Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, January 10, 2004
John Cole Makes The Medium Time

Perusing the paper this afternoon, I discovered the page 1 story in the Everyday section entitled Web Surfing the Presidential Pool", and I skim it, finding in the section on Dennis Kucinich, a URL for a permalink from John Cole at Balloon Juice, featured proudly on the MfBJ blogroll.

Congrats, John. You're in the medium time when the St. Louis Post-Dispatch notices you.


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A Rock in My Reeboks

Local or state politicians often like to make an argument like this one regarding getting "their slice of the pie":
    Officials in Killington want the town to secede from Vermont and join the neighboring state because of a dispute over taxes. They say the town's restaurants, inns and other businesses rake in ten (m) million dollars a year for the state -- but gets just a (m) million dollars of state aid in return.
You often hear that, whether it's California griping about not getting one dollar of federal tax grants and goodies for every dollar they ship to Washington or little towns like this one griping about its high tax revenues not returning one for one. Are these politicos stupid, or cynically trying to drum up votes with this idiocy?

In case it's the former, I offer the following explanation to our municipal or state leaders:
    I told you a hunnert times, Lennie, when the bigger brother takes that money, it takes its taste, its viggorish from the top, and whatever he's got left after paying off his string of highly-paid thinkers, legislators, and hangers-on and then pays down what he owns on all dem buildings and motorcars they go tooling around in, whatever he's got left he splits among his friends and then littler big brother. Den he can put it towards a stake in a ranch, or he can blow it in a cathouse or pool room or on whiskey, or maybe all three which is a popular choice for govenment.
I suspect they're just cynical, though, in which case I offer them a hearty Hi-ho, STFU. I know you're all about shifting wealth from the private sector, where it was created, to the public sector, where you and your cronies can spend it lavishly, but it's a real rock in my Reeboks to watch you public sector ticks argue about who gets to suck from the neck and who has to suck from the leg artery. I don't turn on the nature channel to watch the jackals rip apart gazelles, and I don't care to watch you guys fight over the spoils, either.

So get over the fact that Mississippi and Wyoming aren't going to subsidize your schools, and maybe, you know, stop spending money profligately and maybe you could squeak by on whatever annual millions you can skim from the top while the citizenry makes do with green-capped milk.

(Link seen on Drudge.)

Columnist Argues for a Classless Society

Bill Hobbs links to a column in the Philadelphia Daily News wherein the columnist executes a number of cheap shots on Brett Favre.

Sounds like Brett Favre's a man to me. I'd like to see what sort of erroneous, idealized self-image the columnist has of himself to see how he reconciles his own perfection with the ability to make snarky comments about another man's recently-deceased father.

Spoken like a man who has not yet lost his father.

Friday, January 09, 2004
Why Do East Coasters Equate St. Louis With Bowling?

Lord, love a duck. Seems that some Charlotte newspaper writer has written a piece denigrating (uh oh, insensitive word) the St. Louis football fans' enthusiasm. Seems amid his trash talk, he's got to fixate on the Bowling Hall of Fame. Here's his lead, that is, his first couple paragraphs:
    Just a few blocks from the home of the St. Louis Rams, the city celebrates its sporting heroes -- legends such as Dick Weber, Mark Roth and Earl Anthony.

    Well, OK, if you're a football fan you might not recognize those names. That's because they're not football players.

    They're bowlers.

    Here you can spend hours (really!) at the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame. It shares a building with a museum honoring the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team.
What is it with you East Coast types? You come to St. Louis and think bowling's what the people here obsess with. Listen up, Tommy Tomlinson and all you vapid eastern coasters who come to this town and want to snark it with the full weight of your Coastal Cosmpolitanism, St. Louisians are not bowlers by nature.

Milwaukee has more bowling alleys per capita than any other city in the world, ainna?

Oh, and if you're a Rams fan, you can read his column at the Charlotte Observer site (registration required), or you can see where the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has reprinted it.

Tomlinson doesn't waste the opportunity to mock St. Louis for its unhistoried Rams team. How cute. From the fan of a ten-year-old football team.

Those From Wisconsin Just Don't Understand

Speaking of sports fandom as a hobby, even those from the vaunted Charlotte area cannot understand true passion.

I have a niece named Starr. Two Rs. Not misspelled.

Thursday, January 08, 2004
Book Review: Naked Beneath My Clothes by Rita Rudner (1992)

I paid $3.95 for this book at Downtown Books in Milwaukee, and it's worth every penny. Of course, I bought it used, scavenging upon an already-paid royalty as far as the author's concerned, and I'm sorry, Ms. Rudner. However, rest assured, upon the weight of this book, I have added some of your other, more readily-available material to my Amazon wish list so my ungrateful readers can browse it if they want but not buy anything.

For those of you damn kids out there who don't know Rita Rudner is, she's a very funny comedienne from back in the old days of cablized standup, which is to say the late 1980s. Ah, the old days. When Richard Jeni, Rita Rudner, Dennis Wolfowitz, and their kind first started getting HBO specials and when Rosie O'Donnell was a an obscure unfunny stand-up comic who MCed VH-1s stand-up spotlight, and nobody knew who she was. The good old days. This book was written probably at Rita Rudner's zenith, back in the administration of the first Bush presidency, before the Internet bubble, and before blogs. Remember those days?

I digress, of course. This book collects some of Ms. Rudner's comedic musings. She's witty with the pen as well as the microphone, and she turns some nifty phrases. She's no P.J. O'Rourke or Dennis Miller, but she's far above say, Andy Rooney (several of whose books I purchased in the same little humor alcove of Downtown Books as I bought this volume). Rudner's 45 chapters (brief, in 162 pages) capture some of the truisms of life and relationships, and they're quite funny. I read this particular bit to my esteemed spouse because it accurately captures the tension between a husband and wife when it comes to clothes shopping:
    We always have the same argument. I choose clothes that make me look like a nun (see essay number 19), and my husband chooses clothes that make me look like a hooker. We compromise, and that's why on television I usually look like a flamboyant nun.
I mean, there's nothing wrong with shopping for casual, lounging-around-the-house comfortable clothes from Frederick's of Hollywood, is there?

Based upon the weight of that and the first chapter which she sneaked a read of while it sat beside the computer awaiting review, Heather will snatch this book from my read shelves and will read it herself. So if you don't believe me, believe her, or you will anger Heather and she will crush you.

Quick Observation

Is it just me, or do a lot of the Democrat presidential nominees all have first names for last names?

There's Howard Dean, Wesley Clark, John Kerry, Jonathan Edwards....

I am not sure what this means, but our crack staff of paranoid neurotics (not the paranoid schizophrenics, who make things up) here at MfBJN are working on it as we speak.

The prevalent working hypothesis: It will be easier for candidates to completely reinvent themselves in 2008 if each has a completely new name, such as Dean Howard, Clark Wesley, or Clinton Hillary.

We the People will have completely forgotten about that other schmuck losers whose ideas and policies were completely out of touch with the direction in which we want the country to go by then.

A Quiet Evening At Home

My esteemed spouse has joined NetFlix, and she received a disc in the mail the other day. Maid in Manhattan. "A chick flick," she called it.

With Jennifer Lopez in a maid uniform, honey, it's got something for the whole family, don't you worry.

So we watched that tonight. I'm trying to convince Heather we don't have to send it back right away.

Lazy Fare has a story featuring Carly Fiorina, head of Hewlett-Packard-Compaq-Digital, telling the information technology professionals who are watching their profession awaken after the party that was the Internet boom and stagger into the developing world for a quick bit of relief from burgeoning labor costs. Fiorina says:
    "There is no job that is America's God-given right anymore."
Right on, sister. Capitalism keeps our prices down as consumers, so as long as we continue to adapt as producers, we can continue buying stuff and make the whole world go around. I'm all for that, because I realize once all the jobs are overseas, the board of directors will realize CEOs will be cheaper over there, too. No, no, they tell themselves, it won't happen to us.... just like the myopic IT career counselors told their charges in the 1990s.

But that's the way business works, and society and government ought to let the businesses do their thing. I'm with you, Carly. Of course, I wouldn't invest money in that sinking ship you're piloting towards the crumbling glacier, but I'm with you.

Well, no, I'm not. Because the solutions she proposes are not laissez-faire capitalism solutions:
    They outlined a list of objectives, including a doubling of federal spending on basic research in U.S. universities. Barrett derided Washington's decision to spend as much as $40 billion a year on farm subsidies and just $5 billion on basic research in the physical sciences.

    "I have a real degree of difficulty with the fact that we are spending some five to eight times as much on the industry of the 19th century than we are on the industry of the 21st century," Barrett said.

    The executives also urged a national broadband policy to allow more homes and businesses to quickly take advantage of high-speed data networks, much as Japan and Korea have done.

    They also called for dramatic improvements in K-12 education in the United States, saying schools act more to block budding math and science students than to foster them.
Federal government should start throwing money to the technical industry the same way it throws money to all industry. Fiorina and her buddies don't want laissez-faire capitalism. They want crony capitalism and are auditioning for the roles of "cronies."

And In An Alternate Universe....

When ESPN's Jim Kelley would report: Danny Flor, an esteemed former co-worker, would smile and thank his lucky stars that the Blues took all necessary steps to ensure the Golden Brett finished his career here.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004
A Homie Too Harsh?

Owen over at Boots and Sabers links to a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel story about a 71-year-old, wheelchair-bound hit and run victim in my old neighborhood in Milwaukee. Here's Owen's post on Boots and Sabers:
    There are some cold, cold people in this world.

      Police searched Tuesday for the driver of a white, late-model Oldsmobile that struck and killed a 71-year-old man in a wheelchair in the 9100 block of W. Appleton Ave.

      The victim, Ernest McNair, was wheeling down Appleton Ave. about 7:40 p.m. Monday when he ws hit by the westbound car, police said. He died early Tuesday morning at Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hosptial.

    I sure hope this dirt bag dies a long, painful, and lingering death. I think that may be too good for him (or her). Bastard.
Owen's being a little harsh on the "dirt bag." Here's more details from the Journal-Sentinel:
    McNair was a resident of the Marian Franciscan Center, 9632 W. Appleton Ave. He frequently signed himself out of the nursing home against doctor's orders and did so sometime Monday afternoon, according to information gathered by the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office.

    A friend of McNair's told an investigator he came by his apartment Monday looking for money to do some drinking, but left when the friend told him he didn't have any cash.

    The circumstances of the accident were sketchy Tuesday, while police asked for any witnesses to contact them.
I don't know about McNair, but I do know that some wheelchair-bound residents of Missouri travel in the road on occasion. So McNair's out, possibly wheelchairing drunk in the street in the dark and he gets hit. The driver runs. Tragic, but not pure evil. The "dirt bag" might be a kid, might be a scared housewife, but the absolute condemnation is wasted, particularly if the circumstances are sketchy.

Full disclosure: The first novel I started in college, entitled Tragedies, dealt with the hit and run accident of a housewife at the corner of Villiard and Appleton in Milwaukee, which is the 9000 block of Appleton. The corner between the Westside Liquor store and what used to be a Sentry foods. The assailants were a couple of scared kids. The tragedies, of course, referred to the fact that all the lives were destroyed. So that's the perspective from whence my bleeding heart liberalism potential for perspective springs.

Of course, running from the accident is wrong, but on the scale of evil, accidentally hitting a hard-to-see object in the dark is substantially less than shouting, "Crippled old man, one point!" and swerving into McNair.

It's Cold Out There, Prosecutors; Don't Forget To Layer Up

More from prosecutorial "layering" of charges indicated in a St Louis Post-Dispatch Law and Order round-up:
    Two men are indicted in construction scams

    Two men have been indicted on charges that they bilked people through home construction scams, the U.S. attorney's office in St. Louis said Tuesday.

    One of the men, Jeffrey Thomas, is accused of selling the same property in St. Louis County to three buyers. He collected more than $500,000 on the sales, and did nothing to build on the property, according to the federal indictment.

    Thomas, 36, of the 300 block of Autumn Creek Drive in Valley Park, is charged with mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.

    The other defendant, Carlton Dinwiddie, 39, of East St. Louis, is charged with mail fraud and misuse of a Social Security number.

Perhaps I should write to my state legislator, Al Liese (who replaced his own term-limited son in the state legislature by posting signs that looked just like the incumbent legislator's--ELECT LIESE--perfectly gaming the gullible voters), to enact laws against fraud committed for monetary gain, Crimes committed during commission of fraud, Fraud committed during course of a crime, English-language fraud, and Sound-wave fraud.

Double-jeopardy? Hah! We spit upon your double-jeopardy! Prosecutors need flexible and innovative tools to deal with their burgeoning political careers and their appearances as depicted by the media modern con artists.

Teaching An Old Joke New Tricks

A baby boomer father and son, walking in the forest, come upon a grizzly bear. The father immediately opens a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts and begins stuffing glazed doughnuts down his craw.

"What are you doing?" the son said. "You can't earn enough to pay taxes to offset the increased entitlements that politicians are enacting to buy your vote."

"I don't have to earn enough," the father said. "I only have to have a coronary before the bear that metaphorically represents the impending fiscal collapse catches us."

If that's not the zaniest link to a Robert Samuelson column ever, I don't know what is.

Troubleshooting Blogger

I realize I am but a knuckle-dragging software tester, so take pity on me, oh soon-to-be-IPOed development staff at Pyra Labs Google, but I think I know what's wrong with your permalinking here on my site.

The <$BlogItemArchiveFileName$> server-side variable is not currently including the name of my archive directory, strangely enough entitled /archives/, into the path; ergo, when a user clicks this permalink, it leads them to the archive filename and post number in my root directory, but the archive file is not in that directory. It's in /archives/.

Please translate this into Hindi and have Uncle Ray's friends fix the problem.

Also, if one of my dear readers wants to link directly to my post, please add the archives directory to the URL by hand. For example, if you right-click the permalink link at the bottom of the post and select "Properties," you'll see this URL currently:

If you add the /archives/ directory to the URL, like so:

It will work.

Undoubtedly, will acknowledge this problem once they have it solved. In a couple of weeks.

Are You Listening, Ehrenreich?

Donald Sensing's eyes have opened to some of the depravity and hardship suffered by the American poor. The real question is, "Is Barbara Ehrenreich listening?"

Probably not; she's probably enjoying an indiscretion that will keep her from getting any job that requires a drug test.

However, I have a hot tip for her next book:

Half the families in the country earn less than the average household income!

Quick, redistribute the wealth until we're all above average! Vote for Dean Howard!

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Notice this page on my "innocent" wife's blog: cat_recipes.html.

Maybe I should take back what I said about her conmingling cat care books and cookbooks.

Thank Goodness Software "Engineers" Aren't Civil Engineers

Otherwise, we would see this in the defect tracker:

Defect # 102033
Title: Striking bridge support at speed greater than 60 mph causes bridge to collapse
Severity: Critical
Problem: If a driver strikes a support beneath the overpass while exceeding approximately 60 miles per hour, the support will buckle and the entire span and bridge will collapse, killing the driver of the car that struck the support, the passengers, and any people passing over the bridge when the support is struck.

To recreate:

1. Drive northbound in car at 62 mph.
2. Guide car into support.

Support should not buckle nor should the bridge collapse when struck by such a light object at such a low rate of speed.
Developer's Note: In a real-world scenario, users would not deviate from the approved workflow by crossing the yellow line that demarcates the edge of the roadway. Also note that posted speed limits are 60 mph, so users would not exceed this posted limit.
Project Manager's Note: Rejection approved. Add to construction notes document.

Thank goodness we keep these madmen in ill-lit cubicle cells where they can only harm information and not real people.

Ahhhhh...... Information-systems-industry-venom sacs emptied.....

Compare and Contrast

In New York, compare and contrast:
  • Giuliani time, with the Broken Windows theory of policing, wherein police crackdown on nuisance offenses to improve the quality of life.

  • Bloomberg time, which apparently features the Flat Broken theory of policing, wherein police write tickets for as many offenses as they can to help the city can balance its finances as taxpayers flee for less strident regimes.

Book Review: The Fine Art of Swindling edited by Walter B. Gibson (1966)

The more things change, the more they stay the same, and that goes for stupid is as stupid does and a fool and his or her money are soon parted. This book collects a number of essays and nonfiction pieces that appeared in The New Yorker, The Saturday Evening Post, and other periodicals or publications. Each essay explores a scammer or a scam in detail, but most of the scams come from around the turn of the century (as the book itself is almost forty years old).

Two things strike me:
  • The heights that the best scammers reached.
    Charles Ponzi, whose very name is synonomous with the pyramid scheme, bought a bank and a brokerage firm with the money he made from working class Bostonians who wanted to earn fifty percent interest in 90 days. Oscar Hartzell lived for over a decade in style in London while purportedly seeking to settle with the English monarchy for the Francis Drake estate--but really he was just after his "investors'" money. That's long jack, my friends. Nowadays, nobody lives that high on the hog with so little production but venture capitalists, their pet executives, and government officials. At least swindlers used their wits and not their contacts.

  • The same scams are still running.
    Three specific examples: The Nigerian scam (help me transfer my ill-gotten gain from my African country); the here's-a-bag-of-money-you-can-hold-it-if-you-give-me-slightly-less-of-your-money-as-a-deposit (which really needs a popular nickname), and the pyramid scheme (now more popular than ever as women's "Gift Clubs"). The population is getting more technologically knowledgeable, but not necessarily more savvy.
Of course, the best swindles aren't in this book, because the best swindles are not reported or solved. Still, the book's an interesting read, but not widely available. I paid $6.00 for this copy....wait a minute...the penciled-in price claims it's a 1966 first edition, but it looks like a book club edition....

Fine art of swindling, indeed. Curse you, Sheldon! Next time I am in your book shop, I am pulling the books out by putting my fingers at the top of the spine.

Sunday, January 04, 2004
Two Kinds of Managers

There are two kinds of managers. Those who help pull the load, and those who spend all their time pulling on the horses.

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