Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, August 13, 2005
Where Angels Fear To Tread
When the free market cannot profitably develop a site, the governments step in:
  1. Government 1: The City
      Plans to turn a troubled site in Overland into a shopping center have been revived after failing for the second time earlier this year.

      Two local developers - Sansone Group and G.J. Grewe Inc. - at separate times tried to build major retail centers on the Page Avenue property. Working with the city, they hoped to draw retailers such as Target Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. But both developers pulled the plug when they failed to recruit tenants.

    Two businesses who are in designed to make money couldn't, even with the city's help.

    Time to call in reinforcements.

  2. Government 2: The County
      Now, St. Louis County is taking up the effort. The site, county officials say, is more desirable with the addition of a nearby Home Depot store and other recent construction.

      "That area's gotten a real boost recently and it's becoming a premier location," said Denny Coleman, president of the St. Louis County Economic Council. "We know several developers who've said they'd bid on it."

    "they'd" being the operative tense. They would bid on the land if the government would make the conditions right. That is, the deal itself will not be profitable in and of itself in a free market economy, but if the county would sweeten the deal, its preferred developers would happily bid on it. Once the taxpayers guaranteed a profit.

    But that's contingent upon....

  3. Government 3: The Federal Government
      The county also is coupling the retail project with a plan to prevent the closing of a nearby military facility. The county hopes the retail center will help persuade the military to stay. Or, if the military leaves, its property could be redeveloped, possibly into office space.

    Because the federal government should make its decisions based upon convenient shopping for its employees and visiting dignitaries? WTF? The county is swinging for the fences on this one. Why not couple it with curing schnucking cancer while you're at it?
It's a trifecta of government intervention into the free market at the expense of some:
    The 40-acre retail project would rise on land that's now a hodgepodge of houses, small businesses and vacant factories. In 2001, Overland - without county help - launched redevelopment efforts there.
Friends, that means eminent domain. Remember that nasty thing which the Supreme Court just okayed? Greenlit governments to seize livelihoods from citizens to the benefit of developers and, of course, the agnostic and disinterested governments:
    "It's a depressed area that was blighted years ago," said Robert Dody, Overland's mayor. "It's an ideal area to redevelop. ... The city and the county would both like to get more tax revenue from it."
I know the area they're talking about. It's five minutes up I-170, a short spur of the Interstate system, from Clayton, one of the hottest areas in the county. Left to the free market, this area would redevelop on its own as its relatively cheap land would grow into suburbs of Clayton. But that's not good enough for our elected officials, who could not take immediate credit for future growth based on their hands off governance today.

Instead, they spend tax money and tax-salaried time playing businessmen. Meanwhile, look at the land for sale listings on Hilliker Corporation's Web site. See all of those properties on Woodson Road? Those are about 1/2 mile from the area in question (Google map; note the pin related to the intersection of Page and Woodson, the redevelopment site in question). The land prices and parcels are ripe for an entry-level developer wanna-be to get in and buy one or more for redevelopment or investment. I've had my eyes on the area since I lived nearby, for the reasons I've listed above. As I reach a time where I have some money for extraneous business ventures, I hoped to invest properties in this area, to help organically elevate Overland.

But forget it. Bob Dody, Mayor, via signage, welcomes me to Overland every time I pass through. But his eagerness to team the government of Overland with large developers certainly doesn't welcome smaller outside concerns to invest in real estate (that he might later have to reallocate to THF, so sorry, here's a couple bucks) in his community nor does he welcome small businesses nor certain home owners to remain in their property in his community (although they're welcome to spend their just compensation on other property elsewhere in Overland, natch, until he or Sansone needs that, too).

I'd like to wrap this up with a snappy, pithy conclusion, but I'm too disgusted.

Book Report: The Best of National Lampoon #3 (1973)
I bought this book at a garage sale or such, probably for a quarter. I'd hoped to turn it into a vast eBay profit back in the day when a small timer could hobbyhorse a bit of profit out of eBay, but those days are gone and the book made up a small part of the 16 boxes of unsold speculative books I had in my closet. I culled through them one final time to find books I might like to read before I get rid of the lot, and this one filtered out.

You know, I've always found National Lampoon more amusing than funny. I even had a subscription to it, briefly, in middle school or high school because my mother, funder of all magazine subscriptions at that time, didn't realize it had the occasional boobies (please don't tell her now, for it would break her heart to know that she enabled her hormonal teenage boys in any way). I didn't get a lot of yuks out of it even then, and the boobies were marginal at best.

This book collects pieces from 1971 and 1972. Unfortunately, that means that 50% of the topical humor applies to topics before I was born. A lot of Vietnam humor, which I don't find particularly amusing, much less funny. I could appreciate some of the non-political humor, such as Chris Miller's parody of a Mike Hammer story, but I've read my share of late sixties pulp to access it.

So this book doesn't hold up well. Also, no O'Rourke and only a little Beard. Worth a glance or browse if you've got nothing else, maybe even worth a quarter if you're not over sticking it to that lying bastard Nixon. If it's too funny, you're too old.

Book Report: Cyber Way by Alan Dean Foster (1990)
Based on my previous experience with Foster, I bought a number of Alan Dean Foster books last May at Downtown Books in Milwaukee (including Codgerspace, The Dig, and Midworld). Like those, I paid $2.95 for this book, and I offer the same criticism: It reads like a stretched out short story.

Foster does have a predilection for prediction though; in this book, written in 1989 or before, future police officers carry PDAs and hook into the Internet frequently. However, as he wrote the books before Netscape opened the World Wide Web, things have different names (mollyspinners and whatnot), but the intervening 15 years have not rendered the futuristic technologies obsolete; instead, life has developed along those lines, making the book very approachable in 2005.

When an art collector is murdered in Tampa, the methodical detective Vernon Moody draws the case. The industrialist collector died in his art display room, and the murderer also destroyed a Navaho sand painting. Early investigations indicate that someone had argued with the collector about the painting on numerous occasions. The department sends the homebody moody to the southwest to determine the Navaho connection. Unfortunately, Moody not only finds a murderer, but a world beyond his imagination where sandpaintings and medicine men can tap into something more powerful than police.

An enjoyable, imaginative short story stretched into a short novel with the addition of a lot of filler talk and speculation. Worth a couple of bucks undoubtedly, particularly if you appreciate Alan Dean Foster.

Friday, August 12, 2005
Connecting the Dots, or Maybe a Dot and a Flyspeck, or Perhaps the Flyspecks
Carl Icahn, in 1985, takes over Trans World Airlines....

Carl Icahn, in 2005, makes his move on AOL Time Warner....

Query: What does this fellow have against the letters A, T, and W?

(Story seen on Professor Bainbridge.)

No Business Like Anonymously-Sourced Government Leak Journalism Business
Sources: CIA finds Iranian president likely not hostage-taker:
    A CIA report has determined with "relative certainty" that Iran's new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was not involved in the taking of U.S. hostages 26 years ago, three government officials told CNN on Friday.

    The officials insisted on anonymity, saying they did not want to speak for the CIA about its report.

    Another U.S. official said the tone of the report is that there is no evidence to date that the new Iranian president was among those who held U.S. diplomats hostage.

    The officials cautioned that the analysis is not final.
Meanwhile, the officials also report that the Soviet Union's industrial output will increase again this year and that its current premier has secured a grip on his position and has met with other Warsaw Pact leaders secretly to get their fealty and promise the support of the mighty Red Army in quelling internal dissent.

Also, the next paragraph of the CNN report:
    Two former hostages told CNN they remain certain Ahmadinejad was involved in plotting the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979, in which 52 hostages were held for 444 days.

    The two also said they saw the man they identify as Ahmadinejad many times while they were held, and that he appeared to be in a supervisory role.
Loosely translated, that's the or your damn lying eyes part of the punchline.

Mr. Green Espoused Iraq War Talking Points in 2004
Compare and Contrast: Mr. Green: "We've Got To Stop Killing People, Matt."

Iraqi war protestor: Mother begs for end to killing.

(Second link seen courtesy McGehee.)

Rottweilers More Equal Than Poodles
Bill would give underage soldiers a break: Lawmaker wants fines for drinking reduced to $5:
    Wisconsin soldiers who are 19 and 20 would be fined no more than $5 for underage drinking, under a bill lawmakers will likely consider this fall.

    The effort by Rep. Mark Pettis (R-Hertel) to loosen underage drinking penalties for soldiers comes just six months after he wrote a bill that would allow 19- and 20-year-olds in the military to drink legally.
This is a wrong-minded attempt to "support the troops" and to reward soldiers by giving them additional rights that non-soldier citizens cannot enjoy or reducing sanction for criminal offenses for soldiers. It runs opposite to what this country stands for, or should stand for, to segregate rights and apportionate them differently to soldiers and non-soldiers. This is a republican democracy, not a platonic Republic.

Understand that this is not an incentive program or a veteran's affairs allocation of money; it's changing the law to apply differently to volunteers who passed muster than to those who would not or could not serve. That's right. Flat feet, poor grades, childhood diseases, or poor eyes would physically prevent some youths from enjoying this privilege right that their more able brethren could enjoy. So a select few would be more equal than the others of the age group.

Also, once we start apportioning rights or diminished sanctions to soldiers, where do we stop? Drinking underage is a victimless crime, but so is soliciting prostitutes. So is using drugs. Keep in mind, gentle reader, I am not saying that our troops are all prostitute-soliciting, drug-abusing drunkards, but those who violate these laws, what's the principle that would stop lowering the sanction for them? There's none.

As a libertarianish, I think the 21-year-old drinking age is senseless, and I think that Federal withholding of funds for states who don't impose state laws according to federal government dicta is unconscionable, but a new wrong won't make it right.

Sounds Like A Job Opening
St. Peter's authorities seek bank robber

Hollywood Sacrifices Domestic Movie Sales for Foreign Sales
I've made that assertion before, but Junkyard Blog lists some coming attractions. Friends and countrymen, I ask: are you the target audience for these?

I think not.

Perhaps it's time for an alternate movie industry to emerge in the midwest, built on new video technology, new Internet distribution, and actors who'd work for points and not millions of dollars up front.

The Unfree State Project
Overthrow of the Flyovers:
    Next up on NPR was a discussion about how all the congressional districts have been gerrymandered so they are either Democrat or Republican. Thus neither party ever makes any real headway. These districts need to be redrawn so they are even. Yeah, like THAT's ever gonna happen. But, I do have a way that the Democrats can outsmart the Repubs on this one. Ready? Here it is....

    Move. Yup, that's right. Determine how many folks you need to keep on the coasts & in Illinois to maintain a majority. Hold a lottery or something, and the winners get to invade the Heartland and swing the balance of power. Now some states would be easy to overthrow, due to their small population, Wyoming & Montana come to mind. Others, that voted more heavily for Bush, Utah & Oklahoma, would require a larger concentration of the coastal experts to move in, register, vote & move out.
After all, it's worked for the Libertarians.

(Link seen on Dustbury.)

Thursday, August 11, 2005
Outrage In New York City as Alternate Lifestyles Attacked
Health officials urge New York City restaurant ban on fat trans

It's unconscionable that New York City government would, in the interest of "public good," would ban transvestites and transsexuals from restaurants. That for the benefit of a greater number, the city would prohibit obese individuals who expressing their individual rights to expression by wearing opposite gender clothes or roles from attending restaurants and would further strip private property rights from restaurant owners to tell them which alternative lifestyles, of which weights, the restaurant owners can serve.


Oh, wait a minute, I have transposed the headline:

Health officials urge New York City restaurant ban on trans fats

Well, the government banning alternate frystyles and usurping individual responsibility of eaters and private property rights of restauranteurs to ensure that The Children are as trim and svelte as our benevolent government leaders wish they were? Carry on.

That's a Big Twinkie
Police: Teacher, student had sex:
    She met her 16-year-old student for sex in cars and at his summer job during a four-week affair that ended when a family pastor turned her in, police and prosecutors say.

    Kristen A. Margrif, a 27-year-old English teacher at Kingston High School, faces 15 years in prison on eight counts of sexual contact with the eighth-grader, Tuscola County Prosecutor Mark Reene said.

    The victim was planning to continue attending school in Kingston. It was not clear whether he was entering eighth or ninth grade this fall, Reene said.
Couldn't she have waited until he reached the age of consent sometime as a freshman in high school?

Going Against Type
What's the difference between an Apple salesman and the typical Apple user?

See if you can spot it.

Concealed Carry Leads to Streets Running Red with Camry Blood
Although they've often annoyed me, I've never considered this method of turning off someone else's car alarm when it goes off after reasonable hours:
    A man annoyed by a noisy car alarm fired at least three bullets into a Toyota Camry, silencing the alarm and bringing out police who hauled him away in handcuffs, authorities said.

    David Owen Rye, 48, was arrested and booked for investigation of reckless discharge of a firearm and felony vandalism, Sgt. John Adamczyk said. Rye allegedly told officers he grabbed his handgun and went out to put a stop to the car alarm.
However, this mechanism is not recommended, particularly as on of the Nogghicles has a flaky security system that sometimes starts yowling for odd reasons, including some odd sequence/combination of door openings and key placement. I don't want to die with my car. Thank you.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Book Report: Star Trek 9 by James Blish (1978)
As those of you who have revelled in these book reports know, I bought five of these old Star Trek books last autumn at Hooked on Books in Springfield, Missouri, at three for one dollar. As such, I only paid 33 cents for this paperback, and it was well worth it.

Like the others in the series, it collects and short storiates a couple of episodes from the original television series because, back in the day, they didn't have the Internet to provide a resounding board for scifi fans to resonate. As a matter of fact, the introduction to this book describes the unexpected success of the first Star Trek convention. This book was originally published a number of years after Star Trek went off of the air and a decade and change before Star Trek: The Next Generation debuted. For crying out loud, it preceded Star Trek: The Motion Picture by a number of years. So pardon me while I repeat my awe at these books. They were old school fandom, werd.

This book collects the following episodes:
  • Return to Tomorrow

  • The Ultimate Computer

  • That Which Survives

  • Obsession

  • The Return of the Archons

  • The Immunity Syndrome
I only remembered "Return to Tomorrow" certainly, although I suspect I might have seen "The Ultimate Computer" and "The Return of the Archons" before. As such, they really urge me to spend the THREE HUNDRED SCHNUCKING DOLLARS that a set of the original shows would cost on DVD, but then I remember that it's THREE HUNDRED SCHNUCKING DOLLARS, which doesn't really add up since I could buy THIRTY OTHER DVDS or TEN YEARS OF THE SIMPSONS for the price, or if Hooked on Books could find them, NINE HUNDRED COPIES of these books.

But still, I grew up when these were the only things science fiction things in syndication, with Buck Rogers and (the original) Battlestar Galactica and Space 1999 only coming onto television, so the stories and the original crew--especially now that two of them have passed on. So I'll enjoy the books at three pages per penny, but not the actual shows AT A COUPLE BUCKS PER, you hear me PARAMOUNT?!

Comparative Studies
Cases of West Nile disease in Missouri this year: 3
Cases of Campylobacteriosis in St. Louis City in June: 2
Cases of Giardiasis in St. Louis City in June: 7
Cases of Salmonellosis in St. Louis City in June: 8
Cases of Hepatitus B in St. Louis City in June: 3
Cases of Hepatitus C in St. Louis City in June: 52
Cases of Tuberculosis Infection in St. Louis City in June: 30
Man, I don't know what some of those things are, but how come they don't get the column inches?

Jay Nixon: Friend of Liberty?
Nixon questions use of traffic photographs:
    Some Missouri cities soon might use traffic cameras to ticket unlawful drivers. But the state attorney general doesn't think the photographs will hold up in court.

    The city of Arnold recently decided to install traffic cameras that will photograph license plates of vehicles running red lights. Creve Coeur is considering a similar program.

    But Attorney General Jay Nixon says the photographs won't provide enough proof to ticket motorists.

    "I think it's pretty clear these pictures can't be the sole or only evidence to cite drivers for violating state traffic laws," Nixon said in a telephone interview. "I have deep concern whether taking someone's picture rolling through a stop light is adequate evidence in and of itself to uphold a state traffic law."

Mouse Roars
Chavez: U.S. will 'bite the dust' if it invades:
    Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told thousands of visiting students that if U.S. forces were to invade the South American country, they would be soundly defeated.
That cinches it. We must invade Valenzuela just to prove that our country is more manly than Hugo Chavez.

I also want to laud CNN for putting this story in perspective:
    The U.S. government has strongly denied Chavez's claims that it is considering military action against Cuba's closest ally in the Americas.
That's right, it's not absurd on it's face. No, it has been strongly denied by the warmongering American government.

Monday, August 08, 2005
False Dichotomy of Thinkers vs. Linkers
Jay Tea at Wizbang! reminds us about Stephen Den Beste's categorization of bloggers as:
  • Thinkers, who write essays and whatnot.

  • Linkers, who post links and say, "Heh." or "Indeed."
However, this simple dichotomy overlooks the third type of blogger: the lister.

The lister type of blogger:
  • Embraces the numbered or bulleted list as a means of communication.

  • Often dashes off lists of related items important to the blogger.

  • Relates favorites in movie or music, often specializing in:
    • One
    • The other
    • Both
  • Participates in and spread "memes" which contain lists of questions or simple lists for other bloggers to fill out.
The beauties of the list blog include:
  • Not needing to assemble complete paragraphs; all you need is a topic sentence or a topic fragment.

  • Lists easily translatable into PowerPoint presentations, with neat transition effects.

  • Take up lots of vertical space on the blog, ensuring that the content column is longer than the blogroll.

  • Could make blogger as famous, wealthy, and respected as Chris White.
These blogs show signs of listery from time to time: So the thinkers and linkers polar axis needs to accommodate a new dimension: those of us who don't necessarily think nor necessarily link but do, in fact, blog incessantly.

Brent Johnson Goes Into the Memory Five Hole
The St. Louis Blues are eager to see Patrick Lalime, their new goalie, actually play a hockey game in the Blues uniform. How good is he?
    In 2001-02, Lalime tied an NHL record with three consecutive playoff shutouts, against Philadelphia.
Odd, someone else tied that record that year.... What was his name? What team did he play for?

Sunday, August 07, 2005
The Pangloss Is Half Full
    All is for the best in the best of possible worlds.
Which might be this one. Probably not.

(Inspired by this post by Pejman.)

Book Report: Murder in the Wind by John D. MacDonald (1956)
I bought this paperback book from Downtown Books in Milwaukee for $1.95, but that comes as no surprise to you, gentle reader, if you've paid attention to the book reports I've proffered. I love John D. MacDonald and had I not sworn allegiance to Robert B. Parker at an early age, you know I would be a paladin in the service of John D. MacDonald. But that explains why I have this book, but not what I thought of it.

The book, like most paperbacks of the era, runs about 190 pages, unlike the unwieldy behemoths published today (to justify their $30 price tags). Working within these constraints, MacDonald provides an interesting riff. He spends the first half of the book detailing a number of separate travellers' lives, from the failed businessman moving back to New York to the agent at the end of his vengeance quest to the prison escapees. travelling north on Florida's west coast as a hurricane strikes. They're thrown into an abandoned house to weather the storm, with the results one might expect from the collision of Man vs. Man, Man vs. Nature, and Man vs. Himself conflicts colliding. Brother, it's bad enough to collide, but when collisions collide, watch out.

Still, within the compact framework, MacDonald spends the first 100+ pages on individual character studies discussing whose lives will come into conflict at the last half of the novel. That's okay if you're going to read the novel in a sitting or two, but if you're going to spread the novel over a week or so, you might find yourself at a critical moment wondering who is Stark? Who is Mallard? Are they even characters in this book? Heck's pecs, I don't know. But when the separate lives come together circa page 110, the book becomes unputdownable.

Unfortunately, those first 100 pages do make the book seem as though a series of short stories lacked resolution which was grafted on, or as though a novella had been padded into a novel. Still, if you're a fan of MacDonald or if you're wondering what a cynic would have thought of Florida development throughout the fifties, you'd find the book enjoyable. I'd read one of MacDonald's shopping lists if he were to characterize each item on it.

But this book probably only acted, for MacDonald, as a rough draft for Condominium. Thirty years earlier. Brother, if I am recycling my underread 2005 material, successfully, in 2035, I will consider myself a successful writer worthy of paladinage decades into the future.

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