tyro - (noun) 1. One lacking professional skill and ease in a particular pursuit. 2. One who is just starting to learn to do something.
Friday, November 24, 2006
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Life's Not Fair!
How often have you said that to your kids? My son is only 3 and already has heard this from me.
I'm sure this is what US Airways, in effect, said to the imams who were asked to leave the plane in Minneapolis the other day. While I guess you could technically call this discrimination, let me tell you how I feel about it:
Good for US Airways! If I even see a group of Middle Eastern men boarding an aircraft, I get nervous. Why? Because there is a history of groups of Middle Eastern men flying airplanes into buildings. Is that painting with a broad brush? Absolutely! Americans will continue to paint with this broad brush until Middle Eastern men get their fellow Middle Eastern men to stop threatening to blow us up.
If a group of Evangelical Christians held hands in a circle and started praying before a flight, I wouldn't care at all because they don't have a history of flying planes into buildings. If a group of Hasidic Jews were praying before a flight, I wouldn't care - same reason.
I'm sure that to some minorities, I get branded as "whitey" or "the man" because I am a white male. I can choose to reinforce that stereotype and act in the way that is expected or do my personal best to overcome that stereotype.
I would think that Middle Eastern men would make an effort to do the same.
More on the whole story here.
Violence in Iraq: A Data-Driven Approach
It's easy to watch the news and think that Iraq is in chaos with people being killed everyday. I've always wondered how the number of dead compares with other hotspots in the world, say Washington D.C. and Detroit.
Fortunately, I don't have to do all the research. Someone has done it for me:
I've written previously on the level of violence in Iraq, comparing it to murder rates in other times and places and to death rates that have been experienced in actual civil wars. See here and here, for example. My impression has been that violence in Iraq has skyrocketed since July, when I found that the murder rate in Iraq was 140 per 100,000 (the usual way in which murder rates are expressed). I was surprised, therefore, to learn this morning that rate of violence has increased only slightly:
The United Nations said Wednesday that 3,709 Iraqi civilians were killed in October, the highest monthly toll since the March 2003 U.S. invasion and another sign of the severity of Iraq's sectarian bloodbath.
That compares to an estimated 3,500 killed in July. If 3,709 people were murdered in October, that translates to a rate of 171 per 100,000. That is a high rate of violent death. But, for purposes of comparison, the murder rate in Washington, D.C. in 1991 was 80 per 100,000. So the rate of violence in Iraq today is just over double the rate in the District during the first Bush administration. I don't recall anyone describing conditions in Washington in the early 90s as a "bloodbath."
I wrote in June that based on the data at that time, the murder rate in Iraq outside of Baghdad is about the same as American cities like Chicago, Philadelphia and Milwaukee. With the current numbers, it looks like that would still be true.
A consensus seems to have developed that Iraq is a disaster because of out-of-control sectarian violence. That consensus is driving proposals to change our policy in Iraq, perhaps in the direction of a pull-out that could lead to truly cataclysmic violence. So I think it makes sense to step back and get a more realistic picture of the level of what is happening in Iraq: violent? Yes. A disaster comparable to a civil war? No.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
My Response to Michael Moore
Michael Moore, who was conspicuously quiet before this election, sent out an email about what he and his liberal buddies were going to do with their "newfound power." It sounds very acceptable to anyone not paying attention for the past 40 years or so.
Here's his letter, with my comments added in italics:
A Liberal's Pledge to Disheartened Conservatives
November 14th, 2006
To My Conservative Brothers and Sisters,
I know you are dismayed and disheartened at the results of last week's election. You're worried that the country is heading toward a very bad place you don't want it to go. Your 12-year Republican Revolution has ended with so much yet to do, so many promises left unfulfilled. You are in a funk, and I understand. (I knew that Moore and his buddies would be as poor winners as they were losers)
Well, cheer up, my friends! Do not despair. I have good news for you. I, and the millions of others who are now in charge with our Democratic Congress, have a pledge we would like to make to you, a list of promises that we offer you because we value you as our fellow Americans. You deserve to know what we plan to do with our newfound power -- and, to be specific, what we will do to you and for you. (All this talk of power sounds like the kind of abuses that Moore has railed against for the last 6 years)
Thus, here is our Liberal's Pledge to Disheartened Conservatives:
Dear Conservatives and Republicans,
I, and my fellow signatories, hereby make these promises to you:
1. We will always respect you for your conservative beliefs. We will never, ever, call you "unpatriotic" simply because you disagree with us. In fact, we encourage you to dissent and disagree with us. (But you will call us bigots or racists when we don’t share your liberal beliefs)
2. We will let you marry whomever you want, even when some of us consider your behavior to be "different" or "immoral." Who you marry is none of our business. Love and be in love -- it's a wonderful gift. (Unless you want to marry multiple women, in which case you will be considered a backwards religious zealot from Utah. Not that I condone polygamy, but if you are going to stay out of the bedroom, then stay out of the bedroom).
3. We will not spend your grandchildren's money on our personal whims or to enrich our friends. It's your checkbook, too, and we will balance it for you. (Unless it means that we get to give your grandchildren’s money to someone else grandchildren because we deem them to be disadvantaged and in need of the government’s help).
4. When we soon bring our sons and daughters home from Iraq, we will bring your sons and daughters home, too. They deserve to live. We promise never to send your kids off to war based on either a mistake or a lie. (Which means that we will never fight another war in another country. Instead, we will fight this war on our own soil and watch more sons and daughters die because the threat overseas was allowed to grow. But at least no one was sent to war…)
5. When we make America the last Western democracy to have universal health coverage, and all Americans are able to get help when they fall ill, we promise that you, too, will be able to see a doctor, regardless of your ability to pay. And when stem cell research delivers treatments and cures for diseases that affect you and your loved ones, we'll make sure those advances are available to you and your family, too. (When the use of adult stem cells for treatment bears the fruits that embryonic stem cells have not, you can go see a doctor to get treatment, but you will have to wait six months to get an appointment, after which time you will be beyond the point of being treated for your disease)
6. Even though you have opposed environmental regulation, when we clean up our air and water, we, the Democratic majority, will let you, too, breathe the cleaner air and drink the purer water. (On this one, I am all for protecting the environment, I just don’t usually approve of the means to the end).
7. Should a mass murderer ever kill 3,000 people on our soil, we will devote every single resource to tracking him down and bringing him to justice. Immediately. We will protect you. (By sending the federal government to arrest the evil man in some sort of law enforcement action? Forgive me for my skepticism, but your way of arresting evil men, a la Waco, wasn’t that effective, and that was on U.S. soil)
8. We will never stick our nose in your bedroom or your womb. What you do there as consenting adults is your business. We will continue to count your age from the moment you were born, not the moment you were conceived. (As a father and former embryo, I bristle at the idea of killing a baby any time before full term. If you are extending your gracious hand to all Americans, include the most innocent and defenseless as well)
9. We will not take away your hunting guns. If you need an automatic weapon or a handgun to kill a bird or a deer, then you really aren't much of a hunter and you should, perhaps, pick up another sport. We will make our streets and schools as free as we can from these weapons and we will protect your children just as we would protect ours. (Nobody wants children harmed in the name of the right to bear arms, but this is the same form of logic that you use to oppose a ban on partial birth abortion. You say that if they ban this form of abortion, what is next? Gun rights people say the same thing about banning assault weapons. Both are brutal and unnecessary but banning them is a step in the wrong direction for their respective sides)
10. When we raise the minimum wage, we will pay you -- and your employees -- that new wage, too. When women are finally paid what men make, we will pay conservative women that wage, too. (And both liberal and conservative employees will feel the effects of the layoffs as employers try to perform the same work with fewer employees so that payroll doesn’t actually increase. We also all get to share in the increased cost of goods at home. For the record, I think that the minimum wage is too low and should be raised, but I definitely don’t want to put Francophiles in charge of determining where the appropriate level should be)
11. We will respect your religious beliefs, even when you don't put those beliefs into practice. In fact, we will actively seek to promote your most radical religious beliefs ("Blessed are the poor," "Blessed are the peacemakers," "Love your enemies," "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God," and "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."). We will let people in other countries know that God doesn't just bless America, he blesses everyone. We will discourage religious intolerance and fanaticism -- starting with the fanaticism here at home, thus setting a good example for the rest of the world. (Really? How about a documentary about the growing influence of fanatic Islam in the U.S.? How about denouncing the subjugation of women in that religion. Point #10 talked about a fair wage for women so please tell me when your film about Islam and Women is coming out).
12. We will not tolerate politicians who are corrupt and who are bought and paid for by the rich. We will go after any elected leader who puts him or herself ahead of the people. And we promise you we will go after the corrupt politicians on our side FIRST. If we fail to do this, we need you to call us on it. Simply because we are in power does not give us the right to turn our heads the other way when our party goes astray. Please perform this important duty as the loyal opposition. (You got it! I wholeheartedly agree – cue the Apocalypse – however, I doubt your sentiment. I doubt that the investigative reporting section of the NY Times, the Washington Post, or the LA Times is going to get a lot of work for the next couple of years. It’s probably going to be downright boring there. I suppose they can always continue their probe into the mystery of the Middle America voter in Jesusland)
I promise all of the above to you because this is your country, too. You are every bit as American as we are. We are all in this together. We sink or swim as one. Thank you for your years of service to this country and for giving us the opportunity to see if we can make things a bit better for our 300 million fellow Americans -- and for the rest of the world.
P.S. Please feel free to pass this on. (but only if you include my rebuttals in your forward).
Friday, November 10, 2006
Back in the Saddle
TyroBlog is back!
I changed the layout of the blog, but stayed with Blogger because, frankly, I have no time to go out and do a lot of design work. I like this layout better and the transition was very easy.
I've also added Google AdSense to the top of the blog. I don't plan on getting rich, but it's free so the only cost to me is my soul.
I've been out of action for a number of reasons, which I won't elaborate on, but I am back and ready to fire up my opinion for all who will listen.
Personal: Mrs. TyroBlogger and I are expecting our second child at the end of December. I'm just hoping it happens in December - added tax deduction and child tax credit for 2006.
Professional: Got a new job with same company in the last few months with the prospect of new opportunities in the coming months. Right now, I am a corporate recruiter (hold your resumes please) with the potential to move into a role focusing on retaining our top employees.
Political: What can I say, other than Tuesday was a disappointment. There's all sorts of Monday-morning quarterbacking going on, so I won't add to that. I guess you win some and lose some, but as I've said here before, elections have consequences. As conservatives, we'll have to get past it. One thing is for sure, with Democrats is control of Congress, finding topics to blog about just got a whole lot easier.
It's good to be back!