Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, September 02, 2006
I Feel Secure
I don't know which makes me feel better in this story.

That the pilot locked himself out of the cockpit:
    An Air Canada Jazz pilot who left the cockpit of his passenger jet to use a back washroom moments before landing found himself locked out upon his return, an airline official told AFP.
Or that he could get back into the locked cockpit:
    The pilot eventually busted into the cockpit and safely landed the Bombardier CRJ-100, but not before alarming some 50 passengers who watched him bang on the door and talk frantically with the cockpit through an onboard telephone for several minutes, according to local reports.
I think Big Oil set this all up to make people drive more.

Spot the Straw Man
Sylvester Brown, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, writes in a cites a couple of things in the column entitled Blaming blacks is popular with some, but it's perilously naive:
    A few weeks ago, an NPR "Morning Edition" segment featured interviews with Emmy Award-winning correspondent and author Juan Williams and writer John McWhorter. Black leaders "excuse crime and poverty," said McWhorter, while Williams chided leaders who embrace the "notion of victimhood."
    In his commentary last week, New York Times columnist Bob Herbert described the "indications of a culture of failure . . . boys saying it's a 'rite of passage' to go to jail . . . or kids telling other kids that if they're trying to do well in school, they're trying to 'act better than me' or 'trying to act white.'"
But watch the subtle shift to the straw man:
    This diatribe - that the black man is inherently flawed, violent and savage - is older than the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria. Heck, a twisted interpretation of Noah's curse on the dark-skinned descendants of his son, Ham, offered biblical rationale for dark servitude.
Brown cites his opponents who chastise individuals (leaders and boys) and a man-made, man-maintained, and (to some extent) man-chosen construct (culture) and then promptly attributes to them to an unchosen and uncontrollable factor (race). In doing so, Brown not only mischaracterizes his opponents' views, but also strips the people whom his opponents criticize for the behavior the opponents criticize.

Well-played, sir! Illogical and, if intentional, duplicitous.

Simple Reflex
If they're against it, I'm for it: Lawyers don't recommend retention of 2 county judges.

They probably have good reasons, but why humor lawyers?

I Haven't Mocked The Metro In A While, So.....
I absquatulated from an informational stand outside the Convention Center Metrolink stop with this $3.00 Metro Guide for Fall 2006. Here it is:

Metro Guide 2006

I cannot believe they put a cover guide on these things. I mean, who would pay $3.00 for these? Since it's the Fall 2006 edition, I can only imagine that you can actually get a subscription, with quarterly editions mailed to your home every season.

But, nah, they've probably got the price and edition date on the cover to skirt some postal regulation regarding the cost of mailing them as periodicals. As a result, we can dwell in the delicious absurdity of a local government organization gaming the regulations of a federal government organization, but that's just good government practice ca. 2006.

For starters, that's a sweet new logo and whatnot....when did Bi-State get a new branding as Metro? It must have happened while I wasn't paying attention or mockery, because I just lost an argument about what the big M stood for. I guess by calling the mass transit system as "Metro," Bi-State has hoped to conflate itself with its more useful counterparts in real cities. One has to wonder how many quarters of its regular losses this image recreation effort would have funded. Never mind the fiscal responsibility, there's unlimited slush in the pockets of the taxpayers.

I have to wonder about the models on this cover, frankly. I really hope they're stock shots of some sort or another, because I've never seen anyone that excited about riding mass transit. How professional can these models if they actually worked specifically on this project. What did the photographer to say to inspire that reaction? "Imagine your train is on time! Yeah, baby, that's it, and there's a seat in it....and the seat is not wet with some unknown but too-imaginable fluid! Go with it!"

Even with a paycheck at the end of the day to fantasize about, that's some amount of excitement. But in all of the print modeling and commercial acting work, my paychecks haven't been that much anyway, so perhaps I need to get another agent. Or any agent.

Then I recognized how this cover really does capture the zeitgeist of mass transit ridership:
  • The gentleman on the left isn't dancing with joy--he's using kung fu on would-be muggers.

  • The woman second from the left has finally reached that point where she's decided, after a particularly harsh breakup with the Clayton attorney she's lived with for two and a half years and for whom she endured an abortion, to end it all; how serene she appears when leaping in front of the Eastbound train.

  • The center woman, an obvious amputee, is happy to have survived the derailment and to have settled out of court with Metro.

  • The two figures on the right; they're falling forward, arms splayed out and in a grimace of pain as though they've been shot in the back by unknown assailants while trying to flee.
Aside from that, the one message I take from this cover recognizes the diversity. We have:
  • A black man.
  • A white woman.
  • A hispanic woman.
  • A black woman.
  • An Asian gentleman.
I get it.

White men are not welcome on the Metrolink

Friday, September 01, 2006
Bush's Secret War on Oldest People
Can it be a coincidence that so many centenarians and super-centenarians died in the months leading up to the 2006 midterm elections?

It's obviously a Bush plot. I mean, some would say that it's statistically probable that really old people will die, but that's just the insidious cloak in which the Bush cadre cloaks its nefarious activities.

No, these people were killed, many with a special strain of pneumonia that appears to only be a case of pneumonia and not a deadly bacterial agent. Look at the list and note the reasons why they had to die:
  • Many of these Americans over 100 years old were, well, senior citizens, and senior citizens tend to vote Democrat.

  • The Bush administration has often been at odds with the Mugabe government and wanted to send a message.

  • The Bush administration has often been at odds with the French government and wanted to send a message.

  • The Bush administration is displeased with the amount of money that the American trial lawyers are spending in support of Democrat candidates as payback for attempts at tort reform. Of course, it wanted to send a message.

  • The British woman was an innocent killed to make it look like the deaths of the others were "normal."
You think I am mad? Listen to how carefully they planned it out!

After Hunter, He Just Got Mean
Dryer likely sparked deadly Carlinville explosion

Thursday, August 31, 2006
Very Popular in Shrewsbury
Got a banned dog breed? Disguise it as a poodle.

(Link seen on The Agitator.)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Book Report: Shopgirl by Steve Martin (2000)
I bought this book for like a buck at the Jewish Community Center book fair this year, fully conscious that I risked my life to help fund the organization and to add to my library. Sad, I know, but in this modern world, I did note the dangers of being near a Jewish center. If I hadn't gone, the terrorists would have won. Also, I would not have gotten a good deal on some books I have been meaning to buy.

This book, though, doesn't fall into the class of books I've been meaning to buy, but I bought it never the less. I've been intrigued by Steve Martin's writing forays, in a "if they fall into my lap" sort of way, for some time. I liked Bowfinger, which Martin wrote. I've heard good things about L.A. Story, which Martin also wrote. I dragged my poor wife to see a local community theatre production of Picasso at the Lapin Agile (Crikey, soon to be a major motion picture). I'd heard about Martin's work for The New Yorker. So I wanted to read something on my own. Okay, I probably had read somewhere about the movie version of this film, too. So I bought it. I spent like a buck, okay?

This novella (130 pages) describes a glove department salesperson and her involvement with an older, rich computer guy and how they define intimacy and how it helps them both along in the long run. To make a short book shorter, there you go.

The story is presented entirely in the present tense but for some future tense foreshadowing. The tense choice isn't particularly jarring, however, to those of us used to past tense whether in third person or first person. I thought the first portion of the book interesting, as the characters develop in their (purposefully limited) fashion. However, when the relationship progressed, it got a little wearing (but not for long--this ain't Tolstoy). Finally, the end and the resolution seems a bit forced and chopped. Perhaps this would have made a better short story with less, a better novel with more. Or maybe it's a good prose screenplay--I'll have to catch the film version sometime later to compare (probably after Sharky's Machine).

Still, it's not a bad work if you can get it cheap. If you cannot and want to see what this wild and crazy guy writes like, click the helpful link below. You, gentle reader, have the ability to put MfBJN over the check-cutting threshold from the Amazon Associates program sometime before never.

Books mentioned in this review:

We're Just CB Radio in Web Browsers Redux
Lieberman, ‘Snakes' and the seductive mythology of the blogosphere:
    If ever America needed a wake-up call about the mythology of blogging, we got it this month.

    On Aug. 8, Connecticut businessman Ned Lamont defeated U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary, a triumph widely credited to the rah-rah racket produced by pro-Lamont armies stationed along the Internet.

    Indeed, the bloggers had scored big. They had helped vault a local politician to national prominence and cemented the Iraq war as Issue No. 1 in the congressional elections. Not a bad day.

    But their victory was short-lived. Even before the primary, Lieberman announced that, should he lose, he'd still run in November as an independent. This electoral chutzpah effectively rope-a-doped the bloggers and recharged the senator's fabled Joe-mentum. Lieberman's still the man to beat in the general election.

    If this wasn't enough to drain the effervescence from the blogger bubbly, America's noisy Web wags were dealt an even more sobering blow 10 days later when Snakes on a Plane opened nationwide to a decidedly flat $15.3 million box office.

    Before its premiere, Snakes had been the latest blogger darling, as swarms of online film geeks prematurely crowned it the summer's big sleeper. This hyperventilating fan base even convinced Snakes' distributor, New Line Cinema, to up the movie's rating to R, to ensure a gorier, more venomous snake fest.

    But all that clapping and yapping couldn't put enough fannies in the seats. Ticket sales for Snakes' debut barely topped those of Talladega Nights, which was already in its third week.
I've said it before and I'll say it until I'm proven otherwise: blogs are CB radio with permalinks.

And we know how much CB changed the face of citizen media in the 1970s. It spawned a number of books, three Smokey and the Bandit movies, and Convoy. Some of its slang lives on, but you don't see many cars with the antennae on their roofs any more, do you?

Informal Caucus Recommends Republican Nominee
Here in Missouri, we convened the informal Republican caucus that occurs during the family reunion, usually after the barbecued dinner, when the fat cat elder statesmen of the family and I gather in the living room of my uncle's home and commune in the warmth of similar opinions. Although we tend to all lean Republican, we espouse different basic philosophies. But over barbecue, turkey, or ham, we come together to share brief commentary on the sad state of the world and those darn liberals.

Cousin Tat, a doctor, represents a seemingly evangelical bent, almost a liberation theology knowledge of scriptures combined with personal belief translated to action. He's concerned about the environment, the corrupting effect of money in politics, and promoting alternative and holistic medicines and treatments. Still, he doesn't believe the media is telling the truth, and he tends to deplore the Democrats more than the Republicans.

Uncle Jim, a realtor, comes from the socially and fiscally conservative milieu. He attends church every Sunday, sits on the boards of several charitable organizations, and participates in the local Republican party extensively.

Uncle Mike, an information technology professional, uses Clinton as an invective, trends isolationist on foreign policy, and thinks the federal government spends too much money.

Me, I'm a libertarian-conservative who votes futilely for the Libertarian candidate when I'm upset with the Republican incumbent or just to burnish my independence. I think the best government balance would be a Libertarian legislature passing few laws and a Republican administration rigorously enforcing them.

So we gathered in the tastefully-appointed living room, let our belts out, and looked beyond the 2006 elections toward the 2008 presidential election. After deriding the Bush administration for its immigration policy and the wildly out-of-control spending afforded us by the “winning” combination of a Republican president and a Republican legislature seeking to be compassionately conservative, but mostly re-elected.

Uncle Jim lamented the lack of an obvious candidate. John McCain won't do, we agreed. Besides, Uncle Jim—or maybe it was Tat—said, he knew some people who'd heard from someone in another legislator's office that McCain was a real hothead. Not to mention the McCain-Feingold Act. Come to think of it, I didn't mention it, but it's why I'll not vote for McCain again, even though I contributed in 2000.

What about Guiliani? I said.

The social conservatives won't come out and vote for him, Uncle Jim said.

They'll come out to vote against Hillary, I said.

No way. My uncle sounded like he was already penciling in other plans for the first Tuesday in November.

He'll prosecute the war on terror, I said.

Even though Uncle Mike doesn't think that the United States should be the world's policeman, he was for Guiliani. But Uncle Jim insisted that the social conservatives wouldn't vote for Giuliani.

I flipped through my brain's pages for the lists of contenders to whom the blogosphere and the newspapers are paying early attention. George Allen came to mind. But I didn't want to explain to them who he was. Matt Blunt will be old enough, I said. The Missouri Governor will turn 35 by the election, and I had once run a small-time blog called Draft Matt Blunt 2008.

Perhaps his dad could pull a few strings, Uncle Jim said, but the rest of the group didn't think Blunt had a chance. I mentioned that in 1992, an unknown governor from Arkansas had come out of nowhere to win the presidency, but ultimately, we knew that Matt Blunt wasn't the man around whom we and the party could rally.

I thought about strong, effective, charismatic executives who were born in this country and whom the nation recognized and respected. Probably not Missourian John Ashcroft, whose name has become synonymous with overreaching government authority and covering statues' breasts. I remembered Tommy Thompson, former governor of Wisconsin. They still like him well enough in Wisconsin, a state that tilted Democrat last time. He also served in the cabinet in the Bush Administration, but not in a department anyone pays much attention to. Then, I thought, that's the wrong Thompson.

Fred Thompson, I said.

He was going to nail Clinton until John Glenn traded all his respect for a ride in space, Uncle Mike said.

You know, everything that comes out of his mouth is common sense, Uncle Jim said. I've heard a rumor that he is going to replace Paul Harvey.

He's got a good voice and he's recognized, I said. He plays a lot of good guy roles.

Who's Fred Thompson? Cousin Tat said. After an explanation that the man was an actor and a former senator, Tat still couldn't place him. However, Uncle Mike drew the Ronald Reagan comparison.

So there you have it, men in power in the party: 75% of the caucus in that large suburban home in the middle of the country approved of Fred Thompson for president, and the other 25% hadn't heard of him. He will be recognized by much of the voting public, has bona fide conservative credentials, and has gravitas (but that's so 2000).

Fred Dalton Thompson is an experienced legislator, but not one who held office long enough to feel its corruption. He left office of his own accord to pursue a lucrative career that doesn't require schmoozing current legislators or offering them campaign contributions or kickbacks. He offered a stern, strong voice of national defense when he narrated the Citizens United ad about terrorism and Iraq. So if he wants to take a pay cut from network television and movies, he should be our man in 2008. He unites the party, or at least our small portion of it, like no one else does.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Ask Dr. Creepy: I Need Some Boss Wheels On A Budget
Dr. Creepy Dear Doctor Creepy,
I am finally on my own since I have my mother's basement all to myself! I've finally paid my student loans from three semesters of community college with the wages I made at the mall's Sunglass Hut and then the mall's theatre after the Sunglass Hut manager fired me because nobody would stop at the shop when I was on duty. Now, I've put some money into my "savings account"--a hollowed-out Strawberry Shortcake on my nightstand, and I'm thinking about what kind of car I could get to replace my Schwinn. I've looked at some of the cars with For Sale signs on them in my neighborhood. I've seen a 1986 Chevrolet Cavalier sedan in grey that I can afford and a 1986 red(ish) Nissan Pulsar.

Now, I've never been very lucky with the ladies, and I'm hoping to snare one for a long-term relationship. My question is, what should I look for in a set of boss wheels? Something sporty, or something traditional to indicate that I am a dependable mate, at least until curfew?

2 Wheels, 4 Eyes

Dear 2 Wheels, 4 Eyes,
You're on the right track with your lingo, son. Although kids of today would refer to a pimpin' ride or something similar, remember, to achieve the zen of creepy, you need to remain slightly asynchronous with your fellow man. Boss wheels works.

Dr. Creepy remembers the days of limited budgets, but only barely, since I'm a doctor now. However, I suggest an alternate to the vehicles you suggest. To really impress a woman, you need a grey cargo van.

I fondly remember the Ford Econoline I drove. It was a former business vehicle, with no windows and side-lettering painted over in a mismatched color of paint. When I drove that truck, I felt my masculinty coursing through me with every chunk-chunk-chunk of the bad bearings in the right front wheel. That sound drew attention, and the people were looking at me.

I customized some of the van myself; I put the "If the van's rockin'" bumper sticker on the rear bumper and replaced the passenger side mirror with the passenger side mirror from an old Ford Fairlane. I hitched the fuel tank up with a chain and a nut and bolt. Although I didn't have to do it with mine, I'd recommend spray painting the windows in the back of the van for privacy. Perhaps a couple of moving blankets for private time. That sort of initiative shows a woman that you're handy.

Yes, friend, you can take the Jaguars and you can take the Porsches of the world, but a woman takes note when you slow down in a grey cargo van to check her out. Who is that man, she wonders. Or the tingle of excitement a woman feels when she comes out of work at night and sees that van in the parking lot. Is he waiting for me? she asks herself, and her breathing quickens.

Would any mere BMW do that for a woman? I think not.

Plus, you can haul your G.I. Joe collection, weight bench, and bed when your mom throws you out.

Dr. Creepy

It Could Be Nothing
Up to 14 hurt in SF hit-and-run spree:
    As many as 14 people were injured this afternoon by a motorist who drove around San Francisco running them down before he was arrested, authorities said.
But it could be something:
    Authorities have identified the man who was arrested as Omeed Aziz Popal, who has addresses in Ceres (Stanislaus County) and Fremont.
I'm certainly sensitive to the possibility.

Monday, August 28, 2006
On the Bright Side
Hey, it looks as though the Packers are improving on their open field tackles.

Sunday, August 27, 2006
Book Report: The Golden Gate by Alistair MacLean (1976)
I bought this book for a quarter at the Bridgeton Trails Branch of the St. Louis County library. Because, I guess, I'm frugal and wanted to save the seventy-five cents extra it would have cost me for a non-former library copy of this book at a book fair somewhere. No, more likely, I saw it and knew that I didn't have it, and I wanted it now, which was then.

As you know, I'm revisiting my Alistair MacLean fixation from high school (I read Partisans, Caravan to Vaccares, and Floodgate last year, as you remember, gentle reader).

Like Floodgate, this book ventures from MacLean's strongest topic matter, World War II and early Cold War espionage. In this book, a band of criminals hijack the motorcade of the President and a couple oil sheiks as it crosses the Golden Gate Bridge. There, the criminals hold the hostages for ransom, but they have to deal with an FBI agent in their midst.

The book is written in the typical MacLean potboiler fashion, with characters reminiscient of others in his line. The plot is novel and preposterous, but one expects some of that from MacLean. Some of the scenes and technical descriptions within the book--more the depictions of technical details--let us know that the author has carefully considered and choreographed what he's talking about, but the prose doesn't bring it to life. Fortunately, as with Clancy, one kind of skims these to get to the action.

So the book is an acceptable piece of the genre work, but more importantly, it solves a discussing I had with a (foreign national) co-worker (who left Oklahoma City in late 1995) about how easy it would be to damage the Golden Gate bridge in a terrorist attack. I was right that an attack on the road surface or the towers themselves would probably be ineffectual, but we didn't consider the effectiveness of attacking the suspension cables themselves. Probably because we're not engineers, we're not committed terrorists, and we were only killing time with spurious talk while watching the smokers gather on the sidewalk outside the entrance to the building across the street.

Never the less, this anecdote should at least illustrate the depth and the breadth of the Noggle Library. Odds are, I probably have a book about it, no matter what it is.

Books mentioned in this review:


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