Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, April 24, 2004
Taranto's Tattler

Not to brag or anything, but look who's in the Thanks To section of Best of the Web for Thursday, April 22, 2004:
    (Carol Muller helps compile Best of the Web Today. Thanks to Catherine Brooks, David Eike, Terry Young, S.E. Brenner, Gary Petersen, Darren Gold, Thomas Campanile, Mark Van Der Molen, Erik Smelser, P.F. Erlin, Ben Sandler, Lynn Segal, Scott Lawrence, Bill Buckingham, Russell Zwerg, John Esposito, Alan Stahura, Daniel Mark, Ed Holton, Chip Paschal, Don Hunt, Ted Rathkopf, Brian Noggle, Gil Yoder, Michael Williams, Jeff Touchet, Erik Ivers, John Corringan, Ken Shotwell, John Sanders, Mike Hohman, Jonathan Mairs, Stephen Silkowski, Cheryl Pedersen and Bradley Lawrence. If you have a tip, write us at, and please include the URL.)
They forgot the J, but that's okay.

So you better all straighten up, or I am telling Taranto.

Ten Dollars on the Over/Under

Michael Williams predicts a November headline.

Our Understanding Is Right, Yours Is Wrong

After a Chuck-A-Rama-(But-Not-That-Mucha) restaurant manager threw out a low-carb eating couple for eating too much roast beef at a buffet restaurant, district manager Jack Johnson proved that not all PR is good PR when he said:
    "We've never claimed to be an all-you-can-eat establishment," said Johanson. "Our understanding is a buffet is just a style of eating."
Mr. Johnson's understanding implies that you pay full price to the buffet style restaurant for the convenience of not having a server attend you, not for the ability to eat until you're full.

Smile, Mr. Johnson; you've just made a politician of yourself before the whole Internet.

(Link seen on Fark.)

Friday, April 23, 2004
"Sqwak!" The Anti Gun Crowd Says

By now, we've all heard the story about the freighter seized in Italy with a bunch of AK assault rifles hidden aboard, destined for the United States.

Here's the lead for the New York Post story:
    A Florida-based arms company is at the center of the international probe into a New York-bound ship seized in Italy while laden with thousands of Kalashnikov assault rifles, The Post has learned.

    The AK-47s were apparently bound for Vermont.

    Officials have linked Century International Arms Inc. in Boca Raton to the discovery of a cache of 7,500 AK-47s hidden beneath piles of properly labeled arms in several cargo containers confiscated in the port of Gioia Tauro in southern Italy several days ago.
So that would mean that some illegal automatic weapons were being illegally shipped, nay, smuggled towards the United States. What could be better?

    The startling seizure prompted Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Nassau) to call for a renewal of the 1994 federal ban on assault weapons, which is slated to expire Sept. 13.

    "We know al Qaeda training manuals have encouraged terrorists to obtain assault weapons in the United States," she said.
Oh, yeah, that. Renewing a law that wouldn't apply to these weapons anyway, simply because some nitwit member of the House of Representatives can put the words assault weapon and Al Qaeda in a soundbite.

Thank goodness Al Qaeda training videos don't involve attack dogs, or we'd be stripped of our Chiahuahuas, too.

No Irony Intended

With no sense of irony, I am sure, posted these stories atop each other in the Business section today:

St. John's workers oust union:
    Maintenance workers at St. John's Mercy Medical Center voted 28 to 13 on Wednesday to decertify the United Association of Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562 as their collective bargaining agent.

    The union has until next week to protest the conduct of the election. If it does not, the National Labor Relations board will authorize the decertification. A plumbers-union official did not return a phone call Thursday. The maintenance workers' contract expired Dec. 31, 2002.
Like the jingle, union label fades away
    Calls for "Buy Union-Made" and "Buy American" might appear nostalgic in a day when X-rays of American patients are analyzed by physicians abroad and U.S.-produced shoes are nearly impossible to find.

    But the union movement hopes its 130-year-old message to buy products with the union label and more recent calls to buy American are reinvigorated amid the growing debate about overseas outsourcing of service jobs and the steady loss of manufacturing jobs in the United States.

    "First of all, union-made in the USA is No. 1. If you can't find union-made, at least buy American-made," said Charles E. Mercer, president of the AFL-CIO's Union Label and Service Trades Department. "We say it in the same breath, the same sentence."
Hmm. Perhaps it's that American workers are tired of paying viggorish for the opportunity to strike put themselves out of work in the name of more pay and job security? [No, it's that those damn capitalists are exploiting the workers we're supposed to exploit. --Ed aka "Spike" (Local 355)]

Why Stop at Swimsuits?

Of course, every four years or so, the media examines the technology used by Olympians to better compete. So here's the obligatory story.

I want to know, when will these cutting edge technologies filter down to consumer use? Come on, that Fastskin stuff looks like it would make some mighty yummy lingerie.

Who's Your English Major? Say It!

From Freakin Jen we have this bit of frivolity:
    Via Accidental Verbosity, highlight (I used bold) the books you've read in the following list. This is where I'll regret not having a single lit class in college, although going to four different high schools and that AP English class my senior year of high school may help.
Well, I, too, have bolded those on the list that I have read, and I have italicked the ones I have on my to-read shelf, amid 300+ other things I'll probably read first:
    Achebe, Chinua - Things Fall Apart
    Agee, James - A Death in the Family
    Austen, Jane - Pride and Prejudice
    Baldwin, James - Go Tell It on the Mountain
    Beckett, Samuel - Waiting for Godot
    Bellow, Saul - The Adventures of Augie March
    Bront?, Charlotte - Jane Eyre
    Bront?, Emily - Wuthering Heights
    Camus, Albert - The Stranger
    Cather, Willa - Death Comes for the Archbishop
    Chaucer, Geoffrey - The Canterbury Tales
    Chekhov, Anton - The Cherry Orchard
    Chopin, Kate - The Awakening
    Conrad, Joseph - Heart of Darkness
    Cooper, James Fenimore - The Last of the Mohicans
    Crane, Stephen - The Red Badge of Courage
    Dante - Inferno
    de Cervantes, Miguel - Don Quixote
    Defoe, Daniel - Robinson Crusoe
    Dickens, Charles - A Tale of Two Cities
    Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - Crime and Punishment
    Douglass, Frederick - Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
    Dreiser, Theodore - An American Tragedy
    Dumas, Alexandre - The Three Musketeers
    Eliot, George - The Mill on the Floss
    Ellison, Ralph - Invisible Man
    Emerson, Ralph Waldo - Selected Essays
    Faulkner, William - As I Lay Dying
    Faulkner, William - The Sound and the Fury
    Fielding, Henry - Tom Jones
    Fitzgerald, F. Scott - The Great Gatsby
    Flaubert, Gustave - Madame Bovary
    Ford, Ford Madox - The Good Soldier
    Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von - Faust
    Golding, William - Lord of the Flies
    Hardy, Thomas - Tess of the d'Urbervilles
    Hawthorne, Nathaniel - The Scarlet Letter
    Heller, Joseph - Catch 22
    Hemingway, Ernest - A Farewell to Arms
    Homer - The Iliad
    Homer - The Odyssey
    Hugo, Victor - The Hunchback of Notre Dame
    Hurston, Zora Neale - Their Eyes Were Watching God
    Huxley, Aldous - Brave New World
    Ibsen, Henrik - A Doll's House
    James, Henry - The Portrait of a Lady
    James, Henry - The Turn of the Screw
    Joyce, James - A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
    Kafka, Franz - The Metamorphosis
    Kingston, Maxine Hong - The Woman Warrior
    Lee, Harper - To Kill a Mockingbird
    Lewis, Sinclair - Babbitt
    London, Jack - The Call of the Wild
    Mann, Thomas - The Magic Mountain
    Marquez, Gabriel Garc?a - One Hundred Years of Solitude
    Melville, Herman - Bartleby the Scrivener
    Melville, Herman - Moby Dick
    Miller, Arthur - The Crucible
    Morrison, Toni - Beloved
    O'Connor, Flannery - A Good Man is Hard to Find
    O'Neill, Eugene - Long Day's Journey into Night
    Orwell, George - Animal Farm
    Pasternak, Boris - Doctor Zhivago
    Plath, Sylvia - The Bell Jar
    Poe, Edgar Allan - Selected Tales
    Proust, Marcel - Swann's Way
    Pynchon, Thomas - The Crying of Lot 49
    Remarque, Erich Maria - All Quiet on the Western Front
    Rostand, Edmond - Cyrano de Bergerac
    Roth, Henry - Call It Sleep
    Salinger, J.D. - The Catcher in the Rye
    Shakespeare, William - Hamlet
    Shakespeare, William - Macbeth
    Shakespeare, William - A Midsummer Night's Dream
    Shakespeare, William - Romeo and Juliet
    Shaw, George Bernard - Pygmalion
    Shelley, Mary - Frankenstein
    Silko, Leslie Marmon - Ceremony
    Solzhenitsyn, Alexander - One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
    Sophocles - Antigone
    Sophocles - Oedipus Rex
    Steinbeck, John - The Grapes of Wrath
    Stevenson, Robert Louis - Treasure Island
    Stowe, Harriet Beecher - Uncle Tom's Cabin
    Swift, Jonathan - Gulliver's Travels
    Thackeray, William - Vanity Fair
    Thoreau, Henry David - Walden
    Tolstoy, Leo - War and Peace
    Turgenev, Ivan - Fathers and Sons
    Twain, Mark - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
    Voltaire - Candide
    Vonnegut, Kurt Jr. - Slaughterhouse-Five
    Walker, Alice - The Color Purple
    Wharton, Edith - The House of Mirth
    Welty, Eudora - Collected Stories
    Whitman, Walt - Leaves of Grass
    Wilde, Oscar - The Picture of Dorian Gray
    Williams, Tennessee - The Glass Menagerie
    Woolf, Virginia - To the Lighthouse
    Wright, Richard - Native Son
Interesting that I have already read Emerson and Thoreau, but they're both on the shelf for a re-read.

So you might just think I'm another run-of-the-mill blogger, slobbering libertarianism and spilling Guinness on the keyboard, but I sound awfully smart as I do.

Cat Blogging

The Threepenny Review offers a moving poem entitled "A Cat's Last Summer" by Michael Hamburger.

Read it and pet your own cat(s) if you have them.

Thursday, April 22, 2004
World Exclusive!

It's common knowledge that John Kerry communes with dolphins:
    "He[President Bush] thinks that empty slogans like the 'Clear Skies' initiative and the 'Healthy Forest' initiative -- that somehow names that would make George Orwell rise up and cheer -- that those names will make people forget what is really happening in our country."

    Almost on cue, a dolphin slipped through the water. "There he is over there," Kerry said. "He says, 'help, help, help."'
"Help, help, help," is not all the dolphin had to say. We here at All Things Belittled have an exclusive interview with Kerry's guest star. (Warning: 2.7 Mb Mp3).

Put Your Back Into It

Some phishers don't even seem to be trying. Here's one such e-mail I got today:
    From: *Citi_C_a_r_d_s~Members
    Subject: Citionline |E-Mail| Verification -
    Date: Thu, 22 Apr 2004 19:42:58 +0000
    MIME-Version: 1.0
    Received: from ([]) by with Microsoft SMTPSVC(5.0.2195.6824); Thu, 22 Apr 2004
    12:35:09 -0700
    X-Message-Info: 6sSXyD95QpXLoZz646LSJ7Ue2E0865la
    X-OriginalArrivalTime: 22 Apr 2004 19:35:10.0582 (UTC)

    To_veerification_of _your_ [Email] address click on_the_link :

    [hyperlink deleted to protect you, gentle reader.]

    and enter in the |ittle window_ _your_ Citi ATM/Debit full_Card_number and
    that you use in local Atm_Machine..

    8QkooH8y8N eg4f36 5f7l0ly3v2e3h3x3f6c 7d022oda n9dh 7vz1h020z kNoph86
Like I'm going to fall for that again.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004
Pop-Up Mocker Updated!

I've updated the Pop-Up Mocker site.

Go look at it at least once. Someone's gotta.


Harvey at Bad Money speaks word punctuation to power:
    The purpose of punctuation is to reproduce the pauses and vocal inflections of the spoken word, thus allowing the writer's intended meaning to be made as clearly as possible.

    It is a servant, not a master, so use it any way you wish, as long as it helps you get your point across.
Now, let him try to convince my mother-in-law, the former English teacher. Good luck, Harv. I'll be behind you with a dust pan, ready to collect your pieces.

A Government of the People, By the People, and For the People in Government

I was going to comment upon the unequal-before-the-eyes-of-the-law treatment received by Representative John Hostettler of Indiana, who mistakenly brought a gun to the airport as he was getting ready to fly back to Washington, but someone's beaten me to it.

Did the TSA throw him down, surround him, rough him up a bit, and then whisk him to jail for a quick trial and felony sentence? Of course not, he's not a citizen, he's a legislator. They took his gun to hold for him and put him on a later flight.

Owen at Boots and Sabers has a complete compare and contrast for you.

Cosmic Kismet

Neil Steinberg? In Reason?


Donnie Darko Director's Cut

As some of you might remember, I was not too impressed with the movie Donnie Darko.

Now, I see that the director's cut is coming:
    "Donnie Darko," a cult drama starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a disturbed teenager, is getting a new theatrical release, featuring 20 minutes of never-before-seen footage.
Perhaps it's the twenty minutes of sense that were cut from the initial release.

Tired of a Little Shrimp? Want a GIANT???

Long John Silvers is giving it away for free on May 10, 2004.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004
Pardon Me, But You Wouldn't Happen To Have Six Fingers On Your Left Hand?

After some reflection inspired by Trey Givens, I discovered that I am akin to:

Inigo Montoya

Which Princess Bride Character are You?
this quiz was made by mysti

(Funny, Jared, Jim, and Trey were all different. What diversity! Someone apply for a federal grant!)

Easter Egg

Spoons has come clean and has admitted:
    For some reason which is quite unfathomable to me, certain sections of the blogosphere are all abuzz over the question of whether coed blogger, "Hot Abercrombie Chick," might really be a a dude.

    I'm not sure why this really matters,, but since it apparently does to some people, I feel I owe my readers a confession. I'm not actually a 32-year-old cranky male lawyer in central Illinois. I'm actually a 65-year-old widow and retired plus-size lingerie model from Butte, Montana.

    And my supposed wife "Laura" is actually just a raccoon that I sometimes see in my backyard. I think she's trying to steal the birdseed I put out.
As a matter of full disclosure, I must too explain the source of the text you see here.

    This blog generated by Documatic 3000 Libertarian Blog Plug-In.

    LBPI renders real-time, current event feedback generated by algorithms that scour RSS feeds, content aggregators, and news sites for certain keywords and provide correct responses to keywords within the content.

    For example, LBPI reliably provides the following post responses:

    Eminent DomainThe gummint is stripping people of our assets, flying in the face of sacred property rights!
    TaxesThe gummint is stripping people of our hard-earned money, flying in the face of sacred property rights and fiscal responsibility!
    JewelJewel rox!
    Ayn RandAyn Rand rox!
    George W. BushGeorge W. Bush rox compared to John Kerry.
    <end of post marker reached>Thank you, that is all.

    As the Documatic 3000 extensible architecture is proven in field tests such as this, look for an IPO soon.

Thank you, that is all.

Last 20 Books You Have Read

The Gleeful Extremist thinks that the last 20 books you have read say a lot about you. TGE then tries to list the last he's read.

Come on. You readers know the last 20 books I have read; I find a minute or two to scratch out a paragraph or two about each for you, gentle readers. Let's recap, shall we, since you skip over the reviews to get to the snarky stuff:
  1. Rainbow Mars by Larry Niven
  2. Naked Beneath My Clothes by Rita Rudner
  3. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  4. The Book Wars by James Atlas
  5. Rumpelstiltskin by Ed McBain
  6. Years of Minutes by Andy Rooney
  7. All the Trouble in the World by P.J. O'Rourke
  8. The Black Corridor by Michael Moorcock
  9. Make Room for TV by Lynn Spigel
  10. Time Flies by Bill Cosby
  11. Ghost by Piers Anthony
  12. Freefall by William and Marilyn Mona Hoffer
  13. Bad Business by Robert B. Parker
  14. The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz
  15. Basket Case by Carl Hiaasen
  16. Give Me a Break by John Stossel
  17. The Dilbert Future by Scott Adams
  18. Full Court Press by Mike Lupica
  19. Gallery of Regrettable Food by James Lileks
  20. Video Fever by Charles Beamer
What does that say about me? Hecht if I know. Want to know what I am reading now?
  • The Art of Deception by Kevin Mitnick
  • Introduction to Philosophy by Baruch Brody
  • Fielder's Choice by someone
  • Bob Greene's America by Bob Greene
I guess I like collections of newspaper columns. There's one insight for you. Lileks, Green, O'Rourke, and Adams did newspaper things. And comedians. Rudner, Cosby, Rooney, and so on.

Are my fifty minutes up already, Doctor?

(Link seen on this week's Bonfire of the Vanities.)

You Down with DDT?

Virginia Postrel comments on a Tina Rosenberg NYT Magazine article:
    Two million people a year, most of them little kids, are dying because of the West's anti-DDT superstition. Two...million...people...a...year.

    Anti-DDT taboos undoubtedly kill even more than that, since the debilitation caused by malaria helps keep Africa desperately poor. But, hey, they're Africans. We got rid of malaria here, so we don't give a damn. I bet the NYT Mag gets letters from people outraged at Rosenberg's audacity in pointing out the problem.
Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows rebuts:
    hey farmer farmer
    put away the DDT
    i dont care about spots on my apples
    [and, apparently, two million dead people on a continent far away --ed.]
    leave me the birds and the bees

Three Little Words

Blackfive reports on U.S. citizenship granted to Laotian Hmong refugees:
    The reward for helping the Americans during the Vietnam War took 29 years to materialize, but for the 15,000 Laotian Hmong in this sun-baked refugee camp, it was a payout beyond their wildest dreams: U.S. citizenship.

    "I can't believe we'll be Americans," said Sui Yang, 60, who fought with CIA-backed Hmong guerrillas against the communist Pathet Lao in the mountains of Laos. "We heard rumors for years this was going to happen, but they were always only rumors. Most of us gave up hoping. I thought we were going nowhere."
I've got three words that express my sentiment for earnest immigrants, particularly those who helped the United States in the past, who would come to this country with hope of a better life and the will to make it so:

Bring 'em on.

Monday, April 19, 2004
Not Drinking My Own Weight

Fark led me to the story of this tragedy:
    GUINNESS will no longer be brewed in Britain from next summer.

    The plant which has made the stout for nearly 70 years is to close. Bosses blame over-capacity.
Overcapacity leading to lost jobs. We must support our British friends and try harder. Bathe in Guinness if you must!

Make of This What You Will

From today's
    Advertising is ubiquitous nowadays, with marketers using product placements on television shows, linking words in magazine articles with ads and, as an ad firm working for Toyota recently did, temporarily tattooing pitches on people's foreheads.

    "It's a littering of the mental landscape," MacFarlane said. "We live in a culture that pushes the fear of not succeeding, getting sick, of being alone. ... Advertisers sidle up to us and say: 'Hi, we love you. We understand. But isn't there something wrong with your life?'"
Words from Paul MacFarlane, left-wing hippie advertising mogul.

Something of this smacks of poserism. The dude spouts antimaterialism, but is a successful advertising guy with an office in Downtown St. Louis and who lives in West County. Spare me the bobo.

Perhaps the title tag of the StLToday page says it all: Help

Is That The Best You Could Do?

CNN reports that the Hamlet first edition that I asked for didn't make the reserve price and was not sold.

Gentle readers, could you not have come up with the extra couple hundred thousand among you needed to add this to my library? I applaud whatever effort you used to generate just over a million dollars in cash, but isn't MfBJN worth the extra effort?

I implore you to continue in your efforts. Perhaps, once you kind souls have amassed enough money--heaven knows you have not been spending it on my tip jar--the owner of the Hamlet will consider a private offer.

Thank you, and good luck.

Lileks Agrees With Me

Lileks on that coastal elite, nanny-statist Andrew Sullivan in today's Bleat:
    Okay. As you may know, Andrew Sullivan has famously proposed hiking gas prices by a dollar to reduce the deficit and pay for the Iraq campaign. Don't get me wrong - I have a great deal of respect for Andrew.


    Here I disagree. Low gas prices are bad for the economy and bad for drivers, he says - the sort of statement that makes you read everything that follows with wry detached amusement, the same way you'd regard an article on canine training that began "dogs respond remarkably well to feng shui." You read on because it can only get better.

    He refers to gas as “
    woefully undertaxed.” If one uses the phrase “woefully undertaxed” one may be correct, but one should not be surprised when one’s conservative bona fides are called into question. You could make the argument that cable TV is woefully undertaxed. Peanut butter is woefully undertaxed. Once you’ve identified a good that can be cured by additional taxation, well, everything is woefully undertaxed. There aren’t any pro-war movies being made! We could fund them with a movie tax! Popcornn is woefully undertaxed! He says:

    The truly needy tend to consume less gas than their middle-class compatriots. Others say it penalizes those in remote and rural areas. So what?

    Some conservatives say it's antithetical to the American Dream. Hooey.
Lileks must have made it further into the piece than I did to discover Sullivan's contention that it's okay to disproprotionatlely tax the people in the heartland (that is, everyone between the Rockies and the Appalachians) because we don't matter.

Bollucks on Sullivan, again.

Sunday, April 18, 2004
Book Review: The Gallery of Regrettable Food by James Lileks (2001)

Well, I have done my part to help maintain Jasperwood and to keep Lileks in Hummels and cigars. I read The Bleat, his Back Fence column with the Star-Tribune, and even his weekly Newhouse News column. That's all free, though, and does little for Lileks' bottom line, which is probably higher than many peoples' top lines, but still. By reading off the Web, I was not empowering Lileks. Much like you freeloading readers are doing by not sendng me cash or visiting my Amazon wish list and sending me goodies. Not that I am trying to put a guilt trip on you; I know you're all heartless socialistopaths who think we should be just doing this because we can, and you want it. But I digress, gentle skinflint reader.

So I went out and bought The Gallery of Regrettable Food, at full price no less, to send a couple pennies' worth of royalties to Minnesota (the poor man's Wisconsin). Unfortunately, I was disappointed with the work.

As you might know from viewing Lileks' Web site, the Gallery represents photos and some snarky wit about recipes collected in books released in the years when Baby Boomers' parents were cooking. Lileks started the project based on a cookbook he found among his mother's effects. The book's wit might be spot-on (Heather liked the pages she browsed), but unfortunately, it didn't rub me the right way for a couple reasons:
  • As a rule, I am deferential to older generations and their wisdom. I don't mock it, even when it's goofy. Well, maybe I do sometimes, but this book led me to a high horse, and you can lead a man to a high horse, but you can't make him drink. If you lead him to Guiness, though....what was my point?

  • I read this book too soon after Make Room for TV, a book which examined old television shows and extrapolated from them to score Marxist/Feminist points. Lileks' book doesn't make political points, but it does make light of the knowledge of our forebearers. Or at least the knowledge of those who marketed to our forebearers. Still, I had too much anti-Spigel venom built up to appreciate what Lileks was doing.

  • I have a closet full of these books from when I was doing the eBay thing. I'd pick them up for a dime and list them for a couple of bucks. I sold a couple, too, to people looking for their parents' recipes, or perhaps to the parents who lost the recipes in a divorce settlement or something. Still, Lileks cuts into the resale value of these treasures I own.
Still, I am glad I bought the book. I'm happy to underwrite Lileks, even though this particular tome is not my bag. I imagine his next volume, Interior Desecrations, will be some of the same. But he's a good writer, and soon he should have some collection of his other writings coming out which I'll enjoy more.

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