Thursday, November 30, 2023


PMT: So tired of politics


Usually, I write about politics on Thursdays, but I just don't have it in me. I read the paper (on paper) and what do I see?
Another war
Trump stuff
Biden stuff
Scary news about climate
Something about Ron DeSantis
Henry Kissinger (war)
Sigh. But look at that bunny! His name is Pierre Lapin. He is from France, and has apparently made that girl bunny pretty happy. There should be more news stories about him.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023


The already-clogged transfer portal


Yesterday, the University of Minnesota's starting quarterback, Athan Kaliakmanis, entered the transfer portal and will (probably) be attending school someplace else next year.
I'm saying "attending school" instead of "playing football," because unless Kaliakmanis drops to I-AA, he's going to have a hard time getting on the field. He had a pretty rough and unproductive year at Minnesota, and a lot of other guys-- including starting quarterbacks from Indiana, Miami (FL), Mississippi State, Wake Forest, Texas Tech and Baylor, and even another guy from Minnesota-- are already in the portal.
College football is a place of limited loyalty these days; whether we are talking about schools and conferences or athletes and schools. And over the long haul, that won't make anything much better.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023


Cookie Monster


In a typically searching investigative piece, the New York Times revealed one of the great mysteries: what's the deal with Cookie Monster's cookies?
It turns out they are edible. And here is what they are made of, according to the Times:

The recipe, roughly: Pancake mix, puffed rice, Grape-Nuts and instant coffee, with water in the mixture. The chocolate chips are made using hot glue sticks — essentially colored gobs of glue.

The cookies do not have oils, fats or sugars. Those would stain Cookie Monster. They’re edible, but barely.


Monday, November 27, 2023


On leftovers!

 As usual, Gavin nailed it-- I love this one:
Open fridge, I stare.
Must I eat turkey again?
How is it it gone!

CraigA is 100% right on:

T-Day foreshadows
delight of mayo slathered
turkey sandwich … yes!
I'm a little worried about IPLawGuy:
The red wine bottle
Sits alone, oxidizing
Guess I'd better drink

The Medievalist (apparently in Minnesota) is doing it right:

Christine has a novel plan:
A smallish turkey
Yet leftovers overflow
Our over full fridge

First, Bang Bang Turkey...
A bowl of Turkey Pho soup
Classic sandwiches

And what is up with our Glenn Youngkin fan? My hunch is that this is an alter-ego of one of our Virginians....:

I do love stuffing
But nothing is quite as fine
As Glenn Youngkin.

Sunday, November 26, 2023


Sunday Reflection: On Freedom


Yesterday, I had a piece in the Waco paper (you can read it here) about the tendency for politicians to talk a lot about freedom, but not actually value it. In truth, the threat to our freedom almost always comes from ourselves, not a foreign power-- and we recently have done a lot to restrict personal freedom. 
And freedom is an important thing. I believe there was a creator, and that our creator gave us great agency over own lives. We get to make important choices about the things that create our paths. We are built that way. With that agency comes responsibility, of course. We have the freedom, physically, to harm other people-- but that doesn't mean we should. So much of morality is about personal restraint of the freedom we have, but that is very different than governmental restraint, when we are told what we can read, who can vote, what happens with our bodies. 
Freedom from government control is what allows our conscience to roam to those counter-cultural places the Christian faith points to-- sacrifice, austerity, love for enemy. When we talk about it but don't protect it, we denigrate our faith above all.

Saturday, November 25, 2023


The Game (non Harvard-Yale)


Even when it doesn't matter, it matters-- Michigan v. Ohio State is that kind of rivalry. And this year it matters, since both teams are undefeated and the winner gets to go on to destroy and humiliate Iowa in the Big Ten Championship.
I went to neither school, but when you grow up in Michigan your family kind of has to be for one or the other, and my dad was a Michigan fan (though he often pointed out that Michigan had an overall winning record against his own alma mater, Cornell).  
This is the last year before the Big Ten eats up a chunk of the Pac-12, but I suspect we may be in this same situation next year....

Friday, November 24, 2023


Haiku Friday: Leftovers


I hope you had a great Thanksgiving! Now comes a few days of rest, relaxation, family and.... leftovers. 
Personally, I love thanksgiving leftovers. There is a lot you can do with turkey, after all. Let's haiku about that this week!
Long ago, Friday
T'was turkey tetrazini
Made for a great lunch.
Now it is your turn! Just use the 5/7/5 syllable pattern, and have some fun!

Thursday, November 23, 2023


Happy Thanksgiving!


No politics today. Because it is thanksgiving.
And maybe what's lacking in our politics is an utter lack of actual grace and gratitude-- for all that we have, and the things we share.
Like pie.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023


The Right Amount of Turkey


Yesterday, the Washington Post posed an important question: "How Much Turkey Per Person?" Let's ignore their clearly wrong answer (1 1/2 pounds). 
The correct answer is five pounds per person, to account for the following:
-- Leftovers for Friday
-- Leftovers for Saturday
-- Inedible bones
-- The fact that some people LOOK skinny, but eat a lot
-- Turkey is excellent and delicious.
So, here is a handy calculator to help you pick the right turkey:
Number of People                Pounds of Turkey
3                                            15
4                                            20
5                                            25
6                                            30
10                                           50 lbs.
You may be wondering, "Mark, where can I get a 50 lb. turkey?" I'm pretty sure you can get one at the grocery store, or you might try pressing two or three turkeys together into one mega-turkey. 
One last nugget of advice. You might be looking for a new and interesting way to prepare your turkey this year. Perhaps you should consider the simple recipe IPLawGuy has used the last few years:
1) Buy a turkey using the formula above
2) UNWRAP THE TURKEY FROM THE PLASTIC  (and avoid that 2021 debacle)
3) Brine the turkey in Riesling, spices, Molson Golden, and a pinch of lime
4) Dump the brine over the engine in your car
5) Place the turkey on the brined portion of the car's engine block, securing with duct tape
6) Race up and down Interstate 66, being sure to keep your speed above 75. Drive 20 minutes for each 8 pounds of turkey.
7) Remove, serve, and enjoy! 

Tuesday, November 21, 2023




As a "Wallace and Gromit" fan, I was alarmed to see that the stop-motion animation house that produces the characters was threatened by a shutdown by their provider of clay. However, it appears that they have enough to keep going for a while.
If you aren't familiar with Wallace and Gromit, they are Claymation classics with a distinctly British edge and a definite affection for vegetables. Their movies are... gentle. And sometimes we all need a little bit of that in our lives, right?
Here is a sample:


Monday, November 20, 2023


Gathering Haiku

 So many takes on Thanksgiving gatherings...

We had this from Desiree, which describes many houses:
They arrive early
to get the comfy bed and
not the air mattress.

The Medievalist hates turkey?:
Traveling, cooking,
Visiting the relatives,
Kinda hate turkey.

IPLawGuy has a challenge at home:
I love gatherings
People I live with, not so much
So we do not. Sad.
[Note to IPLG: Come to MPLS!] 

Jill Scoggins speaks for many:
Fam’ly out of state
so giving thanks with friends. But
love them just the same.

There’s fam’ly you’re born
with, fam’ly you get, fam’ly
you choose for yourself.

As does Christine:
Around the table
Gathering of family
Reflections of love.

And what is with this pro-Youngkin poster?:

Who's that arriving?
I hope it is Glenn Youngkin!
Oh, such a dreamboat.

Sunday, November 19, 2023


Sunday Reflection: Story Complexity


This morning, I will be giving the sermon at 1st Covenant Church-Minneapolis, at 10 am. It may sound goofy, but the sermon is on the same topic as the law review article I am working on. 
The text is Matthew 13:10-17, where Jesus explains why he relies on parables. I have always loved that about the Gospels-- they are full of these rich, complex stories. 
In truth, I live in a world of rule complexity. The statutes, the sentencing guidelines, everything in my area of the law, nearly, is about rules. Rule complexity inherently favors the powerful, as they create and manipulate them, and have the resources to master them. Taxes are world of rule complexity, for example, and tax codes favor the rich through that complexity. The tool of the outsider, though, is story complexity. I think that is one reason I love clemency work: it is all about story complexity.
 As I was working on this I began to think about my dad. His work, his paintings, may seem static. In reality, though, they all were driven by a story. And I am coming to realize that they are all driven by his story. 
For example, there are several of people sitting in the back row of church-- the people who got there late, or weren't sure they should be there. And, I think, that was him for much of his life; the person who wasn't quite sure what to make of church.

And this one, of someone out in the water, perhaps too far out:

 That's him, too. He would do that, of course, go too far out and then worry us all, but in an actual lake and metaphorically.  That's him, I suppose; it all is. And I love that, too.

Saturday, November 18, 2023


Once in a while, I'm correct....


Some of you might remember that back on October 12, during the Hamas incursion into Israel, I wrote this:
My own hunch (and it is only that) is that Israel suffered from something that I see afflicting criminal law: an over-reliance on electronics while the good old human aspect is ignored.
For example, it sounds like Israel had remarkable electronic surveillance of communications in Gaza. So why didn't they see this coming? The answer could be that Hamas shunned electronics, or used them to send false messages, while relying on actual conversations to spread information. 
And the border area appears to have lacked adequate manpower to actually monitor movement using all of the electronic sources available. All the cameras in the world don't matter if no one is watching the screens.
It turns out that I may well have been right. Check out yesterday's article in the Washington Post concluded that:

[O]n Oct. 7, Hamas exploited vulnerabilities created by Israel’s reliance on technology at the “Iron Wall” to carry out the deadliest single assault in Israel’s history.

Friday, November 17, 2023


Haiku Friday: Gathering

 This week coming up is a special one-- as people travel to be with the ones they love. I'll miss my dad more than usual this week, as he traditionally held court in the breakfast room as various groups of family sat down for coffee n' talk.  Let's haiku about those gatherings today! Here, I will go first:

It should be called
Great Arrival Wednesday
Tires on gravel.

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

Thursday, November 16, 2023


PMT: The Costs of the Pandemic (part 49)


A recent Washington Post piece brought me back to a familiar subject: the costs of the pandemic on American students. Here are some of the things reported there:
-- 88% of public schools in the US went to hybrid or remote learning in the 2020-2021 school year (so, from the Fall after the start of the pandemic through the Spring of that school year)
--  More than 25% of schools resorted to using teachers who did not have teaching certificates.
-- 39% of middle schools did not offer algebra; which is pretty much where those students should be if they are on track to go on to learn higher math.
-- Many schools had a security guard... but not a counselor.  
-- Racial disparities persisted.
The cost of that period (and our poor response to the pandemic generally) will be paid by an entire generation.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023


The light


I'm a sucker for warm light. And I love it when people are a part of it.
This is a photo of the terrace outside the Student Union at the University of Wisconsin, at dusk. It's not really a picture of a band, or a crowd; it's a picture of the light beyond.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023




This is my favorite section title ever in a bookstore-- and I just found it yesterday. 
What do you think "rascality" means?

Monday, November 13, 2023


Good Haiku on Governors!

 First of all, I was glad to see that the Medievalist recognized the guv in my photo:

Jesse the body
Ventura was so freaking,
Words fail me still.
This might have been the most unsettling anonymous post in a while:

Bad boy Glenn Youngkin
Sets my timid heart afire
So smart and so hot!

We had CraigA to respond (thank you!):
No fan of VA Glenn,
the arrogant empty vest
cultural warrior.

Jill had a good week, governor-wise ("Blue Andy" was re-elected):
Blue Andy governs
our very red state. Shows how
it can, should be done.
IPLawGuy must have quite an office:

Governors retire
And mostly go back to work
Two in my office.
But also some perspective:
FDR, Reagan
Wilson, Teddy, Jimmy, Bill
All Governors first

McKinley and Hayes
Did both too, Post Civil War
After Johnson, Polk

Monroe, Madison
van Buren, and number 3,
Thomas Jefferson.
And Christine, a sometime Floridian, has a word for the Governor there:

"Ron Da" befuddles
The imagination of
How bad it could be

Hoping his career
Comes to an screeching halt with
Some type of scandal.

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