, says she reached a turning point two years ago when a tabloid published a photo of her and gave her weight as 161 pounds.

    "I was like, `How dare you — I'm not 161 pounds!' I was indignant. I got home and I went on a scale and I was 161 pounds. I was in denial about it," she says.

    "So I started a really healthy way of eating, just avoiding things that I had been shoving in my mouth. Over the course of a year, I dropped about 20 pounds," Curtis says.
161 pounds on a tall woman is not what you'd call unattractive. It's sort of what you'd call, you know, healthy.

Because, let's face it, there's nothing sexier to me than a woman who can help me move the furniture, dammit, and someone whom I won't accidentally break.

Bonus note: If Jamie Lee Curtis shilling for the senior citizens' magazine isn't enough to make you feel acutely old, how about the fact that the movie Halloween: H20 is available in 10th anniversary edition DVDs?

Internet Rumors Made Fresh
Easter came early this year because Congress, in an attempt to bolster the economy by strengthening first quarter numbers, passed an act to move the holiday forward into the end of March.

Google it!

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