Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, May 24, 2008
I Take Back What I Was Going To Say
You know, I was going to use the "newspapermen blame Bush for everything except [event related to baseball]."

However, those hard working men and women of the press have found a way to demonize Bush for things related to baseball.

So I take it back. Their creative writing classes have taught them how to blame a Republican president for everything now. Their training is complete.

When the sportscaster starts talking to a woman about the latest baseball phenom, and you think, "Hey, she's kinda cute," and it's the ballplayer's mother.

Friday, May 23, 2008
Is That What I Said?
Sorry, I seem to have deployed some confusing sarcasm with this post. Here's how the Kansas City Star's Prime Buzz characterizes it:
    Musings from Brian J. Noggle contends that cutting the most expensive people from the public health care rolls is not a solution.
Allow me to be clear: The solution is to cut them all and allow the free market to bring prices down. If people cannot afford it, families and charities cover. Government programs will eventually either tax the citizenry to death or have to use faceless and blameless bureaucratic means to cuts costs, which means denying health care to expensive cases.

Cutting the most expensive people from the public health care rolls is a solution. An efficient government solution that actually replicates the practices of the private industry it's trying to replace.

The Race To Eliminate A Tax Cut
New taxes never sunset. Sometimes, tax cuts don't even sunrise:
    A state law requiring St. Charles to cut property taxes when the city's share of Ameristar Casino admission receipts increases may be repealed before it ever triggers any reduction.

    At the request of Mayor Patti York, the Missouri Legislature last week approved a little-noticed measure to get rid of the tax cut requirement.
Please, don't take away her slush money. Think of the poor, bawling, hungry bureaucrats she has to feed.

Thursday, May 22, 2008
Let The Failures Begin
State-run health care in Wisconsin begins denying coverage to the most vulnerable, i.e., expensive, "clients":
    "I was close to crying in the drugstore," Clark said. "I knew there just had to be another recourse."

    Clark's son was among the 450 children with pre-existing medical conditions who were dropped by the Health Insurance Risk Sharing Plan Authority when BadgerCare Plus was introduced.

    Their experience is an example of the often-inescapable complexity of state health programs and the insurance market in general, particularly for families who do not get insurance through an employer.
Is the solution letting the free market work? Foolish mortal; the obvious solutions include drug reimportation and spending even more tax money.

Speed Limits Will Vary Based On Traffic Flow, Budget Shortfalls
Variable speed limits set to begin on I-270:
    Starting Thursday morning, the Missouri Department of Transportation will begin a two-year experiment with variable speed limits along Interstate 270.

    Motorists might have already noticed the digital speed limit signs that began popping up along the Missouri stretch of the highway in recent weeks. So far, those signs have shown that the speed limit is 60 miles per hour.

    But by the morning commute, the speed limits on those signs could change to as low as 40 miles per hour depending on traffic flow.
Hey, we've already seen the authorities stretching existing laws to cover things that they didn't. Why not just give the authorities to actually change the rules at their whim? I'm sure this power will only be used for safety, and not revenue enhancement. So it will only be coincidence when these speed limits drop during nonpeak times when there happen to be a large number of municipal police cars sitting on the entrance ramps.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Book Report: Best Home Plans by Sunset Books (1995)
Here's a crazy sort of sidelight into my mind: I'm sort of a fan of looking over house plans. Back in the days when I was working at a startup, spending half my day working like crazy to build an award-winning set of manuals for a software product nobody eventually bought, I spent the other half of my days spending my stock option millions. I looked at a number of Web sites offering the plans for sale and dreamt.

I mean, I bought a number of magazines and whatnot containing them and had a good run of selling them on eBay around the turn of the century, so I ended up with a bunch of them in my unsold inventory. I even bought a cheap piece of home designing software to play with in my spare hours in the old days where I didn't think I had any time for spare hobbies, way back before I knew what that meant. So I sort of sometimes dabble in this as an interest. Dreaming still of that stock market wealth, I suppose. I'll have some when National Lampoon stock goes to $400 after a couple of splits.

This volume I bought at a garage sale sometime in the past. And I perused it while watching a number of baseball games. If you're not familiar with the genre, it's a bit of marketing text along with a bare home layout schematic coupled with some measurements (sometimes) and the way to order the actual plans from the stock architectural firm if you're interested in actually building the home. Each page also includes an artist representation of the home and sometimes a photo of a built unit.

That said, slight hobbying aside, it took me a while to get through it because each page is almost the same, and many of the homes have very similar layouts when the architectural firm starts with a template and rearranges the interior a bit. So I got bored every couple dozen homes or so, particularly when I was reading all the marketing fluff bullet points. I started skimming a little faster, though, and I got through it.

In case you're wondering, the elements I like most in the plans and that I'd like to see in my future dream home include:
  • An atrium/courtyard.

  • An octagonal shaped house.

  • A tuck under two car garage with basement workspace.

  • A loft.

I mean, sure, I could just buy this house when I buy the lottery, but the original on the site was far larger and I have seen a map of its lands at the time of its construction, including orchards, toboggan run, tennis courts, and whatnot, so its pale comparison to its former splendor would break my heart daily. Maybe.

Books mentioned in this review:

Another Mass Transit Fan States His Case
Suspect, 17, arrested in bus beating case:
    The attack occurred about 3 p.m. last Wednesday, when a masked male boarded the bus near N. 60th St. and W. Silver Spring Drive and immediately began beating the driver.

    The bus driver drove about two blocks north on N. 60th St. before the suspect grabbed the steering wheel and stepped on the accelerator.

    The bus traveled about another 50 yards before crashing into a tree near N. 60th St. and W. Carmen Ave.

    The suspect got off and ran north. The bus driver suffered minor injuries, but no other injuries were reported.
Ride mass transit, and you ride with a large number of strangers and the occasional felony-minded individual who will attack you for no reason. At which point, none of your fellow riders will come to your aid.

You know, if only mass transit used expensive, inflexible trains instead of buses, maybe this wouldn't have happened. Or maybe the argument should be that trains won't run in to trees as easily when their drivers are beaten. Keep trying, New Urbanists, and remember what that Urban buys you.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Book Report: The Book of Tomatoes by National Gardening Association (1995)
I bought this book because I was going to put in some tomato plants. Of course, I didn't read the book until I'd already done several wrong things with the tomato plants, but what's a guy to do?

This book is a supplement to the National Gardening Association's regular materials, apparently. It covers the gamut of tomato raising, from selecting the right variety between the determined/indetermined growth varieties, natural resistance to disease and insects, and onto fertilization techniques, planting considerations, and finally into canning tips and recipes for tomato dishes.

I learned a lot from this book and hope that next year I can put its lessons, coupled with the big ones I'm learning this year on my own, into practice.

Books mentioned in this review:

In The Court Of Public Opinion, The Verdict Is Not "Innocent"
Story from last week: John Burroughs Teacher Arrested For Misconduct With A Minor:
    A John Burroughs School teacher is on administrative leave after being arrested for misconduct with a minor.


    Ladue Police were tipped off by an anonymous call, and a Johns Burroughs' teacher has since been arrested. Police aren't releasing his name because he hasn't been charged yet.

    "There was an inappropriate relationship that took place over a 3 year period," says Detective Andreski.
    [emphasis added]
Ah, that reliable old anonymous call. Less reliable than the testimony of a cellmate overall.

Later: Burroughs School Still in Shock over Allegations against Teacher:
    It is alleged that the teacher had inappropriate contact with a Burroughs student.

    Ladue Police said they're investigating the alleged relationship between the teacher and the student, which could have occured
    [sic] over a three year period. [Emphasis added.]
Hmm, that seems to hedge a little, doesn't it?

The story now: Prosecutor: Not Enough Evidence to Charge John Burroughs Teacher:
    St. Louis County Prosecutors said there is not enough evidence to file charges against a teacher at a private school in Ladue.
Not that he didn't do it, but that there wasn't enough evidence to file charges. Hah! As we've seen, there's often a way to prosecute where something isn't against the law; is it possible this poor, soon to be jobless teacher actually didn't do anything?

Of course, if one presumes that one is innocent until proven guilty. However, in the world of law enforcement hemming, prosecutorial hawing, and media rah-rahing, false charges and overeager arresting get footnotes instead of salacious headlines.

Sunday, May 18, 2008
Book Report: Lonesome Cities by Rod McKuen (1968)
So J2 didn't dodge the McKuen bullet for long. This collection, a 1960s collection of McKuen's lyrics, uses the schtick of travelling, as the sections are titled after cities but only sometimes have to do with them. Mostly, though, they deal with lost love and alienation. Not a bad set of topics for poetry.

The pieces aren't very image laden, but after the book below, this was a bit refreshing.

The book foreshadows some of the self-indulgence and self-consciousness that makes McKuen's later work lesser, including poems written for people because McKuen wanted to write a poem for someone. That's a police composite sketch, not a work of art.

Still, one of McKuen's better works, worthwhile even if it doesn't put children to sleep.

Books mentioned in this review:

Book Report: The Braille Woods by Ann Townsend (1997)
This chapbook, published by the St. Louis Writer's Center, was J2's first volume of poetry. Unlike his elder, he did not receive the Rod McKuen treatment fresh from the womb.

As I was active in the poetry scene in St. Louis at that time, I thought perhaps I might know of her. However, she's a professor at some university in Ohio with a pile of literary magazine publications, not one of the locals who stepped beyond the Kinko's chapbook.

The poems have a lot of dense imagery within them, but mostly, that's it. I didn't get a lot of other deeper meanings or connections with the pieces. Nothing I'd like to read again, and certainly nothing I'd memorize to recite to myself when bored. Nothing I'd quote, and nothing I'd set my Yahoo! IM status to so I'd sound smart. That means, I guess, she's no Ogden Nash or Michelangelo.

Your mileage may vary, of course. Maybe an incident, nicely evoked, of seeing a blind person in the woods while you're on a hike and not saying anything to the blind person, even though the blind person senses you're there, means something to you. That's the title poem in a nutshell.

Did nothing for me.

Books mentioned in this review:

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