Friday, October 20, 2017


Haiku Friday: Cats

A few weeks ago, a black cat sauntered into my yard, looked in the window, then lazily stretched out on the front walk like he owned the place. They have this way of doing that, don't they? It's fascinating and a little weird.

So let's haiku about cats! Here, I will go first:

Our feline was "Chuck"
He seemed to be retired
Mice would come to him.

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

Thursday, October 19, 2017


Political Mayhem Thursday: What's the Matter with Republicans?

That was the title of Ross Douthat's piece in the NY Times yesterday.

He makes a lot of sense, writing from the conservative side of things, in comparing Trump negatively to George W. Bush. Here is part of what he says:

.... But if you prefer pessimism, you’ll dwell instead on the second takeaway from Thomas Frank’s Trump-era vindication — namely, that a depressing percentage of American conservatives seem perfectly happy with the bargain that Frank claimed defined their party, with a president who ignores their economic interests and public policy more generally and offers instead the perpetual distraction of Twitter feuds and pseudo-patriotic grandstanding.
This dispiriting contentment is the sentiment you see from some of Trump’s blue-collar supporters, who love his uncouth rhetorical war on his fellow coastal elites so much that they’re willing to forgive him his threadbare policy agenda or else trust that gridlock and inertia will protect them from Republican bills whose actual contents they might probably oppose.
It’s also what you see from a segment of religious conservatives, like those gathered at last week’s Values Voters Summit, who cheered rapturously for an empty, strutting nationalism and a president who makes a mockery of the remoralized culture that they claim to seek.
Note that I don’t mean the religious conservatives who supported Trump reluctantly and in a transactional spirit, and who welcome his conservative judicial nominees. I mean those who plainly prefer his brutish braggart’s style to the sort of public decency that Bush or, in a different way, Mitt Romney offered — and who either spin elaborate fantasies about Trump the Christian or laud him as a Conan-esque warlord they think will drive their enemies before them.
For these Trump-besotted believers, you get the sense that the Bush administration’s attempts to devise a substantial socially conservative agenda, from bioethics to marriage promotion to faith-based initiatives and more, are remembered not for being timorous, limited or flawed (all of which they were) but for being simply boring. Far better to have a president who really sticks it to those overpaid babies in the N.F.L. and makes the liberals howl with outrage — that’s what a real and fighting conservatism should be all about!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


Well, there goes the marijuana...

Apparently, one victim of the California wildfires has been that state's marijuana-growing industry, which is centered in three northern counties. This is happening right before the legal recreational marijuana market opens up there, too.

So what does it mean? In short, prices will be higher-- just like anything else where supply is restricted. The same was true with illegal marijuana, of course. I'm constantly baffled how our approach to illegal drugs ignores the way markets work. We assume that constricting supply will "cure" the drug problem. That's just not realistic. It can, at best, temporarily raise the price, and that might be a good thing, but it is neither dramatic nor lasting so long as demand continues.

And why do Americans like drugs so much? And shouldn't that be the first question we ask, not the last one?

Tuesday, October 17, 2017



I love my dad's picture on his blog this week (you can find the whole thing here). Here is part of what he has to say in the accompanying post:

It is interesting that we go through our day doing things like scratching our heads or we stir a cup of coffee with a definite rhythm even though it is not necessary. A steady rhythm is a basic part of human life starting when we were in a comfortable place with only our mother’s breathing and heartbeat. Even after we are thrust into a less peaceful environment we often seek out a calm place where we are alone with our natural rhythms. We try to walk and talk at a steady pace. We check our watches when we run to keep ourselves on a steady pace. We easily fall asleep riding in a train with the steady click clack of the wheels on the tracks and drift off when we hear the consistent sound of waves on a beach.

It is not surprising that this steady beat has been essential to our music. The pulse of our music starts us dancing or at least nodding our heads or tapping our feet to the beat. We all like to believe we have rhythm.

It's true, isn't it? (except the last part-- I am under no delusion that I have rhythm).  Later, he's got this:

Detroit’s jazz, like the city itself, is know for its persistence. The music maintains a powerfully steady beat from beginning to end. It is who we are and the reason the city  has turned out legions of great bassists and drummers. This has allowed Detroit to be a dynamic town for experimental music.

To the roots, Dad!

Monday, October 16, 2017


The Medievalist dreams of Autumn

I feel for the Medievalist. He wrote this last friday:

The heat of summer
Has finally gone south and
Frost covers the grass.

I asked if that was true in Waco-- and it wasn't.  It was in the 90's there. Sigh.

Also Texas-y was CTL:

Seems Waco's summer
Has settled over Houston
On its southward trek.

And Jill Scoggins told a perfect little story:

Morning. I open
the door for the dog. He
brakes! The air’s now cold!

But Christine gave me an image that lingered:

Driving, roadside stand,
A field of colorful Mums
I stop and pick one.

Sunday, October 15, 2017


Sunday Reflection: The sins of the powerful

Harvey Weinstein, ugh.

The stories that have come out are just horrible. It's bizarre that it did not come out sooner, given the remarkable scope of his actions. BUT... there is a reason it didn't come out. He was powerful. People knew what could be lost if they told the truth.

People have such a desire for power, to get a position where they hold the fate of people and projects in their hands. It often has to do with money, but it is more than that. Something deeper and often darker is at work within that ambition.  One thing that comes with power is the ability to get away with stuff. One powerful person explained that dynamic here:

"When you're a star they let you do anything."

You add that power to misogyny and what comes out is destructive to all of us.  And by now, this is not news.

Saturday, October 14, 2017


Costanza Wallet

I'm having a little bit of a "Costanza Wallet" situation lately. I did a little inventory, and my wallet contains all of the following:

-- transit passes from 3 cities
-- unidentifiable hotel keycard (marked only with a Papa John's ad)
-- gas receipts
-- faded receipt from what appears to be "D_ug G-rr---f--s LLC
-- customer card from defunct Farmer Jack grocery store
-- lucky $2 bill

So, I'm open to suggestions-- what needs to go?

Friday, October 13, 2017


Haiku Friday: The Fall

This is such a sensual time of year-- when all of the senses can be engaged with what surrounds us. Originally, haiku were themed around nature and the sense of our surroundings that poetry encompasses so well.  

Please, write a haiku about what you see, taste, feel, hear, smell in this sweet season. I will go first:

There you are, red leaf
Taken to air, rustle, fly 
Fall, pile, gather, love.

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

Thursday, October 12, 2017


Political Mayhem Thursday: What Happens Now?

In the past week, as Puerto Rico continues to bleed, a new series of sex scandals regarding a powerful man emerged, and the threat from North Korea continued to escalate, the President of the United States seemed obsessed with his personal feuds with Senator Bob Corker and his own Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson. He made fun of Corker's height and challenged Tillerson to an IQ test face-off, among other things.

This is what a lack of leadership looks like. Exactly like this.

But, Marshall's got it, I'm told.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


Still relevant

This 1965 debate between William F. Buckley and James Baldwin is remarkable. It reflects issues we still wrestle with, though portions of the Buckley position is rarely articulated in public (though it often is in private, I suspect).

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


Like the 2000's all over again!

It hasn't been a great year for Baylor football.

They had a pretty big shakeup last year, of course, which included the departure of Head Coach Art Briles and a bunch of players in the wake of the sexual assault scandal at the University. At that point, for a while, football was viewed as not so important at Baylor, which was pretty appropriate given the situation.

They paid a lot of money to bring in a new coach, Matt Rhule, from Temple (though probably not as much as the $5,000,000+ a year they were paying Art Briles). In his three seasons at Temple, Rhule went 2-10, 6-6, and then 10-3 last year.

So far this year, Baylor has lost to Liberty (a division I-AA program), Univ. of Texas at San Antonio, Duke, Oklahoma, and Kansas State. Staring at an 0-5 start, now they play Oklahoma State away-- and Oklahoma State is the #14 team in the country. After that come West Virginia and Texas at home, Kansas away, #24 Texas Tech in Arlington, Iowa State at home, and finishing up at #6 TCU.  Ouch.

They will get better. They probably won't be great again for more than a fluke year or two now and then; Baylor does not have the resources to do that, especially with the thorns of this scandal dogging it for a while. And some people are probably ok with that. 

Monday, October 09, 2017


Look up

There were several great haiku last week, but I want to talk about Gavin's:

You, with the iPhone.
The world is full of wonder!
Why won't you look up?

It' s bad enough that people drive while staring at their phones-- now it seems like everyone crosses the street while doing that, too. I'm sure that somewhere in the US a driver who was staring at the phone ran over a pedestrian who was doing the same thing.

Mortal danger aside, there is the issue of real vs. represented beauty. 

A few weeks ago I was walking down Nicollet behind a young guy watching a movie on his phone. As I passed, I saw the image: a street scene, people walking and laughing. He was in, literally inside, that same scene, but he did not see it.

What do we lose with all this?

Sunday, October 08, 2017


Sunday Reflection: The Fall

Yesterday I drove up to town north and west of Minneapolis. Along the way, the trees were turning. On the way back, I stopped in the little town of Cold Spring which has a handful of businesses that include a bakery and a brewery. In the bakery, they had all kinds of beautiful frosted monster cookies, in any color you might like.

Fall is here. I love fall.  Part of it is the aesthetic, the gentle palate of colors if you live in a place with trees and a good view of the sky. The weather, too, is just the tiniest bit challenging. You might need a sweater. Or, you might not. Hard to say.

It is something to be grateful for. And if there is one thing we seem to be lacking as a nation it is gratitude. Instead, we are becoming a nation of grievance, even among those with the most abundance.

How can that be, on a day like this?

Saturday, October 07, 2017


My Ideal Superhero Team

So, IPLawGuy tipped me off to the fact that Bulgarians have been repainting Soviet monuments to depict American superheroes.  It's really an awesome development.

I would add that I LOVE the idea of a superhero team that includes Superman, Ronald McDonald, Captain America, Santa Claus, and the Joker (as depicted above).  That is some serious ideological diversity!

Friday, October 06, 2017


Haiku Friday: That makes me sad

Sadness is something we all feel now and then. I'm with my dad in thinking that there can be something like the good blues. Often I can identify exactly why I am sad-- maybe one of my clients was denied clemency, but other times it is more difficult.

This photo supposedly shows a divorcing couple dividing up their Beanie Babies. There is something really sad about that, and I struggle a little to figure out why. A few guesses:

1) They appear to be doing it in an arbitration room, which is kind of depressing-- the combination of toys and such formality.

2)  It they both loved Beanie Babies so much (and it looks like they were WAY into Beanie Babies), how come they couldn't hold the marriage together?

3)   She is dressed for work, it seems. I am imagining her returning to her office, downcast, with her arms full of Beanie Babies.

So, this week, let's haiku about things that make us sad even though we aren't quite sure why. I will go first:

In the grocery
Dusty can of Viennas
Why aren't they loved?

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

Thursday, October 05, 2017


Political Mayhem Thursday: Meanwhile, across the pond...

Sure, we have some remarkable political events going over here. But meanwhile, in England, Tory Leader and beleaguered Prime Minister Theresa May is having some problems that at least are kind of funny (other than the coughing fit-- that is never funny):

Wednesday, October 04, 2017


Who is taking the gun money?

The Washington Post published a fascinating list of which members of Congress get money from the NRA. Here is the list from Minnesota:


The NRA has donated $66,050 to Minnesota members of Congress who are currently in office.

Interesting that the top recipient is a Democrat, huh?

It's a different story in California:


The NRA has donated $241,020 to California members of Congress who are currently in office.
  • 1.   Rep. Ken Calvert (R)$42,550
  • 2.   Rep. Darrell Issa (R)$29,900
  • 3.   Rep. Duncan Hunter (R)$24,850
  • 4.   Rep. Devin Nunes (R)$22,950
  • 5.   Rep. David Valadao (R)$19,400
  • 6.   Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R)$18,000
  • 7.   Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R)$15,450
  • 8.   Rep. Tom McClintock (R)$13,950
  • 9.   Rep. Duncan D Hunter (R)$13,000
  • 10.  Rep. Ed Royce (R)$11,970
  • 11.  Rep. Susan Brooks (R)$6,000
  • 12.  Rep. Paul Cook (R)$6,000
  • 13.  Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R)$6,000
  • 14.  Rep. Mike Thompson (D)$4,000
  • 15.  Rep. Mimi Walters (R)$4,000
  • 16.  Rep. Steve Knight (R)$3,000
And look how much more money is poured into Texas!


The NRA has donated $487,050 to Texas members of Congress who are currently in office.
  • 1.   Rep. Pete Sessions (R)$51,650
  • 2.   Rep. Joe Barton (R)$31,500
  • 3.   Rep. John Culberson (R)$30,500
  • 4.   Rep. Lamar Smith (R)$29,900
  • 5.   Sen. John Cornyn (R)$27,750
  • 6.   Rep. John Carter (R)$26,950
  • 7.   Rep. Michael McCaul (R)$25,000
  • 8.   Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R)$23,900
  • 9.   Rep. Henry Cuellar (D)$22,350
  • 10.  Rep. Kevin Brady (R)$21,500
  • 11.  Rep. Sam Johnson (R)$21,000
  • 12.  Rep. Kay Granger (R)$17,950
  • 13.  Rep. Pete Olson (R)$17,950
  • 14.  Rep. Michael Burgess (R)$16,650
  • 15.  Rep. Mike Conaway (R)$14,500
  • 16.  Rep. Kenny Marchant (R)$13,750
  • 17.  Rep. Ted Poe (R)$13,500
  • 18.  Rep. Louis B Gohmert Jr (R)$13,450
  • 19.  Rep. Will Hurd (R)$11,900
  • 20.  Rep. Bill Flores (R)$11,000
  • 21.  Sen. Ted Cruz (R)$9,900
  • 22.  Rep. Blake Farenthold (R)$8,500
  • 23.  Rep. Gene Green (D)$8,000
  • 24.  Rep. Roger Williams (R)$6,500
  • 25.  Rep. Brian Babin (R)$4,000
  • 26.  Rep. John Lee Ratcliffe (R)$3,500
  • 27.  Rep. Randy Weber (R)$2,000
  • 28.  Rep. Filemon Vela (D)$1,000
  • 29.  Rep. Jodey Arrington (R)$1,000
Does it matter?

Tuesday, October 03, 2017


The blood in the streets

In the wake of the horrific Las Vegas shooting last night, the most true headline might have come from the most fake newspaper, the Onion: Americans Hopeful This Will Be Last Mass Shooting Before They Stop On Their Own For No Reason.

There are no easy answers, because it is a complex problem. Gun laws could (and should) change, but that may have little effect, as there are already so many guns floating around in this country already. I continue to think that part of the problem is culture. We glorify shooting in our entertainment.  If on a Friday night I flip around on the TV between channels, over and over I see people with guns. Try it. Once you start noticing it is deeply unsettling. In movies and on TV, people firing guns at other people is just... pretty normal. You add that to a society where even a few people are mentally ill, deeply angry, or obsessively committed to some belief or ideology, and you have a recipe for... well, exactly what happened.

I know that some people will say that most people can distinguish between a movie and reality, and that is true. But "most people" don't include the killers. And when one man can kill 59 people and wound 500 more, that truism is little consolation.

Monday, October 02, 2017


He's right, of course

The Spanish Medievalist is almost always right, but he was especially right this week!

Piña coladas,
I love them too but the song
Makes me vomit.

And Craig A, I am with you!

“Rock the Boat” ruined
A perfectly good summer
Working on the Cape

Through I disagree with IPLawGuy:

Some guy screaming, screaming
In a black leather jacket
Just make it stop!

Sunday, October 01, 2017


Sunday Reflection: The simple joy of an apple

It was kind of a stressful week. I am writing a casebook for criminal law, and it can be intense work. There were some crises for a few of my students this week to deal with. There are times I feel like a not-so-great teacher.

In the middle of the afternoon, though, I usually pull out an apple. It's a beautifully constructed thing, the size of my hand, smooth and glossy. It isn't perfect, of course; it grew on a tree and then fell on the ground, after all. There is a bruise here or there, a bit of dirt to clean off. But beautiful and perfect are very different.

On one of those hard days, I eat the apple slowly. I bite into it deep, and the sound is gorgeous-- the crunch as the flesh gives way to my teeth.  I chew it slowly; the skin is different than the inside, and I relish them both, rolling it under my tongue.  I work my way around the middle, then to the ends, first the bottom and then the top. Why? I have no idea. But I do it that way, always.

And then I smile. It's kind of a remarkable thing, after all. I am lucky, and  happy, and full of this creation's bounty.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?