Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, July 26, 2003
Hijinks Still a Misdemeanor in Las Vegas

The St Louis Single Point-of-View is reporting that the whole Bambi-hunting thing, where people could pay $10,000 to hunt naked women in the Nevada desert and then, um, mount the trophies for a Nevada dessert, is admittedly a publicity stunt designed to promote videos depicting men hunting and, um, stuffing their 'kills' without a certified taxedermist present. Publicists would call that guerilla marketing, but those sorts of spoofs and hijinks are no laughing matter in LVNV.

But now he's going to get the "Las Vegas is a Family Place" marketing brochure thrown at him. He's being charged with a trumped-up misdemeanor charge because apparently misleading the news media is not yet a felony.

The story says:
    The mayor said, "I'll do everything I can to see this man is punished for trying to embarrass Las Vegas."
So the mayor admits that he will wield all power that he has as a government official to punish this man for the bad behavior (not a crime, mind you, just bad behavior) of embarrassing (that is, causing a human emotional response of shame-lite) in a freaking social construct (the fiefdom of said government official).

What is everything in the mayor's power? Fortunately, it's not much:
    "This man" is promoter is Michael Burdick. He could get six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for operating without a proper business license.
Fortunately, the avatar of Las Vegas has conjured a law with which to prosecute This Man so that he, the Embodiment of the Glorious City On Earth can find vengeance for the vast wrongs done upon The Almighty Yet Easily Embarrassed City of Sin. With this mighty cudgel, the petty tyrant shall once again affirm his power and his will.

Jack Blade, American Poet

And all this could seem like a dream out the door
With everyday people, face down on the floor
from "The Secret of My Succe$s"
in the collection Big Life
Class, discuss:
  1. Why would a dream leave the building, and would it use a door? Does this personification of the concept of "dream" work in the complete context of the poem?

  2. What aspects of modern life command common people lie to face down on the floor and to not move, it's not kidding this is a real gun? How does this compare to Thoreau's assertion that most men lead lives of quiet desperation?

  3. Does the juxtaposition of metaphors identify the harried nature of the contemporary world, or is it a feeble attempt to force rhymes?

Friday, July 25, 2003
Sitting Up With Mother Jones

My dear readers, I have hit for the monomyth cycle for you this time. I heard the call to adventure, that is, to read a left-leaning magazine to try to empathize with and understand the arguments of others. I crossed the first threshold when I bought such a magazine when I was in the belly of the whale at the bobomart where my beautiful wife buys her uberhealthy snacks and where I once bought an organic beer that tasted like barley soup. So I was initiated when I met with woman as the temptress, in this case Mother Jones (although I must admit I am not quite into the whole crone fetish). So I have returned, by the magickal flight of the magazine looping through the air as I tossed it in disgust, to bring knowledge, or at least a lot of words, about the experience.

* * * *

The cover story, "Goodbye, New World Order", retells the story of how the unilateralist cowboys in the Bush administration have wrecked the great edifices of the New World Order. You know, of course, what I say. I sing, "Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road". The New World Order can start picking through its own rubble for loose change to afford its bloated needs. Got enough to retire your population with full pay at age fifty and develop the third world (now promoted to the second world with the collapse of the original "Second World") to a state of state largesse wherein the formerly-impoverished can also retire at fifty, too? No? Well, maybe you can find enough for a burrito instead.

* * * *

Then, we hear about the weepy circumstances in Tuvalu in a story called " All the Disappearing Islands".

It seems that this idyllic paradise features no arable land, offers jobs in fishing and gathering coconuts, and has a per capita income of $1,100, is threatened by (one supposes) George W. Bush (remember, he determines the fate of every living being on the planet). There's no crime in Tuvalu (apparently, there's no market for hot coconuts), and the people live close to nature (that is, at about sustenance level). It's paradise to certain political thinkers.

Of course, the piece is more of a dirge than a stirring reveille. The piece harps that global warming is gonna keep happening, regardless of what we do, and humanity's going to die out from our own wretchedness. So I won't opt for a subscription to Mother Jones in case that happens before the subscription would lapse.

* * * *

The photo essay "Too Beautiful For Death" describes Kashmir, the Indian province upon which Pakistan wants to get its mitts. The pictures are beautiful, of course, as the region must surely be. The text by Suketu Mehta wrings its hands suitably about how this area could lead to the single most devastating war to ever occur, and soon. It's hard to miss the significance of the numbers of millions or hundreds of millions who could die in such an event. As if that's not bad enough, the article's final pièce de résistance:
    But so violently vital is the idea of Kashmir to both nations that they have thrice gone to war over it. The next war could escalate into a nuclear confrontation. One nuclear bomb on Bombay or Karachi could kill more people than the entire population of Kashmir; and it would not stop at one bomb. Kashmir is an impossibly beautiful greenhouse for death, which could grow to engulf the peoples who have planted it and nurtured it with Kashmiri blood and tears, grow until the entire subcontinent is filled with the insane screaming of dying elephants. [Emphasis mine]
Dying elephants? What the schnuck? Never mind the people, but save the Indian elephants?

* * * *

In the story "Keeper of the Fire", a writer wraps its forelimbs around the leg of an anti-capitalist crusader who's out to raise labor costs required to manufacture the cheap goods we enjoy in this country without realizing that this successful crusade will drive investment from the underdeveloped regions benefitting, belatedly, from the Industrial Revolution and will make products we take for granted impossible to afford. After all, if a low-seniority union laborer who earns $20 an hour plus benefits spends two hours making your blue jeans, they're not going to cost $20 at Kohl's any more.

By the second paragraph, before anyone sensible could grab a break stick to pull the swooning writer from the profilee's trousers, the writer gushed this about the dreamboat liberal:
    Technically, he is a part of the National Labor Committee, a letterhead group of four or five in a small warren of rooms loaned by UNITE in New York City. But beneath this façade he is an independent, a man controlled by no backers, free of any union, immune to academic nuance.
All righty then. Dick Cheney once worked for Haliburton, and he's forever damned as their puppy. George W. Bush once ran the Texas Rangers, and now he's in Major League Baseball's batting gloves' pocket. But this guy is actively employed by the unions, and he's a renegade, unbeholden to anyone? That's when I fell for leader of the pack (vroom!).

* * * *

About this time, I am just flipping through to find the back cover. Hurrying past the reviews, and BAM! There it is! An ad for It says:
    The betrayal must end.

    (cute dog picture)

    Some states still allow or require the release or sale of healthy, adoptable dogs and cats from shelters and pounds to research labs or schools where they likely will be killed.
Oh, please, it's not as though the shelter gets on the horn the minute a golden retriever arrives and says, "Hey, Igor, I got that brain you wanted." I would guess that research labs are the second to last resort for animals that have not been adopted and are going to be put down. And not all research labs kill all the animals that pass through.

Oh, I do understand that animal whack job organizations want every shelter to be a no kill shelter, which means public animal control become infinitely growing housing projects and welfood programs for the good of a sub-sentient species. However, it's just not feasible. Don't say it is. Don't. You nutbar.

* * * *

And then I finally made it to the end of the magazine, not much dumber than when I started. Some of this stuff is so a priori wrong that I cannot understand it. To whom are they talking? People who don't like Indian elephants or puppies dying or don't want impoverished people earning money, I guess, and unfortunately this American nation has too many who hold those soundbite views without deeper understanding.

Thursday, July 24, 2003
The New Traditional

I heard on the radio today a commercial for the newest and bestest Lasik eye surgery techniques, which explained that whatever new gimcrackatron they've devised certainly beats the traditional Lasik methods.

Undoubtedly, Dr. McCoy would agree that those old, traditional means of Lasik surgery (such as those deployed against Virginia Postrel) were medieval butchers and that they were only one step above using leeches to suck that astigmatism right out of the eyeball.

Pardon me, but my family doesn't have a generations-long tradition for opening the front of the eyeball like a can of french-cut green beans and firing a computer-guided thing-we-used-to-call-a-"laser" against the retina until it scorched enough of the cones and rods to make things better, as though it was a military expedition to win over the hearts and minds of my optic nerve with napalm. Oh, yeah, and then they close it back up, and it either works or you're blind, oops.

Pardon me, but I have done too much QA with computers to trust them with anything like the impressionist-themed remainder of my vision, thankyouverymuch. Sure, I realize that the chances of failure are slim, but I buy lottery tickets with slimmer odds.

So my traditional Lasik surgery technique is mocking the very prospect. And as a conservative, remember, I demonstrate:
  • Fear and aggression of losing what remains of my sight.
  • Dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity in adhering to my gruesome description of the procedure.
  • Uncertainty avoidance because new technology bad.
  • Need for cognitive closure so let's just drop the subject.
  • Terror management by thinking happy thoughts instead of Lasik procedures as I go to sleep to keep away the nightmares.
So thanks, but no schnucking way thanks.

This sentiment guaranteed only until next midlife crisis.

Steve Chapman on Liberia

Steve Chapman, of the Chicago Tribune, asserts (registration required) that intervention in Liberia would be a pointless waste of American time, money, and lives.

He's right.

Sorry. I meant to say, "Indeed."

Todd Aiken Responds

El Guapo, an actual card-carrying Libertarian, has recently taken to writing to our shared Congressional representative Todd Akin to express his views as a constituent. El Guapo apparently e-mailed Representative Akin about his views on medicinal marijuana. Rep. Akin replied:
    Thank you for contacting me to express your support for legalizing medical uses of marijuana.

    I am not sympathetic with the movement to legalize marijuana for medical use. The active intoxicant in marijuana, THC, is already available by prescription in pill form. I am not aware of any convincing evidence that raw marijuana provides any notable advantage over this legal pill. On the other hand, I am certain that marijuana is a gateway drug for millions of teenagers. While not every marijuana smoker moves on to harder drugs, virtually everyone who abuses cocaine and heroine begins by smoking pot. I am hesitant to support any legislative initiative which might jeopardize the lives of youths, and undermine the efforts of conscientious parents, by legitimizing marijuana use in the eyes of the public. No one doubts that the legalization of medical marijuana use is the first step toward legalizing its "recreational" use; advocates of drug legalization openly admit this. To me, this first step constitutes an unwise gamble: risking the lives and health of teenagers to achieve a small-scale and dubious medical benefit.

    Please do not hesitate to contact me again with any thoughts or concerns.
A principled response, apparently to El Guapo's e-mail.

I wonder, though, if the answer was canned. After all, someone I know once wrote, with pen and paper and stamp, to Def Dicky Gep, her congressional representative, to protest that the government had made AVSCOM, a military command and her place of employment, into a smoke-free environment. She smokes. So she wrote her Congressman.

Someone in the Congressman's office scanned her letter, found the word AVSCOM, stamped the canned response letter with the Congressman's signature, and stuffed it into an envelope. The constituent received a nice letter addressing her concerns about the impending closure of the command to save the federal budget. Def Dicky Gep was against it, believe him.

So that, too, was a principled, well-reasoned response.

Hollywood Scientists Discover Cure for Sapphism

Hollywood scientists today have announced that they have found a cure for sapphism. Sapphism is an affliction known to, well, afflict innumerable sorority sisters, cheerleaders, housewives, and female prison inmates as well as other members of society, as studies (well, visits to the local non-chain video store) have shown.

The cinemackly-proven treatment for this affliction: the Ben Affleck character.

In the first trial, Chasing Amy, Ben Affleck's "character," a comic book illustrator of a singular facial expression, cures Joey Lauren-Adams' character of rampant and visible Sapphism. Although this first trial was promising, Hollywood scientists were cautious, not yet proclaiming their discovery.

However, in a second trial, Gigili, the Ben Affleck character, a person of undoubtedly immobile visage, cures the Jennifer Lopez character, inducing her to seduce a male with such come-hither lines as "It's turkey time. Come on, gobble gobble." (as reported by researcher Dr. Drudge.)

In double-blind studies, the Ben Affleck character was not found to cause harm to straight males (the Good Will Hunting study) or females not afflicted with Sapphism (the Bounce trial, among others). Scientists are encouraged by these findings and hope to submit the Ben Affleck character for FDA approval.

Competeing scientists, afraid of being locked out of a Ben Affleck character patent, have begun studying similar compounds such as the Bruce Affleck character or the AFLAC duck character in hopes of producing a similar affect. Early tests of these generic alternatives, however, are not promising.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003
The Father of Pragmatism

Charles Sanders Peirce is one of the smartest guys you never heard of. He lived in the 19th century, studied a bunch of sciences, and pretty much founded the particularly American philosophical movement called Pragmatism. Granted, if you have heard of it, you've heard about what later thinkers like William James and John Dewey did to a perfectly good philosophy.

For example, I just re-read "The Fixation of Belief" which describes scientific inquiry as an epistemology that beats out mysticism and insanity. If you've got time, I'd recommend you read the whole thing. It's written clearly, without the cant used by contemporary academics to defend their tenure in esoteric philosophical journals. This essay appeared in Popular Science magazine back when scientific thought was popular.

Maybe I'll do a longer post sometime about how Peirce's thought meshes well with Objectivist and Existentialist strains in my own thought. If you, gentle readers, could stomach it.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2003
On July 21, 2003, BurningEye Became Self-Aware

Hey, my second blog spawn is now online: Adam's Burning Eye.

Everyone stop by and snicker. With him, not at him.

The Difference Between Republicans, Democrats

I urge all of you except my family members to read this piece of humor.

I shall unveil it live, using puppetry, to you family members at the family reunion this weekend, so do not spoil the surprise.

(As seen on Right We Are.)

The Headline I Want To See

Uday, Qusay Ead-Day

Michael Jackson Speaks Sense?

Drudge links to a story about Michael Jackson opposing jail for music swappers. I'd like to see more artists come out with this sensible position if and when they realize that prison inmates will spend their money on chocolate and cigarettes instead of $20 CDs with three good songs and eight filler tunes.

Monday, July 21, 2003
Point / Counterpoint: Foreign Intervention

Iraq: Damned if you do.

Liberia: Damned if you don't.

Bush = Hitler? No, Bush = GOD. He kills people by acting, he kills people by not acting. This man apparently determines the fate of every person on the planet (and a couple cosmonauts on the International Space Station). Maybe I ought to start sending burnt offerings to Mark Racicot and the Republican National Committee.

Ending the Felony Rampage

You loyal readers have noticed I often spit upon proposals to create new felony crimes or bump existing infractions up into felonies (come on, jaywalking causes over $1000 damage to public safety?). Well, some other digitaluminaries are weighing in on this very subject, including Professor Reynolds and Robert Prather (Not Richard Prather, sorry Shell Scott fans).

Now, if each of us could convince one of our senators that this is a good idea, we're a little under 6% of the way to reform! Well, not quite 6 percent, but closer than we are now.

Sunday, July 20, 2003
Paranoia Would Have Paid Off

Techdirt is linking to a story about a guy who installed keylogger software on Kinko's computers in Manhattan for years. He grabbed many, many sets of usernames and passwords and accounts before being caught.

How did he get caught?

A guy who used a remote access program called GoToMyPC to log into his home personal computer from Kinko's. Several days later, as this poor sap was sitting at his home PC, he was startled to see the mouse cursor moving on its own and looking through his computer, and then the computer made a new bank account with the mark's info, much to the mark's surprise.

The mark logged into his home PC from Kinko's! Class, how many security rules has this mark broken?

Is "Iris" a Love Song?

Some people seem to think that the Goo Goo Dolls' song "Iris" is a love song.

Personally, I think it's begging for a restraining order. Hell, I creeped out women with mere sonnets describing their beauty, much less anything with the lines of
    You’re the closest to heaven that i’ll
    Ever be
    And I don’t want to go home right now
    When everything’s made to be broken
    I just want you to know who I am
John Hinckley, Jr., might have hummed this tune were it around in 1981.

Someone Put This on a Bumper Sticker, Stat!


Book Report: We Can't Go Home Again by Clarence E. Walker

Since I read a lot and nothing good seems to come of it, I've decided to do a bit of brief book reviewing for you, my five Internet readers. I shall incorporate some puppetry for the sixth person who cannot read but logs in for the soothing blue tones.

I have just completed We Can't Go Home Again: An Argument about Afrocentrism by Clarence E. Walker, a professor at University of California at Davis. It's a highly academic book, as the 31 pages (out of 164) are end notes, and it's split into only two chapters: "If Everybody was King, Who Built the Pyramids: Afrocentrism and Black American History" (83 pages) and "'All God's Dangers Ain't a White Man' or 'Not All Knowledge Is Power'" (50 pages). Personally, this limitation (only two chapters) rather makes it difficult to read, since the organization of the material in the macrochapters is not readily apparent (by the subdivision).

Instead, we have super-sized chapters ill-suited for consumption by a McDonald's audience. The first chapter, "If Everybody was King, Who Built the Pyramids: Afrocentrism and Black American History", is the pure science of the book. Walker examines certain tenets of Afrocentric thought, such as Egypt (Kemet) as the primary source for most intellectual thought in the ancient world (which the white men of Greece and Rome ripped off) and that Egypt was even a "black" culture. Instead, Walker identifies Afrocentrism as a therapeutic movement that bears little relationship to actual history. Walker also explores how black African-Americans (not redundant) in the United States diverged from Africans by the nature of their passage to this hemisphere and their bondage.

I didn't trace the quotes nor research from his endnotes, so I cannot comment on the thoughts and arguments to which he is responding, but his historical points and interpretation make sense in themselves.

However, when we get to "'All God's Dangers Ain't a White Man' or 'Not All Knowledge Is Power'", Walker fails to signal for the left turn he makes. Just because Afrocentrism is wrong doesn't mean that affirmative action should be eliminated, I think he means. He begins the second paragraph of the second chapter (page 85, remember):
    A rightward drift in American politics is moving the country toward what I call "free market racism," the state of American race relations during the last quarter of the nineteenth century, when the ideology of lassez-faire reigned supreme in the realm of economics and race on the national level.
There he lost me. Not in a violent explosion of disbelief, during which I fling the book against the wall and/or stomp on it (this wasn't Stupid White Men, after all, and it is not a paperback). But by coining a term "free market racism," Walker provides the good citizens of Oceania academia with a twist of logic.

Racism and affirmative action, the practice this book defends, represent a statist intrusion into thought and practice in one form or another. Free market, on the other hand, represents a rational system of commerce wherein the best value wins. In a free market of ideas, individual performance should prove a better value than racism or affirmative action. Hence, "free market racism" is a paradox, a contradiction, and a big fat hanging straw man that Walker cracks with a full swing.

I was greatly disappointed with the practical application of repudiating Afrocentrism. Quit following a foolish, bankrupt, therapeutic ideology and start supporting affirmative action. Well, the professor does teach at the University of California at Davis. What did I expect?

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