Friday, September 30, 2011


Haiku Friday: Goofus and Gallant

Can we please haiku about Goofus and Gallant this week? I know-- I'm a little obsessed.

Here is mine:

Goofus-- I get him.
"I've got to go talk to some
Guys about some stuff."

[This said as he runs past his mother holding a rumpled paper bag]

Now it is your turn... 5 syllables/7 syllables/5 syllables. Your prize? Your bio in this space on Monday!!!!!

Thursday, September 29, 2011


IPLawGuy wins!

IPLawGuy Wins!
by: oslerguy


Political Mayhem Thursday: Chris Christie

It appears that some Republican activists are really pressing New Jersey governor Chris Christie to run for president.

Part of the motivation seems to be disenchantment with Rick Perry. Some, but not all, Republicans seem disappointed with Perry's public appearances, while others don't like his policies on immigration. To my mind, it seems like Perry has met every reasonable expectation (given, my expectations were pretty low), so this surprises me.

So, why Christie?

And if not him, who else can challenge Mitt Romney?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


4,000 no's/17 yes's

A report in today's New York Times tells some grisly truths about the use of the pardon power by President Obama: He has denied 4,000 petitions while granting just 17. This contrasts sharply with the 20% success rate under other presidents since 1900.

I think maybe that someone should have an academic symposium on this...


I can't wait to see this!


Box Head Guy!

I don't ever want to hear this song again, but I am intrigued by the guy with a box on his head:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


As if covered with shag carpet

[Yes, I know... this simply continues my seeming obsession with puppets playing rock music]

I've just returned to my office from Buffalo, Minnesota, where last night I addressed the Episcopal Church's Clergy Conference. The topic was "Leadership, Community, Context: Creating Space for Conversation."

I'll admit that I felt a little out of place talking to a roomful of priests about the discussion of moral issues-- it gave me a lot of empathy for Beaker, a lab assistant, when he was called upon to wear a green velvet tuxedo and sing a Coldplay song (as seen above).

An understanding and engaged audience, though, makes almost anything worthwhile, and I certainly had that. I came out of it with thoughts and insights I did not have coming in, which is a great thing.

I left very early this morning, just at dawn, to make it back to school to meet students at 9. As I was walking out, one of the priests was reading in the lobby. We discussed my talk for a moment, and she mentioned a reflection she had. One of the people in her congregation was very disagreeable on some political issues, and she dreaded that. However, she realized that if he was sick or lost a family member, she would be the one to go and help, and that changed her outlook. There is a real truth there-- that we need to make a conflicted relationship bigger than just the conflict.

So I walked out then, by the lake, one of those calm Minnesota lakes with a morning mist. There was a stillness in that small moment, and I soaked it up. When I finished my prayer of thanks and looked up, the sun was starting to rise, tinting the darkness. On the far edge of the horizon, the land of the unknown... it was all yellow.

Monday, September 26, 2011


Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

This week's haiku winner is...

Well, the first runner-up was Megan Willome, for this awesome entry:

How could I not love
Rupert Piper, as Megan,
the valuable girl?

(the book was "Rupert Piper and Megan, the Valuable Girl" by Ethelyn Parkinson, c1972).

And now, our winner! It's Ang, for this entry:

Spell "chrysanthemum."
Gilbert Blythe, do you need a
personal tutor?

And now, without further distraction, the tale of Ang:

From her office high atop the Baylor University Disaster Tower, Waco resident Ang works hard at one of Baylor University's most difficult jobs: Utility staff member. Her task is simple-- she fills in for whoever doesn't show up for work that day. One day she is filling in for Scott Drew, throwing shoes at free-throw shooters, and the next she is painting a colorful mural on the side of the sorority center, before heading off to cover an advanced philosophy class.

Through it all, Ang handles these roles with aplomb. She remembered a few of her favorite tasks recently in an interview with the Razor, revealing that one of the most scary jobs was blocking for Robert Griffin III in the Rice game last week.

So... let's hear it for Ang!

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Sunday Reflection: The Temple, Pizza, and the Nature of Power

[click on the photo to enlarge it]

Luke 21:5-6: When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, "As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.

A few weeks ago, I wandered over to watch the first Edina High football game. It was a magical evening-- beautiful light, masses of happy kids wandering around, the chatter of parents, and the start of a new school year.

During the game, they made several announcements that after the game there would be a pizza party for those associated with the football program. Sure enough, the game ended and a few football dads stood proudly behind tables laden with pizza. As one might expect, everyone coming out of the game considered themselves "associated with football" and walked over to get some-- cheerleaders, band members, gaggles of sophomore girls. The dads tried to fend everyone off for a while. One dad seemed genuinely agitated, and was yelling "Pizza for football people only!"

Of course, it didn't work. People looked at the yelling dad perplexedly, then took some pizza. It was a great party, standing around by the field, the lights still on, the air warm, and a full moon overhead. Eventually, the son of Agitated Dad came up and said, as politely as can be imagined, "Dad, don't be a jackass." Then the football player handed some pizza to his friends in the band.

That's the nature of power, of whatever kind, good or bad-- the power that comes through money, or strength, or violence, or even through principle and commitment-- it dissolves, stone by stone, slice by slice.

We all have power of some kind. We all will lose it, too. Beauty will fade, money will fail to buy health, the eloquent will fall silent.

And what then?

We will be remembered by how we used that power, by what we did with those abilities, not by how much power we had. It is not a parable of talents-- it is a reality, proven again and again as our tiny place in this Creation humbles us all, one by one.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Chapter 59, in which I am rejected by the Episcopal church for poor handwriting...

About three weeks ago, I filled out a visitor card at St. Stephens church here in Edina, saying that I was interested in becoming a member. Oddly, I didn't hear anything at all from Neil Alan Willard and the gang about it.

It turns out that after church, NAW and a few of the other priests go over everything that was in the collection plate. When they came to my card, they had a discussion about whether or not it was legitimate, and in the end concluded that because the handwriting was so bad, it must have been a joke by some kid. They threw it out!

Then, yesterday, he saw the photo above, where I had signed the wall of the green room at the CNN studio, and realized that my handwriting really IS that bad!

Man, between that and the creeds... these Episcopalians are a tough crowd.

Friday, September 23, 2011


Haiku Friday: Fictional characters you once might have had a crush on

Yesterday was a long one. I hope the interview on CNN came out ok-- I haven't seen it, and it is hard to tell from the inside. At any rate, I think it was probably better than the Toobin/Osler debacle from last time...

I know that many razorites, like me, were (or are) early and avid readers. When you were in elementary and middle school, a book was your constant companion. You found everything in there-- including your first crush.

For me, it was Becky Thatcher. I can't remember why, exactly, but the fact that she was smart, confident, and intriguing sure did not hurt.

So, let's haiku about that this week-- a fictional character you have had a crush on. It doesn't need to be a childhood crush, either. If you currently swoon whenever someone mentions Chewbacca, I won't judge. Just haiku it!

Here is mine:

That Becky Thatcher--
She sits on the porch and reads;
I walk by and swoon.

Now it is your turn-- just make it 5 syllables in the first line, 7 in the second, and 5 in the third. There is a prize this week: The winner will be profiled in this space on Monday. Go!

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Political Mayhem Thursday II: The Troy Davis Execution

I wrote a short piece which is up now on You can see it here.

UPDATE-- I will be live on CNN at about 4:15 Eastern time (3:15 in Minneapolis and Texas) to talk about the Troy Davis case.


Political Mayhem Thursday: Light bulbs

Ok, so we have to switch to LED or fluorescent bulbs. Is good or bad?

This may seem simplistic, but I do think it is a question that strikes at some broader debates right now, such as the proper role of the federal government in commerce, and federalism.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


A very happy 10th!

Here at St. Thomas Law, we celebrated our 10th anniversary yesterday, and all of it made me very glad that I'm here. There was quite a bit of great musical theater, food, good wine, and it appears that the law school owns several confetti cannons. What a bash! It just proves that you can have a good time even without $16 muffins.

In all of it, I was reminded of why this is a good place for me.

When I interviewed at St. Thomas, I was asked to comment on the mission statement, which says simply:

The University of St. Thomas School of Law, as a Catholic law school, is dedicated to integrating faith and reason in the search for truth through a focus on morality and social justice.

It was easy for me to embrace that mission statement, because (other than "being a Catholic law school" part) it pretty much was my mission statement-- what I had imperfectly been aspiring to for years.

Today was typical and extraordinary, and some of my experiences reflect what is great about this place:

1) My clinical class was taught by colleagues in the program, and I was another student in the crowd, sitting next to my folks
from the commutation clinic, trying to get the answers right.

2) I met with one of my students who just returned from Texas, where she was helping a potential client-- she visited him in
prison, met with the DA, and got together with some of his family while working to evaluate the case.

3) I saw another student who is about to leave for Taiwan, to help some of my friends who will be speaking in several cities there.

4) I got a call from CNN about the Troy Davis case-- and had time to talk to them.

5) Before it all, I decided to walk down the Nicollet Mall in the cool morning air to get my coffee, surrounded by the din and whirl of a busy city, and all that comes with it.

This is a good place.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Football Mayhem Continues!

Ohhhhhhh.... Crikeys. Things are getting very odd in the world of football conference realignment. Here is the latest:

1) On Sunday, Pitt and Syracuse quit the Big East to join the Atlantic Coast Conference. This left the Big East in dire straits, as it has only five football-playing members left (with TCU set to join in next year). People assume that this is it for the Big East-- it will dissolve or merge with another league.

2) Then yesterday the governing Boards of the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas met (separately) to discuss conference realignment. The OU Board gave their president authority to move the school to another conference; in contrast, the UT board voted to require board approval of any potential move. Many think that UT and OU will join the Pac-12, and that will spell the end of the Big 12.

3) This may all be very bad for Baylor, sadly. If the Big 12 breaks up, the best and most probable scenario is that the remnants of the Big 12 (probably Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor, and maybe Missouri) will hook up with the remnants of the Big East (South Florida, Cincinnati, Louisville, TCU and perhaps UConn) form a kind of awkwardly-shaped league with several divisions.

This would mean a lot less money for Baylor. It would also mean horrific travel schedules for student-athletes. Such a league would offer only one other school in Texas, and many trips of over 500 miles.

4) Wisely, Baylor sees its best option as keeping the Big 12 together, and has done its best to make this happen. Ken Starr and Ian McCaw identified this as their best option early on, and have pursued it relentlessly. However, Baylor has a handicap that can't be helped. In short, Baylor does not have much to offer in the one area that counts the most in this sad calculation-- fans who watch tv. Yesterday's New York Times offered this listing of current Big 12 Schools and their fan base:

So, where will the Bears end up? I predict the following will be the shape of the "New Big 12":

Atlantic Division

South Florida
Manchester United
Central Florida
West Bromwich
Trump University
Miami (Delaware)

Western Division

Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters
Oakland Raiders
Hiroshima Toyo Carp
Boise State

Update! The crisis has likely been averted... I certainly hope so. Good job Baylor U!

Monday, September 19, 2011


Our winner: Christine!

Sure, we make fun of Razorite Christine sometimes here, but we are glad she is aboard! Her haiku last Friday was compelling and sad:

Saturday's big dance
Will I be a wallflower
I hope not. One day...

Autumn equinox
A dance I never went to
except in my dreams

Will someone ask me?
Silent whispers throughout school
Hopes dashed, yet again

I was such a geek
Someone asked, How was the dance?
Just like sugar plums.

Now, I remember Christine from high school, and she was quite a person-- a great athlete, fun, and a student leader. She was one of those lifeguards that younger guys (like me) would look up at as if they were some kind of goddess. Sure, some of her dates involved a satanic altar, but that was pretty common in Grosse Pointe in the 70's.

After high school, though, her life took some strange turns. She applied to and was accepted at Miami. She traveled happily to Miami, Florida where should could not only continue her studies, but her role as a lifeguard. However, upon showing up at the school, she was told that she had never applied to that institution, and that she must have mistakenly applied to Miami of Ohio. Turning north, she raced to the Dayton Metropolitan Area, only to be told that she was not enrolled there, and after some research the registrar told her that she was admitted to Miami University (Delaware).

Once in Delaware, Christine was able to enter the strange and confusing world of corporate operations, and after finishing her degree she took employment with E.F. Hutton. Initially, she had an entry-level job as a purser on the Hutton cruise ship, but worked her way up through a series of other jobs (Deputy chief purser, lifeguard, head lifeguard, spokesmodel, chief technology officer, VP for perks, and finally was made the CEO of what had become (through mergers) EF Hutton/Allstate/Fuddruckers, When H/A/F was later acquired by Bridgestone Tires, she stepped out of the corporate world and decamped to tranquil Cletusville, North Carolina. There she remains today.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Sunday Reflection: To act

In Matthew 7:26 Jesus says Everyone who keeps on hearing these messages of mine and never puts them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.

In a week, I will be going out to Buffalo, Minnesota to talk to the Episcopal clergy from this area about how to foster productive, non-destructive discourse about difficult subjects. I'm not sure yet what I will say, or even that I am the right person for the job; thus far I am just struggling with the question itself.

But who in our society is putting Christ's teachings into practice? Who is acting on Christ's directives to love our neighbor (even if our neighbor is a homeless man or a tea party partisan)? Especially in our public political discourse, we seem stuck with two significant groups of people. The first group is those of both sides who view the other side as their enemy-- the liberals who described George Bush as Hitler, and the Republicans who express such evil motives to Barack Obama. I traverse both sides, and hear this kind of dialogue very often. It is marked by a discourse centered on skewering the character and the motives of political opponents, a mean personalization of the argument.

A second group, just as significant in its own way, is those who do not speak at all, or act for social justice in any way, for fear of being drawn into this toxic debate-- their fear is that they will face the wrath of the haters.

There are two Christian values that need more often to run together-- bravery and humility. The first group I describe are brave in a sense; they have no fear in putting their thoughts into the public arena. Yet, they have no humility. The second group is certainly humble in their silence, but cannot be called brave.

This is a time when we need leaders willing to be both brave and humble-- to take up tough issues with a willingness to listen and respect those who oppose them.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Bob Darden at Work

As I have said before, I think that Bob Darden's work in preserving black gospel music may be the most important thing going on at Baylor.

Friday, September 16, 2011


Haiku: Homecoming!

Yesterday, IPLawGuy called me up while I was at work because he couldn't remember the name of the song featured above, and wanted to put it on a mix cd for his car. We started talking about things, and he mentioned that there was a big sale on homecoming dresses at the Macy's by his office, and that set us off in a whole other direction of nostalgia. We talked for about an hour just about the old days, then he had to go meet someone at this coffee place near his office called "K Street Perks." Good times.

So, let's haiku about homecoming!

Here is mine:

Dorky suit, bad hair,
But I did have a great time
Dancing to Foghat.

Now it is your turn! The winner gets their bio on Monday. You can haiku on anything even vaguely homecoming-related, of course. The recipe is 5 syllables/7/5. Go!

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Political Mayhem Thursday: Too much mayhem?

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

I was very interested in this report from a Jon Huntsman staffer:

The behavior by some members of the audience at the most recent Republican presidential debates has at least one campaign staffer concerned about the future of the GOP.

Sarah Reidy, the national director of scheduling for Jon Huntsman's presidential campaign, had some stern words for her own party after the audience at a debate in California applauded the number of executions during Texas Gov. Rick Perry's tenure, and then some in the crowd at a debate in Florida cheered when the moderator asked if a sick person without insurance should be left to die.

In a post on her Facebook page, Reidy, who joined Huntsman's campaign in August but was not speaking on its behalf in this instance, said the behavior made her "sick and sad" for the Republican party.

"For years I have tried to prove that the GOP isn't the Party of elitist, stereotypical people that lack compassion," Reidy wrote on her Facebook account Tuesday. "When did creativity and growth become secondary to hate? Hearing the debate crowds go crazy over things like executions and the uninsured dying makes me sick and sad for my Party that I devote my time and efforts."

In an interview with The Ticket, Reidy said that she has heard similar complaints within Republican circles.

"It's a general frustration I hear among friends across the party," she said.

Is she right?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Wazzup in Waco?

1) Yesterday's Baylor Lariat (the student newspaper, and a good one) ran this editorial yesterday urging a broader discussion of gay and lesbian student issues! Of course, there are key parts of the editorial I disagree with, but it is a significant development just in being open to a broader discussion and supporting the acceptance of the Sexual Identity Forum as a student group-- one of the editorial's conclusions is that "when groups such as the Sexual Identity Forum come forth to ask for a charter, they should not be denied."

I'm fairly confident that this is the first time that the Lariat has made a statement like this. Here is the conclusion (which echoes some of the themes from my piece in the Huffington Post a few weeks ago):

College is supposed to be a place where two sides of an issue can be laid out, discussed and debated in safety. It is supposed to be a haven for thinkers, for debaters, for people who are trying to figure life out before facing “the real world” head-on. And that doesn’t just apply to philosophies or scientific theories or business models. It applies to social issues, practical issues, the things we all face in our day-to-day lives – things that aren’t necessarily debated behind classroom doors, but that should be openly debated by groups of students or in forums on campus. And as a Christian university, Baylor is called on to be such a haven. We are required by our title to guide students as best we can, to listen with love, and to know where the boundaries of judgment lie.

We do not have to approve of the LGBT lifestyle or support advocacy groups. But we must choose to either do our best to love all of our neighbors or else recognize that we are not, in fact, the Christian university that we claim to be – and we all know that is not an option.

So we can start with communication – listening to one another and trying to understand one another – and follow that with the unconditional love we are called to give. It may not come to us easily or quickly, but being a Christian will always be work.

B) The high temperature in Waco yesterday was 107, beating the previous record for the day by 7 degrees. Crikeys!

3) The Hippodrome theater remains closed, as Carl Hoover laments eloquently.

4) Meanwhile, the town is gripped with panic as the Big 12 collapses around them.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Coming up!

Tomorrow, I will be speaking at UST's Manna at noon... free lunch! It will be a short review of my eventful and somewhat weird trip to Waco.

Then on Thursday I will be talking about criminal law developments at the Supreme Court as part of the Federalist Society's term review.

Fun for everyone!


The Archive of the Del Crandalls!

As particularly astute readers of this blog know, one of my favorite shows was a performance by the Del Crandalls in Naugatuck, Connecticut in 1989. IPLawGuy and I drove up from New Haven (I forget why he was there, but he was).

I recently received a note from Del Crandall's frontman Rich Bowering, letting me know that the Del Crandall's catalogue (such as it is) is now available online-- you can see (or, more accurately, hear) it here.

It's funny to me how the music I like is so often... well, not so popular. Is it me... or that industry?

Monday, September 12, 2011


Please-- help me.

After lunch today at "Asia Max," I received the following fortune:

The one recognize the illusion, does not act as if it is real.

What does this mean?


News Bulletin on the Commutation Clinic!

Check it out here.


We have a winner!

I will admit that it was a virtual tie this week between B, IPLawGuy, Megan Willome, and Renee. B's did something we see once in a while in haiku, tell a whole sad story, and he did it with elegance and efficiency:

boring afternoons
I hated Tom and Jerry
dad still doesn't know.

(I hope his dad doesn't read the blog)

Here was Renee's haiku:

Never caught,swift bird
Chased by Wil.E.Coyote.
Acme anvil aids.

Isn't that lovely? I love the use of "swift bird...."

Megan's got me just because of the subject matter:

Dumb Donald, Mushmouth,
Weird Harold, Bill, Russell,
Rudy, Fat Albert.

Ah, and then we have IPLawGuy. Here was his winner, which introduced me to a world I did not know:

Tobor the 8 Man
Magic Cigarettes for Strength!
was that RRL?

And now, the bio:

IPLawGuy was born in 1961 in a small town in Iowa. His parents were both word farmers, and he attributes his fascination with trade names to their bountiful harvests and endless games of Scrabble.

At a very young age, IPLG moved with his family to the suburbs of Washington DC. At least they thought that "Anacostia" was a suburb; it hand a nice-sounding name. While exploring an open-air radioactive waste dump as part of a 7th-grade field trip, IPLG was bitten in the wrist by a radioactive rat. It was only the intercession of his Timex watch that saved him from certain death. Still, he was thereafter always different.

While the rat bite did not give him the ability to fly, IPLG was briefly convinced that he had the power to become invisible. However, he realized that so long as he was wearing clothes, he could be spotted, so he attended middle school naked. Sadly, he was wrong in thinking that the rat bite had given him the power of invisibility, resulting in quite the social debacle.

Fortunately, the predictable mutation was perhaps better for IPLG and the world than flying or invisibility. The rat bite, through the Timex trademark, gave him an innate sense of Intellectual Property issues and a wonderful adaptability, both of which have served him well. However, he does not attend middle school reunions.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Sunday Reflection: Spiritual but not Religious in (yet another) Age of Certainty and Violence

Several people recently forwarded to me a short reflection by Lillian Daniel, who like Neil Alan Willard and Scott Davis is a minister who studied at Yale Divinity School (which is also where Jeanne Bishop lived when she was at Yale Law School-- I have always wondered if they were all in the dining hall or something at the same time).

Rev. Daniel's reflection, titled Spiritual but Not Religious? Please Stop Boring Me, takes on a prevalent viewpoint in our society:

On airplanes, I dread the conversation with the person who finds out I am a minister and wants to use the flight time to explain to me that he is "spiritual but not religious." Such a person will always share this as if it is some kind of daring insight, unique to him, bold in its rebellion against the religious status quo.

Next thing you know, he's telling me that he finds God in the sunsets. These people always find God in the sunsets. And in walks on the beach. Sometimes I think these people never leave the beach or the mountains, what with all the communing with God they do on hilltops, hiking trails and . . . did I mention the beach at sunset yet?

Thank you for sharing, spiritual but not religious sunset person. You are now comfortably in the norm for self-centered American culture, right smack in the bland majority of people who find ancient religions dull but find themselves uniquely fascinating. Can I switch seats now and sit next to someone who has been shaped by a mighty cloud of witnesses instead? Can I spend my time talking to someone brave enough to encounter God in a real human community? Because when this flight gets choppy, that's who I want by my side, holding my hand, saying a prayer and simply putting up with me, just like we try to do in church.

The sad thing is, I suspect she didn't say any of this to Sunset Lover on the plane. Not that I blame her for that-- I do the same thing, just nod blandly when people start speaking about the God Who Affirms Everything They Already Believe (whether it is within or without a church). God is greater than any of us, which means no part of us is ever close to his perfection-- we don't even know how humble we are.

The smug assurance of Sunset Guy is not much different than the smug assurance we all have in greater or lesser amounts-- our satisfaction that God loves what we do anyways, be it to love our wealth, to let others tackle injustice, to define our faith by those we cut out of it, or to hate the infidel so much that we kill thousands as they arrive for work. Group-think and certainty born of that special kind of intellectual laziness is the cruelest combination.

I don't except myself from this smug assurance. When I listen to God's voice, it is not only loving but challenging, and it is only sometimes that I rise to that challenge. God does not affirm all that I do, even as he loves who I am.

There. Now I have out-crankied Lillian Daniel.

You know, about those sunsets... the most beautiful sunsets I have seen are around Los Angeles. Part of the magic there, actually, is the air pollution, which refracts and diffuses the light where the desert meets the ocean. We made those sunsets, in a perverse kind of way. But I digress.

I have to acknowledge that I am much more like Sunset Guy than Jesus or Peter. I want God to like me the way I already am, not to push me or challenge me. I give myself easy outs, rationalize my comfort and reluctance to forgive, and ignore the hard questions when I can.

Perhaps Sunset Guy and I can have another commonality, a good one-- we can look at that LA sunset and see both God's creation and the air pollution. If we feel an urge to fix that scar, because God requires nothing less, community has begun.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Night falls in Edina, Friday, Sept. 9

Friday, September 09, 2011


Haiku Friday: Cartoons!

When I was just a small boy growing up in Eastern Europe with the Dallas Defense Attorney and Marta, we all loved the classic cat-and-mouse cartoon "Worker and Parasite" seen above. I can still recreate most of the episodes verbatim.

Of course, here in the United States, children loved similar cartoons like Bugs The Bunny, Scoobie Doo, Snoopy, H.R. Puffenstuff, Col. Klapp, Bullwinkle, Black Sabbath, Tom and Jerry, Caspar the Friendly Dead Child, Mr. Roper's Neighborhood, and others. Let's recall the days of animated entertainment-- in haiku!

Here is mine:

Foxy Natasha
I wanted her to succeed!
Stupid talking Moose...

Now it is your turn. Just make it about a cartoon, any cartoon, and make the first line five syllables, the second line seven, and five again for the third.

As usual, the prize will be your biography here on Monday!

Thursday, September 08, 2011


Political Mayhem Thursday: The Fade-Out of Michelle Bachmann

Can I say something here? It matters who the Republican nominee is for the 2012 presidential election-- it matters a lot. The issues that will be important and discussed will vary wildly, say, depending on whether Michelle Bachmann or Mitt Romney gets the nomination, because with Romney the national discussion will be about the economy, and with Bachmann it will be about social issues and "character."

However, that's not the real contest now, because Michelle Bachman seems to be fading out of the race, already falling to fourth behind Ron Paul in polls by both the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal..

My own theory about this is that Republican voters have astutely decided that this race IS going to be about the economy, and are tilting towards the candidate most likely to make headway on that issue-- Mitt Romney.


1) Will Rick Perry be a worthy opponent to Mitt Romney through the primaries?
2) Am I right about Michelle Bachmann?
3) If Super Sugar Bear enters the race, how will he do?

Wednesday, September 07, 2011


Sue 'em, Bears!


Developments today:

The SEC voted Texas A & M in as a new member.

Arkansas, an SEC member, was approached by the Big 12 about membership, indicating a giant feeding frenzy may already be underway.

Meanwhile, Baylor has signaled that it may sue the SEC for "tortious interference" for luring A & M away. The initial reports are that this is one sign of a thorough realignment in college sports. I suppose that Baylor felt they need to do something and this was their best shot. I will say this-- Baylor President Ken Starr knows a thing or two about litigation, and did not take this step lightly.

Update: Excellent news! It appears that most of the other members of the Big 12 (8 of 9) are willing to join Baylor... which means that Baylor showed real leadership on this, and that it ... just... might... work!

Plus... there is a Plan B.


Bag Report!

As astute Razor readers will remember, not long ago I asked for advice in choosing a new bag to replace my backpack. I offered two choices.

The winner, as shown in the photo, was none of the above. Instead of the Cole-Haan bag (which turned out to be made in China) and the L.L. Bean bag (also made in China), I stopped by the workshop/showroom for the J.W. Hulme Company after my interview in St. Paul a few weeks ago. It was a fascinating place... they gave me a tour of the workshop, all of which had that wonderful smell of leather. There were big rolls of it, and canvas, and brass hardware in bins. It looked like a place where good things come from.

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 06, 2011


Best Visitor Location EVER!

According to Sitemeter, someone visited the Razor this evening from the "Baylor University Disaster Tower."

So... Why does Baylor have a Disaster Tower? And what exactly is going on there?


More important questions about Super Sugar Bear

Razorites may remember that not long ago I featured a bizarre commercial for Super Sugar Crisp cereal that (like the two featured above) starred Super Sugar Bear, his girlfriend, and an arch-enemy named "Blob."

Having spent most of brain cells for the semester already, I've now got some questions for you all based on these two commercials:

1) Do you find Super Sugar Bear's girlfriend attractive?

2) What is Blob's overarching project, exactly?

3) Does the addition of toast and butter really make Super Sugar Crisp a "complete breakfast?"

4) Who would you rather have dinner with: Blob and his son, or Super Sugar Bear and his girlfriend? Why?

Monday, September 05, 2011


We have a winner-- the Spanish Medievalist!

Superzeroz Movie
by: oslerguy

There were many, many good haiku entries last week, but my personal favorite was this, by the Spanish Medievalist:

Surface of the sun
is cooler than my house in
Waco, Tejas, por Dios!

And, herewith, his bio:

Of all the Razorites, the Spanish Medievalist has the most fascinating story. An actual Catalan knight who was killed by a Moorish sword to the groin in 935 A.D., the long-dead Medievalist was returned to life through advanced DNA recovery techniques as part of Baylor's ambitious and tragically flawed "Vision 1012." The point of Vision 1012 was to create a critical mass of pre-enlightenment scholars on the Baylor faculty. Because there were so few living scholars willing to decry the intellectual advances of the enlightenment, Baylor resorted to resuscitating corpses from the pre-enlightenment/post Augustine period, enrolling them in colleges and graduate programs around the nation, and then employing them as professors.

Sadly, the Spanish Medievalist was one of the few success stories of Vision 1012. The biggest disaster was a Mongol named Temujin, who was resuscitated, sent to George Mason and Rutgers, then given a teaching post at Baylor-- a post from which he brutally conquered Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, and much of northern Mexico before the Nuclear Incident of 2004 ended his despotic reign.

The Spanish Medievalist was sent to study at Gustavus Adolphus, a small but prestigious liberal arts school in Minnesota. During his time as a "Gustie," SM learned English, basic math, how to operate motor vehicles, and dentistry (this last on his own, of sad consequence). He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota, offering a dissertation on the topic of "Literature of the Catalan People in the Development of Groin Injury Sagas." Once employed at Baylor, he became a successful and popular teacher, despite his unusual attire, which he assembled himself using the colors of the Spanish flag, several yards of duct tape, and a protective cup.

Most recently, the Spanish Medievalist was awarded the title of Full Professor, which he celebrated with a fine meal of tapas and the somewhat misguided slaughter of his enemies in Penland Hall.

All hail the Spanish Medievalist!

Sunday, September 04, 2011


Sunday Reflection: Thunderclap Newman and the Holy Comforter

So, there was this moment...

There is a group of students at Baylor called the Sexual Identity Forum, which met last Thursday. They were denied student group status, so they can't post flyers on campus (there is something very poignant about that), so they communicate via a Facebook page that had promised "free cookies and special guest Mark Osler." Despite that limitation, a large group gathered in the dining hall in the student union-- in fact, they took up about half of the main space.

My talk wasn't so great, I think, but when I was done, I heard some of the students speak. It became clear to me that there was something very important and unusual going on there... that I had stumbled into a turning point when i wrote what I did. Students told me the most remarkable things: That "Baylor is a great school, and I would hate for someone to miss out on it because they are gay," and "these people who love Baylor and hate gays-- what do they tell a gay son about college?" There was a faculty member there (a very brave faculty member), and a tv camera (it was the lead story on the top local station).

At the end of the meeting, something wonderful happened. The President of the organization is Adam Short, who has a tremendous, positive attitude about Baylor as a school and about SIF. He made a few closing remarks. Meanwhile, students from a spirit rally across the street had filtered in and filled in much of the rest of the room, sitting in circles wearing Baylor gear. When the meeting closed, the SIF people clapped, and then cheered, and then, almost imperceptibly, the rest of the students in the room joined in, until that song was twice as loud.

When I realized it was so loud because of the the others, it... well, it made me realize that this is going to work, because of these students.and only because of them. This may, in fact, be the coolest group on campus. Their group will get larger. More students and maybe some faculty will come, and athletes, and they will have other speakers. It will become part of what happens at Baylor.

And, in a few years, I will come back to Baylor for something and be walking on campus when I see their flyer up on a wall with all the other sloppy photocopied goofy-picture flyers, and I will just stand there for a while in silence and look down a little and hope no one sees me tear up when I think about that moment that these students-- all of them-- created.

I love the video above, which I stumbled across. The song is about revolution and instigators, but the video shows high school and college kids doing the things people that age do-- goof around, meet friends, go to movies. That is exactly the kind of revolution this will be, too: one of friendships and conversations, gentle change, and shared love for a place where good things happen. That is how the Holy Comforter works, and every once in a great while, if we choose to look, you can see it the way you see the wind in trees or the movement of water in Minnehaha creek, a gentle pushing force. Life is good, God is good, and that creek will run to the river, which runs to the ocean, broad and blue.

Saturday, September 03, 2011


Just in from Amy...

I'm back from Waco, and glad to be wearing a sweatshirt. It was a difficult but worthwhile trip, and I couldn't have done it without the support of those who were there for me, and did what they said they would-- pray, write to me, be with me there in Texas. I think we got something done. I will never forget that support.

Razor reader Amy (I don't think it is the Amy pictured here) posted the following to the Huffington Post, but apparently it did not "take," so I am reprinting it here.

I suppose I look at homosexuality, whether related to Christian practice or in general, in the context of issues of concern in the world. The day-to-day issue that troubles me most is people killing each other: wars, crime, the death penalty, accidents, torture, all the ways humans cause others to die. So much of what we study, and try to solve (poverty, illness, lack of resources), relates in some way to those issues.

Aside from training students in a profession, universities are, I think, designed to engage students with the world’s most vexing issues. I’d argue that a crucial part of college life is exposure to ideas or practices that may make a student uncomfortable, even at a college designed for people of similar beliefs as Baylor and many other colleges are. If we don’t want to be exposed to anything different, why do we go away to college? Even a college made up of like-minded people should challenge us in ways we haven’t been before, in order to inform and strengthen us and equip us to make decisions with as much input and openness as possible. Colleges are supposed to equip us more deeply to lead and participate in the world.

For me, concerns about possible problems or diversions that openly gay students or faculty may cause in a community is way down the list of issues that colleges, Christianity, churches, religions, or governments need to be concerned about, compared with people killing each other; with poverty, illness, lack. I think these institutions have much bigger fish to fry than worrying about whether a woman is having sex with another woman, or a man is having sex with a man. To me, a person’s sexual orientation a) isn’t hurting anyone else, b) can lead to committed relationships and stable families no matter in what combination, and c) is a private matter, and our country places a high value on protecting privacy. (As it does in allowing private institutions to discriminate based on religious belief). For me, homosexual behavior doesn’t hinder a student from learning to solve the world’s tougher issues.

I am a Bible novice, truly, but from what I have discerned so far, its references to homosexuality are pretty slim compared to the overriding messages of inclusion, from God’s point of view—“I am the vine and you are the branches.” What jumps out at me and even frightens me in the Bible is ths overriding message of subsuming self to the will of a higher power, refining your life so as to be aware of how best to live with others. Most importantly, my sense of the Bible is that it’s talking about an individual’s relationship with God: any individual, every individual, not just heterosexual individuals. It’s telling us as individuals how to have a relationship with God. (And of course, it’s telling us that there is a God).

Notwithstanding any admonitions against homosexuality in the Bible, it seems to me its purposes are to convince an individual to believe in God; to teach one how to feel this God’s presence in one’s life, and to show how to pass on that love to others. The latter principle, in particular, is what Christian colleges should be modeling, in my view, and excluding or marginalizing anybody, particularly anybody who is trying to have a relationship with God, just seems wildly shortsighted and--I’ll say it---un-Christian.


Lawrence Welk, apparently, is an important part of North Dakota Culture

Note his reference to this "modern spiritual." Thanks for the tip, Bob Darden!

Friday, September 02, 2011


Haiku friday: Heat

It has been quite a trip-- very challenging in the ways I expected (and I won't deny a deep sadness that goes with that), but wonderful, too. I think something is happening here... there is a turning point that has little to do with me and everything to do with students. It is amazing to see. Meanwhile...

Central Texas is an oven. Let's haiku about hot days today.

Here is mine:

Minnesota home,
A verdant garden, but here
The ground cracks in pain.

Now it is your turn! You can also haiku about cocktails, taverns, or pants. Just use the 5/7/5 format, more or less (no one really counts)...

Thursday, September 01, 2011


Political Mayhem Thursday: Principled Exclusion, or Inclusion? Two Christian Options for Baylor regarding gay men and lesbians

In preparing to speak at Baylor last night on the topic of my recent Huffington Post article, I pondered an important question: If I am going to be critical of Baylor’s policy on gays and lesbians, what alternative should I suggest? Criticism without an idea of reform, after all, is just yelling.

My main criticism of Baylor’s current policy is that it is not principled. In short, the school asserts that it has rules which only allow sex within marriage for both faculty and students, but these rules are (outside the dorms) unenforced. Student athletes are largely given a pass, for example, even when fathering children, and the biblical mandate that remarriage after divorce is adultery is wholly ignored. Most importantly, unmarried straight students who want to be sexually active move off campus, with little fear that they will be caught in fornication. Gay students living off campus have a higher level of fear.

The result is that Baylor sends two problematic messages. First, there is the widespread (though possibly incorrect) belief that the policy will be used to arbitrarily punish student gays and lesbians. Second, there is the correct perception that if you are gay, you need not apply for a job with Baylor (though heterosexuals do not have their sex lives examined in the same way).

In contrast to Baylor’s policy of having strict rules and then not enforcing them, let’s look at two more principled alternatives.

The first I call principled exclusion. BYU (a school I admire and enjoy visiting), for example, has a rule of principled exclusion of those who engage in extra-marital sex, and enforces these rules evenly and actively. Most notably (and properly, by their principles), BYU kicked one of their best players off the basketball team right before the NCAA tournament for violating the sex rules. This is a key point: As BYU well knows, a principled intolerance requires sacrifice by the institution, not just by the students of faculty who would be sanctioned. Importantly, the same rules must apply to all, straight or gay, athlete or not.

The second model is inclusion, which is what we have at St. Thomas (and, from what I understand, is the policy at Notre Dame). I describe this model in the Huffington Post article.

Either of these is far closer to Christian principles than an arbitrary, rarely enforced policy like Baylor's, which can give far too much play to prejudice. This problem was articulated well (in a different context) in the first three opinions in Furman v. Georgia (1972).

Which should Baylor choose? Or is the current model of strict rules and uneven enforcement fair?

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?