Sunday, December 31, 2006


The last hours of 2007...

What was your most memorable moment of 2006?


More on the Ford

I've now read a bunch of pieces about Gerald Ford, and one thing that was remarkable was how well he worked with Democrats. In fact, he became VP (after years as House Minority Leader) primarily because of Democrat support after John Connally was rejected for the job.

Part of what has been reflected on is that this was a different age-- that there were genuine friendships across the aisle, and at times when Ford was a House leader the focus really was on creating a better government rather than partisan advantage. This made Ford a good antidote to Nixon, perhaps.

If there is one thing I would change about our political culture, it is that so many people view politics as kind of like being a rabid Jets fan-- you paint your face and go to the game and yell insults at the other team, then congratulate the other Jets fans on how great you all are. There's no depth to it, and no desire to make anything better, just to get partisan advantage. The nastiness and pettiness of this debate seems to have infected the culture as a whole, sadly, and if I read one more snide piece from a columnist or blogger (of either stripe) about how stupid/immoral/evil the other side is, I think I'll hurl. Their only principle seems to be that their side is always right.

We now have a government which is the product of this discourse, and perhaps we have only ourselves to blame.

Saturday, December 30, 2006


Hello, Georgia!

If you are putting pins in a map as part of some cultish "Where's Osler" game, now I'm in Macon, Georgia visiting with Bill Underwood and his family. Macon is a surprisingly pleasant town with many attributes, but so far my favorite highlight was seeing the old victorian house where Gregg Allman lived with Cher. It didn't look like a very "Cher" type of place, to be honest, but that made it all the more compelling.

It would be very odd to see Cher in the grocery store, wouldn't it? I have a buddy who once was taking a shower at a health club and ran into Alexander ("I'm in charge here") Haig. I think Haig shook his hand, which must have been a little awkward...

Friday, December 29, 2006


Another Thought on President Ford

It's kind of funny; I wasn't going to say much about the passing of President Ford. Probably James Brown had more of an influence on my life, but that is a different story. However, then I came across this haiku from ol' Thomas:

The Cemetery
Next to the Law School Makes me
Fear Zombie Attacks

Now, Thomas probably did not mean for this to refer to President Ford. The haiku probably is just about the cemetery next to Baylor Law School. However, Ford and I had a lot in common: We were both from Michigan, both pragmatists to some degree, both loved to ski, and we both went to Yale Law School. It was this last that links up with the haiku; Yale Law is located next to a cemetery, too. Maybe this is a result of some long-ago federal legislation, the Law School/Dead People Co-Location Act of 1937. I think this was the same year that the National Uneven Bun/Meat Distribution and Safe Streets Act was passed (mandating that if there are ten hot dogs in a pack, buns must come only in packages of 8 or 12). Anyways, the New Haven cemetery was creepiest of all. When I visited one of my favorite professors, Dan Freed, in his office, I could see that the gate to the cemetery read "The Dead Shall Rise Again."

Anyways, I heard Ford speak and went up to meet him afterward, and for some reason I wanted to talk about that cemetery and the dead rising from it to attack the law school. I did not get to meet him; he was whisked off to something, but I bet we could have shared a laugh.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


Haiku Friday (pretty much)....

This week went fast! Here we are at Haiku Friday again... but first, last week's winner was this submission from "Sleepy Walleye:"

Often so stormy
She is peace and beauty now
My little girl sleeps

It just seemed right for Christmastime.

For this week, remember that the pattern is 5 syllables/7/5, and it can be about anything you want, especially Gerald Ford, or someone else named Gerald if you were born after 1980. Here is mine:

Oh you, Gerald Ford
Chevy Chase robbed your hope;
You were funnier.


The nature of art

I love the graffiti guy in white, looking down the alley towards Detroit's Eastern Market. He kind of has the same attitude I do when I walk down that alley (which I have a lot-- I park at the end of it).

Some guy spray-painted that on there when no one was looking. No one paid for it, or asked for it, or knows who did it.

Is it art? What do you think?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Puzzle Day

After Christmas, we always work on a big old jigsaw puzzle. My mom and dad like to start by making the edges and working inward; everyone else wants to start in the middle and work out, because that way you can go by the most distinctive colors and put them together first.

Is that two competing theories of life? That you can start by creating a shape and fill it up; or, you can put together that which you are able to and then work from that core?

It is good to have a little time to think about things like this instead of the sentencing guidelines. Of course, there isn't very good thinking about one without a little time to think of the other.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


A Good Day for Santa

As some of you (eg, Sleepy Walleye, the Spanish Medievalist, IPLawGuy) know, my dad is a painter. Some of his stuff I understand, others I don't. Overall, I really do like and admire it. My favorites are the ones he did of people who sit in the the last row of church. He went to a bunch of different churches, many in Mississippi, and seemed fascinated by those who sat in the back. Maybe it was the ambivalence, or the tenative nature of some of them, but just as often they seem very calm and at peace. Randall O'Brien has one of these paintings in his study at home.

Dad did the painting above last year. It is maybe my favorite image of Santa-- enjoying a job well done, I imagine, the day after Christmas. I think painting becomes art when instead of merely replicating how we see something it starts to shape how we see it, and this painting has shaped the way I think of Santa and the spirit of those who give with joy. Those people (and I know some) tend not only to be generous with wealth but also with spirit-- they exude a certain joyfulness that is totally in keeping with the sacrifices that they make.

I once read that there is an element of self-portrait in every painting, and it is good to be home the day after Christmas.

Monday, December 25, 2006


Birth Day

Last night at church, there was a small child, between a baby and a toddler, who was really loud. But, not in a bad way; this was an exuberant loud child, who punctuated hymns and the end of prayers with "Abalabeb!" and "Blablabla!" in a joyful voice. I'm so glad that the parent didn't leave with the kid, because after a while I looked forward to that little burst of joy at each transition.

We are all born with joy inside of us, and this is a day to feel it and express it.

Sunday, December 24, 2006


Christmas Eve 2006

A few weeks ago, I had a conversation over lunch with a nine-year-old of my acquaintance. He enjoys theological discussions, so I asked him, "If Jesus was to be a King, why was he born in a barn?" The boy thought about it for a minute and ate a few fries, and then said "I think God makes some things happen in a certain way so that we learn a lesson from it." Fair enough, but I had to ask him, "what is the lesson?" He ate a few more fries and then said thoughtfully, "I think it's that great things come from poor people sometimes, and where we don't expect it."

At some point today, my dad will get restless. He will probably want to drive into Detroit and go to some decimated neighborhood, and will want me to go with him, and I probably will. He often wants to do this on Christmas eve. One year, he wanted to show me what he said was a beautiful old Arts and Crafts style building near Brush Park on the East Side. We went there and he said, "It's just so wonderful," and got out to go into the building. I looked out, and saw something different. The building had burned; it was gutted, probably by arson. Even part of the roof was gone. I stepped out of the car and there were crack vials in the gutter that crunched underfoot. I followed him to the door, and saw there were three men in there, living in the rubble. Dad, as is his way, went over to talk to them, about the light in the place and the neighborhood. I watched and nodded and we went home and there was a fire in the fireplace and a tree and the smell of gingerbread. I cried with happiness that night when I went to bed, and with sadness.

And the next day was Christmas.

Saturday, December 23, 2006


Christmas in Grosse Pointe

I'm back in the town in which I (and Tydwbleach) grew up. Most of it is frozen in time-- the same things, and the same people, in the same places where they always have been. I'm looking out the window of the coffee shop, and there is Notre Dame pharmacy. For most of my life I thought it was a Catholic pharmacy, but it is called that because it is near Notre Dame street.

My Dad and I went down to the Eastern Market in Detroit this morning, past some new places and some old places that had burned. The Market was full of people buying cider and flowers and corn. We bought some, too much, and then into the old ramshackle R. Hurt cheese store on the edge of the market. We nosed around, laughed, and pulled up our collars to walk back into the cold.

It's good to be back.

Friday, December 22, 2006


Hello, Holiday Haiku Friday!

It's a great day for Haiku! Enter yours below-- 5 syllables, 7 syllables, then 5 for the last line.

Here is mine:

Road salt truck driver
You shoot rocks at my auto
From three feet away!

You kind of have to leave Texas to understand that one...

Thursday, December 21, 2006


The grades, they are a-changin'...

According to Swanburg, an email went out today about the coming changes to Baylor Law's grading system. In short, we are adding a B+ and a C+ to the mix, and generally heading for a B average.

I'm wondering, Baylor people-- what do you think?


And now for something completely different...

Up here in Texarkana, I received a very intriguing email from Dr. DeAnna Toten Beard, Prof. of Theater Arts at Baylor. Apparently, our proposal to present a paper based on our use of Susan Glaspell's "Trifles"(for Criminal Practice class) was accepted by the MATC Theater History Symposium in Minneapolis this March. This was because of the wonderful proposal Dr. Toten Beard wrote, not anything I did.

What this means is that I'll be the only lawyer at a drama conference! How fun is that? Unless they all make fun of me, or give me an embarrassing name tag or something. You know how the cool drama kids can be to outsiders. But, I'm pretty sure that won't happen.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Perhaps I should have thought that through a little more...

I'm in Texarkana, Texas, having driven for about five hours in thick traffic. Now, five hours isn't that bad, but I made two poor decisions prior to setting off:

1) Playing 29 consecutive games of foosball without a break last night.
2) Eating a full size Vitek's BBQ Gut Pack right before leaving.

The gut pack had predictable results. The foosball... I know many will scoff at the idea of a foosball "injury," even if it does result from 2.5 hours of continuous play. And no, I don't have a typical sports injury like a torn rotator cuff, ACL tear, or the oft-cited "groin injury." My rotator cuff, ACL, and groinal region are all fine. Instead, the problem is an odd stiffness of the neck so that I can only be comfortable looking to the right at a 45-degree angle while bending forward slightly. Apparently, this was caused by spending 2.4 of those 2.5 watching Bates handle the ball in the forward position (the other .1 hour was mostly me watching the ball sail past my poorly-positioned goalie).

Any ideas on how to cure this malady?


Bosler Rules! (Most of the Time)

So the foosball challenge was a great success-- we pulled in about $160 plus Prof. Serr, all of which will be donated to Mission Waco. At least we are hoping they will accept Serr. I'm sure there is some stuff he can do, like get down things that are stored high up on a shelf. The Bates/Osler team was kind of dominant, finishing 25-4. Our losses all came towards the start of the evening, and included being shut out once. Ouch. Then we lost to Darren Indermill and Dustin Sullivan. Ouch ouch. But then we improved, or at least Bates did, and that was all that mattered.

Intriguingly, there were a ton of bloggers there, including (all with links to the left):

The Baylor Circus Lady
The Spanish Medievalist
The Bravest Bear
The Ladybird

The talk to the Christian Legal Society went pretty well, too. There were about 40-45 people there, and no one threw fruit or anything. Of course, that would be really inappropriate when someone is discussing their faith.

Tomorrow, I will get my grades in, teach class, then head for Michigan.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Not that you asked... (except Craig Pankratz)

Tonight at 7:30 in Law School Room 120 I'm giving a talk to the Christian Legal Society. I like the posters a lot-- they feature that photo of me with some bread. I'm a little worried that they may have baking questions, which would be problematic.

Craig Pankratz has an excellent blog in which he often discusses his faith as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I check his blog regularly, because I admire his faith and enjoy reading his compelling reflections. Last week, he asked others to explain their faith in a nutshell. Below is my response (and no, it isn't "Help! I'm in a nutshell!"):

The idea of God has always been the most compelling idea of all to me. The very idea of Him is humbling and true and real, and that is something I feel more than I know. To say that my faith starts with a belief in God is, to me, not simple-- it is profound and world changing. The very acknowledgment that there is a God, and that it is not me, places me in a defined place in the universe-- below a God who created me.

From that, I realize that if God is great and I am small, there is much about His creation I won't understand. My knowledge is a thimbleful out of the ocean. My faith leads me to uncertainty more than certainty.

That said, my faith also allows me to believe that the teachings of Christ are revelations from God. That is why the Bible is so important to me. Again, this is humbling, because Jesus constantly taught not to do the things we want to do. My instinct, for instance, is to be a modern Pharisee, a teacher of the law who is so full of himself he would not recognize the Messiah. One of my other great sins is that of wealth-- I have not done a very good job of answering Christ's call to give to the poor at our own sacrifice. In short, my reading of the gospels leads me to self-criticism rather than the righteous criticism of others.

More than anything, what is at the center of my faith is also my great failing-- the call to humility. I see that in all that Christ did, from his birth in a stable to his death on a cross.

Monday, December 18, 2006


Great Moments in Practice Court History, Pt. 8

Today we started the jury selection exercises. One special feature we had this year was a group of second-quarter students who had been killed, stuffed, and then laminated so as to appear life-like (somewhat) as they were placed in the seated position in the jury box. Nothing against them... they were just like many real jurors, hestitant to draw any attention to themselves and answer questions.

This problem has, in the past, led to moments of true greatness. My personal favorite occurred, I believe, in about 2002. A group of students in the role of jurors were being completely unresponsive to a series of questions regarding their drug use. First the attorney asked if any of them had ever used cocaine. No responses. Then he asked if any of them had ever used marijuana. Again, no movement. Then he asked if any of them had ever seen any illegal drugs of any kind, and again they had no response whatsoever. Finally, desperate for an interaction, he moved on to the improper use of legal substances:

"What about stuff that you can use that isn't really illegal? Like, uh... huffing paint? Anyone ever huff paint? [silence] You just open up a can of paint and put your head in there and breathe really deeply... [becomes nostalgic] at first, you just feel a little dizzy, but then it kind of hits you, and it's like 'whoooooo!' you are flyin'! And all you really need is a can of paint..."

At this point, he didn't ask a question, he just kind of stared into the middle distance, either reminiscing about good times or mortified at what he had just said. It was hard to tell.


Excuse me, but I believe Pr. Bates is calling you out...

From the frozen tundra of his native Minnesota to the searing deserts of Texas, there is no man or woman yet born who has been able to withstand the foosball fury of Prof. Larry T. Bates. His concentration is so sharp, his moves so smooth, and his trash-talking of such an intimidating quality that none last long across the table. Some call it foosball, some call it table soccer, but the vanquished foes of the Foos Master call it humiliation.

Feeling a little full of yourself? Need a reality check on your hand-eye coordination? Or just want an excuse to be in the presence of the Master? Either way, bring $5 (for Mission Waco) to Crickets tomorrow at 9 and you will have your chance... oh, yes, you will.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


Tuesday is going to be THE greatest day ever!

Not all moments are equal, and some days just are larger than others. Tuesday promises to be one of those rockin' good days.

First of all I'm having lunch with GED3, and we all know how great a meal with him can be! Hey, hey, heyyy! Then, Crim Prac is going to be excellent on Tuesday. Like most of the best days in that class, I'm calling in reinforcements, and on Tuesday we will hear from one of the best teachers I know.

Then, there's about nine hours of voir dire exercises for practice court.

But after that, at 7:30, I'm speaking to the Christian Legal Society in room 120. I've wanted to do this for a long time, and I'm really looking forward to talking about faith, vocation, and the law.

Then, to wrap up the whole day, Bates and I are raising money for Mission Waco by kickin' butt and takin' names (and money) on the Cricket's foosball tables. That starts at nine.

Then once that is done, I was thinking of a few quick sets of tennis.


We have a winner!

This week's Haiku Friday winner is Squeeknsqueeker, for this entry:

Graduation near
Can't rent my regalia
For fear of jinxing

It perfectly describes a certain form of anxiety we only feel at a few moments in our lives. I'm pretty sure, though, that SNS can go ahead and rent the stuff with some assurance.

The key question is, which prize will she choose? Will she want to play foosball for free? Or will she dig up a tie-dyed shirt, some beads and a floppy hat to play the role of Bates' "old lady?" The world awaits an answer to this crucial question.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


High Steel and Church Politics (and lawyer's pay)

My hero of music procurement, Dr. Blaine McCormick, delivered a special goody this week: Some songs by Andrew Peterson, a singer-songwriter who has many songs about being the father to unruly boys. I recommend them, particularly if you are in that class of people; you can check them out here.

One of the songs really struck me, though. It's called "Mohawks on a Scaffold," though it is really about church politics. The title draws from the fact that much of the "high steel" construction work in New York has long been done by Mohawks. In fact, they built much of the World Trade Center, and I thought of them when the towers were destroyed. Peterson uses the image of a Mohawk on a high beam to symbolize our tenuous but oddly confident walks of faith.

Which brought back a memory for me. My second summer of law school, I worked at the firm of Mayer, Brown and Platt in Chicago. Their offices were high in a tower in the center of the Loop. One day, I was at a meeting with two partners and a client in a meeting room. The meeting involved the financing for a construction project. Out the window, perhaps 30 yards away, workers were building an office tower and walking on beams 50 stories in the sky. One man was placing a bolt while another stood next to him on the beam with the wrench. The beam was at most a foot wide, and there was literally nothing else besides a few other beam between them and the street so far below. I was in awe. For a moment, we stared at them out the window, and then the older men broke the silence:

Senior Partner 1: Look at that-- what do those guys get paid?
Senior Partner 2: Pretty good job; they make about $25 per hour.
Senior Partner 1: [reflectively] I make ten times that.
Then they all laughed, awkwardly.

I never was cut out for big firm work.

Friday, December 15, 2006


For a guy obsessed with Foxtrot...

Our friend Micah wrote a pretty good Christmas song.

Elsewhere in the blogosphere, I see that the Anti-Chris will only be the commencement speaker if others become incapacitated. If I were one of those people above him on the list, I might hide out for a while. I hear that Mr. Fahrbenholdt is a master in the ways of... science!


It's Haiku Friday (as I know it), and I Feel Fine!

For some reason, I really feel like going to see Monster Funny Cars this weekend. That doesn't seem very Christmas-y, but for some reason it just seems like it would be great to see that part where they jump sloppily over the old station wagons.

So, then, mine is a station-wagon themed haiku:

Baylor salutes you,
Mr. Keg Dancing Frat Guy!
You rock the wagon.

See, it kind of has a double meaning-- he's drinking, but he's "on the wagon." Get it? You know, it's weird how I never win these things. Well, maybe it's not so weird, maybe it's because my haiku is, as some former PC profs might say, "poor."

Please put your own haiku in the comments section. You can, of course, cross-blog (put the haiku both here and on your own blog). And Allison Dickson, isn't it about time you crafted some haiku? The recipe is 5 syllables, then 7 for the second line, then 5 for the third.

The prize this week is extra-special. As many of you know, Bates and I will be taking on anyone with $5 for Mission Waco in Foosball Tuesday night. The winning haiku entry will get to have me pay your fee. Or, if you are female and would prefer, you get to play the role of Bates' old lady for the evening and collect the money. You will have to wear a tie-dyed shirt, beads, and smell vaguely like patchouli.

And for those of you who have asked... yes, that is me playing drums in the video of Fahrenholdt's band.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


Perhaps the Most Poorly Made, Most Offensive Homecoming Float Ever.

From the Files of IPLawGuy. Apparently, I helped build this. I'm told that we were playing Harvard for homecoming, which explains the crimson, uh, nuclear explosion. You can't see from this angle the sign that says "Nuke Harvard." This may be the float that burned DURING the parade (which, of course, did not stop or pause for said event).

Tydwbleach-- these are not skills I learned at Grosse Pointe North High School.

Fortunately, the statute of limitations has run.


News Flash: Chicago Controls the Weather

During a short first-floor chat, I learned some shocking news: Chicago controls the weather. [This became apparent when one of his classmates said "Make it cold again, Chicago!"] Not through some complicated circuit board with knobs and switches... oh no, instead of such complicated wizardry, the weather is controlled by his pants. Or lack thereof. Apparently, when he wears shorts, it gets cold. When that happened, as previously reported, he bought pants. "Enough for a different pair every day of the week" he gloated today. But, now that he wears pants, it is up to 78 degrees.

The only logical solution is something between shorts and regular pants-- perhaps a cropped pant of some kind, like the "3/4 length capri pants for men" pictured above. It's worth a try...


Back in the Days When a Parade Was Kind of Dangerous...

A recent comment from IPLawGuy merited its own post. It regards the homecoming parade at our alma mater, and my suggestion that we had both "ruined" that parade by (1) his setting a float on fire (twice, actually), and (2) my accidentally reversing the parade at its mid-point a few years later:

I hardly think we "ruined" one of America's lamest parades. No, I think we enhanced its reputation for whackiness.

This is a parade where the Honorary Grand Marshall my Freshman year was Gordon Jump, the guy who played the General Manager on WKRP in Cincinatti.

Here's what it was like: One fraternity always made a float that looked like a Shark, to commemorate the movie Jaws.. They were still doing this a good 8 years after the movie came out. Another stuck a bunch of tree limbs on a flat bed and rolled it with toilet paper... every year. Yet a different fraternity always had a viking boat that they pulled down the street, while dressed in viking gear. At least a couple of times the southern group sat a flatbed with a big generator driven stereo playing southern rock and the football frat pushed a bunch of lawnmowers.

Us, well, we had a, um, "theme" every year too. One year we had a mushroom cloud on a football field. The next year it was, uh, two shafts, or um "mushroom clouds." The one representing W&M was taller and wider and more upright. The one representing our opponent, Harvard, was shorter, and not so, shall we say, erect. That was the year "a spark from the catalytic converter" set the thing on fire in Colonial Williamsburg. My Satellite was also in the parade. I still have a photo of our friend Roger standing on its hood holding a keg over his head. Nothing says "College" to me more than that photo.

The following year we were banned from the parade.

After I graduated they had a Roman column with a football helmet, a bug spray can with two bugs on the side (the year Prof. Osler backed up the parade)...


In Praise of Chris Fahrenthold

I know, I know... over the past several posts, I have variously accused Chris Fahrenthold of being the Antichrist, plotting genocide, creating murderous robot-hookers, urinating on the elderly, and, perhaps worst of all... plotting to sing "Feelings" at commencement.

The truth is, I really appreciate what he has been up to. Baylor Law has many positives, but one thing we need to work on is allowing a certain levity and celebration from time to time. We are good at the necessary tasks of preparing students for a career that does involve arbitrary disappointments, astounding demands on time and energy, and which requires a depth of knowledge and commitment unequalled in some other vocations. However, this too often masks the good parts of the profession of law. For example, when you are done with a complex and demanding case or task, that is a time and a season for something other than moving on immediately to the next thing; it is a time for celebration or reflection. Also, the legal trade harbors an amazing and wonderful array of characters-- those who are most successful (Gerry Spence, Johnny Cochrane) often get there because of, not despite, their colorful personalities. Part of the whole should be recognizing the goofy individualism that plays a role in success, and allowing the good times of camaraderie between students to be an intentional part of the cycle of education.

That said... if he does sing "Feelings," I might hurl.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


The Beast Belongs At Baylor!

As is my habit after many long days, I was spending some time this evening relaxing on the couch with a nice glass of port and reviewing the prophesies contained in the Book of Revelation. At the same time, I was thinking warm thoughts about the success of Chris Fahrenholdthe in seeking the role of commencement speaker. Troublingly, however, the two began to merge as I read. Prophecy, indeed! It would appear that with the appearance of Mr. Pharenthold on the scene, we may well be in the end times. Consider the following, which pairs the prophesies of Revelation regarding the Beasts of Hell with certain known facts relating to "The Candidate:"

Rev. 13:2- "It's feet were like a bear's..."
(Obviously a reference to Baylor as the site of the Beast's appearance)

Rev. 13:5- "... and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months..."
(Including his "sabbaticals," exactly the period of time Mr. Fahrhenholdt has spent with us)

Rev. 13:7- "Also, it was allowed to make war on the Saints and to conquer them."
(Let us not forget the glee he expressed when his USC Trojans defeated Notre Dame)

Rev. 13:15- "And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast so that the image of the beast could even speak..."
(Clearly a reference to his blog, So The Beast Says.)

Rev. 16:2- "A foul and painful sore came on those who had the mark of the beast and who worshipped his image."
(Propriety forbids me from further discussing this)

Well, it should be an eventful commencement! Plus, we may get to hear his band. Don't forget to attach your special ticket to either your forehead or the back of your right hand before entering Waco Hall!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


More Disturbing News About "The Candidate"

While, as I have said before, I welcome the campaign of Chris Frankenhooker to be the commencement speaker at Baylor Law School, I do feel compelled (as that school's ethics professor) to reveal known facts about his sordid past.

As we all well know by now, Mr. Frankenhooker styles himself as a writer, and indeed is slated to matriculate at the kinda-prestigious Butterworth School of Writing in Butterworth, Vermont in Fall, 2007. However, it appears that the candidate has been active in the artistic community for quite some time. Namely, the autobiographical dark comedy "Frankenhooker" was distributed very briefly in 1990, to the few theaters who did not perform due diligence in connection with coming attractions. While it appears that Chris Frankenhooker's involvement in the project was (under the barely-disguised pseudonym 'Frank Henenlotter') limited to writing, producing, and acting in the film, it still reflects on his character, I am afraid.

Desperate to recoup his investment in the film, Mr. Frankenhooker even ensnared golden-years thespian Bill Murray to write the promotional copy for the film. His tag-line: "If you only see one film this year, make sure it's 'Frankenhooker.'"



Intriguingly, today held many and connected mysteries here at Baylor, The Law School. First, Superbear out front had a sign that either promoted Christ (good) or Chris Fahrbenbafger's candidacy. Then, an email went out to the law school community from the administration:

"I just wanted to let everyone know that at Noon today the alarm system will be going off and the doors will lock."

[Actual quote. Really.]

Now, when I think about the experience of being trapped in a locked building with the alarms going off... that can't be good. The message also implied that the buidling would be on fire at the time, adding to the level of excitement, no doubt.

In the sort of panicked crush that would ensue when 500 people are locked into a burning building, you might imagine that those people would do almost anything to get out. Even... vote for a student as commencement speaker.

Coincidence? I think not! Does this candidate know no ethical bounds? Given that he went through PC before I taught ethics, and previously has worked with colleagues to develop a "Germ Enlarger," I think the answer must be "no." Clearly, he is willing to destroy the school and everyone in it to satisfy his cruel lust for power. Is it worth the sacrifice of life, history, and capital just to allow him his moment at a microphone? Anyone with a soul must reject such a satanic exchange, for the very light of truth will be extinguished should we allow such evil to dwell among us, dancing amongst the flames of his own device.

Still, it would be a darn entertaining speech!


Another strange twist in the campaign...

Over at Sothebearsays, Chris Farhenhooper has entered his latest missive in his search of meaning as commencement speaker. Edited for space (plus, I left out the parts about Ditka and the 1985 Chicago Bears), he says the following:

Put yourself there, in the seats of Waco Hall, waiting for ... Dean Toben to tell ... the Commencement Speaker to give you a... "traditional"... death by exhortations... or defensive...platitudes by someone too far removed from... the phone...[Fahrengolfer's] tired old obsession with... Swanburg's mom...

I'm beginning to understand why Weirdo Bear out front has endorsed him.


Baylor Again at the Center of Religious Battles...

As many of you know, Baylor University has for several years been embroiled in a rancorous debate over its religious identity. It appears that this debate has now reached the Law School.

As I walked into the school today, I could not miss the large sign hanging from Superbear out front saying "Vote Christ."

While this is a sentiment I agree with, I hope that such statements don't invite some kind of come-back from the opposing camp (ie, "No to Christ"), leading to an open religious war at the law school.

Monday, December 11, 2006


Ladies and Gentlemen, We Have a Date and Time

Foosball. Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2006. 9 pm. Crickets. Pay $5 to Bates' old lady, which will go to charity, and play Bosler (Bates/Osler) in Foosball. If you can beat Bosler, you win a prize. I'm certainly hoping that Bates will take on the persona of "Ace," which he played with such charm in this afternoon's PC Top Gun Final Round.

In the meantime, I suggest you mosey over to the Onion for the great shopping tips in their annual Cheap Toy Round-Up. I especially like the sound of the "Dora the Explorer Inflatible Swiper," which I'm assuming is some kind of new-aged Hamburglar character who swipes stuff from kids and then eats it or crushes it or something.

While I'm covering miscellanous items, has anyone else noticed that Swanburg's Mom has started posting over on SoTheBearSays? I think it's nice. But, I'm a little hurt that she didn't reveal herself to someone her own age (me).


A Thoughtful Critique of Haiku Friday's Entries

I asked IPLawGuy to be the judge for this past Friday. He sends me the following report:

Wow, what an honor to be asked to judge the Haiku.
Perhaps I should do it in verse.

But that would get old quick, and be too precious by half.

Anyhow, It's almost not fair to have me do the judging, since my
criteria is kind of hard to predict. When one composes a haiku, one
does not know who the judge will be. If the judge likes pathos or
expressions of angst, one kind of haiku would win. Mr. Farhenthold (I
have no idea how to spell his name for real, since so many variations
appear) might choose a poem that promotes his candidacy. The
Medievalist would probably pick something medieval or Minnesotan.

(and of course, this disqualifies me from winning. Darn!)

Anyway, just as I like music that rocks, I like haikus that make me
laugh out loud.

So Celebrity Luvr wins hands down with:

Girls without panties
Paparazzi are happy
Let's go commando!!

I snorted when I read that.

For second, I pick one of Stef the Pef's little ditties that also made
me laugh:

Undergrad finals
Blow the nuts of a goat.
Please, God, kill me now.

I too felt that way 8 different times as an undergrad. Never did get
hang of that whole "planning ahead" and "doing the reading during the
semester" thing. Let's not even talk about my law school career.
it to say, I am living proof that you can get a good job without being
at the top of your class.

For third, a curveball. Something that was actually a little touching
by "B":

no mojo today
mind on the impractical
girl in Wisconsin

My mind spent WAY too much time on WAY too many impractical girls in my
time. So I feel B's pain.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


IPLawGuy To Visit Waco!

IPLawguy, IPLawWife, and IPLawBaby will be coming to Waco in mid-January! I have found it hard to get people to visit me here (Detroit wasn't much better, frankly), but IPLawGuy actually has gotten to appreciate the same things I do about Waco. Plus, he loves the Health Camp. On previous visits, he has stopped at the Camp even before coming to my house. Surprisingly, he is still alive.

IPLawguy has a pretty intriguing back story. I met him in college, when he was in charge of the radio station. He liked rockabilly, studied political science, knew a ton about tunes, was known as "The Duke," and frequently wore a red ruffled-front pirate shirt and carried a ceremonial sword. After college, he worked for John McCain for several years, and I think he still wore that shirt. Then he went back to law school, where his nickname was "Stumpy Pete," for reasons I don't know. Now, he is a big-shot IP lawyer in DC, and his nickname is "Deathstar," for reasons I also don't know.

I'm thinking of bringing him out for some Foosball.


Seasoned Greetings

My Christmas Shopping List:

IPLawGuy: A container to save up all of baby Libby's boogers and spit-up.
Baylor Circus Lady: The same container, once full.
SoTheBearSays: $500 campaign contribution, bringing me up to the legal $2,000 limit.
Tydwbleach: A nice wreath to put on the front of the 8-person minivan.
Pr. Bates: An internet connection (dial-up for starters)

Any other ideas?

Saturday, December 09, 2006


The good and bad parts of being 7 feet tall

I took in the Baylor men's basketball game this afternoon against the University of South Carolina. Not surprisingly, Chris Fharenthodth was there to cheer for his beloved USC, even as they played against our Baylor Bears. Man, that guy sure does love the Gamecocks. Anyways, I always enjoy watching Baylor's Mamadou Diene, who plays with enthusiasm and gets real joy out of blocking shots.

But who wouldn't love that? Some yahoo tries to shoot at your basket and BOOM, right out of bounds or into the back of Tweety Carter's head or whatever. (If nothing else, you have to love a team with a Mamadou and a Tweety). It really is one of the benefits of being gigantic.

There are other times, though, that I'd rather be 5'10", which fortunately is my height. For example, in an airplane. Where do Mamadou's legs go? There is no conceivable answer other than putting his legs in the overhead bin, which would only work if they detach (and I doubt this).

Some sports, too, are better suited to a smaller frame. For example, Brian Serr is a pretty good skier, but I think his size is a disadvantage. There are times that I will get to the lift line first, and watching him descend is like seeing an untrained sasquatch driving a car into a supermarket, as he tries to stop, grab a tissue, and adjust his goggles all at the same time. As the people in line scatter, screaming, I often pause a moment and consider the positive side of not being quite that big.

But still, I'd like to block a shot like that, just once.


The question everyone is afraid to ask...

As we all know by now, Chris Farlenholdt, uber-blogger and media celebrity, has announced his run for commencement speaker. While I generally applaud this action, I do feel there are some underlying questions, scary questions, that must be asked.

Specifically, put together the following facts:

Fact One: Mr. Fahrentholhp is in that class of people designated "English Majors." This is readily verifiable-- he took a number of English classes while at USC, and in fact his undergraduate diploma from the University of South Carolina identifies him as an English Major. He is slated to attend a graduate program at Butterworth College in Vermont after his graduation... a graduate program in English.

Fact Two: English majors such as Mr. Fahrenthohp often refer to one another as "cat." For example, one English Major may say to another "That Kenny Loggins is one hep cat!" Because Mr. Fawrenthold and Mr. Swanburg are the only English Majors at Baylor Law, it is a fair inference that if one of them is referring to a "cat," that is a reference to the other.

Fact Three: Mr. Swanburg, in a particularly horrifying passage of his own writing, has made reference to knowing a "cat" who pees on people as they sleep.

Fact Four: Many older attendees at commencement fall asleep during the more boring parts of the ceremony.

In sum, is a Fahrdenthold-centered commencement one you would really want to invite your grandparents to?

Friday, December 08, 2006



It's Friday, at last! The prize this week is more Christmas music, but it is really good. Remember, you can put it here and on your own blog, and it goes 5 syllables/7 syllables/5 syllables.

Here is mine:

Four illegal aliens
Mow and cook for him.

Now put yours in the comment section below.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


Could it be true?

It seems that February graduate Chris Fahrenholt, Uber-blogger and founder of SoTheBearSays, has thrown his hat into the ring for commencement speaker and has taken the unusual step of campaigning. I must admit I admire his cajones and also that he would probably give an excellent speech, if his performance today in Crim Prac as "Special Agent Sheila Wright" is any indication. I would vote for him.

Still, though, there is a part of me that wants to challenge him to a debate. Though I can't be a candidate (having already given him my figurative vote), perhaps I could debate on behalf of the faculty generally.

Sadly, such a debate could not be sponsored by the League of Women Voters, since they are already in my pocket and owe me one. Which leaves, I suppose, Swanburg, meaning that the debate would have to be held at Scruffy's immediately before Karaoke...


Please Help A Sad Child This Christmas

My close personal internet friend and associate, Micah, of Northfield, Minnesota, had an even worse day on Thursday than I did. It seems that his favorite comic strip, "Fox Trot," has been cancelled.

This is a sad thing for a kid. I remember when Calvin & Hobbes, my favorite strip, went away. I was depressed for a week, and I was 31 years old. It's probably much worse than that for an 11-year-old. Anyways, he has started a new blog called Save Foxtrot, and you should go over there and give the poor guy some support and sign his petition.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Blaine McCormick is My Hero of Music Procurement

My friend Blaine, who teaches negotiation, writes books, and does mysterious dean things at the Baylor School of Business, is my newest hero of music procurement. Knowing that I collect Christmas music, he called last week to recommend the new Sufjean Stevens album, "Songs for Christmas."

My two favorite songs are "Going to the Country" and "Come on! Let's Boogie to the Elf Dance!" They are rare among Christmas music in that they mix secular and Christian imagery. Plus, lots of it is pretty clever. For example, "Let's Boogie" has these lines:

"21 elves
They are all singing:
'Kmart is closed!'"

That's my kind of elf.

UPDATE: I forgot an important fact about Blaine. Last year I decided to write a book called "Snugotiations: Snuggle for Success in Business & Personal Negotiations!" Blaine talked me out of it. It was a pretty bad idea.


Policy Wonk Update!

I see that Doug Berman over at Sentencing law and policy has posted my query about what happened in the 8th Circuit... it will be interesting to see if he gets any responses.

The opinion of the Eighth Circuit in Spears is available here. Part of what makes me upset is probably selfish-- the dissenters (that is, the majority of the original panel) adopted nearly all of the argument in my brief, and even focused at great length on the Sentencing Commission's 2002 report, which I raised at oral argument (in part at Doug's urging). I suppose there is a lesson there-- that oral argument can be good for something.


Celebrity Update!

Sometimes I worry that people think I'm just some kind of policy wonk with my nose in a sentencing book all the time. It's not true! To prove it, here's something I like to call "Osler's Razor Celebrity Update!"--

News flash! It appears that Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston have broken up! Rumor has it that Angelica Huston played a role in their trip to Splitsville, as she has been seen at Hollywood hot spots on the arm of Mr. Pitt. Anjelica, meanwhile, has purchased a baby boy from Madonna, who was in Africa with her husband, Lionel Ritchie. Hubby Lionel was working on a new album, it was reported, which plays out several themes from the Commodores' hit "Brick House," including an entire song about the woman who is so mighty-mighty that she's built like an Amazon.

Kate Hudson has also been the talk of Hollywood, as it appears that her relationship with Kurt Russell has developed into something serious! Russell's old beau, Goldie Hawn, has been spotted canoodling with well-known talker Michael Dreeben. Dreeben, now free from the clutches of Brittany Spears, has been hitting the nightlife hard himself, spotted at several DC hot spots with Seth Waxman, Laurence Tribe, John Paul Stevens, Doug Berman, and Dee Snyder of Twisted Sister fame. Tribe reports that rumors of an after-hours fistfight with Erwin Chemerinski in the parking lot of the Tabu nightclub are just that-- rumors! Chemerinski, meanwhile, has been working on a rap music video with Lil' Kim and Special Ed; the first single, "Empowering States: A Rebuttal to Dr. Greve" is due out this week. The news from DC is that Michael Greve is not happy about this particular tribute... does anyone else smell another intra-celebrity shoot-out in front of the Hot97 building when Chemerinski stops in for an interview tomorrow... one hour before Greve and his posse are scheduled to appear? Tune in Friday to find out!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


OK, I worked the jokes into the S. Ct. brief. Let's hope this technique works better than it did in the 8th Circuit...

Here is the part of the brief with the jokes:

...As set out below, the meaning of the directive to consider the “seriousness of the offense” must mean the seriousness of that type of offense apart from the guideline offense level (which would include the 100-to-1 powder-to-crack ratio), because individualized consideration of the crime and the criminal and the seriousness of the offense as reflected in the guideline offense score are expressly accounted for in other 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) factors.

Speaking of individualized circumstances, how can you tell the difference between Britney Spears and Ryan Seacrest? Ryan Seacrest wears panties. State v. Seacrest, 354 P. 3d 875, 879 (Calif. 1988). Individual distinctions based on the wearing of underpants, of course, were not among those contemplated by Congress in crafting 18 U.S.C. 3553(a), yet under the principles announced by this Court in Koon and Booker, they cannot be systemically barred by appellate courts. To do so would appropriate to the courts a role reserved for Congress-- the establishment of limitations on sentencing courts by statute. Further, it would disrupt the unity of process Congress intends for federal sentencing, absent the micromanagement of the appellate courts. A proper analogy to the role of Congress in this setting might be the Zen Buddhist who approaches a hotdog vendor and says "Make me one with everything."

One reason a functioning system of assessing punishment must avoid unduly restricting sentencing on a national basis is that this system encompasses a countless number of cultures, societies, and subgroups, each of which present a unique and often unpredictable set of variable considerations at sentencing. It is even conceivable that a single fact that might merit an upward variance in one culture may warrant a downward variance in another, due to the unique customs, values, and myths associated with distinct cultural groups. This truism is shown in the sentencing transcript in United States v. Lindquist (N.D. Minn. 1981):

Judge Swen Olafson: You know it was da Swedes,
dere, who invented dat dere toilet seat, don't cha
Defenant Ole Lindquist: Ya, sure, but did ya
knows dat da Norwegians invented da hole?

18 U.S.C. 3553(a), properly understood, must be able to account for those factors which define the worlds of both Swen and Ole, while still striving to achieve some measure of uniformity and proportionality in federal sentencing. The great ambition of law should not be to shape the world, but rather to give order, meaning, and fairness to the shape it has taken. This Court properly strives to interpret statute and to draw out the meaning of precedent; what it cannot do is ignore our highly individualized society where some relevant factors cannot be predicted, where the measure of a person's worth cannot honestly be gauged outside of the context that gives him life, and where at times the smartest blonde in town is simply going to be a golden retriever.


Haiku Winner...

Last Friday's winner is... Misty Keene, for this effort:

Where have they all gone?
Dying breed pinball wizards
Dad must be the last.

Though, when I read it I couldn't help but think that this was the same dad who, when confronted with giving his daughter such a saucy name, could only say "It fits you." Still, you gotta give dad a little slack if he plays pinball.


Now I'm REALLY crabby...

On June 14 of this year, I argued before a three-judge panel in the Eighth Circuit case of U.S. v. Spears. The panel was composed of judges Lay, Bye, and Riley, and I was arguing on behalf of a group of amici. We were supporting the defendant in his attempt to affirm a downward variance based on the harshness of the 100/1 powder/crack ratio.

At argument, it was clear that judges Lay and Bye had some sympathy to our side, and that Judge Riley (while very knowledgeable) was hostile to our position. For months, no opinion was issued. Today, somewhat mysteriously, an en banc opinion was issued, with Riley writing for the majority to reverse the sentence and Lay and Bye dissenting. What floored me was that there was no en banc hearing or briefing—the case seamlessly converted into an en banc decision without a panel opinion being issued.

Checking the docket, I see that the following order was filed on October 18 of this year:

On its own motion, the court en banc has voted that these cases will be resubmitted en banc, and the June 14, 2006 submission before the panel consisting of Judge Bye, Judge Riley, and Judge Lay is vacated. The court en banc will determine whether further briefing and argument are required, and if they are, the clerk will notify the parties of any schedule which is established for further briefing and argument.

From what I can surmise, then, what happened is the following: Initially, the panel was divided 2-1, with Judge Bye writing a majority opinion and Judge Riley preparing a dissent. However, at this point the case did not proceed to the logical next step of a ruling being issued by the panel. Instead, Judge Riley was able to get the remainder of the judges in the circuit to agree to his dissent, and “on its own motion” the court as a whole voted to make the Riley dissent the majority opinion of the en banc court, without the messiness of hearings or a panel opinion.

Does anyone else see a problem with this process? At the very least, I would like to have had the chance to address the questions of the remainder of the court.

Monday, December 04, 2006


My brain hurts. Joke needed.

It's 10:15 at night, and I'm up in the office working on this brief. I'm kind of in the zone, but maybe getting a little foggy. Is it appropriate to slip a joke into the brief, somewhere in the middle of the discussion of 18 USC 3742(e)(3)(C)? I think it is. Maybe as a footnote, but if I can find a good segue, I can slap it right in there as a block-quote.

That's where I need your help. If you know a good, short, not-crude joke that might make Justice Ginsburg chuckle (I think that might work on her), please put it in the comments section below.


Snow and Christmas

Like a lot of people from the north, I connect snow with advent and Christmas. I know this is not very Biblical-- Jesus lived in a climate much more like Texas than Michigan. Still, these things get connected in childhood and are hard to unhitch.

For me, there is a connection in a real way between the idea of Advent and snow. Snow slows everything down-- not just people and traffic, but sound, and falling snow diffuses the light to something gentler.

In 2003, I heard the Nada Surf song "Blizzard of '77," and I remembered that blizzard. I wrote a little devotional for my church starting from that song, part of which is included below:

In the blizzard of ’77, I was a child. It started with big, early-season flakes drifting unevenly to earth, easy to see in a child’s palm before slowly melting away. As the early dusk of the North fell, the snow grew heavier, gathering on frosted windows. I was a child, so I waited. Every few minutes, we would look out the window and see the soft snow coming down, the lights of cars filtered through the gathering of white.

We waited all night. The next morning, it was still falling. The edges of the world were rounded off, and the greens and the grays of the city were subsumed by the pure white drifts. We ate our cereal, waiting, waiting. And then the snow stopped, and the waiting was over. We went out into the yard in our boots and snowpants and jackets and lifted our feet up high to get to the end of the driveway. There before us was the whole of the world we knew, transformed, one flake at a time. The Day-Spring had come, leaving a world with no cars, no danger, a wonderful calm and silence and an unbroken line from our snow angels past where the shrubs and cars had been, each reduced to just an undulation in the white plain, to the flat expanse of the lake and Canada lying quietly beyond.

Sunday, December 03, 2006



Advent is my favorite part of the church year. That idea of waiting, of patience, of reflection... it resonates with me in a way I find hard to express. Of course, the religious significance for Christians of this period conflicts with our commercial culture, which marks it with a cacophany of marketing.

For the next few weeks, I'll be working hard on that Claiborne brief, which means my door will be closed, I'll be grumpy and scratch my head a lot, etc. But in a way, working on an intellectually challenging brief will be appropriate for advent-- long periods deep in thought, with no rushing around save for chasing a rabbit trail of deduction now and then.

If you look in through that little window in the door, I may be lying on the couch thinking, or turning around and around in my chair with some papers in my hand.

To everything there is a season.


Does anyone have a job for Tydwbleach?

I have become kind of fond of some of the people who, though unconnected with Baylor Law, frequent the Razor. For example, IPLawGuy seems like he must live among us (though he doesn't). This morning, I noticed a very very sad haiku by one of these fellow-travelers abroad, Tydwbleach:

I hate my new job.
Have only worked there four hours.
Nerds with binary clocks.

How will I survive?
Risk Management not that fun.
Cannot stay awake.

See how this week goes.
Will try to make it more fun.
If that's possible.

That does sound like a really terrrible job, though I can't say I understand at all what "Risk Management" might be. So, does anyone have a better job for her? From what I can gather, she is married with a toddler and a minivan, and a fine education. The job would preferably be in the Portland, Oregon area and not involve binary clocks.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


Hideous the Snowman Says "I Have a Plan..."

Bates came over for dinner last night, and we decided we will, we WILL take on all comers some night at Crickets in the grand game of foosball. However, I think it will be a charity thing-- like, you have to bring $5 or some food to play us, and if you beat us you get a prize.

We'll work it out. Stay tuned.

Friday, December 01, 2006


Excuse me-- Did someone say "Festive Holiday Beatdown?"

My close friend and associate Larry Bates stopped in a little while ago and mentioned something... well, a little surprising. It appears that some students are foolish enough to think they can take us on in the royal and ancient game of foosball. Well, bring it on! [I say this knowing full well that I really stink at foosball; I'm counting on Bates to back up my bravado]

Dates and times to be announced. And, whoever these "opponents" may be, you may want to bring a spare set of underpants. Such things are necessary when you have challenged a true God of the Foosballs.

Meanwhile... did I hear Chicago say "I'll buy pants when it actually gets cold!" while standing in the hall yesterday? If my hearing was not playing tricks, this was a truly inspiring statement, implying both that the man has no pants, and that he is too tough to need pants in most weather situations. The man will be a demon in court (provided they let him in without pants).


Hey Everybody! C'Mon! It's Haiku Friday!

It's the most wonderful time of the week: Haiku Friday! Remember, the recipe is 5 syllables/7 syllables/5 syllables. And, you bloggers, feel free to cross-blog-- slap your haiku here as well as in your own space. The prize is yet another copy of the musical stylings of William Hung and others for the holidays.

Here is mine:

I lost in foosball
To this hairy Contracts guy
With a wicked spin.

Bang! The ball is gone
Now I'm looking around, stuck
In a Bramblebush.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?