February 27, 2004

Telling It Like It Is

Israel comes out swinging on Yassir Arafat's lawsuit over Israel's safety fence:

Could anything be more shameful than recruiting, inciting, and paying the murderer of 8 children - students, parents, the brother-in-law of Israel's commercial attache here in the Hague? Could anything be more shameful than that?

And the answer is yes, there is something more shameful: To do all this and then come to the city of The Hague, to ask the United Nation's Court of Justice to censure the victims of terror for trying to defend themselves. To come to the 'Palace of Peace', to the 'Court of Justice', on the very morning that the victims are being buried and mourned, murdered by Arafat's own henchman, to attack Israel for building a fence which might have saved their lives.

And that's just the throat clearing.

If we are in a war on terrorism, why isn't Arafat et al on the target list? I hope it's just a matter of timing.

Via Shark Blog

Posted by Kevin Murphy at 1:20 PM | War On Terror

Penultimate Passion (I hope)

While there's a natural tendency to defend what you believe in, I don't have a problem with people not liking The Passion. It's a powerful movie about a powerful subject, so it's to be expected that the reaction to it varies. People are entitled to the reactions and emotions. A movie shouldn't and can't be a test of your faith.

But I have come across some stupid stuff. The review in the Post-Dispatch about its accuracy was particulary stupid - ignoring real instances of inaccuracy it nevertheless lambasted the movie as generally inaccurate while only citing an error in the press guide.

The review also had this doozy: "One problem with filming the Gospels is that they all contain many ambiguous statements, statements that can be interpreted in more than one way. But the act of committing them to film commits the viewer to understanding them as the director does." I've seen a similar sentiment expressed in several other reviews, including Leon Wieseltier's. The problem is that the Gospels don't contain many ambiguous statements -- it's the rest of the New Testament that does. The Gospels consist of descriptions and dialogue of the form: Jesus went here and the following statements were made. It isn't ambiguous about what happened or what was said. The ambiguities come from what does it mean. For instance, we have the parable of the sower -- there is no ambiguity about what Jesus said, but until He explained it, not even the disciples (they had to ask) understood it. Now I understand that Gibson didn't include only what was written in the Gospels (hey it's a movie, not the Bible), but its not like the movie consists of Gibson sitting on a stool telling you what he thinks the Gospels mean.

Wieseltier outdoes himself: "The ending is happy, which has the effect of making the viewer, or at least this viewer, feel like he has been duped." I know Leon's not a Christian and all, but if you're surprised by the resurrection, you know absolutely nothing of Christianity. Leon has no trouble speaking about the history of Christianity, yet oddly misses it's central tenet. I don't expect him to believe in it, I just expect an expert like him to know that Christians do.

Posted by Kevin Murphy at 1:06 PM | Faith

Something To Keep The Mind Occupied

I'm driving to work this morning listening to the CD I made last night (have I mentioned how much I like iTunes?) and I'm struck by how much better diction musicians of today have than when I was a teen. In those days, you never knew what in the heck they were saying - mondegreens were rampant. I could make out every word Pink was singing in Get The Party Started. I don't think I've ever been able to make out half the words Robert Plant has sung (for you youngsters, he's the guy lamenting how long its been since he rock 'n' rolled or did the stroll in the Cadillac ads -- at least that's what I think he's saying.). My initial thought was that the rock musicians of yesteryear were drunk and/or stoned most of them time, leading to the slurring, while today's group are high on cocain, leading to the careful annunciation of every syllable.

But upon further reflection, as I enjoyed the cadences of Pink and Seal, I think it's the influence of Rap that leads to the current clarity of singing. While I'm not a big fan of rap (I like Young MC, but then he's hardly in the mainstream of rap), I do admire the vocal clarity and rhythm of rap. But then, rap is just poetry set to music -- iambic pentameter of the modern age. A quick check of Google, and I discovered to my disappointment but not surprise that this thought was not original.

So that's just one way my mind occupies itself during my commute.

Posted by Kevin Murphy at 12:19 PM | Me

February 26, 2004

Still More Passion

Who knew that a movie about Christ's death would be a murder mystery. A lot more gory than my favorite, Miss Marple or her Americanization, Jessica Fletcher, but a murder mystery nevertheless. I suppose the whole "Who Shot J.R.?" thing was so unpopular, certain Jewish groups figured turning The Passion into "Who Killed Christ?" would hurt it at the box office. Based on the press, it reminds me of The Jagged Edge, in that even when the killer is revealed, my wife and I couldn't tell if it was Jeff Bridges or not. What these groups failed to realize is that I, along with nearly all other Christians, already had an answer to that particular mystery from around the time of my acceptance of Jesus as Lord, and the answer is we all did.

Reviews are all over the map - some were intellectually engaged,more than one thought it profound, some some moved by it, some hated it, and some don't want to see it at all. Oddly enough, none of them saw it as a murder mystery.

One of the interesting things about the movie is how people describe Gibson's take on Pontius Pilate. Andrew Sullivan proclaims "Pilate, the Saint". Others are more nuanced in that they say Pilate stands in for us - if he were a brute, we couldn't identify with him. When Mel Gibson talked about Pilate in his interview with Bill O'Reilly, this is what he said:

"He actually condemned a man to death who he had proclaimed he thought was innocent. ... He's a monster."

I'm both looking forward to seeing it, and dreading it at the same time.

Posted by Kevin Murphy at 12:50 PM | Comments (1) | Faith

February 24, 2004

More Passion

I think Michael Medved has a great take on the controversy (including some important history) surrounding Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ:

"If nothing else, the bitter disputes and free-floating anxiety over The Passion of The Christ should help enlighten the Jewish community to the identity of our true enemies today—and our truest friends. A sane perspective on the public reaction to the movie's artistry and message may yet help Gibson achieve his original goal of promoting unity, rather than division, among Christians, Jews, and the rest of humanity."

I haven't seen the movie yet, but I think two groups are going to be proven wrong - Jews who are worried about it causing anti-Semitism, and Christians who are hoping it will help with outreach.

I think anti-Semitism (which we ought to just call Jew-Hatred which is both clearer and more correct) is the mark of stupidity, ignorance, and malice all rolled into one. It has no place in Christianity, and isn't taught by the Bible. The people who are going to be moved by The Passion are not going to be turned to anti-Semitism. And by the same token, the people who are going to be moved by The Passion I think will be people who are already believers. I see the upside of the movie to be that it will help foster Christian (and Jewish) unity, and that it will deepen and strengthen current believers' faith. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think it's going to pack the pews.

Posted by Kevin Murphy at 9:57 PM | Comments (2) | Faith

Case Closed?

I saw Malcom Gladwell's take on SUVs the other day and was impressed. And I'm not the only one. But there is one glaring problem with it - the table that purports to show that SUVs aren't safe has some problems. I'm reproducing it here:

Make/Model Type Driver Deaths Other Deaths Total

Toyota Avalon

large 40 20 60

Chrysler Town & Country

minivan 31 36 67

Toyota Camry

mid-size 41 29 70

Volkswagen Jetta

subcompact 47 23 70

Ford Windstar

minivan 37 35 72

Nissan Maxima

mid-size 53 26 79

Honda Accord

mid-size 54 27 82

Chevrolet Venture





Buick Century

mid-size 70 23 93

Subaru Legacy/Outback


74 24 98

Mazda 626

compact 70 29 99

Chevrolet Malibu

mid-size 71 34 105

Chevrolet Suburban

S.U.V. 46 59 105

Jeep Grand Cherokee

S.U.V. 61 44 106

Honda Civic

subcompact 84 25 109

Toyota Corolla

subcompact 81 29 110

Ford Expedition

S.U.V. 55 57 112

GMC Jimmy

S.U.V. 76 39 114

Ford Taurus

mid-size 78 39 117

Nissan Altima

compact 72 49 121

Mercury Marquis

large 80 43 123

Nissan Sentra

subcompact 95 34 129

Toyota 4Runner

S.U.V. 94 43 137

Chevrolet Tahoe

S.U.V. 68 74 141

Dodge Stratus

mid-size 103 40 143

Lincoln Town Car

large 100 47 147

Ford Explorer

S.U.V. 88 60 148

Pontiac Grand Am

compact 118 39 157

Toyota Tacoma

pickup 111 59 171

Chevrolet Cavalier

subcompact 146 41 186

Dodge Neon

subcompact 161 39 199

Pontiac Sunfire

subcompact 158 44 202

Ford F-Series

pickup 110 128 238

Looks pretty authoritative, doesn't it?

First off, the other deaths and therefore total death column is meaningless. What it measures is how often somebody besides the driver is riding. Automobiles are not made safe only for the driver, and what with the steering wheel like a blunt spear pointed right at the driver, you could argue that the driver sits in the most dangerous seat in any vehicle. So you should ignore that other death column, and concentrate only on driver deaths. It's the only way to get an apples to apples comparison. Now the SUVs don't look as bad.

Secondly, this table doesn't take into account the driver. Young and old drivers are bad drivers. The Pontiac Sunfire may have such a poor record in part because it's mainly driven by young hot rodders. The Lincoln Towncar may be less safe than the Ford Explorer in part because the drivers tend to be doddering oldsters who shouldn't be on the road any more, not because the car is less crashworthy - and it might deliberately have lousy handling so as to give grandpa the feeling he hasn't left his living room, which could affect its safety. And anyone only casually acquainted with America realizes that a different car models have different demographics - even with similar age ranges. It's not only that a different age group drives mini-vans that drive subcompacts, but youths who want sporty (and thus drive more daringly) on a budget may prefer Sunfires to Sentras.

Thirdly, the chart is per million cars, not million car-miles. So it doesn't cover milage or how cars are driven (which sort of goes along with demographics). When I take my son to one of his activities, I'm often the only car in a sea of mini-vans and SUVs. Somehow, I don't think there are all that many mini-vans on the road after the bars close on a Saturday night, the most dangerous time to be on the road.

Lastly, it lumps different models together, even though newer models may be much safer (or even less safe) than older ones.

Now I don't think my objections mean SUVs are as safe as mini-vans (I own a mini-van and a subcompact), but I don't think that the chart is conclusive, at best it's suggestive.

I think you're much better off looking at crash test results to get a handle on relative safety between vehicles.

Posted by Kevin Murphy at 12:57 PM | Current Events

Good Reporting

As bad as the Post-Dispatch is, you have to give them credit when they do a good job. Phillip O'Connor has a great series of articles about the personal experiences of a couple Green Berets in the war on terror. What makes it so good is that he got great interviews with the people involved; his own editorializing leaves a lot to be desired, but overall the articles are well worth reading.

First Installment
Second Installment
Third Installment

Posted by Kevin Murphy at 12:02 PM | Media Criticism

February 23, 2004

Change Is Good

We had our pack's Blue and Gold banquet this past Saturday night, and afterwards people kept telling me it was our best one yet. And not because of my silly jokes or anything else I did except for one simple thing: I didn't say no to change (and I even insisted on some of it). In the past, we have held a raffle throughout the night so that every boy won a prize. That's eighty something donated prizes, so most of them were pretty minor and it takes forever. Last year I asked our committee to end the raffle (something all the den leaders were in agreement with). Somehow it got put back in. This year, the lady in charge volunteered pretty much just so that she could end the raffle. But that wasn't the end of her changes - we also flipped the order of the meeting. In the past, we had the pack meeting, then we ate, and then we had our entertainment. The whole thing took 3 hours. This year, we had the entertainment first -- a juggling clown magician -- then we ate, and then we had the pack meeting. We were done in two hours (and there was much rejoicing). I admit I was nervous at first about following a professional, but the reality was that the kids were happy after the pro, and even happier to have a full belly before putting up with me.

I suppose the thing I've done best as Cub Master is to let go and let our volunteers do what they want to do. I'm a coordinator, not in control. It works wonders for getting parent participation and it works wonders for the overall program - the creativity and the dedication has been phenomenal. It also makes my job easy -- most people like to implement their own ideas and work harder on them.

Posted by Kevin Murphy at 12:19 PM | Scouting

February 20, 2004


Phil Carter has a post (and op-ed) about why he thinks President Bush's National Guard service record matters.

"Leadership by example is a principle that's hammered into every newly minted American military officer. ... Above all else, it means never asking your soldiers, sailors, airmen or Marines to do something that you wouldn't do yourself."

Armed Liberal at Winds of Change replies:
"It's well written, serious, accurate, and amazingly wrong.

I have to agree with Armed Liberal. Is Phil really saying that you can't be the civilian commander-in-chief if you weren't in the military, and you can't go to war as the CinC if you weren't in combat yourself? That sure seems to the be the logical conclusion of his statements. I guess Phil won't be able to vote for Edwards since John won't be able to provide leadership to the Armed Forces as his role of President requires.

In an earlier post Phil said "Was he really the kind of junior officer that we now want to be Commander-in-Chief?" And I also have to agree with Jeff Medcalf when he says:

Would it not be better to ask, "Has he been the kind of Commander-in-Chief that we would want to be Commander-in-Chief?" It's not like he's Kerry - with no record as CinC to run on. You can actually judge the President by how he's actually performed his duties. Why do you need or even want to look at his record as a junior officer in performing such an evaluation?"

Bush has amassed a pretty clear record as CinC, and as far as I can tell, people are not having a hard time making up their minds about how he's doing -- love it or hate it.

Assuming Kerry is the Democratic Nominee, how should I judge how he'll do? By then man he was thirty years ago, or the man of today?

John Kerry won his Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while in charge of a three-boat mission. As the force approached the target area, all units came under intense automatic weapons and small arms fire from an entrenched enemy force less than fifty-feet away. Unhesitatingly, Lieutenant Kerry ordered his boat to attack as all units opened fire and beached directly in front of the enemy ambushers. The daring and courageous tactic surprised the enemy and succeeded in routing a score of enemy soldiers. Later, the boats again were taken under fire from a heavily foliated area and B-40 rocket exploded close aboard PCF-94; with utter disregard for his own safety and the enemy rockets, he again ordered a charge on the enemy, beached his boat only ten feet from the VC rocket position, and personally led a landing party ashore in pursuit of the enemy. Upon sweeping the area an immediate search uncovered an enemy rest and supply area which was destroyed.

The John Kerry of then took swift and decisive action. Does that sound like the John Kerry of today who seems to be on both sides of every issue?

Would the John Kerry of today have earned that Silver Star? The John Kerry of today when comming under fire would keep on going without returning fire so that nobody else would have a cause to attack Kerry's boat, and leave it up to the Justice Department to bring his attacker to justice. He would carefully review his actions to determine why they hate his boat, and ultimately conclude it is because the French aren't on board. Then he would denounce his men as war criminals.

Posted by Kevin Murphy at 12:50 PM | National Politics

After The Super Bowl

After the Super Bowl was over, President Bush placed the traditional phone call to the New England Patriots to congragulate them on their victory.

Al Gore called the Carolina Panthers and told them he thought they'd been robbed.

Bill Clinton called Janet Jackson.

Posted by Kevin Murphy at 11:46 AM | Fun

February 18, 2004

The Passion

I got a good laugh at Andrew Sullivan's blog this morning (yes Virginia, he's required reading):

"Gibson is not in the mainstream of Catholic thought; his emphasis on the Jewish priests in the Gospel narrative violates official Catholic concern about fomenting anti-Semitism. And his focus on the physical suffering of Christ may be excessive. ... But I don't trust Gibson an iota."

Um, Andrew, near as I can tell, you yourself are not in the mainstream of Catholic thought, and when did you start to take notice of official Catholic concern? Andrew's remarks are in response (support?) of sometimes contributor to National Review, Ed Kilgore, whose statements about Evangelical Christians bear little resemblence to the reality I know. Somehow, I don't think he considers himself one. But he's down right loopy in this sentance:
"And third, I'm a bit concerned, though not surprised, by the sort of Popular Front thinking that has so many conservatives from every religious background expressing total solidarity with Gibson's faith, which is by any standard a bit eccentric, and by Catholic standards specifically, heretical or at least schismatic. "

I don't think any conservative are expressing total solidarity with Gibson's faith - what I've heard is an expression of solidarity with his movie in so far as and so long as it is a faithful rendering of the Gospels. And perhaps Protestantism isn't too woried about schisms - having been born in schism from the Catholic church, and further subdividing almost beyond counting subsequently. I think what heartens Christians, leaders and rank and file, is that here is a movie which unites all Christians, liberal and conservative; Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox: all Christians. Apparently though, not all we Christians are happy about that.

But then I hit Chris Johnson's blog and had my perspective restored by his take on The Passion:

"Two thousand years on, many of us shake our heads in disgust at the fear and cowardice of Jesus' inner circle who left Him alone at the end of His earthly life. We would be brave, we think; we would never desert our Lord. In a very small and indirect way, Mel Gibson is giving us a chance to stay with our Savior during His most terrible hours. And it's interesting that lots of alleged Christians still prefer to run away."

Thanks Chris.

Posted by Kevin Murphy at 12:31 PM | Comments (1) | Faith

February 17, 2004

What the World Needs Now, Is Good Government

Imagine me at the Miss America pageant (it's easy if you try), and after making it through the swimsuit competition, we come to the question: "What is the biggest problem facing the world today?" I'd have my answer ready: bad government. Poverty, war, environmental destruction, most real suffering can be traced back to poor government. The sad thing is, good government isn't a big mystery. It's hard because it means overthrowing entrenched interests, and it requires practice, but it's well worth it.

The United States became the sole superpower in large part because of our government. Representation and consent of the governed (AKA democracy), the rule of law and not men, private property, contract rights, and free markets, essential liberties (such as freedom of speech and religion) -- these are all known and understood. The government that governs least governs best is a good rule of thumb toward regulation and regimentation, not the core functions of government.

What are rogue nations but those with particularly wretched governments - or government of the tyrant, by the tyrant, and for the tyrant. The countries that are the worst to live in are those with the worst governments. Poor countries are poor because their governments keep them poor through (at best) mismanagement and (at worst) deliberate rule for the ruler's sake. Frankly, no government should be considered legitimate that doesn't have the consent of it's people in free and fair elections. The best way to decrease poverty, to reduce war, to reduce human suffering would be to improve government globally.

Posted by Kevin Murphy at 1:11 PM | International Politics

I Think It Needs A Better Name

Hoystory linked to Charles Krauthammer's foreign policy speech to the American Enterprise Institute. I just love the sound of Krauthammer - the th is not pronounced as in "the", but separately. The name sounds like it should have been the soubriquet of a French king (as in Louis the Krauthammer) or even Cardinal Richelieu.

In his speech, Krauthammer breaks foriegn policy into four "schools" - not the same ones as Walter Russell Mead, but more conventional ones. But where some would name Neoconservative, Charles has "Democratic Globalism."

"Yet they are the principal proponents today of what might be called democratic globalism, a foreign policy that defines the national interest not as power but as values, and that identifies one supreme value, what John Kennedy called “the success of liberty.” As President Bush put it in his speech at Whitehall last November: “The United States and Great Britain share a mission in the world beyond the balance of power or the simple pursuit of interest. We seek the advance of freedom and the peace that freedom brings.”

Beyond power. Beyond interest. Beyond interest defined as power. That is the credo of democratic globalism. Which explains its political appeal: America is a nation uniquely built not on blood, race or consanguinity, but on a proposition--to which its sacred honor has been pledged for two centuries. This American exceptionalism explains why non-Americans find this foreign policy so difficult to credit; why Blair has had more difficulty garnering support for it in his country; and why Europe, in particular, finds this kind of value-driven foreign policy hopelessly and irritatingly moralistic.

Democratic globalism sees as the engine of history not the will to power but the will to freedom. And while it has been attacked as a dreamy, idealistic innovation, its inspiration comes from the Truman Doctrine of 1947, the Kennedy inaugural of 1961, and Reagan’s “evil empire” speech of 1983. They all sought to recast a struggle for power between two geopolitical titans into a struggle between freedom and unfreedom, and yes, good and evil."

It's left as an excercise for the reader to determine which school Charles le Kraut Martel belongs to, but I'll tell you that according to his formulation, I'll stand up and be counted with the Democratic Globalists. Very good stuff from Mr. Krauthammer.

As long as I'm on foreign policy, it's always struck me that it generally plays a small roll in Presidential elections when it is an area where the President has the most freedom. In domestic matters, Congress (and the courts) can easily stalemate the President's programs, but not so in foreign affairs.

Posted by Kevin Murphy at 12:24 PM | International Politics

February 16, 2004

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Snopes (AKA Urban Legends Reference Pages) debunks a picture showing John Kerry and Jane Fonda at the same podium at an anti-war rally. OK, there are a couple of things wrong with this picture. First, it's a fake. I'm not one of those who believe that lying in the service of Truth is possible, let alone desirable. (For the record, I'm OK with lying in the service of humor).

But an even bigger issue is what it says about its target audience. The target happens to be on the right of the political spectrum, but I think the left and the center suffer from the same problems, so I think it speaks to political discourse in this country (probably others, but I think I've generalized enough from one lousy photo as it is). OK, here's my problem. We know that John Kerry was against the Vietnam war: he joined the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, he spoke at anti-war rallies, he testified before Congress against the war, and he heaved medals onto the Capitol grounds as a gesture of protest against the war. These are all well documented facts. Agree or disagree with his then views, they were what they were. So how does being behind the same podium as Jane Fonda change anything? Well, she's a symbol. Jane bad. Therefore, John bad because next to Jane. Can such simple symbolism truly be effective? No one's gone broke underestimating the public, or so I'm told.

While I can't believe in such simplicity of thought, I'm faced with it's reality. The doctored picture made the internet rounds, so somebody thought it truly meant something. I've read posts and comments at partisan political sites that were equally sophisticated and seen how often there is no discussion but simple shouting of slogans past one another. I remember a blogger when faced with the utter collapse of his claim against a particular politician responded that it didn't matter, the person could have done exactly what was claimed and therefore was just as guilty. Don't confuse me with the facts, my mind is already made up. I suppose it's much easier that way - no need to think, simply reiterate the same tired symbology.

And I'm also confronted with my own shortcomings - am I just of guilty of twisting the facts to suit my own prejudices, am I swayed by such symbolism? Am I not human?

This is why it takes a jolt to change people's thinking. 9-11 was just such a jolt for some people, although not enough of a jolt for many others - which makes you wonder just exactly does it take to convince people they are wrong. I know that my thinking has changed on many a subject - I was filled with theory as a young man, and many did not survive first contact with reality. I'm convinced that had I stayed in the bubble of Academia, many of those theories would be blissfully intact.

Posted by Kevin Murphy at 1:00 PM | National Politics

Act Natural

Alison Hawke at Quantum Tea Blog has a very nice post about routine camera surveillance in general and Britain in particular as it is the most watched nation. She points to a post by Future Pundit that points out that technology has it's limits - in this case the failure of the British criminal justice system.

Alison rightly claims the law is the law whether anybody is watching or whether you get caught. My thought is that if because of such monitoring laws that weren't previously enforced suddenly take on new life, we need to consider law by law whether or not to keep these laws and scrap the bad ones rather than block such monitoring.

Posted by Kevin Murphy at 12:22 PM | Culture

February 13, 2004

We Keep Up

I've made some chages around here -- more than the obvious cosmetic ones -- I've switched to Movable Type from Greymatter and my brother will also be posting here. I hope you'll still find the same wit and wisdom leavened with fun, only more so.

Posted by Kevin Murphy at 11:14 AM | Me

February 12, 2004

The Vegans Strike Back

Tom McMahon links to a Snopes entry about the late Dr. Atkins, his weight, and his death. Tom rightly notes that their pleasure in his death is despicable. But the Snopes article got me to thinking.

I'm not a doctor, but both my father and daughter have heart disease. My father, who is overweight and over seventy, has the kind most people think of, but my daughter's (she just turned 13 - anybody have a good recommendation on an inexpensive yet effective shotgun?) is congenital. My daughter is as skinny as a rail and would be the last person you'd ever think has any issues with her heart. They're all behind her, we hope. I mention it only because it is instructive when people think "Yeah, right" about claims Dr. Atkins' heart disease had nothing to do with his diet.

The Snopes article says Atkins went from 195 lb when he was admitted to the hospital to 258 lb at his death a week later - all the while in a coma. The hospital shoved over 65 lb of saline solution into his body. My father has had a number of operations -- and every time they put a constant saline drip into him just after they get him the gown. This has caused him to go into congestive heart failure on several occasions. After the first time, he always asks them to go easy on the saline, but they never do -- something about standard proceedure. At least now they give him a quick shot of lacix and cut back on the saline, but they always wait until he has a problem. If Atkins did have a weak ticker, and it came out before the accident that caused his death that he did, I can easily believe that 65 lb of extra saline would have caused heart failure and worse. In fact, I have to wonder about a medical establishment that would pump 65 lb of saline into a patient with heart disease.

As to the Atkins diet itself, well, I still take my vitamin pills even though Adele Davis died of cancer; I still think excercise is good for you even though Jim Fixx died of a heart attack while jogging. Controlled studies are the answer, not the anecdote of what happens to a single person.

Posted by Kevin Murphy at 12:39 PM | Comments (1) | Science

February 10, 2004

A Grownup Speaks

At the Midwest Blogbash n, Charles Austin mentioned that he is tiring of the sameness of political arguments. How many posts about gun control (pro or con) can you read (or write) before they all sound the same and your eyes glaze over? I think if you get caught up in the partisanship, you can continue to make the same arguments over and over and not care that nothing changes - which is why partisans tend to carry on most of the arguments. Partisan politics kind of resembles a food fight between kids - its fun for some, but it turns a lot of people off and the grownups have to clean up afterward. Speaking of grownups cleaning up after the kids, (yes, this is the longest intro to a topic yet), you should check out Ken Pollack's interview with The Atlantic (link via Jon Henke at Q and O) about WMDs and Iraq. You certainly don't have to agree with Mr. Pollack's conclusions, but he advances your understanding without partisan rancor. Since I dislike it when the press takes remarks out of context to drive their own agenda, I won't excerpt him so go read the whole thing. It's worth it.

Posted by Kevin Murphy at 12:37 PM | Comments (2) | War On Terror

Scouting Report

I enjoy cub scouts. The weekend before last was our pinewood derby, and both the kids and I had a blast. As cub master, I do my best empersonation of the guys who used to hype the sunday races -- it seems like Don Garlitz was always racing his funny car -- I put on my best announcer voice and draw out the boy's names, highlight when brothers race, and just try to have fun with it all. I have found that by saying yes to pretty much any idea or offer of help, we have great parent participation and people just pitch in to get things done.

This weekend my son's den went for a winter hike at Beaumont. So we hiked four miles in the snow, over hill and dale. Fortunately, the temperature was in the upper 30's, the snow was powdery and not too slippery, and while we did get off the trail, we did find it again. When we realized we were off the trail, I told people, we weren't lost because we were all together -- you're only lost if you get separated. But the lead dad, in his words, "smelled a trail" straight up a hill, so we climbed straight up the hillside and found the trail we had set out on. I count it a success: nobody was lost, and the boys' main complaint was we wouldn't let them fall behind or wander too far off the trail. Somehow, the boys don't connect the two.

Posted by Kevin Murphy at 12:19 PM | Comments (1) | Scouting

February 4, 2004

The Third Commandment

Jason Van Steenwyk at Iraq Now has a great post up about how the army works told in the historical language of the region. Warning though - profanity at the end.

Posted by Kevin Murphy at 7:51 AM | War On Terror

February 3, 2004

Kiss Me, I Voted

I voted in the Missouri presidential primary today. Turnout was light - I was number twelve at my polling as of 6:55 AM. Given the weather - cold, and road conditions which range from not bad where I live to lousy (as in ice covered) more northerly in the St. Louis area, I wasn't too surprised. I think turnout will be light overall, as these lousy conditions are statewide.

I have to admit I voted for Howard Dean. Now while I don't think Bush is the perfect Republican candidate, I do think he would make a better president than Dean. But you get to choose which party ballot you vote in Missouri, and I have a feeling Bush is going to win on the Republican side. So instead of voting for Democrats I would actually want for President (Lieberman, Gephardt if he hadn't dropped out), I voted for somebody who I thought would do the best job of losing to Bush. I don't think I'm alone - at my heavily Republican polling place, the stubs on top of the ballot box were overwhelmingly green - i.e. Democratic. Of course it could be that the voters who did brave the elements were overwhelmingly Democratic -- the Republicans took the day off confident in Bush's primary victory; but I think there were more people like me voting for their man by casting a vote for someone else.

I'm partially retracting my prediction from yesterday. Polls mean nothing - turnout is going to be light, and Republicans voters are coming out and voting for Democratic candidates. I wouldn't be surprised if Bush doesn't get many votes and his challangers get more votes than expected. And on the Democratic side, I still think Kerry will win, but not by the margin in the polls.

Posted by Kevin Murphy at 9:19 AM | Comments (3) | National Politics

We Check References

Going through the referrer logs, I came across somebody who searched on Altavista for "controversial superbowl halftime show" and got me. Nothing to write home about, but what made me hoot with laughter is that Altavist offered up did you mean "controversial superb owl halftime show" -- see it here. Needless to say, Altavista couldn't actually come up with any superb owl halftime shows, let alone controversial ones, but that didn't stop them from offering.

Posted by Kevin Murphy at 9:02 AM | Inside Bloging

February 2, 2004

The Missouri Primary Blogathon

Absit Invidia will be holding a blogathon for The Jimmy Fund tomorrow, Super Tuesday (at least, that's what they used to call it). You can find links to political bloggers (I'm included because there apparently aren't too many Missouri political bloggers) from all the states which are holding primaries tomorrow. Yes, that includes the great state of Missouri (even if Steven mispells it for reasons known only to himself). So forget partisanship even while following politics and help out a good cause - The Jimmy Fund is dedicated to fighting cancer in children (and adults). So keep up on the Missouri primary, including results (I predict Kerry runs away with it, but then I foolishly believe the polls), check out some blogs you may not have seen before, and above all, help out in the fight against cancer.

Posted by Kevin Murphy at 5:14 PM | Comments (1) | Local Politics