Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, November 22, 2003
Dual Book Review:
Book of Top Ten Lists David Letterman (1990)
American Spectator's Enemies List compiled by P.J. O'Rourke (1996)

I bought both of these books in the used bookstore orgy that was the last two weekends, and since they're similar in nature, I thought I would review them together.

Not only they both humorous books of lists, but both came out in the late 80s and early 90s. The contents of the The Enemies List stem from columns written in 1989 and 1990; the later chapters delve into the early Clinton years (and have this naive optimism that Clinton will be a single term president). The Top Ten lists were compiled when David Letterman followed Johnny Carson, for crying out loud. In addition to being humorous, both of them are time capsules of a sort. Time capsules that indicate, very clearly, some things don't change, but some things do (sorry--I have to pound that movie out of my brain).

The thrust of The Late Night With David Letterman Book of Top Ten Lists is obvious. The Enemies List compiles a list of people and organizations that P.J. thought should be included when we revived the traditions of Tailgunner Joe. The original essay, from the July 1989 American Spectator, proved popular; readers wrote in with their own suggestions, so the magazine published them and revisted the topic several years running. Hence, much of the book lists people who the magazine or its readers think impair the proper functioning of the nation and who should be hounded.

The same politicians from almost fifteen years ago are the same punchlines in some cases. Al Sharpton, for instance, is a common motif in Letterman's collection. In O'Rourke's more serious obra, we see the same names we curse today. Diane Feinstein. John Kerry (who would almost seem to have served in Vietnam longer than in Congress based on the way he talks about it--as though the former determined his behavior and honor more than the latter--it's almost like M*A*S*H in a way, wot?). Lt. Governor Gray Davis. O'Rourke exempts Arnold Schwarzenegger. This was 14 years ago.

Both books are quick reads (obviously). The Letterman book is much more topical humor, so it's probably the better of the two for pure humor value. However, the O'Rourke book contains a very good essay, "Why I Am a Conservative in the First Place", which is worth the price alone (well, it's worth the four dollars I spent anyway). Unfortunately, O'Rourke's compiling for most of the book, so the writing is done by American Spectator readers, but those comments or paragraphs that O'Rourke writes demonstrate his wit. It's not Holidays in Hell or Age and Guile Beat Youth, Innocence, and a Bad Haircut, or Give War a Chance, but I still want to be P.J. O'Rourke when I grow up.

Finally! I review some books I like, even though I don't necessarily agree with the implications. Cripes, fourteen years. I hate the implication that I have watched that much history as an adult.

The Walk Off Home Run

We just saw The MetaMatrix Revolutions, and it was a good movie. The ending was a ground rule double. They just missed the homer by a couple feet.

What would the home run ending have been, you ask?

If Neo had woken up at his computer as he had at the beginning of the first movie.

The story would have turned on itself a final time, leaving the viewer to wonder the meaning of that twist.

Of course, the Far Coe Wachoviaski brothers gave up the paranoia speculative fiction after the first movie and wanted to do a messianic piece instead. Good for them.

I said good movie, but I better stop thinking about it before I change my mind. Regardless, I am glad to have seen it, if merely so I can stop talking about it and inadvertently using the name of my former employer.

Cleaning Out The Link Box

Here are some things to which I have meant to bring to your attention, but haven't:
  • Man tries to buy $7,000,000 in lottery tickets.
    This guy tries to buy seven million lottery tickets, which would give him a one in two chance of winning the $38,000,000 jackpot. Lottery officials decline. Not because it's against the rules, but because it's against the "spirit" of the lottery. That's right, they arbitrarily change the rules on the fly to suit their own agenda. Keep that in mind if you ever win; take the cash. Just because the lottery promises to pay out that money over twenty or thirty years, does not mean they will. The minute the state legislature needs it to give poor children LeBron sneakers, your winnings are seized. (Link seen on Fark.)

  • There's too much extraneous crap overlaid on television.
    Gail Pennington of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch agrees. Hey, Fox Sports Net, covering a quarter of the screen with an advertisement for Master and Commander while the Blues are breaking up ice does not endear me to you. I am not going to watch your "extreme" sports show or your fantasy football program. I want to watch the damn hockey game.

  • Regulation by punchline.
    Radley Balko joins the party late in recognizing that reductio ad absurdum helps those who sue or legistlate brainstorm for fresh outrages. Recognizing a slippery slope doesn't mean you're not sliding down it.

  • FBI can't use your OnStar against you....yet.
    A court has ruled that the FBI cannot just take your vehicular remote assistance product off the hook and listen to what you're saying in your car. Yet.

    Of course, you all know I would never buy a product where a radio signal can open your car doors or that the FBI could track your stolen vehicle. I don't even have a cell phone where a signal could take it off hook, either. You think I am mad? Listen to how carefully I planned it out! (Link seen on Tech Dirt.)

  • Rigorous debate in comments is good.
    I don't have comments because I don't like trolls. So check this link out. It's a story about how Australian Prime Minister shared an elevator with some footy fans. But the trolls are all on John Howard for his politics, and the owner of the blog responds appropriately.
There, now the bloggable notes are out of my inbox. I can now start answering some six month old e-mail.

A Good Use for a Mexican Beer

Clubbing an armed robber over the head with a Modelo Especial.

Friday, November 21, 2003
Lileks Fusks Salam Pax

There it is.
    Hey, Salam? Fuck you. I know you’re the famous giggly blogger who gave us all a riveting view of the inner circle before the war, and thus know more about the situation than I do. Granted. But there’s a picture on the front page of my local paper today: third Minnesotan killed in Iraq. He died doing what you never had the stones to do: pick up a rifle and face the Ba’athists. You owe him.
Man, do I understand the urge. Sometimes there's nothing more you can say to some of the incoherence than to answer in strict terms that you assume your opponents can understand, and to let them know that there words are not only wrong, but also risable and subject to consequences.

Thursday, November 20, 2003
Thanks for the Sentiment, Pinhead

Perhaps I am being too harsh, but I get a little riled when a Hollywooder loves the Midwest, like when director of The Day After Nicholas Meyer says:
    "I have an enormous soft spot for the Midwest and the hospitality, the generosity and the openness of a lot of the people who live there," says Meyer, a graduate of the University of Iowa.
Smeg off. There, you feel more at home, pinhead?

Maybe I am just a tad sensitive whenever a coastal type talks about Midwesterners. Typically, though, they like to ruffle their fingers through our hair and tell us we're good kids.

You Can't Hang A Picture on AWOL

I am surprised that that one Bears fan hasn't written about this Fox news story:
    The U.S. Army declared medic Spec. Simone Holcomb AWOL for refusing to return to her duties in Iraq because of a family emergency, threatening her with a dishonorable discharge or even a court martial.

    Holcomb, whose husband is also in the military as a tank commander, had to rush home to care for their seven children. Her mother-in-law had been taking care of the family, but had to leave Colorado suddenly when her father-in-law fell ill with cancer.

    But the Army wasn't too sympathetic, slapping Holcomb with the AWOL label and later deactivating her and reassigning her to the Colorado National Guard (search). She is considering taking legal action to be reinstated as a full-time soldier.
Let's see, she went absent without leave, and she's upset for being disciplined for going AWOL? And now she's going to sue to get back into the army? Goodness gracious, that's improper.

I understand she had extenuating circumstances, but she broke the rules.

And if she does try some nutbar legal maneuver, heaven forfend if some civilian court gets its dominion over the military. Forget liquor and guns. I will have to change my investment strategy to burkas and guns to prepare for the eventual destruction of our way of life.

The Unwhispered Question

So I was reading this profile of Philip K. Dick and his sudden appeal to moviemakers in Wired, when it occurred to me.

Why do They want us to watch paranoid fiction?

You see, that's why I am the Shidoshi, and you are the student.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003
A Helpful Reminder

John Kass of the Chicago Tribune reminds us that regular zoos are not petting zoos (registration required).

I Am Registered

Want to know what to get me for Christmas? Any of the stuff at, of course.

(Link seen on some poor Caps fan's site.)

When Is Not Breaking The Law Illegal?

When the man wants to charge you with something! Yes, it's more money laundering madness, this time with Rush Limbaugh in the sights of prosecutors.

You see, financial institutions have to report if you make transactions of $10,000 or more because you're automatically suspected of dealing drugs if you have that kind of money. So Rush took out money in $9,900 amounts--and now he might be on the hook for money laundering.

Avoiding the law is breaking the law! You only oppose the inconsistency if you have something to hide, Citizen. Your papers, please?

Just Like An Old Friend, Kick Him When He's Down

Poor form, Richard Roeper. Rush Limbaugh makes the most personal broadcast of his life, and you feel the need to belittle it.

What He Said

Kim du Toit has a point.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003
Unleashing the Inner Animal (I)

The Patriette prompted my own introspection, through which I concluded:

What Is Your Animal Personality?

brought to you by Quizilla

Probably more like it.

Unleashing the Inner Animal (II)

The Meatriarchy Guy leads me on a voyage of self-discovery, which tells me instead I am:

Your soul is bound to the Fifth Totem, Homid:
The Monkey
. Homid appears as a viridian monkey. He embodies
intelligence, potential, understanding, and
. He is associated with the color
viridian, the season of spring, and the element
of fire. His downfall is pretentiousness. You are most compatible with Owls and Tortoises.

Which Animal Spirit Totem Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Probably more like it.

Today's Exercise in Irony

  1. Using Internet Explorer, open and read this story, "The end is near for pop-up ads".

  2. Close the browser window.

  3. Examine the CNN Money pop under ad that displays when you close the window.

A Little Pat of Butter and Some Cherry Syrup On Top

So Suffolk County, New York, finally got their woman. According to this New York Post story, the alleged madam ran a chain of massage parlors, and now they're throwing the encyclepedias at her. In addition to two counts of promoting prostitution, she got:
    Clifford said Kim, who had herself been busted twice for prostitution, was charged with money laundering because she would invest her ill-gotten gains back into her massage parlors.
What, nothing else? Didn't she stub out a cigarette on the sidewalk and get some hazardous waste or attempted arson charge?

Quick, someone call a legislator who needs to get tough on crime! We need someone brave enough to realize that if spending illicit proceeds on illegal activity is good to tack onto other charges, our prosecutors need more pancakes to stack on top, such as the following"
  • Getting money through illegal activity.
  • Spending money made through illegal activity.
  • Laying waste your powers with illegal activity.
  • Having stuff bought with money made illegally.
  • Using stuff bought with money made illegally.
  • Eating food bought with money made illegally.
  • Having money that was once earned illegally.
Because remember, the prosecution engineers DAs will only use these creative railroading charging techniques to hound the bad people.

Oxymoron of the Day

Courtesy of FoxNews.Com, we have this description of Paris Hilton:
    "I feel embarrassed and humiliated, especially because my parents and the people who love me have been hurt," the socialite and reality TV actress said Monday in a statement to The Associated Press.
Reality TV Actress. It's not just a job, it's a paradox.

Monday, November 17, 2003
Thought for the Day

Andy Rooney:
    I had one typewriter for 50 years, but I've bought seven computers in six years. I suppose that's why Bill Gates is rich and Underwood is out of business.
Shut up. I like Andy Rooney.

(Link seen on TechDirt.)

Not Anymore

If this story was true about the United States putting its troops under international command in Iraq (which I really want to doubt entirely), I hope it became untrue when the EU apparatchiks started flapping their gums:
    The United States accepts that to avoid humiliating failure in Iraq it needs to bring its forces quickly under international control and speed the handover of power, Javier Solana, the European Union foreign policy chief, has said.

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