Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Friday, September 10, 2004
The Most Censored Blogger in America?

Cartoonist Art Spiegelman drew some comic strips that the New Yorker magazine did not accept for publication, and now that he's gotten his time in the bright lights of the television cameras, he's rightfully claiming that he's been censored.

I know how that heavy burden of oppression feels, my friends, because on many occasions, I, too have been censored by the New Yorker, as this revealing photo proves:

New Yorker rejections
Click for full size

Many times, the boot of Big Publication has stood upon my neck as I have written to express my own precious personal feelings and thoughts, and I have been censored! As a matter of fact, it's not just been the jackboot of Big Publication, but the centipede parade of Big Publication, Medium Publication, Literary and Little Publication, Regional Theatre, Literary Agents, and on occasion, Web zines.

For example, here we see the truncheon marks upon my psyche left by Bostonian brownshirts at the Atlantic Monthly:

Atlantic Monthly rejections
Click for full size

You see, they have so many people to censor that they cannot afford to use a full sheet of paper! Also, the people at 666 Broadway, whose magazine I have sincerely and somewhat bitterly mocked on this very Web log, Harper's, have crushed my first amendment rights, but at least they used a full sheet of paper:

Harper's rejection
Click for full size

But it's not just the coastal barons who've silenced my voice. Speer Morgan's thugs at the Missouri Review have deprived me of my government-given right to expression at someone else's expense:

Missouri Review rejection
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And here's one from Gardner Dozois at Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. Extensive documentat analysis indicates that not only has The Manditor brought me down, but he didn't even sign the letter himself!:

Isaac Asimov Science Fiction Magazine rejection
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And the list goes on and on. Here, a gang-censorship display from Playboy, Pleiades, and Poetry:

Group rejection
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Does that make me the most censored blogger in America? The thickness of the stack might say yes

The complete book
Click for full size

However, I think Art Spiegelman might answer, "No! I'm the martyr! Look at me, look AT ME!"

But At Least They Have Lifetime Warranties

All's quiet in International Space Stationopolis, when Look! The Cavity Creeps! the oxygen generators fail.

Not to worry, they have undoubtedly have a lifetime service and parts warranty.
    The three Elektron units on board the space station are the last of their kind. The company that manufactured them has gone out of business, and the engineer who almost single-handedly made the final adjustments of flight units died several years ago. Reportedly he retained some "trade secret" about the final adjustments of the devices -- and it died with him.
Uh oh. I blame the Limited Liability Company business organization.

Screw You, I Am A Capitalist

Hey, cheap land in Florida this year. Sweet!

Wednesday, September 08, 2004
Undoubtedly, It's The Expensive Version

In the video capture of the MTV interview with John Kerry that's available at The Daily Recycler, who else noticed the yellow thing flopping around on his arm?

John Kerry's yellow bracelet

No, kids, if you snap it off, you don't get a sexual favor. That's a Lance Armstrong rubber band for cancer, of which Heather has one.

One has to wonder if Johnk paid $1 for the version shared by the proletariat, or if his is a special, titanium mesh, gold-plated version.

Either way, he's sending us secret code that he's an active sports participant.

Sorry, honey, that I ruined it for you.

I Mock Your Petty Conspiracy Theory

You want a conspiracy theory? Here's a conspiracy theory:

Osama bin Laden gives himself up next month.

You see, by sacrificing, but not quite martyring himself, bin Laden allows US forces to capture him so that the conspiracy nuts in the United States will throw the election to Kerry.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004
Register and Win

I don't know how I feel about this: Vote or
    Hi. We're Jim Young and James Hong, better known to the users of our website HOT or NOT as just "Jim and James". You may be wondering why the heck we're doing this, so here's our explanation.

    We want you, and every person that is eligible, to vote. This is something we feel passionate about. We know we're just 2 guys, but we believe that 2 guys with a good idea who are willing to work hard and put their time and money where their mouths are can make a difference... just like one person's vote - YOUR vote - can make a difference.

    In a nutshell, we're doing this because we care, and because we can. We also like the idea of doing this because nobody else has done it before, and we like to do crazy, new things.

    So register to vote if you haven't already done so, enter to win our money, and drastically improve your chances of winning by getting your friends to register too. We hope you win. (and if you do, it'd sure be nice if you took us out to dinner with some of that cash).

    -- Jim and James
Not about getting people to vote; that these guys have $200,000 to give away. Envy? Oh, yeah.

Of course, if you must know how I really feel, click the above link and enter. If you win, the person who referred you gets $100,000. Since you haven't hit the tip jar recently, it's the least you could do for me.

Monday, September 06, 2004
No Sympathy for the Devil (II)

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch likes to milk its previous stories for all they're worth, flogging horse skeletons to dust. For example, they recently discovered that elected fire protection boards tend to get paid lots of public money and that sometimes firefighters give the candidates whom they want to win money! Not satisfied with a multipart investigation, the Post-Dispatch carried on for weeks about the splash its story made with oversight groups and the state government; in each subsequent article, the Post-Dispatch mentioned, reluctantly and while kicking a toe shyly at the carpet that they originated the story.

But now, riffing off of the Bill McClellan column about how hard a time released felons have making it outside, the Post-Dispatch runs a story on the front page of its Sunday business page with the title Ex-convicts face a Catch-22 in job search.

Here's the "hook" anecdote that starts the article:
    Dava Rogers says she applied at all kinds of jobs for a year, from fast-food restaurants to cleaners, with no success.

    On every application, once she checked "yes" to having a criminal record, that was usually the end of it, said Rogers, 42. She served six months at the City Workhouse in St. Louis after being convicted of embezzlement from a former employer. She was released in 2002, but she found work only a year ago as a counselor in transitional housing for the YWCA.

    "On the first few applications, I wouldn't check 'yes,' and then they would say if I explained it and didn't lie, they could've hired me," Rogers said. "When I was truthful, there was never a call back."
Personally, I have to wonder if it's not so much the checkbox in her case, but the If so, explain. portion of the question. I would have less trouble hiring a drug offender, a DUI person, a vandal, or any of the numerous other non-threatening felonies which continue to proliferate over someone who steals money from her employer.

I don't hear the St. Louis Post-Dispatch championing pedophiles who want to return to their birthday party clown jobs, but I didn't read the whole article. Undoubtedly, it's in there somewhere.

The Right Way to Attract Business

When a juvenile detention center closed in Tarkio, Missouri, the residents, not the local government, joined their money and are looking to buy a business to move to the town.

Private, not government, action. Thank you, sir, may I have some more like this?

When Cleverness Fails

I've racked my brains and broke my wit to come up with a suitable surrounding joke where the punchline is a pun of malfeasance as mall fee seance.

Cripes, I'm not man enough to do it.

Sunday, September 05, 2004
Book Review: Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken (2003)

I bought this book as a four books for four bucks selection from Quality Paperback Club, as the soft covers do less damage to the walls and furniture when I read, hm, opposing viewpoints. So that's why I paid over a quarter for this book, and my bookshelves and floor appreciated the comfortable soft binding.

In spite of Al Franken's best efforts, I learned two things from Al Franken's book:
  1. It's important to remember, when someone tells you something, a fact or set of facts is being relayed to you through the prism of the teller's experience and interpretation, and your miles may vary; that is, when someone tells you something happened, remember to seek out other sources for a richer context of any event. Hey, even if you're present. More knowledge will lead to better judgment.

  2. Al Franken is so full of excrement his hair should be brown? It is? My point, exactly!
Franken slaps around the label of liar widely. According to Franken's definition, anyone who builds an argument by presenting any group of facts in a light to build to a conclusion, unless that conclusion is Franken-approved, it's a LIE. Say that Walter Mondale chaired a committee that issued a report that concluded something, and you're a LYING LIAR who tells LIES if you don't say Mondale disagreed with the report. Got that? To avoid the LYING LIAR who tells LIES tag, which Franken would build into HTML 6.0 for his convenience, one must not only tell facts, but one must tell all facts, in all contexts.

Let's illustrate:

Prosecutors?   LYING LIARS who tell LIES
Defense attorneys?   LYING LIARS who tell LIES
Debate teams?   LYING LIARS who tell LIES
Philosophers?   LYING LIARS who tell LIES
Grad student writing theses?   LYING LIARS who tell LIES

You get the idea.

Franken illuminates, inadvertently but gleefully, the poison infecting our political discourse; a lack of empathy for people with other viewpoints, a recognition that perhaps we share common ground and we can discuss, even argue, our viewpoints honestly. Nah, never mind, anything with which we disagree is mendacity on the part of those with whom we disagree.

Franken likes to posit himself as an answer to Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter, George Bush, The National Review, Sean Hannity, and other popular commentators on the other side of the political divide. Unfortunately, he lacks one component they do: they're arguing in good faith, even when they stoop to fire-and-brimstone rhetoric.

Franken's book is so over the top in its own mistruths that I couldn't stand it. Part canard, it recycles some of the basic talking points of George W. Bush's opposition without reflection, but not without invective. In other places, it blatantly presents its own misrepresentations; I particularly disliked the imaginative "Operation Chickenhawk" chapter, which imagined a mission in Vietnam led by John Kerry featuring a platoon comprised of Republican leaders who did not serve. An underground campus literary magazine would reject the piece if submitted by a college sophomore, but since it's Al Franken, it's worth printing in a book? Jeez, at least Motley Crue's filler material was sophomoric and prurient.

If pressed, undoubtedly Franken would respond that he's a comedian, not a thinker. That's a convenient cop-out. Sorry, Al, if you want to play, you've got to be subject to all the reasoned scrutiny I can muster after a couple beers. I give you an F, for Farce. Farce you.

I mean, to take this book seriously as a political statement would be like taking financial advice from Triumph the Comic Insult Dog.

Do The Math, Poindexter

I have a good, but misguided, friend who recently laid the all about oil canard on me when discussing the fact that George W. Bush will invade Iran if re-elected, and it's all for their oil.

Yeah, that's a fantastic idea, Chester. Iraq and Iran, all about the oil there. Bush is diabolical enough to fight unpopular-enough wars costing billions of dollars halfway around the world to get whatever oil the freed societies will sell us, which might not be much (for example, Iraq's oil production ain't that much these days).

Come on, you naive people. If Bush were that evil, and if he were so Machiavellian to do anything to get his hands on the precioussss, he would:
  • Drill in ANWAR, like it or not.
    The nation's parks and preserves have oil. Bush would just have to jail, shoot, or "disappear" hippies and environmentalist types to get to it. That's damn cheap.

  • Depose Chavez and install a protectorate in Venezuela.
    Venezuela's right on the other side of the Caribbean. Nice and close, with a convenient dictator-like president-sort-of to depose. Transporting the oil back to the states would be damn easy, and not subject to expensive cross-Atlantic or whatnot travel. But you know how we could make transportation cheaper? A pipeline!

  • Secure the southern border, by making it narrower--and with Guatamala and Belize.
    Our friends down south have recently discovered new off-shore oil fields which gives Mexico roughly 102 billion barrels, about as much as Iraq or Iran--and they're much closer. We could put a couple battle groups off of either coast and push right down from Texas or do some amphibious landings in Acapulco and Cozumel.

    So we seal up the border and take care of cheap foreign labor in our auto plants by making them pay American minimum wage, and Bush gets his precioussss, not to mention retribution for the foosball drubbing Vincente Fox laid on him in early 2001. But why stop there?

  • Invade Canada.
    Those "friends" to the north are sitting on the 22nd largest oil reserve in the world and they want to put all their rocks in the sling in get-tough trade negotiations with the American Goliath. You want to talk tough? We've got your tough right here.

    In addition to the oil and the easy pipelines, it's politically expedient. Big Pharma will like the end of the drug reimportation threat, Canadian hockey teams will be saved because they'll get to charge ticket prices in US dollars, and most of Canada will enjoy our one-language policy that we'll enforce in Quebec.

  • Nuke China.
    To preempt that threat, Bush could reduce China to rubble, thus easing other oil supplies from the burden of the Chinese industrialization and stockpiling.
So quit being lazy, Chesters, and start using your imaginations for your simpleton conspiracy theories, for crying out loud. Any one or several of the above options will provide us all the petroleum we need to ensure that no hotel room will go un-Vasolined into perpetuity.

Iraq, Iran, and our various Middle Eastern expeditions have more at stake than some precioussss oil, and I'm not going to say it again.

Mexican Group Favors Human Sacrifice, Theocracy

Open the journalistic template of local Davids versus Wal-Mart Goliath stories for this story: Small group is fighting big-box store in Mexico. Gist:
    A Wal-Mart-owned discount store rising a half-mile from the ancient temples of Teotihuacan has touched off a fight by a small coalition that doesn't want to see the big, boxy outlet from the top of the Pyramid of the Sun.

    But with most people in the area supporting Wal-Mart, the group is waging a lonely battle for what it calls its defense of Mexico's landscape and culture.

    The dispute in Teotihuacan - a town built next to the ruins of the 2,000-year-old metropolis - illustrates how the allure of low prices and U.S. lifestyles often wins out in Mexico, leaving traditionalists struggling to draw a line in rapidly shifting cultural sands.

Apparently, the group wants a return to rule-by-priests, human sacrifice, and war between the tribes in Mexico, because that's the heritage behind the Pyramid of the Sun and other great historical sites in Mexico.

Or could there be something else?
    "We'd rather not have Mickey Mouse on top of the Pyramid of the Moon," says Emmanuel D'Herrera, a business owner in Teotihuacan, 30 miles north of Mexico City.
He's a business owner in danger of a little competition, but so are all the traditionalists who stand to lose a little commerce of their own whenever customers have a choice.

    He [D'Herrera] contends a tall sign will loom near the huge twin pyramids that draw hundreds of thousands of tourists annually, although a government-appointed archaeologist disputes that.

    And while the store is visible from atop the pyramid, so are many other modern businesses and houses.
Probably D'Herrera's, too, but we notice he's not offering to raze his business or to spill his blood on the altar of traditionalism.

What does everyone else think about the Yanqui imperialists?
    Underlining his group's lack of support, D'Herrera said probably 70 percent of the town's mostly poor residents support the new store because it will offer lower prices than the area's small shops.
Damn the unwashed, uneducated masses and their thirst for civilization over an oppressive past and cheap consumer goods over sustenance farming.

Funny how the papers and media alter their support for the common man when it suits their cognac-sniffing sensibilities, ainna?

Book Review: Never Live Twice by Dan J. Marlowe (1964, 1974)

At Hooked on Books, they have a bin of books marked Free with Purchase, so I always grab something. Once, I grabbed this book, and I have read it.

I've doubled the publication dates in the header because the book's obviously an early sixties pulp novel, with its lurid cover and almost cartoonish action prose. However, sometime between editions, the "author" updated the setting a decade, changing a World War II secret agent into a Korean vet seamlessly.

Oddly enough, the book is set in Florida, much like Cancel All Our Vows, and like the other book, it features an almost textually unremarkable sexual assault, wherein the main character forces his attentions on a woman because she's the type who needs it. By textually unremarkable, I mean that the book itself glosses over the assault as a matter of course--something reflective of the time and genre, probably.

Aside from that distasteful bit, the book's a good romp. A wife and her brother kill the drunkard husband by sending the husband's Cadillac into a canal when the husband's drunk. The moment the cold water hits the husband, though, he "comes to," thinking he's a secret agent in a Korean river. He's got to deal with his amnesia and to discover what's happened in the twenty years he's lost. Eventually, he recovers enough of his skills and his muscle tone (hidden beneath forty pounds of liquor) to break up a gun-running operation.

It's easy reading, action movies in 60,000 words, and I ate books like this up when I was in high school. Perhaps that's why I grew up misogynistic, my sensitivity destroyed by these books like the Greatest Generation and early boomers, who currently tut-tut hip-hop music for how it depicts women.

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