Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Friday, June 17, 2005
Excellent Day to Use Tax Money to Prop Up Sports Franchises
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and its columnists have chosen an excellent day to expound on the need for tax money incentives to sports teams.

While St. Louis city streets collapse:
    St. Louis street crews are working to repair a sinkhole that was nearly big enough to swallow a car. City Streets Director Jim Suelman says the hole on Memorial Drive near the Old Cathedral is about five feet in diameter and nearly a foot deep.
Collapsing streets, schools skating the edge of their accreditation, but hey, great sports venues for the suburbanites to enjoy.

(Submitted to the Outside the Beltway Traffic Jam.)

St. Louis Should Throw Good Money After Bad
Not only will the Savvis Center henceforth, temporarily, be known as the TBD Center, but apparently the owners of the St. Louis Blues have put the team up for sale:
    Citing heavy financial losses and concern about the future, St. Louis Blues owners Bill and Nancy Laurie have decided to sell the National Hockey League team and its long-term lease on the Savvis Center.
Bernie Miklasz, sports columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch lights upon the obvious answer (for a newspaperman): have the government pay for it:
    With some cooperative tweaking, local politicians and leaders can ensure the Blues' future in St. Louis.
Apparently, the cooperative tweaking that built and maintains a publicly-funded sports venue is not enough. Instead:
    The state and the city have wobbled and given in on the tax issue before. The state and the city and St. Louis County teamed to pay for a football stadium that eventually housed the Rams. The Rams' lease calls for the stadium to be maintained to high standards, so public money is still being used for periodic upgrades, even though the Rams are highly profitable. The Rams also got deal sweeteners, including a new practice facility, for moving here.

    The Cardinals open a new ballpark next season, and they're receiving public money for road and infrastructure work and other stadium-related costs. The city also waived its 5 percent amusement tax for the Cardinals owners to keep the new stadium in the city.
Instead of eliminating or reducing, in general, an onerous tax levied on entertainment events (designed, like hotel taxes, to soak outsiders who come to the city for an event instead of taxing the voters), Miklasz favors more crony capitalistic targeted subsidies so the government can prop up select, poorly-run enterprises. The Prince tour that comes through? Well, that private endeavor makes money, so it should shoulder its share of the burden--and that of the sports teams.

So point one is the government should favor the Blues because it favors the other teams. So it should continue to throw (or forego) good tax money after bad.

Argument two:
    Again, I know what you're thinking: Who cares? No public money for sports teams. OK, fine. But what will we do with Savvis Center? The city owns the arena. If the Blues head out of town, the city is stuck with the arena. Savvis Center creates full-time jobs, and a part-time workforce on the night of the events.

    The Savvis Center however, won't do jack for the city, and downtown interests, if there's no hockey team or NBA team to fill valuable dates. That's the reality. So really, it's up to the city to decide what to do with this investment.
So the city of St. Louis has thrown this money away to build a large public venue that sat empty through the 2004-2005 hockey season. It should forego tax revenue on the main tenant of the building so that the building doesn't go to waste.

Miklasz concludes that those who don't study history are doomed to repeat it:
    And we have a history lesson to draw on.

    Once upon a time, when Ralston Purina sold the Blues, no local owners stepped up. The team was sold to Harry Ornest, who was based in Beverly Hills, Calif. After a few years, our civic leaders were so fatigued by the bombastic Ornest, they organized a local group to buy the Blues just to get rid of him.

    Obviously, it would have been cheaper to buy the team before Ornest got a hold of it; instead the local leaders paid a lot more for the Blues once the team passed through Harry O's hands.

    Same with pro football. After the Cardinals moved to Arizona in 1988, the enormous cost of luring the Rams here was far greater than the cheaper alternative of keeping the Cardinals here.

    If high taxes are going to drive the Blues out of this market - say, to Kansas City - then it'll cost considerably more, long-term, to replace them.
Funny how my obvious solution differs from Miklasz's. Why replace them? If they cannot make money here with the same tax burden and costs of business as any other enterprise, let them fail or move to some other city from which they can suck tax money.

Because ultimately, the only way the city can ensure that the sports franchise stays here would be to buy it outright and run it like another city department. Which cannot be any worse than sports teams run themselves anyway.

Where Do the St. Louis Blues Play?
For twenty years, the Blues played at the St. Louis Arena/Checkerdome. Since the new facility was built by the city of St. Louis in 1995, the Blues have played at:
  • The Kiel Center

  • Savvis Center

  • TBD
Just one more instance of how sports are killing tradition. The very name of the same venue changing every couple of years--and lots of venues have--breaks the link between the sports team present and the sports team past that fuels successful sports teams who've built a franchise and a fan base over time.

Granted, it's not as bad as moving teams from city to city whenever the owner things it's time for a free new stadium, but it's part of the overall trend (including free agency) that's made a sporting event as ephemeral as a rock concert.

Department of Justice Wants to Raise Internect Connectivity Prices
Your ISP as Net watchdog:
    The U.S. Department of Justice is quietly shopping around the explosive idea of requiring Internet service providers to retain records of their customers' online activities.

    Data retention rules could permit police to obtain records of e-mail chatter, Web browsing or chat-room activity months after Internet providers ordinarily would have deleted the logs--that is, if logs were ever kept in the first place. No U.S. law currently mandates that such logs be kept.
You think your AOL or DSL is expensive now, gentle reader, just wait until your ISP has to pay for perpetual storage and backup for every packet its users transmit and receive.

(Link seen on Ravenwood's Universe.)

Thursday, June 16, 2005
Getting Gored by A Doe, That Would Suck
Deer attacks reported at SIU Carbondale:
    A deer also attacked a person Monday, and two of three people injured by a doe June 7 required hospital care, Sigler said.

I'd Rather Be in California
California, Missouri: Super Auctions SPECIAL ABSOLUTE AUCTION.

Sounds cooler than the COMMON RELATIVE AUCTIONS I normally attend.

Summer of the Pit Bull Continues
Just so you are keeping up with the story, which might have gotten lost in the Michael Jackson Trial of the Season thing, this is the Year of the Pit Bull again. (The earlier chapters in the saga: Denver Pit Bull Genocide, St. Louis Post-Dispatch Wants Pit Bullocide, No Dog Bites Man, But Post-Dispatch Covers It Anyway.)

Wednesday, June 15, 2005
EU Leader Regrets
Apparently, a EU leadercrat regrets that some people were exposed to the entire EU constitution before the votes (story):
    It was a crucial mistake to send out the entire constitution to every French voter, the architect of the EU's first constitution Valéry Giscard d'Estaing has said in an interview.

    In an interview with the New York Times, his first since the French rejection of the constitution two weeks ago, the former French president apportions most of the blame to president Jacques Chirac for failure in the referendum campaign.

    One crucial mistake was to send out the entire three-part, 448-article document to every French voter, said Mr Giscard.

    Over the phone he had warned Mr Chirac already in March: "I said, 'Don't do it, don't do it'".

    "It is not possible for anyone to understand the full text".

    Mr Giscard d'Estaing also puts the blame on the present generation of political leaders.

    Neither Mr Chirac nor other European leaders had a strategy for ratifying the constitution, he said. "The present generation of leaders, whatever their strengths, never put Europe at the top of their agenda".
Damn this pretense of allowing the peasants to have a voice in their dominion!

Book Report: Easy Prey by John Sandford (2000)
I inherited this book from my aunt along with a couple of the next books in the series. Amazon informs me this is the eleventh book in the series, so I've undoubtedly missed a lot of the references and asides within this book that allude to incidents which the long-time fans of the Lucas Davenport novels would recognize. Each time I hit one of these many references, I recognized it for what it was, but I let it go. I know what a Robert B. Parker fan who started with Hugger Mugger must feel.

The book starts, chapter 1, in the mind of the killer with a bunch of foreshadowing; the killer awakens and doesn't know he's going to kill someone later, but he does. Honestly, given the plot of the book, ultimately the cheap foreshadowing doesn't hang right with the rest of the plot. But the frenetic nature of the action, with the multitude of police characters and considerations in handling a case, one can overlook them--or forget the first chapter by the time the bodies start to pile up.

Good points:
  • Set in Minnesota, which is the upper Midwest. Although they worship the pagan Vikings and even refer to them once in the book, they're of good Scandinaviagerman stock like my ancestors in Wisconsin.

  • Frantic pace of novel, coupled with allusions to previous novels, intimates an incident in a line and a past to which the characters are privy even if you, fool who starts with book eleven, are not.

  • Main character, in mid forties or so, is: rich due to his sale of a computer company; drives a Porsche due to his wealth; juggles attractive women of his own age with 20-something models; and serves as a deputy chief of police who bends the ear of the chief and the mayor.

    Face it, he's the hardboiled fantasy from the 1940s or 1960s aged a couple decades.
Bad points:
  • The intro, foreshadowing chapter is ultimately misleading.

  • Multiple murderers throw the investigation off. Also, they confuse the reader.

  • Multiple murderers mean that the bulk of the book spends time chasing red herrings.

  • Book is split between whodunit and high level police procedural; the first chapter would indicate whodunit, but who does it doesn't depend upon clues given but late breaking developments and insights and, frankly, who's not dead among the suspect pool at the end.
Still, the pacing of the book and the engagement of the characters--or at least the condolence of the main character to the adolescent fantasies that carry over into adulthood--carried me along to the end. I have two other books in the series, and I look forward to reading them. They will determine whether I backfill the previous novels and buy more recent novels. Overall, I'm optimistic, which is the most I can say for any suspense series I've picked up in a while (barring the Robert Crais books which, gentle reader, you remember I started out optimistic and sort of soured).

Althouse Says It
Blogging at, Ann Althouse expresses belief in the system:
    I didn't watch much of the news analysis that evening. I switched off Nancy Grace not long after she declared, "Not guilty by reason of celebrity!" The one aspect of the post-verdict coverage that interested me was the jurors' press conference. The fact is that they were there through all of the months of testimony, and we weren't. They listened to the witnesses and studied their demeanor.

    And in the end they found reasonable doubt. Watching the jurors, I felt deep respect for the good sense and competence of ordinary people faced with a solemn task. I feel no inclination to say I think they were wrong.
I agree with her. The jurors heard more information than any of us did, unfiltered by the media (blogs, networks, or papers). I have faith in them.

Bill Clinton vs George W. Bush 2008
The wheels are in motion to make it happen.

    Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the 22nd amendment to the Constitution. (Introduced in House)

    HJ 24 IH

    109th CONGRESS

    1st Session

    H. J. RES. 24

    Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the 22nd amendment to the Constitution .


    February 17, 2005

    Mr. HOYER (for himself, Mr. BERMAN, Mr. SENSENBRENNER, Mr. SABO, and Mr. PALLONE) introduced the following joint resolution; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary


    Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the 22nd amendment to the Constitution.

      Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years after the date of its submission for ratification:

    `Article --

      `The twenty-second article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is repealed.'.
Search for it yourself at

(Submitted to the Beltway Traffic Jam.)

In A Couple Years, It Will Be Four Times the Legal Limit
From a story about the drunken, registered sex offender ice cream man:
    The offending driver had a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit, according to a New Berlin police report.
Previously, it was only 2.4 times the legal limit back in the "old days" when the legal limit was .10 BAC. Now that the legal limit is .08 BAC (so that the state of Wisconsin doesn't lose Federal highway funds, donchaknow?), the same BAC is now 3 times the limit.

As soon as legislators pass their next compromise with MADD and lower it to .06, the same BAC will be 4 times the limit.

So the legal limit multiplier reflects more on the current state of legislation than the actual state of drunkeness.

State of Wisconsin Further Deters Businesses
The state of Wisconsin, or at least a set of bipartisan lawmakers, is ready to deter businesses from doing business and employing people:
    A bipartisan pair of state lawmakers are recommending a radical change to the way health insurance is bought and sold in Wisconsin by proposing the creation of a statewide insurance purchasing pool.

    The proposal is intended to help businesses cope with skyrocketing health care costs and stem the number of uninsured residents. The plan will be unveiled today to an Assembly committee studying reform of the state's Medicaid health care program for the poor, elderly and disabled.

    The proposal would essentially impose an 8% to 12% payroll tax on all employers to provide basic health insurance to everyone in Wisconsin younger than 65.
Let the nationalization begin. Oh, wait, it's already started.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Getcher Free Urban Legends Here
Hefeweizen is German for "half urine." The name comes from the very light yellow color, as well as the speed of passage through the body.

Feel free to pass that on and disinform your friends.

Unsolicited Spamfighting
..You are receiving this email notification because... 


OUR MISSION: Worldwide Boycott of MICROSOFT Software / Hardware / Service
SHOW YOUR SUPPORT: "Don't Support Illegal Spam, Don't Buy Microsoft Products"

OUR GOAL: 100 Billion Views / 99.9% Internet Saturation / 178 Parts (2005-2007)

[SPAMIS Foundation: Strategic Partnership Against Microsoft Illegal Spam] 

[Part 47 of 178]
----- ---- --- -- -  -    -
Microsoft Employee Mike Lyman Speaks Out on Online Spam
Message Board NANAE & Mailing List SPAM-L on Microsoft Spam


"I'm with one of the greatest, most hated institutional "spammers" around.
 most people speaking officially for the company will go round and round
 with you how we don't spam. Well, in the past it was not always obvious
 that you were opting in, sometimes it still isn't obvious and our sign up
 process still leaves a lot to be desired and is open to abuse."


"We are a spamhouse. Doesn't matter that we're Microsoft.  Our legitimate,
 unsolicited email is still just spam."


Microsoft Head Email Abuse Administrator for Microsoft Speaks
Out About Microsoft's Previous & Current Spamming Activities

West Point Military Academy Graduate of 1987
Ex-Computer Administrator for the US Department of Defense

Contact: Spamis, Box 1259, Seattle, WA 98111 / Phone or Fax: (206)260-2409

Microsoft Head Spam Spokesmen: Aaron Kornblum or Ryan Hamlin

Microsoft Head Law Firm: Preston, Gates, Ellis, Seattle, WA - USA
Lawyers at Fault: Robert J. Dzielak / David A. Bateman / Theodore J. Angelis

[Part 47 of 178]
(c)2005 SPAMIS: Strategic Partnership Against Microsoft Illegal Spam

Thanks for playing, spammer. Perhaps my virulent anti-Microsoftism will inspire me to send you some cash. But probably not.

Next, Felonies for Critizing Political Leaders
Union wants false claims against cops prosecuted:
    If Nashville's police union has its way, anyone who makes a formal complaint against a Metro police officer could face felony criminal charges if the department's internal investigators clear the officer of wrongdoing.

    Nashville Fraternal Order of Police President Ed Mason asked for the enforcement in a March 15 e-mail to Police Chief Ronal Serpas, who has told the FOP that he has concerns about the request.

    "The (Fraternal Order of Police) would like the department to present cases to the (District Attorney's) Office when a serious allegation has been made and the case has been cleared," Mason's e-mail reads.

    The union's request is based on two situations in which Metro officers were targets of "blatant lies" during the police formal complaint process, Mason said.

    However, when asked about the two cases, Mason said he and other FOP officials could not recall the officers' names or the situations.
Based on cases they cannot remember, these union leaders want to penalize honest grievances that have no criminal merit.

Thankfully, the chief of police isn't eager for a power-grab:
    Serpas has raised concerns about the idea. "Charging every complainant whose complaint was not sustained has been viewed by some courts as an unconstitutional effort to intimidate citizens and keep them from making legitimate complaints," reads a reply from Serpas to Mason, whose union represents most of Nashville's 1,200-plus police officers.

    Serpas' written reply, obtained by The Tennessean, also states that he believes the formal complaints made by residents are often based on a misunderstanding of police procedures and policies and that "charging complainants should be considered in only the most extreme cases."

    Just because an internal police investigation clears an officer of wrongdoing, it doesn't mean the situation stated in a complaint did not occur, Serpas said.
(Link seen on Ravenwood's Universe.)

Book Report: Mr. Murder by Dean Koontz (1993)
I inherited this book from my aunt, and with her legacy I'll read plenty of horror/suspense fiction in the next couple of years.

This book deals with a suspense writer whose family is stalked by his evil twin. I get it. It's Stephen King's The Dark Half, without the birds. I had a lot of time and extra thinking energy through the first 120 pages, which Koontz spent lavishly assuring us that the writer is a good family man and that the dark, er, copy is a bad man. I explained to Heather that I was turning the pages out of discipline and not desire. Face it, it's no Odd Thomas.

After the first quarter of the book, the action picked up and the story began. I'd have enjoyed it better if the first 120 pages had been 30 pages and if the dark half--an inadvertent clone, as it turns out--hadn't fallen to a caricature.

I note that one of the reviewers on Amazon couldn't stand the PC tone of some of the books asides. Odd, for the political asides were not what one typically considers PC--pro gun ownership, pro independence and self reliance. They were more libertarian than anything else, affirming the family as the basic unit of society, and so on. I believe a lot of the stuff, so I could make it through them even though they were semipreaching in nature. I could have also lived without the author taking the assumed name of John Gault at the end of the book.

At Won't Employment
Some worker's right activists don't want you to understand at-will employment. Instead, concentrate on the right you have to an employer's continued indulgence with a paycheck: Off-duty behavior can affect job:
    Some companies are cracking down on employees' off-duty behavior, raising questions about how far employers should go in policing what workers do on their own time.

    Employees are being disciplined or fired for such behaviors as drinking on their own time, using competitors' products and displaying political bumper stickers. No one tracks the number of such cases, but some workers rights' groups are concerned that the practice is on the upswing.

    "The shock is that there's no legal protection," says Lewis Maltby, of The National Workrights Institute, a non-profit based in Princeton, N.J., that focuses on employee rights. "You can get fired just for having a bumper sticker the boss doesn't like."
Yes, that is how it works. Kind of like the worker can leave the job at any time with two week's notice if they're polite or right now if their employer does something the worker doesn't like or if the worker doesn't like the work, if the worker has something better to do, or if the worker gets a better job.

No, workers' rights advocates want one-way indentured servitude: they want employers on the hook for perpetual employment.

The Swedish Chef Offers An Alternative to Judicial Fillibusters
Mmmm, Bork! Bork! Bork!

Monday, June 13, 2005
Debutante Vehicle Update
CNN: Report: Paris Hilton to retire in 2 years.

No word on whether she'll choose Michelin, Cordovan, or Pirelli, but we who await every word and deed can hardly contain ourselves in anticipation.

(Link seen on Professor Bainbridge.)

Lack of Style Guide
Michael J. Totten reads the Microsoft Manual of Style so you don't have to:
    While flipping through the book I noticed Taiwan, of all things, had its own entry. Taiwan, according to Microsoft…wait for it… belongs to China. Totalitarian propaganda has actually made its way into a style guide for user manual and Help file writers.
Anyone want to bet what the Encarta encyclopedia and dictionaries say?

Actually, I won't bet, because if I did, I'd have to use those "tools" as reference material if only to settle the bet.

Trade Group Lauds Outsourcing Good Business Sense to State
Last week's story about the state of Missouri regulating personal watercraft use by minors drew this supportive letter from a trade group:
    We cannot point blame at personal watercraft for causing accidents when operator-controlled factors such as inattention and inexperience are cited as the leading contributors ("Zippy craft, young riders are making waves," June 4). Irresponsible boaters cause accidents. Because most accidents are preventable, steps must be taken by boaters themselves to improve safety.

    People who take a boating safety education course are less likely to be involved in an accident. Rental-business owners should more thoroughly explain the rules to customers, so that they know how and where to ride, in addition to not jumping a boat's wake or riding to close to another personal watercraft.

    We applaud Missouri for its new boater education law that requires all boaters born after Jan. 1, 1984, to pass a safety course. But older boaters should take a class, too. Personal watercraft manufacturers support laws that require all PWC operators, regardless of age or previous experience, to take a course. We also support a minimum age requirement of 16 years to operate a personal watercraft and 18 years to rent one.

    To prevent an enjoyable boating day from becoming an unfortunate tragedy, we all must take steps to assure that safety and responsibility come first.

    Maureen Healey
    Executive Director
    Personal Watercraft
    Industry Association

    Washington D.C.
Instead of lobbying for regulation, perhaps Ms. Healey could have told her association's members and customers to just not rent to minors. However, it's cheaper for the members if the state handles all the expense of the entrepreneurs' costs of business. After all, it's working wonders for the airline industry.

(Submitted to the Outside the Beltway Traffic Jam.)

Sunday, June 12, 2005
Dare to Dream
Pink Floyd to reunite for London concert July 2:
    Four members of seminal British rock band Pink Floyd will play together for the first time in 24 years at London's Live 8 charity concert for Africa on July 2, publicists for the event said today.

    Guitarist David Gilmour, drummer Nick Mason and keyboard player Richard Wright will be on stage with bassist Roger Waters for their first public performance since they played at London's Earls Court in 1981.
I would welcome a new studio album from Pink Floyd as long as it's a Pink Floyd album and not a bad Roger Waters album.

Killing Brand Loyalty
I've owned a Gillette Mach 3 since the razor came to market, and I've spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars in recurring revenue on the expensive little cartridges. But when my current supply is out (unfortunately, quite some time since I buy them at a warehouse store), I shall switch to the Schick Quattro. Why?

Because Gillette lied to me.

I saw the commercials for the Mach 3 Turbo, which allows you to put a battery into your razor. In return, it has a little green light on it and, Gillette claimed, micropulses of electricity would lift the hairs for a closer shave. Well, at least the light worked.
    The judge ruled that Gillette's claims that its M3Power could raise the stubble on one's face were not true.

    The court ordered Gillette to change the TV and print ads and the packaging for the product in 30 days.

    Gillette yesterday asked the court for a clarification. The razor maker argued that neither the packaging nor the instore displays for M3Power depict hairs "changing angle or changing length."

    "'Gentle micro-pulses stimulate hair up and away from skin,' does not suggest that hairs are changing angle or changing length," it argued in court papers.
I was never tempted to buy the stupid thing because I've already got an expensive handle for an expensive razor cartridge, but Gillette brought an expensive product to market that does not do what Gillette says the product does; that is, its selling point is untrue and its value above and beyond the regular Mach 3 does not exist. Gillette did this to try to relieve me of more of my money, and now it will henceforth relieve me of none.

And now that it's caught, it's trying to Clinton its way out of changing its packaging to marketing copy that does not outright lie. Splitting, but not changing the angle or length, of legalistic definitions to save itself 1.6 million dollars.

You know what punishment I would prefer? Gillette would have to run advertisements in the same markets and media as its previous ads with its leaders admitting they tried to pull one over the shaving public.

CSI: The Zoo
Man, the Patriot Act / Homeland Security blah blah blah investigates everything:
    A clump of cloth mixed with plastic was found in the stomach of the bear, who died of surgical shock and cardiac arrest.

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture will review the St. Louis Zoo's care of Churchill, a polar bear who died May 26 during surgery to remove an abdominal obstruction.

    "An investigation is just a closer look," Jim Rogers, an agency spokesman in Washington, said Friday. "It doesn't mean any laws were broken."
Man, what riveting television that would be. Who poisoned the polar bear with a plastic and cloth capsule? I suspect the shifty looking penguin.

But all mirth aside, how many tax dollars will we expend to collectively, as a society, possibly spare another polar bear the same circumstantial fate? No, don't tell me, I don't want to know.

Meanwhile, in an unrelated story, Government investigates possible case of mad cow; I suspect they're acting on a jailhouse tip from an enraged sheep.

A Paper I Would Like To Read
I don't know who's doing the research for a patriarchy-shaking academic paper about shub-niggurath and gays, but I welcome that reader. Unfortunately, I have never covered the Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young and homosexuals in the same post before now.

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