Wednesday, March 31, 2021
My students: Robert Callahan
Tuesday, March 30, 2021
2020 turned out pretty well for China
I've just finished reading a fascinating article in The New Yorker, Peter Hessler's The Rise of Made-in-China Diplomacy.
Monday, March 29, 2021
Warm and wonderful haiku
We had it!
Sun, 40 degrees.
Late March in the Twin Cities
Pale legs, shorts, flip-flops.
From the Medievalist (who is obviously NOT in Minnesota):
Flowers are blooming,
Sunshine is on my shoulders,
Coat back in closet.
From Tim Fournier (welcome!):
The water wings on
And the muck boots stored away
I float blissfully.
but in March, Global Warming
"No pants after June!"
says my shorts-wearing colleague.
Teachers love summer.
The sun shines, higher
in the sky, as soil warms up...
beneath, the world greens.
And I liked this anonymous entry:
Warm day, bought periwinkle
Blue pansies with joy
Sunday, March 28, 2021
Sunday Reflection: Palm Sunday
Saturday, March 27, 2021
Not that anybody asked, but...
... this is just about my favorite scene in any superhero movie:
Friday, March 26, 2021
Haiku Friday: Warmth
Thursday, March 25, 2021
Political Mayhem Thursday: Victory over death in Virginia
Something remarkable happened yesterday: Virginia got rid of the death penalty. It's the first Southern state to do so. Over the past 400 years, Virginia executed more people than any other state, and in the modern era it was second only to Texas.
I really love Virginia. I went to college at one of its state schools, and still miss it. It has changed, of course, and for the better!
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
My Students: David Best
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
So.... I went through a "Glee" phase about six years ago, where I binge-watched most of the show. How this started is a little murky-- I wasn't exactly a show choir type kid in any way, and I also wasn't that into television six years ago. But, a lot of the music was pretty good, and I started to identify with some of the characters, and there it went.
Certainly, I was well aware of how awful some episodes were, and cringed along with the rest of America. But that didn't deter me.
One thing I probably found compelling was that certain aspects of the show represented how I wished high school (and much of life thereafter) had been, marked by fits of shocking tolerance and episodic acts of actually working together towards a common goal.
If you want to understand the good and the bad of Glee without the total commitment I had, I would suggest this summary:
Monday, March 22, 2021
What a tournament! And the best part, by far, was Loyola-Chicago knocking off 1 seed Illinois after this prayer from their team chaplain, 101-year-old Sister Jean Delores Schmidt:
"As we play the Fighting Illini, we ask for special help to overcome this team and get a great win," she said. "We hope to score early and make our opponents nervous. We have a great opportunity to convert rebounds as this team makes about 50% of layups and 30% of its 3 points. Our defense can take care of that."
Well, that worked!
And so did the tourney-themed haiku this week. We had this from Desiree, who I know went to William and Mary (we graduated together), but apparently hung around at Duke:Sitting in Cameron
And my date's face is painted
blue. Go blue devils!
IPLawGuy, too, went to W & M, but haikued about another school (which is better at basketball:
Feature of my NoVa life
Then Maryland left.
And, relatedly from another W & M alum tagged as "Princeton Mom" (I see you, Beth!):
William and Mary!
Ever going to the Dance?
William and Mary!
Amy is more concerned with some other Virginia school:
Number 1 two years!
of pandemic. Fans
love Virginia's win
a little longer.
My dad brought up a sad memory:
Michigan's fab five
vs. North Carolina
Turned on the TV
Day One, so many upsets
Many brackets done..
March winds blow cool breeze,
Flowers are budding anew,
Warm sun on bald pate.
Sunday, March 21, 2021
Sunday Reflection: The heart of it
The "Social Justice" vision Brooks describes is rooted in the idea of sin, not love-- and it encourages identifying the sin in other people. That's the opposite of what Jesus taught. Yes, we need to root out our own sins, but we aren't to judge others. Jesus taught this clearly. I mean... how much clearer can it be than "Judge not?"
It is the "let's root out the sin of others" approach that has taken us to most of the bad things Christianity has done. We can root our ethic in love and still seek out sin-- we just must look inward rather than outward in that search. It should be love that we extend to others.
I have no problem with the idea that God will judge us, or that there is right and wrong. But nothing in Jesus's teaching suggests that our role is the same as God's.
Saturday, March 20, 2021
The First Big Upset
Friday, March 19, 2021
Haiku Friday: Tournament Time!
Am I ready for basketball! You bet! Is the nation ready for March Madness! Yes! Is playing this during a pandemic probably a terrible idea! Sure thing!
But here we go! The picture above is from the opening round game between Drake and Wichita State, which turned out to be an exciting come-from-behind win for Drake, which won the honor of playing USC in a few days.
Let's haiku about the tournament-- who you like, why you can't stand the whole thing, memories of great moments, whatever. Here, I will go first:
Thursday, March 18, 2021
Political Mayhem Thursday: The Equality Act
And amid all this, Republicans seem to have identified their number one threat to America: Transgender girls. In their made-up world, transgender girls are about to take over and destroy sports. In their minds, somehow, the two reasons that people pursue transgender therapies-- with all the cost, dislocation, loss of support and relationships and castigation that go with it-- are (1) to skulk around in bathrooms, and (2) to dominate girls sports.
The Senate was debating the Equality Act yesterday, which would give trans girls and women some basic rights (among other reforms for LGBTQ people). Ted Cruz was himself: going on about the end of women's sports and how downtrodden pastors would somehow be harmed by the bill. In response, we got to hear from a truly remarkable 16-year-old, Stella Keating:
I hope you really will watch that video.
The idea that the trans girls and women will destroy sports is particularly laughable. Having spent 10 years watching the Baylor Lady Bears basketball team destroy frat guys in practice, it's hard to imagine that some trans girl who is taking estrogen (which reduces muscle mass and lung capacity) really is going to become so dominant that everyone else just gives up. Not going to happen.
And, in fact, it hasn't happened. Since the early 2000's, trans athletes have been allowed to compete in the Olympics. Not one trans athlete has qualified for an Olympic team. Not one. And the same is true for the NCAA: Trans athletes have been able to compete in college sports for over a decade, but none of them have come to dominate a sport.
The thing that is sad about this is that Republicans should have something else to care deeply about rather than trans girls and women who just want to live their lives without being ostracized (in addition to Mr. Potato Head and several obscure Dr. Seuss books). Congress just passed a $1.9 trillion bill that will have significant impact on the national debt-- something conservatives (even LGBTQ conservatives, which exist) used to care about. Instead, they are deadset on finding solutions for things that are not a problem.
Picking on oppressed people for political gain through lies and fear-mongering is cruel and wrong, and that is exactly what Cruz and company are engaged in.
Wednesday, March 17, 2021
My students: Erick Sandlin
Monday, March 15, 2021
The Fundamental 14
Not long ago, the folks at The Appeal asked Rachel Barkow and I to put together a set of broad-stroke structural changes that could be done in the next year. First we came up with the "Doable Dozen," but then we thought of a couple more and it ended up as the "Fundamental 14." It's a bold agenda, but attainable and would make a big difference in the long run.
You can read the whole thing here-- and I hope that you will!
After a Year...
Some wonderful reflections... in haiku!
I loved this one from Desiree:
noticed something was missing.
But our dogs loved it.
The Medievalist is looking ahead:
It was a sad year,
No Spain, bad Zoom, no travel,
And the Waco Farmer sees the good and the bad:
Aside from the death,
it wasn't all that bad, really.
Much love all around.
Sunday, March 14, 2021
Sunday Reflection: The Unknown
As I get older, I have become more comfortable with the unknown. As a younger person, I wanted to know the answer to everything, and was frustrated when there was not a definitive, clear, sensible explanation for why things were this way or that way.
Life has a way of humbling us. Some of the things I was most certain of turned out not to be true, of course. And along the way, I found that I had told people things with utter certainty that were not certain at all. For example, I was an absolutist during the Reagan era. I believed, and told people, that everything Reagan did was destructive and from bad intent. I was wrong about that. Would I vote for him now? Probably not. But I do see that he was smarter than people gave him credit for and that while he took advantage of things like racism for political advantage, he also made some choices that turned out to be wise-- like choosing a moderate woman, Sandra Day O'Connor, for the Supreme Court.
The picture above is taken from just above a hidden window in my parents' house. It nearly always has a curtain over it, as shown here. I remember thinking that this is the way we see the world God created: as through a glass, darkly, as Paul put it in 1 Corinthians.
Giving up the idea of mastery of everything has been a good thing. That intellectual humility has made me a better listener, a better scholar, and a better person (though I am still prone to getting pretty judgmental about things sometimes).
About that window, too...
Notice that it does not let us see and understand everything on the other side. Yet, at the same time, it diffuses but doesn't block the light coming in-- that beam is strong and real and comforting. We don't have to act like we are God to know that there is a God. The first premise of what I know is this: There is a God, and it isn't me.
Saturday, March 13, 2021
The Lost Opening
Maybe, because of the pandemic, you have by now watched every episode of The Office. However, you probably have not seen this:
Friday, March 12, 2021
Haiku Friday: One Year
A year ago this weekend, everything went Kablooie. Everything shut down, school went online, everyone began to hole up... it was a turning point. So much has happened-- and not happened-- since then.
Just writing that brings up some feelings.
Let's haiku on that; I'm giving everyone wide leeway.
Here, I will go first:
Thursday, March 11, 2021
PMT: The stimulus bill
President Biden will sign the $1,900,000,000,000 stimulus bill, which made it through Congress with a narrow, Democrats-only majority. According to the Times, here is what is in the bill:
Wednesday, March 10, 2021
My Students: Gavin Johnson
I'm devoting Wednesdays on the blog to profiling my former students, alternating between Baylor and St. Thomas.
In my very first class, when I walked into the room not knowing anything about how to teach, I was lucky to find a student there-- David Moore-- who knew a lot about criminal law already, because he had a previous career as a sheriff's deputy. I very much appreciate that kind of experience in my class, and I found it again at St. Thomas when Gavin Johnson showed up. He was smart, mature, measured and almost always correct in his responses, and came to law school after a stint as a Fargo police officer in his home state of North Dakota. He was one of my favorite students then, or any time. He was in the ND National Guard while in law school, and I remember him missing class because of the flooding of the Red River (an oddity in the US, as it flows north while most of the rest flow south).
After law school, he served in the Air National Guard in North Dakota. His service has included two tours in Iraq, and he was tasked as Security Services Operations Officer, leading 74 enlisted personnel in protecting vital air bases. Now he is Circuit Defense Counsel in the Air Force, traveling the West defending airman accused of felony-level crimes.
And also... he is brilliant at haiku. You know the great poems by "Gavin?" This is that guy.
Tuesday, March 09, 2021
Monday, March 08, 2021
Haiku re Snowplows!
I figured this one would be a challenge. "Snowplows" is not a traditional haiku topic (nature themes are the intended subjects), but people did a great job with it.
We had this from my dad-- sounds like a day that turned to the good!:
High snow banks back road
huge plow truck coming other way
headlights blinding me
Get home and find that
my neighbor plowed my driveway
winter is the best.
And from Texas, truth from TallTenor:
Texas has a plow,
One for all the state to share.
So goes the rumor.
DDR had this to say:
I see you racing past me
Sparks fly! Salt showers!
And IPLawGuy, in the space between MN and TX, had this in-between viewpoint:
Prediction: 3 inches
Trucks line up on interstate
Waiting to drop salt.
Sunday, March 07, 2021
Sunday Reflection: Righteous Anger
Saturday, March 06, 2021
Up now at CNN...
Up now at CNN is my take on the upcoming George Floyd trial. You can read it here.
Friday, March 05, 2021
Haiku Friday: Snowplows
A great story in the New York Times reports on the new names being given to snowplows in Minnesota. Among the winning names in a contest to determine the new monikers:
Thursday, March 04, 2021
Political Mayhem Thursday: A Bad Week for Governors
Wednesday, March 03, 2021
My Students: Dillon Meek
I'm devoting Wednesdays on the blog to profiling some of my former students, alternating between Baylor and St. Thomas. It's been pretty fascinating to catch up with what they are doing out in the world!
Dillon Meek graduated just as I was leaving Baylor in 2010, putting him in with a group of some of the more fascinating students I encountered there (including Joy Tull and Michelle Tuegel, who have already been profiled).
After graduating, Dillon stayed in Waco, working for a local law firm and then transitioning to a general counsel job with a local company. In 2015, he ran for City Council and won. One of his issues while he was on the council was addressing the problems with payday lending companies, which were a real problem in Waco when I was there-- they charged outrageous interest rates and trapped people in debt.
In 2020, he was elected the Mayor of Waco. When I moved to Waco, one of my colleagues, Mike Morrison, was the mayor, so I got a sense of what was involved. It's a tricky job, with shifting coalitions always at work and a need to balance divergent interests. Dillon certainly seems to have the skill set for it, and I'm happy to see him succeeding!
Tuesday, March 02, 2021
Monday, March 01, 2021
A few poems about the moon
I kinda thought people would dig right into this topic, but I was wrong! We did get three entries.
First, there was this one from my dad. I'm a little perplexed by it as a member of his family. Most of the time where we are all together and the moon is an attraction we are up at Osler Island, where there is no cell service and no one even bothers to bring their phone:
The moon winked at me
I wish that my family
were not on their phones.
Gavin was more upbeat:
You control the tides
You bring light, even romance.
Not bad for a rock!
And Desiree was noting an interesting anomaly:
Blue moon. I saw you
Twice in one month. Shining bright,
lighting the new snow.