Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, September 20, 2003
Splurging Glurge

MSNBC is running a story entitled "What $87 Billion Buys: Instead of a war in Iraq, here’s what America could be getting for its money". In this remarkable (as I am remarking on't, werd) piece (of something), the author puts together a list of bullet points that describe things the government could do with $87 billion dollars instead of spending it rebuilding Iraq. In between lists, he inserts some snarky quotes by grabby people who haven't quite gotten their hands full of your money on their pet projects yet.

Basically, Jonathan Darman, author of this Web Exclusive! says the United States Government could, and should, take that $87 billion dollars and:
  • Hire millions more bureaucrats which would then need $87 billion dollars plus cost of living adjustments every year from this day forward, or

  • Pour millions into the budgets of petty bureaucracies, who know they have to spend the money if they want to get it next year, which again means $87 billion dollars a year plus 8- or 10-percent annual increases forever.

The author of the piece obviously attended the remedial mathematical classes required to get a Poli-Sci degree along with our distinguished Congresspeople who have the motto if we have a dollar, we should rent something that costs a dollar a month forever.

(Link seen on Little Green Footballs.)

It's Called Synergy

At first it might look of accidental chocolate in the peanut butter, but I think Centene Corporation is onto something here. I mean, it's a fringe benefit to the employees that the Centene will take care of their children while the employees work, Centene reduces mail distribution costs by using child labor, and the children learn that life is drudgerous work punctuated by meals and cadaverous sleep to almost refresh one's self for another day of futile, Sisyphean endeavours. No matter how much mail you sort for distribution, the mailman postal carrier's going to bring more tomorrow.


Friday, September 19, 2003
Book Review: Britain's Kings and Queens: 63 Reigns in 1100 Years
by Sir George Bellew, K.C.V.O.

Well, friends, I have stooped to a new low, lower than the previous new low and probably not quite as low as what I shall attain tomorrow, but nevertheless, I am going to review a schnucking pamphlet for you today. The title of the pamphlet is Britain's Kings and Queens: 63 Reigns in 1100 Years by Sir George Bellew, K.C.V.O. It's a pamphlet because it's 32 pages long, and I snuck it into my reading as a nonfiction entry while I slog through Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky in an omnibus paperback that includes two other short-but-tedious Russian novels (although they beat the regular-sized-but-tedious Russian novels). So pity me whatever affliction I have that drives me to read Dostoyevsky without an impending final, and just hear what I have to say about the short book I did read.

The edition I read, in its unknown softcover binding, was published in 1968, 15 years after Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne, but the whole thing's an explication of the line of royalty in Britain, who they were, and why Liz II was going to be a great ruler.

All right, I shouldn't go dumping royalty in the harbor with the tea, but the tone of the book is adulatory. It seeks to connect Elizabeth II with her ancestors and to shine a light on, or perhaps reflect the monarch's own light, upon the history that legitimized the monarch.

After a brief forward, the book goes into brief capsules of monarchs starting with Egbert and on through the Saxon kings, William the Conqueror, the Tudors, the Stuarts, and on and on. Each monarch gets a couple of paragraphs, more if they're remembered fondly.

They have to be brief. After all, only the even pages contain the biographies. The odd pages contain asides, photographs of Elizabeth II's coronation, royal portraits, and other sundry trivia. You've heard the expression The Crown Jewels, haven't you? Well, I know all four pieces of the regalia because they're listed on page 7. I won't mention them here because it will ruin the impact when I suddenly uncork that bit of trivia in a conversation.

So it's not a bad little treatise. For its size, it makes a handy reference guide for those who might someday write something about a monarch. Hey, Shakespeare wrote his body of plays with a similar, albeit more fleshed out, history. So if you can nab one of those two dollar copies on an auction site, it might be worth it for you.

It'll be more than worth it if you can correct me at some future date about the order of English monarchs or the dates of their reigns.

Thursday, September 18, 2003
Fad? It's a Life Style!

This evening, I proved my contemporary nature to impress my wife by participating in a faddish flash mob.

Tonight, at 5:24 pm, I joined a group of strangers whom I have never met before, and we came together on Interstate 270 just north of Dougherty Ferry Road in St. Louis County, and together we stopped our cars for no reason and sat there listening to the radio.

After two minutes of immobility, for no reason whatsoever, we started driving again.

I am hep, dig?

First One's Kinda Bad, But The Rest Taste Better

Electric Venom's got a post on caffeinated sausages in Germany. To sum up:
    But "How does it taste?" you ask?

    Dude, it keeps you awake longer so you can have more beer. Does it matter how it tastes?
But it's more German beer.

Tonight I am drinking Peroni, whose very literature reminds us that it's beer made by American ally. Werd. And you know, after a couple, they don't taste too bad.

Gratuitous Linking Is Not Working

Undoubtedly, some of you have noticed how I have often linked, often gratuitously, to Instapundit in my posts. For no apparent reason, some posts include the URL in them.

I admit I was trying to use you, dear reader, in my own foolish drive for recognition, or at least a perfunctory glance from Professor Reynolds. You see, I hoped you might see that link and click it, which would put my own URL briefly in the referrer logs at Instapundit.

If enough you visited that site, perhaps He would see my URL in the referrer logs and would pop by. Maybe He would link to me, or maybe The Professor and I would become fast friends. Maybe He would let me drive his Mazda, and I would let him play Arkanoid.

But my ruse has become transparent to you, discriminating reader, for the frequency of links to Instapundit are almost as frequent as links to Amazon, Internet Movie Database, and my beautiful wife. I won't bother you any more with the gratuitous links to Instapundit anymore, because I know you'll see through them, and I don't want to lose any more of your respect.

Besides, I realize that those of you who frequent blogs have already read Instapundit before you show up here.

However, I hope you will forgive me if I link to something The Professor says, perhaps excerpted and followed by a simple "Heh." or "Indeed." Please understand this is not gratuitous linking or even pale imitating, but rather homage and fair use.

Thank you.

Were I not so discouraged, I would try to follow some of Wizbang's advice for triggering an Instalanche. But I am too discouraged.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003
Thank You, There In The Middle Row

Hey, thanks for the link, Jared of Strategic Intelligence, a clearinghouse for his conservative Christian viewpoint, some significant silliness, and serious discussions of a militarily strategic nature.

Are you higher in the blogosystem than me? If you are, I don't know if I want to talk to you. I'm pretty petty, you know.

Another Chapter of QA Wars: Episode IV: Uh, No Hope

With an ominous chunk!, the code freeze slowly began to creep forward.

You can see the first chapter here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003
Short Storium, er, Storia

Michael Williams at Master of None announces the first ever Spherewide Short Story Symposium (with an exclamation point, no less).

I have submitted my entry, "To a Good Home".

Man, I hope I win some of those exciting cash prizes.

Monday, September 15, 2003
Companies Debate No Gun Policies in St. Louis

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is so excited that it's left a puddle on the floor as it reports that:
    "No Firearms" signs at many workplaces and businesses open to the public may be the first outward indication that Missouri has joined the states that allow residents to carry concealed weapons.
Gramercy, that will comfort the goblins. Businesses to rob and assurances of safety to ensure that if you're a nutbar with a grudge, you can splatter as many co-workers as you want before the police arrive. You know, the guys with guns to stop you.

I Just Cannot Read Harper's Any More

Okay, I am done trying. I have had it at last with Harper's magazine, and the remainder of my subscription is going straight from the mailbox to the recycle bin.

I tried so very hard to read the August 2003 issue while I was at the gym the other night, but I couldn't get more than a few paragraphs into anything, and I didn't try hard, frankly.

Here's what I read:
  • In the "Letters" section, Iain Murray writes a letter to respond to a snarky piece in a previous Harper's which I have never read and never will, now. Apparently, the author of the piece savaged the fact that the Competitive Enterprise Institute impugned the science of the National Assessment on Climate Change, using properly-crafted insinuations and ad homenims. Iain's letter points out that the National Assessment is widely debunked by real scientists. Since the author of the piece gets a chance to get in the final snark, Bryant Urstadt responds to a scientific rebuttal with....Manhattan ad homenims and insinuations.

  • Lewis Lapham, in his monthly column "Notebook", titles his rant "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and it begins:

      During the eight months prior to the invasion of Iraq, the American news media were content to believe the government's fairy tale about its reasons for sending the tanks eastward into Eden. The Bush Administration's buncombe artists could tell any story they pleased about Western civilization being held for ransom by Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, and even when the plot lines were shown to depend upon suborned testimony and counterfeit intelligence, the media vouched for the wisdom of Oz. Why not? What was to be gained by casting doubts? The fairy tale sold newspapers, boosted television ratings, curried favor at the White House and the FCC, drummed up invitations from the Pentagon to attend the military costume party in the Persian Gulf.

    I am pretty sure he goes from there into the common missing trope about Bush lying, la la la. Whatever. Point of order, Mr. Editor. I am getting awfully tired of the misapplication of the term lie (or fairy tale) regarding the build up to war in Iraq.

    You want a lie? Here's one, Lewey: "I did not have sex with that woman, Miss Lewinsky." You see, the speaker is uttering something he absolutely knows is true because he has first, uh, hand knowledge of the reality. And he says the opposite. For his own benefit mind you, and thanks to shills around the world, he got benefits from the lie. I know you looked down upon the Arkansas governor, too, Lewey, because I could stomach your weary tone then. But others of your rarefied Manhattan ilk did.

    A little sex of which you have first gland hand knowledge is a little different from the decision to go to war. The decision, and the expression of that decision, is based on facts, assumptions, interpretations, intelligence, and guesses which might be true and gambles made on worst case scenarios. To say that George W. Bush lied, or made a myth or fairy tale, is to belittle the complicated nature of the decision and to say that George W. Bush had first hand knowledge that everything he said was absolutely, irreputably untrue. That's a hard case to prove unless you're omniscient. Oh, wait, some of these pinheads think they are.

    Also, Lapham, I hold you ultimately accountable for that condescension bomb called Nickel and Dimed: On Not Getting By in America. Cripes, I opened that thing and it blew its classist pitytoric all over, and I am still scraping Ehrenreich off the walls. Thank goodness I bought it in softcover, or the crapnel might have been the end of me.

  • Harper's Index always contains a few gems that make a point out of a contextless statistic. For example:

      Percentage of South Carolinians prosecuted under the state's "anti-lynching" law since 1998 who are black : 63

    Because, obviously, the law was intended to be marked Whites Only, and blacks cannot do whatever the law prohibits to whites or each other.

  • Finally, to the Readings section, a kind of Snobber's Digest. First outtake, I mean piece, is entitled "The New Censorship" and it's by Curtis White, an excerpt from his forthgoing book The Middle Mind : Why Americans Don't Think for Themselves. I'm already inspired thrilled and that's just the intro. First paragraph:

      Americans are not much in the habit of poking at the dominant realities of our lives. We're delicate. We're used to deferring, though we like to think of ourselves as rebels. What parents, teachers, presidents, and Dan Rather say is usually good enough for us. Even if it is demonstrably false, we submit out of habit and fright over what not submitting might require of us. We sacrifice our lives out of feeling that there is some sort of comfort in deferring.

    Charming. So we should believe instead what Harper's and its select authors say instead. Bullocks. Good enough for those rebellous thinkers churned from our universities' liberal arts programs to descend upon New York City and Washington D.C. to live like kings and courtiers in order to better the lot of the common man.
ENOUGH! That's the first four things in the schnucking magazine. Even the GM ad in the front cover tried to make me feel guilty for driving a car, except that I drove a brand that would put an apologetic ad in an enlightened magazine.

I've been a Harper's subscriber for more than ten years, regularly remitting a portion of my sub-sustenance wage salary to get a slick and remain educated, but no more. I have a couple months of the magazine piled up, and they're all going out. I have other, more relevant magazines, like FHM to read.

I've got seven months left on the subscription I had paid up for three or four years in advance, and that's it. I'm done until such time as Lapham's gone and the magazine returns to a more even-handed set of viewpoints.

I'm sure Harper's won't miss me. Enough cosmo coastal sycophants will continue to buy the magazine to learn what to think, what vodkas to drink, and that Xandria and the Blowfish catalog both offer creative merchandise for consenting adults. A Midwestern conservative isn't its target audience anyway, or else they would cover tractor pulls and corn futures more frequently, or whatever stereotypes they've developed for everyone west of New Jersey.

So be it. An amicable parting. Except for the screaming and the throwing of the dirty laundry on the front lawn.

I Feel Pretty. And Powerful.

Meatriarchy once again leads me to some introspection, wherein I discover:

You are the Figher Femme

Which Ultimate Beautiful Woman are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Sunday, September 14, 2003
What Particular Mess Would We Be In?

Time quotes "Mad" Albright:
    Frankly, if there was a President Gore, we wouldn't be in this particular mess.
What mess would we be in? Anyone think it would be less?

(Link seen on Drudge.)

The Meatriarch Carves Up Another

The Meatriarchy, a new member on my blog roll, carves up Naomi Klein, who thinks "Free Trade Is War."

Haven't these people read Orwell before they come up with their titles?

And which is worse: If they have not, or if they have?

Hans Has Slaughtered The Tusken Raiders

Cue the Wagnerian music and get ready for the jump cut, but Hans has slain his tribe of Tusken Raiders on his way to the Dark Side. Allow me to translate for those of you who are not geeks: A developer who's into Java and, worse than Linux, Macs, has something nice to say about Microsoft, or at least something not fervid about open source:
    Novices require simplicity. Microsoft has to dumb down its tools for the novice developer, but the Java community often seems to feel no such compulsion. I'm watching some coworkers struggle to become fluent in Struts. They are rightfully offended by how often they have to learn some little workaround rather than the obvious approach simply working.

    I've come to realize that with many open source projects, any problem that has a reasonable workaround tends not to get addressed. Just as Microsoft often fails to fix behavioral defects before devoting resources to new features, the bazaar tends to permit usage defects since it's more rewarding to add new functionality. Can't we find a happy medium?
The answer is, unfortunately not. Hardcore open sourcers who do that sort of thing for the fun of it are gearheads who would rather debate the merits of the Borg-Warner T5, whether it's great or whether it sucks. Their esoteric knowledge separates them from the simple novices, and they don't want to simplify. They want to be gurus.

So come to Microsoft, Hans. Uncle Bill wants to include everyone. Even people who used to have blue hair. Uncle Bill forgives. Uncle Bill loves.

Click Trust Microsoft and let Bob show you the path to simple development and simple user interfaces.

Where Am I In The Ecosystem?

Everyone's always talking about Truth Laid Bear's blog ecosystem which ranks blogs by their popularities. Where am I, you ask?

#1581 currently, thanks.

Lower than Instapundit.
Lower than Musings from Domenico Bettinelli.
Lower than both BRIAN's Culture Blog and BRIAN's Education Blog.
Lower even than

Only people I am not lower than are people who have started their blogs in the last fifteen minutes, werd. I ain't gonna link to them because that would put them above me.

Ay, me. Whatever will I do?

I think I will post some more.

The Shidoshi of Paranoia Speaks

So my beautiful wife has bought a shredder so that she can get rid of old, possibly sensitive documents from her files. So she's running credit card statements, bank statements, and other good stuff the bad men want through the shredder before disposing of them.

Unfortunately, it's becoming fairly easy to reconstruct shredded documents, even ones cut into tiny little pieces (see Church Street Technology for visual cues). Essentially, the bad men (or the government) can scan the shredded documents and then put super computers, like the latest "e-mail only" machine at Best Buy (if not now, then in the next year or so, werd) onto assembling them like puzzle pieces until the little ink smudges make glyphs which then make words or numbers or credit card numbers or evidence that yes, once you did accidentally have a copy of 2600 in the house (but it all was a mistake, sir, I thought it was a magazine about my favorite game console).

Your Shidoshi of Paranoia knows of only one way to truly, effectively, and cheaply dispose of your sensitive documents:


The human body can process, and pass, your documents in an unreadable form, whether by human eye or machine. You can consume several pages of documents a day, enough to easily accommodate the day's receipts. Processing your document elimination in this way is economic and ultimately the only way you can be sure no one will even want to examine your sensitive information.

You ask, "But Shidoshi, how does one eat these documents?"

I am a master in the realm of document salad. Look at this beauty.

Ingredients, you ask?

Bank statement, laterally torn and then shredded.
Credit card bill, ripped into pieces.
Note to self, minced.

I usually drizzle this with balsamic vinegarette, if you consider 1/2 a cup a "drizzle." Also, don't forget to pile on the salt. Goes well with a bottle of Les Bourgeois Riverboat Red wine, particularly if you have had most of the bottle before you start on the salad.
Of course, if you have a higher volume of document destruction needs, you can include them within more of your diet or as part of your family's overall nutritional plan. Remember, wood pulp contains fiber, and a lot of things are printed with soy-based ink, so that's got to be good for you, wot?

And on a personal note, it's during file-cleaning season that I am glad that we have five four cats.

Your Shidoshi has spoken. Pay mind.

Improved Hockey Nicknames, Cheap

In today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch, columnist Dan O'Neill, who once deservedly got raked over the coals (deservedly so) for getting several St. Louis Blues players' names wrong when he covered them (probably while intoxicated), pens a laundry list of hockey nicknames and calls it a column.

I have to admit, I've always thought most hockey nicknames were kinda boring. Jamal "Jammer" Mayers? Tyson "Nasher" Nash? Tony "Twister" Twist? Come on, where's the creativity, the poetry?

So ever since I have been a Blues fan, I've applied my own nicknames to the players, from afar, of course, since some of those gentlemen are bigger than I am. So hear they are, for your enjoyment:
Last year's crew:
Player Nickname Reason
Eric Boguniecki Bug-on-the-windshield He's a little guy, and sometimes when he throws a check on a bigger player, he looks like one.
Petr Cajanek Bionic Rhymes, almost, with Cajanek.
Dallas Drake Ducky A drake's a male duck. Must I draw a picture?
Reed Low Beaver He has a prominent overbite. Don't tell him I said so.
Steve Martins Harvard He went there.
Jamal Mayers Gunboat Tough and fast.
Scott Mellanby Hawk Mellanby, especially when he's got his helmet on, looks like the guy from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.
Keith Tkachuk Ka-Ching! He makes a lot of money.
Barret Jackman Bert Heavy brows, high forehead, who else could it be?
Alexander Khavonov Never Never Khavanov. Come on, it sounds cool.
Chris Pronger Cap'n Happy Grant Fuhr started it.
Bryce Salvador Kermit He looks kinda like Kermit the Frog.
Brent Johnson Big Roman Turek was "Large."
Old friends:
Scott Young Walleye Television cameras often caught him gasping and with an eye on the jumbotron, making him look like a fish.
Scott Pellerin Droopy He looks kinda droopy, even when he smiles.
Tyson Nash Pinball His playing style was to crash from one opponent to the next.
Michal Handzus The Zusinator The guy was a machine, and he never smiled.
Lubos Bartecko The Wolf Lubos is kinda like lupus, which.... ah, screw it, it's too scholarly to explain.
Aren't those much cooler than what the hockey players themselves use? Perhaps the NHLPA can hire me as an official Alternate Collquial Designation Originator or something.

Europeans Blame America For Spam

Of course, America is responsible for spam e-mails, European weenies say.

Next, the European Union will also announce its discovery that the United States is also responsible for a host of other ailments, such as impotence, receding gum lines, those times when the moon swallows the mother Sun, the existence of spiders, and using satelite beams to make the neighbor's dog bark all night.

(Link seen on TechDirt.)

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