You Say Neh-Vaa-Dah, I Say Nay-Vah-Dah

A non-story: Bush mispronounces Nevada in first presidential visit. But thanks for trying, guys.

Let’s face it, most Americans pronounce their place names incorrectly. I live in a suburb of St. Louis. Since the canonized Louis was French, we should pronounce it St. Louie. And who knows how one should authentically pronounce Missouri. Residents get into fist fights over it yet, but generations-long blood feuds over long I versus schwa are petering out.

Back to the point: Nevada, from el Español, should be pronounced nayVAHdah. Not:

To properly pronounce Nevada, the middle syllable should rhyme with gamble.

(Does anyone beat the reporter about the head and shoulders for the whole middle syllable should rhyme thing? Rhyme means all syllables sound similar but for initial consonants. Don’t you damn kid free versers start up with me.)

So Bush’s pronunciation was a little closer to the original than the current bastardization favored by both native Nevada residents. In two hundred years, after the next great vowel shift, Bush will read like Shakespeare reads to us, no matter how stoopid his critics try to make him sound. You know what the real twist of the box cutter is? People will read Bush’s speeches in 200 years. No one will read his opponents’ press releases.

Book Review: The Joy of Work by Scott Adams (1998)

This is a Dilbert book, but not a collection of cartoons. Not exclusively, anyway; Adams manages to illustrate his Dilbertal points with some cartoons, though.

The book is schizophrenic. The majority of the book is the kind of humor you would expect from Adams, a wry look at working in the white collar world. It details how you can derive joy from your daily drudgery in pranking your co-workers, avoiding real work, and gaming the discordant system. It features chapters on managing your boss, reverse telecommuting, annoying your co-workers, and surviving meetings. Pretty standard Dilbert stuff.

However, about sixty percent of the way through the book, it veers more into personal. Sort of self-helping. Adams describes creativity, as filtered through how a cartoonist works. He describes where creativity comes from, how to manage creativity, and how to be funny. He then talks a bit about criticism, works in an unrelated (but amusing) story about the time he pranked exectuives by pretending to be a corporate image consultant. He finishes the book up with a short peek into his daily writing life and then a short memorial piece to his (or his girlfriend’s) cat.

The book probably would have been better as two books. Still, it’s a quick read. Worth a couple bucks. It affirms and reinforces all my personal bad habits, which is all a “working” man needs sometimes.

The Amazon Wish List

Due to popular demand (my blog, so to win the popularity contest, a candidate only needs one vote), I have created an Amazon Wish List so all three of my readers can shower me with material goods.

Remember, it’s better to give than to receive.

To make it convenient, I have added a comment link to the template. Any time I move you enough to want to comment, it’s a sign that I have done well, and should be rewarded; hence, it takes you directly to the wish list. The best way to comment. With your wallet.

Mark of the Beast?

Applied Digital has announced a new service to allow consumers to pay for merchandise using microchips implanted under their skins. Shidoshi, you might ask, should I worry about the implications of this for my own personal paranoia?

No, student, this is a false alarm. Applied Digital is a corporation in its last throes of death, but it yet retains a marketing department or a piece of software that generates press releases on a regular basis. Because the company features a chip that goes under the skin, its press releases receive a lot of play in the trades when they want to shock or titilate the public.

Implanting payment methods or identification will never become prevalent.

You should worry, instead, about the reasons why the powers that want to be won’t need you to undergo elective surgery to track you.

Meditate on’t, child.

Richard Roeper Pushes My Buttons

Richard Roeper, accused of living in the Midwest by one of his coastal friends, invents the Middle Coast to refute that fatal accusation:

Not long ago, I was at dinner with a group of entertainment industry professionals, including a Los Angeles native and resident. Nice woman. After talking movies, we got into the “Where do you live?” and “Where did you grow up?” stuff — and when she learned I had spent practically my whole life in the Chicago area, she talked about how much she loves our great city. We have the Cubs (does anyone from out of town ever say the White Sox?), the architecture, the food, the lake, the blues, the shopping, the Oprah, etc., etc.

Not to mention the wonderful people of Chicago — the “down-to-earth” types with “good solid values,” as we’re often labeled.

And then this nice woman used the term that almost always makes me cringe. The label is favored by East and West Coast types who use it like a pat on the head to tell us how quaint we are, how charming we are — and what rubes we are.

“I just love that whole Midwestern thing,” she said.

I can’t precisely recall the specific wording of what she said next, but there were a few more “down-to-earth” references, and something about how we’re so much more “real” than Los Angelenos and New Yorkers, and how it’s so refreshing that we’re not embarrassed about our love for Wal-Mart and Celine Dion and Krispy Kreme.

Then, she mentioned that her husband attended school in the Midwest, and he has family in the Midwest, and she knows a lot of other people from the Midwest, including her college roommate who was from the Midwest — and at that point I had to cut her off and explain something.

Chicago ain’t the Midwest.

He pushes one of my buttons and then keeps pushing it to make the elevator come faster.

Dude, just move to LA so you can hang out with your movie sophisticates or move to New York so you can hang out with your Esquire cosmopolitans.

Is it Friday yet? When’s the next Neil Steinberg column due?

Apology In Advance

Honey, I just want to apologize in advance for the coming time when the Department of Homeland Security kicks in our doors with drawn weapons, when they put a couple of nine millimeter slugs into our nine pound tabby because they feared for their safety, they haul off our myriad computers, and interrogate us for hours on end to prompt us to admit our non-existent guilt or plead guilty to unspecified charges because of what I did today. I didn’t mean for it to turn out this way.

You see, honey, I went to the opthamologist’s office today, and when they called me by my name, I followed the technician into an examination room. She hit me with the requisite salvo of eye drops that rendered me a nocturnal creature in the middle of the afternoon, and then she input my information directly into a workstation. Wow! What an advanced place! A workstation in every exam room! Then the technician told me that the doctor would be in shortly, and then she left the room. Without locking the workstation.

After the doctor saw me and assured me I would not need an eyepatch just yet, he asked if there was anything else. So of course I told him the lax security his enterprise offered, leaving patients alone with access to his computer network and his patient records was a very bad thing. He said that restarting the computer would take too long, and he’d have to cut the number of patients he saw in half–not explicitly stating his perceived dilemma of patient information security versus his bank account. He also said that sooner or later you have to trust people, and he trusts his patients wouldn’t do anything like that. Hell, I trust people, but we lock the doors here in la casa Noggle even when we’re home.

So I am sorry, baby. Because when some hacker, cracker, or whatever the bad man terms himself finds himself sitting in that chair while the doctor politely answers all of another patient’s questions, this bad man will see what he can do. And if the bad man’s not careful, someone will know that someone’s been hacking the good doctor’s computers, and the good doctor will remember one name was concerned with his security: Noggle.

So this will be the thanks I get for trying to spread a little cheerful-but-relevant paranoia into the non-technology fields. Maybe I’ll get the lucky double whammy of having my personal information stolen, too. Of course, it’s not clear what a bad man would do with my cornea thickness, and I surely didn’t share my SSN with anyone unless I’m getting money from them.

Honey, I hope you can forgive me. And remember to do some off-site backup of your critical documents because we won’t see those PCs again.

Christmas Ruined Already

104.1 WMLL “The Mall” in St. Louis has become the first all-Christmas carol radio station. They’re touting it, of course, as the first, which should imply the best, but really just means the station whose regular format (greatest hits of the 1980s and 1990s) is most expendable (least profitable) in the stable and spectrums of radio stations owned by the megabroadcaster in this market. Regardless of the bigger implications, I have listened to it somewhat this weekend.

I was a little disappointed. They ran more “contemporary” Christmas carols, with electric guitars screeching out “Walking in a Winter Wonderland”. Annie Lennox doing Christmas songs? Christmas carols are not the contemporary, they’re timeless. They’re more croon than synth. Bing Crosby, not Natalie Merchant.

I could tolerate the McKenzie Brothers’ “Twelve Days of Christmas”. It’s a light-hearted diversion, and since it’s almost thirty years old, I guess it’s almost a classic in its own right.

I don’t quite understand why they played Jewel’s “Angel Standing By”. I guess it mentions angels, but it’s not a Christmas song. At all.

But I have banished it from my radio dial not for these lapses, which are really flaws and not transgressions. But banished it I have; I was looking to jumpstart my Christmas spirit through musical transfusion, to enjoy the sounds of the seasons since I am not likely to see snow for Christmas again. But this station’s more involved in having its management wink-wink-nudge-nudge that Christmas doesn’t have to be traditional, that it can be hip and smirky. That’s not why I listen to Christmas music when I bother to listen to Christmas music. So enough already.

The transgression?

I could have happily gone through my entire life without learning Cheech and Chong did a Christmas song.

Media To Try, Try Again

It’s not Vietnam….it’s Somalia!

The frenzy recalled the October 1993 scene in Somalia, when locals dragged the bodies of Marines killed in fighting with warlords through the streets.

Perhaps they just need to change the pitch of their klaxon to get it through to the tone deaf American citizens that Americans. Are. Dying. in a war zone.

We know. But we’re resolute.

I hope.

(Link seen on Drudge Report, a little-known news aggregator. Click through, he can use the exposure.)

Update: No, on second though, tell us it’s just like Somalia. Which was a debacle because the United States cut and ran too early. That should stiffen our upper lips.

A Sentiment I Share

At the Volokh Conspiracy, David Bernstein calls this mantra aummed from the mouth of a London attorney the “quote of the day”:

You will never change the hearts and minds of terrorists by bombing them.

I disagree. I prefer Bernsteins rejoinder:

    That’s OK, I’ll settle for their death. I don’t think we changed the hearts and minds of too many Nazis during World War II, either.

The Walk Off Home Run

We just saw The MetaMatrix Revolutions, and it was a good movie. The ending was a ground rule double. They just missed the homer by a couple feet.

What would the home run ending have been, you ask?

If Neo had woken up at his computer as he had at the beginning of the first movie.

The story would have turned on itself a final time, leaving the viewer to wonder the meaning of that twist.

Of course, the Far Coe Wachoviaski brothers gave up the paranoia speculative fiction after the first movie and wanted to do a messianic piece instead. Good for them.

I said good movie, but I better stop thinking about it before I change my mind. Regardless, I am glad to have seen it, if merely so I can stop talking about it and inadvertently using the name of my former employer.

Dual Book Review: Book of Top Ten Lists David Letterman (1990) / American Spectator’s Enemies List compiled by P.J. O’Rourke (1996)

I bought both of these books in the used bookstore orgy that was the last two weekends, and since they’re similar in nature, I thought I would review them together.

Not only they both humorous books of lists, but both came out in the late 80s and early 90s. The contents of the The Enemies List stem from columns written in 1989 and 1990; the later chapters delve into the early Clinton years (and have this naive optimism that Clinton will be a single term president). The Top Ten lists were compiled when David Letterman followed Johnny Carson, for crying out loud. In addition to being humorous, both of them are time capsules of a sort. Time capsules that indicate, very clearly, some things don’t change, but some things do (sorry–I have to pound that movie out of my brain).

The thrust of The Late Night With David Letterman Book of Top Ten Lists is obvious. The Enemies List compiles a list of people and organizations that P.J. thought should be included when we revived the traditions of Tailgunner Joe. The original essay, from the July 1989 American Spectator, proved popular; readers wrote in with their own suggestions, so the magazine published them and revisted the topic several years running. Hence, much of the book lists people who the magazine or its readers think impair the proper functioning of the nation and who should be hounded.

The same politicians from almost fifteen years ago are the same punchlines in some cases. Al Sharpton, for instance, is a common motif in Letterman’s collection. In O’Rourke’s more serious obra, we see the same names we curse today. Diane Feinstein. John Kerry (who would almost seem to have served in Vietnam longer than in Congress based on the way he talks about it–as though the former determined his behavior and honor more than the latter–it’s almost like M*A*S*H in a way, wot?). Lt. Governor Gray Davis. O’Rourke exempts Arnold Schwarzenegger. This was 14 years ago.

Both books are quick reads (obviously). The Letterman book is much more topical humor, so it’s probably the better of the two for pure humor value. However, the O’Rourke book contains a very good essay, “Why I Am a Conservative in the First Place”, which is worth the price alone (well, it’s worth the four dollars I spent anyway). Unfortunately, O’Rourke’s compiling for most of the book, so the writing is done by American Spectator readers, but those comments or paragraphs that O’Rourke writes demonstrate his wit. It’s not Holidays in Hell or Age and Guile Beat Youth, Innocence, and a Bad Haircut, or Give War a Chance, but I still want to be P.J. O’Rourke when I grow up.

Finally! I review some books I like, even though I don’t necessarily agree with the implications. Cripes, fourteen years. I hate the implication that I have watched that much history as an adult.

Cleaning Out The Link Box

Here are some things to which I have meant to bring to your attention, but haven’t:

  • Man tries to buy $7,000,000 in lottery tickets.
    This guy tries to buy seven million lottery tickets, which would give him a one in two chance of winning the $38,000,000 jackpot. Lottery officials decline. Not because it’s against the rules, but because it’s against the “spirit” of the lottery. That’s right, they arbitrarily change the rules on the fly to suit their own agenda. Keep that in mind if you ever win; take the cash. Just because the lottery promises to pay out that money over twenty or thirty years, does not mean they will. The minute the state legislature needs it to give poor children LeBron sneakers, your winnings are seized. (Link seen on Fark.)

  • There’s too much extraneous crap overlaid on television.
    Gail Pennington of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch agrees. Hey, Fox Sports Net, covering a quarter of the screen with an advertisement for Master and Commander while the Blues are breaking up ice does not endear me to you. I am not going to watch your “extreme” sports show or your fantasy football program. I want to watch the damn hockey game.

  • Regulation by punchline.
    Radley Balko joins the party late in recognizing that reductio ad absurdum helps those who sue or legistlate brainstorm for fresh outrages. Recognizing a slippery slope doesn’t mean you’re not sliding down it.

  • FBI can’t use your OnStar against you….yet.
    A court has ruled that the FBI cannot just take your vehicular remote assistance product off the hook and listen to what you’re saying in your car. Yet.

    Of course, you all know I would never buy a product where a radio signal can open your car doors or that the FBI could track your stolen vehicle. I don’t even have a cell phone where a signal could take it off hook, either. You think I am mad? Listen to how carefully I planned it out! (Link seen on Tech Dirt.)

  • Rigorous debate in comments is good.
    I don’t have comments because I don’t like trolls. So check this link out. It’s a story about how Australian Prime Minister shared an elevator with some footy fans. But the trolls are all on John Howard for his politics, and the owner of the blog responds appropriately.

There, now the bloggable notes are out of my inbox. I can now start answering some six month old e-mail.

Lileks Fusks Salam Pax

There it is.

Hey, Salam? Fuck you. I know you’re the famous giggly blogger who gave us all a riveting view of the inner circle before the war, and thus know more about the situation than I do. Granted. But there’s a picture on the front page of my local paper today: third Minnesotan killed in Iraq. He died doing what you never had the stones to do: pick up a rifle and face the Ba’athists. You owe him.

Man, do I understand the urge. Sometimes there’s nothing more you can say to some of the incoherence than to answer in strict terms that you assume your opponents can understand, and to let them know that there words are not only wrong, but also risable and subject to consequences.

Thanks for the Sentiment, Pinhead

Perhaps I am being too harsh, but I get a little riled when a Hollywooder loves the Midwest, like when director of The Day After Nicholas Meyer says:

“I have an enormous soft spot for the Midwest and the hospitality, the generosity and the openness of a lot of the people who live there,” says Meyer, a graduate of the University of Iowa.

Smeg off. There, you feel more at home, pinhead?

Maybe I am just a tad sensitive whenever a coastal type talks about Midwesterners. Typically, though, they like to ruffle their fingers through our hair and tell us we’re good kids.