Saturday, June 30, 2007


It's Bad Joke Saturday!

Hey, I read Swanburg's mention of free stuff down in the lounge, and ran right down there for a day planner. They had a big stack all right! I grabbed one, and it said, "I know other people don't think so, but I really like your haircut!"

I was kind of surprised it was talking, but it kept going. "That shirt really brings out the color of your eyes!"

At this point, a small crowd of students had gathered around, and the day-planner said, "your friends certainly seem nice!"

Just then Swanburg walked up, shrugged, and said "I told you they were complimentary."

Insert your own joke below...

Friday, June 29, 2007


Haiku Friday of The Gods!

Is there anything quite like a summer friday? Well, sure, an October friday in Texas, but looking beyond just the weather...

Here's the themes for the week:

1) I love you, Dick Cheney!
2) Harry Potter in college
3) The problem with my swimsuit
4) Steroid use in Practice Court
5) Black polyester slacks
6) The immigration bill
7) Poor retail service
8) Chilly/chili/Chile
9) Paris returns
10) The end of Big Trial

Went to PetSmart, where
Time is not of the essence,
Workers laugh at us.

Now it is your turn. Don't forget to follow the mandatory yet compelling formula of 5 syllables/7 syllables/5 syllables...

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Mystery Guest Blogger: iHarryPotter

I received the following today from commenter iHarryPotter. Hmmmm. Curious...:

Thanks, Mark. Being a foreign exchange student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I have been able to get the opinion of many on the new film and book.

I'm sad to say that Osler's Razor is inaccurate in it's definition of the film, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. He is correct in his definition, but is unaware that the storyline involving ASU, Voldemort, and a particular nod to a comic strip not carried in the Daily Prophet is a subplot. The main plot revolves around Fawkes the Phoenix's plan for a rebellion on Kirk Fredrick Carnot, owner of KFC, who has found fried Phoenix to be quite tasty, hence the name.

Last week, when I was visiting Liverpool and it's infamous Pool of Livers (built in 1554 to distract Muggles from some 239 dragons roaming around town), I ran into the Weasleys. I attempted to conduct an interview. Arthur Weasley was too busy talking about "fellytones", Fred and Geofrge were feeding a Ton-Toungue Toffee to a gecko, and so on. Finally, I got Ginny to speak, who responded, "It is great being a celebrity! I love the aeroplanes where they give you pasties and nougats in different flavours and wipe your bogies! It's so extraordinary! you'd be mad not to go on an aeroplane!" Molly Weasley declined to comment on her daughter's statement.

When asked about the significant liberties taken from the book in the film, Mrs. Rowling declined to comment. Her guard, however, responded, "Get away, or I'll set the gnomes on you!". All in all, it was a successful interview.

My sources have prrovided me with the following information for the book:
Odds of characters dying: Harry, 1/256,000,000; Voldemort, 6/7; Ron, 1/568,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 Hermionie, 1/ 135,000,000,000,000,000,000; Snape, 1/1; Neville, the chance of him dying is low, because he bounces, but cannot be accurately scored; Luna, 1/45; Draco, 1/11; and finally, Umbridge, 1/1
-iHarryPotter, the inventor of the Swirlie Charm


News from Tydwbleach!

Since her house exploded, Razor Regular Tydwbleach has been living in motels and rented homes with a 3-year-old and a luthier. This update is lifted from the comments section:

I feel almost like a real person again. I am back to more of being myself and it took a LOOOONG time. Before the house exploded, there was the remodel, before that I had elective surgery and before that my Dad died and it has been this INSANE time. In between all of that was the Seven habits guy and the nerds, and the subsequent job search.

I am back to the "normal" life, you know? The regular stuff: grocery lists and laundry and what's for dinner and what should I make with all of these rotting bananas? I need to make banana bread and of course I could not find my loaf pan but in the scheme of things this is not a tragedy. Not in love with the French Countryside snooty type of neighborhood we`are renting in - this yuppieville with all of the fake tudors and the fake chateaus and the crazy old ladies and all of the kids named Ashton and Haley and Taylor and Mackenzie, but then I grew up in GP. I can handle these nuts for a year.

Habib and I are going to max out my new kitchen and bath and I love my job, and my kid is weird but aren't they all? and my husband is a luthier, but he is happy so I guess things are turning out okay after a bunch of DRAMA.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Finally! They've come out with a Stephen Baker action figure!

I was cruising down the first floor of the law school and was lucky enough to find our blog-friend Poseur standing over by the elevator. He wasn't really doing anything other than standing there, staring into the middle distance, and nodding along to some heavy metal tune (Ratt? King Diamond? Poison? Hawkwind?) on his iPod. It really seemed like he was doing a "Silent Bob" impersonation, so I doubled back and asked him what he was doing.

"What? Now? Nothing."

So then I told him he looked kind of like Silent Bob.

"Yeah, well, I'm waiting to talk to some guys about some stuff."

I have to say, that didn't make him seem any less like Silent Bob, except the talking part.

So, who else should have an action figure, and what should it look like? Personally, I want to see an IPLawGuy action figure with some knock-off product in his hands...


I'm totally conflicted about the iphone...

The Apple iphone goes on sale friday, and people are already in line to get one. I'm kind of an Apple guy-- I have an eMac at home, an iBook for the road, and an iPod from each generation they have brought out. Part of my affection for Apple is that they seem to decide things based on ease of use rather than cross-marketing, in contrast to Microsoft.

So, am I getting an iPhone? Not right now. I'm conflicted about the whole thing. Here are the considerations:


Combines phone and ipod functions
Can access the internet
Sleek design
Capable of holding all 345 phone numbers for IPLawGuy
Powered by a tiny magic sprite on a stationary bike
Can download songs from my iTunes library


Slow internet speeds
Version 1.0 screw-ups inevitable
Small storage capacity means unit must "poop out" data into special can
Explosive "j" key

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Another picture of tortured-looking trees

I'm starting to realize that these trees, in whole, don't look so healthy. Of course, neither do I in the middle of big trials.


The Big Trial Adventure

Today in Practice Court we start big trials. In short, these are longer trials which follow a process of deposition-taking, interrogatory-sending, motion-making, screaming, and mutual recriminations if not the open exchange of gunfire. For some reaon, probably the stress, big trial brings out the best and the worst in students. I have seen people do wonderful things in the courtroom such as creating an elegant rebuttal on the fly; on the other hand, I have also had to break up a girl-fight using my hockey referee skills.

It's highly unpredictable how long these things can last-- sometimes we are done by 7 pm, and at least once I stayed to watch a trial to conclusion at 1:30 am. So don't count on me for much else the next few days...

Monday, June 25, 2007


FAQ #1: The Cola Wars

Professor Osler: I recently heard the song "We Didn't Start the Fire" by William Joel on the oldies station, and it referred to the "Cola Wars." What were the Cola Wars? Did you fight in them? Signed-- Frostie

Dear Frostie--
What an intriguing question! I did not fight in the Cola Wars, though Prof. Bates did, on the side of Pepsi. The whole thing started in 1964 when Coca-Cola announced it was coming out with "New Coke," which was going to re-introduce cocaine as an ingredient in the product. Pepsi, realizing this could have a harsh negative effect on its business, organized an army and marched on Coke headquarters in Atlanta. Both sides looked to other parts of industry for leadership-- Coke hired General Mills, a cereal magnate, to lead its armies. In response, Pepsi hired both General Motors and Colonel Sanders to develop its strategies. In the end, Pepsi's attack was blunted by a moat of Sprite, which at that time was petroleum-based and highly flammable. Though there were 9,100 casualties, a worse calamity was avoided when a truce was mediated by Dr. Thaddeus Pepper of Waco. As part of the truce, Coca-Cola agreed to withdraw New Coke from the market.


Quickly! We Must Defend The Disco!

If you do plan on spending some time in Utah this summer (and it's a great place to spend some time), I would recommend seeing Coriolanus at the Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City. They do a pretty good job of it, although the mannerisms of Aufidius and the Volscians made it seem like they were defending Provincetown rather than Corioli, a bastion against Rome until this defeat.

Cedar City is a wonderful little town, and the theater has amazing acoustics. The story is compelling, too-- it involves the Roman, Martius, who becomes Coriolanus after defeating the Volscians (fittingly, he is rewarded with a "Garland," which is what you would probably get if you defeated Provincetown, too). His undoing is his pride, as he is unable to present himself humbly before the working citizens of Rome.

Shakespeare was big on the problems of pride and the virtue of humility, something we all need to relearn now and then, including me. Of course, with this haircut it is easy to be humble.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


New Photos! No More Lego Guy...

For the next few days, I'll be posting some photos I took in the bristlecone pine forest at the Cedar Breaks National Monument in Southern Utah. It's a beautiful place-- high desert meeting an alpine climate at about 10,000 feet. Be ready for some energetic hiking, too-- at that elevation it really sucks the wind out of you. The bristlecone pines are some of the oldest living things on earth. The photo above, of course is not of a bristlecone pine, but I found it oddly compelling anyways.

Meanwhile, in Baylor news, it appears that the Board of Regents is disassociating itself from the Alumni Association, for reasons I don't really understand.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Harry Potter and the Spiral of Blame

Like everyone else, I'm all excited for the release of the seventh and last Harry Potter book next month, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. But... what if there is an eighth book? What should it be called? Remember, he would be the age of a college freshman for this one. Maybe we should have a contest... here are my ideas:

Harry Potter and the Gentleman's C

Harry Potter and the Enchanted Pregnancy Test

Harry Potter and the Very Odd English Professor with the Troubling Personal Habits

Harry Potter and the Spring Break Debacle

Harry Potter and the Drum Circle of Austin

What's your idea?

Friday, June 22, 2007


Mayor McCheese Presents: Haiku Friday!

It's Friday, and that means the beauty of haiku is upon us once again! Here are some themes from which you may choose (or not):

1) Wendy Does Waco
2) Spencer's lunch
3) Presumptive reasonableness of sentences within the guideline range
4) What's wrong with the Baltimore Orioles
5) REO Speedwagon
6) Toxic wastes and other pollutants
7) The scene at the pool
8) Donkey Kong
9) Porn Cat

Here is my own haiku, to start things off:

Scalia's mad again!
"Not to revisit Booker..."
Here we go again!

Now, it is your turn to create the delicate Japanese art of the haiku. The first line should be 5 syllables, the second line 7 syllables, and the final line needs to be 5 syllables.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Cross-blogging all over...

Today was an exciting day in my little nerdy world of federal sentencing-- the Supreme Court released the ruling in Rita, holding that a within-guideline sentence may be viewed as presumptively reasonable on appeal. I was asked, along with some other people in the field to post my initial impression over at Scotusblog. You can find my musings here, and everyone else's thoughts here.

In a similar vein, I was cross-blogging on an equally serious issue over at Bar Mate today as well.

When you've got a hair cut like I do, it's a good idea to limit your media appearances to the internet and radio for a while...


Thanks for a Blaine-tastic Week!

One of the things I have learned in my brief period as a teacher is that there are other people who are better at it than I am, especially in those areas in which I don't know much. For example, negotiation. Sure, I've done a lot of it, but never really knew how to do it.

Solution: Blaine McCormick, Assoc. Dean over at the Hankamer School of Business here at Baylor. Besides being the author of several books which are actually interesting (including "Ben," which Amazon intriguingly describes as having been written by Ben Franklin and Blaine McCormick), Blaine is a great teacher and an expert on negotiation. We have been working for some time on developing a training process for plea negotiations, and this was our first full run at it. We spent the week with my criminal practice class applying the principles of negotiation to the criminal context, and it went very well. Next time will be even better.

One of the great things about teaching at a place like Baylor is the ability to have people like Dr. McCormick cross the street and improve what I do.


Haiku winners!

Last week's winner is from "B," whose simple prose and use of Starbucks terminology won the day:

one gulp - pool water
some listerine down the hatch
one venti red eye

Second place goes to haiku powerhouse and West-Coast Luthier (don't talk to him about East-Coast Luthiers, there's a feud) Tied2Bleach:

Leaving Santana
Some Journey's not worth taking
Who's crying now?

And finally, IPLawGuy gets honorable mention for once again saying "No" to Tea Leoni:

T. Leoni, No.
But hair I have. Tradelawguy
Going bald, not me


Mystery of the Week: What was in Spencer's Lunch?

In the comment section to the previous post, the Razor's pretty-good friend Tydwbleach said this:

Spencer's babysitter called me at work today and just pretty much screamed into the phone and told us to pick him up and he should not come back and it was nothing to do with him it was all MY fault. I was stunned and I asked her why and she told me for 25 minutes and I got off the phone and I still do not really get why. She loves Spencer... he loves going there.. it was something about lunch, and do we value her profession, and about 30 other things that made no sense. It was bizarre.

Obviously, the sitter was set off by what she found in Spencer's lunch. Today's contest is to guess... what was in Spencer's lunch?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


I'll have to carefully edit the signature line...

Things are popping here at the law shop. As my newest pro bono work, I'm writing an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in Kimbrough v. U.S., a case which involves my favorite subject, federal narcotics sentencing. As usual, I will be ably assisted by Dustin Benham up at Carrington Coleman. In addition, we have brought aboard BLS student Matt Acosta (pictured here) to help us out. As one of his first duties I had him sit in on a conference call this afternoon, and when that call went long, had him stand in for me while I went down to class.

The one danger with Matt is that he tends to sign everything, including class assignments, "Love, Matt." For example, check out his reading reflections for oral advocacy class. While I have always found this to be kind of a fun touch, we may end up editing that out of the brief.


Tyd-- I turned off the weird code thing

Ms. Tydwbleach-- Sorry about the weird code thing for comments. I accidentally turned on this system which screens out advertising comments. It's fixed now. But, sheesh, it's not like anyone's house blew up or anything.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Shaving Tips From Mr. Scruffy

I often recommend clerking for a judge to my students, since it can be a singularly useful experience. Nothing else can prepare you for litigation as well, since you get priceless insights into the way that a court works and makes decisions. My own clerkship was wonderful. Judge Jan E. DuBois taught me many things about the law, but he also taught me other life lessons. One day, for example, he called me into his chambers and noted my grizzled appearance. He asked what my routine was for shaving, and I admitted that it consisted of scraping an old blade sideways across my face. He then proceded to give me detailed instructions on how to do it the right way.

This incident came to mind today as I was flipping through the catalogue from Ben Silver, a store in Charleston from which I buy a lot of ties and, now and then, a nice Harris Tweed coat. I noticed a sidebar in the catalogue entitled "What You Need To Know About Shaving." It was quite specific, and described a process I can't imagine following:

"Open the pores with hot water. Apply skin food in an upward motion to soften the beard. Lift the beard from the face by lathering up in a circular motion against the grain of the beard with a good quality badger shaving brush.... Use the finest badger brush you can afford."

Later in the piece, they recommend a brush made from a "High Mountain Badger."

Even leaving aside the question of what "skin food" might be, doesn't that sound a little scary? Do they really make brushes out of badgers?

Plus, catching high mountain badgers can be difficult, as shown in this video.


Me & Swanburg & Some guy at U.T....

Thanks to the folks over at Beer Mat for including me among other "Bear Backers" such as Swanburg and the Unabomber. I actually do support quite a few Baylor sports, even the ones we sometimes aren't so good at (that is, those requiring men to throw a large ball). When I want the latest scores, I always go to, but if what I am really interested in is a bizarre melange of sports news, internship horror stories, and psychotic ramblings, nothing beats Baylor's #1 Sports blog: Beer Mat!


Or perhaps he just needs to get more fiber...

BLS student Lee Carver reports that he was in Greece for two weeks before he was finally able to go to the Acropolis.

It must be the water.

Monday, June 18, 2007


It's Pat!

I’m totally geeked (or just geeky?) that my friend and colleague Pat Wilson is now a part of the blogosphere. The name of her new blog, Boiler Babe, makes it sound like she is a vessel of boiling rage, but that's not the case-- she just went to Purdue. She is a good writer, and has an interesting life to write about, which are really the only two things a good blogger needs. She is also one of my life heroes, and my Deacon at church.

It might surprise some of you that she is my deacon, charged with my spiritual development, but I’m glad she is. We people up on the third floor have complex and tangled relationships, just like those of you downstairs. Here are some other interesting connections you may not be aware of:

1) Prof. Serr, Bill Underwood, and Prof. Wilson were friends in Chicago long before either started teaching at Baylor.

2) Prof. Serr went to law school with Bill Underwood, then recruited him to Baylor Law.

3) Bill Underwood was recruited out of Carrington, Coleman in Dallas, where he was a friend of Larry Bates.

4) Mike Rogers and Mike Morrison went to law school together at Oklahoma University.

One of the more intriguing facts about the current full-time teaching faculty, I think, is the fact that every member is from either Texas, Mississippi or the Midwest, with not a single person from either the East or West coast. Here is the breakdown (to the best of my knowledge):

Texas (10): Guinn, Rogers, Featherston, Counsellor, Powell, Fusillier, Jackson, Miller, Wren, Cordon

Nebraska (2): Ryan, Simpson

Minnesota (2): Bates, Beal (sometimes also claimed by Illinois)

Michigan (2): Osler, Underwood

Illinois (1): Serr

Indiana (1): Wilson

Iowa (1): Swenson

Mississippi (1): Quarles

[Sketch of Pat Wilson compliments of Bear Mate]

Sunday, June 17, 2007


Another unfortunate aspect to this new and terrible haircut...

Now that most of my hair is gone thanks to the resentful barbers of Detroit, I realize yet another downside to my recent loss: Now Gordon Davenport and I will appear to even more closely resemble Ernie and Bert.

You know, given the way he eats, you would expect Gordon to at least be the fat one, but no.


Return to the scene of heartbreak, Pt. I

The photo above is by an excellent Detroit photographer, Kevin Bauman. You can see more of his work (and you should) here.

Being from Detroit is like being in love with someone who breaks your heart the same way over and over again. Yesterday in the barbershop the barbers were talking about the customers they have lost in the past year, and their own plans to move somewhere else, anywhere, and close the doors like many of the other stores in the area. This morning, in the Free Press, the lead article in the Real Estate section was about how to deal with abandoned homes on your block, accompanied by a photo of a house on Harvard Road in Detroit; the house looked ok, but the owner had given up on selling it, and the yard was becoming a jungle like others nearby. Until age 6, I lived on that street.

The music from Detroit, too, tracks the way that people react to that particular strain of heartbreak. The bold determination of the White Stripes, the anger and fury of the MC5, the alienation of the house music people, the sentimentality and retreat to romance of soul and R & B, seeking the respite of God in gospel— one ray of light refracts many ways through a prism.


Return to the scene of heartbreak, Pt. II

Though I spent a lot of my life in Grosse Pointe (which was a wonderful place to grow up), I did live in Detroit proper both as a child and an adult. I lived there when the riots rose out of the West side, I smelled the stench of burning oil, saw the National Guard take over my town in tanks and jeeps. I lived there when the jobs left the first time, when the black license plates with the white numbers went south to Houston and they said “Last one in Detroit, turn out the lights.” And I lived there when crack destroyed much of what was left, snatching away what little remained in some neighborhoods, and leaving entire blocks with nothing but empty lots and burned-out churches.

Given that much of my work has been to change the harsh sentencing laws for crack, you might think it odd that I see crack as part of what blasted Detroit into pieces. But that is exactly why I do care about that issue. My problem with the narcotics laws isn’t that I’m ok with drugs or want to legalize them or am under the delusion that treatment works very often or kid myself that narcotics trafficking is a victimless crime. My problem is that by punishing crack so much more harshly than powder, we are ignoring the economics of the drug trade, and changing the economics is the only way to make crack more expensive (which is the best realistic goal that interdiction can have).

Crack is made on a stovetop by the unskilled labor of the drug networks; they are the minimum-wage people, and so easily replaced it is almost effortless. We can sweep them up again and again and fill the prisons to the top, and it won’t make any difference at all, and that is just what we have done. Those sentences create an incentive for law enforcement, too—they can say “Look what we have done!” Which, in the end, is much easier than going after the hard-to-get people that really matter, the ones who know how to finance and ship and distribute a product. What I want, a lot, is to fill the prisons with them. It won’t unbreak my heart, but it might be a little bit of of the change that our world cries out for.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


James Dunn Sent Me the Right Way...

About seven and a half years ago, I was trying to decide whether or not to take the job at Baylor, and happened to have lunch at a Cracker Barrel on Hilton Head with James Dunn. He gave me sound advice, which I followed. Apparently, if this is any indication, I'm not the only one he has strongly influenced.


Would anyone like to purchase six pounds of human hair?

After Mrs. CL rescinded her offer to cut my hair for $11, I was driven to desperate measures. Because the Michigan economy has tanked, haircuts are cheap here, and I got one for about $11 at one of those places with the barber chairs and the red-and-white pole outside. Sadly, they apparently heard my request for a "haircut" as a directive to "cut off all of my hair." It's a pretty severe change. Maybe even worse than that one I got last year in rural Vermont...

Or, it could be that the barber was offended by my suggestion for the University of Illinois, which recently had to dump their sports mascot, Chief Illini-Wek. I thought it might be a good idea for them to just change it to CHEF Illini-WOK, a guy in a chef's hat banging a wok. He looked at me strangely when I made this helpful suggestion.


And then they rise from the lake and cover everything...

I am back, very briefly, in Michigan today. I really picked quite a day to show up, too-- this is the height of the annual fish fly invasion. Every year, about now, Grosse Pointe is literally covered in fragile large-winged bugs about one inch long. They rise out of the lake, blanket everything, then die after one day.

One of my entrenched memories from childhood is riding my bike near the lake and hearing the crunch of their wings under the wheels-- they were impossible to avoid, since they covered the whole sidewalk.

If there is one good thing about fishflies, it is that they don't eat anything. I don't know how that works, exactly-- I suspect that is why they die after one day. In 5th grade I wrote a horror story about the day the fishflies started eating metal.

I'm kind the opposite-- I'm living a long time, and eating a lot.

Friday, June 15, 2007


T.G.I. Haiku Friday!

It's Friday, and there is so much to be thankful for. Life is good. Here's some topics:

1) Tea Leoni looks like she misses IPLawGuy
2) Tea Leoni is trying to get back at IPLawGuy by impersonating him
3) I'm a professional wrestler and a stripper!
4) iPhone
5) Ron Paul
6) Tyd's desk
7) The Hair Farm
8) Journey
9) Stop, Spurs, Stop! The series is over!
10) Unhealthy breakfast

Anyways, here is mine:

Hey, Mrs. CL!
Careful with those scissors!
Is that dog asleep?

Now it's your turn. Construct a haiku below of 5 syllables/7 syllables/5 syllables:

Thursday, June 14, 2007


"Right now I'm in law school, but someday I hope to be a stripper or a pro wrestler!"

Right now in practice court we are having jury selection exercises. Second quarter students play the role of jurors, and get to make up a persona to impersonate. It's kind of like halloween. By far the favorite persona in stripper, for both men and women, though we have also seen Jack Bauer, professional wrestlers, a transient devil worshipper, and many professional singers. Every year, at least a few people choose to portray D list celebrities who are dead, which creates some problems.

Sadly, no one has ever chosen to be Rink Allegro, actor and star of "Firestorm IV: Escape from Explodar City," from the White Collar Crime final a few years ago.

Baylor Law people-- what was your favorite persona?


One more thing about the ending of The Sopranos...

Like a lot of other people, probably, I have been re-watching the ending of the last episode of The Sopranos, and the more I see it, the more I like it. Not that I was ever a big fan of the song they used, "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey (though I did like the way they episode ended with the word "stop"). The first four lines of that song are:

Just a small town girl, livin' in a lonely world
She took the midnight train goin' anywhere...
Just a city boy, born and raised in South Detroit
He took the midnight train goin' anywhere...

If you are from Detroit, you know that the line about being from "South Detroit" is either an inside joke of some kind or the result of not knowing much about Michigan. There isn't a "South Detroit," because the city is shaped like a crescent. The Detroit River cuts the southern border of downtown-- if you go south of downtown, what you get to is Windsor, Canada, not South Detroit.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Mollie McGraw: Criminal Defense Superstar!

Recent Baylor Law grad Mollie McGraw is rippin' it up for the public defender's office in Las Cruces, New Mexico. She's tried 12 cases and won 11 of them, which must be some kind of record for the defense side. I know defense lawyers who have practiced for many years and still not won that many.

Of course, I figured she would do well. She won my enduring affection in class one day when I was botching up the explanation of something or other. As I scrawled some nonsense on the board and then pointed at it while jabbering away, she raised her hand politely. I called on her, and she asked, "Professor Osler? What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

And she was right-- it didn't make much sense. I knew she was going to do well, if she just kept asking that question (of people other than me). It seems like she has.


Yow! Now that's a conference!

Former Baylor Law Professor Bill Underwood, now the president of Mercer University, has been busy pulling together a blockbuster conference in January/February, 2008 celebrating the New Baptist Covenant. As announced here, the conference will feature (among others):

Charles Adams
Tony Campolo
Jimmy Carter
Bill Clinton
Marian Wright Edelman
Al Gore
Senator Lindsey Graham
Senator Chuck Grassley
Mike Huckabee
Bill Moyers
Julie Pennington-Russell
William Shaw

Notably, this conference will bring together black and white Baptist groups as part of the New Baptist Covenant.


Go, Spurs, Go!

Now that the Pistons are out of it, I'm all for the Spurs. Things to like about the Spurs:

1) Other than the Red Wings in Detroit, and maybe the Red Sox, I haven't seen a city so supportive of a team as SA seems to be of the Spurs. With the Spurs being San Antonio's only big-league team, sports fans there have to wait all year for basketball season to roll around. Once it does, they are undistracted.

B) The Cavs at this point seem a little in awe of the Spurs.

3) I think "Spurs" is a pretty fitting name, in a league that also features the "Jazz" in unjazzy Utah, a "Lakers" is desert-y LA, and the "Grizzlies" in Memphis.

4) Tony Parker and Tim Duncan are a great combination.


A gem rescued from the comments section

A little while ago, I went on a rambling tirade about those who insist that only theologians understand Christ. There were many good and thoughtful comments, many of them more insightful than my original post. I have copied below one of the best-written of those, for people who don't read the comments.

Just as the pharisees in Jesus day, Academics have something to lose.

The Jews, expecting a Messiah surely thought God would come as a warlord to overthrow the oppressors. When he came in the form of Jesus this was not particularly well received, or believable, nor was Jesus given immediate and widespread credence as the Son of God. He was flesh and blood; an ordinary man. His ministry built slowly and was punctuated with miracles that established only credibility, not invincibility. How utterly disappointing it was for some to see God in the flesh. There was no burning bush, no columns of dust, no pillars of fire, and no cacophonous trumpets knocking down the walls. The pharisees had set the bar high.

This was God’s great deceit. Jesus was an affable and compelling man. He was patient and kind. He liked kids. He engaged the Pharisees with snappy repartee. He spoke well and people came from miles around to hear what he had to say. He resisted Satan in the desert. He told us to turn the other cheek. He seldom lost his temper.

Time and time again Jesus, through parable and deed, tried to demonstrate that the letter of the law was secondary to God’s intended spirit of the law. More than one way to skin a cat (so to speak).

Jesus says of the Pharisees in Mark 7: 7 - 8: "They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men. You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men."

If you are a teacher of traditions, you can easily have more invested in your standing among people than in a righteous life.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


I thought the ending of the Sopranos was excellent!

I've been watching the Sopranos for nine and a half years now, and they came up with the perfect ending. Tony looks up, at something, we don't know what. There is danger all around, but somehow the family is still together.

The FBI agent was a compelling character in the last few episodes. My reading was that he was terribly frustrated by the change in his job once everything became about terrorism. Before that, he was able to pursue cases that had a beginning, a middle, and an end, with the defendant going to prison. In the new world of terrorism investigation, there was none of that-- just keeping tabs on shadowy figures. It was a subtle tale of the transition from crime-fighting to intelligence as the basic task of the Bureau. There is significant tension between those two roles-- as crime-fighters the goal is to stop people from doing bad things as soon as possible. With intelligence work, though, you watch people even as they do bad things, in order to gather more information.


Haiku Winners Announced! Oregon and DC Celebrate!

There was a ton of great Haiku last week, and picking winners was tough. Not too tough, though. I had to declare a tie between the clever wordsmith Tied2Bleach and evocative master of horror TradeLawGuy.

If you missed it, here was Tied's winner, which subtly alluded to the freak of nature that was the band Asia, featuring Steve Howe:
Howe could you do it
In the Heat of the Moment
bad things can happen

Below is TradeLawGuy's effort:
Going home from work
Standing on Metro platform
Underwood? Dear God!

Heart beats much faster
But will he know who I am
Already standing

Walk past him quickly
Excuse me Mr. Tradelaw
Please explain Erie

Sweat begins to pour
Brain becomes very confused
Wake up! It's a dream!

Three years from Waco
Still haunted by that place
But better for it.


Tyd's Salad Dressing Recipe

I moved this up from the comments section-- I realize I have been a little light on the recipes of late, and perhaps too heavy on the drivel.

Lemon Oregano Vinaigrette : Adapted from The Signature Room at the 95th, in Chicago. Makes about half a cup

1/2 garlic clove
1.5 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
1.5 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1.5 teaspoons mild honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
2 tablespoons canola oil
1.5 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano

Blend all ingredients except oregano in a blender until combined well. Transfer to a bowl and stir in oregano, then season with salt and pepper.

Notes: if you are using a small food processor, like I did, make sure to slice up the garlic clove before pulsing or you will have a mess in your kitchen (because the garlic moved the blade up and leaked some dressing)--like I did. Also, I used 5 Tablespoons of EVOO, since I didn't have canola oil. And I used about a 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano.

This dressing was really good! Lemony, not too garlicky really refreshing. Definitely worth making again

Monday, June 11, 2007


The Razor Summer Movie Guide!

Summer is the season of blockbuster films, and 2007 is no exception. And you can count on the Razor to cut the wheat from the chaff!

1) Harry Potter Goes To Phoenix

Surprisingly, the film takes significant liberties from the plotline of the book, as Harry leaves Hogwarts and enrolls as an art student at Arizona State University. He is followed there, of course, by Lord Voldemort, who finally kills Harry with the help of ASU basketball coach Lute Olson and former player Manute Bol. Though jammed with cameos apparently designed to appeal to children (Hillary Duff, Patrick Starfish, and Dora the Explorer), the film is inappropriate for small children due to several gory killings, references to Harry's "magic wand," and drug use.

2) National Lampoon Presents: Sky High 2

This sequel focuses on the character of Layla, the girl who can control plants with her mind. She turns her talents to marijuana cultivation, with predictable results. Not appropriate for children or young adults.

3) Surf's Up: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Combining the trend toward penguin and superhero movies, Surf's Up brings the penguin colony into conflict with the Silver Surfer, a mysterious figure who devours entire planets. Though this film is appropriate for small kids, they may be bored with the extended plotline involving a travel agent played by Wallace Shawn.

4) The Simpson's Movie

Based on the popular and long-running television cartoon, The Simpson's Movie follows Cartman's search for a principled conservative politician in the Bush administration. As usual, Kenny ends up dead, etc. etc. Not appropriate for children of any age, or those who may be pregnant or have a heart condition.

5) March of the Penguins 3

Narrated by Al Gore, this dry documentary follows the penguin colony chronicled in the first two movies as global warming converts their wintry redoubt into an iceless wasteland. For two hours, we see the penguins dying in a large pile until finally they are loaded into trucks Soylent Green-style to be shipped to China for remanufacture into toxic toothpaste featuring a happy penguin on the package.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


I will pay $11 to anyone who can give me a decent haircut on the law school patio

Last week I went into Common Grounds and the (non-dancing) barista asked me "are you a musician?" I can't quite figure that out, but the best I can guess is that it relates to my bad hair. So, later that day, I tried to cut it myself, and that made it worse. The last professional haircut I had was in Alpine a few months back, and since then I haven't found a time or place to get it done.

So, if you are any good at cutting hair and have your own scissors, I will pay $11 if you will cut my hair.

I figure it's gotta be better than the time I let Celebrity Luvr do it, in the dark, after a margarita or two...


One of those times that it is really important to read the footnote...

Yay, Judge Reggie Walton! You have now written my all-time favorite footnote.

As someone who spent 400 hours in the last year writing briefs and arguing on behalf of people who are not famous in the least, or able to pay anything, I couldn't agree more with the judge. Law matters, visiting those in prison matters, and it matters most when it affects the least of these in our midsts (to paraphrase one of my favorite teachers).

Saturday, June 09, 2007



As this article reports, Robert Bork is suing the Yale Club of New York for $1 million, because he slipped and fell at the club. As a member of that club (where I spent a week last month, which included some slippage but no falling), I suppose I am personally invested in this story, but still have some kind-of objective thoughts:

1) Back when he was nominated, I thought they should have put Bork on the Supreme Court. In retrospect, his ordeal has made too many lawyers (and especially academic lawyers) too careful and cautious, especially those with aspirations to be a judge.

2) Along with Surgeon General C. Everett Coop, Bork brought back the whole beard-with-no-mustache thing that for decades had been limited to the Amish. I'm all for diversity in hair.

3) For a long time, Bork has allowed himself to be a focus of conservatives' anger at the legal system. I think that this move will put to an end a lot of sympathy they have had for him.


What will happen to Paris Hilton next? Will she be sent to a "celebrity jail?"

Is there anything more compelling, apparently, than police cars going at low speed through expensive neighborhoods in Los Angeles? It seems not. Now that Paris Hilton has been delivered back to the county, some are speculating that she will be allowed to serve out her term in a "celebrity" jail. In such a place, she would be spared the company of murderers and drug addicts, and instead be housed with those who are merely grouchy, stinky, or flightless. Note in the Paris-goes-to-celebrity-jail scenario I have created above that Swanbug, an LA native, is shown at the far left. I'm pretty sure that he would get to serve any misdemeanor time at the celebrity jail, based on his blogging alone.

Friday, June 08, 2007


And on the Fifth Day, they created haikus...

It's been a pretty interesting week. My computer died, which was kind of compelling to watch, like NASCAR in the rain or something. Also, someone taught me how to use "Reverse IP Lookup" to figure out who a particularly nasty anonymous poster was, and that was sure interesting. Then today I finally got all my grading done (a few days early) and celebrated by watching "Stuart Saves His Family" on channel 322. I'm still kind of freaked out by the fact there are 322 channels.

But now it is time to bear down and write some haiku. Here are the suggested, but not mandatory, topics (it is kind of like the post-Booker sentencing guidelines):

1) Movies written by Al Franken
2) My favorite concert
3) The problem with Led Zeppelin
4) Another reason to be glad I live in Waco
5) Paris Hilton-- early parole!
6) The one person I really don't want to see nude
7) My dream about a law school administrator
8) The Saturday Night Live character you most resemble
9) The band "Asia"
10) Prom

Here is mine:

I have this one dream--
Jerri Cunningham moved
Her office outdoors

Now it is your turn, in the usual 5 syllables/7 syllables/5syllables format...


Craig Pankratz actually got my visual ELO reference! I'm shocked! And a little disturbed. You will note that I even got the right number of people. I didn't actually have the album, though, and if I did it over I would group them a little tighter.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


The best concert ever...

I've been to some pretty good concerts, including the Del Crandalls show IPLawPerson mentioned earlier, and a few incredible performances by the Ramones, and Iggy Pop when both of us were much, much younger (he fell off of a five-foot stage, which had been specially built so that a "5'1" man could see"...).

The best, though, was probably Kraftwerk at the State Theater in Detroit. This might surprise some people, but Kraftwerk was revered in Detroit; house music built up (in Detroit and Chicago) around both the music and the ethos Kraftwerk created in the 1970's. They were predicting a world consumed by technology, and helped to create it.

The most amazing part of the show came when they turned into legless robots, which then completed the set.


Simple Wine for a Summer Meal

Summer's here, and in Texas June is the best month for a simple meal out on the deck or porch. I'm no wine expert, but I do have a few favorites I thought I might share. The two wines described below are good, not expensive, and pair very well with typical summer foods like fish and hamburgers. American wines are usually identified by the grape they are made from (ie, Chardonnay or Pinot Noir). French wines, however, are generally identified by the area or village they come from (for example, Champagne is an actually geographic region).

Great with Burgers: Beaujolais

Beaujolais is from Burgundy, and is made with the Gamay grape. It is a light-bodied fruity red and is often served slightly chilled. It's almost like Sangria at times, though less sweet. Every November a big hoo-ha is made about the "Beaujolais Nouveau" which is just-bottled wine rushed all over the world for a first taste of the vintage, but what you want is regular beaujolais (not labelled "Nouveau"), which is available at the larger H.E.B. stores for about $8-$10. There are three levels of perceived quality. Simple Beaujolais, then Beaujolais-Villages (from certain parts of the region), and finally Beaujolais from a specific town in the northern part of the region, such as "Morgan."

Great with Seafood: Vouvray

Vouvray is from the Loire valley in France, and is made from the Chenin Blanc grape. It is a slightly sweet white wine which makes for an interesting change from many American wines. It can be quite pleasant without food, but is another good picnic wine, or for the porch dinner. You can pick it up for about $8 at the larger H.E.B. stores. One caveat: Vouvray can vary quite a bit, so find a year and producer you like and stick to it.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Things we know about Tyd--

1) She has an enormous 140-pound dog.
2) She's a Unitarian, but apparently not scared off by the God-talk on here.
3) Her husband is a Luthier, and pretty good at Haiku.
4) She had lobster Newburg for her 3-year-old birthday party.
5) She also has a son named Spencer, who hangs with a buddy who goes by "Donut."
6) Her house blew up, and she still has a good attitude.
7) Now (after the whole exploding-house thing) she lives in a red van down by the river.


Thanks for the rain

The fire in the northwoods is out, the burn ban is over, and things seem to be safe for a while. If you want some insights into this part of the world, I recommend the Boundary Waters Blog.

On the other hand, if you would be more interested in an Acosta/Baker Battle Royale, check out the comments here. Baker does not like the Beatles, ELO, Steely Dan, or Rush's "2112." Acosta doesn't like Baker anymore, it seems.

While we are discussing Rush: In Criminal Practice class yesterday, the indictment presented by Bradley Thomas was under the name "Neal Peart." I asked if Geddy Lee was also involved and Thomas gave me a blank & unknowing look. Sad.


A statement with which I strongly disagree

A few years ago, an academic and I were in conversation about a faith issue. At one point, I said something which apparently conflicted with the teachings of Augustine (it's true-- I disagree with Augustine on many things). The academic brought this to my attention and asked if I had read a certain work by Augustine, and I admitted that I hadn't. At this point, he said "I don't see how you can consider yourself a true Christian if you don't know Augustine."

There are few statements I disagree with more, and it cuts to the heart of my problem with much of modern academic theology. It assumes that knowledge of certain philosophers who lived after Christ is necessary to understand Christ, and this cuts most of us out of the body of "serious" Christians.

You know what? If I get lost in West Texas and stumble into a little wayside church where no one has an education past high school, and those people are gathered together to worship, I am willing to accept that they know Christ as well as I do, and as well as that harumphing academic. As a young man I used deliver flowers to an African-American church on the East Side of Detroit, and sometimes stayed for the service. I never heard them mention knowing Augustine, but they sure as heck knew Christ.

Jesus himself did not preach to the Pharisees and scribes, but to the masses on a hillside, few if any of whom knew how to read. I know that illiterate people today can receive that same message now, in full understanding and belief. Their open hearts are equal to my own, and not only the spirit of God but the knowledge of Christ is as fully within them as it is within me or anyone else.

I have nothing against reading Augustine. I'm glad that there are theologians and experts, and I enjoy talking to them and have learned a great deal from them. What I don't accept is that somehow their powers of analysis (rather than the powers of love, compassion, or dedication) somehow place them closer to God.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Scooter Libby-- The Federal Sentencing Guidelines Doing Exactly What They Do All The Time

Today Lewis ("Scooter") Libby was sentenced to 30 months in prison, which was within the guideline range. [Contrary to false reports such as this one, this is not the same "Scooter" who appeared on "The Muppet Show." That Scooter is pictured above, with Swanburg] Somehow, people find this sentence shocking. Driving in to work this morning, I heard Doug Berman being interviewed on NPR about the case, and he sounded very calm and matter-of-fact. However, everyone else sounded vaguely hysterical.

Am I missing something here?


PC at work...

I hope you all will forgive me another self-indulgent reflection on the tournament yesterday. It encapsuled one of those moments I really love, when you can see someone transitioning from being a student to a lawyer. Yesterday's finalists were people I had seen early on in the exercises and in other classes trying to understand the patterns and rules and tactics of trial work, with all the struggles that come with that. Then, yesterday, they were in court-- they really could have been in a trial, and done well. Their hard work, and the right place to do it, had paid off. Not much in this life has made me more proud, and the fact that a transition like that occurs is one of the great things about Baylor.

People can complain about how hard the program is and their individual grades, etc., but there is something going right around here. I know from experience that none of us came out of Yale Law able to do what Julie Ross and Aaron Mutnick did yesterday.

Monday, June 04, 2007


Sentencing News! Sentencing News!

As seemed inevitable, the Supreme Court this morning dismissed the Claiborne case due to the death of the petitioner, despite the fact that it was very close to completing opinions in the matter. Wise sentencing elders are predicting that the Court may go ahead and issue an opinion in the companion case to Claiborne and leave the issues unique to Claiborne for another day.

In the meantime, they gave no word on the fate of Spears v. United States, which is the case I have up on consideration for certiorari.

[You know, there was a time in my life where I never used the word "certiorari"...]


Top Gun Results

I know they usually say that any mock trial competition was "really close," but in this case, it really was both close and very well-played by both sides. In the championship of the Top Gun mock trial tournament, Aaron Mutnick (pictured here) edged out Julie Ross after both had vanquished several foes on their path to the finals.

By my count, that means that 3/4 of the Top Gun finalists since we started the competition took Criminal Practice before starting PC. [a little shameless plug there]

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