Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, June 06, 2009
Triumphs of Socialized Medicine
Doug Ross collects a list of triumphant headlines regarding socialized medicine in this post.

Remember, every dead citizen is cost savings in a government budget.

Thursday, June 04, 2009
Not The Best Spin
That Air France plane that crashed on its way from Rio to Paris? The authorities, meaning whomever the papers are quoting and not necessarily authoritative on anything, are quick to dismiss a terrorist bomb.

Authorities these days are quick to dismiss terrorism in any catastrophe for fear of fanning the flames of fear.

Instead, they're trying to soothe the public by saying the plane probably just fell apart in midair.

That doesn't exactly make me want to hop on a plane. Call me crazy, but call me a cab for my next trip across country.

Where Were You When Obama Changed The World?
I think Obama's speech on Muslimism given in the land where The Mummy was set will prove to be as fundamentally game-changing in the world as his paradigm-shifting speech on race was in the United States. It will be taught in textbooks and quoted by the citizens of the world by memory, just like school children now recite the verbal gems he deployed when distancing himself from that one guy.

As If Thousands of Technohipsters Suddenly Cried Out In Terror At Once And Were Suddenly Silenced
How do you like it, technohipsters? WaPo: DOJ preparing antitrust probe for Apple, among others:
    Apple, Google, Yahoo! and Genentech are subjects of a fresh antitrust investigation surrounding hiring and recruiting practices among companies in the tech industry, according to Washington Post staff writer Cecilia Kang.

    "By agreeing not to hire away top talent, the companies could be stifling competition and trying to maintain their market power unfairly," antitrust experts said in the article. Hiring and recruiting can sometimes be a touchy affair, as Apple found out late last year when trying to hire Mark Papermaster. The investigation may suggest some kind of written agreement among large tech firms to not hire away each other's top talent.
Your cherished icons are businesses, and your cherished administration has determined they are evil.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Elected Officials Fear Job Insecurity
Growing list of politicos find fault with term limits:
    Imagine Missouri's stately Capitol with a vacuum hose attached like a glove around its rounded dome.

    That's how House Speaker Ron Richard describes the effect of term limits on the General Assembly.

    "There's always a vacuum up here. There's always someone seeking power," Richard said. "If the legislative branch doesn't get it, forces outside the building might set policy."

    Over time, Richard said, lawmakers develop the institutional knowledge and personal fortitude to become powerful enough to stand up to the executive branch and the hordes of lobbyists who try to influence legislation. But when term limits force out elected officials before they get properly seasoned, he said, the vacuum sucks the power right out of the Capitol.

    The speaker's comments land him firmly on a growing bandwagon of Republicans and Democrats in the Show-Me State who have become disillusioned with Missouri's constitutionally mandated limits on the amount of time elected officials can serve in the House and the Senate.
Yeah, it sucks not ruling after you get the taste for it and having to go find a job in an economy like this.

You know who continues to approve of term limits? I do. It keeps individuals from becoming too powerful and keeps the ranks of lobbyists so full of former legislators that they, too, aren't as powerful.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Book Report: Your Money or Your Life by Neil Cavuto (2005)
I find Cavuto to be the most engaging of the Fox News hosts. He's pleasant, polite, and assertive, and he always looks as though he believes that his guests are full of crap. In many cases they are.

This book collects, in written form, some short pieces of comment he used on his television programs in the late nineties and the early part of this century. He offers a couple paragraphs on dot-coms, on the Fed, various recessions we've passed through in the last decade, the Iraq War, Congress, and so on and so forth. In the Brave New World, they remind us of the time Before, the time of prosperity and opportunity. I can't imagine a collection from 2008 through 2018 would look like. If it would be allowed to be printed.

That said, it's only an okay book. The topics are handled with empathy and whatnot, but given that they're based on thirty second comments at the end of a newscast, you don't get really deeply into a topic. Since they say a lot of the same things, the book is also a bit repetitive since a collection from a decade or so is going to cover the same thing the same way sometimes. If you're going to read the book, break it up by reading a chapter a night or such. Maybe that's how normal readers do things instead of reading for hours at a sitting.

I'm a bit saddened that I don't get to see his program more often, but I'm busy afternoons and the guy isn't taking an afternoon bottle these days.

Books mentioned in this review:

Monday, June 01, 2009
Book Report: The Father Hunt by Rex Stout (1968)
Rex Stout falls, in the Brian J. Noggle Pantheon of Crime Fiction, into the second tier of demigods. The Nero Wolfe books more closely resemble the Watson/Holmes school than hardboiled PIs, but they feature pretty punchy writing and the first person narrative style popularized by the pulps. I've read a number, and I like them well enough, but they're not Ross MacDonald or Raymond Chandler books.

In this book, a woman comes to Archie Goodwin, Wolfe's assistant, and wants the duo to find out who her father is. She was raised by a frugal and detached mother, and when the mother dies, she leaves her daughter a quarter of a million dollars "from her father."

Wolfe and Goodwin find the trail leads through a wealthy, unliked family and might well solve the hit-and-run death of the mother.

It's okay reading, but not MacDonald.

Books mentioned in this review:

The Villiage Takes The Child To Raise It
'They stole my little girl,' says mother judged too stupid to care for her baby:
    A young mother who was judged too stupid to care for her own baby has accused social workers of 'stealing' the child from her.

    The woman, who must be identified only as Rachel for legal reasons, is taking her case to the European Court of Human Rights in a last ditch attempt to halt the adoption of the child, now aged three.

    She has told the Mail that she was bitterly unhappy with her treatment at the hands of social workers at Nottingham City Council.

    Her daughter, referred to only as K, was born three months prematurely with severe medical complications. Officials felt the first-time mother lacked the intelligence to cope with the child and care for her in safety.

    K was eventually discharged from hospital and given to a foster family.

    But although her health has now improved to the point where she needs little or no day-to-day care, the child is due to be handed to adoptive parents within three months.

    Rachel will then be barred from further contact.

    The adoption is going ahead despite a recent psychiatrist's report which declared that the 24-year-old has 'good literacy and numeracy and that her general intellectual abilities appear to be within the normal range'.

    It said the unemployed former cleaner had no previous history of learning disability or mental illness.

Sunday, May 31, 2009
Good Book Hunting Late April-May 2009
I've fallen down on showing the oozing sores of my sickness, incessant and sometimes indiscriminate book acquisition. Maybe you thought that the state of the world has left me too depressed to go buy cheap books. Au contraire. Here are the results from four book fairs we've attended recently.

We went to a church in Lafayette Square, and it was bag day or pay a donation day or something. Regardless, we got a few:

Book fair at the church at Lafayette Park
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Some highlights include:
  • Several old Macintosh and Commodore 64 computer books.

  • Elements of Style, a copy to give someone.

  • Several eastern nation history books.

  • Two books I saw yesterday and almost bought: For the Love of Benji and Everyone Else Must Fail.
  • The novelization of the movie Krull.

  • A Philip K. Dick book, Our Friends from Frolix 8.

  • Allan Quatermain.

  • The Freddie Prinze Story. I think I'm volunteering to keep his memory alive. His son is on his own.
Total books bought: 60

Then, we went to the Kirkwood Book Fair and I got this:
Kirkwood book fair 2009
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  • A book of Currier and Ives prints.

  • Supercarrier, the novelization of the television series or the book the television series was based on.

  • A copy of The Lonely Ocean. This is the first instance of this book you'll see here because unlike For the Love of Benji and Everyone Else Must Fail, I could not resist.

  • Ira Levin's The Stepford Wives and Rosemary's Baby. If I had seen them separately, I wouldn't have bought them, but they were right next to each other. Does that make sense? That's a rhetorical question.

  • Democracy in America.

  • A copy of The Octogonal Heart, a story about living in a local house.

Total books bought: 60 again.

I cannot recollect where this next book fair was. But I gots some books.

Where was I?
Click for full size

  • Another gifting copy of The Elements of Style.

  • One Knee Equals Two Feet, a book about football by John Madden.

  • Life in the Age of Charlemagne. Sure, he was French, but he was the Magne.

  • Two books by Leon Uris, Trinity and Mila 18 because my mother-in-law asks me every couple of months if I've read anything by him. In a couple years, I will have.

  • A bound copy of the Constitution. Before it becomes contraband.

  • Teddy Bare, an old indictment of Teddy Kennedy. Came out right after Chappaquiddick.

Total books: 32

Then, yesterday, we went to the St. Charles Book Fair. I bought:
St. Charles Book Fair 2009
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Goodness. Highlights:

  • A pile of paperback novelizations and novel sources for films, including Outland, The Taking of Pellham 1 2 3, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Meatballs, and others.

  • A series by Jack Chalker. If they had them all, I said, I'd buy them. And I did. Which series? Hell if I know. I've shelved them and won't find them for a decade now.

  • A couple of Classics Club books that I did not already have, honey. Give me some credit. Even for a happy accident such as this.

  • A Patrick O'Brian Master and Commander novel, The Ionian Mission. Seeing it made me slow down looking for others, but all I found was the first novel with Russell Crowe's face on it.

  • Past Imperfect, a book about the study of history. I had also seen the Joan Collins autobiography of the same name, and when I unpacked the boxes at home, I feared in my bookzerker frenzy I'd bought the Collins book. Even I cannot explain why it happens, but I recognize it would not have been outside the realm of possibility that I'd bought it.

  • A single volume of three Heinlein novels. I was looking specifically for Heinlein novels, and I found some. And some others that were not Heinlein.

  • Star Trek Memories and Star Trek Movie Memories by Shatner. Because they had both near each other, like the Ira Levin books mentioned previously.

  • The Hungry Ocean, again. The next time I look tempted, someone tell me I already own all of Linda Greenlaw's books.

  • A Ross MacDonald book, The Goodbye Look.

  • Two Walter Mosley books.

  • Two Sandford novels I didn't recognize. That doesn't mean that I didn't read them and that I don't own them. It just means that I didn't recognize the ritualistic killing depicted on the jacket flaps.

  • A hardback copy of I'm No Hero to replace a paperback I'd bought previously.

  • A two record set of Shirley Bassey's greatest hits. I blame Mark Steyn and the old Red 104.1.
Total books bought in the two hours: 91. And some calories burned lugging books.

Total bought for the month: 243. Or, to put it in perspective, 2 years and a couple months' worth of reading.

Book Report: Black Money by Ross MacDonald (1961)
When it comes down to it, of all the authors in the classical hardboiled canon, I will have read and reread Ross MacDonald's Lew Archer novels the most. This comes because of an intersection of the availability of MacDonald's work, mostly in Book Club Format, at book fairs coupled with my desire to reread the books (and only reading the books on my to-read shelves, natch). You cannot find many Chandler books out there, for example, so I don't tend to pick them up on impulse and put them on my to-read shelves. As you know, I got lucky last year and re-read The Long Goodbye.

As you might know if you've paid attention lo these six plus years, I grew up reading the hardboiled fiction, and when I revisit it, I am struck anew again about how I prefer them to the modern crime genre like Sandford or (shudder) Pearson. The writing is punchier, and although the plots are convoluted, you get the sense throughout that the private eye is making progress throughout the book. It seems a lot of modern stuff involves some thrashing around, trying to provoke the bad guy, and then a sudden revelation at the climax.

In this book, Archer is hired to investigate the man who stole a rich young man's fiance. The thief, purportedly a French nobleman in exile from the De Gaulle regime, isn't who he says he is. The resulting unraveling touches on mobsters, infidelity, and murder in the enclave of an upper class California town.

Definitely recommended. I'll probably read this again someday when I find it for a buck again.

Books mentioned in this review:

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