Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Friday, December 22, 2006
Book Report: The Best from Fantasy and Science Fiction 14th Series edited by Avram Davidson (1965)
After reading Ancient, My Enemy, I was in the mood for some more science fiction short stories from the silver age of science fiction. This collection, apparently the 14th from the heydey of Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine (now back in print, apparently).

Okay, the book collects 17 short stories into 251 pages of reading, not counting the introduction that explains why it's all relevant. It's good enough short stories, and as I look over the titles, I can remember them after a week. Only one, "The House by the Crab Apple Tree" by S.S. Johnson, will stick with me at all.

Each story also includes what I suspect is the original intro bio bit from the magazine. It's interesting how many of the writers really were journeymen, dashing off short stories for a tolerable existence. A couple of them are remembered today, but most aren't. Probably only one or two of them made a really comfortable life of it. Such is the life of a real writer who has to do it for a living and not some dilettante writing short stories for fun. Today, those journeymen are working as business writers, copy writers, and technical writers, so their fame and recognition will be far more fleeting than the sales circulars and software manuals they're producing as their life's work.

Don't get me started on the life of backwater bloggers whose daily hit totals have dipped under 100 again.

Thanks for reading, and come back tomorrow for more Christmas cheer the MfBJN way!

Books mentioned in this review:

Not Like Herding Cats At All
Check showtimes near you for Yuri Kuklachev and his Moscow Cats Theatre:
    In the current Cats Theatre show, Kuklachev makes a hilarious initial entrance. Standing in a small, low wagon, he is pulled on stage by a cat walking on its hind legs. The production's lone dog, also on its hind legs, pushes the cart from the rear.

    When Kuklachev steps out of the wagon, the dog hops in and is pulled off stage by the kitty.
A 75 minute show of cats trained to do tricks. How can a culture that can train cats not dominate the world?

Friday Hooch Musings
Everyone has covered this study already:
    Moderate drinking may lengthen your life, while too much may shorten it, researchers from Italy report. Their conclusion is based on pooled data from 34 large studies involving more than 1 million people and 94,000 deaths.

    According to the data, drinking a moderate amount of alcohol β€” up to four drinks per day in men and two drinks per day in women β€” reduces the risk of death from any cause by roughly 18 percent, the team reports in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
I have consulted my own Personal Liquor consultant, who notes that drinking is like an IRA; if you didn't contribute when you were young, you can contribute more each year until you catch up. Which explains why I'm on the 12 a day program. To catch up for my toddler years.

Meanwhile, we have this story: Alcohol consumers turn to the good stuff:
    Indeed, the St. Louis area falls into the national trend of drinkers buying better.

    "It's happening across all retail channels," said Barbara Insel, managing director of MKF Research of St. Helena, Calif. "People have become more quality conscious."
One paid muser muses:
    Hagnauer theorized that the trend toward pricier alcohol might be linked to an increase in disposable income.

    "A lot of it is the economy, but people are becoming more educated, too" Hagnauer said.
If one were a conservative sort of fellow, one would want to start up with some sort of line of snark that begins with "Oh, the disappearing middle class with its stagnating wages are suddenly buying $20 bottles of wine every night instead of a $4 six pack of beer? Oh, really?

But I understand this really only means a quality-conscious consumer needs better liquor to dull the pain of a continued Bush administration and that the better education is no doubt product of the compassionately profligate No Budget Left Behind act.

Which leads me, circularly, to my sixth drink of the morning.

Thursday, December 21, 2006
That's No Subservient Chicken
It's not Microsoft Bob, either; it's Ms. Dewey, a Flash presentation wrapped around Microsoft's new search engine.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Coast Guard Backs Off Live Fire Exercises
I don't know what's more frightening about this story: Great Lakes live fire a no-go:
    Bowing to pressure from a wide-ranging group of critics, the U.S. Coast Guard on Monday backed off from plans to permanently conduct live fire exercises on the Great Lakes.
  • The Coast Guard holds live fire exercises and thought it would be fun to do so on waters heavily trafficked by civilians.

  • The Army hasn't publicly said it would not hold live fire exercises in American cities.

More Die Hard Analysis
Devoted reader Neil sends this link after debating the Top 5 Christmas Movies: Die Hard - The Greatest Christmas Movie Ever:
    Here it is, the single greatest Christmas movie of all time β€” no joke, no doubt, no question, it's Die Hard. And before any quibbling begins, can we agree, in general, that it’s a good movie? Seriously. Step back from the Christmas assertion for just a moment and consider the film as a whole. Die Hard is a classic.
I haven't read such insightful, stunning analysis since my last college literary criticism paper.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006
That Time Of Year: Annual Holiday Repost
Brian J. Noggle's Top 5 Christmas Movies:
  1. Die Hard
  2. Lethal Weapon
  3. Die Hard 2
  4. Gremlins
  5. Invasion USA
(Originally posted Christmas Eve 2003.)

A Lesser Thompson
Via The American Mind, we get this news: Thompson tests waters for presidential campaign:
    Tommy G. Thompson has formed a 2008 presidential exploratory committee and brought on political advisers in Iowa as he considers a possible run for the White House.

    Thompson, 65, a Republican, is the former governor of Wisconsin and U.S. Health and Human Services Department secretary. He was governor from 1987 to 2001, longer than anyone in state history, and led HHS during President Bush's first term, from 2001 to 2005. A lawyer and business consultant, Thompson has a hand in several private-sector pursuits, many in health care.
I'd vote for him, but I'm not sure I'd send him money or volunteer for him.

After all, he's not my ideal Thompson.

Monday, December 18, 2006
Missouri Courts Would Inch Marriage Closer To Actual Indentured Servitude
Apparently, a recent Missouri court decision has determined that it's your obligation, after a divorce, to maximize your income to fund your court-anointed financial duties:
    If you are well paid, a parent and living in Missouri, pay special attention to this column.

    That's because a recent ruling by the Missouri Court of Appeals seems to invite local courts to compel divorced parents to seek work anywhere in the world if doing so would maximize the payments they could make in support of their children and ex-spouses.

    In Payne v Payne, which originated in St. Louis County, the husband had been employed as an oil trader at the time of his divorce. Based on yearly earnings of $141,000, the court set child and spousal support payments totaling nearly $36,000 per year. Unfortunately for Mr. Payne, he lost his job shortly after his divorce.

    Four months later, the husband asked the court to reduce his support obligations, contending he had been unable to find a comparable job in his field in St. Louis or elsewhere, despite search efforts that reached across the nation and overseas. To support himself, he had started an antique business but was generating far less income than he had earned previously.
The courts decided that Mr. Payne had to continue working in his highly paid field, even if it meant relocating. The courts were going to dictate Mr. Payne's career and job choices, under the threat of jail time for contempt no doubt.

The lower court's decision was overturned on appeal, but still, this intervention of the courts on a citizen's career choice is galling and chilling. And frighteningly potentially prescient.

Sunday, December 17, 2006
Reflexively, St. Louisians Line Up To Shake Fists at AmerenUE
Thousands in dark after Northwest storm:
    Residents of the Pacific Northwest struggled to stay warm Saturday after the worst windstorm in more than a decade knocked out power to more than 1.5 million homes and businesses and killed at least six people.

    More than 600,000 customers in Washington and Oregon still had no power Saturday, and utilities said some might have to wait into next week for their lights to go back on.
Me, I blame those who have sought out the devil of electricity and who now are dependent upon its snug snake-like embrace for their own survival and happiness. Also, I curse the Tennessee Valley Authority some 70 years later for bringing power to those outlying areas that could not hold it through the slightest adversity.

Office Party Hint
If you can pronounce Schlafly, you ask the bartender for another one.

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