Sunday, September 30, 2007


News Flash! Bob Darden Goin' Nationwide Again...

My personal Hero of Writing and all-around good guy, Prof. Bob Darden, will be appearing tomorrow (Monday) on NPR's Talk of the Nation at about 2:40 pm central, 3:40 eastern. As some of you may know, he has been very involved with an effort to save the fast-disappearing recorded legacy of black gospel music, and has established a project at Baylor University to do just that. Hopefully, he will get a good chance to talk at length about this fascinating project.


Back to DC for the Sentencing Smackdown

I'm back in DC for the incredible Supreme Court doubleheader in Gall and Kimbrough on Tuesday. For those of you who don't fanatically follow the Court's sentencing jurisprudence, Gall addresses the question of whether a large variance from the sentencing guidelines requires extraordinary circumstances, and Kimbrough addresses whether a sentencing judge can vary from the guideline's 100:1 ratio between powder and crack cocaine simply because she disagrees with it. I'm personally invested in the latter question, since I personally lost the issue in five circuits and now I'm hoping for redemption.

Two of my partners in writing the Kimbrough brief for the federal defenders, Matt Acosta and Dustin Benham, arrive tomorrow. The plan is to go to the arguments, then have lunch at Kinkead's with IPLawGuy, Ron Fournier, and Rick Schmitt, who is the D.C. political writer for the L.A. Times. After that, we are going to meet with Judge Sessions for a bit to talk about what is up at Baylor Law.

For now, though, I am relaxing at the home of IPLawGuy (pictured here), enjoying a very nice evening.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


Location, Location, Location...

One of the pleasures of going to Beatnix this week was seeing one of our July graduates, Evan Simpson. There are a lot of things to admire about Mr. Simpson, but one of them is his obvious bravery.

And not just any type of bravery, but the type that leads one to sit in the center of the first row in Practice Court. Evan spent two quarters about four feet from the PC profs., and it seemed to have no adverse affect on him. I know that he got called on quite often, and his location had a lot to do with that.

For those of you that have never been through the experience, there are many theories about various pieces of "real estate" in practice court. Some think the back is best, others off to the side. Some think the key is to avoid sitting next to people who don't do the reading, and still others believe there is no good spot. Nevertheless, people stake out their seats at 6 am on the first day of class.

Personally, I keep track of who I call on, so I spread it around. I do call on some people more than others. Here's what I do-- when I call out a case and pause to let people find it, I scan for my explainer. What do you think I look for?

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Haiku Friday For the People!

If you were wondering, poetry night at Beatnix was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed Beatnix, and the work of the Thursday night regulars there. I would recommend it to anyone, and I plan to go back. I have to say, though, that it is hard to compete with a guy who reads from his own already-published book of poetry, then composes a poem to wrap things up that included all my offhand comments from the evening. Well played, Dean McCormick.

But now it is time for some haiku. Here are some themes:

1) Psalms
2) The Mock Trial Team Dungeons
3) I named my child "Trucker"
4) Texas A & M
5) Rita Moreno
6) The Rule Against Perpetueties
7) Multiple-choice exams
8) All you sucker M.C.'s are gonna get schooled!
9) The baseball playoffs
10) Youtube

Here is mine. It's kind of a summary, in haiku, of Psalm 51:

Oh, my transgressions!
Born guilty-- and got worse
Don't cast me away!

Please enter your haiku below, in the traditional 5 syllable/7 syllable/5 syllable format.


The Dada Drummer is Da Bomb

I ran into the Dada Drummer (pictured above) this morning at Starbucks. It reminded me to send people over to the Drummerblog to vote in my favorite poll ever-- on the creation of a ridiculous new baby name. I was torn between "Badger," "Heifer," and "Trucker."


2-night's the night... for poetry!

Tonight is the big law school/business school poetry smackdown, and I'm still working up some new material. While I don't want to give too much away, here are some of the titles I have come up with:

Epic III, In Which Chicago Takes To His Hot Tub

Your Cross-Examination is Flaccid and Devoid of Content

Photos of Food and Swanburg

All 102 Midterm PR Grades-- in Haiku!

Lunch With Prof. Featherston, Einstein, Dick Cheney, and Ronnie James Dio

Bring Back My Condiments!

All this and more, tonight at 8 at Beatnix.

UPDATE: It sounds like Carver is going to show up and perform, too. All I can say is, dude, you better bring it. And wear the kilt.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


A visual preview of the Serr-Osler debate

A friend of mine created the diorama pictured above to give people an idea what the November Serr-Osler debate is going to look like.

From the left side of the photo [click on it to make it larger], we see Professor Serr making a point. Behind him are two of the HazMat specialists who attend to him at stressful times such as this. In the center, of course, is Chicago (wearing the orange construction vest) serving as the moderator of the debate. Behind him is an Illinois State Trooper who has been assigned to his permanent security detail.

On the right, waving, is me. I'm clearly countering one of Prof. Serr's sillier points. On the far side of me is a port-a-potty. I'm not sure what that is all about.

Though I'm not totally sure of the date, it is going to be an exciting event, so just keep the whole month of November free, if possible.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Need a Witness? Would you like to BE a witness?

Ms. Hendricks, who seems to be pretty smart, suggested in the comments section that I help PC students connect with potential witnesses for exercises. SO-- if you are not in PC right now and might be interested in investing an hour or so in legal education at Baylor, leave a note in the comment section. Especially for those not at the law school, it is a pretty fascinating experience. For those at law school, it is a great way to get ready for PC.

If you are potential witness:

Leave a message in the comment section. If you are at baylor, leave at least your full name so someone can find you.

If you a PC student in dire need of a witness:

Place your ad in the comments section, being sure to list any proper or improper inducements you are willing to offer.

Monday, September 24, 2007


Poetry Smackdown on Thursday!

My friend, Assoc. Dean of the Business School, and book-writing guru Blaine McCormick has challenged me to a poetry smackdown. Never one to back away from a literature-based (or food-based) challenge, I have agreed to meet him mano-a-mano at Beatnix Coffeehouse Thursday night at 8 pm.

I may be in over my head. Dr. McCormick has actually published a book of poetry, and Annie Dillard calls him to chat about stuff. Meanwhile, my "work" is mostly about aliens and motor oil. Feel free to stop by, but if you do-- show me some love. That, and you should buy some coffee. And maybe a danish or something.


Reflections on Mock Trial Try-outs

Saturday morning at 8 a.m., we had tryouts for this year's mock trial teams. 60 students showed up, and seven faculty coaches (Counseller, Davenport, Osler, Powell, Kathy Serr, Underwood, Wren).

What became immediately clear was that we have a very deep group this year. Because we have such a large class in Practice Court/PR (102 students) and auditioned second-years, it was the first time I had seen many of the people performing in court, and there were some real surprises-- that is, they were surprisingly good. We have three teams to fill, but could easily stock additional teams with good advocates.

Again, this confirmed my belief that we have the hardest working students in the law school world. Most of those who tried out are in the heart of PC and barely getting enough sleep, yet there they were bright and early on a Saturday, wearing a suit and ready to go. Most of those who tried out, unfortunately, won't get to be on a team, but all of them bumped up a notch in my estimation for putting in that effort.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


The Chemerinsky Affair

The University of California at Irvine, an academically distinguished and fast-growing part of the UC system, recently announced that they were going to start a law school. This was an intriguing development in several ways: First, it was the first such high-profile institution to start a law school from scratch in several years. Second, it serves Orange County, an important economic engine for Southern California and the west which already had a law school (at Chapman University). Third, the school faced the task of building a faculty and reputation from scratch.

In accomplishing this last task, UC-Irvine made a bold stroke: They hired Erwin Chemerinsky, one of America's top scholars of the Constitution, as dean. To someone like me, that gave them instant credibility, and I was interested to hear what would happen next.

What happened next was that they fired Chemerinsky before he had a chance to start. Rumor has it that the firing was due to pressure from conservative donors who were opposed to Chemerinsky's liberal politics.

The response from both conservatives and others was uniform in condemning this reversal. To their credit, conservatives held firm to the principle that the presence of ideology should not be equated with a lack of merit, something that had been proven already by the fine job Ken Starr has done as Dean at Pepperdine. Finally, after that outcry, the University has doubled back again and rehired Chemerinsky.

I hope it sticks this time. A few years ago, I had to honor of speaking at Valparaiso Law School; the speaker preceding me was Dean Chemerinsky. He spoke for an hour, without notes, on the tension between fighting terror and the Fourth Amendment, and was brilliant. Following him was a real challenge, and I didn't help myself much by beginning my talk by saying that whenever I wore a wireless mic, it made me want to play air guitar. (Valpo's Law Review to publish the discussion verbatim, and they only took out the air guitar reference after I begged).


My friend asks a very good question...

A friend of mine recently asked me a very good question. "If there is fudge -flavored ice cream topping and cake, how come there is no fudge-flavored fudge?"

It's a pretty good question. You go to a decent fudge store and they have tons of flavors (peanut butter, chocolate, lime, etc.), but never just fudge flavored fudge. Why is that?

Saturday, September 22, 2007


Judge Cassell Resigning!

Doug Berman (apparently with a scoop on the old-school mainstream media) reports that federal district judge Paul Cassell of Utah is resigning to return to teaching at the University of Utah law school. Judge Cassell, though often someone I disagreed with, had a real knowledge and passion for sentencing issues, and I loved reading his articulate and pointed opinions. As a knowledgeable voice on these issues, he will be missed on the bench.

My own law school classmate, Hiram Chodosh, must be quite happy about this development, as the dean of the University of Utah's law school.

In his letter of resignation, Judge Cassell blamed poor judicial pay for his decision. District Judges make about $165,000 per year. What do people think of this?


Having a great job is a wonderful thing

I first started thinking about being a law prof when I was in law school myself. I saw those men and women, and they seemed genuinely happy; laughing with one another or talking earnestly to students. They did not have the stress I saw in other people at work, unless they were rushing off to catch a plane to some intriguing speaking engagement.

Of course, I did suspect that there was some secret dark side-- that there was a painful part of the whole thing that we could not see. Maybe I was right about that, since the often-tense search for tenure at Yale could be cutthroat. Generally, though, now that I see it from the other side, I was correct in thinking it must be great thing to do with your life. I can't imagine a better job in the whole world.

One of the best aspects of being a prof. is that you are in your prime in your 40's, 50's, & 60's-- still in the middle of what counts. It is really the opposite of being a great athlete, where things fade about that time. Of course, one is not exclusive of the other, and it would be a wonderful thing to be a fine athlete and then a fine professor. Many on our faculty have done exactly that: Guinn, Rogers, Serr, and Ryan were all star athletes in college.

I have a lot to be thankful for, and the vocation that found me is one of the most important.

Friday, September 21, 2007


The Haiku Friday of Destiny

Practice Courters are surviving. Bloggers are blogging. The rockers are rockin'. IPLawGuy is, uh, helping some guys with their trademark issues. Etc. But for all of us, this much unites us-- it is Haiku Friday.

This weeks (non-mandatory) topics:

1) Britney-- fat?
2) OJ's back!
3) The Bates-alike champion
4) Muppets
5) Curling
6) My favorite bear
7) My worst car ever
8) That one thing I said in class that was really stupid, in retrospect
9) Corn. It is corn.
10) Neil Diamond

Here's mine:

Volkswagon Rabbit
Piped exhaust through the heat ducts
Possibly lethal.

Please, if you have a spare moment, place your own haiku below.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Next, we can only hope for good news about the conflict in Marfur!

Don't accuse the Razor of just covering the sad stories-- crack sentencing, Tyd's House Explosion, Practice Court meltdowns, IPLawGuy's "Georgetown/Gingrich Incident," etc. When there is good news to report, the Razor will step right up. That's why we're proud to bring you this fabulous reports about our success in Iraf:

In The Know: White House Announces 'Everything Is Great In Iraf'


The excitement is building for red-hot Supreme Court sentencing action!

Scotusblog is describing Kimbrough (the crack/powder case) as one of the two highest-profile cases in the Supreme Court's October term, and the excitement is building! (Of course, Scotusblog is also reporting that at the time Justice Souter joined the Court, he had never heard of Diet Coke). October 2, just a week and a half from now, the arguments will be made. I will be heading out a day early, and hopefully will get to participate in a moot of the argument.

Of course, it probably won't get much news coverage, between O.J.'s arrest and the Britney Spears VMA "fatness" debacle.


A Book I Will Purchase and Read

On the flight back from L.A., I read a glowing review of Jack Goldsmith's new book, The Terror Presidency. Prof. Goldsmith and I went to law school together (he graduated a year ahead of me), and I remember him as being a very, very smart guy-- the type of person who always had a great insight that didn't devalue others' views. The book is a memoir of his time in the White House legal office. Prof. Goldsmith is a forthright conservative, and his take on what has happened in the Bush White House is a nuanced critique of the very defined political ideals that have directed that administration. Specifically, the Bush White House (primarily through the office of VP Cheney) has stuck to a theory of "unitary" presidential power that has influence both the President's decisions and the areas he has chosen to focus on while in office.

I tried to find the book at DFW, but I'll probably just buy it on Amazon.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Thoughts on Seeing Brad Bogan Impress a Large Group of People

I'm back from California now, and very glad that I went. It was a fascinating voyage into the (heretofore) secret world of federal defenders, who I always admired and respected as a prosecutor, but never knew so well.

There was one moving moment that took me by surprise. Late yesterday I returned from lunch with Judge Gertner after several breakout groups had started their sessions. I picked one and snuck in the back, tucking into a chair outside of the action. What I saw was my former student, Brad Bogan, holding forth with great authority on the subject of calculating criminal history. The other defenders, nearly all of them older than Brad, were listening with rapt attention. I was just one of the listeners, but I felt an odd swell of pride, too-- my former student was the instructor, and displaying a confidence I did not see enough of in law school.

It was a very happy moment.


O.J. Simpson is back!

It's been tough the last few years, as fewer and fewer of my students have memories of the O.J. Simpson trial, thus depriving me of a good, easily-recognizable case study for class. [Also lost in the haze of time is the encounter Profs. Serr, Featherston, and I had with Marcia Clark in a Park City restaurant]

Fortunately, O.J. has obliged me with all-new material, as he is now charged (or, as Doug Berman might suspect, overcharged) with kidnapping and armed robbery in connection with the taking of, uh, O.J. Simpson memorabilia. There's a very sad undercurrent to the whole thing, of course, in that his acquittal of murder and the subsequent finding of civil liability for the same murders doesn't seem to have chastened him much.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Are those mountains? Or is it smog?

Things are going well here in Cali. Like all Detroiters, I am still kind of in awe at the presence of mountains, and quite can't believe they are real. I can see the Santa Monicas right now, in the distance, and it is mesmerizing.

As for the sentencing talk, that's going very well. This morning, a little spat broke out between Judge Gertner and Frank Bowman, in their well-intentioned way. Meanwhile, my role was more like lukewarm water between the fire and ice (in the words of Derek Smalls). I had a very nice lunch with Judge Gertner, who is continuing (as an adjunct) the sentencing class I took all those years ago at Yale Law.

Oooh-- gotta go. Snoop Dogg is "calling my cell phone" as they say out here.



Upon arrival at LAX, I encountered a typical member of a group that the Dada Drummer must really love: Those people who put fashion, of some type, before the ability to do their job. Up until yesterday, I thought the premier example of this was the cashier with extravagant fingernails, who must very lightly and slowly tap the keys as the check-out line grows.

But then I met Supershuttle Sue. Her job was to stand at the curb and direct people to the proper van for their destination. However, for some reason Sue was wearing a ski parka with the neck zipped up over her mouth, making it impossible to hear what she was saying. The parka was a very strange affectation, given that it was 70 degrees out, but at least it was an official-looking Supershuttle parka! Our conversation went like this:

Me: Hi! I'm going to Redondo Beach.
Her: Mmmmph. Mmmmmph.
Me: I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you.
Her: Mmmmmph! Mmmmmmph! [pointing] Mmmmph!

At this point I just got on a van and hoped for the best.

Monday, September 17, 2007


Hello, California!

I'm here in Redondo Beach, speaking at the federal defender's National Sentencing Workshop. Intriguingly, my co-presenters are Frank Bowman, Michael O'Hear, and Judge Nancy Gertner. Federal sentencing is a small world, and I go back a ways with all of them. Bowman and I testified together before the US Sentencing Commission in 2004, on the eve of the Supreme Court's Bookerdecision. After our testimony, a mysterious character from the Heritage Foundation took the two of us and Doug Berman to a very nice lunch. It was like being a lobbyist for a day! It kind of made me itchy.

Michael O'Hear, of course, was my collaborator on the Kimbrough brief (which will be heard by the Supreme Court on October 2), and Judge Gertner and I sparred many years ago at the Yale sentencing seminars.

What is really fascinating here is the experiences of the federal defenders. I'm learning quite clearly that procedures and practices vary a lot from one area of the country to another. It's kind of shocking how differently a case from Texas, for example might be treated differently than one from Washington, even within the supposedly unified federal system.


Yeah! IPLawFamily is coming to visit!

The first weekend in October, the entire IPLawFamily will be here in Waco! Perhaps, in conjunction with that and the Colorado game, I should try having another kegger. IPLG and I tried that a few years ago, but it turned out that our keg-procurement skills had atrophied after college. Our invitations were fun though-- one version said "Please join us for fun and fellowship" with kind of a staid photo of people leaving church, while another said "Kegger!" and had a photo of a baby with some beer. I had to be careful who got each one. The event itself fulfilled neither promise.

IPLG is not only an old and true friend, but kinda fond of Waco. Some might chalk that up to the fact he doesn't actually live here, but he does see the best in it, and I think it appeals to his NASCAR side.

[Note: The illustration shows people happy about the event, not the actual IPLawFamily]

Sunday, September 16, 2007


Somehow, this seems cooler than teaching sentencing and habeas procedure...

New blog alert: This new blog is (kind of) about teaching Yoga and Philosophy, by a friend who does both. I have to say that some people's jobs (like hers) are much more interesting than others. For example, I think Sleepy Walleye, the soccer riot guys, and the Dada Drummer have fascinating jobs, while that guy who sits in the little booth at the parking garage... well, I hope he's good at Soduko.

Even after a week of practice court, I still think I have a great job. I've enjoyed all of my jobs, but this is the best.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


I'm already very loyal to my new computer

Yesterday FedEx delivered my new laptop-- a beautiful white MacBook. Through some miracle, I was able to connect my old, dead iBook to the new one via firewire, and all my old files transferred successfully.

I'm still figuring out all of the features, but the ability to make a Warhol-like picture of yourself is, uh, intriguing. I thought I'd go for a Henry Rollins-style look for this one.


It's the webbed feet that hold him back...

As many of you have probably detected, no one loves a good mascot fight quite as much as I do. As noted by Beer Mate and others, this season has already offered up a classic, in which a duck beats up a cougar, contrary to all reason:

Meanwhile, yesterday's advocacy lectures came in way under three hours!

Friday, September 14, 2007


Haiku Friday for All!

It's that time again! I'm popping over to see "3:10 To Yuma," so this is going up a tad early. Here are this week's topics:

1) Interpretive Dance in PR
2) Baylor Law Troop Surge
3) Chicago as President
4) Britney at the VMAs
5) Car accidents
6) That one time I really shouldn't have done karaoke
7) Remembering Goose
8) Swanburg
9) Serr v. Osler
10) Football

Here is mine:

The Baylor Brochure--
No Bates or Osler photo,
A ban on bad hair!

Now, you go-- 5 syllables/7 syllables/5 syllables

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Poseur, Lou Reed both improve my day...

I had a 2.5 hour drive this morning, and "Walk on the Wild Side" made it much better. I listened to the song several times, and noticed things I hadn't heard before. The bass is great-- it's the lead instrument, which is rare. I'm still singing "doot, da-doot, da-doot..."

Then, in PR this morning/afternoon (it's that kind of class), I called on Poseur. Actually, I didn't call on him; he volunteered his opinion, which was contrary to the consensus of the rest of the class (and still possibly correct). He seemed to be having so much fun (really) that I let him explain the next case, and he seemed to enjoy that, too-- and actually understood it. Stuff like that does make my day much better.

Pictured above: Poseur walking on the wild side.


The Cost of Accidents

Yesterday, while driving south of College Station on Highway 6, I came across a large and horrible accident. There was a truck bent unnaturally, a car that had been completely crushed, an SUV that had been compacted into just a few feet. We all drove around it, trying not to look but unable to avert our eyes.

Whenever that happens, I remember my Dean, Guido Calebresi, talking about torts. His book, The Cost of Accidents, is a law & economics classic, and he was a wonderful teacher. He changed the way I thought about risk, and at least one of his lectures I can remember almost verbatim, including the responses to his question "Why don't we mandate totally safe cars?" They would have foam all around, go very slowly... but would never cost a life. Since that lecture, I have evaluated risk by starting at the endpoints, and been all the better for it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Capone and bin Laden

[UPDATE: You can now download the bin Laden article here. Just click the download box in the upper left at the link.]

There were a lot of great comments yesterday to to the 9/11 post. Sometimes I'm really impressed by the intelligence of those around me.

In reading those comments, especially the well-written post by Anonymous 12:54, I remember a little article I wrote after 9/11 which reflected some of what he was discussing. That article, Capone and bin Laden: The Failure of Government At The Cusp of War and Crime, 55 Baylor Law Review 603 (2003), was a little piece (12 pages) arguing that our system of government has a fundamental weakness which was exploited by both bin Laden and Al Capone. In short, we are good at fighting wars against large armies with our own centralized military and relatively good at fighting crime with our decentralized police forces. Our weakness is when acts of crime look like war and when acts of war look like crime, and fall into the gap between war and crime.

Al Capone essentially became a governmental body with an army, which made it very hard to confront him through the criminal justice system, while the army was not brought into the fight. With bin Laden, he committed acts of war which (up until the acts themselves) looked like crime. The military was unable (and remains unable) to catch him, which criminal justice was essentially not brought into the fight.

Good at war. Good at fighting crime. Not so good at the stuff in between.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


One Year, Six Years Ago Today

Now that the blog is over one year old, I can look back and see what I did last year. Last year, on September 11, I did this. It is one part of a complex picture.

Six years ago I was heading into work and stopped in for coffee at Common Grounds, over on 8th Street. I walked up on the creaky porch and into the crowded little house and said hello to the law student standing in front of me in line. She turned and told me that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.

I went home. I knew exactly what it was, what it meant, having prosecuted a terrorism case and having been alerted to some of the possible targets. I turned on the television and cried.

The rawness of that television footage was unforgettable. Now we see just a few sanitized images, but that morning was a torrent. We could see the figures at windows, on the rooftop, and then falling falling falling until there was a little pink mist at the ground. Two people jumped holding hands, falling for what seemed like minutes. There was a body in flames, on the edge, and then falling.

And then the tower fell. Of the many things I imagined happening, this was not one of them. The immensity of the first tower was never more clear than when it fell, sending a wave of debris outward. A friend called from New York, on a street uptown, and described the panic.

More than anything, I felt a sense of failure. We, the prosecutors, had failed, and now the task would be taken up by those with blunter tools and broader objectives at an unimaginable cost. The photo above is the one I use every year on my Criminal Practice syllabus. It may not be clear to the students, but to me the message of that picture is the importance of criminal law, of the costs of negligence. I was a small part of a large failure, and there is nothing the firemen or the paramedics or the Army or the Marines can do to change that.

Monday, September 10, 2007


So, Howzit Goin', PC People?

Based on a few discussions I've had of late, the PCers seem, well, still sentient. That's good. So what do you have to report? Poseur? Craig Pankratz? Anonymous?


My advice is to never, ever, if you can help it, fly American Eagle out of Waco...

I should be in Atlanta right now, at a planning meeting for the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant. I'm not-- instead, I am still here in Waco.

The reason I'm not in Atlanta is because, for the fifth time this year, American Eagle airlines has failed to get me to Dallas in time for a connecting flight. Well over half of the times I have tried to fly out of Waco this year, American Eagle has been unable to perform. They have, in just the past several months, left me overnight in Dallas, abandoned me in Killeen with no way to get back to my car in Waco, and cancelled consecutive flights even when the weather has been fine. Airlines have lousy customer service these days, but American Eagle is the absolute pits.

My advice to those of you who are traveling to interviews or other things is to just not fly American Eagle, because there is a very good chance they will not get you there. They claim, of course, that the problem is usually "weather," but that is only a small part of the problem. The bigger underlying problem is that American Eagle has fewer planes than they used to, so if one has a problem there is not another one available (and they seem to be having lots of problems). Also, they have cut back on flight staff, and predictably the lack of staffing also is causing delays. Even now that the problems these decisions cause have become clear, they have not been fixed. The people who work at the airport for American are doing their best-- the problem is the choices made at the corporate level.

So, what should you do to avoid flying American Eagle out of Waco? Here are some suggestions:

1) Fly Southwest. You will have to drive to Austin or Love Field in Dallas, but Southwest has an excellent on-time record. Apparently, it seems, the weather at Love Field is much better than at DFW.

2) Fly Contintental out of Waco. Though they have had some problems, too, the disgruntled crowds at the Waco Airport are usually disgruntled at American.

3) Drive to Austin or Dallas and fly on JetBlue or Frontier. If you are used to flying American, you will be surprised at how good the service is on these two smaller airlines. Jetblue flies out of Austin, while Frontier flies out of DFW.

Please share your own airline debacles in the comment section...

Sunday, September 09, 2007


"Your... your pool didn't have a grotto?"

My search for a new computer has come to nothing. I did travel to Austin and found myself at the Apple store in something called "The Domain," which sounds like a torture chamber, but actually is a fancy shopping complex. The Apple store was chock full of fascinating products like the brand-new iPods, but practically devoid of anyone who could help you claw your way to a purchase. Eventually I just gave up. It was kind of sad, really.

It's a long way, in terms of mileage and culture, from Waco to Austin. Waco is hoping that someday a Poppadeaux's Restaurant may locate here. Austin, meanwhile, is one of America's battlegrounds in the struggle between the rich and the super-rich:

In The Know: Are America's Rich Falling Behind The Super-Rich?


I'm quite fond of the Rice Cheerleaders' Mascot, Owly!

Last night, I was able to attend Baylor's football victory over Rice University, by an amazing score of 42-17. Either Rice is very, very, very bad (a possibility), or Baylor is better than they were last week. Quarterback Blake Szymanski, who apparently has sworn off lap dogs, set a record for touchdown passes, as reported by the fine dead-itors over at Beer Mat.

One of the most interesting parts of the game for me was the surprisingly informal cheerleaders for Rice. Rather than jumping or yelling, they seemed to be talking about books and debating something. Towards the end of the game, they were calling people on cell phones. Now that's a cheerleading squad I can relate to!

Their mascot was intriguing, too. Owly the Owl is a kind of depressed-looking guy (or at least he was last night) with large yellow feet who joined the cheerleaders in moping around aimlessly, then was seen consoling some of the players as the game increasingly got out of hand for them. I was hoping that at some point Owly would actually see playing time. He's certainly not the rah-rah type of mascot, or the even more interesting fighting-style mascot, like the wonderful Vic the Demon Pimp who visited about this time last year.

Saturday, September 08, 2007


Curious New Addition to the Blogosphere

I'm not sure what it is, exactly, but the new dada drummer blog certainly has some intiguing 'tude going. I have no idea why he/she has linked to the Razor.

Speaking of which, I'm still waiting for some new student blogs to take the place of those that have fallen by the wayside. Simply step over the bodies of your fallen brethren and get blogging!


LegalPalooza 2007 Kicks off with Three-Hour Extravaganza!

Of the many unusual features of Practice Court, the occasional "Advocacy Lecture" is a special treat. On those afternoons, all three PC professors (pictured above) pontificate on some aspect of the trial. Yesterday, we took on the subject of opening statements, starting at 2 and ending at a little before five.

I enjoy the Legalpalooza, since I rarely get the chance to hear my colleagues lecture and they are very, very good at it. We have very different styles, too, which is particularly noticeable when we are covering the same topic. It must have been pretty interesting, since the class seemed fairly awake even at the end.

At times though, it felt a little like a Puritan church service, in that you didn't know when it would end (if ever) and there was a certain improvisational feel to the whole thing.

Friday, September 07, 2007


And Then.... There Was Haiku Friday. Rejoice.

I had a very nice evening at La Fiesta listening to After Midnight with many of my close personal friends. This, of course, is an excellent segue to Haiku Friday. Here are this week's topics:

1) Baylor knife-fight in Cameron Park!
2) The Rice Owl and his secret nightlife
3) Serr
4) Our local Kendo master
5) Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho)
6) The generous offer made to previous buyers of the iPhone
7) Lee Carver
8) Practice Court, week 2
9) IPLawBaby
10) Secret Bates tricks

Here is mine for this week:

Bates is a Master
At fixing electronics,
A real technopath!

OK, now it is your turn:

Thursday, September 06, 2007


More interesting facts about my future debate opponent...

I'm not sure why I have so many photos of Prof. Serr in my computer, but I'm willing to share the wealth. This one is a photo from back in his basketball days. I have to say, the guy hasn't aged much.

Prof. Serr actually played college basketball at two schools: First at George Mason and then at Dana College. Dana, home of the "Fighting Yet Quiet Gentlemen" is located in Nebraska, and has a "Hall of Fame" which includes Prof. Serr. Actually, the Baylor faculty has a surprising number of former college athletes, including two college basketball players (Serr and Rogers), two former college football players (Guinn and Ryan), and a former college Kendo Champion (Simpson). The rest of us aren't so athletic, for the most part. A few years ago, Bates and I decided to go toss a football around outside the room where the PC students were taking the final, and it was pretty pathetic. At the time, we were considering getting a faculty team to face off in touch football against some students, with the understanding that only students under 120 lbs. or over 300 would be eligible to play.


Sadly, Chicago has had to reschedule the Serr/Osler debate

Not that it was Chicago's fault-- I will have to be elsewhere on the 17th (in LA talking to federal defenders), so we have put off the debate until November. Which, of course, gives us that much more time for trash talking.

Speaking of which, the photo at left shows Prof. Serr in the course of his last debate. He lost to a tree. Note that his expression seems to reflect a feeling that somehow this result was all the tree's fault, despite the fact that the tree would rather not have been hit by a gigantic Yeti on skiis. Of course, that's just an assumption. The tree didn't really tell me anything.

In the meantime, too, I have noticed a serious dearth of blogs among the Summer and Fall starters. What is with you people? It's time to get "hip" with this "super-cool" new thing, the "internet!"

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


So, are you for or against international justice?

Good news-- our chapter of the International Justice Mission has been revived here at Baylor Law. For more info, check out the IJM blog at IJM is a group doing incredible things around the country to help "free the captives" as Jesus urged. Also, an official Razor shout-out to Justin Schneider, the student who has been the driving force behind invigorating our chapter.

Meanwhile, on a sadder note, my computer has died. It's kind of funny that it passed away just after I finished my book-- almost as if it had one last task left in it. I plan a proper burial once I copy the hard drive; I suppose that is the laptop equivalent of being an organ donor.

[for you out-of-towners: That is Baylor Law in the photo. It is a beautiful building]

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Driving Eccentricities of the American States

As previously reported, I did a lot of driving this summer, all over the country. Based on that experience, I can not only say that there are a lot of bad drivers everywhere, but that particular types of bad driving seem to be locally popular in some places but not others. To wit:

Oklahoma: It appears that in Oklahoma, people are taught in driver's ed. that proper highway procedure is to lodge yourself in the left (passing) lane, set the cruise control to 57 mph, and stay there. Grrrrr.

Virginia: Rocket along at top speed, preferably while smoking, eating, and talking on a cell phone if you want to fit in while driving Virginia's scenic byways. Fortunately, at least in the DC suburbs, the "top speed" is about 12 mph due to traffic congestion. [Note: IPLawGuy doesn't do this. He is very safe. IPLawBaby would, though, if she got a chance]

Michigan: Weave from lane to lane. Throw empty Capt. Morgan bottles out window while approaching a bridge. Festoon car with obscene bumper stickers.

Minnesota: Actually, they are pretty good drivers. If anything, they can show too much deference to one another-- they will sit at a four-way stop for several minutes, all waving the others to go through first.

UPDATE: New photo shows IPLawBaby breaking several traffic laws.

Monday, September 03, 2007


Now That's an Interview!

Once again, the fellows at Bare Meat have shown that, though deceased, they have what it takes to keep Baylor sports interesting. Most recently, they pointed us all to this classic interview with Baylor's football coach. The Trib's reporter is trying to get a perplexed Coach to identify the cutest football players on his team; eventually, to his credit, the Coach grudgingly complies. At the end, you get the idea he deeply regrets the whole thing.

While I'm on the topic of teams suffering humbling defeats this weekend, Poseur has a wonderful analysis of what University of Michigan blogs have been doing since Saturday's game (including posting the photo above).

Sunday, September 02, 2007


Academics and Football

I'll be honest: I love watching college football; it's my favorite spectator sport. I have season tickets for Baylor, and break my usual Saturday schedule for those 12 great Saturdays in the fall to keep track of what is going on. I love the fact that college football is part of the identity of a school, and I know what that means. What I don't think, though, is that college football at the Division I-A level correlates in any way with a school's academic reputation, or that a good team (in the long run) makes a school much better. Certainly, a good football program can help achieve some definite short-term goals: For example, at Baylor, a strong football program would help attract more male students (addressing a gender imbalance), and a huge season usually results in more applications. In the long-term, though, most football programs can't be justified by saying it makes the school better.

If you really think there is a correlation between academic quality and football prowess, just consider this list of the top 20 undergraduate institutions in the US (it's the 2008 U.S. News List for national universities, the grouping that includes most of the Division I-A football schools). ALL of those 20 academic powerhouses with a football team are either in Division III, Division I-AA, or seem mired in perpetual football mediocrity:

1) Princeton (I-AA)
2) Harvard (I-AA)
3) Yale (I-AA)
4) Stanford (devoted to perpetual mediocrity)
5) Penn (I-AA)
6) Cal Tech (Div. III)
7) MIT (Div. III-- would be Div. IV if there was one)
8) Duke (devoted to, and achieving with spectacular results, perpetual mediocrity)
9) Columbia (I-AA)
10) Chicago (Div. III)
11) Dartmouth (Div. I-AA)
12) Washington Univ (Missouri) (Div. III)
13) Cornell (Div. I-AA)
14) Brown (Div. I-AA)
15) Northwestern (devoted to perpetual mediocrity)
16) Johns Hopkins (Div. III)
17) Rice (devoted to perpetual mediocrity)
18) Emory (No team)
19) Vanderbilt (devoted to perpetual mediocrity)
20 Notre Dame (as of this year, devoted to perpetual mediocrity)

Doesn't the fact that (as of today) the lists of the top 20 academic schools and the top 20 football schools have no overlap whatsoever-- that not one team appears on both lists? I'm no mathematician, but the odds are very much against that, if there is anything close to a random distribution.

If there is a lesson to be learned from this list, it is that what works for a strong academic institution is to ally yourself with other good schools that aren't so good at football. Remember, the Ivy League is a sports league. It is a huge benefit to Brown, for example, to play so-so football against Harvard and Yale every year. Their association with those academic powerhouses bolsters their academic credibility in a way Baylor's association with, say, Kansas State does not.

Who is not in the academic top 20 anymore? Texas. Michigan. Hmmm.

What would it be like to have a league with Vanderbilt, Rice, Baylor, SMU, Duke, Northwestern, and UVA? Could it be good for Baylor?


Whooo... that's not good.

I do love college football, and two of my favorite teams are Michigan and Baylor. Being a Baylor football fan, at least when Shawn Bell isn't playing, is kind of like being a big supporter of the French army. Michigan, on the other hand, usually wins a lot of games and then breaks your heart. All around, a bad college football day for me.

Saturday, September 01, 2007


September 17-- Law School Smackdown!

Chicago has apparently arranged a Federalist Society debate between me and Prof. Serr on Sept. 17. Thus, in the next few weeks, you can expect to hear a LOT of trash-talking. I can't remember what the topic is, exactly, but I think it is one of the following:

1) Capital Punishment: Does it have a role in Practice Court?

2) The Fourth Amendment and Monty Python

3) Are you going to finish those fries?

Anyways, the whole thing is going to finish with a liturgical dance-off, so you will probably want to be there.

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