Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Events of Yesterday

The arguments in front of the Supreme Court yesterday in the Dillon case (transcript here) were disappointing in many ways. Most painfully for me, some of my friends did not get in to see much of it, having waited outside for too long. While I had a good seat (next to Cory Andrews of the Washington Legal Foundation, for whom we wrote the brief), that did not help much. The Court seemed largely hostile to our side, and this was especially true of Justice Sotomayor.

There were three bright spots:

1) DC was gorgeous. I took the photo above while moping about after the argument.

2) Cory called my attention to the fact that Justice Thomas appeared to be reading through our brief during the argument, and pointing something out to Justice Breyer.

3) If nothing else, there was a nice bump for the Commutation Project. During the arguments, Justice Kennedy engaged in this exchange, making exactly our point:

JUSTICE KENNEDY: The Petitioner's brief
opens with a statement about his rehabilitation. We
don't know if that has been contested. You don't
respond to it. But let's assume that's all true. He
established schools and he helped young people and so
forth. Does the Justice Department ever make
recommendations that prisoners like this have their
sentence commuted?

MS. KRUGER: I am not aware of the answer to
that, Justice Kennedy. It's certainly true that
evidence of that type of rehabilitation factored into
the government's recommendation in this case that
Petitioner -­

JUSTICE KENNEDY: And isn't the population
of prisoners in the Federal prisons about 185,000 now?

MS. KRUGER: I think -­

JUSTICE KENNEDY: I think it is. And how
many commutations last year? None. How many
commutations the year before? Five.
Does this show that something is not working
in the system? 185,000 prisoners? I think that is the

MS. KRUGER: I -- I'm not prepared to speak
to that question today, Justice Kennedy...

After the argument, I had lunch with IPLawGuy and Margaret Colgate Love, the former Pardon Attorney of the United States (and author of this excellent article about pardons). We may be hatching a plot. Watch this space...

Meanwhile, I will be speaking to the Pre-Law society tonight on the Baylor Main Campus at 6 pm-- Draper 337. I think everyone is welcome.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


In the Shadow of the Capitol

Today is one of those days when I feel displaced-- thrust into not only a place but a persona that is different than I have in Waco.

I'm pondering what tie to wear. I don't usually worry about that, but right now I am.

What is the right tie for meetings and court? Give me fashion advice.

Monday, March 29, 2010


Cherry blossoms

Today I am off to DC for the Supreme Court arguments in Dillon. Actually, that is just one of several things I need to do, including meetings related to commutation and crack/powder-- I would need a week to do everything I would like there, but I will be back teaching on Wednesday.

I'm quite fortunate, too, in that the cherry blossoms should be blooming about now. Washington is really a very beautiful city, and I think I am finally appreciating that, after some unfortunate incidents in Washington long ago.

There was one day which was particularly troubling. I traveled from New Haven to DC by train for an interview at a public-interest law foundation. When I arrived at Union Station, I went to use the rest room, and the guy in the next stall dropped his gun (a 9mm Cobray) and it bounced under the partition and between my feet. What's the etiquette for this? Kick it back? Fire a couple pre-emptive rounds through the partition?

It was unsettling, and the interview was delayed, as well. I was late for my train, but also needed some food, so I dodged into a Roy Rogers restaurant (which at that time was the bottom-feeding fast food joint usually found in and around bus stations). I went to the counter with two pieces of chicken: a leg and a thigh. The cashier looked at my purchase and said "two pieces of white meat."

"No, this is dark meat!" I protested.

"Wing, that's dark meat," she insisted.

I didn't have time for that, so I just left the chicken there and headed out the door. The cashier was yelling at me, but I just ignored her. I got out the door and went down the crowded sidewalk towards the station. Pretty soon, though, I heard a commotion and turned around. A hefty Roy Rogers manager, attired all in brown polyester, was shouting at me and coming after me. Fearing I would miss my train, I figured I could outrun him, so I started to push through the crowd. For a 300-pounder, the guy was surprisingly fast, and almost got me before I jumped through some traffic. It was a tough escape, and I thought I was done with that unfortunate day.

The next day, I walked into Steven Carter's contracts class and sat down. A woman about two seats down leaned forward.

"Mark, were you in DC yesterday?"

I told her I was.

"Uh, did you stick up a Roy Rogers? Because we think we saw you running away..."

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Duke University Fact Sheet

Though I am leaving Baylor (which everyone now knows, since it turns out it was in the paper), I will always be a fan of both the school and its sports teams.

That means that right now I am obsessed with Duke, which plays the Baylor men today and women tomorrow in the Elite 8. I found out some interesting facts about Duke along the way!

1) Duke was founded by Bo ("Buck") Duke, an electricity magnate. A fierce commercial competitor to both C. Montgomery Burns and Leland Stanford, Duke was intensely jealous when the latter founded Leland Stanford Junior College (now a "Junior University") in Palo Alto, and desired to found a junior college of his own. In 1923, Duke's dream was realized with the founding of what is now Duke College. The original Nixon Hall (pictured here) now houses administration offices, remedial tutoring areas, and a dining hall.

2) Duke Junior College became a four-year school in 1973, and now offers degrees in Art, Fashion Merchandising, Law, Animals, and Drawing. It is accredited by the Southeastern Association of Middle, High, and Higher Schools.

3) Duke now enrolls nearly 3,000 students a year, of whom 1,200 are "provisional students." Famous Duke graduates include Richard Nixon, Ron Paul, Charlie Rose, and pop culture personality "Vern."

4) Duke participates in many sports, though due to its small size it is forced to compete in 6-man football, a rarity in Division I and a reason for its lack of success in that sport.


Sunday Reflection: Vocation and Call

I have never been one to think that a job is just a job. I want my work to mean something, something deep which connects to what I want for the world. If my faith means anything, it must relate to what I do for most of my days. This idea of work as vocation is hard and challenging and often requires sacrifice, but it also offers great rewards.

I'll be honest here-- I started my career with a big advantage. Because I went to Yale for law school, I had an easy time getting a job. That may not be fair, and may not be right, but it is. When I graduated from law school, I sketched out what I wanted to do, in terms of seeking a vocation: First a clerkship, then pay off loans, then be a prosecutor, then a teacher (building on what I had learned as a prosecutor). It all worked out in exactly that way.

But, now, I am in uncharted territory. I'm a teacher at Baylor and I love it. I think I have been able to engage my faith with my work, each and every day, though on too many days I was not very good at it.

So, why change jobs?

Many people have asked exactly that question.

If I knew the answer to a certainty, and God is God (and I am not), would it be a call?

Saturday, March 27, 2010


I'm on a Ranch!

[click on the photo to enlarge it]

I'm still in Texas.
And I'm doin' it up.
However, it is hard to blog from here.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Benham to Texas Tech; Osler to St. Thomas

This isn't the usual Friday.

Yesterday, I accepted an offer to teach at St. Thomas law school in Minneapolis, starting in the fall. While it was a very difficult decision, made more difficult by my affection and respect for my current and former students here in Texas, I think that St. Thomas is the place where I can best pursue what I want to do: teach with passion and meaning, publish meaningful scholarship, pursue social justice in league with my students, and make public how all of this is motivated by and relates to faith.

I realize that many of you haven't heard of St. Thomas. I would urge you to look at their web site, which reveals not only their mission, but their remarkable faculty. While the law school at St. Thomas lacks the revered history that we have at Baylor, it does have a wonderful ambition for the future, and I want to be a part of that.

Some people might speculate that this move is motivated by a desire to be in closer proximity to my family, but that isn't much of a factor-- Minneapolis is some 700 miles from my family in Detroit (I think people get confused about those big, cold states that begin with "M").

Baylor has been a good place for me for many years, and it is indeed hard to know I will be leaving.

At the same time, my good friend, co-author, colleague and former student Dustin Benham has accepted a teaching post at Texas Tech for the coming year. Dustin is a wonderful example of the type of lawyer we produce at Baylor, and he will be a great teacher and scholar at Tech.

Please feel free to comment in the form of haiku (though that is not necessary).

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Capital punishment and stuff

The Dallas Morning News interview is up on their web site (it will appear in the Points section on Sunday, as well). It got a bump from uber-blogger Doug Berman, as well.

Gordon Davenport has already opined that the DMN photo (at right) looks a little too... Detroit-ish. Hmmm.

Last night's event with Alan Bean was also reported in the Lariat today, which you can see here.

Tomorrow, I'll have some news, personal news, which won't be in the papers.


Political Mayhem Thursday: The Health Care Law

[Thought I might wear a helmet for this one]

In a nutshell, here is just some of what the new health care bill passed by Congress and signed this week by President Obama does:

1) Adds about 30 million people to Medicare.
2) Sets up insurance "exchanges" that will allow for a better market for insurance
3) Mandates that people carry life insurance (much like auto insurance)
4) Forces insurers to carry people with pre-existing conditions

There are some unusual methods being used here, too-- though the bill has been signed, it now will be reconciled in the Senate through a separate bill.

What do you think?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


DMN and Autotuning...

This Sunday's Dallas Morning News will have a Q & A on the execution of Christ (in the "Points" section). I just completed the interview, and think it will be very provocative. The questions, from Michael Landauer, were excellent-- he has a gift for getting to the heart of a matter.

Meanwhile, does anyone know how I can get an autotuner? I want to create things like the clip below (I am hoping to include the Spanish Medievelist as "T-Spain," and I can be the guy with the mullet, since, well, you know...):

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


The Nature of Peace... and what's shakin'

I'm back from Utah, ready to go down and teach 'em up in Crim. Prac. and Pro. It was wonderful to have that respite, though, especially since there is so much else going on. Among a welter of big decisions to make in the coming weeks, I have the following in my near future:

1) Tomorrow night, I will be speaking on the death penalty here at Baylor, along with Rev. Alan Bean from Friends of Justice. It is free and open to the public, starting at 6:30 in Draper 329 on the Baylor campus.

2) Next week, I will be going to DC to watch the oral arguments in Dillon v. United States, the case we briefed for the Washington Legal Foundation.

3) The week after that I will be returning to Harvard, where I gave a lecture this past November on the crack/powder disparity. At the end of that lecture, I suggested that the Federalist Society and NAACP jointly sponsor a discussion on the subject. They have taken up that idea, and I will be moderating that event at Harvard Law on April 6.

Plus, Political Mayhem Thursday this week will be about health care!

Monday, March 22, 2010


Words that make me uncomfortable

1. Unitard
2. Pustule
3. Globule
4. Yoghurt
5. Herniate

I invite your suggestions.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Sunday Reflection: faith of the outsider

Spending time at BYU this week has put me again in a strange and useful position: outsider. As a Baptist In Waco, I am part of a majority. As a Baptist in Provo, Utah... Not so much. As usual, my bit pf time as an outsider among those of kind spirit and strong conviction was a time of spiritual growth. Those moments in the minority put us in the position of crystalizing our faith, as we define or defend it to others.

It is also wonderfully humbling. In Park City, I have often gone to a tiny Catholic Church on the mountainside. The time comes for communion, and I step aside and refrain, as I must. That humbling event is deeply moving to me. It reminds me of how Christianity is not an easy faith, and is not supposed to be, and that the complexities of it have always humbled we believers. The truth is, as I step aside in deference to a Catholic orthodoxy that is not my own, that may be the time I am most truly being a Christian.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


The Tournament

Cornell? Check.
Other than that, my bracket looks bad. My tactic of picking the better academic school is really faring poorly.

Some superlatives:

Best upset: Georgetown loses to Ohio University!

Best game: BYU beats Florida.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Haiku Friday: It was a good day

I'm in Utah, for the conference of Religiously Affiliated Law Schools at BYU. I have to say, they have done a great job with it-- there has been one good discussion after another. This evening, I went out to dinner with Craig Pankratz, and was happy to find that he is doing well. He's a prosecutor in a county not far from Salt Lake City, and he is doing good work.

There's not much that makes me happier than seeing our students succeed.

So, let's go back to haiku where I provide the last line. This week, our last line will be "It was a good day."

Here is mine:

Blue tie or the green?
Worn for essence, truth, or love;
It was a good day.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


I can't watch!

Because I can't stand hearing my own voice... but, the CNN interview is up on the Baylor web site. You can see it here.
(Ack! I see the crawler said I argued in the Supreme Court, which isn't true- we won Spears on the briefs, even though the SG opposed us and it was reversing the circuit. Also, I did not kill Gamera).


Political Mayhem Thursday: Controlling prescription drug abuse

If, like me, you think that drug abuse is a significant social problem, you have to be concerned about the rising tide of prescription drug abuse in America. It's not just for conservative talk-show hosts anymore, either. There is a drug for everyone; for law students, for example, it is the use of unprescribed Ritalin and similar drugs that increase focus.

I think that some of these drugs which are particularly prone to abuse, like Oxy-Contin, should be banned. Others should be much more strictly limited, and we should treat those who distribute these drugs illegally the same way we do other drug dealers.

Do you agree?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


St. Patrick's Day!

What's the best way to celebrate? Personally, I am going to celebrate by flying to Utah and going to a conference at BYU, but that's just me. What about you?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


A Starr interview

A commenter to the last post pointed me to this intriguing interview with incoming Baylor President Kenneth Starr (whom I have already discussed here). Repeatedly, he suggests that he needs to get the lay of the land before staking out positions on hot topics at Baylor, and that seems the only prudent course.

Meanwhile, I got to play Ken Starr over at CNN today, commenting on the Supreme Court's consideration of the Graham and Sullivan cases, which involve the constitutionality of imprisoning juvenile offenders to life without the possibility of parole. It was a lot of fun-- though it was a jolt to watch the monitor and find that I was following Jeffrey Toobin. They did give me about 4 minutes to state my case, which was great, though doing live TV for hundreds of thousands of people is somewhat jarring. After that, I had a photo shoot at the Dallas Morning News.

Then, I came home, taught class, graded finals, and did laundry. I'm better at sentencing than laundry.

Monday, March 15, 2010


CNN tomorrow...

Tomorrow morning I will be interviewed by CNN about 8:45 am tomorrow, to talk about juvenile life without parole. I am not sure if it will run live or not, though.

It will be part two of a series... here is part one.


Captain E.O. is the most awful, wonderful, horrible movie ever!

Last week I got to witness the bizarre event that is Captain E.O., a "4-D" film from 1986 that Disneyland has resuscitated in the wake of the death of its star, Michael Jackson.

In short, George Lucas made the film using leftover parts and costumes from Star Wars and a 3-D camera from another project. In a nutshell, here is the incredibly stupid plot:

Michael Jackson stars as the commander of a spacecraft which is supposed to deliver a "gift" to the evil queen (Anjelica Huston). His crew is composed of doofy puppets, including conjoined chickens (really) and an elephant-type thing that can play its trunk like a flute. Oh, and... a robot with a mustache who can transform into a drum set (seriously, people, why would a robot need a mustache?). As you might imagine, MJ is not a very commanding commander, and mostly just giggles at the antics of his wholly incompetent crew.

Not surprisingly, his spaceship crashes. Surprisingly, however, it crashes at the palace of the evil queen. He then confronts and defeats her, using his secret power: He can convert her warriors into 1980's-stereotype backup dancers using orbs of light that shoot from his hands. Moonwalking ensues.

It was horrible. Beyond bad. I wanted to see it again and again.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Judge Fine

I have been watching with great interest the stories on Harris County District Judge Kevin Fine, who ruled that the death penalty in Texas was unconstitutional, then rescinded that ruling. Claire St. Amant quoted me (accurately) in today's excellent piece in the Houston Chronicle, which you can read here.


Jesus and the rich man

Relative to the great majority of the world's population, I am rich. I have abundance compared to most of my fellow travelers, and the Bible makes it clear that this should be a challenge to my faith. I do struggle with the effects of that abundance upon my faith.

What's wrong with being rich? Jesus teaches that it is difficult for the rich to fulfill their faith, and tells the young ruler he must give away the riches he has (Mark 10:17-25). Interestingly, what Jesus condemns with the ruler is not so much having made the money, but not giving it away. This seems to recognize the value of what people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are doing.

James 5, however, seems to condemn getting rich in the first place, because it is built on the backs of others:

1Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. 2Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. 3Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. 4Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. 5You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.[a] 6You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.


So,what are we relatively rich people to do?

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Waco musings from Nashville

Let me recommend to you former WOTY Scott Baker's recent musings on the demise of the Waco Hippodrome.

For you out-of-towners, the Hippodrome is an old movie palace in the center of town that has been used for all kinds of arts performances, but ran into financial trouble this year and has been closed. It's like a death in the family for many Wacoans.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Haiku Friday: I remember you

The past few weeks, I have tried something new with haiku Friday-- I have simply given you the last line, and you fill in the rest. That is, compose a first line of 5 syllables, and a second line of seven to go with the last line that I provide.

This week's last line is "I remember you."

Here is mine:

You let me get lost
In the woods, to find my way;
I remember you.

Now, it is your turn...

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Political Mayhem Thursday: Voting with the district?

California State Senator Roy Ashburn is a conservative Republican who represents a conservative and largely Republican district in and around Bakersfield. As one might expect, he has voted against every bill promoting gay rights or issues, including even a measure to simply honor Harvey Milk (a gay California politician who was murdered).

Last week, on his way home from an evening at a gay bar, Sen. Ashburn was arrested for drunk driving.

Obviously, this outed him as gay. Nearly immediately, people began to call him a hypocrite for his anti-gay stance in the legislature. His defense was that his votes reflected the wishes of his constituents.

There is a level at which his story makes sense-- that it does seem like a legislator should take into account the feelings of his constituents when voting. Still... shouldn't we expect something more?

Is simply voting in line with one's district (or at least how one perceives that district) moral, efficient, or right? Was it in the case of Sen. Ashburn?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Toyota's fatal flaw

The news that another Toyota has suffered from sudden and unintended acceleration has kept Toyota in the public eye for all the wrong reasons.

For decades, Toyota has built very reliable cars and steadily built its market share in the U.S. and the world. It has been a leader in the development and marketing of hybrid cars. Many of us regarded it as a singular success story in the auto industry.

But now, Toyota is being hit hard in the media. There has been a terrifying defect in many of their cars, and they have been slow to respond, and perceived as stingy in their efforts to remedy the problem.

Every corporate culture has its flaws, and I wonder if Toyota's might be an inability to publicly admit error, and the gravity of that error.

Knowing what we now know, would you buy a Toyota?

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


This week, Call it Oscar's Razor!

I'm quite excited about the Oscar awards this Sunday, and have given quite a bit of thought to my picks. Admittedly, I am hindered by the fact that I have seen only four movies this year (counting American Violet twice), but I'm sure this is true of some of the official voters, too! Without further ado... let's pick the winners!

1) Best Supporting Actress


One night, really late, I was flipping around cable and found MoniQue doing comedy on some channel up in the 700's. That lady can bring it! Plus, I'm kind of scared of her.

2) Best Supporting Actor

Donald Sutherland

This guy just has everything you might want in a supporting actor: The serious chops, the ability to listen with empathy, and he can appear with a beard or without one. If he doesn't win, count me disappointed.

C) Best Actress

Sandra Bullock

People in America love two things: Beautiful women and football. Well, men, anyways, some of them. They love beautiful women and football, and artificial cheese food, and beer, and salty snacks and sports that are created for television. I know I am making these guys seem pretty shallow, now that I read back over this. So, Sandra Bullock.

4) Best Actor

The Blue Guy from Avatar

Can you imagine being eight feet tall and blue all the time? What do you put on the census for your race, or when you have jury service or something? It's messy. That guy has to put up with all of that. Plus, he gets stuck with this role where he has to seem confused about suddenly having a tail. He did a pretty good job with it, I think, though I did notice that he was wearing a Mondavo watch about half the time, and that didn't seem to fit with the rest of the "blue people" ethic.

E) Best Picture

Definitely Doomsday. I mean, seriously... who else has ever had the nerve to portray the Scots as punk-obsessed cannibals who are unable to scale a 12-foot wall? This film is awesome. Ok, like, there is this woman who can take out her eye and roll it around and still see stuff! How cool is that? I want one. So, anyways, Doomsday will win.

Monday, March 08, 2010


Once Congress deals with that whole crack/powder thing, I'm going to focus all of my efforts on this important turtle fence issue...


Misheard lyrics, Pt. 2

For the past several days, I have been singing along with this song, loudly, in the car. However, I totally had the lyrics wrong. I have been thinking the refrain was "OctoMom! OctoMom!" Since The Octomom has been all over the news, it made sense that there would be a song about her (though I'm not sure I can explain her connection to the "Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marriiiiiines").

D'oh! It turns out the song is called C'Mon, and the singer is saying "C'mon, C'mon." This is disappointing in two respects. First, I liked the song better when it was about The OctoMom. Second, I already have a favorite song entitled "C'mon, C'mon," by Detroit's own Von Bondies.

I am not the only person this has happened to... What lyrics have you misheard?

Sunday, March 07, 2010


Sunday Reflection: One true religion

Many of you are adherents of faiths that hold that only members of your faith truly understand God. In fact, my own faith is that way-- I do think that the Bible and the teachings of Christ are a revelation from God that allow us a wonderful way to know who God is. Note, though, that this is different (at least for me) than knowing who goes to heaven or anything like that.

Is it right for any one sect to make this claim?

It would seem that to claim this, a faith would have to have some exclusive access to God. That is, to have a way of knowing who God is that other faiths don't have.

That's not so outlandish. For many Christian groups (including mine), that unique link to God is the Bible and their own teachings about that text.

But still... is it right to be so sure?

I wonder what my readers think.

Saturday, March 06, 2010


Guy Morriss and his Guys

According to Thursday's Baylor Lariat (the student newspapaper), former Baylor football coach Guy Morriss is getting in some trouble at his new post, Texas A & M/Commerce. Apparently, his players stole some student newspapers from campus, because the paper was reporting on the misbehavior of some of the players.

My favorite part of the story is this, though (and keep in mind that the crime in question here involved simply picking up a stack of newspapers and throwing them away):

Athletic Director Carlton Cooper was not sure if this was an organized heist that involved many of the football players.

"I don't think they are smart enough to do this on their own," Cooper told The East Texan.

Friday, March 05, 2010


haiku friday: houses

This week, I will give you the first line, and you fill in the rest of the haiku-- the second line should have seven syllables, and the third line should have five.

The first line is "In my house, I want"

Here is mine:

In my house I want
A quiet space, hidden, calm
Suffused with warm light.

Now it is your turn...

Thursday, March 04, 2010


Political Mayhem Thursday: Who should get the benefit of the pardon power?

Yesterday, Prof. P.S. Ruckman, who is a leading expert on pardons, posted an interview with me over at his blog, Pardon Power (which is also now linked to the Razor on the blogroll to the left). His blog is an invaluable resource for people like me, as it is literally the only media source with comprehensive information on this Constitutional power. You can see the full text of the interview here. One thing... where did he get this picture from? I have never seen it before in my life. It did show the exact same clothes I was wearing today... is it some kind of stealth cam work?

Generally, the interview is about our commutation project. One question, though, got to the role of pardons and commutations in government. Here was my answer:

Pardons and commutations are a tool, like a hammer or a warship. It is true that such things aren’t important—until you need them to fix a problem or protect your society from harm. If such tools can be used to fix a problem, they should be used. Given the legacy of over-sentencing crack cases, it is time to use this tool to fix the problem we nearly all agree exists.

My questions for all of you are these:

1) Do you agree with me about the nature of the presidential power of pardon and commutation?

2) If you do think the pardon power can and should be used as a tool, what types of cases whould it be used for? Can you articulate a principle or set of principles for using it?

Wednesday, March 03, 2010


That Prof. Thaddeus Buggs looks REALLY familiar...

Obama Caught Lip-Syncing Speech


Dear Prof. Osler: I live in the Metroplex, and I have nothing to do tomorrow night.

Dear Metroplex Resident,
Are you interested in capital punishment? If so, I will be speaking tomorrow night at the University of Texas- Arlington before their production of Tim Robbins' stage version of Dead Man Walking. My talk will be at 6 pm in room 258 of the Fine Arts Building at UTA; the play will be in the same building with more chat after the show, I suspect. My presentation may involve a brief liturgical dance and an intermission during which I will play the banjo and sing "Rocky Top." Crack will not be mentioned...

Yours Truly,



Even the French are doing lipdub!

And it is pretty good-- is this a beauty school or something? Everyone seems unusually attractive and well-dressed:

So... what would be the perfect song for a Baylor Law School lipdub? (I think it should be done).

Maybe this?:

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


The worst jury instruction ever

In many jurisdictions, there used to be a jury instruction on reasonable doubt (something crucial in understanding proof "beyond a reasonable doubt") which described it as "a doubt that would cause you to hesitate when making the most important decisions in your own life."

Yet, how do we make the most important decisions in our own lives?

I suppose that there are some such decisions that are made with a careful weighing of facts. But, just as often, people make those decisions while they are drunk, or because a guy on the radio said something, or by mistake.

And yet, things turn out well sometimes, either way.

And did they hesitate?

The best decisions may come for the wrong reasons, the worst from the best; perfect is the enemy of genius, and my favorite voices all falter in their beauty:


All of High School in One Video

[Thanks to uber-music-expert Bob Darden for the tip]

Monday, March 01, 2010


Two guys and a truck

About 1999, for reasons I can't fully remember, Rev. Scott Davis and I spent a lot of time driving around the Detroit area in his truck, hauling around junk.

Seriously-- I'm not making this up.

Anyways, his truck was amazing-- he had bought it from a farmer in Maine some years before. It was a Chevy S-10 with no options whatsoever: no FM radio, no air conditioning, not even power steering. If I remember correctly, it even had a manual choke, which was pretty unusual, even then.

It didn't go very fast, especially loaded down with stuff. I remember one particular day, driving down Kercheval like that, the windows open, warm air flowing in, laughing, and ... we started to sing the theme song from "Sanford and Son."

I think it may be the best theme song ever. Does anyone dispute that?

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