Friday, December 31, 2021


Haiku Friday: New Year's Resolutions


Between ages 10-35, I made "5-year plans" that laid out specific personal (and eventually, professional) goals. I suppose I got the idea from Soviet propaganda somewhere, but it was a pretty productive tool. 
While I'm into that kind of planning, New Year's resolutions have never been a big thing for me. Sometimes I have general aspirations, but I've never taken it seriously. I admire people who do! Let's haiku about that this week. Here, I will go first:
My resolution:
Lose 100 pounds or more!
Down to 80 pounds.
Now it is your turn! Just use the 5/7/5 syllable pattern, and have some fun!

Thursday, December 30, 2021


PMT: The Conviction of Ghislaine Maxwell


Yesterday, a jury in federal court in New York returned a guilty verdict on five of six counts against Ghislaine Maxwell, the associate of pedophile kingpin Jeffrey Epstein. The most serious charge was sex trafficking of a minor, and she likely will spend the rest of her life in prison.

She was a child of privilege, whose father owned a British media empire. She was born in France, grew up in a 53-room mansion in England, graduated from Oxford, and moved to New York after the death of her father. She soon met Epstein, and her social circle (and Epstein's) included Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, and Prince Andrew. 

What she did was reprehensible. She groomed girls as young as 14 to have sexual encounters with Epstein, and sometimes participated herself. 

Clearly, it was her sophistication that made her enticement of these girls possible-- according to their testimony, she was an aspirational figure, and made them feel comfortable in what should have been a very uncomfortable situation. 

One of the worst, possibly corrupt prosecutions in US history was the pathetic deal given to Epstein in 2008, in which he did about 13 months of state time in Florida while a 53-count federal indictment was dismissed in a case with over 30 identified victims, without notifying the victims as required by federal law. The US Attorney who approved this was Alexander Acosta, who--perhaps not surprisingly-- followed this coup up by becoming Donald Trump's Secretary of Labor. 

Maxwell is being described by some as Epstein's "helper," but she was fully involved in this. I suspect her sentence will reflect that.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021


Not a coincidence


On Christmas Day, a remarkable thing happened.
At breakfast, my dad was reading this blog and looked really surprised. I asked him what was up and he said "I wrote the same thing!"
It's true, too. His post for Christmas was almost exactly like mine, even centering on the same Bible passage. You can read it here
How did that happen? We didn't know what the other was writing. But... I am his son. And perhaps I learned more than he suspected.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021


What comes next


It seems like people all over are getting COVID-- way beyond the numbers that are being reported. It's probably because so many people are finding out via at-home tests, with results that send them into quarantine, but don't make it into any database. 
It does appear that the variant driving all of this, Omicron, is less severe in its impact, at least for those who are vaccinated.  
There are really three ways this can go:
1) My dad's trailing-edge philosophy tells him that this is the end game for COVID-- basically, the virus committing suicide by mildly infection a majority of people and giving them some level o immunity from future infections.
2) That this turns out to be a milder but still very lethal variant to some people, It will run its course over time, but never create the kind of immunity that my dad predicts.
3)  This variant infect so many people that it inevitable leads to the emergence of another, more lethal variant-- the worst-case scenario to the whole pandemic.

Monday, December 27, 2021


Xmas Eve

 We had a few great poems about Christmas Eve. First, this epic one from Christine (and I think I remember seeing those parties down the block):
When we were little
They gathered, with drinks in hand
To assemble toys

As we grew older
So grew the gatherings on
Christmas Eve, joyful

The table spread with
Meatballs, cheeseballs. Oytser stew
Served from the kitchen

People milled about
Room to room, smiling, carefree...
Kids sneaking cookies

As the years go by
The kids begin to bring kids
The cycle of life

Conversations change
From jobs to retirement
Some have moved away

Some have passed away
Gathering happens no more
But memories remain.
And this from Desiree:
Go tell it on the
mountain! Christmas starts after
candlelight at church.

Sunday, December 26, 2021


Sunday Reflection: Boxing Day

 This was a tough Christmas; maybe the toughest I've had. COVID kept my family apart for the second year in a row, and that's a gut punch. And then I messed up on some presents, and feel bad about that. Overall... well, next year should be better. 
The fact that this one was so hard is partly a feature of how well I have had things for a long time-- I'm definitely a child of good fortune in many ways.  One of those ways, as many of you know, is to have the parents that I do. One example: what I wrote yesterday was eerily similar to what my dad wrote on his own blog, completely independently. You can read that here (and I hope you will!). I suppose it is pretty clear how influential they have been.

Saturday, December 25, 2021


A Christmas Like No Other


         Christians around the world celebrate the birth of Jesus today, in a time unlike anything we have experienced. A wearying pandemic soon begins its third year among us with greater force than ever. There is uncertainty, fear, anger, and more than a little impatience with it all. And yet, the solution to the problem lies in that manger: the message of Christ, centered on selflessness and sacrifice, directs us straight to the very actions we must take to end this plague, to the sacrifices we must make for the greater good. We may be tired of wearing a mask, but the chance it might protect others is at one with the faith. 


         The threat of COVID is greater than ever as three things converge. First, the Omicron variant of the COVID virus has become, already, the dominant variety of COVID in the United States. Over 70% of new cases are Omicron, which is stunning. And because it is much more transmissible that earlier variants, it will spread much faster now that it has a foothold. Second, it is Christmas, which means that people will travel and gather, which will further spread the virus. Finally, people are tired of restrictions and deeply divided about mask-wearing and vaccinations. We are unlikely to mount anything like the government-led effort to combat a much lesser threat in March of 2020. Put it all together, and things look pretty dark.


         There is only one thing, in the end, that can prevent even greater catastrophe: humility and sacrifice. It takes humility to acknowledge what we do not know, and sacrifice to do what we must to protect and help others. 


         There are those Christians, of course, who have tried to dodge vaccine mandates by asserting shaky religious exemptions rooted in vague references to one’s body as a temple or tenuous links between vaccines and abortion. Those claims ignore what Jesus told us was most important: that we love God, and that we love our neighbors. The Pharisees pressed him to declare which commandment in the law was most important, and this was his answer, after all. When a lawyer followed up by asking “who is my neighbor?” he gave them the parable of the good Samaritan, in which the reviled Samaritan is the neighbor. We need to look out for our neighbors—and that does not just mean the ones that we like. We have a duty to do what is best for all those around us.


         Loving our neighbor means doing what we can to keep them well, even if that involves sacrifice (the good Samaritan, after all, stopped his travels to find and pay for lodging and food for a crime victim he did not know). Right now, that means masks and vaccines.


         Much of the resistance to vaccines among Christians is rooted in individualism and the idea of rights. People are especially upset when it seems like the government is telling us what to do. It’s worth remembering, though, that the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem was because of a government mandate obeyed by Joseph and Mary; the Romans had required everyone to go to their hometown for a census. That mandate was a part of what many of us consider to be God’s will, a part of this great miracle.


 Standing on the idea of rights does not fit well, either (even if there were a right to not be vaccinated without consequence). Christ did not teach us to stick up for ourselves; he taught us to stick up for others—the sick, the naked, the poor, the hungry, and those in prison. And, of course, he set the ultimate example with the sacrifice of his own life.


        But today is not about Christ’s death. For Christians, it is about his birth, and the gift from God it represents. For our neighbors, the best gift we can give is to do the little required to keep them well. In the end, neither a vaccine nor a mask will stop us from looking someone in the eye with love and wishing them a Merry Christmas. As the angel said, there is good news of great joy for all the people—even this year.


Friday, December 24, 2021


Haiku Friday: Christmas Eve


Because covid has quarantined two members of my family far away, it is going to be a different (and sadder) Christmas Eve. But still I will make my chowder. I described that here about 14 years ago. 
Christmas eve traditions... let's talk about those this week. Here, I will go first:
Chop and cut and cube
And mix and measure and pour
Let heat do its work.
Now it is your turn! Just use the 5/7/5 syllable pattern, and have some fun,

Thursday, December 23, 2021


Legal Mayhem Thursday: The Potter Trial


Though it hasn't drawn the international attention of the trial of Derek Chauvin, Minnesotans have been closely following the manslaughter trial of Kim Potter. She was a police officer in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center when she shot and killed Dante Wright. 
The circumstances of the killing are important. Potter was training a new officer (just as
Derek Chauvin was at the time he killed George Floyd). They pulled Wright over because his license tab was expired and he had an air freshener hanging from the rear-view mirror. When they ran his ID, they found that Wright had an outstanding warrant for a gun offense and attempted flight. There was a struggle as Wright got back into his car. Wright yelled "Taser taser taser!" but then drew her service weapon and shot Wright, who died. After it was clear what she had done, she seemed genuinely shocked, saying (among other things) "I'm going to prison." Either she made a genuine mistake or she is a remarkable actress.
A few weeks ago, I predicted that the defense would have her dress as a suburban mom, cry on the stand, and say "I'm so sorry," and that is exactly what happened. 
The jury, as of yesterday, had been deliberating for three days. My hunch is that there is a holdout pro-government juror or two (it is a very hard case for the government). 
There is nothing quite like having a jury out deliberating if you are a participant in a high-stakes trial-- and especially if you are the defendant. One hidden truth about trial is this: We don't get to hear the most important speech of all, because it is made by the juror who convinces the others.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021




I'll confess this: sometimes I am jealous of bears. The whole hibernating in a cave thing seems like it would really have its advantages, and I am tempted to try it (especially this year). Sure, it will mess up the start of the spring semester, but still...
If I have a spirit animal, that's it. And not the fierce I'm-going-to-kill-you bear, but the lying in the sun and then doing some fishing kind of bear. Followed by a nap. 
When I see a bear (something that happens now and then in Minnesota, and quite frequently on Baylor's campus, where students used to walk bears around on a leash), I'm always tempted to strike up a conversation. That's probably not the best instinct, but it always seems like they would have something interesting to say. I'm sure they would be much more interesting than a dog, who would probably just be like "I love you sooooo much! When is dinner?"
So what's your spirit animal?

Tuesday, December 21, 2021


The unfortunate convergence


Three things are coming together at once, and it is not good:
1) The Omicron variant of the COVID virus has become, already, the dominant variety of COVID in the United States. Over 70% of new cases are Omicron, which is stunning. And because it is much more transmissible that earlier variants, it will spread much much faster now that it has a foothold.
2) It is almost Christmas. Which means people will travel, spreading the virus from one place to another. And that people will gather, which will further spread the virus.
3) People are tired of restrictions and deeply divided about mask-wearing and vaccinations. We are unlikely to mount anything like the effort to combat a much lesser threat in March of 2020. We lack the political will and personal sacrifice that would be necessary to fight the pandemic.
And then, there is this. When Donald Trump was elected, I wrote here that what I really feared was a new and unique crisis, because he lacked the leadership skills to bring the country together. COVID came and proved me right. I worry the same thing about Joe Biden, who has failed to even unite his own party. We will, too soon, find out.

Monday, December 20, 2021


On water

I loved Christine's haiku this week-- one of my favorites!:
Rip'ling before me
Water calls my name; dive in...
A fluid embrace.

My dad is no slouch either, and I have seen him do exactly this: 

I pause still holding
the brush loaded with wet paint
to hear the music.

Sunday, December 19, 2021


Sunday Reflection: The Scammers

 A few days ago, I got this truly remarkable email:
Hello Dear,I'm Mrs. Sharonda Sheneese Britton I am a US citizen, 41 years, I reside here in Orlando, Florida My residential Address is as follows, 7135 Livingston St, Orlando, FL 32835, Florida, USA, I am thinking of relocating since I am now a wealthy woman I am one of those scam victim that took part in the Compensation Award in United States and Africa many years ago and they refuse to pay me, I have paid over $73,920 to scammers while in the United States just to get my payment all to no avail. So I decided to travel to Europe Italy with all my compensation document and I was directed to contact Barrister Donald Williams who is a member of Compensation Award Committee Program, I contacted him and he explained every details to me He said whoever is contacting me right now is fake that he is the only person assigned to compensate me.He took me to the paying bank for the claim of my Compensation Award Payment right now I'm the happiest woman on this planet earth because I have received my compensation Money of $5,500,000.00 (Five Million Five Hundred Thousand United States Dollars) Moreover Barrister Donald Williams showed me the full informations and list of those that are yet to receive their payment and I saw your Name and E-mail address as one of the beneficiaries, this is the reason why I decided to Email you to stop dealing with those scammers, they are not with your money they are only extorting money from you with tricks I will advise you to contact Barrister Donald Williams now for assistance. You have to contact him directly through his private E-mail address which is below.Contact Barrister: Donald Williams
So, in short, "Sharonda Britton" wants me to send $380 to someone in the UK to ensure that I am given the money previous scammers took from me. So many red flags!:
1) She is from Orlando. Case closed.
2) No American begins a letter to an unknown person with "Hello Dear."
3) Giving out her address? 
4) And, of course, the whole thing.
Embedding the scam within an anti-scam warning is remarkable, too.
Like a lot of other people, my walls go up when anyone asks for money. Even for legitimate charities, I just have this defensive reaction. On the street, even in Minneapolis on occasion, people will ask for money. I usually look them in the eye, engage them in conversation, but rarely give them money.
And maybe I am wrong to do that. In Luke 6:30, Jesus tells us to give to all who ask, after all. I find that so hard. But perhaps it is the hardest things that are the most important.

Saturday, December 18, 2021


Maybe this should not have been done...

 A friend sent me this. I find it deeply unsettling.


Friday, December 17, 2021


Haiku Friday: Relaxing


We all need to relax sometimes, right? I'm not always so good at remembering that, but when I get to relax I remember the value of it. For me, it is usually something outdoors-- a hike, skiing, riding a bike-- but others are indoors relaxers, I know. Let's haiku about that this week!

Here, I will go first:

Floating on water
Trusty steed carries me off
Useful Unicorn!

Now it is your turn! Just use the 5/7/5 syllable pattern, and have some fun!

Thursday, December 16, 2021


Legal Mayhem Thursday: Derek Chauvin Pleads Guilty


Yesterday, Derek Chauvin pled guilty to two counts of a federal indictment charging him with violating the civil rights of George Floyd and a 14-year-old boy he assaulted in 2017. Here are my thoughts:
-- First, the plea agreement calls for a 300 month (25 year) federal sentence, which will run concurrent to (at the same time as) the state sentence of 22.5 months. BUT... the federal sentence is longer in two ways. First, it is 2.5 years longer on its face. But he will probably only serve 2/3 of the state sentence (15 years), with the rest on supervised release. That leaves 10 more years of federal time he must serve (which is usually only reduced 15% for good time-- there is no parole).
-- Chauvin might serve the state time and then be transferred to federal custody. Or he might have negotiated a deal to do the whole thing in federal prison-- something that was in an earlier deal nixed by AG Barr (I haven't seen the actual plea agreement).
-- Importantly, he pled guilty to violating the civil rights of a 14-year-old boy in 2017, years before killing George Floyd in a similar matter. It is a serious indictment of the Minneapolis police that an officer committed such a crime and was not disciplined.
-- The other three defendants are still due to go to trial, first in federal court and then in state court. There are mixed views about how this affects them-- but it is worth noting that they previously sought to have their trial severed from Chauvin's. Wish granted!  
-- The sentencing guidelines for Chauvin if he had gone to trial were likely to point to life in prison without parole-- and the statute even allows for the death penalty. This deal gives him a chance to re-enter society down the road.
-- We did get this: Derek Chauvin saying he killed George Floyd, and wrongfully assaulted a child. There is power in that truth. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2021


It's not looking great out there...


According to the New York Times, the numbers on COVID are looking pretty bad. Infections are up, deaths are up, hospitalizations are up... and the Omicron variant is just starting to hit us. Yesterday, Cornell closed its campus and sent the students home.
Can you imagine President Biden declaring a national emergency, closing off international travel,  telling the American workforce to stay home, and seeking emergency funding for efforts to combat the virus? Yeah, me neither-- but President Trump did all of those things in March of 2020, when numbers were much lower than they are now. 
The truth is that we aren't very disciplined anymore, even in the places (like Michigan) where the pandemic is at its worst. Perhaps we just can't sacrifice for very long, or maybe as a society we have just internalized and accepted the costs of so many people getting sick and a smaller but significant (over 8ook) dying.  

Tuesday, December 14, 2021


Stepping down


A lot of wonderful things have happened for me because of this blog. One of the very best is it helped me to reconnect with one of my great mentors, Dr. Joanne Braxton, who taught me at William and Mary. I wrote about that here in 2012, and she then reached out to me after stumbling on the blog post about her-- something I wrote about here
Once we reconnected, we had a lot of adventures together, like this one, or this one, or this,  Most importantly, she invited me to be the vice-president of the Braxton Institute that she headed, and we worked together with others to build it into something fascinating. Over the years, I have been able to combine the Institute's work with the work of some of my remarkable students and collaborators like Nkechi Taifa. It has enriched my life.
I remain, and always will be, her student. I believe in academic legacies-- lines of connection that pass from teacher to student rather than parent to child--and the legacy I connect to through her is remarkable: she learned from John Blassingame, who studied under C. Vann Woodward, who met and was influenced by W.E.B. DuBois, who learned from William James, who was influenced by his godfather, Ralph Waldo Emerson. And from them to me-- along with Dr. Braxton's other lines of influence, which pass through legends like Gerda Lerner.
Today is my last meeting as the Vice-President of the Braxton Institute, as the time has come for me to rotate off. But I will not rotate off any of what I describe above; it is in my bones, my cells and molecules, indestructible so long as I am, and perhaps beyond. 

Monday, December 13, 2021


First Jobs: A variety pack

 People DID remember their first jobs! 

We had this from Christine:

Twelve years old watching
children and changing diapers
The pay was quite good.

And Desiree came to visit:

Maintenance at the
tennis courts. Sweeping clay lines
for ladies in skirts. 

Meanwhile, I feel the Medievalist's pain:

I shoveled snow,
Winter in Minnesota,
Icy tear on cheek.

Sunday, December 12, 2021


Sunday Reflection: Face first


Friday delivered about a foot of snow here-- a record for that date. It's about time, too; Minnesotans don't trust a December without snow on the ground.

That meant, of course, that Saturday was the first ski day of the year. The sky was clear, the snow was fresh, and soon I was gliding along happily. Until, in a moment, I wasn't.

My fall wasn't graceful. I tumbled forward and landed face-first. It was like getting hit with a huge snowball. It felt stupid, of course-- who falls nordic skiing?-- but kind of funny, too. I haven't fallen in years, and then, wearing new skis and boots, boom! 

But I got up. The sun was still shining. People kindly offered to help and asked if I was ok. And I found the tracks again, moved my feet and my poles, and found that rhythm again. 

It was about damn time I fell. Balance, real balance, requires it.

Saturday, December 11, 2021


The First Big Snow


Yesterday about noon, the snow started to fall, and it didn't stop. We're looking at more than a foot, and it is awesome.
My plan for today? skiing. 
Meanwhile, my friend David Moore texted me from Central Texas with a weather update from there:


Friday, December 10, 2021


Haiku Friday: First Jobs


I've worked all of my adult life, but it took a little time for me to figure out what it was I would do. Before then, there were what felt like 12 different first jobs: farm worker, oyster shucker, process server, waiter, flower delivery guy. I took something from each that remains a part of me, though. 

Let's haiku about first jobs this week. Here, I will go first:

Junior janitor
In a middle school, summer
A lot of messes.

Now it is your turn! Just use the 5/7/5 syllable pattern, and have some fun!

Thursday, December 09, 2021


DC Mayhem Thursday


For a few days I am in Washington, for an event on the trial penalty (that is, the increase in sentence exacted on those who exercise their constitutional right to a jury trial) sponsored by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Even though it is a relatively small gathering, I'm getting to see so many people I have worked with in one way or another over the years from the right (Mark Holden, Marc Levin, Clark Neily) the left (Cynthia Roseberry, Nkechi Taifa, Andrew Crespo, Premal Dharia) and somewhere in between because of the objectivity their careers have required (Carrie Johnson, Kevin Sharp).
It was also a joyful reunion with two of my favorite people from law school, Cornell Brooks and Martin Sabelli (that's the three of us pictured above).  Martin organized the gathering as the president of NACDL.
I forgot how energizing it can be to find yourself in the company-- the physical presence-- of like-minded souls. I hope we defeat this virus soon to get back to this more-productive world.
Meanwhile, I caught up with our own IPLawGuy, who is taking Christmas pretty seriously this year:


Wednesday, December 08, 2021


Sure, that fits....


California Representative Devin Nunes announced yesterday that after ten terms in Congress he is stepping down and taking another job. There are three key facts about this:

-- He's probably worried about losing the next election as California undergoes a bout of redistricting that will probably shift his Fresno-area district towards the Democrats.

-- If the Republicans take the House in 2022, he was in line to chair the House Ways and Means Committee, a plum job. 

-- Oh, and that new job? He's going to be the CEO of the "Trump Media and Technology Group." His previous work as a dairy farmer and Member of Congress seem to make him a great choice. Or something.

Tuesday, December 07, 2021


The Great Books


About 4,000 times in my life, I've been involved in various discussions of what the "Great Books" are. Sometimes it is a dispute about the old canon and the new, more diverse one. Other times, people just want to fight about which books are in the "great" category and which ones are not. 

At times, of course, the discussion is really about what books will be assigned, and in that case, there is a natural limit to how many can be used-- I get that. But are the ones you choose really "great?"

The truth is that there are a LOT of great books. Enough to fill every class every year for a century. 

The problem is those not-so-great books. The ones people wrote in a hurry on assignment, or really are about "advice," or which contain untruths.  But we probably can't agree on that either...

Monday, December 06, 2021


A dark December


Last week, I asked people to haiku about December. There were three great entries, from three of my very favorite haiku-writers-- the names I love to see in the comments section. But one stands out for the story it tells. I wish more than anything that I had an answer to the question at the end.

Jill Scoggins wrote it. I met Jill when I was a law professor at Baylor and she was doing public relations there (she is now at the University of Louisville, where she is the director of external affairs). She played a big role in my maturing as an advocate-- she was the one who encouraged me to write short-form pieces and agree to media appearances about the things I cared most about. It was a move that expanded my audience from a handful of academics (the people who read law review articles) to, at times, millions of people.  Her work really did change my life, and I so glad to have this continuing connection with her.

Here was her haiku, which is true and hard:

December 2021

My stepdaughter has
stage 4 cancer. She was told
she “only has months.”

When did it become
OK for children to die
before their parents?

Who made that a thing?
I wasn’t consulted. It
Isn’t at all fair.

My beautiful, smart,
kind, funny, compassionate
stepdaughter prob’ly

Won’t see the new year.
Who said that was OK? Not
me. Not her father.

We did not get a
vote. We wait and wait, hoping
for a miracle.

I hear Matthew’s verse:
“My God, my God, why hast thou
forsaken me?” WHY?

Sunday, December 05, 2021


Sunday Reflection: First Snow


Last night we had our first real snow here in Minnesota. I watched Michigan win the Big 10 championship and looked out at the back yard a lot to see the soft snow landing on the old wooden table, the mismatched chairs, the grill.  It's what we expect to see this time of year; it's not quite right to go into december without snow.
Of course, this was not a part of the Advent story; Jesus's Eastern Mediterranean world was one where snow was mostly limited to the mountains of Lebanon. 
But the quiet of Advent fits this spot, this mood... and I am glad to see this snow.  I did get to do some reflection this week, about Rev. Bailey-- you can read that reflection in today's Waco paper here.

Saturday, December 04, 2021


The Good Guy With a Gun

 We have faced some terrible mythologies lately: That life-saving vaccines kill people, that the elections were stolen, that we should find something to like about the Houston Astros. But the worst of them all is the myth that "the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

First of all, it doesn't really work out. Draw two columns. For the next few weeks, list all the stories you read about shootings, suicides by gun, and the like in one column. In the other column, list all of the stories about private citizens using their guns to stop a crime. Then consider: how is this theory working out in a nation where there are more guns than people

Second, and more importantly, the myth of "a good guy with a gun" does something terrible: it turns someone into a "good guy" just because they have a gun.

Like Kyle Rittenhouse, say. 

And now we have the whole terrible Crumbley family of Oxford, Michigan. Ethen Crumbley was the 15-year-old school shooter who killed four people and hurt eight this week. His parents gave him the gun as a present, apparently. I'm sure they did that because their kid could be the "good guy with a gun."

I know men who have this fantasy of being just that kind of good guy-- that they will shoot someone who threatens them. It's disturbing. And dangerous.

And only getting worse.

Friday, December 03, 2021


Haiku Friday: December


December means different things to different people. For some, it is just the end of the year. To others, it is the joy (or pain) of Christmas, or the quiet of Advent, or the lights of Hannukah.  Or, it may be the time of the first snow. 
It is a special month, though. So let's haiku about that this week.
Here, I will go first:
No first snow here yet
That's odd for Minnesota
But these are odd times.
Now it is your turn! Just use the 5/7/5 syllable pattern, and have some fun!

Thursday, December 02, 2021


Political Mayhem Thursday: The Current President


A few years ago, it was pretty easy to obsess over the Trump presidency. He did all of the crazy idiotic things he did in public, after all (or at least most of them), which meant we could bemoan them and discuss them and wonder what he really meant. That was what he wanted, of course-- to keep the American public in thrall one way or the other, and he played us pretty well. Most of the junk he said did not matter very much, but we were all pretty easily provoked. In the end, there was a lot to disagree with or even despise, but our worst fears were never realized: there was no war ginned up at election time to wag the dog, he did not pardon himself, he never actually got around to prosecuting Hillary Clinton, etc. In the absence of a crisis, none of it mattered as much as we feared. But then there was a crisis-- COVID-- and that did matter as much as we feared. 
We still have that crisis, of course--  and the prospects are not looking good right now. One reason we are in trouble is that Trump managed to cast suspicion on masking and vaccines even though the vaccines were (impressively) developed during his presidency, he actually got a severe case of COVID, and he took the vaccine. 
But he is not the president. 
How do people think Biden is doing? 

Wednesday, December 01, 2021


Oxford, Michigan


Yesterday there was yet another school shooting, this time at Oxford High School outside of Detroit. A 14-year-old girl, a 16-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl were killed, and eight others injured. It is believed that a 15-year-old male student was the shooter. 

This is a place I know-- Oxford is northwest of Detroit, an exurb, where people have horse farms and a remove from the city out past Pine Knob. It's the kind of place where people say things like this don't happen. Until they do.

There is a lot we don't know yet, of course. Like the "motivation" for the killing-- but do we ever really get a coherent explanation of that? Do we know what the motivation was for the Newtown shootings in Connecticut? Or the... well, for any of the others? 

And maybe that is what we are doing wrong.

There are a few commonalities in all of these:

1) The killers are young white males.
2) The killers have access to guns, usually multiple guns.

Young white males with guns. Like Kyle Rittenhouse. Or Travis McMichael. Just to name two. 

In a nutshell, this is it: Too many young white men in our country think they will become significant, important, if they kill people with guns.  It is a fantasy of power that comes true, whether it is Rittenhouse, McMichael, or the shooter in Oxford. Or, of course, any number of young white males with guns on television shows and in movies. We have a cultural problem; other cultures do not have this happen, so it is something different about us.

What are we going to do about that? And when?

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