Saturday, September 30, 2023


Thursday at the bar


As usual, Drinking Liberally at the 331 Club in NE Minneapolis this past Thursday was a hoot. I spent about an hour talking about criminal law and policy, and then called my friend Justin Terrell out of the audience to come up and join me (he is the Executive Director of the Minnesota Justice Research Center). 
I love the idea of talking about policy in a tavern. It reminds me of my favorite things in Williamsburg, those old taverns where Jefferson and Patrick Henry may have had it out with some naysayers.


Friday, September 29, 2023


Haiku Friday: Things of Beauty


I love the bowl pictured (in part) at the right of the photo above. It is a little rough, and it is the imperfections that make it perfect.
Let's haiku this week about things we find beautiful. Take that however you want!
Here, I will go first:
Such elegance there
The curve and the strength draw me
A maker now gone.
Now it is your turn!  Just use the 5/7/5 syllable pattern and have some fun!

Thursday, September 28, 2023


Political Mayhem Thursday: Republican Debate #2


Something interesting happened at the Republican debate yesterday: There was actually a condemnation of Donald Trump by more than one candidate. Sure, they were only condemning his failure to show up, but it came up several times. 
Their discussion of crime, however, was (like most Democratic conversations at this kind of debate) terribly shallow. Nikki Haley complained about a "revolving door" where people are arrested and then released the next day. Well, these are people who are, at that point, presumed innocent of the crime and probably made bail-- a possibility that is protected by the Constitution of many states (including Minnesota). Then she started talking about China.
Mike Pence argued for an "expedited" death sentence for mass shooters. The problem there is that mass shooters usually kill themselves-- fear of death isn't really going to deter them. Second, what keeps the death penalty from being "expedited" are largely the protections under the Constitution.   
There are serious conversations to be had about criminal law, but this wasn't it.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023


Visiting the lines


Both President Biden and Ex-President Trump have visited striking United Auto Workers members as they walk picket lines. 
I told IPLawGuy-- a former Republican-- that I couldn't believe that autoworkers would support Trump, given his anti-union policies. Though I could barely hear him because he was driving 92 miles an hour through Falls Church in his unrestored Javelin convertible, I think he said "people vote culture, not economics." And even though he is a terrible driver and often hard to hear, I think he is right. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2023


On deck: More blathering!


Since starting my new job in mid-August I haven't done a lot of public speaking, but have two events this week. Feel free to come by!
Today at 12:30 I will be speaking at St. Thomas on crack. Well, I won't be on crack (as was once suggested by the Baylor Lariat), but talking about it. 
Then on Thursday I'll be speaking at "Drinking Liberally" (previous appearance pictured above) at 7.  They meet at the 331 Club in Northeast Minneapolis. 

Monday, September 25, 2023


Angelic haiku

 Oh, such good responses! I loved loved loved this one from Megan Willome:

When I turned to thank
them, they were nowhere. I was
unlost, unafraid.

And I loved CraigA's insight:

Seeking to honor
spirit of lost beloved ones.
Inner voices speak.
Jill Scoggins knew what I meant:

When I need it, I
feel my mother’s presence, just
there, everywhere.
And so did Christine:
Kind word or gesture
There are angels amongst us
Taking many shapes.

Then there was IPLawGuy going where I thought (hoped) he would:

Mike Trout and Rendon
Ohtani too, yet they stink
Baseball Angels, right?
And I have to think about Jon Scheib's some more:

Look for an angel
On the wing of the airplane
None, innocence lost.

Sunday, September 24, 2023


Sunday Reflection: And they departing, feeling ok about stuff...


On of several things I still find striking about the gospels-- something that surprises me-- is the reaction people have to hearing Jesus teach. Sometimes they go away angry. Other times, they appear to leave ecstatic. Often, they are troubled. 
So, why are we so rarely feeling any of those things when we leave church?
In part, it is because preachers have very practical motives not to challenge their parishioners.  If you have then leaving angry or troubled... well, they might just find another church, or at least decrease their giving.
And that is such a loss!
I always have the advantage when I preach of not relying on that for my livelihood--and I realize this is a privilege most people giving sermons don't have, Even with that, I too often don't challenge my audience enough.
How bold should a preacher be?

Saturday, September 23, 2023


Well, that was fast


This is Erin DuPree, the former head of the Minnesota cannabis office. She was in office for one day.
It turned out that her hemp shop sold illegal products.  
Regulating anything new-- the internet, electric scooters, ride share apps-- is always hard. But cannabis seems to be especially hard (though worthwhile) to regulate as a legal market.
In time, we have to hope a stable of experienced administrators will develop... but we aren't there yet.

Friday, September 22, 2023


Haiku Friday: Angels


On Tuesday, I wrote about an uncompleted painting my dad had been working on. My mom put this in the comments, and it really moved me:
Your blog brought back so many good memories. He worked on many variations of that painting over the years, but never finished it. The blue mask was temporary. I recently found the photo he was using as reference, and I think that it was taken in Italy. I especially loved the spot of paint on his left jaw. He almost always had a spot of paint on his face or an ear or in his hair after a painting session. I'm so glad that you took that picture.
So, the picture above is of another painting that I don't think my dad ever finished, but I loved this unfinished version. After all, I don't think we ever see angels clearly. 
Anyways, let's haiku about angels this week. You have wide latitude, of course-- it's fine with me if you write about the Los Angeles Angels. Here, I'll go first:
I have felt comfort
Of one wing around my arm
Unseen, in silence.
Now it is your turn! Just use the 5/7/5 syllable formula and have some fun.

Thursday, September 21, 2023


PMT: Minnesota to bar Trump?


The Minnesota Supreme Court just announced that on November 2 they will hear arguments on a case that seeks to bar Donald Trump from the Minnesota primary ballet in 2024. The basis for the suit is this provision of the US Constitution's 14th amendment:

Section 3.

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Behind this effort is a theory proffered by two people I know: my St. Thomas colleague Michael Paulsen and Univ. of Chicago law professor William Baude. You can read their article here.  
The response will at least in part rest on the argument that to boot Trump from the ballot without some kind of hearing regarding insurrection will deprive him of his right to due process.
The clause cited above is obviously targeting Confederates after the civil war, just as the Second Amendment was about 18th-century militias. That doesn't mean they are confined to those contexts, though, in either case.
This should be interesting....

Wednesday, September 20, 2023


My Secret System

 So.... for the past few decades, I have been participating in the Yahoo "College Pick'em" contest, where you choose college football games against the spread each week. And, every year, I use the same system, which is ridiculous.

Right now, my system is working GREAT, though. I am the #1 picker in the "Fans of Baylor" group (notable: close at my heals is someone identified as "First Attempt at This), and #3 in the "Fans from Minnesota" group. And yes, my picks are titled "Barky's Best." Sue me.

So, what is my secret system? I'll tell you: I just always pick the better academic school. And in a year like this when Duke, Texas, UNC and the like exceed expectations, I'm on a roll!

Tuesday, September 19, 2023


Things I miss


As readers here know, I lost my dad this past March. As the days have gone by since then, there are things I miss, of course. Some of them are very different than what I expected.
It's normal to say that you miss calling your dad up to get his advice on something. The truth is that when I called my dad up to tell him about something in my own life, he wasn't much of an advice-giver, and I'm not sure I really wanted any. Instead, he might say "huh!" and then pivot to something he heard on the radio that had him worked up.
Which, frankly, is what I miss.
I also used to make a lot excuses to be nearby when he was painting. One might think that you could wait until he was done and then appreciate the work, but that would be wrong in two ways. First, if you waited you would lose the experience of actually seeing him work, of seeing him choose a color and think and then blend it with something else and then think some more.
The other thing about seeing him create is that the finished work was often very different than the intermediate steps; in truth, there were several paintings on the way to the finished version. Consider the picture above. He is working on an image of a stout woman who seems to be wearing a blue mask, as so many of us did during the pandemic. I have never seen another painting that shows that bit of our common reality in 2020-21. And you can't see this one, probably-- it's likely he painted over that part and changed it all up as he wen. I had to be there in that spare moment to see that image.
And I miss that, too.

Monday, September 18, 2023


Road Trips!

 Great work! I guess I'm not the only one who loves a road trip.

And Craig A is a man of my own heart:
Cool New England bound:
the back way from Virginia.
1-95 never!

Welcome back, Ginger in TX!:
Impeaching at home
But spa trip with my bestie
refresh phone or soul?

Jill Scoggins knows it:
Old beach road gave us
glimpses of the Gulf all the
way to Galveston.

And Desiree, I've been there:
Heading west, sixty
six passes through the Blue Ridge.
I take a deep breath.

Christine has her own memory:

Me, Mom and Auntie
Ludington and Sleeping Bear
A great getaway.

Sunday, September 17, 2023


Sunday Reflection: Not quite perfect

 About 30 years ago, I bought a towel at the Lands End "Not Quite Perfect" store. It was colorful and soft, and big enough to lie down on if you found yourself at the beach. In script near the edge it was inscribed "Lisa Jacboson."

I've loved that towel for a lot of reasons. It is a pretty good towel, as those things go. It has lived in three states with me. And I kind of love the idea of running into the Jacboson family at the beach and having Lisa demand her towel back.

[Yes, I realize that probably they just mis-spelled "Jacobson," but don't mess with my fantasy]

My point is that what makes the towel my favorite is that, as promised, it is imperfect. That's what makes it interesting and unique. 

The people I admire most have an imperfection; some have struggled with that, others have embraced it, but their imperfection is part of the whole that I love.

If we are creations of God, it doesn't make sense at one level that we have imperfections. But at another level it totally fits.

Consider, for example, evolution. It is the imperfections that allow a species to improve, to adapt. It seems, really, to be part of God's plan.

And let me know if you run into Lisa Jacboson....

Saturday, September 16, 2023


Football-- today!


The one game everyone will be watching today: Michigan v. Bowling Green!
Well, maybe not. But Michigan's surprisingly weak non-conference schedule might turn around to bite them if they lose a game later in the season.
If you want to find a more interesting (and hopefully more competitive) game, maybe check out St. Thomas at Harvard....

Friday, September 15, 2023


Haiku Friday: Road trip!


Hopefully, as summer comes to a close, you are remembering-- or perhaps lingering in-- some kind of great trip. Many of mine have been by car, of course, but there are other kinds of "roads" you might have traveled. Let's haiku about that this week!
Here, I will go first:
I-94 year
Minnesota to Detroit
I know it so well.
Now it is your turn! Just use the 5/7/5 syllable pattern and have some fun!

Thursday, September 14, 2023


PMT: Romney leads by leaving


Yesterday, Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) announced he will not run for a second term. At age 76, he believes it is time for a new generation to step up, and called for Joe Biden and Donald Trump to follow his example. He's right.
Donald Trump was born in 1946 (four years after Joe Biden). Surprisingly, 1946 is the same year that Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were born-- men who completed their service a long time ago. Barack Obama was born 15 years after Trump (and 19 years after Biden).  Ronald Reagan was 76 (and the oldest president to hold the office until Biden) at the end of his second term, and definitely showing the signs of age (though it is disputed whether he suffered from Alzheimer's disease at that point).
Wisdom does come with age (I hope), but there are limits to the human body's ability over time-- including the mind.  
I've written here before about the cost of hanging on too long-- a particularly important case, historically, was Ruth Bader Ginsburg-- but the affirmations those in power receive seem to cloud judgement.
Romney set an example. It is unlikely to be followed.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023


Apple cord mayhem!


Houses in Minnesota often have a "mud room," kind of an extended side entryway where you can detransition from the weather outside to the weather inside. The one here has several cabinets jammed full of stuff-- and one of those cabinets is pretty much old phone chargers. Most of them are for long-gone devises, in forms that have not fit anything since 2007 or 2011 or 2017. 
I've had iPhones since they first came out (I still have that first one, which is like a small white brick with a moving dial thingee at the bottom). That means that I have an assortment of cords for various iterations as well-- and that wheel is moving again.
The new iPhone 15 was just unveiled, and it will replace the old lightening charger with the European standard USB-C. It's not such a radical change-- Apple laptops and tablets already use that standard.
So, in the not too distant future, my cabinet in the mud room will get a little more jammed....

Tuesday, September 12, 2023


Meanwhile, in DC....


Here in Minneapolis, despite what crime-yellers on Next Door might say, serious violent crime is way down this year, with homicide and robberies down about a third and carjackings down almost half compared to last year. 
Often this kind of decline is part of a national trend, but results are varied this year. Unfortunately, Washington DC is seeing things go the other way, as homicides are up nearly 30% and robberies up over 60% compared to last year. It's hard to say what has gone wrong there, but violent crime tends to build on itself. 
I'm sure that some in Washington will blame "liberal prosecutors," but, ahem, that's not really a difference between DC and many of the places seeing a decrease, which also have relatively progressive elected prosecutors. 
The truth is that there is a lot more we don't understand than we do about crime. Still, I'm convinced that these worst kind of crimes are committed by a relatively small group of people and the key is to clear cases, make arrests, and incapacitate them. The problem is that too often law enforcement reacts by going after proxy crimes (narcotics, gun possession) rather than raising their clearance rates against those committing these very worst crimes-- leaving them free to commit more of those crimes.

Monday, September 11, 2023


A cache of haiku about cash

Interestingly, Christine and Jill Scoggins both focused on change. Here is Christine:
Piggy bank sits, waits
Slot atop, clink, clink, clink, plunk
Will count when its full.
And Jill's: 
Bowl of pennies left
at old office. I wonder:
Anyone use ‘em? 
 In a first, we had three anonymous poems this week, including this:

Fiat currency
Mom Bucks, Book Bucks, Paulers
Bring back gold standard!
And this:
Classroom drama? Yes!
Try token economy.
Cheater's paradise.

And this one (my fav):

Paying for groceries
With a few Italian cars
Fiat currency.

Sunday, September 10, 2023


Sunday Reflection: Winning

 When I was a kid, organized sports were often promoted as "teaching values." I guess that is true-- but some of those values were terrible, and probably have poisoned large parts of our society.

For example, athletes of all ages are too often taught that winning is everything. I know people often make fun of "everyone gets a trophy" leagues-- but that critique is part of the problem I'm addressing. And it's not just sports-- society in general always seeks to celebrate "winners." We see that poison in kids breaking down and a president who so hates the idea of losing that he tries to subvert an election.

Believe me, I understand that sometimes it is important to win. There are battles I fight right now that affect the life, death, and freedom of people around me. But you know what? The outcome of a little league game or high school track meet isn't that. Maybe what we need to teach is how to discern when winning is important.

Jesus did not praise the winners, after all. His message threatened to turn that world upside down-- and, if we took it seriously, would threaten the same today.

Saturday, September 09, 2023


Sports History


Friday, September 08, 2023


Haiku Friday: Money, money, money....


We all kind of need it. Sometimes it threatens to rule us. We think about too much, or not enough. Let's haiku about money this week! Here, I will go first:
As a kid, a dime
Was a piece of real treasure
Felt in my pocket.
Now it is your turn! Just use the 5/7/5 syllable pattern, and have some fun!

Thursday, September 07, 2023


Political Mayhem Thursday: Biden's popularity problem


In yesterday's New York Times, Bret Stephens made a pretty good case for why President Biden is largely unpopular despite lots of good news about the nation. 
In short, he argues that the following seem to be very positive:
1) Inflation is down
2) Violent crime is down
3) The war in Ukraine has hurt Russia but not the US
And yet
1) Inflation measures don't take into account the prices of food and gas-- the two things that everyone buys, and which working people spend much of their income on. The prices they care about most are going up.
2) News accounts of terrible crimes mask actual crime rates-- people assume crime is up if it is being reported in gruesome detail.
3) What happens in Ukraine does not much affect Americans in any direct way. 
So what can Biden do? 

Wednesday, September 06, 2023


The Rotisserie Revolution


I remember life before iPhones, even before the internet. But an overlooked development in that time is the grocery store rotisserie chicken. I was reminded of this by a Washington Post taste test of a variety of birds.
The rotisserie chicken can, in fact, be really good-- and the best ones aren't always the most expensive (a Wal-Mart chicken won the taste test). And they are almost always available!
The grocery store rotisserie chicken isn't just good on its own, though-- it's handy for other dishes. For example, get a bagged caesar salad and a chicken and in about three minutes you can have a chicken caesar salad! 
It makes the world a better place.

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