Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Razor Year in Review

I'm a little worried when it appears that the Razor is someone's primary source for news, but that seems to be the case now and then. I suppose it is more dependable than, say, The Weather Channel. Of course, the Razor spans topics far beyond the news, such as pandas and recipes.

Here are Razor posts of the past year which I most enjoyed writing:

1) Leaf
2) Argbf for President (if only for Lane's comment, "Don't blame me, I voted for Argbf")
3) The Caucus
4) Bullwinkle on the election
5) The original bailout rant

6) Unitarian Kitchen Dancing
7) The GM rant (with responses from GM execs)
8) The big day

9) The Olympic Mascot has a gun!
10) Vermont's nuclear reactor is made of... wood

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


The Road

Today I'm on the road to Macon, Georgia, to see my old colleague Bill Underwood and his family. It's a straight shot from Detroit to Macon on I-75, the big road that bisects the East from the Midwest.

Driving on an interstate, I have noticed something odd-- recently, there have been many more trucks conducting low-speed passes and letting traffic build up in the left lane behind them. I don't seem to remember this being such a problem in the past.

My brother (a truck driver) told me why this is. To save gas, some companies are place speed-limiting devices on trucks, so they cannot go over 62 (for example). Therefore, a truck limited in that way is going to take a loooong time to pass a truck going 60.

I suppose that is understandable. But what I don't get is the doofuses who get in the left lane and never leave, even though they aren't going very fast. What are they getting out of it, other than a perverse joy in screwing up traffic patterns? Urgh.

What driving habits drive you nuts?

Monday, December 29, 2008


The unduly narrow path to professorhood

[cross-posted from Law School Innovation]

In a previous post over at LSI, I reflected a bit on Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers and the formation of law professors. Having finished the book, I have a few more thoughts, which suggest that the way we select law professors is to the disadvantage of those who may provide the most innovation.

Most law professors (myself included) have the following things in common: (1) They did well as children at standardized tests; (2) Because of their prowess at standardized tests, they did well on the SAT and LSAT tests; (3) Their strong LSAT scores led to their admission at an elite law school; and (4) They then succeeded in law school, and were qualified to begin pursuing academic jobs.

If you doubt that attending one of the most elite law schools makes a difference in hiring, consider the finding that among untenured but tenure-track professors at the top 50 schools, 92 went to Yale Law while only 2 went to Cornell (which is an excellent school). Similarly, there can be little doubt that a very high LSAT score is the primary qualification to get into one of the most elite schools.

Thus, we are for the most part narrowing our pool of professors to those who did extremely well on the LSAT. However, as Gladwell points out, multiple-choice tests like the LSAT (and the SAT) are convergence tests-- that is, those in which the test-taker considers a limited number of possible answers and then converges her attention on the right one. Convergence tests are good at determining the presence of a certain talent: the ability to eliminate wrong answers to arrive at a correct answer.

While this ability to converge on the right answer is useful at times, it is rarely a major part of innovative legal scholarship (or teaching, for that matter). That's because the best scholarship is doing something more than eliminating choices from an already-established list. Rather, the best work offers up a new way of looking at things, advocating for why one solution is right, or proposing an answer that thus far has not been dreamed up. That is, the best work, the most innovative work, very often goes beyond simply criticizing the proposals or work of others (legislators, academics, or judges).

However, at the primary sorting phase on the road to becoming a professor (admission into an elite school), we emphasize almost exclusively this talent of convergence. The LSAT does not test the skill of divergence-- that is, the ability to come up with possibilities from a given reality. For example (Gladwell's), one might ask "what uses are there for a brick?" There are no set answers, but there will be good, creative ones and poor, limited ones. If we cared about divergence somewhere on the path to professorhood, we would be much farther along on the task of fostering innovation in our fields.

In short, the way we pick professors rewards most a skill which has nearly nothing to do with innovative scholarship and teaching. Perhaps it should not be surprising that our journals are full of criticism, but resound too rarely with ideas that can change viewpoints, transform society, create justice broadly, or stir the souls of students and scholars.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Sunday Reflection: Sleeping Child

On Christmas Eve, I was in church behind a family I do not know. They had a baby with them, about six months old. For about fifteen minutes, the baby looked around and tugged at his dad's ear. Then, as the father stood holding him, the baby fell asleep. It was out in the way only a baby can be-- body totally limp, conformed perfectly to the curve of his father's shoulder, face slack, mouth open. It was a complete sleep, sure and certain.

Something about that deeply moved me. I think it may have been a message beyond the obvious parallel to the baby Jesus being celebrated. What came to my mind was the admonition that one must come to Jesus like a child. I have never been wholly sure what that means, but perhaps a part of it was written on that baby's posture on Christmas Eve-- that one must be able to completely trust, to conform ourselves to the shoulder of our Father, and rest from the struggles that consume our Earthly days.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


GM, then and now

One year ago, I posted about a conversation I overheard at a coffee shop here in Michigan, in which two GM executives got mad at another guy for suggesting maybe things weren't great at GM. Here was my recollection of that December 27, 2007 conversation:

Guy #1: So, are you still working at GM? I heard they let some people go...
GM Guy: Of course I'm still at GM! GM's doing fine.
Guy #1: Great! I just heard about layoffs...
GM Guy: That was just hourly guys. The company is doing great.
Second GM Guy: (interjecting from back in the line): GM is making great cars! We just put out the new Malibu...

GM Guy: Oh, yeah, the new Malibu is a great car. All our cars are great now.
Guy #1: Thanks! Good to know everything is great at GM.
Second GM Guy: Are you being sarcastic? Because GM is totally healthy.

Right up to the time of the first bailout hearings in Congress, GM did not get it. They sent their executives to DC in corporate jets with no plan to use the money wisely, and ended up getting parodied on Saturday Night Live. Then they got a bailout plan that almost guarantees that the company will go bankrupt in March (because the bailout sets unrealistic benchmarks to be met by then, or the loan will come due). The only hope seems to be that the Obama administration will feed GM money for as long as it takes.

Now, it seems like the GM guys must realize something is wrong. At GM headquarters, they turn the lights out at 5. The Detroit Auto Show will be a ghost town. People are panicking about losing their jobs, and they are probably right to feel that way. For Detroit it is the end of days, and if you are here, there is no missing it.

What if, a year ago, there had been a sense of urgency instead of insistence that all was fine? Perhaps if that had happened, there would be at least a glimmer of hope now, a hope that doesn't depend on becoming a pathetic and defeated ward of the state.

Friday, December 26, 2008


Boxing Day Haiku Friday....

First off, happy birthday to Swissgirl! She is a boxing day baby, and all of us here at the Razor appreciate her contributions here.

As for the haiku... let's do free-form four line poems, with any syllable combination you would like. You can pick the topic, though these might work:

1) The best part of Christmas
2) The gift
3) Swissgirl's birthday
4) The importance of good socks in snowy, cold weather
5) Pan-hellenic relations
6) The UCC
7) European vacations
8) Caesar Augustus and his decree
9) The Spanish Medievalist in winter
10) Sledding

Here is mine:

Two kids run by, laughing
I dodge them deftly
They take no notice

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Political Mayhem Thursday: The Decree of Emperor Augustus

Government works best when what it does makes sense, and this order from Emperor Augustus-- that all the world be registered, by returning to the home of their ancestors to be counted-- simply does not make sense. It is bad enough that the entire exercise is for the sole purpose of taxing each Roman subject, but the method is even worse. The requirement that people travel to ancestral homes, instead of being counted where they now reside, seems only to make the eventual task of taxing those people harder, not simpler. Why not count them where they live, and have those who take the census also collect the taxes? Government regulations are bad enough when they cause hardship only for the purpose of governmental convenience, but it is even worse when they cause hardship with no apparent gain in governmental efficiency. Yet, the Emperor decrees it.

If you doubt the human cost of this order, consider one young couple required to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the census, the woman being great with child. As she went into labor, the only place they could find to stay was a stable, and she gave birth there amongst the donkeys and sheep. The baby, a boy, was left to lay in rough straw as his mother struggled to recover from the birth. This humiliation was completely unnecessary, of course, their discomfort being required only to fulfill the senseless decree of the Emperor.

Perhaps that is the point. The Emperor arranged his census this way because he can. He knows that he is the sole sovereign over not only Rome, not only the Mediterranean, but over all of the civilized world. His power is absolute. No authority, no God, no nation dares to oppose his decrees, nor could they. For the first time in human history, there is one man who is immune from revolt, conquest, and plunder. No one makes the claim to be greater than the Emperor.

And what of that baby boy in the stable, at the other end of the spectrum of power from the Emperor who moved his parents like chess pieces, the most powerless person in the world? What will happen to him?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Christmas traditions...

Here in Detroit, we are getting things ready for tomorrow. Like a lot of families, this holiday is thick with traditions for us, and that is part of what makes it all special. It may sound silly, but one of my favorite things about Christmas is my Mom's egg/sausage breakfast casserole. I suppose I could make it any time I want, but I don't, and never will. It's a Christmas thing.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


The many mysteries of Christmas

[The photo doesn't depict my parents' house, but a house down the block which was also full of characters]

One of the things about returning to Detroit for Christmas that I always enjoy is telling the traditional Christmas stories around the fire. I know the stories pretty well, but there are often a few details near the end that stump me. Here are a few of the loose ends:

1) I remember most of the story of Frosty the Snowman, but can never remember the method the villagers use to finally kill him after his rampage.

2) The back-story on Vixen the Reindeer is a little vague, and the version I seem to recall isn't fit for mixed company. And I seem to remember that Prancer was her best friend and that he did a lot of shopping with her, but I'm not sure where that came from, either.

C) Did the defective toys from the Land of Misfit Toys ever get delivered to any kids? And if so, were they bad kids who kind of deserved to receive dangerous toys with sharp edges, lead paint, and/or possibly lethal projectiles?

4) After the Grinch destroyed Whoville, what happened to poor little Souxie Lou Who? Did she go into foster care or something?

5) What exactly are "Santa Cramps?" And why did Bob Cratchitt get them, anyways?

Any help on these matters would be greatly appreciated.

Monday, December 22, 2008


How cold is it?

Here in Detroit, it is two degrees.


Sunday, December 21, 2008


Sunday Reflection: Snow and Christmas

The connection many of us make between snow and Christmas for the most part is totally senseless. Christ was born in a place without snow. We live in a country where only a fraction of the population sees snow at Christmastime most years. Yet, there is this connection between Christmas and snow.

Today, with many others, I will be driving through snow-- probably even blowing, drifting snow. When I arrive in Michigan, there will be a white blanket all around. I really look forward to it, too-- for a reason that is spiritually whole and real, the time and place of Christ's birth aside.

Those of you who grew up with snow know what it does to human life-- it slows things down and makes them quiet. When there is snow, people can't drive fast, they can't run fast, they can't do much of anything fast. And it muffles sound; step outside, and there is a hush, even in the city.

A quiet, slowed-down place is perfect for Advent, a time for watchful waiting and reflection. If God calls to us in still, small moments, for some of us that may be when we walk on a clear winter night, slowly, hearing nothing but the soft crunch of the snow under our boots.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


Dan Buck apparently wants to negotiate pleas!

At noon yesterday, Blaine McCormick and I gave a little talk to the Waco criminal defense bar for their monthly lunch meeting. There, I met fellow blogger Dan Buck, who inexplicably came to a criminal law seminar. He was the only theater grad student there, as one might expect. It was great to finally meet him.

It's weird-- for me, meeting people whose blogs I read is like meeting a celebrity. I get a little flustered, and usually do the following:

1) Shake their hand, usually a little too long,
2) Tell them I really enjoy their work, and
3) Kind of back away quickly while waving awkwardly with one hand.

I pulled out all the stops for Dan, too.


In Detroit, this would qualify me as an idiot...

In Appeals and Habeas on Thursday, I confused Jaromir Jagr with
jari Kurri. Ugh. Jagr, of course, played with Lemiuex at Pittsburg, and Kurri with Gretzky for Edmonton.

I deeply regret the error.

Friday, December 19, 2008


Holiday Haiku Friday-a-thon

It's gray and woggy out (warm and foggy, as Sonny Eliot used to say), and I'm kind of a little down. Perhaps it is the enduring feeling that I let down Bates at foosball this year-- he really wanted to go undefeated, but I'm... well, not very good at foosball. It did give me a chance to stitch together oral argument and foosball for the start of class this morning.

So, feel free to haiku about whatever you want. Here is mine:

Misogynist Claus,
He's a bad, evil old elf;
Sings a slay-ing song.

Now it is your turn:

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Political Mayhem Thursday: Church and State

First off, the Osler/Bates foosball challenge went great. We raised $300 for Mission Waco, and despite my weaknesses we ended up with a record of 26-4. If you were one of those four teams, feel free to gloat in the comments section.

Now for the mayhem. Today's topic is the relationship between church and state. As I see it there are two important and distinct questions to discuss. Feel free to address one or both (I realize that the first one might be better suited to the lawyers and law students out there).

1) Does the Constitution require that Church and State remain separate?

2) Regardless of what the Constitution requires, is it a good idea to keep
church and state separate as a matter of policy? Keeping them separate would
prevent prayer in schools and any public funding of religious organizations
or their work.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Foosball Party tonight, All Right!

Last night, Bates and I practiced our moves over at Crickets, and they are smooth. I mean, smooth like Smoove B. That's how smooth.

You won't be able to beat us (unless you know "the secret"), but please come and try.

9 pm. Crickets. Tonight.


George Perot still an icon at GM

What are the panicky executives at GM doing as their company crumbles around them?

Apparently, checking out the Razor for pictures of 1968 Detroit television personality George Perot.

Of course, I can understand needing some distraction now and then, even in hard times. Heck, I do it now and then, too. So, GM execs, if what you are looking for is Detroit-in-1968ish iconography as a respite from gloom, check this out:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


So, who would you throw a shoe at?

Apparently, the shoe-flinging Iraqi journalist is feeling the love from at least some of his compatriots. I'm still pretty sure there are better ways to express dissent, and I doubt that this incident matters much at all in the larger scope of things.

Still... who would you toss a shoe at?

Monday, December 15, 2008


Festive Holiday Shoe-Throwing

Oh, brother. What a crazy place Iraq seems to be.

If nothing else, President Bush seems to be pretty good at ducking. That was a well-aimed shoe!


Hmmm... where did I put my bolo tie?

Over at Samuel Goldwyn Films' website, they now have some stills up from American Violet, including this one which shows our characters doing a little church-dancing. Christopher McCann (playing "Professor Joe Fisher") is in the middle, while David's character ("Sam Conroy") is played by Will Patton, on the far left.

While Will Patton does a pretty good David Moore impersonation, you may notice some dis-similarities between "Joe Fisher" and myself. In addition, David's role in both the movie and the actual case were much larger than mine. Nonetheless, I'm proud to note that the blond in the middle seems to think I'm the better dancer.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Sunday Reflection: The true meaning of Christmas

What is the true meaning of Christmas?

I think it's a terrible question. First of all, it implies that there is only one true meaning of Christmas. I've found that every year in which I look for a deep and true meaning in Christmas, that meaning has been different. Like any other spiritual event that intersects with our own lives, it spins off lessons that are different as light and life changes over time.

My second problem is that I wonder what "true" means in that context. Are there untrue meanings? We probably would all look at a wholly materialistic Christmas as "untrue," but I'm not sure that is fair-- even those who celebrate Christmas with extravagance usually are spending wildly on others in one way or another, and it is hard to see that as "untrue."

So what is the better question? There must be one.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


The Ford Paradox

While following all of the various stories on the auto industry, I was stumped by one aspect of the proposed bailouts. While GM and Chrysler say they need money right now, Ford has said they will only need federal money if one of the other companies fail. Why would that be? It would seem that if one of the others fail, it would be a great opportunity for Ford to grab up new market share.

Yesterday's article about the auto suppliers in the New York Times finally made things clear to me. All of the car companies rely on the same suppliers, and if one of the Big 3 falls, it will drag down these essential suppliers, and thus handcuff Ford from continuing production.

The irony of this is that one of Henry Ford's great achievements was the incredible Rouge Plant, where raw ingredients went in one end, and a car out the other-- the antithesis of today's supplier-dependent companies.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Lego my Haiku Friday!

Today, I invite everyone to write a two-line haiku (flexible on syllables) on one of the following topics:

1) The thoughts of Mr. Lego
2) The Osler-Bates Foosball Challenge
3) Gov. Rod Blagovejich
4) Christmas shopping
5) Law prom
6) Tang
7) Proverbs
8) Christmas trees
9) Prof. Osler's Christmas Molasses Cookies with Tuna Chunks

Here is mine:

The cold harsh wind of winter
Brings masters of the foos.

Now it is your turn...

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Political Mayhem Thursday: The Window for Meaningful Discourse

It is an interesting time in our nation's recent political history. We concluded another election, we are facing a grave economic crisis, and there is a general consensus that Barack Obama's cabinet contains surprising talent. Moreover, there seems to be a higher level of discourse and less nastiness than at some other times, perhaps owing to the crisis atmosphere.

Today's question is simple: What should president Obama's first and second priorities be, and what should he do about those issues?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


December 17-- Osler/Bates Foosball Challenge 2008!

One week from today, December 17, Prof. Bates and I will take on anyone with $5 in the great sport of foosball. The festivities begin at 9 at Crickets in Downtown Waco.

All proceeds will be matched by Prof. Bates and I and donated to Mission Waco. Last year, we raised almost $500. This year, our goal is $3.2 million (including federal bailout money).

As a special feature this year, any team of two who happens to beat us will win t-shirts celebrating the feat (at least until we run out of shirts or time). When I get the shirt design, I will post it here!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Illinois: Sitting Governor Arrested

Crikeys! In Crim Law news, current Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich has been arrested for some realllly bad corruption (if the charges are true). Apparently, the feds caught him on tape soliciting payments from those hoping to influence his choice for the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama. The excerpts from the tape make him sound like a particularly greedy individual: "Unless I get something real good [for Senate candidate 1], s***, I’ll just send myself, you know what I’m saying,” Blagojevich was taped saying on November 3rd, the day before Election Day. Doug Berman has a link to the entire affidavit.

Given that Blagojevich's predecessor, George Ryan, is currently doing time (and two other recent governors there have been convicted in the past three decades), who should Illinois turn to next?

I suggest longtime Chicagoland resident The Hamburglar.

Monday, December 08, 2008


The Worst Christmas Song EVER

There are many candidates for this prize. Certainly, this evening news team deserves a nomination:

And we of course have the classic "Christmas With The Devil":

In the end, though, the worst Christmas Song ever probably comes from one of the best Christmas CD's ever-- the Charlie Brown Christmas:


Baylor grad wins!

Republican Anh Cao, a graduate of Baylor (with a BS in physics), was elected to Congress from what had been a heavily Democratic district in Louisiana. Cao beat tarnished Democrat William Jefferson, who has been indicted on corruption charges.

Cao is an interesting guy-- and the first Vietnamese-American elected to Congress.

Sunday, December 07, 2008


Sunday Reflection: Advent and the still, small moment

When I was a kid, I didn't think much about Advent. It was just those weeks before Christmas, busy with school and holiday things. Only later did I find that Advent is a season of its own, with a unique meaning and emotion. It is the time of solemn waiting and preparation for Christ.

Waiting. How do we do that? There are probably a million answers to that, but for me there is a need to seek out a bit of quiet reflection and anticipation amid all the activities. It's hard to find that quiet sometimes.

One place that I can find it is in my Sunday School classroom at about 9:30 Sunday morning. My class, the Roundtable, is a wonderful small group of people with very different backgrounds (a journalist, a linguist, an Old Testament scholar, a theatrical costume expert, an archaologist...), and a common sense of wonder-filled questioning. But at 9:30, none of them are there yet. I walk into that room with the morning light pouring in, and sit alone in the circle. At Advent, it is just right-- the quiet, the calm, the presence of the Light (as the Quakers would say). My heart leaps a little, there is a hint of joy, and that anticipation, child-like longing, creeps in.

In ones and twos, the others arrive, and the circle fills in. It is the perfect break from my sacred aloneness, the gradual fellowship of loved friends. Each Sunday morning, it is all there in a microcosm, the waiting, the arrival, the fellowship, the study of the gospels and the entry of the Holy Spirit in a still, small moment. As we talk, the ideas whirl around and build on one another until, too soon, there is no more time and we rush out into the world, transformed once again.

Saturday, December 06, 2008


I'm an Adult Now (by The Pursuit of Happiness)

Still one of my favorite songs. One music commentator said that it sounded like the singer "wrote it on the bus going to college."


Recipe Time! Christmas Molasses Cookies with Tuna Chunks

We had a request for Christmas cookie recipes, and the Razor is happy to oblige! Here at Razor HQ, nothing says "Christmas" quite like Professor Osler's Molasses Cookies with Tuna. Here's the recipe:


1 cup molasses
1/2 pound butter
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup sugar
1 can tuna
1/4 cup hot water
4 cups flour
2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Heat the molasses to a boil. Remove from heat and add butter, stirring until melted. Place the sugar in a deep bowl and add soda to the hot water; pour water into the molasses. Pour the molasses mixture into the bowl of sugar and thoroughly mix with the tuna. Add spices, flour and salt and mix with molasses and sugar. Pour into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper or waxed paper and refrigerate.

Preheat oven to 325. Cut dough as thin as possible and bake on a non-stick surface or a greased sheet for 15 minutes. Cool on a rack as soon as done. They will be great for the holidays, and we're betting they'll be a family favorite.

Friday, December 05, 2008


Minimalist Haiku Friday

Only two lines this week
Flexible on syllables.

Thursday, December 04, 2008


Political Mayhem Thursday: The Dangers of the Eleventh Commandment

Ronald Reagan was right about many things. However, he was wrong in repeating what he called The Eleventh Commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.”

The problem with this Eleventh Commandment is that it puts loyalty to party before loyalty to country and loyalty to principle. There are times that principle and patriotism require that we criticize the rash and wrong actions of our government, even when it is in the hands of the party we support. There have been many of those moments over the past eight years as President George W. Bush has abandoned conservative principles in favor of political expediency. The slavish devotion of many Republicans to this Eleventh Commandment over those eight years, as they have defended Bush even as he abandoned them, has kept them silent. The result has been a Democratic Party sweep as the Republican Party lost its moral center.

When terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center in 2001, there were many possible responses. One, for example, might have been to improve the anti-terror measures we already had, which had nearly flagged the scheme, but failed to due so because of inattentive monitoring and an inefficient FBI bureaucracy. However, the President chose instead to create a huge new bureaucracy (the Department of Homeland Security), with an ever-expanding budget, a vague set of goals, and a primary mission, it seemed, of spending money and inconveniencing citizens. Nothing about this was conservative, but conservative voices dared not challenge the President. Those people who best knew that bloated government was not the right answer silently joined the rest of us in line as we entered the airport barefoot and humbled.

It also wasn’t conservative to appoint unqualified people to oversee agencies such as FEMA, but after the Katrina disaster, most conservatives spent their energies criticizing the media that dared to report the story of government incompetence.

Finally, the Bush Administration handed hundreds of billions of dollars out to the richest amongst us in an unsuccessful attempt to stem the economic crisis. Too many conservatives simply mumbled that “something had to be done,” as if when “something” needs to be done, that something should always be extravagant government spending.
When we choose our political party over our beliefs or our country, it is a mistake. John McCain ran under the slogan “Country First,” which in a way was a challenge to his own party to change the way that they do business. It is a challenge that should be taken up by both parties, who share that weakness. Now that Democrats are in power, they need to remember this lesson and demand of their leaders that they do what is consistent with their principles, rather than that which seems more likely to keep them in power. Dissent within a party is powerful, in that it comes from those with the most influence on leaders.

The Eleventh Commandment is bad for Republicans, bad for Democrats, and bad for America. Now that Republicans have paid the price for holding their tongues, I hope that Democrats won’t replicate their mistakes and put political party before all else.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Things we should get at the law school

1. Soft-serve ice cream machine
2. Nerf war area
3. Chicago Lounge

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


Bloggy, bloggy. bloggy

I just found out that my other blog, Law School Innovation, has been named one of the top 100 law blogs by the ABA, out of over 2,000 considered. We were one of 15 nominated in the "professors" category.

For those of you who have not wandered over to LSI, it is focused on innovative techniques and technologies in law teaching. I run it with three colleagues-- Gene Koo of Harvard, Anupam Chander (who is currently a visiting prof at Yale Law), and blogging legend Doug Berman of Ohio State. Notably, Doug's Sentencing Law and Policy was also named in the "crime" category.

So stroll over to the ABA site and vote for Law School Innovation! We are right there above Lawrence Lessig's blog. Man, I just can't get away from that guy.

Perhaps someday there will be a category for law/bailouts/haiku/recipes...

Monday, December 01, 2008


The perfect arm of a beautiful fate smacks the University of Texas

It was very bad news yesterday for the University of Texas, which probably will not get a chance to play for the national championship because they were ranked behind Oklahoma in the BCS. Here's the deal: Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Texas all are tied for first in the Big 12 South with one loss each. Tech beat UT and lost to Oklahoma, Oklahoma beat Tech and lost to Texas, and Texas beat Oklahoma and lost to UT. Complex, huh? Anyways, the tie-breaker for the division championship (and the chance to go on to the national championship) is BCS ranking. Yesterday, Oklahoma slipped by UT in those rankings and will go on to the Big 12 and probably the national championship games.

What seems unfair about this is that Oklahoma is jumping over UT despite the fact that UT won the game between the two.

Does this make sense to anyone besides Bob Stoops and the poll voters?

[Ed. Note: The photo does not relate to football or this post, other than featuring what appears to be an unusually long arm]


The Problem with Non-Generalized Principles

After 9/11, this nation strongly articulated a directive principle: When a nation suffers a terrorist attack, it may then justifiably invade the nation which harbored those terrorists. The Bush doctrine was clear and principled, and (in relation to Afghanistan) made sense to most people.

Now we most fervently are against this principle being followed. It is becoming clear that the attack on Mombai may have originated in Pakistan. We do not want a war between India and Pakistan for two principle reasons. First, both have nuclear weapons, and the war would likely be incredibly destructive. Second, even the threat of war would pull Pakistani troops from the Afghan border, where we need them to be.

This seems to be a pretty good illustration of the problems with clearly articulating for the world a principle which you do not want to have generalized.

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