Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Country Music Is Dead; Now They're Just Desecrating The Body. Or Rock Music
Nine Lives by Def Leppard featuring Tim McGraw. The most disturbing thing I've seen in quite some time.

Somebody is dead to me now, and I cannot determine if it's Def Leppard or Tim McGraw. Maybe both.

Far worse than Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett. Far worse than Uncle Kracker and Kenny Chesney. Appalling.

Friday, May 30, 2008
Public Service Pictures of June Tripp
What do you get when you cross Lileks with Kim du Toit? Something like this: a post with screen caps of an attractive old timey actress.

This particular actress, June Howard Tripp, appeared in a hand's worth of British films in the early part of the 20th century, most of them silent. She was born in June 1901 and died in January 1985 according to the IMDB bio.

I'm posting these photos of her because 1)I thought she was cute and 2)The Internet apparently doesn't have many photos of her on it. These stills are from the 1927 Hitchcock film The Lodger.

June Tripp 1
Click for full size

June in a flapper hat.

June Tripp 2
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June with big smile.

June Tripp 3
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June with concerned look.

June Tripp 5
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June serving breakfast.

June Tripp 6
Click for full size

June with eyes raised heavenward.

There, that should help make sure my content column is almost as long as the sidebar. What, with over five years' worth of weekly archives, it gets hard sometimes.

Also, she was a cutie. Relative to the rest of the cast of the movie, anyway.

Thursday, May 29, 2008
Don't Answer Those ED Remedy E-Mails!
For the love of Pete, they're all true in their promises of what will happen once you've given over your credit card number and social security number to a friendly pharmacy in .cn and have downloaded their special desktop price widget named attackNSA.exe.

Just ask these two fellows who've apparently taken the treatment. What else could explain a naked woman ramming their truck with her car to get them to stop? All the desire promised in all those subject lines, baby.

(Link seen on Dustbury.)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Book Report: And To Each Season by Rod McKuen (1972)
I am going to postulate that McKuen poetry before 1970 was tolerable, and that after 1970 not so much. I wonder if the quality of the books correlates inversely to the amount of I AM KING OF THE WORLD fluff appears in the about the author page. Perhaps by the time 1990 rolls around, McKuen cured cancer, in addition to being the best selling poet of all time and a sellout recording artist.

These poems run right to the next, with little to differentiate them from any of the others or the rest of the canon. Maybe there's slightly more reminiscing about getting laid than actual getting laid, but that vein runs throughout. As this is supposed to be his most personal book ever (at least to 1972), I'd rather have read his book of best poems.

The introduction indicates he's kinda dealing with the death of his mother, but without the introduction, I'd not have known. Of course, the last poem, "The Leaving of Little Joe", starts out as a poignant reflection on his mother's death using the metaphor of his mother's favorite cat running off, but as with many of McKuen's poems, you turn the page and there's not a new title indicating a new poem. Instead, for some reason, the current poem goes on. And what might have been a touching reflection on his mother's death turns into a poem about cats. Maybe the continued, extending metaphor was too subtle or sublime for me, but it was just a long poem about cats.

Why do I read these books? I don't know. Somehow, I kinda feel for the KING OF THE WORLD, whose poetry was taught in colleges all around the world in 1972 falling into obscurity in the course of 20 years; by the time I got to college, nobody talked about McKuen. Instead, oddly, we talked about Shakespeare, Sidney, Spenser, Eliot, and Millay (although those conversations were sort of one-sided).

Books mentioned in this review:

City Needs Thumb On Scale, Tax Increase, To Remain Competitive
My, is it already the eighth year of the 20th century already? Must be why Creve Coeur has fallen into a development rut that only raising the costs of doing business in the city can cure:
    City officials are asking voters next Tuesday to authorize a half-cent economic development sales tax that they say would keep the city competitive.

    Creve Coeur's economic circumstances are uncertain, said Paul Zimitzsch, chairman of the city's Economic Development Commission. "Town and Country is opening a big box retail center. Clayton is pursuing redevelopment. We've become the hole in the doughnut," he said.
Let's see, in the last eight years, Creve Coeur has thrown up a massive business development (CityPlace); a set of mixed use buildings (King's Landing, et al, ca 2006); tried to run a longtime auto dealer, a country club, and an American Legion post out of town to build more of the same (2001); and in 2006 put out its own fluff piece entitled WHY CREVE COEUR IS THE HEART OF COMMERCE.

Pretty damn impressive run for a municipality crying poverty.

You know what an actual business owner and resident thinks?
    But David Caldwell, a resident and owner of a business in Creve Coeur, sees that kind of hole as a blessing that prevents overdevelopment.

    Creve Coeur also needs to keep its sales tax low to remain competitive, Caldwell said.
That's not the sort of thinking that wins you elections; that's the sort of thinking that allows you to make an honest living. Which is why he's ultimately doomed.

But Transparency Is So Expensive!
Another part of another government laments about the costs of keeping its workings transparent:
    A bill that would require more rollbacks of property tax rates also would provide residents and business owners with more details about their property taxes.

    Getting the additional information may cost St. Louis County nearly $700,000, officials said.
Dear government: please, consider the costs of doing your job transparently as non-negotiable. Pay out this expense and maybe seek to save that money elsewhere, such as doing your job efficiently and maybe not doing stupid things with tax money. There's a pipe dream for a citizen.

However, I'm not sure I think this is efficiency:
    And Eugene Leung, the county's revenue director, wants the county to hire a company from Dallas to help the assessor. Leung wants to hire the firm without seeking bids or proposals.
You know, it would really suck to have to open things up so the public sees things like no bid contracts and the decision process for that, ainna?

St. Charles County Finds Flimsy Excuse
Trash decision will hinge on complaints — from whom?:
    It's interesting how a handful of complaints can change something that's working fine for everybody else.

    The St. Charles County Council, for instance, is considering a plan that might change trash collection for all unincorporated areas in the county because of three negative comments.

    The proposal would split the areas into trash collection districts, each served by only one waste hauler.

    Currently, 11 companies have permits to operate anywhere in the county, and residents can choose which one picks up their trash.

    Council Chairman Dan Foust wants to tinker with that arrangement because he got phone calls from three residents in the St. Charles Hills neighborhood, which has 1,600 homes.

    The negative comments were about the nuisance produced by the current competitive arrangement.

    Right now, trucks from multiple companies are going up and down the streets almost daily. It would be quieter if just one company's trucks were going by twice a week.
    [Emphasis added]
You know what else would make streets quieter? How about limiting deliveries to one parcel post carrier, such as DHL? That way, you don't get Federal Express (note: I just wanted to be the last man in America to use its full name) or United Parcel Service trucks rumbling down the streets. Or how about only allowing one furniture store to deliver to the area? This thin gruel of rationalization that seeks to move from a free market solution to one open to corruption (best bid package presented to the trash district commissioners, hint hint, gets all the business) could apply to just about anything.

But this has precedent, don't you know, now that St. Louis County has imposed this solutions on a reluctant populace.

And the others? Well, St. Charles County isn't going to break that ground, but if some other regional government succeeds, perhaps a good presentation or two, hint hint, to the county commission could get the commissioners on board.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008
We Could Have Guessed That
Musings from Brian J. Noggle is the number one Google search result for douche noggle.

I take a perverse sort of pride in it.

Monday, May 26, 2008
The City Is Backing Out, Back Out Of The City
After a short run, home furnishings store closes downtown:
    In the latest blow to downtown St. Louis, Good Works Inc. will close its home-furnishings store next month due to a lack of new customers.

    Many of the shoppers who visited the store at 901 Washington Avenue were the same ones who frequented the Good Works store at 6323 Delmar Boulevard in University City, said Chris Dougher, one of the owners. Co-owners Dougher and Rita Navarro plan to expand the store in the Delmar Loop.

    "We just aren't generating new business," Dougher said of the store on Washington Avenue. "It's a huge disappointment, but we can't foresee it changing in the near future."

    The 8,000-square-foot store, which opened in November, was one of the larger retailers to locate downtown in recent years.
Huh. So empty, tax-incentive-and-not-market-driven lofts don't buy furniture. Who knew?

Has It Come To This?
Letter to the editor in the Webster Kirkwood Times:
    On Mother's Day about 2:40 p.m., I was driving west on West Lockwood Avenue. As I went under the railroad trestle just past Sherwood, I came upon a large tree that had blown over, blocking the westward lanes. The only people there was a crew working to clean it up.

    I swung over to go west on one of the two eastbound lanes. Very quickly flashing lights from a police car came up behind me. I don't know where it had been. While I was waiting for the police officer to get out of his car, a woman going east went by and said she was going to court. She had gotten a ticket too.

    The officer told me to pull onto a side street. He followed me and after he got out of his car ran back to hail another car going west on the eastward lane. The officer said I should have turned around. When I said people go around obstacles all the time, he said it was dangerous and I could have had a head-on collision.

    I wonder how the police chief would assess the situation. The road must have been blocked for some time before I arrived, since a woman had gotten a ticket, done her business and was on her way back, and a clean-up crew had to be assembled and brought to the location. I wonder how many tickets the officer managed to write.

    Shouldn't the police be helping drivers get around the obstacle rather than waiting (where?) until drivers get into a "dangerous" situation so they can give them a ticket?
Law enforcement not as concerned with public safety as with writing tickets and generating revenue? Say it ain't so!

Granted, all we have here is the letter-writer's version of events, but the story too easily falls into an anecdote supporting a cynical mindset that couples red-light cameras (sometimes with shortened yellow lights), rules allowing law enforcement to seize assets easily, and ticket quotas.

I'm very disappointed that the Webster-Kirkwood Times didn't see this as a lead on a story, because either there is some dereliction of duty or behavior that's not in the interest of public safety here, or there's a letter writer spinning his tale of woe for all of us to see. Maybe signs were clear that the road was closed. Maybe there were even detour signs up. Hard to say. The paper only presents an allegation and lets it go.

But we've got a letter and our own cynicism that keeps us cold at night.

Thirteen Days Later, St. Louis Post-Dispatch Gets A Sign
On May 10, I posted the picture of the LOL gas price sign on Clayton Road.

On May 23, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch posts a picture. Sure, it's clearer, but it's theoretically a professional photographer and he or she was not driving a temporarily unionized wife to the hospital.

Kudos to them for not explicitly blaming Bush in the article (unlike this "article" in the neighborhood paper, where the newspaper editor takes four short paragraphs, 10 short sentences, to lay the blame at George Bush's feet. On the front page of the paper, no less. Good work, activist!). However, I wonder who told someone that LOL means "Lots of luck."

Funny bit from the Post-Dispatch story, though, in the semi-mandatory, tout light rail section:
    "I just started riding it a couple weeks ago, and I love it," said Richards, of St. George. He said he finds riding the train so relaxing that he'd probably keep doing it even in the unlikely event that gas prices plummet. "I guess I'm hooked."
I guess he doesn't work downtown. The fundamental problem with the light rail system is that it has two lines: a main line from the airport to downtown, and a spur down to Shrewsbury. If the guy in St. George works downtown, a highway commute looks like this:

View Larger Map

His ride to the Metrolink station looks like this:

View Larger Map

That's a fourteen minute ride to the Metrolink station and then a ride on the train downtown or about a 20 minute ride on the highway. When I lived in Casinoport and worked downtown, I could drive 30 minutes to the Metrolink station, wait for a train, and then ride downtown on the train, or I could drive 40 minutes to downtown.

Light rail proponents will yap that that explains why we need a bunch more rails and stops, but it took 10 years to build that one spur I mentioned above. To this day, Metrolink bleeds money. More rails mean it would bleed more money. Light rail and those fixed transit systems make no sense in a widely distributed, low-density area. But they're BIG THINGS, and elected leaders get their names on buildings, so they continue to support it. The right-minded busybodies who tend to move downtown anyway continue to push it because it makes sense for them and the population should fund their pet projects. For the rest of us, time and tax money are wasted.

That's a long way from pointing out I had the photo before the Post-Dispatch did. I'll stop now.

Sunday, May 25, 2008
That Should Hold Them Until The Next Ballot
Crestwood tax increase expected to keep city running:
    About $7 million ought to cover it. That's what the Crestwood Board of Aldermen thinks will be needed over the next six years to maintain city services. And to cover losses from declining sales tax and property tax revenues from its shopping mall, the board wants to place a 35 cent property tax increase proposal on the August election ballot.The measure will be on the August 5 ballot once it is approved by county election officials.
Here's a little hair petting to calm you, citizen:
    How much of an increase is that to the average Crestwood taxpayer?

    Ward 3 Aldermen Jerry Miguel said residents can take the Crestwood portion of their 2007 property tax bill, and then double it for next year.
That's an opponent of the bill speaking out. Let's put it into context:
  1. Take the Crestwood portion of your 2007 property tax bill.
  2. Double it.
  3. Add 20% when your property is reassessed next year.
  4. Subtract it from your budget, which will be dinged by two county tax increases.
  5. Put in an x in all future household budgets, where in x represents the total of all future emergency tax increases for your fire protection district, for your police pension plans, for Forest Park, for the impending museum districts, for the county budget shortfalls, and so on and so on.
When the total is equal to or greater than your income, I guess you can stop. Or keep going, assessing penalties for not making enough to cover your tax liability.

Book Report: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Tales by Washington Irving (1987)
As you might now, if you're Gimlet, Gimlet's mom, or Deb (that is, someone who reads my book reports), I'm trying to intersperse some classical literature within my normal reading diet of cartoon books, space operas, and crime fiction these days. Here's the first American author I've read in some time, dabbling in the French (Hugo and Dumas), Russian (Tolstoy), and British (Austen and Dickens) literatures lately. And you know what? Oddly enough, writers who use the American idiom, even the American Idiom of 200 years ago, are more accessible to the modern American reader (or at least me) than the imports.

This book collects a number of short stories from Washington Irving, the first American-born novelist to get note (or so the insert tells me). He wrote a number of tales in a series of volumes, many of which focused on the regular American theme of the old rural ways versus the new urban ways (rural=better). The theme goes back 200 years, back to a concept urban that we would find rural and quaint today. I can surmise where Irving would stand on the direct election of Presidents/elimination of the electoral college issue.

The volume includes The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle, the two tales most alluded to or made into cartoons. Additionally, it contains a number of other stories from the same volume, so they have the similar tall tale sort of flavor to them (the volume is based on the premise that it's a collection of papers and true stories from Diedrich Knickerbocker). This book also contains a selection from the Tales of a Nervous Gentleman series, including a series of ghostly stories told by a group of hunters in a remote lodge where each tale follows the other in telling as the speakers riff off of each others' stories.

Very enjoyable, and it makes me want to get the originals from which the stories appeared. Also telling: the number of Yahoo! IM statuses I got from turns of phrase in the book. I think it was 3. Three lines I quoted from the book. Far more than I get from most of the volumes of poetry I get, and far beyond what I get from space operas or crime fiction (that is, more than nothing). I guess that's what makes this literature classic.

Books mentioned in this review:

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