Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Book Report: Ernest Hemingway by Philip Young (1959, 1961)
This 1959 booklet (third printing in 1961) discusses Hemingway's work from a time when he was very contemporary and explores how Hemingway's prototypical hero evolved from the 1920s to the 1950s as Hemingway's life progressed. Weighing in at 40 pages total, it's a nice short refresher on Papa and almost makes me want to read The Sun Also Rises again. But that's already on my read shelves, and I have hundreds of unread books to read first.

Books mentioned in this review:

I Can't Wait For Joe Williams' Review
I watched 300 on Tuesday night. Before the movie, in the 25 minutes of previews/commercials preceding the movie, the trailer for an upcoming film called Pathfinder played.

Remember, friends, Joe Williams of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and others widely panned 300 as a jingoistic propoganda piece, and it was a stylized depiction of historical events.

Pathfinder, on the other hand, is the story of Viking raiders in historically inaccurate headgear who come to North America to pillage the native American villiages. They leave behind a child whom the natives spare and raise. When the Vikings return some years later, the child has grown up a killing machine, and he takes the Vikings on and looks like (according to the trailer) he beats the snot out of them.

So, thematically, we have a white man raised by savages--sorry, living-in-tune-with harmony oppressed victims--who goes onto slaughter his own kind for their imperialism. Based on actual events? No, a remake of a a 1987 movie. Except that the 1987 movie had different tribes of Scandinavia as the victims. They were changed to native Americans because that's one more easy button to push, no doubt. Fortunately, though, the new filmakers left the raiders as Vikings and didn't go whole hog and make them time-travelling Nazis or greedy businessmen. Subtlety.

I can't wait for the big media reviews to call this a bit of jingoism in favor of rebeling against one's forefathers' beliefs, violently. Since it's not an apostate being marked for death, it's rebellion against white bread America (well, Scandinavia, but white bread), I expect its potentially propogandaish themes will be overlooked.

Me, I probably won't see the film to judge its individual merits, but it doesn't look interesting enough for me. That's a matter of individual taste, though. Throw in a couple of mutants and maybe Adam Sandler, and I'd be there.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Book Report: Ringworld's Children by Larry Niven (2004)
As many of you know, I am something of a Larry Niven fan (other reports: N Space, Rainbow Mars). I read Ringworld in high school, and I was awed. I like the stories that start out with a sense of wonder (see also Alan Dean Foster's The Dig).

But this book is utlimately not that satisfying. Perhaps it's been too long since I've read The Ringworld Throne, but that's only fair, since it came out 16 years after the first sequel (The Ringworld Engineers, 1980). But this book isn't the best of the lot. The first parts of the story are paced okay as more exploration and learning goes on, but the pacing of the end is too rapid and jump cut to really hold my interest. It's a collage, nay, a kaleidoscope of scenes that end in a rapid denouement whose meaning is clear only when Louis Wu explains it and the magic of hastily conceived and underexplained science fix everything.

I can see why. The first part, Niven's introduction, explains how classes and scientists have been working the Ringworld over for almost 40 years and have prompted him to write the sequels to explain the inaccuracies plausibly. But that drive to explain everything is what eventually diminishes the impact of the original and why he rushes through this book and takes care of the Ringworld in such a fashion as he'll never have to write about it in Known Space again.

The book didn't end as badly as the Rama series did, though, so it's not dead to me.

Books mentioned in this review:


Guns Don't Kill People
St. Louis shootings wound 2, kill 1

If only we could get the shootings off of the city streets and into jail, St. Louis would be a far safer place.

An Appropriate Crime
Briefly, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch had the the crime in this story wrong:

Felony Theft and Tax Invasion
Click for full size

Now, if we could only get tax invasion really made into a crime for bureaucrats, we'd be getting somewhere.

Sunday, March 18, 2007
John Fund on Thompson
The Wall Street Journal's John Fund interviews Fred Thompson.

(Link seen on Instapundit.)

Jeez, man, set up an exploratory committee so I can start sending money and volunteering time instead of doing a cavalcade of backwater blog posts.

Scenes from the Front Line in Homeland Security (II)
So I walked down to the Old Trees Recreational Complex to get a residency card so I can save $1 on ice skating sessions at the rink and save $10 on continuing education programs if I ever needed to learn how to line dance with the elderly. But that $1 per session, over the course of a year where I will go once, will save me a total of $1.

So I arrived with my new driver's license because it has my new address and I thought that would be enough.

"Do you have a piece of mail with your current address on it?" the woman behind the counter said. "A utility bill?"

I looked through my wallet for anything else. I took out my Old Trees Library card.

"They don't make you show anything with your address on it," she said.

I don't normally carry with me my current outstanding personal invoices for commodity consumption, so I had to walk away empty-handed.

But rest assured, America; even though I had to prove my current address to get this driver's license with my Old Trees address upon it, that in and of itself was not enough to satisfy the demands of the vigilant public servant. We can all sleep easier knowing that it's harder to get an Old Trees ID than a driver's license, and that our ice arena and architecture tours are safe from terrorists who refuse to pay full price.

Charlie Brooker Sends Coded Message
In this column, he subtly hints at how he feels about competing computer technologies:
    I hate Macs. I have always hated Macs. I hate people who use Macs. I even hate people who don't use Macs but sometimes wish they did. Macs are glorified Fisher-Price activity centres for adults; computers for scaredy cats too nervous to learn how proper computers work; computers for people who earnestly believe in feng shui.
No word on how many Linux adherents lost lunch money on the playground to Brooker immediately after publication of said article.

(Link seen on Outside the Beltway.)

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