Monday, April 30, 2007


Jas Brar Blues Explosion

You know, Jas Brar is the guy I had to stop myself from calling on constantly in PR. From the first day, he had great answers, and sometimes they were better than the ones I had thought of already. He's going to be a great lawyer.

For some reason, though, he always struck me as a guy who should have a blues band. He might, secretly...


Criminal Concentration

Somehow, the term "criminal concentration" sounds like what we might call it if you could boil down pure evil criminality into some kind of viscous liquid, but at Baylor Law it means that your degree marks you as having a specialty. A lot of people graduated Saturday with that concentration, more than the rest of the possible concentrations (civil trial law, business law, limericks) combined.

This is photo of me with Alicia Nix, one of the people I always loved to see in my criminal law classes when I walked in the first day. I'm not sure students know how much we appreciate a student (like her) who works hard and is always prepared, but we really do.

Oh, and Tyd-- what I did after commencement was go to New York. I'm in New York right now, working on my book. I have the perfect room, too, with a good library right downstairs and lots of interesting people to advise me. I have 180 pages done, and will probably finish by July. Woo hoo!

Sunday, April 29, 2007


A big weekend for Ginger Hunter....

Not only did she graduate, but she wins the Haiku contest, for this entry:

Water and F Scott?
Let us instead look to Joyce's
"Portrait" and water.

Like Icarus, fly.
Yet, the dirty water will
Always greet your fall.

It just seemed appropriate for commencement weekend, and I really like the balance of the second part.


Tyd Update 2!

From what I can gather, here is where things stand with Tydwbleach, whose house blew up:

1) It looks like they might finally replace the Expedition with a Prius;
2) This weekend they are moving from a Residence Inn to an IKEA in Seattle;
3) Donut is despondent;
4) The Tyd family attitude continues to be good to great.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


I'll admit it-- I'm kind of giddy!

You know, it is not everyone where you can take his wallet (for pedagogical purposes) and he's ok with it, but Mr. Indermill is that guy. I really liked having Goose in class and on my team-- he's going to be a great lawyer. Also, Reno Amy took this photo. Further, affiant sayeth not.

I'm giddy about commencement, but also about the Sentencing Commission lowering the sentencing guidelines for crack. After all these years, I feel like the dog who finally caught a car. [Disclaimer-- I'm not claiming any connection whatsoever between anything I've done and their decision, and I really don't care why they did it, I'm just happy they did]. You can read here the comments of uber-sentencing-blogger Doug Berman of Ohio State, with whom I have collaborated over the past year in crack cases in the First, Second, Third, Eighth, and Ninth Circuits, and in the U.S. Supreme Court. I think he is as giddy as I am. The Yahoo story is here.

To understand why we are so goofy about this, you have to know how hard it is to get any political body to examine sentences as too harsh. No one with political impulses wants to risk being labeled the "friend of the drug dealer," which means that the rachet on criminal sentences almost always goes in only direction-- towards longer sentences.

You don't win many swimming upstream, so I am going to savor this.

I take very seriously that part of Micah 6:8 (quoted twice at commencement) that urges us to temper justice with mercy, and that is part of the reason I feel so strongly about this.


Yes, I would trust him with a flamethrower...

In case any of you have me and Campbell Warner mixed up, that's me on the left.

Campbell and about 60 other Baylor students graduated this morning in a great ceremony punctuated by Allison Dickson's speech and an excellent address by Prof. Powell. There are so many wonderful people in this group, and it is going to be hard to have them off doing other things...

One intriguing thing in the ceremony was that in his remarks to the students, Baylor President John Lilley mentioned Osler's Razor, raising the possibility that he reads this blog. If so, I'm sure everyone has the same question:

Would I trust him with a flamethrower?
Yes, I would.



As some of you know, for many years I have been working on lowering the sentencing guideline ranges for crack cocaine, which right now is sentenced under a formula in which just one gram of crack is sentenced the same as 100 grams of powder cocaine. My principle argument against this is based on my experience as a prosecutor-- this disparity serves as an incentive for law enforcement to go after crack rather than powder cocaine, and it is very often not cooked into crack until it is in the hands of the least culpable person in the chain. Thus, the disparity serves as a disincentive to go after the key man who is more valuable (because of his specialized expertise in finance, logistics, or marketing), because the easier case is to go after the street dealer holding crack.

Most recently, I filed (with Dustin Benham of Carrington Coleman) a cert. petition to the Supreme Court on a case presenting the question of whether a court can vary from the 100-to-1 ratio.

Well, tonight something happened. For some reason I can't imagine, the United States Sentencing Commission met at 7 pm on a Friday night and voted to change these guidelines, at least a little, and promised to urge Congress to make more changes to the mandatory minimums that also enforce the 100-to-1 ratio. The changes are tucked into the end of this press release.

That means that signs are now all pointing to Congress to address this issue-- specifically the House Judiciary Committee, which I have been bombarding with letters for the past few months.

Good times, indeed.

Friday, April 27, 2007



Florencia Rueda is coming back for commencement tomorrow here at Baylor, but it has been a baaaad week. Her apartment in Austin was robbed, and the robber took away a lot of stuff, including (I think) her computer with photos in it.

Austin-- so good, and once in a while, so bad.

Anyways, if you have any photos with Florencia in them, email them over to her, or to me and I will forward them.

If you don't remember Florencia, that is her in the photo to the right (I know, because this was her profile picture in facebook).


Haiku, The Friday Tradition!

It's been quite a week here at the Razor-- from the explosion of Tyd's house through commencement tomorrow. Here are some suggested haiku topics:

1) My flamethrower
2) Water imagery in the work of F. Scott Fitzgerald
3) Tyd's exploding house
4) Commencement at Baylor law
5) What kind of ascot does the Spanish Medievalist wear?
6) Bates in England
7) Super job, AG Gonzales!
8) Finals
9) Quality cutlery
10) If I only had a job...

Here is mine:

Commencement's here,
I'm sure I'll clap from the back
And try not to yell.

Now it is your turn-- just make it 5 syllables/7 syllables/5 syllables, 'k?

Thursday, April 26, 2007


What I did this week...

Among other things, I did the following:

1. Wrote this. (You can download the essay by clicking on "download article" in the upper left hand corner. Simple, I know, but people still ask me where Seventh and James church is located...).

2. Spent two hours on the phone with a retired mobster (for a project I am doing with Blaine McCormick).

3. Watched a lot of finals for Oral Advocacy-- and they have been great.

4. Started grading the other exams.

5. Packed up a pile of books to take to New York.

There was some other stuff, too, but I forgot most of it. Maybe that's a bad sign...


Update on Donnie Davies

You may remember Donnie Davies, the Minister who divided musical groups into "Gay" (Ravi Shankar, Wilco, Ghostface Killah, Elton John, Kansas, etc.) and "safe," (Jars of Clay, Cydi Lauper, P.O.D.). It now appears that some people are calling him a fraud, and he is fighting back.

On the whole (and in response to B's query below), I'm not sure I would trust Pastor Donnie with either a flamethrower or a panda.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Second Favorite Recycled Photo Ever...

How can you not love a panda with a flamethrower? Whether foraging for food, looking for a mate, or just protecting oneself from poachers, it's the perfect tool! I'm not sure how this panda got a flamethrower, but I'm glad he has one.

People I would trust with a flamethrower:

Sleepy Walleye
The guys over at Beer Mate
Mr. Thomas
Profs. Ryan & Counseller
Ginger Hunter
Mrs. CL
Prof. Jim Underwood
Swanburg's Mom

People I probably won't lend my flamethrower to:

Alico Guy
Spencer's friend DONUT
(Former) Prof. Bill Underwood
Celebrity Luvr
William Hung
Tydwbleach (at least until the insurance company pays out in full)
Gordon Davenport
The Spanish Medievalist
The Ladybird

If you ask nicely in the comments section, I will tell you whether or not I would trust you with a flamethrower.



The law school is very quiet today, at least on the third floor. There may be mayhem a few floors down with the finals, but up here it is pretty serene. I'm writing, and that's best done in private, since there is a lot of pacing and muttering involved.

My only visiter was Poseur, who was triple checking his final exam time and worrying that if he gives a sermon, the school will be struck by lightning. We'll see...

UPDATE: Poseur did great. One of the best, and that is saying something in this crowd...


Congrats to Allison Dickson!

I received an email from Jerri Cunningham about commencement Saturday which mentioned that Allison Dickson (pictured above) is the highest ranking student among the spring graduates! Congrats, Allison. There are a lot of superstars in this group, and if you broke it out by entering classes, maybe three or four top ranking students, so the competition was very tough.

Allison has left a lot of impressions here, and one of my favorites was our mutual experience in Oral Advocacy of learning from Prof. Gloer as he recovered from a disabling stroke, yet taught with authority and passion. I suspect Allison had a different perspective in watching that than many of us, and in the end she gave a final exam for the ages.

Of course, graduation probably won't compare to that magical moment when she first met William Hung...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Here is a photo of Tyd's enormous homeless dog...

With, of course, Spencer. Donut is in the picture as well, but completely obscured by the gigantic dog. That thing has a head like Sputnik!


Totally True Secrets About Prof. Bates

We've gotten to that part of the year where the professors start to disperse-- Prof. Powell just went by with a hand cart, Prof. Featherston flew out earlier, and on Sunday I am off to New York to finish working on my book.

Then there is Prof. Bates. I had dinner with him on Sunday, and then he flew out to London yesterday. Now that he is out of the country, I can reveal some amazing facts about Prof. Bates:

1. No matter how hard you press her, Bates' Mom insists that he was a "great kid" and that "he never got into any trouble." Hmmm.

2. He is an expert in medieval England, and was pursuing a Ph.D. at Columbia before ditching it for law school.

3. If he covers a test for you, the protocol is that you are supposed to bring him back a t-shirt from wherever you went. These shirts comprise much of his wardrobe.

4. He is a master of phone technology-- for example, he has a special chip he puts in his phone so it will work in England. However, he never answers his phone.

5. His favorite restaurant is the "Squat and Gobble" in San Francisco.


Tyd Update

As many of you know, our friend Tydwbleach's house blew up. The picture above is of a pile of burned stuff from the wreckage. It took me a little while to discern, but at the center of the photo is the remains of a guitar...

From what I can discern, Tyd and her family are not having an easy time of it. The insurance company is starting to hint about not paying for things, Spencer is discombobulated, and the dog is unhappy (or sick, or both).

Monday, April 23, 2007


Third Favorite Recycled Photo

I'm not sure what exactly it is that cracks me up about this picture of Bobby Knight. He looks kind of mischievous, in an evil sort of way. What is he thinking?


Here's the restaurant we really need in Waco!

I recant my prior plea for a Pappadeaux's in Waco-- what I really want is a State Street Brats. This photo was sent to me by "B", who apparently stumbled upon it (or into it) while visiting Madison, Wisconsin. It's a place that serves giants brats and stuff like that, contributing to Wisconsin's legendary collective girth and sense of fun. Someday, I hope to hunker down in a booth with IPLawGuy and the Medievalist, preferably after a football game, and eat myself into a stupor.

State Street Brats has the advantage of being in Madison, Wisconsin, the town that also gave America another great cultural institution: The Onion, which I often refer to simply as "The Paper."


4th Favorite Recycled Photo

The Medievalist mentioned this one, which features me and former Baylor Chaplain Todd Lake wearing matching taupe sweaters. While I have run this before (many times), I don't think I have ever suggested a caption contest.

So, what should the caption be?


Corbett Rules! PC works!

Many of my students go on to be prosecutors; a lesser number become defense attorneys. At least in trial, it is the defense attorneys who have the tougher job and win less often. However, David Corbett, who is a public defender in Arizona, won his first trial, using some of the tricks he learned in practice court. Actually, they weren't "tricks," but rather things like "the rules of evidence."

Those of us who know and admire David, or who are in or about to be in PC, should check out his blog for the details.

Sometimes, all that hard work IS worth it.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


My 5th favorite recycled photo

A few people (actually, several people) have accurately accused me of recycling photos on the blog. I figure that so long as I'm going to do that, I might as well build up a hall of fame type thing. I'll start with my 5th Favorite photo in Razor history, pasted in haphazardly above. As you might remember, this one was taken shortly after the Baylor Sippy Cup program was initiated, to show the actual size of said cups. In the photo, you can see Swanburg and his date enjoying a delicious beverage. A hazmat team stands at the ready (as required by state law), and Chicago lounges nearby.

Any other favorites people want to lobby for?


Friendship and Change

It's commencement time, and next week a good and strong group will go their separate ways. I know them well enough that I have seen some of the deep friendships they have developed over the past years. Will those friendships survive?

They will if you want them to. Friendship is like anything else worthwhile-- it takes some work, especially over a distance. IPLawGuy is one of my oldest and best friends, and that is in large part because he and I have been willing to put in some effort... shoot, the guy has been to visit Waco several times, and that's not true of many people. It was twenty-five years ago that we met as students, and that's a long time... there are a few other people here that I have known for that long as well, like the Sleepy Walleye and a few others. Those friendships have been a wonderful gift, one of the best parts of my life, adding a richness and depth to all the rest that has happened because it has been shared. When I hope things for my students, that is one of the blessings I wish for them.


Burrito Surprise!

A while ago, I asked people what restaurant people wanted to have in Waco. There were some pretty interesting responses. One thing people asked for was a Chipotle's, and it turns out we are getting one, on Valley Mills. Huh. Also, the Waco paper reported today that Vitek's, home of the infamous "Gut Pack," is reopening in the next month or two, which is great news for those of us committed to physical fatness.


Huh... am I doing something wrong here?

According to Swanburg, some other professors tell intriguing stories about the Village People before the final. I'm thinking that maybe I should be telling entertaining stories for a while before passing out the test? Hmmm.

On another note relating to my colleagues, remember how Prof. Serr led a bunch of children into the woods last week? Well, uh... has anyone seen him since then?

Saturday, April 21, 2007


As a tribute...

My sentencing final today featured Spencer and his little friend, Donut (pictured here as adults, using an age progression analysis program). The whole attack on the Vice-President was Donut's idea... and, of course, it ended in tragedy as they were both arrested after an assault on Dick Cheney at Katie's Custard on Valley Mills Road.

Look, if ya gotta work with the sentencing guidelines, at least make them interesting...


Send an encouraging message to Tydwbleach...

If you read the post below, you will see that that Tyd has had a pretty bad week. She's kind of a sad panda, but you would be, too, if your house exploded. Please leave her an encouraging note, if you want, below.

As background, I have never met Tyd, though we are both from Grosse Pointe, Michigan. Thus, we share many of the same cultural touchpoints, such as the Saga of Chilly Willy the Demonic Penguin, and Sir Graves Ghastly. She stumbled on the blog while looking for my brother, whom she did know. But, once she stumbled aboard, she stuck around and now is one of my favorite writers-- kind of the Erma Bombeck for a new generation. She lives in Canby, Oregon, with her husband, Bill, who is a luthier. Now, I never knew what a luthier was, either, until now... but you can check out his web site here.


Update on Tydwbleach and her exploding house!

Yesterday, Tyd provided an update on her exploding house, but it was buried in the comments section before IPLawGuy's excellent reflection on the Virginia Tech shootings, so I have reprinted it below, slightly abridged (and put in bold the part where she asks about lawyers):

Ok we are alive and well and living at the Residence Inn. We will soon be in a rented house, probably for a year because they say the house is a total loss, and it has to be torn down and totally rebuilt. We are all fine and everyone has been giving us all kinds of things, as we lost a LOT of stuff, including but the cars they look okay but the headlights and the engines like MELTED. We are waiting to hear how they will handle the cars. Most people say they will not be driveable. This is a loooooonnnnnggg story but the deal is this.

We were home, and Spencer was out front smoking and playing with blasting caps with his little friend Donut. Bill and I were both upstairs and working on our computers at different ends of the house. The Canby Telephone company had been on our street digging all week putting in giant orange tubes in the ground.

All of a sudden we start smelling a gas odor in the house. Bill said its really strong but it was not so strong on my side of the house. SO he goes out and tells the Canby Telephone guys that we smells gas. This is what they say:

"Well that is because we were digging right in front of your house and we hit the gas line. We have called people and its gonna stink for a while but it should be okay If the smell bothers you, go back in your house and close all of the windows."

Then about 7 min after this BANG BANG BANG BANG on the front door.. It is a guy from NW Natural. GET OUT NOW NOW NOW

so I get my purse and I cannot find my cell phone. then I decide to leave it. then I am looking all over for the dog's leash. The guy is yelling at us I am telling I have to find the dogs leash he is like NO NOW GET OUT NOW!!!!!

SO then the fire trucks show up... I am thinking well its CANBY what ever happens in CANBY???? they have nothing else to do this is like their big excitement. so they tell us we are gonna go in the house and open all of your windows. Well, we had not CLOSED them really but we just did not really open any.

So four firemen go in.. I am bored and annoyed and I wish we could at least get in the car or something. They are in there like five minutes and then BOOOM. The garage door BLOWS across the street. A HUGE fireball comes out of the garage, and goes in in the air and turns to black smoke. then crash crach OF WINDOWS i SEE ALL THIS THE WINDOW JUST flies OUT OF THE LIVINGROOM... glass everywhere... its the loudest noise It was like baghdad I swear.

Turns out there is STILL gas allll surrounding our house. In fact it had come up thru all of our pipes and in the TOILETS that morning that is how much gas there was in the house. the neighbor next door as a pond/fountain and as of today it is STILL testing at 40% gas concentration. We found out that of the four firemen in the house, ONE got burns but he is home already. The other three had minor injuries and were treated and released.

Watching your house blow up is harder than it seems. Especially knowing what we had just completed. We finally got to go inside the other day and they say it is a total loss that we will have to rebuild. So far our insurance co is helping us greatly but I worry about the dent in Bill's buisiness. They found guitar parts on the neighbors roof, in peoples yards and allll the way down the street. His machines are all gone and stuff too. His upstairs shop collapsed onto his downstairs shop.

Every day we go to the house and go inside and try to find stuff. we lost a LOT but of course the countertops survived.... but they cannot pull them off. SO looks like pretty much we are getting a A NEW house. And this time, I am getting HABIB for ALLLL of it. Plus, we are going to build that closet with the grow lights that Spencer has been pestering us about.

In the mean time we are kind of nomads. Everyone is saying get a lawyer...I am not sure what to do THey all say it was Canby Telephone's fault... we could get a lawyer but I mean for what? Bills Business? I mean it totally is going to interrupt how we can make a living for maybe years to come. I just don't know how we would I mean what are they supposed to do about this?

We are at the Residence Inn for like a week with our rented Chrysler Pacifica whale of a station wagon. They are moving us to a house someplace near Canby, or maybe to Charbonneau which is near Spencer's preschool. I guess it will have furniture. Then we will get them to build a new house I guess. or something.

ALl I know is this community has been fantastic they have dropped off toys, diapers, kids clothing.. tons of things. AND all of the neighbors are like storing our stuff for us and things like this. Spencer lost a lot of his toys and stuff, and Donut had all of his ammo and gas cans in there.

Tonight we curled up in our bed and I read him some books and it was just like normal The dog is at the neighbor's until tomorrow we are even bringing his Fire Engine bed tomorrow so he will feel more at home.

There is a song by Billy Joel a total sap but its called "You're My Home." Its like that is how I feel. Wherever Bill and Spencer are I am home as long as we are together. They both still drive me up the wall, but its good to be home, even at the Residence Inn.

So I feel lucky. I do not know HOW Bill is going to get the business back going, or what the future holds, but for now I feel very lucky.

[Ed. note: I added the part about Spencer playing with blasting caps and smoking. He actually was at preschool. I also added the part about the closet with the grow lights, and any comments relating to Spencer's friend Donut.]

Friday, April 20, 2007


IPLawGuy Writes About Virginia Tech

My good friend, IPLawGuy, has lived his entire life in Virginia, so I asked him to write a little bit about the Virginia Tech homicides. One thing that struck me immediately about what he wrote was that he thinks of it is a spiritual crisis rather than a news story-- I'm sure being around so many people with connections to that school, it is much more that sort of thing in Northern Virginia. In New York (and many other places) I noticed the same thing, on a larger scale, after 9/11. Here is what he had to say:

Prof. Osler asked me to write something about the Virginia Tech shootings. I must admit that I feel like an odd choice for this task. I’ve made a few random comments on spirituality here and there on the Razor, but mostly I’d rather attempt to tell jokes or attempt to set up the Prof. or Tyd or Swanburg, Celeb Luvr, the Medievalist or someone else with a straight line so that they can tell a joke.

He certainly did not ask me to write something because I am known for any sort of gravitas here on the Razor. That seems like a job for some of the Prof’s more academically or spiritually inclined friends, like the guy in Kingman or the fellow who has the blog about the LDS church or Prof. Darden, who edits the magazine on religion or someone who attends the 7th and James Baptist Church. As for comments of a more serious nature, I shy away.

I cannot claim any special knowledge or understanding of psychology (one summer school course in 1981) or Religion. I dropped out of Sunday School at 11 years old and stopped going to Church at age 14, not returning till I was 26. I’ve read parts of the Bible and listen to sermons and read a few books on religion, but most of my “understanding” is based upon gut reactions and what I learn from listening.

Quite frankly, I often only skim the more serious Razor postings on religious or spiritual matters when they first go up. I read the Razor for diversion or amusement, waiting for Tyd’s latest rant, or hoping that Brian McKinney or Thomas or Stef the Pef or Poseur or someone else will say something amusing that will make me laugh. I have to be in the right mood for the more “challenging” stuff.

And although I did grow up (for the most part) and do live in Virginia and certainly have lived around, gone to high school with and later law school with and worked with people who went to Virginia Tech I’ve only been to Blacksburg twice, and the last time was about 25 years ago.

So maybe I am supposed to be “everyman,” the average person who doesn’t know what to think. Because I still don’t know what to think about most of this tragedy

I’ll start with a few things that I do “know.”
First, the national plastering of this guy’s image on newspapers (and most likely television – I rarely watch anything but sports) disgusts me. We’ve turned him into a Jim Morrison/Kurt Cobain rock star. I woke up this morning in New York City and spent part of the day in Newark, so I’ve walked by more than a few newspaper stands. Newspapers around the country featured this sick killer in big bold colors, above the fold. Guess what; he’s famous! Obviously he isn’t around to bask in the fame. But like the terrorists who acted on September 11, this nutjob did not appear to have a clear understanding of what happens when you die—especially when your death comes after or while killing others in such a cold-blooded manner.

I’m a Christian and believe in an afterlife. But I will admit to doubts. Maybe when we’re dead, that’s it. Nothing else happens. I don’t think that’s true, but its possible. If the latter is correct, Mr. Cho is dead and his dreams of redemption are dead too. But if I’m right and there’s an afterlife, I don’t think he’s going to be enjoying it very much.

Either way, he’s gone from this world.
We all enjoy our “pity fantasies.” The movie “A Christmas Story” features a scene where Ralphie imagines that he’s blind and homeless due to the CRUEL treatment of his parents. He shows up at his home, with a cane and dark glasses, after having disappeared for “a time.” His parents are shamed by their past lack of care for the poor boy and he feels VINDICATED. The fact that his fantasy is totally implausible matters not. The point for Ralphie is that his parents feel bad and want to make it up to him.

How many sitcoms have featured episodes where the cute, but awkward guy or girl does something silly to get a love interest’s attention? I remember an episode of Dobie Gillis (which is old enough to have been in re-runs when I was a kid) where Dobie tells his love interest that he only has a few weeks to live in order to get her to go out with him. A variation is the fake accident to avoid turning in homework or completing a task. From outrageous stunts to fake accidents, doing something stupid one of the oldest tricks in the book. Shakespeare plays feature several examples of people taking on imagined roles in order to get another’s attention.

People do silly and stupid things to get attention or to try and “solve problems.”
Unfortunately, there are plenty of troubled people out there who are still very much alive and very much seeking some sort of “solution” or who desperately want attention. And instead of faking an injury, attempting some sort of Jackass-like stunt or dressing up like a fool, they’re likely to do something that could harm more than just themselves. Just as the fellow in Blacksburg appears to have been inspired by the troubled teens of Columbine, it’s quite likely that some other horribly disturbed individuals will see the photos or videos and think, “that’s right, I’ll show ‘em. The guy in Blacksburg got himself on the front page of every paper in the country! Wow, I could be like him!”

I actually felt a tiny bit of sadness for the kids at Columbine. Sounds like the high school “jock culture” was pretty ingrained there and that they had been made miserable. Not a justification, but I could almost understand the rage they felt. Not the reaction of buying a bunch of guns illegally and using them, but the rage. This jerk, however, was 23 years old and attending a HUGE University. Blaming others for one’s own problems is one the biggest problems our society faces today. Its always “someone else’s fault” that I don’t have this or don’t have that or that I didn’t get this or didn’t get that. Life is sometimes not fair and its almost always what you make of it. Yeah, some people get dealt 4 aces and others get dealt a 3, a 6, a 7, one jack and a 9…. All in different suits. The amazing thing is that some of the people with four aces still manage to blow their chances, while the guy with the mixed hand comes out on top. Not always, but it happens.

Here’s something else I know; It made my cry, yet also made me feel good about human nature when the Washington Nationals all wore Virginia Tech ballcaps during their Tuesday night game against the Braves. A fan suggested it, the team management asked for permission and after some delay, got permission. That’s just one example of the many deeds of sympathy and support that people from all over the world have extended. Instead of inspiring hate and anger, this horrible deed, like most horrible deeds or disasters, actually inspires people to act in a selfless manner. Not that we should hope for more disasters or fiascos, but think of the response from all over the world after 9-11 or the efforts by people to help after Katrina. These are but a couple examples of the generosity of the human spirit. Individuals and smaller groups and associations were the ones who did the best work in those instances and my guess is that they will be the ones that help the most this time.

Governments and larger organizations are stumbling, bumbling leviathans that have trouble reacting or responding. It’s usually the can-do official who makes things happen, not the committee or the department or the official study group. In my Nationals example, the fan and the team moved quickly. MLB almost blew it because no one was able to make a snap decision. They had to “think” about it first.

The facts that have emerged about the shooter’s encounters with officialdom at Virginia Tech show that the school knew this guy was troubled yet did not know how to handle him. Not that I know what they should have done differently. So now we’re into what I don’t know” territory. Sounds like he was a social outcast, if not a creep. What do you do with someone like that? How do you reach someone so alienated and angry at age 23? Or age 18, like the guys in Columbine? Where do you draw the line? Right now, we wish that Tech had kicked this guy out a year or two ago. But if he was that sick, there was nothing that would have stopped him from buying the guns and coming back to campus and shooting the place up even after he’d been expelled. The school did send him off for counseling, but he resisted.

At what point does the school’s responsibility under the doctrine of “in loco parentis” (for a 23 year old) stop? And if it does exercise control and authority, at what point does the school become “big brother.” If they’d locked this guy up in 2005, instead of the current stories, maybe we’d be reading about a major deprivation of civil rights lawsuit instead.

He didn’t fit in and having felt that way myself as a teen, I know that it’s a horrible feeling. It stinks to not be a member of the club. But it also sounds like he didn’t try. As noted above, Va. Tech is massive school. There are people from all over the world at Tech and people of every background. If he’d looked, he could have found a friend or friends. What he wanted is unclear, but instead of trying to figure out how to get “in,” he decided to take others “out.” And that never works. The celebration of victimhood which he appears to have wallowed in allows those who feel cheated to not only blame someone else, but worse yet, to allow the self-identified victim to not do anything about his or her problem.

So what about guns? Virginia Tech bans them on campus, yet he had two. So that law or regulation was broken. We could pass more laws, but how would we enforce them? Search every dorm? Every off campus apartment? I don’t know the answer to this at all. Gun control laws are not going to be “strengthened.” Suggesting it is a non-starter. I used to get incensed about the fact that we couldn’t get tougher gun control laws, but it seems to me that crazy sickos will find ways around every law and if you make the laws so tight, the rest of us will ignore them… ie speed limits and drinking age laws.

I’ve never owned a gun and do not hunt and have no real interest in either. But I keep meeting people who do. “Normal people” whom I trust. A few years back Virginia enacted a “right to carry” concealed weapons law. You can apply for a permit and carry a concealed weapon. Last I heard, about two years ago, no one who had applied and gotten such a permit had been involved in a crime. Those that follow the rules aren’t the ones to worry about. It’s the whackos who find their way around the rules. And the civil libertarian in me says enacting more rules probably won’t work.

But I really don’t know the best answer to this one.


Haiku Friday, and the end of a long, strange week

The week before finals is always bittersweet; having things done, but the sadness that comes with any ending. And the news this week was so sad and strange, from Virginia to Oregon, and in Iraq.

I did hear four great finals in Oral Advocacy today, and I have been reflecting on them for hours now. I'm amazed at some of the things our students can do.

But, there also must be Haiku. So here is mine:

The sound of loud bangs
Is too much a part of us
I long for quiet.

Now it is your turn...

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Not a joke-- This is Tydwbleach's house

I got a scary email from Tydwbleach this afternoon explaining that there was an explosion at her house. The family was out of the house when it blew up, but four fireman were hurt.

You can read more about this here. I can't imagine many things scarier than this, and I hope everything is ok.


What's he thinking?

He seems a little disturbed that he's been distracted from his book. My favorite campus/courthouse type statue is "Miss Forward" who stands atop the Wisconsin capital, apparently urging settlers to keep heading west to other states. Oh, and the statue of a seated Buck Duke at Duke University, who often is watching a television placed in his lap.

But what IS this guy doing?


Hey! Here's a Baptist Joke!

I still feel kind of bad about telling that Unitarian joke a few weeks ago (you know, about them burning a question mark on my lawn). So, in the interest of fairness, here is a joke about my own denomination, the Baptists, told to me by a Baptist who is an expert in theology. And jokes.

So, there is a Baptist, an Episcopalian, and a Catholic who are waiting with their wives to interview with St. Peter to get into heaven (apparently, they all died in some interdenominational wreck of a car rental van or something-- that's not important). So the Catholic couple goes up to St. Peter first, and the good Saint starts yelling at the husband. "All you ever cared about was drinking-- look, you even married a woman named Brandy!" Rejected, the Catholics leave, downcast.

Next, the Episcopalian and his wife approach St. Peter, who is still kind of mad. "All you ever cared about was money!" he yelled at the husband, "Look! You even married a woman named Penny!" So Penny and her husband turn to leave.

At this point the Baptist turns to his wife and says "Fannie, I think we're in trouble!"

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Test Answers!

Whew! I am finally done with crafting the devilish Sentencing exam for Saturday. I would never release the questions, but I figure as a little gift to Razor readers I would release a few of the answers here:

9b: No one expects the Spanish Inquisition! (pronounciation counts, too)

13a: It goes in the dryer. And you are just supposed to put in one sheet of the fabric softener, not the actual bear.

20: Those crimes designated as Capital Felonies are eligible for the death penalty under Texas Law, plus those crimes involving weapons, narcotics, slander to the beef industry, and certain misdemeanors regarding immigration, seat belts, and boots.

29f: Four.

59c: The defendant is not eligible for probation-- but he IS eligible to save a lot of money on his car insurance!

87b: The light at the end of the dock is a symbol of hope.

104a: Gandolf and Dumbledore both derive from more ancient characters in British mythology.

Hope that helps!


Now THAT would be interesting...

I don't usually describe dreams that I have had, but last night I had one that was strangely realistic. One morning, walking into school, I noticed they were adding onto the Law School building-- a big boxy thing over on the student lounge side. It looked to be about 8,000 square feet. No one knew what was going in there, but there was a lot of speculation: A new classroom, faculty offices, a meeting area, a recreational spot.

Months went by, and no one knew what was going in there. Finally, it was done, and they put up a sign-- the "La Fiesta Party Room."

This is not a very realistic scenario.

[Confidential to "B"-- thanks for the photo, but I think that is a buzzard, not a "duck."]

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


The bizarre weather in the midst of supposed global warming...

Amongst all the sad video from Blacksburg, Virginia yesterday, it was hard not to notice that it was snowing there. This is in keeping with unusually cold weather all over, including in our own little Waco.

I'm not someone who either believes or doesn't believe in global warming-- rather, I'm someone who hasn't educated himself enough on the subject to have a knowledgeable opinion, other than that a lot of scientists think it exists. Those of you that ARE knowledgeable: Is there a theory that this cold weather is consistent with global warming?


Things I need to do every day

Here's two: I look at this, and at this. It brings me up to date on some people I care about, always puts my own problems in perspective, and lets me know at least one thing I should pray about.

Maggie was on my mock trial team pictured above, along with Gordon Davenport, Misty Keane, David Corbett, Danny Back, Margaret Chen, Flo Rueda, and Lauren Hudgens. Rees is lucky enough to have Tom and Sherry Featherston as his grandparents.

Monday, April 16, 2007


Obits and a terrible day

The font of all fascinating tidbits, Mr. Swanburg, reports that the 1Q students have been made to write their own obituaries. Swanburg leaves unclear who, exactly, is making them do this, and why.

The thought of it, I guess, is palatable because students almost never die-- they are in the prime of life and immune to some of the hazards we old folks face. However, today was different with the terrible shootings at Virginia Tech. We don't know much right now about who did this, and why, but even after all is known it will probably remain a mystery, trapped inside a mind that no longer exists.


Earned Exhaustion and the end of Oral Advocacy

Today was the last day for Sentencing and Oral Advocacy class, and probably the last time I will teach those two until a year from now. I try to make the last class a little special, and in Oral Advocacy it seems that Profs. Gloer and O'Brien did, too. I really am going to miss teaching with them; it is an experience where I learn something every week.

I was truly impressed, too, with the reflections the students had on the last assignment-- you can read them here.

It's a pretty darn memorable one-credit class, at least for me.


Final Exams, Part One

So, that's Tyd's kitchen. Pretty nice, if you ask me. Needs some nice Pewabic tiles on the backsplash, though.

My challenge for the week is writing final exams for Sentencing and Professional Responsibility. I'm a little at a loss for how to make them sharp and challenging. My favorite test I ever wrote was in White Collar Crime a year ago-- it involved a movie called "Firestorm 4: Explodar City" starring one 'Rink Allegro.' Rink Allegro had accidentally killed himself playing with fireworks on the eve of the movie being shot, setting off a long series of criminal acts.

As to the current challenge: Any ideas for intriguing hypotheticals on ethical dilemmas?

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Adventures in PC (Practice Church)

As some of you may know, in class I can take myself a LITTLE too seriously. It's true. I get wound up on some topic and, uh, it gets a little too far on the pretentious side. It doesn't help that I teach topics that lend themselves to moralizing.

Anyways, a few years ago about this time of the year the graduating students had a celebratory dinner where they performed skits parodying some of us. There was an excellent one about me called "Practice Church," in which I had assembled a new PC curriculum based on church-- complete with minisermons, etc. Apparently, they had me assigning memos for liturgical errors and mispronounciations of biblical names. I'm pretty sure the legendary Eric Nordstrom was involved. It sounded great; I only regret that I didn't get to see it...


A great idea for a new law school class!

First of all, this is a photo of Spencer and his friend DONUT. Tyd has sent me a lot of pictures like this, but this is the only one with Donut in it. Anyways, that isn't the purpose of the post. Rather, the purpose of the post is to talk about this dream I had, one that may change the very course of legal education in our country.

Last night, I had a dream where I was wearing a very nice suit to work, because I was going to present Dean Toben with a VERY GOOD IDEA for a new class at the law school. I had prepared a notebook with photos and explanatory text-- I seem to remember that the class involved going places on a bus. However, I woke up as I was walking down those big stone stairs to the second floor of the law school, and I never found out what the class was!

So, what do you think it should be? It needs to involve the following elements:

1) Bus travel
2) Singing spontaneously, like they do in musicals
3) Writing to your favorite criminal or similar person of interest
4) An assistant, to help me teach and coordinate the class

Go to work, my friends.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


Prof. Serr Leading a Group of Small Children Into the Woods.

It's like "The Sound of Music!" Except, it's Prof. Serr instead of Julie Andrews (or, in the first remake, Mary Tyler Moore, or the second remake, Alanis Morrisette). And it's bluebonnets in Central Texas instead of the Austrian Alps. And instead of the danger of threatening Nazis, it's just the threat of Prof. Serr getting really lost. Other than that, it's exactly the same...


Substance matters

Yesterday afternoon, in my last minitrial of the Spring, an interesting thing happened. A very talented student really showed his stuff-- he gave a strong closing and one of the best cross-examinations I have seen. But... he lost the trial because his direct of the defendant never really brought out a believable story. In criminal law, especially for the prosecution (but also for the defense if, as here, they have a distinct story they are telling), direct is more important than cross-examination, and getting the story across is more important than anything else.

Substance is more important than style.

Part of the problem with teaching this is that much of our culture teaches the opposite. There are children's toys where the packaging costs more than the product, and a wristwatch that serves precisely the same function as a Timex costs a thousand times as much. On the front page of the New York Times today is an article about the increasing popularity of "starter buttons" in cars, replacing keys-- the idea is that you start the car by pushing a button rather than turning a key. This is what we are changing in cars, when fuel efficiency is static? It's solving a problem that doesn't exist... seriously, how often have you thought "man, I hate walking all the way over to the ignition to put the key in!"

In the end, the experience made me appreciate the process of the minitrials. As I mentioned, that guy is a good student, and part of that is that he genuinely seemed to take to heart what I said (and, more importantly, what the jury said). Unlike the kids toys and the starter button, he will change and adjust and add the substance to the style to be great at what he does.


Well, that's reassuring!

As some of you may remember, it was reported here some time ago that Ronald McDonald had died. As the paper reported, "The police came at night and shot him because he was messing with the cable tv." As this photo from Florencia Rueda shows, Ronald seems to have survived the shooting and is simply cooling his heels in the slammer. Whew!

Or, just make up your own caption. It's the weekend...

Friday, April 13, 2007


I am compelled to display reader photos. Please caption.

Lately, there have been a lot of complaints here at the Razor about the art I am displaying. In particular, people are upset that there are some photos (ie, the keg dancer, Beaker from the Muppets, Tea Leoni making out with IPLawGuy as I watch resentfully) which have been used many times.

Fortunately, Razorites are not just a bunch of complainers-- rather, they are doers. And what they have done is send me a lot of pictures suited for non-sequitor style usage. For example, the photo above has been sent to me by Tydwbleach. It apparently is a photo of her son Spencer's birthday party. Judging by the photo, he invited a lady (who may or may not be Tyd; I don't know what she looks like) and a bunch of chickens.

But I'm just guessing. Captions, anyone?


Haiku Friday is BACK!

Good Friday seemed like it needed a bit of haitus-- but now the Razor is back, bringing the haiku. Post 'em below, in the pattern of 5 syllables/7 syllables/5 syllables. Here are some suggested topics:

1) Karaoke with Mom
2) Minitrial debacle!
3) My favorite Easter tradition
4) Finals
5) Cold fusion in a jar.

Here's mine:

I sit in the back,
And watch it all fall apart;
We'll build it back.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


The worst exhibit in the history of Practice Court...

Today in minitrial I heard the always-fascinating case involving a reverse-sting operation against one Major Harris. (This actually is the name of a former West Virginia quarterback; I'm not sure how he ended up in mock trial problems). Anyways, one of the exhibits is a condom full of cocaine, which is then packaged inside a plastic bag containing a few more ounces of loose cocaine. Students create this exhibit in many different ways-- today's group wimped out and used a white toy balloon. Other groups seem to feel compelled to explain to me how they got the condom; ie "We borrowed it from a first year."

The worst, though, was one group that for some reason used a lubricated condom for the exhibit, which then got coated with the baking soda which was standing in for the cocaine. When a witness pulled it out of the bag, it was the sloppiest, most disgusting thing I had ever seen, and one of the jurors looked like she was going to hurl.


Hey, What's with the English Major?

While Baker has this eloquent riff on the death of Vonnegut, for some reason Swanburg has simply posted more pictures of himself. What makes this odd is that he is one of only two English Majors at the school.

Seriously, if America can't count on its English Majors for literary exegesis, who are we supposed to turn to? Law professors? Opera Singers? Trade Law & IP Lawyers? Pine Woods clerks? Misty Keene? Oregon's Stay-At-Home Moms? Arizona's defense bar? Who?


Kurt Vonnegut, R.I.P.

One of the things many of those people I am closest to have in common is that they are voracious readers. IPLawguy is one of the best-read people I know, and my Mom used to read Proust at the beach. Celebrity Luvr could just as well be called "Book Luvr."

My own love of reading comes from finding something to do between the ages of ten and 14. There was no real social life or mobility or freedom at that age, so I looked for excitement within the house. I found it on the bookshelves in my parent's room-- including a bunch of well-worn Vonnegut books. I read Slaughterhouse Five at the age of 12, and it had a profound effect on me-- the idea of time being malleable, a string that connects our experiences, has stayed with me as a primal and unspoken belief. His characters were unimaginably impossible sometimes, but I still wanted to grow up to be Kilgore Trout.

I loved the fact that the copies I read had already been read and loved and re-read; some of them had my Dad's little drawings on the back.

Words can be important things.

[Note: I have used a photo here of the younger, thinner Vonnegut. Most people seem to be using photos of the older Vonnegut.]


Hmmmm... there's something fishy here.

During a short break in practice court yesterday, I dashed into the bathroom on the second floor. I was surprised that it had been thoroughly decorated with election posters-- I hadn't even realized we were having an election. Anyways, two of the posters really caught my attention:

1) One candidate had morphed his face onto a picture of Cosmo Kramer from Seinfeld. I guess that caught my attention, but then I started to think about Kramer conducting a minitrial, and I threw up a little in my mouth.

2) Another student was running for treasurer of the Student Bar association. Among her slogans was "I need money for my wedding." Uh-oh.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Quote of the day...

Today in practice court, I heard a nice little assault case involving one Shawnee Sweetwater. There were some fun flubs, too. The prosecutor opened her (otherwise good) cross of the defendant, for example, with "Good afternoon, Sweetheart."

The defendant, for his part, had the quote of the day. On direct examination, his attorney was questioning him regarding a gun found in his house and a bat in his Jeep:

Q: So, did you have your bat in the Jeep?
A: Yes.
Q: And why was it out?
A: I was expecting to go to the firing squad later that day.

Kind of negative and fatalistic, Sweetheart! He meant to say he was going to the batting cage.


Baylor History, Part 28

One of the true athletic success stories at Baylor has been the Equestrian squad. The team came close to winning a national championship in 1929. Back then, equestrian was the only “mixed” intercollegiate sport (and remains so in Olympic competition), in which men and women competed directly against one another. The competitions were in the form of a three-day event; the first day was devoted to jumping, the second day to dressage, and the third day to open team competition, in which teams were given wide leeway in exhibiting their skills. Baylor’s team in the 1920's consisted of four Polish veterans of the Cavalry in World War I. To fend off accusations of foreign recruitment, each of the four took on an Americanized name while here. In order of accomplishment, the four were Tomasz Wboroda (“Tommy Whip”), Jacszlk Szkorski (“Jack Smith”), Szyzlyk Nowasciski (“Sam Novak”) and Wyslszic Chrzystski (“Wally Christian”).

Thus renamed, they were undefeated through the entire season until the national championship, largely due to their unusual style: They loafed through the jumping and dressage competitions, but would focus on the open team event on the third day. For this part of the competition, they relied on their wartime skills and made a full cavalry charge on their opposition, causing their opponents to flee and their horses to run away. They then commenced to slaughtering the supporters of the other team with their sabres, removing any valuables from the remains of their opponents before leaving the field. This was quite a departure from the unison trotting and prancing that was the norm in this event, to say the least. In the final, however, BU faced the most powerful equestrian school in the nation, Sweet Briar of Virginia, a school so supportive of the sport that each girl at the college was guaranteed stable space for her horse upon enrollment.

Sweet Briar, hearing of the BU tactics, pre-emptively mounted an artillary barrage on the brave men of Baylor during the dressage competition, killing all of their horses. Baylor’s protests fell on deaf ears due to their own prior tactics, and Sweet Briar was awarded the blue ribbons upon the Baylor forfeit. Embarrassed, three members of the Baylor team (save “Wally Christian,” who took a faculty position at Baylor), returned to Poland, where sadly each perished in 1939 when Germany’s Panzer Division invaded their homeland and the once-proud cavalry saw its last use in modern warfare. In honor of his fallen camrades, Prof. Christian founded Cavalry Baptist Church in Waco, which I believe still exists.


Baylor Students, help me out...

One of the people lurking around here from my past, TallTenor, doesn't know what PC is. Really, he does deserve an explanation, if we want him to hang around. Which we should, since he's pretty interesting. He's my only friend who is an opera star. I know him from college (see illustration). We were in a fraternity together, where we actually sang a lot. Like before dinner. Somehow, it didn't seem odd at the time.

I... I can't bring myself to do it, here in the middle of the third minitrial, I just can't describe PC. Please, could someone take a crack at it?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Thank you, minitrial 3!

Just when I am beginning to despair, minitrial 3 comes around. For those of you outside of Baylor Law School, minitrial 3 is part of Practice Court; it's the third round of practice trials. What is great about it is that things actually start to work-- there are parts of arguments and examinations which are pretty good, people are using themes, and students feel more confident. For example, today in my minitrial Ladybird did a pretty good cross-examination which began with a listing of the witness's prior heinous crimes. As pictured above, the case involved a giant mouse who became a police officer in Fort Worth.


Imus in the Mourning...

I know IPLawGuy has been an Imus fan; I've never really listened to his show. However, I am aware of the controversy he has generated, by calling the members of the Rutgers women's basketball team "nappy headed ho's." I don't think it's illegal, or should be, to say something that wrong, but I hope the marketplace reacts pretty strongly.

In my mind, what was wrong about Imus' statement was that it was both untrue and insensitive. It's rare that someone so publicly says something that is both, and the way I am using those terms is important. First, what he said just isn't true. That matters. And to call female athletes (who had just accomplished something pretty remarkable) prostitutes is a particularly terrible untruth. It doesn't help that he seemed to be trying to sound "black" himself at the time.

I wouldn't have such a problem with a comment that was insensitive and true, though that still would be a mistake. For example, it is true (and really unfortunate) that we only have a few African-American students at Baylor Law School. If I mention this to my colleagues in a meeting in which we are devising strategies to remedy this problem, that's not insensitive. However, if an African-American high school student is asking me at a career day about law, and my only response is to shrug and say we don't have many black students, that's an insensitive use of that truth that I should avoid, because of the implication that the student I'm talking to shouldn't try to enter the field of law.

There is a danger in not making the distinctions I am raising here, and that is that if we demonize any discussion of race, then no one will dare to talk about it, and race IS something we need to talk about in this country. While Imus is wrong to make such untrue, insensitive remarks, it is also wrong when some people decry someone as racist for stating a truth about race in public in a way that is not insensitive. For example, the problems in predominately black public schools need to be discussed by communities as a whole, but people are scared to because if they are white, they risk being labeled a racist. Similarly, if a non-Jew questions Israeli policy, they risk being called anti-Semitic, and that is also wrong (if what they are saying is based on truths).

Finally, those that condemn Imus should also condemn the similar statements made in the black media, particularly in music and comedy. If it is wrong on Imus (and it is), it is also wrong on BET.


A challenge to Christian Scholarship

As someone who engages in Christian legal scholarship, I found it interesting to read David Skeel's working paper entitled "The Unbearable Lightness of Christian Legal Scholarship," available for download at SSRN.

The following is from Skeel's abstract of the paper:

When the ascendency of a new movement leaves a visible mark on American law, its footprints ordinarily can be traced through the pages of America's law reviews. But the influence of evangelicals and other theologically conservative Christians has been quite different. Surveying the law review literature in 1976, the year Newsweek proclaimed as the year of the evangelical, one would not find a single scholarly legal article outlining a Christian perspective on law or any particular legal issue. Even in the 1980s and 1990s, the literature remained remarkably thin. By the 1990s, distinctively Christian scholarship had finally begun to emerge in a few areas. But even today, the scope of Christian legal scholarship is shockingly narrow for such a nationally influential movement.

He makes some good points, and I think his challenge is correct: We need to find a way to have a Christian perspective connect to the broader academy.

Monday, April 09, 2007


I feel like I have been to a time-share sales pitch...

Let's just say I spent a little time watching reality shows tonight, and the whole thing creeped me out. Reality? No. There's more reality in your average "Spongebob" episode.

And watching four women try to work out what 15 minus three is... sigh.


I'm very hungry

You might think this wouldn't be a problem for a guy with a cheeseburger for a head, but if you think about it, eating one's own head isn't the solution to anything.

Anyways, I'm starving. I ate all four Slim Jims that the Unitarians left, plus one of the tapes, and it hardly made a dent. I fear that I may be pregnant.

Which brings me back around to the restaurants we need here in Waco. Sadly, our last discussion devolved into a debate on what new chain restaurant we need. That's not what I'm after, really. I propose that people come up with a whole new restaurant concept that will help PC students in a hurry to get proper nutrition. I have two ideas, to get things started:

1) Slurry

This would be a new restaurant concept utilizing converted gas stations. You would pull up to a pump, hungry and in a hurry. The attendant could pump pureed food directly into your mouth using the old gas pump.

2) The Flying Taco

Instead of waiting at the slow drive-through, this would involve calling ahead, placing your order, then the workers would toss the food in your window as you drove by. Or maybe they could even use a small cannon or slingshot to shoot it in there.


Oh No-- Now the Unitarian Universalists Are After Me!

Even though I tried to be fair, it seems that I have angered Waco's U.U. population. A large mob of them came over and burned a big question mark on my lawn!

Padump-dum. No, really they just broke into my car and left some "Heavy D. and the Boyz" tapes and four Slim Jims.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


Unitarian-Universalist Easter

I'm sure people expect me to go all Loco on the Unitarians given the title of this post, and the fact that Baptists tend to be a little critical of the Unitarians (and vice versa). However, after reading some of the things here, and having a discussion with my sister about her UU church, I do have a good memory to share.

Several years ago, I was church shopping. Sometimes I went to the Quaker Meeting in Ann Arbor or at Cranbrook, or to Metropolitan Methodist downtown, or to the Congregational-Baptist church I grew up in. However, I did have a "Church of Last Resort," which was the Unitarian-Universalist Church down the street, just a block and a half away. I thought of it as the Church of Last Resort not as any reflection on the place but because services didn't begin until very late (maybe about 11:15), so if I woke up very late, I could still make it.

To be honest, I could never really figure out what the U.U.'s were for, other than good sportsmanship and tolerance. Though, I have to say, for people who were so much about tolerance, nearly every sermon seemed to include a criticism of devout members of other faiths. Mostly, they seemed to be against things, like racism (right on!), and patriarchy (yeah!) and organized religion (huh?). It was refreshing that they weren't so certain about what God thought about every political question as some other churches I visited.

One Easter, I went to the local U.U. church (which was shaped like a big hat) because the son of a friend was going to be Christened. Well, not Christened, or blessed, but just kind of handled and fawned over, which was good in its own way. The sermon kind of lost me at times, but there was one great idea in there: The minister used the word "Easter" as a verb. That is, that we can be "Eastered" and resurrected from what we were, reborn. In my own mind, I put the Christian context back into it, and it's a great word.

I have been Eastered, too. Not by myself, but by Grace, by the grace of others and the Grace of God. It has been a wonderful gift.


It's Easter morning.

Some people wondered what my Good Friday pictures meant. The photos were taken out in the desert. I was driving along and saw a cross by the road. Yes, it was a telephone pole, but it was a cross, stark against the rough desert. I stopped the car and looked at it-- I was profoundly moved by it. I honestly don't know where that came from, as I was in a rush to get to Midland, but there it was and I could not drive on.

The sense only grew as I saw the two crosses next to it. The two bandits who were crucified next to Jesus took different paths. Why, if Jesus was the Son of God, was he in this humble place, displayed as a criminal? It was almost crushing-- those stupid telephone poles in the middle of nowhere had become Golgotha, and the scene had become real in a challenging way. "Get down!" I thought, "get down!" But I knew Jesus hadn't gotten down, that he did not save himself. One of the bandits even made that same challenge from his own cross, taunting him.

I had to get to Midland. So I pulled back onto the road. The road was straight and flat and endless-- one of those West Texas roads with no trees or turns, and the kind of stark beauty that takes a settled mind to see. And then I saw it: Along the road, stretching to the infinite, a line of crosses, one for each of us.

But how many of us seek Easter?

Saturday, April 07, 2007


God's plan for Waco appears to be to destroy it through a series of catastrophic weather events!

Last week's bizarre deluge and flooding (which carried away the contents of entire businesses) has been followed by the even more strange SNOWSTORM that has hit this afternoon. The above picture, taken in my own snowed-in neighborhood, shows the "Eastery Mix" that has been coming down. Seriously, are we doomed? Here's what I expect in future weeks:

1) Random firestorms,
2) Plague of frogs,
3) Locusts,
4) Attack by Godzilla, Gamara, or both,
5) Psychotic cult's compound burned to ground by hundreds of federal agents (oh, wait, we already had that),
6) Visit from Spencer and his friend, Donut, to our local restaurants,
7) Lindsey Lohan, Nick Nolte, and Mel Gibson all drunk-driving downtown at the same time, and
8) Appearance of the "Dark Mark" in the night sky over Baylor.

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