Sunday, August 31, 2008


Sunday Reflection: The Hurricane as an Act of God

As Gustav approaches New Orleans, a city which seems fated to die again at the hands of the same boxer, I wonder about these natural disasters that are sometimes called "acts of God." Are they? If so, how do we reconcile the idea of a loving God with the pain caused by such disasters?

As I see it, there are five ways to see the interaction between God and the world, each of which requires a different set of reasoning to justify the idea of God with disasters. They are set out below, in order from easiest to hardest (in my view):

1) There is no God.

2) God created the world, but does not intervene or concern Himself with the events of the world.

3) God created the world, and intervenes in the events of the world to create good. However, a malevolent and supernatural force (Satan) is also at work in the world. It is Satan that creates disasters and pain, and God that helps and comforts those who suffer from those disasters.

4) God created the world and intervenes to create good, but otherwise lets things play out as they would without His intervention. That is, the hurricane arose without God's intervention, but God will intervene to save some people from the storm. This combines elements of 2 and 3 about-- God creates the good, but the bad derives from the structure of His initial creation.

5) God created the world and creates and maintains it constantly-- all that happen is either the result of what He specifically decided, or at the least is subject to His intervention. God both created the storm (or at least declined to stop it), and will offer mercy to some who are involved in it.

These are all difficult constructs, of course. The challenge with options 1-4 is that it supposes a limited God-- that is, a God who is not all-powerful. The problem with 5 is that it sees an all-powerful God but not, seemingly, an all-loving God.

How do you reconcile the idea of God with the fact of such "Acts of God?"

Saturday, August 30, 2008


Yikes! American Violet Opens in Telluride

The movie based on a case I worked on with David Moore and others, American Violet, opened yesterday at the Telluride Film Festival. Not that I know a lot about these things, but I think that's a good sign. Many great movies (ie, Juno and Brokeback Mountain) had their first showing at Telluride.

It also looks like the movie got a primo spot-- showing first on Friday at the largest theater in town (The Palm). It's also one of only two films by US filmmakers to get a showing at the festival.

Sadly, I don't think Baylor ever gave permission to use its name, which is too bad since we do come off as the good guys in this one.

The whole thing just makes me want to go skiing.


Larry Bates... in Opposite World!

Check out the anti-Larry Larry Bates here.

Meanwhile, the other Mark Oslers out there are a Pulitzer-prize-winning photographer and a professional poker player. And, uh, a "Contact Lens Technician".

Friday, August 29, 2008


Haiku Friday... At the end of summer

As I expected, Barack Obama's speech last night was outstanding. And, as I feared, Baylor football started the season with a loss (to Wake Forest, 432-13).

It is the end of summer, with all that comes with that.

Here are the haiku themes for today:

1) Labor day weekend
2) Obama's speech
3) McCain's plan
4) The Wrath of Khan
5) Rich Corinthian leather
6) Baylor football
7) Steaks
8) The first week of PC
9) Three-ring spiral notebooks
10) First bicycle

Here is mine:

The summer fading
But Texas heat redoubles,
Labor Day, melting.

Now, it is your turn--

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Political Mayhem Thursday: What should McCain Say?

For the first time in my adulthood, I think we have two excellent candidates for president running against one another. Though I will vote for Obama (because of issues that are important to me), I think that McCain would be an excellent president as well, and probably would be better in some areas. It is a good thing to have both choices be men that I have confidence in.

Tonight, Barack Obama will speak at the Democratic Convention, and I expect he will do an exceptional job. He is a wonderful orator, and I am equal confident both in the quality of his speech and the themes he will emphasize-- the unity of his party, and the need for change building on that unity.

The more interesting question, to me, is what John McCain will say at the Republican convention in St. Paul. (IPLawGuy will be there in person, and I fully expect Razor reports from him as our correspondent.) I really can't figure out what his themes will be. He doesn't have the oratorical skills that Obama does, which makes content more important.

If you were McCain, what would you emphasize and explain?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Jobs and the Baylor network

I've been talking to quite a few students this week about job-finding, and I get the sense it is a tough market right now.

One thing I have been thinking of is strengthening the network of Baylor grads who have gone into criminal law, particular in DA's offices. It's a project I have been pondering for a while, spurred on by Tom Nowak, who is an ADA in Dallas.

In short, I would think about an informal organization of Baylor grads in criminal law. Perhaps we could have a one-day conference back here once a year (with CLE credit!), and an email newsletter. What do people think of this idea?


Poetry Fusillade, pt 23: Rustic Cabins Tavern

When he was old
And I was young
Kerouac drank nightly
Just a block away.

I peered in the windows
Into a cave of bears-
Pool table, beers signs,
Four or five men,
The remnant of days.


Poetry Fusillade, pt 22: Jesus

Bobble-head Jesus
Nods "Yes, yes, yes,"
TV-Church Jesus
Cries "No, no, no!"

Stop then, wonder
What was the question?


Poetry Fusillade, pt 21: The Speech

Thirty-two people of means
Wait at the Hyatt, meeting room B
Rustling papers
Bits of laughter-
They are waiting for me.

Outside the door
I look down quickly
Blue ink/white shirt:
The pen explosion.

I snatch out the pen
And curse it harshly
The damage complete,
But eas'ly concealed.

How rare are the humbled?
I take off the jacket
And walk through the door.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Poetry Fusillade, pt 20: May 6, Afternoon

The places she loved
Are all gone now:
The house on Wooster Street,
An apartment with a loom,
Her father's stone house,
And a nation, state, and village
On the Crimean Sea.

Old, helpless, angry,
She rages in a housedress
Pursued by three daughters
As I stand watching
In New York, still
A city of brilliant moments.


Poetry Fusillade, pt 19: 41 Down

Doing the crossword
On a plane
I cannot remember
"Musician Perleman's first name."

Out my window, West Texas
Hills, rocks, groves of trees-
Israel below me, dust and olives,
And where a river used to be.

He sent them out with just a robe
Seventy men, walking below
Into a rock-strewn village
With nothing but faith.



Poetry Fusillade, pt 18: Canoeist

We took the canoes
To the place that had burned
That inferno went on
Deluged from planes.

Paper-thin blackness
Crumbles beneath me
The remnants of birch.

New York, City
Of Jack Pines.


Poetry Fusillade, pt 17: Theater Ten

I walked out of theater nine
During the credits
But after that part, the end-
A beautiful woman, great hair,
Dives from an explosion, safe.

I walked out jangly
And met those leaving
Small theater ten-
Brooding, dark, crying softly.

I watched, then waited
Hid among the crowd
Snuck in the next show,

And there on the stage:
An old man
Telling stories
About a war.


Poetry Fusillade, pt 16: Small Deaths

The cat caught a hummingbird
She left it on the porch
Showed off this thing-
Perfect, but dead.

We'd never seen
A hummingbird
In Detroit
Before then.

A child, I wondered:
Is truth through death worthwhile?


Poetry Fusillade, pt 15: No One Dies in Church

Die shov'ling snow, or
In a hospital, darkly
In the car, drunk at night
Or out in the woods
A fall in the shower

Never there, never there,
It's just not done.


Poetry Fusillade, pt 14: Storm

A storm rolled in
West to East, sound and light
The feel of wind, a scent now...

I know that scent
Even in this small room
From a chair by a window
The kind that still opens.


Poetry Fusillade, pt 13: Bowed

The simple bow, in repose
String and wood together.

She is curved and
Pulls him taut,
Awaiting the hand of God.


Poetry Fusillade, pt 12: Magnetic Rock

The old sign promised
A magnetic rock
And now I believe.

I drove away sprightly
But then, pulled back
It tugged at the metal
Which surrounded me; bound.

I pumped the gas hard
And cried out alone
But couldn't stop the slide
Back, oh, to those familiars
Magnetic rock.


Poetry Fusillade, pt 11: The Poet Said

The Poet told him that
The things that he gave
Could also be had
From any good book
And a simple machine.

Oh, oh, oh:
She also said
With a little wave
That others,
All of them, they
Did things much better.

He was reassigned
From "loved" down to "liked"
But, you know,
"Those are just words"
The poet explained.

The last that he heard
Was her loudly asking
Exactly why it might be
He didn't want to talk.
Her poems didn't show that,
So she couldn't believe.


Poetry Fusillade, pt 10: Dragonflies

At dusk we sit watching
Dragonflies feasting
On a swarm of mosquitoes
Just over the lake.

Able performers
Agile and quick
But, still, their reward-
Mosquitoes and blood.

On the interstate northward
I passed two big tankers
Corn syrup haulers-
Mosquitoes and blood.


Poetry Fusillade, pt 9: The Barometer

Deep in the box
Of inherited things
Was a round device
Of needle and numbers.

Since I didn't understand
Barometric pressure
I made it better; relevant
To what matters today.

So now "29" is orange
Which is "heightened alert"
The airport's new normal
So even without weather
We will still
Fear the dark.


Poetry Fusillade, pt 8: Voyeur

I live near campus, so
I pick up bits of paper
Blown into bushes, at the curb,
Brush them, unfold them, stop.

A shopping list, or
A receipt, or blank
But sometimes I grab up
A small bit of life.

In green ink
On yellow paper
A young girl's hand:
"I cry all night."


Poetry Fusillade, pt 7: Things I Have Missed

The Spice Girls Reunion...
No one told me!
And trouble for Britney,
But I never knew.

I must change subscriptions
Beef up my cable
Chew gum, smoke Kools,
Buy expensive jeans
And find the book
Where I put that leaf
(light as a pencil)
To throw it away.


Poetry Fusillade, pt 6: Hardwoods

I planted this tree
Just outside my back door
A labor of love, even that-
Drove my shovel just there.

It grew some each year
I watched from the kitchen
That tree rooted me
As I had done, him.

And yet it was there
Bigger, different
But in the same place
Where I had had put him,
Until he wasn't.

Love never stops them
From leaving home.


Poetry Fusillade, pt 5: 10,000 years

I know well this lake
(though my map is useless-
I made it with markers),
I learned to look up
And not down.

Two rivers feed in
And two draw out
Made by some glaciers
And not engineers.

Each year the same lake
Though all different water
Each drop flow'd out
And left me right here.


Poetry Fusillade, pt 4: Seeds

The cone of the jack pine
Opens only in fire.

New York, City
Of ideas and fraud-
A forest of jack pines.


Poetry Fusillade, pt 3: Leaf

The best part
About being a tree
Is holding this leaf
(light as a pencil)
Though I fear she will fall
Like the others.


Poetry Fusillade, pt 2: Dusk

His fingers enmesh
Her fine, soft hair
Lightly reaches
The skin beneath.

Lays her back
Upon the sheet
Settles himself,
Gazing down.

Now, touches her face
The cheek and chin
This one last time,
A life well lived.


Poetry Fusillade, pt 1: Two Rivers

The map I made
Of my country
With paper and markers--
Not for navigational use.

It does have a beauty
Where two rivers meet
To flow to the ocean
Waters enmeshed;
His fingers, her hair.


Poetry Fusillade-- Incoming!

While I was spending a blissful week off the grid up on Osler Island, I wrote a bunch of poetry. Just to make things clear, I don't consider myself much of a poet, but I do think it helps the rest of my writing, and even my academic writing, to change pace once in a while.

For the remainder of the day, I'll post one every half-hour or so in the morning, then each hour after that (I did this in advance last night, like setting time bombs-- I'm not actually hunched over the computer all day).

For many of them, I will include a little explanation in the comments section if people are curious. The first bomb will go off in... 5 minutes.

Monday, August 25, 2008


School begins, the Olympics end

Here at Baylor Law, it is the first day of the Fall quarter, and there is a good and positive buzz. Before we start, I do want to give a shout-out to Becky Beck, Heather Creed, Meredith Meyer, Angela Cruseturner and the other people who worked very hard to make the start of the year work. Once in a while I get a glimpse of what they do, and realize how important it is.

And it is a big effort... Olympian, almost. Speaking of which, I have been mulling over what I thought was the most memorable moment of the Olympics. Not my favorite-- for me, that would probably be the 100 meter butterfly final or the 100 meter sprint-- but the one that made the biggest impression.

For me, it just might be something that was reported only on Telemundo. The moment came in a bronze-medal match in Taekwondo, which, to my untrained eye, looks like a sport in which two people kick each other for a while. After being disqualified, the competitor from Cuba got off the mat, went over and kicked the referee in the head. Which, if your vocation is kicking people in the head, can be a pretty serious act. It was such an unexpected, violent, and wrong thing to do that for a minute I couldn't believe my eyes (and, since it was Telemundo, I couldn't tell what the announcer was saying).

So, friends-- what do you remember best?

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Sunday Reflection: Religion and American History

I have been reading a number of books recently about the connection between the Constitution and religion, and it has been a real education. For some reason, the history of it had never been clear to me, and now it is in sharper focus.

There are a few basic perceptions that I have had that turn out to be wrong. One is that at the time of the framing of the Constitution, the nation was much more religious than it is now. That is not necessarily true. Consider just one way of measuring this, religious adherence as reported by Rodney Stark and Roger Finke (in their 2005 book The Churching of America), by percentage of the population:

1776: 17%
1850: 34%
1906: 51%
1952: 59%
2000: 62%

We have become, by at least that measure, a more religious nation. Has it made us better?

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Hmmm... well, the hair is right, for the moment...

I received word that the movie based on my former student at Baylor, David Moore, is pretty much done. The film, which stars Will Patton and Alfre Woodard, is about a case we worked on a few years ago. The title has apparently changed from American Inquisition to American Violet, which is kind of curious. I have no idea what the new title means. American Violent, sure...

Anyways, the character based on me (a law prof. named Joe Fisher) is being played by Christopher MCann, pictured here. (My guess that they would use Danny DeVito turned out to be wrong). I saw Mcann yesterday on an episode of Law and Order, and he's pretty good!

I can't wait to see the movie. David's story is a great one, and deserves to be told (even if in slightly fictionalized form).

Friday, August 22, 2008


Haiku Friday: A flood of poetry

Yesterday I got to speak to the incoming students at orientation, which I really love doing. It's an honor, really. The sad part is that I usually don't see those students again for at least a year, when they get to my classes.

For now, though, let's haiku. The suggested themes:

1) Beach Volleyball
2) Orientation
3) Snax
4) The start of classes
5) Buying books
6) Flooding
7) Spiderman
8) South Ossetia
9) BMWs
10) Interviews

Hey there, Spiderman!
I read one hundred files
To find your nickname.

Now it is your turn...

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Political Mayhem Thursday: Is the trashy tabloid media out of control?

So, last night, when I was having dinner with some visiting friends from California, Unidentified Woman stopped by with a few of her cousins. (Really, she did. We're friends). Once the rush of having a celebrity visit wore off (and I had retrieved some Katie's Custard), I heard the whole story of her misadventure in the Great Waco Flood. She cleared up a few misconceptions that I had:

1) The guy in the innertube, flippers, and snorkel came out after the BMW got stuck in the water. At first, Unidentified Woman thought that he was coming over to help, but he just kind of paddled around like Gollom. It did make the photos more interesting. It wasn't like anybody drove into a river with an innertube/flipper/snorkel guy already bobbing around.

2) Apparently, the water came up very fast, and the firemen, once they appeared, told the BMW occupants not to leave the car.

Here's my two cents: I can't believe the Waco Trib thought that a stuck car with a goofball floating by on an innertube was worthy of putting over the majority of the front page in "Nixon Resigns" style. Sheesh. It really was unnecessary to name one of the people there, and it was played in a way to make it seem even goofier than the usual Waco happenings. Sure, this is a paper that regularly runs columns by Ted Nugent (and me), but this was a pretty small-town move.

Meanwhile, Georgia and Russia are at war, but that is less important, apparently. Speaking of that conflict, how is it we are upset? As I understand it, the South Ossetians are fighting for independence from a Georgian government that denies it certain equities, and Russia is providing military support to that movement towards independence. Is that fundamentally different than our actions in relation to Kosovo? If so, how?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Help IPLawGuy!

This morning I received the following email from Big-DC-Firm lawyer IPLawGuy (who is a fellow graduate of William and Mary; he went there for law school, too):

Going to W and M tomorrow to do on campus interviews. What questions
should I ask? What should I tell the students?

What criteria should I use to judge candidates?

So, what advice do we have for IPLawGuy?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I'm Lovin' These New Olympic Sports!

Last night I got bored with NBC's obsessive focus on tiny American gymnasts and searched around for another channel carrying the Olympics. Boy, did I find it! Answer-- Telemundo! My comprehension of what was going on was hampered by my complete lack of knowledge regarding the Spanish language, but they showed all kinds of things I didn't even know were in the Olympics. For example, it appears that Jumping On A Trampoline is now an official event, as is Angry Women Fighting. I found both quite compelling, though it is odd that those sports are included while baseball and softball are being removed after this Olympics.

Here's my thought-- they should combine those two new events, so the angry women fight while jumping on a trampoline.

Of course, I have already invented two sports (Taco Bueno and Botchy Ball) which should be in the Olympics, anyways, as should several others. Golf, for example. Isn't it kind of weird that golf, a popular international sport, isn't in the Olympics? Or auto racing? I also don't understand why they allow professional athletes in all of the other sports, but for some reason continue to exclude the pro wrestlers...


Excellent new Poseur post

It's an all-star post about college football. Check it out here.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Money-raising ideas

Yesterday I read a magazine which advised that everyone should have three ways to raise cash in a hurry. Given that these methods should be safe and legal, I was stumped at coming up with three. Here is the best I could do (other than toasting and selling marshmallows, as pictured here):

1) Sell My Collection of Historic Toothpastes

Painful as it would be, I would have to part with the half-used tubes of toothpaste I have carefully gathered in the back of my medicine chest. Over the years I have acquired some quite unusual and rare toothpastes, including one which seems to be only for dentures. I would also be able to sell my collection of historic spices, but sadly IPLawGuy "cleaned out my spice box" on a visit a few years ago. Up until that debacle, I was the proud owner of cinnamon and cumin purchased at a store which closed in 1987.

2) Tap into the Strategic Petroleum Receipt Reserves

At some point, I must have thought you could donate gas receipts to charity or something, so I started saving them. Anyways, I'm pretty sure someone on eBay would pay for that, right Prof. Bates?

3) Sell my old hockey equipment

High up in my attic, behind college French textbooks, is a bag full of hockey stuff. The bag bears my number, 13, which I chose as a kid to demonstrate I was the "Boy Without Fear," which was much less important than the fact that I was more accurately described as the "Boy Without Hockey Skills." (Actually, I did have one skill, penalty-killing, which unfortunately is both unglamorous and not very important to a team's success). The stuff is kind of in bad condition and sorely out of date, but somewhere there must be a market for that.

So, what would YOU sell in a hurried emergency?

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Sunday Reflection: WWJD is the wrong question

[click on the picture to enlarge the photo]

Today I drove into church behind a car with one of those WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) bumper stickers. As those of you who have been in my class know, I think bumper stickers are about the worst way to change anyone else's mind on an issue, but I did do some thinking on this one, and concluded that "What Would Jesus Do?" is the wrong question. "What would Jesus Have Us Do?" is the right question.

The reason WWJD is the wrong question is simple-- it leads us to view the Gospels only from the perspective of the Son of God rather than the perspective of the people he was teaching. A first principle to me regarding faith is this: "There is a God, and I am not Him." When we ask WWJD, we put ourselves in the position of the divine rather than the fallen, and that is not our position within God's realm.

This does affect the way we interpret scripture. Think about John 8, where Jesus is asked by the Pharisees to weigh in on the stoning of a convicted adultress. Jesus ask that the person without sin cast the first stone, and they all walk away. Jesus then tells the woman to sin no more, recognizing that no one (even he) has condemned her.

If we look at this from the perspective of Jesus (WWJD), it is pretty directive-- we should show mercy and tell people not to sin. The problem is that we are the mob of sinners-- you, me, everyone. I am one of the people with a rock in his hands, not the Son of God come to Earth. From the proper perspective, that of the person holding a rock, the lesson is much different-- not to stone others before facing up to our own sins. It is fundamentally different when we see it that way.

It does make life harder when we judge ourselves as harshly as we judge others, and sometimes WWJHUD (What Would Jesus Have Us Do) might be a harder question than WWJD.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Repressed memory: The Horror At Silver Falls

I realize that while I am keeping up with the Razor's promises regarding rants and haiku, I am way behind on repressed memories and recipes. Sorry, man. Today I will start catching up on repressed memories.

As some of you may have gathered, I have just returned from my annual sojourn to Osler Island, up in the boundary waters of Minnesota and Ontario (I was able to post the blog in advance-- nice trick, huh?). We have two cabins up there-- completely off the grid with no electricity, no phone, no running water, just lots of wilderness and lots of Oslers. To get there from Waco, just get on I-35 north for about 1200 miles until it ends in Duluth, then go north by car about 200 more miles, then another 6 miles by boat until you are about 50 yards into Canada.

When I was about nine years old and we were on our annual trip to the Island, my parents decided to take a little family jaunt to something my Dad spotted on the map called Silver Falls. We had heard that it was a pretty, decent-sized waterfall just into Quetico Provincial Park. So the five of us piled into a fishing boat and headed out. We cut across the big lake and into a bay where the falls were marked. After a while, we headed down a river. Soon we could hear the falls, but for some reason we couldn't see them-- we kept expecting to see a curtain of water falling ahead of us. The sound got louder and louder, but still we couldn't see the falls.

Then, for some reason, the engine died just as we went around a bend. It was then that we realized the reason we didn't see the falls was because we were about to go over them-- that the river we were on was about to drop over the falls. Stupidly, we didn't think through what it meant that we were going with, not against, the flow of the water. We were all about to die. My Dad furiously tried to restart the engine and at the last minute, with about 30 feet to the falls, it caught and we escaped.

The funny thing is that in those moments between when we realized our predicament and when the engine started, we laughed and laughed and laughed.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Hot Haiku Friday!

It's August in Texas, and I'm back in it. For haiku today, there is only one subject, and it's a traditional one: "What I did on my summer vacation."

Here is my entry:

Ate many burgers
Some burned, some raw, all good
Many with cheddar.

Now it is your turn...

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Political Mayhem Thursday: Obama's weakness

As I've made clear before, I will vote for Barack Obama for President because of where he stands on issues I care about (especially the environment and sentencing policy). I I frankly think, however, that either candidate has many of the qualities necessary for a good president.

Thus far in the campaign, I think much of the discussion has been, refreshingly, about legitimate issues. This is a credit to both of the candidates.

One way this has manifested itself is that a primary critique of Obama has been his lack of relative experience. No matter who wins, a sitting US Senator will be elected President for the first time since 1960. That said, Obama does not have much experience in the Senate and has spent much of his time in that position running for president. A case can be made that Sen. Obama simply has not had enough time in Washington to learn how things work.

Is Obama's lack of experience a reason not to vote for him?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Can't we just let them fight?

Ok, it can't be just me thinking this...

I stayed up last night watching the Olympic women's gymnastics final (the team competition). NBC, naturally, focused on the competition between the US team and the Chinese "women," who were the two favorites.

Here's the deal: The Chinese looked like they had an average age of about 11, a weight around 50 pounds, and an odd affection for unicorns. Though they are incredible athletes, they looked so young and frail-- especially with the bizarre eye make-up.

On the other hand, the US team looked really, well, tough. They looked like women who you might see hanging around outside a bar, smoking, very late at night. They actually looked like women, albeit women who are carrying not only a gun but probably a knife.

Which, when it got close, made me want to let them duke it out with the Chinese. It's probably the hockey player in me that thinks this is just a natural turn of events...


Tuesday, August 12, 2008



Today I am in Northfield, Minnesota, one of my favorite towns in the US. It's the home of both Carleton College (alma mater of Heather Davenport) and St. Olaf's (alma mater of Ron Beal). It's not a big place, but it is full of little nooks and crannies and intriguing little things. It is also just a town-- not a city, or a suburb.

Northfield's economy seems to be based on the two colleges and Malt-O-Meal, which has a factory and headquarters there. Everything smells just a little like cereal here...

Monday, August 11, 2008


The Market

I love the idea of a market-- where things are bought and sold, compared, accepted and rejected. Economically it works, and it does in the realm of ideas as well.

I wonder sometimes why there is such fear of a free market of religious ideas. Obviously, in both the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses of the Constitution, the framers sought a free market for religious ideas in the US. This free market has wonderful effects-- ideas are challenged and refined, beliefs sharpened and changed, and religious debate remains healthy.

As a Christian, I firmly believe that our faith is best off in a place where Christianity is neither affirmed nor funded by the government. If you don't believe that this is best, just think about the places where faith IS sanctioned and funded by the government...

Sunday, August 10, 2008


The Olympics!

I love the Olympics. In 1984, in fact, while I was in college, I gave up my primo oyster-shucking job in Rehobeth Beach, Maryland and drove out to Los Angeles to see the games there, and it was TOTALLY worth it. In order, here are my favorite Olympic events (summer and winter):

1) Luge
2) Winter Biathalon
3) Swimming
4) Beach Volleyball
5) Fencing

Saturday, August 09, 2008


Best Simpsons Moment EVER

I wish I could find a Youtube for this... but my favorite Simpsons moment ever was in one of the first four seasons. Bart goes down to the Quik-E-Mart to play a video game. The game is called "Escape from Death Row." At some point, Bart runs into trouble, and someone yells "hit the change of venue button!" When Bart hits the button, he is transfered to Texas and immediately loses. The final graphic shows a cowboy yelling "yee-haw!" and firing two guns into the air.

And that, my friends, was the best Simpsons moment ever.

Friday, August 08, 2008


Haiku Friday: Parents Poetry

Ok, I got this thing back from the French again. Sorry about that. My only fear now is that somehow they will team up with the pandas...

Anyways, I would like people to haiku about their parents this week.

Here is mine:

My parents, goofballs
But, the loveable types, and
... he is named "Spike"

Now it is your turn...

Thursday, August 07, 2008


Mutilation politique jeudi : Le Français !

Bonjour ! Nous sommes de retour responsable du rasoir maintenant. Peut-être vous avez entendu parler de notre Président Sarkozy. Il romanced et a marié une étoile de la pornographie ! Pourquoi est-elle que votre Président Bush est à impuissant pour accomplir une telle chose ?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


On beauty

Growing up in a family of artists, I was often party to discussions on the question of "what is art?" and "what is beauty?" (which, believe me, are two different questions). My thinking on this has changed a lot over the years, divided into four basic stages:

1) As a kid, I deferred to "experts" (ie, my parents) as to what was beautiful. I kind of accepted the aesthetic of whoever was talking to me at the time, and bought into it. As such, I believed that old falling-down barns, for example, were very beautiful.

2) At college, I developed a personal aesthetic and rejected much of what I had been told about beauty, including the idea that there was anything that was simply beautiful-- I thought that beauty was purely subjective, a view that negated the possibility of a genius creating something beautiful to all people. My own aesthetic largely derived from Walker Evans' photographs in "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men," and usually involved some kind of sprained symetry. Old barns were still considered beautiful. Also, Cindy Crawford.

3) As an adult, I went to the Academy in Florence and had an epiphany as I saw Michaelangelo's David. Suddenly, I believed in genius and a beauty that would transcend culture.

4) More recently, I have combined some of these aspects. I think perceptions of beauty are largely subjective, but that there are creations of true genius that will impress most everyone as beautiful.

But is it art?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


We're Talkin' Waco!

When I first was considering the job at Baylor, the school sent me a very professional-looking promotional video for Waco, called "We're Talkin' Waco." The theme song, in fact, is still stuck in my head.

The video featured a number of shots of hockey being played at the H.O.T. Coliseum. As a long-time hockey fan, this intrigued me. Even though the team folded before I got here, I kind of admire the idea. A commenter to the previous post noted that the team faced both low attendance and fog on the ice, both of which can be fatal to a hockey team.

Now, I read, Austin has lost their own team, the Ice Bats, which was one of my favorite names in all of sports.

Monday, August 04, 2008


Additions to Waco

I like many things about Waco. Being away from it for a little while, though, I have been thinking of some things that might improve it a little. Here are my top 5:

1) Minor league baseball team
2) Big stand-alone grocery store to compete with H.E.B.
3) A snow-capped mountain in the near distance
d) More sidewalks
5) A way to cross Valley Mills on foot

Surely, there are more...

Sunday, August 03, 2008


Sunday Reflection: On Buying Stuff

Is it against the teachings of Christ to be rich?

I tend to think not, except when I read the Gospels.

Saturday, August 02, 2008


Exxon-- $11 billion 2d quarter profit; GM-- $15 billion 2d quarter loss

Crikeys. I'm trying to lay off General Motors while it dies of self-inflicted wounds, but I couldn't help but notice the $15 billion 2d-quarter loss. Wow. They lost about $2 billion (which is about a third of their market capitalization) just on SUV leases. Exxon's profit got all the headlines, but I think GM's results are more historically significant.

Friday, August 01, 2008


Haiku Friday-- August Begins

Where did this summer go? It ran away quickly on cat's paws, without my noticing.

Here are this week's haiku themes:

1) Rain
2) Lack of rain
3) Baylor football!
4) Back to school
5) Back to school... when you were eight
6) Back to school when you were eight in the rain
7) Pandas
8) Family vacation
9) The family car
10) Haircuts

Here is mine:

I loved that seat
In the way-way back of that
Black station wagon.

Now it is your turn...

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