September 24, 2003
My Fellow Kevin Murphys
I have no desire to recreate the moxie nu vs. moxie pop fight. Perhaps it's because it really is my name, and not a "handle." I think it's amazing that there are at least three - yes, you heard right - three Kevin Murphys with blogs. First, there's me (although this is not a claim to primacy, but when I'm writing, I'm always the party of the first part), Kevin "funmurphys" Murphy. Then, in no particular order, there's Kevin "Interociter" Murphy. And still in no particular order, there's Kevin "All is True" Murphy. Now that we have the The Blogging Kevins (or if you prefer the Kevin Collective (the only libertarian supported collective)), perhaps the three of us can form our own sub-class deriving both from Kevin and from Murphy (maybe we need an Axis of Murphys first?).
Anyway, there may be only one instapundit, but there are three blogging Kevin Murphys. I say Blog On, fellow Kevin Murphys and may all of our traffic increase.
What I Want To Say, Only Better
Danielle Pletka had an op ed in the NYT the other day that argues that problems in Iraq (currently overblown in the media, but still real) aren't caused by a lack of US troops, but a lack of Iraqi troops:
"The problem American commanders in the field face is not too few troops, but too little intelligence to act upon. And that problem is getting better as well. In the months since the deaths of Uday and Qusay Hussein, more Iraqis have been stepping forward with information — leading United States forces to Baathist fugitives and arms caches.
This is the kind of work United States forces need to be doing. The time has come to get American troops back to this core mission, and take them out of the night watchman game. But even if we weren't winning on the ground, the answer would not be to call up more reservists, but to train more Iraqis to do this kind of work. Indeed, virtually every task that could be done by additional American forces would be better assigned to Iraqis. Iraqis are directly plugged into intelligence. They speak the language, know the local population and are more sensitive to anomalies in behavior, dress and speech that give away bad actors. They are also perfectly capable of painting schools and directing traffic. Most important, a better Iraq will come about only if Iraqis themselves feel a sense of ownership."
Right now, successfully replacing a murdering, terrorist supporting dictator with a half way decent, reasonably representative government in Iraq is critical to the US, but it is with no exaggeration a matter of life and death for Iraqis. For decades, they haven't held their own futures in their own hands. Right now, they do. We can support them to the best of our abilities, but ultimately, what Iraq becomes is up to the Iraqis.
Link via Andrew Sullivan
September 23, 2003
Kevin Vs. The Post
The Saint Louis Post Dispatch is St. Louis' only major daily newspaper. It's not a very good paper, and tilts alarmingly to the left (though many a leftist also dislikes it). While I would have canceled my subscription long ago, the Other Fearless Leader has informed me that because we save more in coupons from the paper than we spend on it, we are not cancelling. Tightwad that I am, I have complied. At the last Midwest Blogbash, the idea of a PostWatch site was discussed and quickly dismissed because somebody would have to actually read it reguarly.
This morning over my breakfast, I felt compelled to write a couple of letters to people at the post. The first was over an article about the drop in City homicides. I sent the following letter:
I'm glad to read that homicide is down across the St. Louis Metro area. I found it odd that the focus of the article was on the city of St. Louis when, as you relate in the last quarter of the article, it showed one of the lowest homicide rate decreases. I suppose it is to be expected that the police and prosecutors pat themselves on the back, but it isn't clear that the other jurisdictions are doing the same thing as the city and thus it isn't clear that the undoubtedly fine police and prosecutorial work is the cause. Perhaps a follow up article could shed more light on this.
That's right, the article was all about how the City of St. Louis had a big drop in homicides, had quotes from prosecutors saying what a great job the prosecutors were doing and how the locals and feds were cooperating, had quotes from the police about how their aggressive police work was paying off. And then at the end they let on that St. Louis County had a larger drop in the homicide rate, along with the all the neighboring counties in Missouri. No back pats for these guys, though.
Then, a headline for a front page article set me off (I can't give a URL for that because the miserable Post website only puts selected articles on the net), and here's my letter for that one:
I noticed on today's front page a sub heading about the suicide bombing in Iraq says "attacks across nation intensify". In what way have they intensified? Are they more frequent, more deadly, involve larger numbers of attackers? Given that it is over an article about a repeat bombing that wasn't as bad as the first one, it seems to be particularly inappropriate. I've been reading that the attacks have been intensifying ever since early May, shortly after President Bush declared an end to major combat operations. This is odd, since just before the intensification process started we were fighting a major war. I have yet to see a chart showing the intensity of combat versus time in Iraq, yet many media outlets tell me over and over that the attacks have intensified. Quite frankly, not only is it not supported by anything in the article, I don't think it's supported by the facts in Iraq. Please keep the headline(s) closer to the facts of the article.
I'm sure I'll get a nice email blah blah blah but nothing will change. The Post gives me a choice - either get my news off the net, or get my news from late night talk hosts.
UPDATE: No replies to my email so far, but Andrew Sullivan linked to an oped in the NYT that claims attacks have declined from an average of 25 a day in July to about 15 a day today - still too many, but certainly refutes the claim of "intensifying attacks".
September 22, 2003
Two For Two
Okay, this time I didn't win outright, but I did win Dodd's Caption Contest once again with another solid gold woofer. Hooray for me! Sir Charles would have done better if he had realized the boat was listing to starboard, which is another word for right. Remember, the pointy end is the front on a ship.
Irish Proverb 11
Put Silk On A Goat, and It's Still A Goat.
September 20, 2003
Warner Vs. Bulger
Mike Martz replaced Kurt Warner with Marc Bulger as the Ram's quarterback this week. They're both excellent quarterbacks. What I find interesting, though, is that Bulger didn't play any better than Warner this year. Yes, Warner had a terrible first half against New York. But Bulger had a terrible first half against SF -- right down to a couple of fumbles because he get rid of the ball or protect it. Warner had a concussion -- what was Bulger's excuse? Both played better second halves, mostly because the offensive line remembered how to pass block.
The real problem is that while Mike Martz was an outstanding offensive coordinator, so far he's been a poor head coach. His game day management skills are abysmal, he's slow to adjust to what the other team is doing, he's pass happy, and he meddles far too much in the draft (where he's repeatedly demonstrated he's a poor judge of talent). You get the feeling he's so stubborn he'd rather lose his way than win anybody else's way. Maybe he believed the press when he was hailed as a genius for his work during the Ram's 1999 cinderella season. Just because he devised a brilliant passing game and had the players to execute it doesn't make him evena so-so head coach. It took him six quarters of losing football this year to even bother with a running game -- and that's with Marshall Faulk in the backfield.
Perhaps the biggest difference between Bulger and Warner is that Martz coaches a better game when Bulger is QB. At least he remembers he has a pretty good running back in Faulk.
September 19, 2003
More On Iraq Museum Looting
The Wall Street Journal ran a condensed versionof a briefing by the officer in charge of investigating the looting of the Iraq National Museum (long version complete with slides used is available at DefenseLINK). Roughly 13,500 items were stolen; about 3,500 of those have been recovered. While that sounds like a lot, most of the items were small - over 10,000 were taken from a single basement storage area and could fit in a single, large backpack. Some of the items were huge - one statue weighed over 300 pounds. Numbers alone don't tell the story.
There were random looters who grabbed what they could, professionals who knew what was worth stealing, and one group that knew the museum and where to find keys to the basement storage vaults. Fortunately, they dropped the keys, lost them in the extensive litter, and then had to flee from the smoke of the fire they started looking for the keys. They recovered fingerprints off of these guys which didn't match any of the staff who have returned (or US soldiers). And yes, the museum was used as a fighting position during the war.
A lot of items (over 1,700) were turned in by ordinary Iraqi's - most of whom wanted to be clear that they were turning them into the American's soldiers for safekeeping until a new government came to power because the old museum staff was too closely identified with the Baath Party. Interesting stuff. Oh yeah, the person arrested most recently over this was a journalist entering the US with 3 of the cylinder seals that were stolen.
September 17, 2003
Dismal Science, Dismal Post?
Just because some long dead English guy named Economics the Dismal Science doesn't mean this post has to be dismal. Perhaps it isn't economics itself that is dismal, but the reporting of it which I find to be uniformly dismal. I'm 41 years old, which doesn't mean I'm any smarter than the young whippersnappers who write most of the blogs out there, but it does mean that I have heard economics reporting over several business cycles over the years, and the script never varies. Right now we are in the "jobless recovery" scene. The media notes at the beginning of every recovery that this, unlike all the other recoveries, is a jobless one. They seem to forget that every other one at this stage was being reported as jobless. And of course that means that manufacturing jobs are disappearing, having been exported overseas, with dire consequences - as in these jobs have been lost "forever". They're never coming back. Japan, the Asian Tigers, and now third world countries are going to put us out of work, and all that will be left is burger flipping. Maybe this time it will be true. But I'll tell you this - only a few short years ago the job market was so tight that you couldn't get decent service in a McDonalds (don't even mention Hardees - they always have lousy service).
While in the past, the stock market has been a leading indicator and employment has been a lagging indicator doesn't mean anything; nope, this time, it'll be different!
The culprit is productivity. We don't want any more of that! You see, productivity growth means that we need fewer workers to produce the same amount of goods. So while I suppose I should be happy that we had enough farm productivity growth over the last several hundred years that I'm not stuck slopping the pigs and tilling the soil in order to survive, along with 99 percent of my fellow humanity, but work in a nice airconditioned office ruining my eyes with a computer terminal, if we get any more, we won't have jobs for everybody.
Or we could look at it that with greater productivity we have more goods, more leisure time, and earlier retirements for the same number of people. I'm sure that just because that's what it's always meant in the past won't mean that it will continue in the future - past performance is no indicator of future performance, you know.
September 16, 2003
Time Flies Whether You Have Fun Or Not
The whole Murphy Family has been busy. School, Scouts, and Soccer have been pretty dominating. Work and real life have some terrible synchronicity where it seems they always get busy at the same time. Luckily, I've managed to have some fun -- our Cub pack won the "Best in Show" award at the Manchester Homecoming Parade. You can send me a big foam finger (index, not middle) for Christmas so I can hoot and holler "We're Number One!" while waving it about.
September 3, 2003
Tolerence For Me, But Not For Thee
Funmurphys reader and blog proprietor in his own right Tom McMahon was banned from commenting at Daily Kos because of a comment he made about Ted Kennedy and Chappaquiddick in response to a post about Rep. Janklow. Maybe it was over the top (I couldn't find it); and blogs can ban whoever they want for any reason they want. But it does seem out of character for the tolerant, loving left to ban commentators who they simply disagree with, or worse, provide uncomfortable and inconvient facts. Oh Well. One fact that has been brought home to me repeatedly while reading blogs is that there are a lot of crazy people out there - left, right, and center - who comment on blogs. Another fact is that there are lot of smart people out there - left, right, and center - who comment on blogs.
In another time and place, I once proposed a Gresham's Law of Forums: namely, that bad posters/commentors drive out good ones. I haven't seen anything in the years since to change my mind.
3rd Wave Feminism
I've mentioned before I'm not a conventional Feminist. Well, according to women studies major and Miss America contestant Nancy Redd, I'm a 3rd wave feminist. Too bad my grandmothers aren't around to find out. I knew I was at least 2nd generation since my mother, with two boys, made sure her sons never knew there was a distinction between man's and women's work (she also breast fed at a time when, in the words of my children's pediatrician, doing so was a political statement). Anyway, I'm in complete agreement with Ms. Redd when she says "This is what third-wave feminism is all about: Be a career woman, be a stay-at-home mom, be Miss America" -- and I'm confident that my daughter will live that future.
The author of the piece, Ms. Nesoff, disagrees: "Redd missed the point. She shed a quarter of the 158 pounds on her 5-foot-5 frame to compete for the crown, conforming, in the process, to current notions of beauty. Perhaps what's being reclaimed by feminists who embrace beauty pageants and impractical shoes is not feminism itself but femininity. ... Perhaps some women want to ignore the inequality that persists in our society by coating it in pink frosting. They can strap on those Jimmy Choos and pretend that there is no glass ceiling or rape or sexual harassment."
Methinks Ms. Nesoff misses the point. The old style feminists seem to see equality only in terms of making women as manly as possible - thus the gripe about reclaiming feminity and conformity to current notions of beauty. Who wants to exchange the patriarchy for the matriarchy, especially if the matriarchy is trying to out patriarch the patriarchy? If a woman wants to wear impractical shoes to look good, isn't that her decision? If a woman wants to wear work boots, eschew makeup, forgo current notions of sex appeal, have a career in construction, swill beer, and cuss like a sailor, more power to her - but again, shouldn't that be her choice? Or she can strap on those Jimmy Choos and deal with glass ceilings, rape, and sexual harassment in her own unique style like the rest of us who aren't demanding that others conform to our theories but who are trying to make the world a better place through our own actions.
Thanks to Dodd at Ipse Dixit for the link.
Tanya has an opinion, too.