Hijinks Not Yet A Felony

Here in Casinoport, four high school students are getting the pamphlet thrown at them for a senior prank. Ill-advised youngsters ran into their high school cafeteria while wearing masks and carrying boxes with chickens in them to release said chickens. They’re getting misdemeanor disturbing the peace (or maybe “Disturbing the 10-Piece Bucket”) charges. What an outrage!

You mean it’s not yet a felony to wear masks in public or carry chickens in boxes? Legislators, take note! We need to make an example of these young men, assuring that they’re stigmatized for life and that they forever have to tell this particular story when checking that little “Yes, I have been convicted” box on job applications. And if they’re convicted felons, they can’t vote against you! Win/win!

Remember, when have senses of humor are outlawed, only outlaws will have a sense of humor. And in case it’s a law exempt from ex post facto, allow me to assert “I am serious.”

Kirk Built a Gun From Sulphur, a Tube, and His, uh, Urine and Vinegar

Fark (and other sources) are reporting about the New Zealand guy who’s building a cruise missile in his garage from parts he bought, essentially, in electronics catalogs from around the world, and get this, New Zealand Customs didn’t stop the legal parts trafficking!

Let the uproar begin. So this yahoo fancies himself Tom Swift or the modern equivalent, who instead of building a time machine or rocket to get to Saturn, builds a cruise missile or a Ptomekin-class nuclear submarine. It ain’t easy to do on one’s own, and if he can do it, more power to him. However, the Hysterics-That-Be will undoubtedly want to clamp down on mail order now and maybe even curiosity among the civilian populace.

Remember, Captain James T. Kirk once built a gun out of the surrounding environment (while nearly shirtless, no less). But in the end he didn’t kill the guy in the awkward lizard costume out of civilized behavior.

Perhaps society and its emissaries (of which government is but one, and a subserviant one at that) should work on promoting civilization and not worry so much about taking away our individual pointy objects. Civilized people don’t use them on one another without good reason. Or reason, anyway.

“More Than Words” Is Different From “More Than Words Can Say”

All right, for the last time, let’s get this straight. Although it’s easy to confuse them, Extreme did the song “More Than Words“, which does, in fact, differ from the Alias song “More Than Words Can Say“.

Of course, anyone can confuse two sweet-sounding power ballads from late 80s hair bands. And Alias and Extreme, or was it Extreme and Alias? But remember, although Alias was truly a one-hit wonder, Extreme was a two-hit wonder. They also charted with “Hole Hearted” off of the same album (Extreme II: Pornograffitti) and made a valiant attempt to follow that album up with III Sides to Every Story (how clever!), but to no avail. “Hole Hearted” is the better of their two hits, in my opinion.

So keep it straight from now on. I don’t want to have to discuss this with you again.

Tomorrow Bejeweled

The new album, 0304, from Jewel comes out tomorrow, June 3, 2003. I have a wallet with $16 in it all ready.

The first single, “Intuition”, sports a more techno sound than her previous works, but it’s still her sweet, breathy vocals. Innocent, playful, and yet suh-exy.

I have been a fan since Pieces Of You, which I gained after leading a friend on a trip to numerous record stores to find it on a winter evening. Finally, we found it, and we listened to it several times consecutively. I ordained myself Paladin of Jewel and have had to defend her honor, or at least her vocal talent, on many occasions. Of course, since she’s no Sarah Brightman (or Sarah McLachlan, for that matter), so it’s been easier to resort to righteous violence than to offer evidence to her vocal prowess, so I have had to smite many a man, woman, and schoolchild to preserve her rightful head of the pantheon of pop.

Here’s CNN’s take on her album: “Jewel: Sexy dance diva?” I hope I can sleep tonight, and that the anticipation will not keep me tossing, turning, and upsetting nestling cats.

And for those of you wondering, Jewel’s official score is MOT-MCBDFHM (Much of That, Minus a Couple Bags of Doritos For Her Munchies).

The Educated Wine Palate vs John Kass and Me

John Kass (registration required) and I don’t drink el vino but we do drink the brews. So we can only wonder at people who improve their brains and their palates to tell the difference between wines.

The Brian Wine Chart includes these continua:

  • Taste: From sweet (1) to not sweet (10).
  • Buzz: From good (1) to very good (10).
  • Price: From cheep (1) to “I’ll never taste it” and beyond (10).

For instance, I give St. James Velvet Red scores a 3.5.3. Les Bourgeois Riverboat Red scores a 1.6.3.

Only Guinness Draught scores better, 1.1.1. What, you say, it’s not wine? Well, it’s not cheap either, but it’s the contender to beat!

One Impression To Rule Them


Some geeks can do an impression of Agent Smith from The Matrix.

Some geeks can do an impression of Gollum from Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

But I have perfected my impression of Agent Gollum. Ask me sometime, and I shall do it for you. You might be asked to provide a token Guinness Draught or two beforehand, and please do not ask me to do it in front of my esteemed spouse.

I am the king geek, and I will creep out any challenger for the title!

(P.S. It’s probably almost as good as the “Dying Tauntaun.”)

Unemployment Does Not Count Many, Say Experts Who Want Funding

According to the Sunday edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, unemployment is undercounted because:

It does not count the substantial number of Americans who have gone back to school because they can’t find a job or those who have taken a part-time job for much less pay. It does not include people who, unable to find work, have set themselves up in businesses, many as home-based consultants.

That’s right, the official unemployment numbers do not include students or people who are employed.

Also not represented in the numbers, experts (in technical writing, and by “experts” I mean I) also point out that official unemployment does not include homemakers who know raising children is a full-time job, thousands of registered and active Chicago voters who happen to be deceased, dozens of fetuses, dogs and cats who have obtained credit cards, illegal migrant farm workers who have returned to their points of origin, and Canadians.

By the time you add it up, the number actually exceeds the population of the United States. That’s right, unemployment has skyrocketed to 135%. We need block grants, stat! Please send the government checks to Brian J. Noggle, care of this Web site.

Surprise Larry Ellison This Christmas

What do you get the billionaire who has everything, including a fighter jet and a special disposition to land planes at his rural airport at night? How about his own aircraft carrier?

He’ll probably drop the $4.5 million on this WWII-era (but in use until recently by the Brazillian Navy) carrier. He’ll expense it, of course, as part of his long term rearming so that Oracle can retake its rightful position as database market leader, by force if necessary, from IBM.

(Thanks to /. for the pointer.)

My Jaw’s Better, Thanks

Now that I am well on the way to recovery from the bruises on my chin suffered when I was astonished by Harley Soandso’s column about Chris Hedges on SFGate.com (seven prepositional phrases in a clause! A new blog personal best!), I can reason out what bothered me about this assertion:

Yet the Rockford incident had a chilling aspect to it. As described in the press, it could well have been a scene out of the recent miniseries on the rise of Hitler to power in Nazi Germany.

The difference between the many incidents at Berkeley and the Rockford incident is that, at Berkeley, it’s usually the rabble against an Establishment spokesperson. At Rockford, it was just the opposite; the incident had the feel of a government protest against an outsider.

America has been called the Republic of Many Mansions (based on the biblical quote from John 14:2). The Carmody text (The Republic of Many Mansions) posits that America has a lot of (mostly Christian) strains in its religious thought. Different denominations and whatnot. The paragraph represents a long, albeit annotated, description of how I decided to frame my thesis for this posting, which is:

America is a republic of many establishments, and hence a lot of wide-eyed innocent strugglers against the oppressive established regime (or jackbooted hooligans, if you’re in the establishment being assailed at the immediate time of assailing).

For instance, from Sorensen’s perspective, Chris Hedges and his points of view, shared by his colleagues at many established dailies and chic alternative weeklies, represent the Wide-Eyed Innocent (or perhaps slightly jaundiced and worldly) Struggler Against the Oppressive Regime (WEISAOR for not-very-short). The Rockford College graduates and their families represent Tools of The Man (ToTM). Because, you see, Hedges was speaking against an Establishment, namely the 3-year-old presidential administration and the recent Republican-controlled Congress, a decisive foreign policy, and whatever handy straw men he could set up regarding these. (Certainly, he was not speaking against the republican form of government itself, where the hoi polloi pick the leaders whom the rabble think will best represent it.)

However, to some with a different point of view, Chris Hedges represents an Establishment of a different sort. The Established Coastal Media, which postures to represent the People and wants to dictate how The People thinks. Not by force, of course, but because ECM thinking is right and dissenters will be mocked and looked down upon. However, to some, ECM represents the Oppressive Established Regime (OER), or at least a bunch of out-of-touch twits. So sometimes, the local (or imported) WEISAOR makes a little noise.

America offers a good number of institutions against which anyone can play David. The Church (which cam be any of a handful of small Christian denominations or the Catholics), The Military Industrial Complex, the Gummint, Congress, the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, Corporations, Big Tobacco, Big Oil, the Automakers, the Unions, and so on and so on and scooby dooby doo-bee.

So dividing the country into Establishment/Rebel fails because Establishments and their Oppressive Regimes are too prevalent to be noteworthy, and so is rebellion. Rebellion has always been a part of growing up. The adolescent differentiates from the parents through rebellion. Pop culture latched onto this particular part of growing up and has idolized it, super-sized it, and apothesized it (probably because teething is such an individual agony, and not good cinema). Once the new rebels got the parents out of the way, they decided to take on The Man, and they keep finding another The Man to take on. Even I define myself in opposition to some things, rebelling against the oppressive regime who thinks I should mow my back lawn before it goes to seed. Join me this afternoon for a protest against it.

So Sorensen’s gone off into victimics when shrilling about his WEISAORs representing “the rabble against an Establishment spokesperson” while the opposing WEISORs represent “a government protest against an outsider.” We’re all outsiders in the establishment.

Literary Fiction Rears Its Ugly Head Again

In my never-ending cycle of market research (can it be a market if I never sell anything?), I picked up a copy of Gentlemen’s Quarterly (save yer click, no content, just “offer” of a subscription and the cover), which somehow gets published every month. Aside from the eyecandy cover phototeeenay on Eva Mendez, ranked SOTSF (Some Of That + Small Fries), GQ includes some articles, a piece of criticism, and Heaven help me, a Short Story.

So the plot of “Side Angle Side”, this month’s obra, is: Married middle-aged editor of an alternative weekly paper goes for an illicit weekend with the young hot pants up-and-coming writer. They share some joints and some sex, and then she gets weird on him and they get kicked out of the cabin they’d rented, he drives them home, she’s weirder on him, he goes home to his wife and young child, and hot pants writes something weird and resigns. I didn’t count, but it looks like it took several thousand words.

This story seemed like deja vu all over again. Didn’t I just read that story in Harper’s? No, wait, it was a college professor going off with a student, or maybe a struggling writer and a teenage bookstore clerk.

Let’s face it, literary fiction in the slicks is too much like Mad Libs for the intelligentsia in mid-life crises. Aside from the occasional sprinkling of pieces containing Cause-of-the-Week imaginings of what it was like to be an oppressed member of the opposite sex in the past or some sort of deviant (sorry, rebellious oppressed spirit), old-dude-sleeping-with-hot-young-chick again (or for once) is all they got. It’s the snooty equivalent of a Penthouse letter, and not as titillating.

As every single protagonist in literary fiction could tell you, Thoreau said that most men lead lives of quiet desperation. Because life is the constant struggle against the entropy that the cold universe offers as the only alternative, I guess the desperate struggle sort of makes sense. But it’s the quiet part that might bug literary authors. Perhaps they, and their protagonists, would rather rage, rage against the dying of the light by fornicating and affecting adolescence. Here in the Midwest, we rage against the dying of the light by getting up in the morning and going to work.

Maybe once, or twice, this problem, undoubtedly first discovered by Literary writers, of growing older and the hypothesis “struggling through casual sex is good” could have been interesting. If the protagonist had grown, or learned something, or maybe just regretted. Instead, the drugs, booze, and sex have just become Largest-Ball-Of-Twine tourist attractions in the same landscape of quiet desperation that other people, with real jobs, travel through without making those particular stops. Instead, each writer goes through his or her (paging Ms. Jong) own struggle, which includes a lot of humping with no resolution. The protagonists, and the authors, don’t seem to get past it.

While I wait for some writer to arise, somehow fighting through the tenured culture of the established writers and established subject matter for the dogmatic slicks and orthodox university presses, to go all Hemingway on the literary bunch and break their walking sticks of his or her head, I’ll continue to prefer the genre stylings of science fiction, fantasy, and mystery. The types of short stories and novels wherein the protagonists confront a problem and overcome it. Well, not always, but the struggle’s admirable.

Of course, I could start the revolution, but I don’t have time. After I finish meddling with this sci-fi piece I have open in another window, I have to get to bed. I have to work on Monday.

Long Live Mozilla and the Re-Ascendent <blink> Tag!

I cannot help but recommend that you download the Mozilla Web browser. Not only does pop-under ad blocking come free (and very accurately!), but it accurately renders the oft-maligned <blink> tag. To illustrate, you only need to view today’s posts in Mozilla, or go to Lambert Field, the official Web site of the St. Louis airport and the place I first noticed the suhweet blinking.

Party like it’s 1995!

I Was Just Mocking Negra Modelo Yesterday

In a conversation with friends last night, I told some friends that Negra Modelo beer was unpalatable, and that the definition of a Mexican dark beer is beer that is made downstream from las maquiladoras.

James Lileks, in his alway-amusing column “The Bleat”, disagrees. He dislikes Corona, but can consume Negra Modelo. Of course, I don’t care for Corona, Negra Modelo, or Heineken (the other beer in his column, which takes issue with a Wall Street Journal ranking of favorite beers).

Corona, the number one beer in the United States? What a travesty! What about Guinness Draught?!

Although one thing that Guinness, Heineken, or any American beer lacks is a young, attractive woman billionaire running the show. Grupo Modelo has Maria Aramburuzabala, a bachelorette last time I checked. (Attention, my bachelor reader!)

There’s only one way to top a wealthy beer heiress as a mate.