Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Book Report: True Grit by Charles Portis (1968)
As you know, I read the sequel, of sorts, to this book earlier this year. So when I found the actual novel upon which the movie True Grit was based, I snapped it up. A two-fer of sorts; I like paperback movie tie-ins/source novels for some reason.

This book is exceptional. The book relies on a double-effect narrator, an elderly spinster recounting her trip into Choctaw country to find the man who shot down her father. At the time, she's 14 and rather precocious, although let's not forget that there was a time when 14 was an adult for all intents and purposes. She hires Deputy Marshal Rooster Cogburn (the John Wayne role) to lead her into the hostile territory to find the man. A Texas Ranger joins them, and together (reluctantly, it must be said--the men don't want a little girl along) they encounter the bad men.

The voice of the book, through the double-effect narration (telling the story through first person, but with the passage of time), really makes it work. Throughout, the character displays primmishness and vulnerability; she's not as tough as she's putting on, but she's tough enough. Additionally, there are a lot of educational asides and a couple suggestions for Bible reading, but it doesn't get in the way of the action and the girl's response to it. Well-played.

I need to read more Westerns, but this does represent the second I've read this autumn. As our world and country changes, I'd like to hearken back to a time where it wasn't how it is now or will be in a couple years.

Books mentioned in this review:

Friday, October 31, 2008
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles End Foreshadowed
The last episode of season one of The Sarah Connor Chronicles has foreshadowed how the series will end. Come 2011 (the new Judgment Day) or sometime before, it will end with a twist. Want to know what it is?

I'll speculate in a comment if anyone cares.

So, how come everyone compares Obama's television extravaganza to Ross Perot, but nobody compares him to Lyndon LaRouche?

Short term memory on part of the pundits?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008
A Realization 13 Years In The Making
Wait a minute.... wallpaper on your desktop? That just doesn't make any sense, metaphorically speaking.

UPDATE: I have just tried, and failed, to explain this joke to Roberta.

Monday, October 27, 2008
John Kass: Not a Statist
John Kass might just be offering a nice eulogy for America courtesy of the Boomers:
    On those nights when they were young, they smoked pot in the streets and listened to Dylan in the car and dreamed of the risks they'd take.

    But now, as Baby Boomers grow old, they welcome those police surveillance cameras on the light poles outside their homes, thinking the cameras make them safe. And they rush toward the warm embrace of big government and promised security.
I don't know why Kass isn't a blogosphere favorite. He's the best columnist in Chicago.

Sunday, October 26, 2008
Good Book Hunting: October 11, 2008 and October 18, 2008
On October 11, we went to St. Martin of Tour's book fair in South County. I'd seen the signs, but they were not listed on, so we expected a small sale. Will we have enough money in hand with only $30? Probably.

Oh, but no.

It had more books than we anticipated, and soon more people than we would like for a two-year-old to run around mostly free. So I held onto the five books I'd picked up and watched the toddler, who discovered a stage at the end of the hall and loved to be upon it. As I watched to make sure he would not also discover stage-diving, Mrs. Noggle found a set of Sesame Street books. 25 in total. Which meant that my $30 was spent mostly on children's books:

The children win the October 11 book fair race
Click for full size

I managed to get:
  • The Circuit-Riding Combat Chaplain, a self-published book about being a chaplain in the Korean War.

  • Peter the Great, a biography.

  • Culture Warrior, a preening tome, no doubt, by Bill O'Reilly.

  • The Hundred Year Dash by George Burns.

  • The Death of Ethics in America, a book whose title indicates it was written during the process. A book written now would probably be Ethics Are Dead in America.
I spent the rest of the day expressing disappointment that I only got five books and that I only got to look over like four tables, but here's a tip: remember the lower lip when pouting, otherwise you'll just look sullen.

On October 18, we didn't go to a book fair, but we found a listing on Craigslist for a book garage sale, so we loaded up and went there. I got more books:

A mother and daughter consolidated their household and shuffled some their library into our home.  Sure, this alt text makes little sense, but you're not even reading it, are you?
Click for full size

This haul includes:
  • The Handbook of Folklore.

  • The TV Theme Song Trivia Book. I flipped it open, and the first thing I saw were the first words of the voiceover for the original Battlestar Galactica theme. It's a quiz book, and I'm sure I'll do okay on the 1970s and 1980s and probably "I'll Be There For You" from Friends.

  • The Human Brain by Isaac Asimov.

  • Grassroots Tyranny.

  • Quality without Tears. Frankly, it doesn't sound like as much fun as Quality with Tears, Sobs, and Lamentations of Developers. But I'm open to new ideas I'll discard.

  • Uppity Women in Medieval Times. An idea book.

  • The Crime Encyclopedia. Also an idea book.

  • Montezuma. No doubt a laudatory biography about that wretched monarch.

  • Imressionism, a right purty book about my favorite art style.
I know, it's not a lot, but it should represent a quarter's worth of reading spread among many years and bookshelves.

Cognitive Dissonance: It Gets Some Voters Through The Day
Bookworm recounts a conversation with a liberal friend, who has a mantra when confronted with the liberal leaders' plans as stated in the liberal leader's own words:
    No, he's not.

    No, they're not.

    That's just not true.
It's sort of like this DJ friend I have, also a liberal coincidentally, who doesn't know a lot about the lyrical content of the songs he plays. He only knows to play something up tempo and something slow for the people to dance. So he's caught by surprise when the bride writes on his little information sheet, "Don't play 'Soldier Boy'" and he asks the groom, "Is that don't play 'Soldier Boy' or should I play it?" and the groom says, "Play it," and then the bride rushes off and the bride and groom withhold payment. You know, those words mean things.

I wonder how many voters of either stripe don't actually listen to the words, but like the hip beats that the parties spin. I'd like to think that the subrational party does it more, but I imagine there are the subrational in our party, too.

But when a Congressman says he's going to take 401(k) money for the slush fund, you'd better believe he means it. If a leader of a country threatens radioactive fire upon a democratic nation that happens to be mostly Jewish in population, you'd better hear more than the tone of the voice.

(Plus, free taunt: For someone who calls the blog "Bookworm Room", I have to say, "You have some books? How cute!" Which reminds me, I need to get an update to the Noggle Library to account for the 3 or more new bookshelves.)

Book Report: First Immortal by James L. Halperin (1998)
Well, this book is an interesting piece, very throught-provoking. In it, Ben Smith, a WWII veteran and Japanese prison camp survivor, opts for cryonic (aka cyrogenic) preservation. The first third of the book describes his life until suspension, his philosophical discussions with his peers in the medical field, his friends, and his family. The middle part describes the immediate after-effects, including the lawsuit among his heirs to split up his trust and to unfreeze him to kill him, essentially, to get the money in his trust, and then the direction of society. The third part deals with his revival and nano-repair to the age of 25 and his dealings with his extended and eternally young family, including an infant cloned from his dead wife who will grow to be his wife again.

The book is strongest in the beginning, where the reader can focus on the main character. After that, it gets a little epic and sagaish for pure enjoyment. As it's not actually cut into chapters, one cannot find a "one more chapter" stopping point and it's hard to chunk into digestible bits. Additionally, it starts in 1998 and projects history from the top of the dot-com era, full of optimism of eternal growth and whatnot. So when it intercuts news summaries from a year to ground you--which it does with every scene, since sometimes we're skipping ahead decades, it starts out with corporate news, such as June 15, 2042: Scientists at Eastman Kodak, Compaq's stock rises, Sun Microsystems this, or 2084, Chrysler introduces. These are already punchlines, as are the invention of "backlinks" by Netscape in something like 2006. Seems to me the trackback made it before then.

Once we get into the future, we're into LiberalTechnoTopia, where no one lies because everyone has a lie detector implant, where contraceptive implants are mandatory at birth (the United States was the last holdout-yay us!), and where the good Democrats want to offer free cryonics as a human right, but the Republicans want to have a two-strikes and you're dead law (which they get, and it cleans up society nicely, but that's mentioned as an aside). Every new development is handled by society in just the perfect way--no human would use it for evil, because humans are inherently good!

So the book, which could have been a very interesting philosophical tome questioning the nature of humanity, the meaning of identity, and a host of other things, ultimately turns into a blended composite of L. Neil Smith's The Probability Broach (the Demotopia) with The Metaphysics of Star Trek with a heaping topping from cryonics brochures. The author, a coin dealer of some repute, definitely wants to popularize cryonics. As a matter of fact, he's willing to let you download this book for free to get the word out.

I think I'll hold out, since Congress will seize the assets of anyone in suspension come 2010.

Books mentioned in this review:


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