Saturday, December 31, 2022


RIP Pele


Friday, December 30, 2022


Haiku Friday: Work


We pretty much all do it, or have done it: work. I love my job; in fact, I have loved pretty much all of my jobs (I'm pretty lucky that way, I know). 
So let's haiku about that this week. Here, I will go first:
What is it I make?
Hopefully, better people
Earnest and moral.
Now it is your turn! Just use the 5/7/5 formula and have some fun!

Thursday, December 29, 2022


PMT: It's beginning to look a lot like Biden....


CNN is reporting that the Biden family is heading off to the island of St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands, and when they return Joe Biden is expected to make an announcement about the 2024 presidential race.

And... it sounds like he is running, at least as CNN describes it. Typically, a politician will make sure he has support of his family before making a decision on such a race (ie, the baffling Bobby Jindal family discussion on this).

Questions remain, of course, beyond Biden's decision. If he does announce a re-election run, the next questions are these:

-- Will any Democrats run against him in the primary? Biden is especially unpopular, and it must be tempting by some ambitious members of, say, the Senate. 

-- Will Donald Trump immediately turn towards Biden, neglecting his own primary opponents and his recent problems?

-- Will the idea of two 80-somethings, Biden and Trump, running against each other just be too depressing for some Americans to take, leading to an independent run by someone 70 or younger?

Wednesday, December 28, 2022


At the Museum


My parents were kind enough to set us visiting family up with tickets to the Van Gogh exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts, where I have been going since I was very young. It's a fascinating place.

I always find something new there, and yesterday it was this.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022


Kathy O.

 I've written here before about my Hero-Sister Kathy, who works in Chicago with people who otherwise might be incarcerated or institutionalized. It's more important than what I do, really, and can be dangerous and deeply fulfilling. In the video below (beginning at about 16:40) she explains her field and her work. Listen to her, and you'll understand my admiration:

Monday, December 26, 2022


Storm poems

 I'll be honest-- I was surprised to see this from Craig A., who is from Boston (where they typically bust through snowbanks in a rear-wheel drive sedan with the windows open):

Floormat frozen with
ice, driving with gloves and hat.
Damn seat-warmer broke.

Desiree needs to move a little further north:

Waxing up my skis,
But it’s an ice storm, not snow.
Fun will have to wait.

Christine is is a similar climate (one state to the South):

Dog walks suspended...
Until further notice I
Am staying inside.

And IPLawGuy has a question:

Wait? It has a name?
Since when does a winter storm
get a moniker?

Sunday, December 25, 2022


Merry Christmas....


Merry Christmas to all!

Today I have a piece in the Waco paper (with the illustration above). I hope you will read it here.

And once you are done with that, read Bob Darden's excellent piece in the Dallas Morning News-- you can read that here.

Saturday, December 24, 2022



 If you got tired of sitting through 0-0 ties in the World Cup, here is something for you: a compendium of the best goals in the tournament!

Friday, December 23, 2022


Haiku Friday: The Storm


Much of the country, from Waco to Minnesota, has been hit by winter storm Elliot. Places further East will face it soon. Let's haiku about this-- or other-- winter storms!

Here, I will go first.

So cold that windshield
Fluid freezes upon impact
I hunch down to see.

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

Thursday, December 22, 2022


PMT: Trump's taxes

 The release of some of former president Donald Trump's tax returns show a lot of things that are pretty predictable.

First, in the first and last years of his presidency, he paid little to nothing in taxes. If you are outraged at that, prepare to be outraged at the whole taxation system-- it isn't unusual for wealthy individuals and companies to find ways to avoid paying taxes. That's wrong, and someday real reform might change that.

Second, it turns out that maybe Trump isn't all that great at business. His highest-yielding income source is one that he has no role in managing, as described by the Washington Post:

The reports also showed that Mr. Trump continued to collect large sums of interest income, a total of $38.1 million during his presidency. They do not disclose the source of that income, but the tax returns previously obtained by The Times showed that through 2017 nearly all of his interest income came from his share of profits earned by a partnership that is controlled by Vornado Realty Trust.

The partnership owns two valuable office towers: 1290 Sixth Avenue in Manhattan; and 555 California Street in San Francisco. Mr. Trump, who has a 30 percent share in the partnership, has no authority over its management, and it has consistently been his strongest-performing asset.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022


In the New York Dailies


I love a town like London or New York where you can get more than one daily newspaper-- and when I get the chance, I do. In New York, there is always the Times (a great paper, where our work has appeared three times), but am fascinated with the Post and the Daily News, tabloids that people read on the subway. They are both widely read-- the Post (founded by Alexander Hamilton in 1801) has the 4th highest circulation in the country, while the Daily News is #11.  
Both tabloids are well-known for their sensationalist headlines, most famously the 1975 Daily News headline "Ford to City: Drop Dead!" and the Post's classic "Headless Body in Topless Bar." 

In a recent epic adventure, the Post turned on Donald Trump as he announced his election bid last month in a story on page 26 titled "Been There, Don That." Among other epic trolls, the piece began by reporting that “With just 720 days to go before the next election, a Florida retiree made the surprise announcement that he was running for president.”
Anyways, Rachel Barkow and I had a piece in the Daily News yesterday, and I love the idea of people reading it on the subway. You can read it here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022


The Comeback


I had a restful pre-holiday Saturday last week. I did some Christmas shopping, came home and flipped on the Vikings game. It was halftime, and I was shocked to see that the Vikings were down to the Colts 33-0. It was a terrible blowout already for what has generally been a pretty good team (in fact, with a win, they would clinch the top spot in their division with several games to go).  

So I fell asleep. It was a pretty good nap, and when I woke up the score was 36-21; the Vikings had managed to score three touchdowns somehow. I sat up. They kept scoring. In the last few minutes of the game they tied it up somehow, 36-36.

The game went into overtime, and the Vikings won, 39-36. It was the biggest comeback in the history of the NFL. 

Immediately, I thought "I'll bet a lot of people left at halftime." Actually, when they showed the crowd, it didn't look like that-- it was still pretty much a full house. And they must have been glad they stayed! 

I'm not big on "lessons from sports," but it's hard to miss the one there.

Monday, December 19, 2022


Poems and the Table

 You all make me so happy! It was a good crop of poems on Friday. We had this from Desiree:

Adding chairs to the
table, as family grows.
This year— a high chair!

And a nice one from Your Tim(e) Has Come (I'm with you, brother):

Beautiful brightness
In this darkest time of year
Gives us hope anew.

This one seems quite pointed (and I hope the wish is fulfilled):

That baby of mine
Needs to spend more time with me!
Thank you, Holidays!

And then there is IPLawGuy's lament:

Sister in Law wants this
Mom wants that, wife stresses me out
I want peace and joy.

And a report from Christine:

Brother and Mom distant
We share stories of our day
Over the land line.

Sunday, December 18, 2022


Sunday Reflection: Joseph Waits


In 1623, Philippe de Champaigne painted the image above, title "The Dream of St. Joseph," which today hangs in the British Gallery in London. To me, it is the heart of the Advent story. It depicts the events recalled in the first Chapter of Matthew:

18Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ 22All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

23‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,

and they shall name him Emmanuel’,

which means, ‘God is with us.’ 24When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, 25but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.

I love the way it is painted. Joseph is in a terrible position, with a pregnant girlfriend he did not impregnate. He works hard as a carpenter, which is exhausting. Here, he is shown asleep after work, with his tools and his sandals at his feet.

My dad has always had a soft spot for Joseph in the whole Christmas story, and now I get it. Joseph made a true sacrifice, and put himself up for ridicule. Mary, of course, is usually the focus of the story and in paintings is in the foreground, but here the roles are reversed for a moment.

Advent quiet can mean many things, and this is one of them.

Saturday, December 17, 2022


Inflatables: IPLawGuy Edition


For nearly every season, IPLawGuy has a set of inflatable characters he sets up in front of his house. For Thanksgiving, it was an enormous turkey. For President's Day, a gigantic figure of his ancestor Rutherford B. Hayes. For St. Patrick's Day, it's our friend from college, Roger (not the actual guy, but an inflatable image of him complete with a beer).

Pictured above is part of his display for this year. Everyone will recognize the Grinch on the left, but the car with the tree is a more subtle reference. Emily Bronte fans will remember that in her less-remembered book "The Straightpins," Mr. Rackle and his family are involved in a traffic accident in the village where a tree end up attached to the roof of their car, where it remains until they are (several weeks later) rear-ended on the motorway by Father Wigglesby, Rector of St. Scones-on-the-Motorway.  

Here is the rest of his Christmas display:

Three things of note on this one.

First, the character on the left appears to be a better-dressed (and actual-size) version of IPLawGuy's dog, Chester.

Second, is the dinosaur a character from some cartoon I don't know?

Third, what is beneath the burial mound in the middle of the photo?

Friday, December 16, 2022


Haiku Friday: Reunions


The Holidays are a time we get to see family and friends. There is more, of course, and sometimes that is complicated, but the best times are often when we get to see our people. Let's haiku about that this week. Here, I will go first:

I will make my soup
Irresponsible chowder
They love-lie: "The best!"

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

Thursday, December 15, 2022


PMT: Things that Matter/Things that Don't


I'm often stumped by the lack of perspective in our politics. Tiny issues or non-issues-- often something about an isolated incident-- become hugely significant during campaigns, while real issues are ignored.

There were some real, serious issues in this last campaign: crime and the economy, to name two. Some of those who ran on these issues, once elected, immediately forgot about them and pledged to immediately turn their attention to Hunter Biden.

Here is a short list of issues that matter at the federal level:

-- The Economy (noting that government, other than the Federal Reserve, can do little about the economy in the short term)
-- Crime
-- Climate change
-- Wealth disparities and taxation
-- Foreign policy
-- Immigration

And here are some that don't really matter at the federal level:

-- Any President's children (including Ivanka)
-- Their laptops
-- Who uses which bathroom
-- Any sportsball team

Am I right?

Wednesday, December 14, 2022


The Mucinex Man


Last night, on a Zoom call with my parents and other members of my family, we got into an extended discussion of the Mucinex Man. He's the mascot of a nasal-congestion drug (Mucinex, duh), and really troubling.

First of all, let's face it, he's made of boogers. One wonders about the meeting at Saatchi & Saatchi where they came up with this idea, and how much they had been drinking. Think about it-- someone must have actually pitched the idea, looking up from their sketch pad while announcing "I've got it! A guy made out of boogers!" 

Second, his facial expression doesn't reflect nasal congestion, but real gastric distress. This guy is about to blow. I'm not sure why that was part of the package either, but just look at him-- it's hard to ignore.

Mr. Mucinex has to be right up there (along with Ronald McDonald, the Burger King, and Wendy) as the creepiest non-sports mascot of all. But even he isn't as unsettling as the New Orleans Pelicans' King Cake Baby:

Tuesday, December 13, 2022




This is Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of the FTX crypto exchange. He was arrested yesterday in the Bahamas and will be extradited to the United States to face charges in the Southern District of New York. FTX has collapsed, sending the crypto market as a whole into a tailspin. 

SBF, as he is often known, was incredibly wealthy-- he bought out his partner in FTX, for example, for $2 billion. He made this money from selling something that was really nothing-- a set of fiat currencies that were logged on blockchain. 

Because what they sold were vaporous, the price went up so long as people believed in it, and crashed when they no longer did. Many things are like that, of course-- but the less inherent value there is in the subject of the commerce, the more striking the ups and downs. And crypto, unlike real estate or a car, has absolutely no inherent value.

Two years ago, a lot of people would have loved to have been SBF. But.... things change. 

Monday, December 12, 2022


Christmas tunes


Ah! Christmas music! Lots of good poems. Like this one from IPLawguy:

Best Christmas Song "All
I want for Christmas is You"
Not Carey, Foghat!

And relatedly, this anonymous entry:

Mariah Carey
Every Christmas mix needs you!!
Happy! Merry ! Joy!

Jill Scoggins brought a question I have never thought of before when I hear the song (the answer is in Luke 1:26-34):

"Mary, Did You Know?"
makes ME wonder: DID she know
who her baby was?

And then had this flashback:

Oddest holiday
duet ever: Bowie and
Bing. Real head shaker.

Another from IPLawguy:

DC Area
Classic: Root Boy Slim and band
"Christmas at K-Mart"

And, finally, Desiree may have misheard this one:

Singing “Goat tails on
the mountain”. Right or wrong it’s
still a bangin’ tune!

Sunday, December 11, 2022


Sunday Reflection: Brooding

A week from today I will be giving a sermon. (If you are interested, it will be at 10 am at First Covenant Church in Minneapolis). It's a very small congregation but has a great gospel choir led by Robert Robinson (who is in the video above).

That means that for part of the week, I will have to block out some time for brooding. Hulitt Gloer taught me about that-- it's a period you set aside to think about a sermon without writing it. You just kind of let the words roll around in your head and the ideas percolate.

I've given sermons without brooding over them first, and it doesn't work very well. Going straight to writing means that you are going straight to structure without knowing what the big thing is that you want to say.

I'll be honest: the brooding continues right up to the start of the sermon for me. I have often scratched things out and added stuff as the choir is singing and even when the passage I will preach on is being read. 

It's no way to get to perfect, but it is a good way to get to inspired. And I fear that there is too little brooding overall in our society, by me and a lot of others. 

Hulitt was right: you have to feel it before you do it.

Saturday, December 10, 2022



 The World Cup is well into the quarterfinals. Today features England vs. France in a vivid recreation of the 30-year War, or something like that. But yesterday we had Brazil losing (to Croatia) and Argentina winning (against the Netherlands):

Friday, December 09, 2022


Haiku Friday: Christmas Music!


Yeah, I love Christmas. And I really love Christmas music! Let's haiku about that this week. Here, I will go first:

I heart Pearl Bailey
Her five pound box of money
Belt it, lady!

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

Thursday, December 08, 2022


Political Mayhem Thursday: The Big Mess A-Coming

 You thought 2022 was mayhemic? Wait until you get a load of 2024 in American politics. It is going to be wild.

On the Republican side, Donald Trump is already running. We can expect that any number of Republicans of varying ideologies (Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton, Nikki Haley, Mike Pence, the MyPillow Guy, whoever that guy is who is known as "Master of the Pan Flute,") are going to jump in as well. Despite the media consensus that Republicans are moving away from Trump, that seems much more true of the elites (including those who would run against him) than for the base that actually shows up for primaries. A lot of people in this country- a plurality of Republicans, and perhaps a majority-- are more allied with Trump than they are to the Republican Party. 

That means two out of three possible outcomes could be chaotic. First, loses the primaries and waves good-bye and retires for politics-- that's the non-chaotic outcome. Second, Trump wins the primaries and is the Republican nominee-- that would be chaotic because he has no real platform beyond immigration and uh, kinda talking about veterans, but mostly just wanting to have not lost the 2020 race.  The third and most chaotic outcome would be that Trump loses the Republican primaries, runs as an independent against a Democrat and a moderate Republican and just makes the whole thing a giant mess.

Then there are the Democrats.

Joe Biden has won some victories, but is not widely liked. He seems old and fusty and cranky. He didn't really have to campaign in 2020 (because of COVID) but would have to this time, and that would not go so well. If he runs again, he will likely be primaried by a younger person with vigor. If he doesn't run, the Democrats have no dominant front-runner and the problem of the existing president. 

And that cycle starts next month. Get ready!

Wednesday, December 07, 2022


Warnock wins!


The results are in from the run-off election for U.S. Senate in Georgia, and Raphael Warnock defeated Herschel Walker, albeit by less than four points. The election really mattered, even though the Democrats already controlled the Senate with a 50-50 split (the Vice President breaks ties) for two reasons.

First, a lot of proposed legislation has been blocked by WV Senator Joe Manchin and Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema. This give a little more leeway on that, even while allowing deeply partisan legislation to struggle.

Second, this allows the Democrats to truly control committees-- without this win, membership on committees would be split 50-50. 

Finally, I want to note one thing. A lot of my friends have said that Walker doesn't seem very smart, that he doesn't seem to understand the Senate, and that he only got this chance because of football. Mostly (maybe all) true. BUT... all those things are certainly true of Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville, who is White (and famous as the former coach of Auburn). Perhaps it is the prominence and importance of the Walker race that pointed more attention on him than Tuberville faced-- or maybe race still matters.

Tuesday, December 06, 2022


Bowl Season!


It's been a fascinating college football season-- really, the only sport I follow closely. Baylor? Disappointing. Minnesota? Middle of the pack. Michigan? Wow!

The Wolverines won every game, beat Ohio State in Columbus, won the Big 10 Championship and are the second seed in the playoff, where they will play TCU in the semifinal. They might end up in the championship game-- and might meet Ohio State there for an epic rematch, as That Ohio State University (or something like that) is the #4 seed.

Here are the Bowl games I care about:

December 22, Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Baylor vs. Air Force
    -- It's the Air Force vs. the Bear Force!

December 27, Guaranteed Rate Bowl, Wisconsin vs. Oklahoma State, Phoenix
    -- Big 10 vs. Big 12 disappointments meet!

December 29, Pinstripe Bowl, New York City, Minnesota vs. Syracuse
    -- No, it's not the most ridiculous location for a bowl game. That would be the
            "Fenway Bowl" in Boston.

December 31, Fiesta Bowl, Michigan v. TCU
    -- See above.

December 31, Peach Bowl, Georgia vs. Ohio State
    -- Er, Georgia gets to play it's semifinal in the Peach Bowl? Hmmm....

Monday, December 05, 2022


Oh, Iowa....

 As it turns out, "Iowa" was not the most popular topic for haiku, and I guess that one is on me. I could have picked "New York" or "California" as topics and done a lot better, I suppose. This one seemed to drive most of our normal poets away. I will come up with something better next week! 

Iowa does have it's charms, of course. Christine offered this:
Fields of corn, endless...
Someone plowed some acreage to
build a baseball field.

And we had a anonymous entry:
Pasta Barilla!!!
I always liked to announce
As we sped by Ames.

And one from Razor Wife:

The minivan mom
Busted on I-35
Within Iowa

I wasn't speeding
Cop looking for a blue van
Not our family.

Sunday, December 04, 2022


Sunday Reflection: Quiet


It's Advent, my favorite part of the liturgical year. I love the idea behind it, the sense of contemplation and waiting, the quiet to it.

But... I'm not very good at contemplation and waiting. I want to be. I understand why it is important. I just don't do it very well.

Part of the problem is that there always turns out to be so much to do right around now. This year, it is working with the transition of Mary Moriarty into the job of County Attorney and leading the largest law office in this state. It just... well, it takes a lot of time. And it isn't exactly restful. 

But there are moments of quiet. That's one great thing about church: it is a controlled environment. No one is going to come up to you with an alarming message. There is some time with your thoughts in a beautiful space. It's worth getting up for. 

Friday, December 02, 2022


Was it out?

 Here is the biggest controversy so far at the World Cup:


Haiku Friday: Iowa


Traditionally, Iowa has held the first contest in American presidential races, a series of caucuses held by each party throughout the state. The memoirs of many presidents recount long days traversing the state hoping to catch the attention of the natives. Last time around, I made a point of going down to Minnesota's neighbor to the south for some events held in coffeeshops, school gyms and bars-- and it was a fascinating scene.

But, no more. It is looking likely that Iowa is about to lose its first-in-the-nation status next year, as other states will be promoted ahead of it. 

So, what did little old Iowa do wrong?

First, the Democrats really botched the 2020 caucuses there, and results were delayed. The whole process seemed poorly planned and executed.

Second, Iowa isn't very representative of our nation as a whole, and giving its votes an outsized influence is troubling. It's a very white state. Also, the population skews a little old. For example, their senior senator tweeted this out before Thanksgiving regarding his vacuum:

Anyways... let's haiku about Iowa this week. Here, I will go first:

So, so very cold
Highway in the swirling snow
Iowa tundra.

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


Thursday, December 01, 2022


The Secrets of Trump's Taxes


I joined Truth Social, Donald Trump's Twitter clone, largely because I missed getting messages like this one, from today:

"Our great Senator from Alabama-- thank you Tommy Tuberville!"

This love not to America's least effective Senator was posted atop Tuberville's own "Truth," which declared Trump was "the leader America needs in 2024." Which I kind of like, because it implies that we don't really need Trump for the rest of 2022 or all of 2023 (a sentiment I agree with).

The Treasury Department, pursuant to a court order, finally provided Trump's tax returns for the past six years. We don't know what is in there (yet), but earlier leaks suggested he paid little or no tax for at least some of those years. Trump's take on that has been that not paying taxes shows that he is "smart."

Now we will probably learn more. I don't understand taxes very well, but I suspect there will be some interesting deductions....

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