Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, May 03, 2008
Good Book Hunting: May 1, 2008
On Thursday evening, we got into the Friends of the Old Trees Book Sale on preview night for free because we're Friends of the Old Trees library. Uncrowded and in a much better space this year (a recently vacated former video store), we had a good time, but unfortunately I suspended shopping a bit early because I thought we were running out of cash and we didn't bring the checkbook.

Still, here's what I got:

Friends of Old Trees Library results
Click for full size

This includes:
  • Three local history books that I read last year: Webster Park 1896-1996, Webster Groves, North Webster, and the first three editions of the In Retrospect series. Given that they're expensive if you find them online or in local book stores, I feel very fortunate indeed. I guess I can remove them from my Amazon wish list, you know, the one you ingrates never visit.

  • Several pamphlets about Missouri trees and Missouri birds.

  • The Happy Gardener by Clarissa Start; I think this marks the fourth book of hers I now own.

  • Basic Writings by Martin Heidegger. This is probably the only time in history Heidegger and Start have appeared together.

  • Viets Guide to Sex, Travel & Anything Else that Will Sell this Book by Elaine Viets, a former local columnist.

  • The Naked Society, a book about the forthcoming lack of privacy as government and corporations consolidate data. This book was written in the 1960s.

  • A History of the English Speaking Peoples by Winston Churchill, in a box set. For $8.

  • The Elizabethan World, a history summary, I assume.

  • The Battle of New Orleans, which details that battle from the War of 1812.

  • All My Best Friends by George Burns, a memoir of life in the entertainment industry. But it's by George Burns, whom I expect to be very funny.

  • Three Essays by J.S. Mill.

  • Red Zone by Mike Lupica. It appears to be a sequel to Bump and Run; regardless, it's Lupica fiction that's new to me.

  • Lafitte the Pirate, a book about a pirate in New Orleans. Nonfiction, I think. It was on the history table, but so was Harry Turtledove.

  • The WPA Guide to 1930s Missouri. Why not?

  • An issue of the Webster Review, Webster University's literay magazine, from 1993. I checked to see if any of the alumni I know were associated with it (apparently not), but it has a poem by Lyn Lifshin.

  • Book IV of the Dark Tower series by Stephen King. I bought 5-7 at the Kirkwood Book Fair in hardback; this is a trade paperback. As a result, I own all of them now, so I guess I can read them sometime. I'll probably have to reread the first three since it's been probably a decade since I read them. Probably 15 years by the time I get to them again.

  • History of Columbia, Illinois, a short treatise on the first hundred years of that town. From the 1950s, I think.

  • Around the World in 99 Beds. I'd flirted with purchasing this before. This one had the title page intact, but was not signed. Which might make it the only copy in existence not signed, increasing its worth.

  • A short treatise on St. Louis.

  • Livings II: A Guide to the Other St. Louis, a resource guide for people who are newly moving to the revitalizing city of St. Louis. Written in 1972. It would give pause to the current crop of The-city-is-backsters, but they're too busy humping the legs of the developers and public/private profiteers to bother gaining any perspective on just how long the city of St. Louis has been on the cusp of revitalization that fails.
Yeah, I hit the local interest table pretty hard.

The beautiful wife gathered a collection in her interest areas, God, food, and UNIX. Not pictured: A Babar board book for the urchin(s); urchin1 was looking at it at the time of the photo.

Things You Didn't Know I Collect: Goblets
Sometime just before the turn of the century, back when I spent Saturday mornings and part of the afternoons scouring garage sales and estate sales for stuff to list on eBay, I encountered a single goblet at a garage sale marked a quarter. Hey, a goblet! I could drink my soda/wine/beer like a king! So I bought it.

Then I found that a yard sale or two each week that had a goblet, sometimes two, and rarely three. So I'd buy those, too. So I could drink like a king in different colors each night or without having to wash the dishes between drink like a king sessions. Suddenly, I was collecting goblets:

The Noggle Goblet Collection
Click for full size

Since filling the tops of my cabinets a couple years ago, I haven't acquired anything new in a while. I haven't seen them as often of late at the garage sales we attend; I don't know if this means that I've bought them all, or if our change in suburbs has caused a change in garage sale vendor demographics to people who wouldn't own goblets in the first place, but there you have it.

I took them all down this weekend and washed them for the first time in two years (!), and I've discovered I do have a little room up there for a couple more goblets....

Also note that my goblet collection includes a stein; this was a gift from my mother in law, who misremembered the beer consumption vessels I collected.

Friday, May 02, 2008
With Tam Out Of The Way, There's Room On Tennessee's Porch
Tam of View From The Porch moves from Tennessee to Indiana.

A senatorial candidate in Tennessee starts blogging on The View From The Front Porch.

Looking to hijack a little of name recognition?

(Link seen on Instapundit originally.)

If You're Going To Be On The Society Page, Put Down The Beer
As someone who peruses the society page of a couple of different magazines here in town, I've got a bit of a pet peeve. You have a guy that is dressed nicely, at a high class function, stone cold munchin', and standing next to an attractive woman who's a date/spouse/person whom he'd like to impress enough into one or the other, and he's got a beer bottle in his hand. Worse, given that this is St. Louis, it's usually an Anheuser-Busch product of some sort. Some examples:
Man with best friend and a woman The bottle doesn't go with his tie
Hiding it with a napkin doesn't work Camouflaging it against your shirt only works if you're wearing a Budweiser shirt
Jeez, boys, show a little class. Put it down for the photo. I know you don't want someone else to get your precious beer, but even if someone else grabs it, it's only a Budweiser. Look at it as a sign from providence, and get something real to drink.

Notice those people amongst you, your betters, who understand that a cocktail glass doesn't make you look like a frat boy. Take the hint.

Also, a quick note to recruiters: if you find my name on LinkedIn, Google my name, visit this blog to get my e-mail address, and then try to tempt me into an entry-level position at Anheuser-Busch for which you think I'm suited, please, take a moment to search this blog for what I say about Anheuser-Busch and its products. Rest assured, someone there will, and you'll find they don't think I'm suitable at all. Thank you, that is all.

Book Report: Pogo: We Have Met The Enemy And He Is Us Walter Kelly (1972)
As I mentioned when I bought this book, it would probably be a good book to read during a ball game. It was.

I admit I wasn't that familiar with the Pogo comic strip. Of course, one book doesn't make me a knowledgeable fan by any stretch of the imagination. I didn't get into it in high school, when I had access to a daily paper carrying it. The humor is sort of dry and carries over between the different days into storylines. That's the way they did it in the old days, before the strips became mostly episodic and didn't rely on daily readers to keep up.

Funny how television has reversed that as consumers rely more on DVDs and timeshifting to keep up. I wonder if Web comics will do the same, or if they're doing it already.

The comic tends to skewer a right and a bit of left, poking at the powerful regardless of their persuasion or means to power. Good enough. Even when it skewers my particular oxen, it doesn't do it hatefully, so I'm not offended. Maybe I'm layering on the sepia, but political opponents and humorists who were politically different didn't always acutely offend, apparently.

On the plus side, I got this book at a book sale for under a buck; you can get it from Amazon for as little as $35 and change.

Books mentioned in this review:

That Sounds Like An Imminent Threat
A co-worker complains about threats made by another:
    A 54-year-old doctor at St. Anthony's Medical Center was arrested after being accused of threatening people during preparation for surgery by allegedly saying he would shoot up the hospital, police said.
Luckily, the SWAT team swooped in and got him before he could get his arsenal from his Lexus:
    The doctor allegedly made the threat April 11 and it was reported to police April 23, officials said.
An almost two week lag time before the arrest? It sounds like someone got cheesed off later at the doctor and called the buttons on him.

There's probably more to the story than the paper lets on, but each of these ill-described incidents leads me to believe that the police might come for me someday on some wisecrack gone awry.

The Kirkwood City Council Shootings In Depth
St. Louis Magazine has a in-depth look at the Kirkwood City Council shootings this month with insight that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's coverage sadly lacked.

It looks like the online version has three additional parts not found in the print magazine, too, which means I have further reading to do.

Samuelson Said What?
Robert J. Samuelson, economic columnist for the Washington Post, usually offers sensible advice on economics. However, in this column about oil prices, he proffers the following dangerous aside:
    (And yes, we need a gradually rising fuel tax to create a strong market for more-efficient vehicles.)
You know, I find it terribly inconsistent that so many people who lament the high price of gas are the same people who, only a couple short years or months ago, were clamoring for a high fuel tax to alter people's behavior are now up in arms about the market-dictated rising prices of fuel. Just think where the price of gas would be if the East Coast "Conservatives" had had their way.

The behavior we alter with any new revenue stream is the government's: it spends the money, and when the citizen behavior is effectively altered, the government will have to come up with alternative behaviors to modify or raise general revenue streams. We know that the only painful cuts the government tends to make are slower increases in spending.

Which is why I'm surprised at Samuelson's advice here, coming as it is in the middle of a column on high fuel prices.

(Link seen on Instapundit.)

Thursday, May 01, 2008
An Obvious Sign, If You're A Bureaucrat
Headline: Texas polygamist kids abused, officials say. Evidence offered in the brief story?
    Commissioner Carey Cockerell, who oversees the state agency now caring for the children, said medical examinations have revealed numerous physical injuries, including broken bones in "very young children."
How many hundreds of kids did they take to find "numerous physical injuries" including broken bones in "very young children"?

Nearly 500.

Go to any elementary school. If you see a cast, that child has been abused, right?

How Popular Is It Then?
St. Charles art center seeks more city aid:
    A former industrial site that has become a hub for the local arts scene and a popular event venue is seeking more city money to plug a budget gap.
One would ask how popular it is, then, if it cannot sustain itself. Very popular, no doubt; ask anyone who's there or who runs it.

Best quote of the day, though, for its galling honesty:
    "The obvious thing is to go to your daddy" before seeking additional private money, said Dick Sacks, who heads the foundry's board.
Who's your daddy?

Candyman: The Return Preview
After Matt Blunt's term as Missouri governor, with its semi-austerity in cutting government programs unpopularly (some of which I chronicled on my old Draft Matt Blunt blog), it looks like 2009 will return to government business as usual. Jay Nixon will be your candyman:
    On a gubernatorial campaign stop Monday at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon unveiled a plan that would allow Missouri students who start out at a community college to get a four-year degree without having to pay tuition along the way.
Of course, economics dictates that once everyone has a bachelor's degree, the starting salaries for people with college degrees will diminish, squeezing the middle class in another fashion. But this is government/politics, not reality/economics.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Lost Theory
Benjamin Linus is Morpheus, and Charles Widdmore is Agent Smith/the Machines. The island is Zion. Locke is Neo, and Jack is Cypher.

That should ruin it for you, and make you kind of dread the coming explanations and denuoements that will quite probably suck.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Drop Removed From Bucket
Kudos to the Metropolitan Mass Transit Boondoggle Association for getting a bill reduced $95,000:
    A consulting firm that worked on Metro’s failed lawsuit against MetroLink designers has agreed to knock $94,617 off its final bill after the agency questioned some travel expenses and other charges.
Too bad the ill-conceived bucket was so big as to make this win negligible:
    Metro, formally known as the Bi-State Development Agency, spent more than $21 million on its three-year legal battle against the original designers and construction managers of the Shrewsbury MetroLink line. But after a three-month trial, a St. Louis County jury ruled in favor of the defendants, who had counter-sued.

    Metro later reached a $6 million settlement with the contractors — bringing the agency’s total trial cost to $27 million.
With enough judicious budgeting like this, the whole thing will take an extra 30 minutes to go bankrupt.

The Public Safety Aspect of Illegal Immigration
CNN Radio reported about an automobile accident in remote Arizona that killed and injured a large number of people jammed into a truck. Just people, the radio announcer said. A special kind of people, my mind inferred. This AP article alludes to what special people they might be:
    A pickup truck jammed with people has crashed in remote central Arizona. Four people are dead and nearly 30 are injured.

    Authorities are investigating the immigration status of those involved in the Sunday morning rollover crash.
Funny that the Public Health aspect of illegal immigration is never discussed. That public money is spent on chasing down and treating people suffering from exposure or dehydration crossing in the desert or in treating people hurt in accidents where large numbers of them are crammed into trucks or whatnot.

Spurious and scurrilous laws are passed with larger impact to protect far smaller sample sizes of citizens. How about taking illegal immigration seriously and enforcing the laws or erecting the walls in the name of public safety?

Hah! Just kidding. People who do illegal things will do them regardless of how more illegal you make them; it's always easier to layer on more control upon the law abiding than to bring the existing criminals to heel. See also all gun control attempts.

Monday, April 28, 2008
Ill Portents
You remember the last time the media got hopped up on a shark frenzy? Summer 2001.

Now it's an election year, and maybe I'm just on a hair trigger for my normal paranoia, but when I start hearing about the sharks ramping up their attacks, I'm suddenly worried about what effect a mass casualty attack would have on American soil right before the elections.

The truthers taking to the streets claiming Bush did it to stay in power, and maybe Bush even tries a Guiliani "I need to stay in power a little longer to handle it" attempt, and suddenly....

Well, use your fetid imagination if you've got one.

Sunday, April 27, 2008
Going for the Shallow Angle
When someone wants to offer arguments on a political subject, how does the St. Louis Post-Dispatch highlight his reasoning? Hah! Trick question. It doesn't; it highlights how he looks! The headline: A boy-next-door is fighting affirmative action. The lead:
    Tim Asher sat calmly and appeared unfazed moments before he was to address a roomful of Latino leaders, some of whom were likely to be hostile to his message — that Missouri should end affirmative action programs based on race and gender.

    In the last couple of months, Asher, 45, has become accustomed to speaking before skeptical crowds like this one at Hispanic Day at the Capitol.

    Asher, with his boy-next-door looks, has become the face of the Missouri Civil Rights Initiative.
Well, played, Post-Dispatch journalist and editor, well, played.

Content of his character and/or intellect? Nah, that might be too convincing; let's diminish him by calling him a pretty boy.

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