Sunday, December 31, 2006

Friday and Saturday

Thursday morning we arrived in Niamey at 3:30am. David Totman met us at baggage claim, and against all hopes an expectations all of our baggage came off the conveyer belt. We were holding our breath for customs, as we had hardly been looked at thus far and felt we had it coming (especially carrying so many power tools), but they just waved us through without hardly making eye contact.
We went to the Totman's house after dropping off some team members at a mission guest house, talked for a little, and then slept for the rest of the morning. In the afternoon, David drove us around the town a bit and showed us the projects we would be working on. That night we ate at a Vietnamese place. I don't know if the food was really amazing or if we were just really hungry, but I can't remember the last time I enjoyed fried rice so much.
Friday was work day. Becca, Jared, Don Murdock, and I were assigned to building desks. There were 30 hand-welded frames and a stack of plywood varying in quality from bad to unusable. By lunchtime we had cut out all the pieces and had most of them sanded. The afternoon work went slower, since we discovered some of the pieces had to be as custom-made as the frames, and we had to glue some of the plywood back together.

The roofing and tree-trimming crew did well, too. The roofers got 22 of the 33 sheets of metal up, and the tree folks estimate they are also about 2/3 done.
We had dinner at the American Rec Center, connected to the American embassy here. They have a little hot-dog stand, a TV broadcasting college football, and a swimming pool with no water.

Tuesday, Dec. 26--Wednesday, Dec. 27

Tuesday morning eleven of us met at the church and loaded our 22 bags to check and 11 carry-ons into the church bus and drove to Orlando airport. There we stood in line for approximately forever to check our bags and were rather tight making our already-delayed flight to JFK. There we discovered our connecting flight to Casablanca was NOT late and we would have to navigate the construction quickly to get to the international terminal. Oh, and our boarding passes were no good and the counter to get new ones was closing in five minutes. We got everything we needed, went through security again, met our worried twelfth member Steve McCarthy, and walked right onto the waiting plane.
One the 6.5-hour flight (11pm Eastern to 6:30am Casablanca time) the Vegters met a young Moroccan named Omar who drove a taxi in New York. He kindly got us on a train from the airport to our stop, hailed five taxis, and told the drivers where to take us for our hotel. Moroccan is a creole of French, Spanish, and Arabic, so naturally communication was a little bit of a trick.
The hotel was... um... well, it wasn't exactly a Hilton. The paint was peeling, there were no shower curtains, no heat, and in Becca's and my room, no working toilet. There was a TV, but none of them had any knobs to turn them on. I doubt they had worked in decades. The beds were comfortable,though, and the water was hot.
Once we dropped off our bags, we went for an explore.

The third-largest mosque in the world is in Casablanca, and it was about an hour's walk from our hotel, so we headed there. It is one of the few mosques that allows non-believers inside. It was amazing. Really makes you wonder what Soloman's temple must have looked like. Inside there is room for 25,000 worshippers. The courtyard holds 80,000. Much of it is Italian white marble. It looks so out of place; it is in one of the poorer neighborhoods of a city where the donkey cart is still a common form of transportation.
That afternoon and the next day we wandered around the city. We visited Old Medina, where the street vendors' village is, and bought a few things (yes, Joanna, I have a few items to send you), and we saw the Supreme Court and Chad found a fire station where a very nice firefighter showed us all the equipment on his truck and give Chad an old uniform jacket. In the evening we took three taxis (don't ask us how we fit 12 people and 36 bags--it's not a pretty story) back to the airport to catch our 3.5-hour flight to Niamey. Thus ends the first two days of our adventure.

Quick hi till later.

In Niger. Will try to post pictures later. It's really dusty here, but we are all safe, and (amazingly) all our bags made it intact. We got a lot of work done yesterday and will probably finish early and have time to ride the camels.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Something else that is not studying

Okay, I give in. I started out expressing skepticism of the Jung Typology Test, and took it only to prove The Bard wrong. Heh. According to the test, I'm a skeptic.

But now I'm intrigued. My first thought as I was reading the description of my supposed INFJ personality (preferences 44-75-12-1) was, "Whoa, this totally explains my life experience and related frustrations with existence." My second thought was, "Huh. I wonder what my friends are, and if this thing works."

So... What are you? The test only takes a minute or two. What did it say, and do you think the result accurately describes you?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

NPR said it... It must be true!

“[Presidential candidate Mitt] Romney’s press secretary is a Southern Baptist and a graduate of Bob Jones University, and you don’t get much more ‘Kosher’ than that in the evangelical Christian world.” --on NPR All Things Considered today (on overcoming the “Mormon stigma”) [Can we mix our metaphors any more than that?]

I looked it up. The press secretary is Jared Young, who holds a B.S. in financial management from BJU. Hmm. I’m not sure if adding BJU to the mix would really allay the public’s fear of wacky fundamentalism already attributed to Romney’s campaign. Just sayin’…

I’m not sure what to think of the general perception of my alma mater. Sometimes I think the public is almost as ambivalent about it as I am. Other times I go back to thinking it's the kiss of death on any resume. Maybe it depends on the market (or constituency).

Monday, December 04, 2006

Maybe not the best day for a global warming rally...

This morning all the cars in the first four rows of student parking lot C1 were “ticketed” with yellow slips almost identical to the ones campus security use with the car description filled in and the message: “YOU ARE GUILTY of contributing to the emission of CO2 gas into the atmosphere and causing global warming.” On the back of the slip was the message: “Carpool with at least one other person tomorrow, december [sic] 5, and gain access to the first four rows of the C1 parking lot.”

I just feel sorry for the poor person who had to stand out there and write in all the car description info in the freezing cold. The high today was 24 degrees Fahrenheit.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Multipurpose napping

Weekends are tough around here. Somebody's got to hold Becca's study blanket down so it doesn't walk away.
Look! A cat in a box! I didn't know you could get those on Amazon...

Monday, November 20, 2006


Marriage may sometimes be an uncomfortable state, I can well believe that, and that is as it should be. Are we not also married to our conscience, and would we not often like to be rid of it because it is more uncomfortable than a husband or a wife could ever be.
From Elective Affinities, Johann von Goethe, reprinted in the no-fault divorce section of An Invitation to Family Law, Schneider and Brinig

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Hope for tax students

Check it out! Wiki has a whole WikiBook on Federal Income Tax! I love it! Earlier this semester I pored over my casebook's utterly incomprehensible explanation of Alternative Minimum Tax and got more and more confused. Finally in desperation I looked up Alternative Minimum Tax up on Wikipedia just to see if I could figure out what some of the words meant. Within four sentences, I understood what was going on. *sigh* Wikipedia may be derided as open-source and non-authoritative, but at least some of the authors are real people rather than tax law professors.

lawful joinage

The issue of whether priests may be married has been a hot one lately, and some expect a Vatican statement about it. A lot of the Catholics I've talked to (and some of the non-Catholics) say they would hate to see the Vatican capitulate on this one, and it looks like they won't be disappointed. When it's framed as capitulation (to make recruiting priests easier, for example), I agree that it would be sad to see the Church give in. But at the same time, I think it takes a lot of courage to revisit an old rule and evaluate its continuing validity. It always seemed like a hard-line rule for something even Paul was slow to make black-letter statements about. But then, I'm not Catholic, so I approach it from a non-Catholic perspective. I think Catholics view the priests' role a little differently from how non-Catholics view the pastoral role.

Monday, November 13, 2006

And the burrito cases are rolling in...

Ordinarily when I poach from other blogs I try to repackage the story before reselling it, but David K.'s post on Irish Trojan defies improvement. You'll just have to read it yourself.

The abortion cases just won't go away.

ADF's Jordan Lorence posted a report on the Supreme Court arguments on the federal birth abortion ban with his predictions ("cautious optimism," for those of you too indifferent to click the link). We heard a similar report from Nik Nikas of the Bioethics Defense Fund, who was also present at the arguments. Nikas observed that we are likely to see another 5-4 decision, this time with Stevens as the swing vote. We'll see if he's right.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Don't forget to vote!

And don't let all the negative campaigning get you down. Everybody does it.

I'm voting for Samwise.

HT: Irish Trojan's Blog

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Prosecutorial priorities?

Um, how come this lady hasn't been tried before now? I mean, I know it seems heartless to try a mother whose child just died, but don't you think there would be some kind of reasonable suspicion that something was fishy after her fourth kid died in such a short time? They would have nailed that in 30 minutes on Law and Order.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A Worthy Addition

Welcome the new link on the right to BJU prof Dr. Camille Lewis's blog, A Time to Laugh. I've always been shy about adding it because I never actually had Dr. Lewis as a teacher and I felt it would be a bit presumptious to claim a friendship when I can't recall that we have actually met. But I feel like I've had her classes by proxy since I have several friends I respect still raving about how awsome they are (and she is), so that has to count for something. Plus, now we're facebook friends, so we must be tight! Besides, A Time to Laugh is a fabulous blog that always makes me smile, or think, or cry, or all of the above, and I want to share it with you if you haven't already discovered it.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Weren't we all thinking it?

What do you bet this guy doesn't get much of a sentence for the infraction? In fact, if there's a jury involved, they'll probably have trouble keeping them from trying to give him parole for it.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Public Service Announcement

The student production of The Tempest is running this weekend. All the student productions I've seen here are excellent, and even if this one isn't, all you stand to lose is $5 and two hours of your life (and they could probably use your $5 anyway to improve the program). Besides, Jeff Eyerman of the 2L class is playing Prospero, so how can it be less than great? I'm going Saturday, so email me if you would like to meet up for it.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

In the image of God?

A Sheik in Sydney gave a Ramadan sermon in which he had a few comments about women's responsibility for men's irresponsibility. My favorite excerpt from the news story:

Sheik Hilali said: "If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it ... whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat?

"The uncovered meat is the problem."

The sheik then said: "If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred."

He said women were "weapons" used by "Satan" to control men.

"It is said in the state of zina (adultery), the responsibility falls 90 per cent of the time on the woman. Why? Because she possesses the weapon of enticement (igraa)."

Gaaa!! I'm offended on the behalf of women for being likened to "meat" for consumption, but I'm more outraged on the behalf of men who are regarded as having the moral discretion and behavioral control of feral cats. It would take a harsh religion indeed to control a race of such animals.

By the way, do any of you remember EVERY hall meeting in which there was an announcement resembling "We know you're in dress code, but the guys are complaining that you are still dressing too suggestively and it is causing them to stumble..."

HT: Carissa

Monday, October 23, 2006

Bad news for quitters

Aw, man... Decaf coffee still has caffeine. Researchers will take the fun out of anything.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Some things don't change...

He may be bigger, but Puck has not lost his proclivity for crawling onto my keyboard and taking a snooze while I'm trying to work on stuff. Maybe he thinks the screen is like a tanning lamp...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I'm dreaming of a white... pre-Halloween!?

Pardon my Floridianness once again, but doesn't it seem a bit early to be brushing snow off my car to get to school? I mean, only a couple trees on campus have started to turn colors. The snow-dusted geraniums in full bloom look a little confused. I'm not too good with seasons, having little experience with them, but I think I remember that there was supposed to be one between summer and winter.

Update: The early hours of sunlight this morning were stunningly beautiful and I was kicking myself for not taking my camera to school. Fortunately, 3L Brendan Loy blogger extraordinaire did take his, and he is a much better photographer than I. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Two favorite topics, one post

Given some recent discussion regarding Ian Paisley and Bob Jones University, I thought I'd share an interesting post that mentions them both. Do I get points?

A little more substantively, I think there are some very valid points made both in the post and its comment, particularly regarding the school's insularity and lost opportunities to make statements from the Christian perspective. On one hand, I sort of cringe when the school speaks on a political issue as a school (Remember that infamous letter to Bush?), but on the other I think there's something really disturbing about not allowing your faculty or staff (as the site notes, some of the brightest Fundamentalist thinkers around) to publish even an op ed without approval.

Monday, October 09, 2006

More culture for your listening pleasure

Mark your calenders for the next ND Symphony Orchstra concert on Oct. 27 in DPAC at 8:00. The DPAC website lists Tchaikovsky, Liszt, and Smetana on the program, but I (as a humble horn player) have not noticed any Tchaikovsky or Liszt in my folder. Perhaps they meant Brahms. Lovely program either way.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Our "kids"

Nothing follows a good wrestle like a good snuggle.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Shakespeare, convicts, and redemption

I just saw this film tonight at Browning and I highly recommend it. Like, very highly. Like, click the Buy This Film button and have people over and watch it. I mean it. I'll ask you about it later.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

On the nature of mysteries

Browsing through a Blackstone Fellowship forum I came across an interesting and honestly seeking discussion on the Eucharist that referred to a few links that some readers might find relevant. I can't comment intelligently on them as I haven't had a chance to sort through them (and might still not be able to comment intelligently after I do), but I'm more than happy to hear (or read) your thoughts, oh gentle readers.

StLouisiana (links from a self-described high church Presbyterian)
Biblical Horizons No.s 33 and 34
Poems cited in the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Other related posts:
Unclogging Protestantism with the Grace of the Eucharist--Not endorsing the content here, just tossing it out as food for thought because I found some of the comments provocative
Cyprian of Carthage on the Eucharist
Paradoxology--a little more Protestant perspective

Update: Does anyone know of any disciplined Protestant answer to the Catholic view of the Eucharist? I mean, something other than "Um, no it's not"?

Monday, October 02, 2006

School safety crisis?

Does anybody know what's up with all the school shootings? Sometimes there's a rash of related news stories just because a certain type of story becomes popular, and it doesn't necessarily mean that type of event wasn't happening before. But school shootings are ALWAYS big news, so I don't think they were happening and just going unreported. It's getting crazy. Just in the last couple weeks we had a guy open fire in a Montreal college, and then another creep takes hostages and shoots a girl in Colorado. Now there's a shooting in (of all places) an Amish one-room school. What's going wrong? What will be the response? Were I a betting person, I'd put money on Congress donning the white hero hat and passing some high-toned bill mandating new safety measures on pain of losing federal funding. I'm skeptical that some broad "safety measures" legislation is going to be terribly effective, but what would make schools safer? I think it could be agreed that there is a serious problem that desperately needs to be addressed, but how?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Happy news at NDLaw

Profound and sincere congratulations to The Bard for recently obtaining a judicial clerkship with Sixth Circuit Chief Judge Danny Boggs. It is a high honor, and one I know you will distinguish.

Friday, September 22, 2006

More kittenblogging

I cracked the door open the other day and came in the room to find Puck clinging to the screen between it and the glass door.Apparently he had seen a gnat and wanted a closer look. He never got it between his paws, I'm sad to report.
This is my new dishwashing service. Trust me, we're usually very sanitary. Puck was duly scolded and evicted from the table soon after this picture was taken (not that scolding a kitten is ever very effective).

Note to self: Close lid on record player when not changing the record. I couldn't figure out why I kept hearing the record skip backward and forward randomly until I realized that turntable needles are fascinating to kittens. Heh. Proof that cats are smarter than dogs: The silly RCA Victor dog just sits and listens with a puzzled expression. The Detrola kitten is not content unless he's the DJ...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Cheers to Brendan lad!

Me mate Brendan has a post worth notin' to honor this great day.

Some culture for ye scurrrrvy dogs!

Avast! Ye ought to know of a merry Orchestra playin' this Sunday at the DeBartelo Tavern of the Performing Arts near 2:00. I hear a sight o' th' beauties playin' the horns of France is worth the cost of sailing. See you there, me mates!

Monday, September 18, 2006

It's that time of year again!

Is everyone ready for the big day tomorrow? You know, of course, that I am referring to that storied holiday, Talk Like a Pirate Day! If you need a little help, our good friends Ol' Chumbucket and Cap'n Slappy have put together a little video to help you learn to speak Pirate. Of course, if you're lazy, there's always the ol' English-to-Pirate translator. Keep to the code, me hearties!

Notre Dame: But we look good.

To console you Notre Dame fans after last weekend's massacre, perhaps we could revisit an old Onion article: The present isn't looking so hot, but there is always the past to improve.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Lessons from the desperate

Word to the wise: If you are going to hire a hit man to kill your estranged wife, make sure he doesn't write your name and phone number in his dayplanner and leave it at the crime scene, just in case the wife strangles him with her bare hands. Oh, and maybe pick a bigger hit man.

Fresh mountain spring kitten

Sorry for all the catblogging--I just thought this was pretty funny. Carissa took a bottle out of the pack of water and Puck felt like he belonged in its place.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The end of a Texas story

Former Texas Governor Ann Richards Died last night. While probably I would have disagreed with Richards's politics, there was just a moxy about her that you have to kinda like. I mean, what's not cool about a grandma that takes up Harley-riding just for something new and fun? My grandfather used to tell me he buried her cat a long time ago. I would like to have met her.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

And the winner is...

Honorable mentions to Hamlet (for the slight bipolarity) and Paris (for the tendency to go for my Achilles tendon). Thanks for all who gave great suggestions. I wish I had enough kittens to use them all. Puck just fits this guy's personality really well--he's such a mischievous little imp, but it's all innocent fun.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Sidebar changes

Welcome to the sidebar Digital Eagle, the fledgling blog of my brother. Caution: References to computer programming may be interspersed with the content. Side effects may include nausea, panic, and coma. If you are prone so such reactions, please consult your physician before visiting. As for me, I'm willing to accept the risk.

Note to faithful readers: Barely Legal has been removed because it is no longer funny. Its owners have graduated from law school and now post only occational whinings about how they never do anything useful. We apologize if you miss it and suggest Homestarrunner as an alternative.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Name the kitten contest

Kitten's favorite activities include pouncing on anything that does or doesn't move (partial to feet), looking behind the mirror for evil twin, chasing his tail, and falling asleep on your keyboard or textbook while you are trying to work. He reminds me a bit of Peekaboo from the comic strip Rose is Rose. Current names under consideration:
  1. Hamlet
  2. Oberon
  3. Agent Orange
  4. Westlaw
  5. Puck
  6. Tango
  7. The Snort
  8. Lexis
  9. Darcy
  10. Cheeto
  11. Jefferson
  12. Quincy
  13. Mephibosheth
  14. Caffeine
  15. Neko (Japanese for "cat")

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The day that Dairy Queen saved

Today was just one of those days... Not that everyone was out to get me or anything--it was more like I was out to get myself. It was the usual little hassles, nothing big. Just the kinds of little things that add up and make you want to write the day off as a deduction from your total. Things like waiting through the light twice, being a touch late to class, getting called on when you picked up the wrong textbook, getting confused about which lane you need to be in at the next light, having your interior door handle spontaneously break so you have to crawl over the console and exit the car through the passenger door, driving all over town because you can't find a certain store, and then finding that the advertised special ended a half hour before you got there... So on the way home it was late and I was hungry and a touch crabby, so I pulled around the Dairy Queen with low expectations. I used to like Dairy Queen. It always had this basket of chicken fingers on the menu that came with fries and toast and the very definition of sawmill gravy--you know, the kind with waaaaay too much black pepper. I would dip everything in that gravy, even the toast. But I hadn't seen that on the menu for years and considered it gone with black-and-white television shows. But what do you know, they had it! And the gravy was just as I remember it. Ah, my arteries, this day has been redeemed.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

I'm it.

Not fair, Monica! You took a lot of my answers! (And they blame mass culture on television...)

1. One book that changed your life: Isaiah
2. One book that you’ve read more than once: Pride and Prejudice
3. One book you’d want on a desert island [at law school]: Norton's Anthology of Poetry
4. One book that made you laugh: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
5. One book that made you cry: Cry, the Beloved Country
6. One book that you wish had been written: How to Find Time to Write Fiction and Poetry in Law School and Get It Published
7. One book you wish had never been written: Ayn Rand's Fountainhead
8. One book you’re currently reading: Federal Income Taxation, by Klein et al.
9. One book you’ve been meaning to read: One Hundred Years of Solitude
10. Now tag five people:

Monkey Lung

Monday, September 04, 2006

The birds of the field...

were not toiling or spinning on Labor Day. They were munching on the Nyjer seed we provided. Mmmm!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Explaining marriage stats

I'm looking at an interesting graph on page 18 of Promises to Keep (ed. by Popenoe et al.) in an article called "Values, Attitudes, and the State of American Marriage" by Norval D. Glenn. The graph plots percentages of people 18 and older who are unmarried, happily married, and unhappily married between the years 1973 and 1993. I'm not sure what I expected, but the percentage of those unhappily married is a pretty straight line, with happily married decreasing and unmarried increasing. This could mean a couple things. First, it could mean marriages are no more or less happy than they ever were; just fewer people are trying it. This doesn't work in my mind because if that were the case the unhappily married line would be going down too. Second, marriages overall are unhappier (or unhappy marriage is easier to get out of with no-fault divorce), so more people are getting out of them. Once again, though, you'd think the unhappily married line would go down. Could it be that all the well-adjusted people who would be good candidate for happy marriages are finding other things to do (like pursue careers or higher education)? I don't know, just trying to figure out the graph. It would be helpful if they would break down the "unmarried" line into "never married" and "formerly married." That might shed some light on what's going on.

Just a spoonful of sugar

I need to post this for my avatar.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Fatalism or sanity?

From Anthony Trollope in Can You Forgive Her?:

People often say that marriage is an important thing, and should be much thought of in advance, and marrying people are cautioned that there are many who marry in haste and repent at leisure. I am not sure, however, that marriage may not be pondered over too much; nor do I feel certain that the leisurely repentance does not as often follow the leisurely marriage as it does the rapid ones. That some repent no one can doubt, but I am incline to believe that most men and women take their lots as they find them, marrying as the birds do by force of nature, and going on with their mates with a general, though not perhaps an undisturbed satisfaction, feeling inwardly assured that Providence, if it has not done the very best for them, has done for them as well as they could do for themselves with all the thought in the world. I do not know that a woman can assure to herself, by her own prudence and taste, a good husband any more than she can add two cubits to her stature; but husbands have been made to be decently good,--and wives too, for the most part, in our country,--so that the thing does not require quite so much thinking as some people say.
[Quoted in Schneider and Brinig, An Invitation to Family Law]

What think you of this? Perspectives from married folk? Charlotte Lucas?

Shoutout to Frittering

I'd like to report that with school back in session, we at Frittering Away are back to frittering with abandon, so you who left off visiting during the dry summer months will be happy to know you can once again enjoy the witticisms of professors, school teachers, and students (grade school and grad) without the pain of actually having to attend school.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Not separate, but still not equal?

Thought prompted by discussion in Law of Ed...

People often use or understand the dogma that there is no such thing as "separate but equal" to stand for the proposition that integration necessarily implies equality. I vaguely remember from Logic that there is some Latin term for this sort of fallacy (B = ~A, therefore ~B = A), but I can't for the life of me remember the term. At any rate, it's not sound reasoning from a logic standpoint.

Aside from Latin and logic, anyway, can the conclusion be disproved by demonstration? Anecdotal evidence suggests that the consolidated school system often fosters a system of stratification among the students such that the students at the top and the bottom of the performance curve (or just the top) receive the benefit of a far greater proportion of school resources than students in the middle. Is this inequality, and if so, should we be troubled by it?

One of my schoolmates raises the compelling point that at least integration has produced some equality of opportunity, and since all the resources are available on a merit basis, any ceilings on educational opportunities are self-imposed.

While I would grant that integration was probably a positive step, though, I'm still not entirely sanguine about accepting the "equality of opportunity" as ideal. First, at least in my experience, the disparity of resources spent on "exceptional" students vs. "average" students ranges from unfair to shocking. Second, while autonomy and responsibility for one's own performance are to be highly valued, we are still talking about children, or at best, adolescents. They are still in their formative years, and as such, still ought to have access to formative forces without too much expectation that they will already have it all together. If we thought they were mature enough to bear the full consequences of their priority decisions, we probably wouldn't have truancy laws or legal concessions for minority. And as much as we might hate to admit it, there is a strong correlation between socio-economic status and academic success. I don't think the correlation is that poor kids are all lazy and unmotivated or stupid. Should we hold them responsible for whatever the correlation is? Do we have any choice?

Friday, August 25, 2006

Yes, there are nice people at OSU

Greetings to Brian, a fellow Blackstone Legal Intern at Ohio State. Welcome to your blog Standing in the Gap now on the sidebar. Sorry about your football team...

Thursday, August 24, 2006

More Introductions

Two new characters on the scene (and a walk-on)...

First, welcome my new roommate Carissa to NDLaw. Her blog Meldisse is new on the sidebar.

Second, meet Cricket the pseudo-minipoodle. He's still getting adjusted to apartment life (and life outside the pound in general, I'm afraid). Today he met a rather bold squirrel that was investigating the (also new) birdfeeder I just hung outside.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Free *newsletter article* signing Thursday

Check it out! I'm famous (in a completely nameless sort of way)! I wrote that article as an intern at CLA this summer!

More from abroad

Please welcome on the right bar Doosan 1803, the blog of my former schoolmate Delaura Talbert. Look there for adventures of an American teaching 6th grade at a Christian school in South Korea.

Note also that you will find a similar plot line at Dancing Through Life (Joanna's blog). Best to you both, girls! Wish I could be there.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Coming Attractions

About two years ago a young couple from our church was teaching in a school in Ivory Coast when that country's political stability dissintegrated nearly overnight and they had to evacuate via a harrowing two-day excursion with a French military convoy. It was at least the second time in recent history the school had had to be evacuated because of a resurfacing civil war, and this time the school board decided not to reopen. Now the couple from our church is serving a missionary school in the city (?) of Niamey in Niger, West Africa, where many of their students from Ivory Coast moved.

This year a small group from my church in Florida plans to spend about a week and a half in Niamey visiting our friends and helping a local French school (not the one they are employed at) by building desks and reroofing their building. We plan to leave the day after Christmas, have a two-day layover in Casablanca, Morocco, and then spend until January 5 in Niamey. I'll try to have pictures to share. No doubt stories will arise as well. Niger is 90% Muslim, has a population density of 28/sq. mi. (about 14 million total), and a per capita GDP (adjusted for PPP) of $872. Most of it is desert (Sahara), and they tell me the sand is so bad you have to learn to chew differently so as not to grind down your teeth.

I would appreciate your prayers as I work out the details (financial and logistical--do you know how many shots you have to have to go to West Africa!?).

The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round.

To all my classmates, and to students everywhere, welcome back to school. To those who love (or merely tolerate) the students in their lives, my sympathies for you. Indulge our self-centeredness for a couple of weeks, then kindly kick us back into perspective.

Sorry for the sparse posting this summer; I've been happily crabby and unsociable for much of it, and my interactive skills need a little dusting. Hopefully new classes and discussion with my ever-brilliant colleagues will spark more regular posting in the coming months. Look for musings on Family Law, Education Law, and maybe even a little Tax Law (I'll try hard to keep those at least vaguely relevent to "normal" people).

Oh, did anyone notice that the Notre Dame football team is ranked No. 3 (tied with USC) this year?

Friday, August 04, 2006

And I am left to wonder how many other people care.

Last Visit Narrative
by Attorney Barbara Weller

When Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube was removed at 1:45 p.m. on March 18, 2005, I was one of the most surprised people on the planet. I had been visiting Terri throughout the morning with her family and her priest. As part of the legal team working throughout the previous days and nights to save Terri from a horrific fate, I was very hopeful. Although the state judicial system had obviously failed Terri by not protecting her life, I knew other forces were still at work. I fully expected the federal courts would step in to reverse this injustice, just as they might for a prisoner unjustly set for execution—although by much more humane means than Terri would be executed. Barring that, I was certain that sometime around noon, the Florida Department of Children and Family Services would come to the Woodside Hospice facility in Pinellas Park and take Terri into protective custody. Or that federal marshals would arrive from Washington D.C, where the Congress was working furiously to try to save Terri, and would stand guard at her door to prevent any medical personnel from entering her room to remove the tube that was providing her nutrition and hydration.

Finally, I was sure if nothing else was working, that at 12:59, just before the hour scheduled for Terri’s gruesome execution to begin, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush would at least issue a 60-day reprieve for the legislative bodies to complete the work they were attempting to do to save Terri’s life and to make sure that no other vulnerable adults could be sentenced to starve to death in America. I had done the legal research weeks before and was fully convinced that Gov. Bush had the power, under our co-equal branches of government, to issue a reprieve in the face of a judicial death sentence intended to lead to the starvation and dehydration of an innocent woman when scores of doctors and neurologists were saying she could be helped.

All morning long, as I was in the room with Terri and her family, we were telling her that help was on the way. Terri was in good spirits that morning. The mood in her room was jovial, particularly around noontime, as we knew Congressional attorneys were on the scene and many were working hard to save Terri’s life. For most of that time, I was visiting and talking with Terri along with Terri’s sister Suzanne Vitadamo, Suzanne’s husband, and Terri’s aunt, who was visiting from New York to help provide support for the family. A female Pinellas Park police office was stationed at the door outside Terri’s room.

Terri was sitting up in her lounge chair, dressed and looking alert and well. Her feeding tube had been plugged in around 11 a.m. and we all felt good that she was still being fed. Suzanne and I were talking, joking, and laughing with Terri, telling her she was going to go to Washington D.C. to testify before Congress, which meant that finally Terri’s husband Michael would be required to fix her wheelchair. After that Suzanne could take Terri to the mall shopping and could wheel her outdoors every day to feel the wind and sunshine on her face, something she has not been able to do for more than five years.

At one point, I noticed Terri’s window blinds were pulled down. I went to the window to raise them so Terri could look at the beautiful garden outside her window and see the sun after several days of rain. As sunlight came into the room, Terri’s eyes widened and she was obviously very pleased. At another point, Suzanne and I told Terri she needed to suck in all the food she could because she might not be getting anything for a few days. During that time, Mary Schindler, Terri’s mother, joined us for a bit, and we noticed there were bubbles in Terri’s feeding tube. We joked that we didn’t want her to begin burping, and called the nurses to fix the feeding tube, which they did. Terri’s mother did not come back into the room. This was a very difficult day for Bob and Mary Schindler. I suspect they were less hopeful all along than I was, having lived through Terri’s last two feeding tube removals.

Suzanne and I continued to talk and joke with Terri for probably an hour or more. At one point Suzanne called Terri the bionic woman and I heard Terri laugh out loud heartily for the first time since I have been visiting with her. She laughed so hard that for the first time I noticed the dimples in her cheeks.

The most dramatic event of this visit happened at one point when I was sitting on Terri’s bed next to Suzanne. Terri was sitting in her lounge chair and her aunt was standing at the foot of the chair. I stood up and learned over Terri. I took her arms in both of my hands. I said to her, “Terri if you could only say ‘I want to live’ this whole thing could be over today.” I begged her to try very hard to say, “I want to live.” To my enormous shock and surprise, Terri’s eyes opened wide, she looked me square in the face, and with a look of great concentration, she said, “Ahhhhhhh.” Then, seeming to summon up all the strength she had, she virtually screamed, “Waaaaaaaa.” She yelled so loudly that Michael Vitadamo, Suzanne’s husband, and the female police officer who were then standing together outside Terri’s door, clearly heard her. At that point, Terri had a look of anguish on her face that I had never seen before and she seemed to be struggling hard, but was unable to complete the sentence. She became very frustrated and began to cry. I was horrified that I was obviously causing Terri so much anguish. Suzanne and I began to stroke Terri’s face and hair to comfort her. I told Terri I was very sorry. It had not been my intention to upset her so much. Suzanne and I assured Terri that her efforts were much appreciated and that she did not need to try to say anything more. I promised Terri I would tell the world that she had tried to say, ”I want to live.”

Suzanne and I continued to visit and talk with Terri, along with other family members who came and went in the room, until about 2:00 p.m. when we were all told to leave after Judge Greer denied yet another motion for stay and ordered the removal of the feeding tube to proceed. As we left the room, the female police officer outside the door was valiantly attempting to keep from crying.

Just as Terri’s husband Michael has told the world he must keep an alleged promise to kill Terri, a promise remembered a million dollars and nearly a decade after the fact; I must keep my promise to Terri immediately. Time is running out for her. I went out to the banks of cameras outside the hospice facility and told the story immediately. Now I must also tell the story in writing for the world to hear. It may be the last effective thing I can do to try to keep Terri alive so she can get the testing, therapy, and rehabilitative help she so desperately needs before it is too late.

About four in the afternoon, several hours after the feeding tube was removed, I returned to Terri’s room. By that time she was alone except for a male police officer now standing inside the door. When I entered the room and began to speak to her, Terri started to cry and tried to speak to me immediately. It was one of the most helpless feelings I have ever had. Terri was looking very melancholy at that point and I had the sense she was very upset that we had told her things were going to get better, but instead, they were obviously getting worse. I had previously had the same feeling when my own daughter was a baby who was hospitalized and was crying and looking to me to rescue her from her hospital crib, something I could not do. While I was in the room with Terri for the next half hour or so, several other friends came to visit and I did a few press interviews sitting right next to Terri. I again raised her window shade, which had again been pulled down, so Terri could at least see the garden and the sunshine from her lounge chair. I also turned the radio on in her room before I left so that when she was alone, she would at least have some music for comfort.

Just before I left the room, I leaned over Terri and spoke right into her ear. I told her I was very sorry I had not been able to stop the feeding tube from being taken out and I was very sorry I had to leave her alone. But I reminded her that Jesus would stay right by her side even when no one else was there with her. When I mentioned Jesus’ Name, Terri again laughed out loud. She became very agitated and began loudly trying to speak to me again. As Terri continued to laugh and try to speak, I quietly prayed in her ear, kissed her, placed her in Jesus’ care, and left the room.

Terri is alone now. As I write this last visit narrative, it is five in the morning of March 19. Terri has been without food and water for nearly 17 hours. I’m sure she is beginning at least to become thirsty, if not hungry. And I am left to wonder how many other people care.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A visit with Terri

This is a record the attorney I am working under this summer wrote after one of her visits with Terri Schiavo. It is long for a blog post, but I wanted to share it with you.

February 24, 2005
Attorney Barbara Weller

I have visited Terri Schindler Schiavo several times since I first met her on the day before Christmas in 2004. Today was an especially poignant visit so I decided to again share it with all those who have been so concerned for her.

Attorney David Gibbs III and I visited Terri to update her on the good things that were happening in the legal case. We believe that she comprehends at some level what is going on and that she may well have been aware of the fear and anguish her parents and siblings were feeling on February 21 when the possibility existed that the process of starvation and dehydration might again be initiated leading to her death.

We made this visit with her mother and father, Bob and Mary Schindler. For the first time since I have been visiting her, security guards were posted by Terri’s door and visitors had to clear two check points before entering the room. The Schindlers are very grateful that Terri has been given this extra protection to keep her safe during this difficult time.

When Mr. Gibbs and I entered the room with Bob, Mary was already there. Terri was again sitting in her lounge chair, at nearly an upright angle. Mary was perched on the arm of the chair with her head right next to Terri’s head. Mary was talking to Terri and kissing her and Terri’s eyes were wide and locked onto her mother’s eyes. Mary was saying “I love you” and trying to get Terri to repeat the words after her. Mary would say “I-I-I-I” and Terri would answer back “Aa-a-u-u-ugh.” Mary would then say “l-o-o-o-v-v-v-v-e” and Terri would repeat “Aw-w-w-w-w-w.” Mary then said a staccato “you” to which Terri did not audibly respond.

Within a minute or two after we entered the room, Terri began to appear tired. She had been interacting with Mary for a half hour before we arrived and seemed to need a little rest. She closed her eyes while the four of us chatted. When Mary tried to get her attention, she would try to open her eyes, but they would flutter shut again. Mary was coaxing Terri to wake up, telling her that she had some “very important visitors” (Mr. Gibbs and myself). Finally, after a few minutes of coaxing, Terri’s eyes opened wide again and she again locked them on her mother’s face.

After a few minutes, Mr. Gibbs began to talk to her. When Terri heard Mr. Gibbs' voice she became startled. She threw her head backwards and made a loud snorting sound. While Mr. Gibbs continued to talk to her she was opening and closing her eyes, sometimes looking in his direction and sometimes appearing to be resting. Mr. Gibbs told her about the good things that were happening, about all the people around the world who love her and who are praying for her, and that the government had stepped in to protect her and to try to help her. He stressed, like you would to a small child, how blessed Terri was to have a mom and dad who loved her. Terri seemed quite content listening to Mr. Gibbs speak.

I next took a turn to talk with Terri. I went to the spot where her mother had been and began to talk quietly to her about the party we are all going to have when she goes home. I also prayed with her. The whole time I was speaking to her and praying for her, her eyes were wide open and fixated on my face. At one point, she tried to talk with me, making a very quiet “a-a-a-a-a” sound. I had the impression that my voice was perhaps somewhat familiar to her since I have now been to see her several times.

When her father went to stand by her side on Terri’s left, Mr. Gibbs had moved to her right, on the other side of Terri’s bed, which is next to her lounge chair. Earlier in Terri's room Bob had joked with Mr. Gibbs that everybody wanted to talk to Mr. Gibbs now and nobody cared what Bob had to say anymore making him jealous. Bob began to joke with Terri as he always does and Terri’s face took on the same coy, semi-annoyed look that I have seen before when she interacts with her father. At that point, Terri arched her back and turned her whole body to the right, away from Bob, to gaze intently at Mr. Gibbs with a little saucy smile on her face. It seemed obvious to me that she was playing along with the joke by giving her father the cold shoulder and focusing all her attention on Mr. Gibbs. Bob continued to tease with her about this for a few minutes and then gave her his customary hug and kiss, to which she responded with her usual lemon face that she reserves for his mustache kisses.

The four of us spent several more minutes joking and laughing together. Terri did not speak, but watched and listened to us. When it was time to go, Mary went up to Terri’s head to say goodbye. At that point Terri began to cry and to look very distressed. Mary said that Terri does not always cry when they leave, but she sometimes does. Mary promised that the whole family would return the next day, but Terri did not stop crying. When Mary left the room, I went up to Terri’s head and leaned close and told her that even though her mother and father could not always be with her that she was not alone. When I told her that, Terri widened her eyes again. She was no longer crying when I left the room.

This visit lasted about forty minutes. We encourage everyone to continue to pray for Terri and her family, especially that Terri will soon be receiving the help she needs to learn to speak and to swallow and that she will soon be home with her family again.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Monday, July 03, 2006

Thoughts on Schiavo

During the whole Terri Schiavo mess I was skeptical about the way the Schindler family was handling the case and felt that the whole fight was being mischaracterized as a euthanasia case when it was actually just a custody battle, but I'm getting a little bit of a new angle now that I'm working at the firm that represented the Schindlers. Turns out it really was "just a custody battle" but that there was more going on below the surface. I don't know a whole lot about PVS, or about autopsies (maybe our medical friends can help us here), but it sounds to me like "vegetative" didn't really mean "vegetative" and some actors who should have been impartial got more personally invested in the procedural history of this case than justice allowed. It also sounds like medical determinations that should have been made by people in white coats were being made by people in black robes. All the right-to-life stuff in the media was a last-ditch effort to get a horrible, horrible lower court decision overturned when the procedural doors were closed, and the lesson perhaps we should learn (my analysis now, not to be mistaken for that of any parties or representatives thereof) is that maybe procedural doors shouldn't be so airtight (even in civil court) when finality of the decision is also finality of life.

Incidentally, David Gibbs' book Fighting For Dear Life came out today, and we'll probably be seeing and hearing him talk about it on national media over the next few weeks. (early review of the book)

Tangentially related, I noticed an article on New York Times today about another Terry (Terry Wallis) who suddenly "woke up" from PVS (kinda takes the "P" out of PVS, huh?) three years ago after being "mute and virtually unresponsive in a state of minimal consciousness" for 19 years. Good thing there was no custody battle over him. Quotation from the article:

"Mr. Wallis spent the second 19 years of his life at a nursing home in Mountain View, and family members who visited said they saw plenty of hints of awareness along the way. He seemed to brighten when they walked in his room. Something in his face would tighten when he was impatient or hungry."

I don't know; it sounds a little familiar. It seems like the Willis family would have filed an amicus brief or something in the Schiavo case, or that I at least would have heard of Terry sometime during the whole media furor. Was he talked about and I just missed it?

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Inviting literary criticism

The Beautiful Lie

He was about four, I think... it was so long ago.
In a garden; he'd done some damage
behind a bright screen of sweet-peas
- snapped a stalk, a stake, I don't recall,
but the grandmother came and saw, and asked him:
"Did you do that?"

Now, if she'd said why did you do that,
he'd never have denied it. She showed him
he had a choice. I could see, in his face,
the new sense, the possible. That word and deed
need not match, that you could say the world
different, to suit you.

When he said "No", I swear it was as moving
as the first time a baby's fist clenches
on a finger, as momentous as the first
taste of fruit. I could feel his eyes looking
through a new window, at a world whose form
and colour weren't fixed

but fluid, that poured like a snake, trembled
around the edges like northern lights, shape-shifted
at the spell of a voice. I could sense him filling
like a glass, hear the unreal sea in his ears.
This is how to make songs, create men, paint pictures,
tell a story.

I think I made up the screen of sweet peas.
Maybe they were beans; maybe there was no screen,
it just felt as if there should be, somehow.
And he was my - no, I don't need to tell that.
I know I made up the screen. And I recall very well
what he had done.

-- Sheenagh Pugh

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Any Vet groups reading this?

I apologize to all my loyal reader (love to ya, Monica) who apparently missed me. I've been busy Fighting For All That Is Good And Right (otherwise known as fighting to remember what all the pretty little buttons in Westlaw mean) as a law clerk (*ahem* intern) at Christian Law Association this week. I'd tell you how we are planning on Saving the World this summer, but then I'd have to kill you (or at least face some sort of confidentiality talking-to that might stay on my record), so instead I'll share an interesting circumstance a caller brought to our attention in the course of an unrelated call. Picture share (can be found at UMass-Dartmouth website):

In case you can't see exactly what this is, I'll explain: This is the front entrance to University of Massachusetts--Dartmouth campus. The flagpole in the center flies the Massachusetts state flag. On the right (yes, the right, not the center) is the United States flag. On the left is the rainbow flag, commonly known as the gay pride flag, and yes, it is being flown at the same height as the United States flag. Anyone want to play that game we learned from children's TV shows called "How Many Things Can You Find Wrong With This Picture"?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Rocks, hold your peace just yet

Coming to you live from an internet cafe in Phoenix...

The last few days I've been sitting in some very interesting lectures on some very interesting topics given by some very credentialed people, and I figured I should post something about a point they raised or a controversy they inspired, but in retrospect the strongest impression that stands out to me has nothing to do with those lectures.

It happened this morning. A small group of us decided to go for a dawn hike up a nearby mountain since sessions started a little later. The timing worked out pretty well, and we reached the peak right about as the sun broke away from the horizon, and as all of us sat on the peak resting and basking in the beauty of Creation we started singing and reading aloud Psalms. It seemed like such a natural response none of us really thought twice about it. On the way back down, another hiker passed us. As he walked beside me for several paces he asked if we were a church group. I replied that no, we were law students, but we were Christians gathered from all over. He seemed absolutely baffled. "But you were singing up there," he said in puzzlement. "You're not a church?" But it's so logical: Christians gather, the Spirit is present; in the presence of so much natural beauty what could be more natural than that we be compelled to praise the Creator? I can't say for sure, but I don't think lost people really get that. Boy, do they miss out.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Sermon in Verse

Down With Fanatics!

If I had my way with violent men
I'd simmer them in oil,
I'd fill a pot with bitumen
And bring them to the boil.
I execrate the terrorist
And those who harbour him,
And if I weren't a moralist
I'd tear them limb from limb.

Fanatics are an evil breed
Whom decent men should shun;
I'd like to flog them till they bleed,
Yes, every mother's son,
I'd like to tie them to a board
And let them taste the cat,
While giving praise, oh thank the Lord,
That I am not like that.

For we should love the human kind,
As Jesus taught us to,
And those who don't should be struck blind
And beaten black and blue;
I'd like to roast them in a grill
And listen to them shriek,
Then break them on the wheel until
They turned the other cheek.

-- Roger Woddis

Monday, May 29, 2006

Endear Like a Champion!

I'm doing a little early recruiting.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Book reports

The Peacemaker, by Ken Sande
When I picked this book up I thought it would be more about arbitration and mediation with a Christian twist (based entirely on the prohibition against taking other Christians to court in I Cor. 6:1-8). While that passage is referenced a few times in the book, its scope is much more broad than that. Sande has a lot of good points about the inability of courts to address underlying problems in disputes and the damage this can cause in relationships among believers, but I really like the book's positive focus on what the church can, and should, do about it. He encourages churches to take an active role in maintaining healthy relationships within the church by overseeing conflict resolution and reconciliation. Most notable about this book is that it is not really about "legal" disputes. It is about relationships and ALL the conflicts that go with them, whether it's the breakdown of a contract, of a marriage, or kids fighting over the front seat of the car. It was challenging to me on a personal level because it pointed out the positive effects of conflict--greater understanding of and interaction with fellow-believers, and growth from the ability to reach God-honoring solutions. I don't like conflict and tend to deny it, run from it, or ignore it, and that is just as unhealthy to a relationship as belligerence. This book gets lots of stars on a scale of lots of stars.

Humility: True Greatness, by C.J. Mahaney
This book reminded me of one of those little coffee-table-type inspirational books you sometimes see at the checkout. I don't mean that in a disparaging way. It has good substance, even if it is a little repetitive and sometimes reads like an annotated bibliography. If you need a quick reminder and refocus on your exact position with reference to God (and who are we kidding, don't we all?), this book is a good choice. Watch out for some overt Calvinism, if that sort of thing bothers you. A respectable number of stars out of lots of stars.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Books for fun

Well, it's officially summer for most of us student-types, so that means it's reading-things-other-than-textbooks season. Blackstone has sent me what looks like a fantastic set of additions to my library, there are some other new books on my shelves waiting to be explored, and of course there are some old friends there who need to be revisited. Books in the first category:
  • Confessions, by A. Augustine
  • Always Ready, by Greg L. Bahnsen
  • Coercing Virtue, by Robert Bork
  • Natural Law for Lawyers, by J. Budziszewski
  • Orthodoxy, by G.K. Chesterton
  • America's Christian History, by Gary DeMar
  • Architects of the Culture of Death, by Donald DeMarco & Benjamin Wiker
  • The Cruelty of Heresy, by C. Fitzsimons Allison
  • No Other God, by John Frame
  • The Abolition of Man, by C.S. Lewis
  • Humility: True Greatness, by C.J. Mahaney
  • The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, by Edwin Meese III
  • Christ and Culture, by H. Richard Neibuhr
  • When I Don't Desire God, by John Piper
  • The Peacemaker, by Ken Sande
  • Idols for Destruction, by Herbert Scholssberg,
  • The Homosexual Agenda, by Alan Sears and Craig Osten
  • ACLU vs. America, by Alan Sears and Craig Osten
  • Sir William Blackstone & the Common Law, by Robert Stacey
  • The Cube and the Cathedral, by George Weigel
  • Vindicating the Founders, by Tom West

Books in the second category:

  • One Hundred Years of Solitude (which my roommate just gave me--can't wait!)
  • Huckleberry Finn (which I am ashamed to say I have never read)
  • Understanding the Times

A FEW books in the third category:

  • To Kill a Mockingbird (just saw the movie at DPAC and really need to reread it)
  • Wuthering Heights (it's just been a while)
  • The Grapes of Wrath
  • Cry, the Beloved Country
  • something by Jane Austin

So what are you guys reading?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Chieftains pictures

For you who are interested, they finally have a few pictures up on the DPAC website from the NDSOrchestra/Chieftains concert. I don't think I'm in any of the ones from Carnegie Hall, but I was there, I promise.

Edit: Oh wait, I'm in some of the rehearsal pics from Carnegie Hall. See, told you I was there.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

More sniping at

Note to CNN: Polygamy is having more than one wife. Polyandry is having more than one husband. They are not the same, whatever any statute may be titled and however it might be applied. Check your Greek and Latin, folks.

More Kent

Here's Baby Kent in all his glory. Not bad, if I may say so myself. If he's lucky, he'll take after his aunt. ;-)

First pictures of Kent

This is what is known in socioeconomics as a nuclear family unit.

This is what is known in family law as a potentially good situation.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

New Phillips

Congratulations to my brother and sister-in-law for successfully creating another Phillips to populate the world. Kent Alan was born this afternoon about 3:00, at 20 1/2 inches and 7lbs., 14 oz. Pictures to follow.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Gas price sanity

While economics may be far from the normal topics of this blog, the gripes, "expert" commentary, and political pandering surrounding the continued rise in gas prices have promted me to finally exercise my posting privilieges. The link below is to the best, most concise explanation of the problem I have yet seen.

As the link shows, the columnist does little more than remind that that no matter how much the people scream and the politicans promise, the laws of supply and demand cannot be repealed. Are oil companies charging as much as then market will bear? Sure, but so does every single business and so does every single employee who looks for a raise. Countless investigations have found no collusion among the oil companies, and if they had, that would be an issue for Antitrust law, not the griping we hear today.

What irritates me most is that the same people responsible for the supply and demand problems are those scream the loudest over the prices. We might want to drive SUVs, regulate the blends of gasoline, or not drill in certain places because we like the look of tundra more than lower oil prices. But those decisions come at a cost, and politicans who created those costs by impacting supply and demand are now blaming everyone but the responsible parties: themselves. The least they could do is be honest.

Indeed, all the political sound and fury is counter-productive, because it only increases people's fear that prices will go higher. I have heard that the "future uncertainty" premium is at least$10, and maybe $20 per barrel of oil. Fear drives prices even higher by unreasonably increasing demand now, and adding to the fear does not help.

Link to article

The circus continues

And now to tie two posts together, I bring you a link that discusses the jury deliberations for the capital punishment sentencing of Moussaoui. The article opens:

The judge in Zacarias Moussaoui's death penalty trial admonished jurors Friday to avoid looking up words in the dictionary after learning that one went on the Internet to see what "aggravating" means.
My word. This calls into question all kinds of things (jury instructions, clarity of the lawyer's arguments, value of a 'jury of our peers'...).

Monday, April 24, 2006

Git yer tikits

You have less than a week left to get your tickets for the ND Symphony Orchestra Spring Concert on Friday at 8. Come on, you know you need a break from studying, and a little culture never hurt anyone.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

THAT makes me want to take Moot Court...

Lawyer drops dead while arguing case

CNN needs to increase its budget for headline writers.

Death Penalty Laws

South Carolina recently passed a law making multiple-child rapists eligible for the death penalty. Louisiana already has a similar law, but it remains to be seen if the U.S. Supreme Court will uphold it (since it struck down a law allowing dealth penalty for rapists of multiple adults). Articles here, here, and here.

The ever-useful Wikipedia has some information on death penalty for crimes other than murder.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Early night

Tonight as I was returning from the law school to take out my dry contacts and put on glasses so I could finish reading Property, a fellow student saw me on the sidewalk and greeted me. "Early night for you, eh?" he said. It was nine o'clock. I laughed and made some mindless reply, but the comment followed me home. There have not been many nights lately I have been seen on that sidewalk on the good side of midnight. So when I got home, I placed my Property book on my desk and I read poetry. Here is a villanelle I have loved since I first read it a few years ago.

One Art

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

---Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

-- Elizabeth Bishop

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Not to revive an old topic, but...

I was browsing on Irish Trojan's blog and found a link to a site from USA Today that predicts which states would do what if Roe v. Wade were ever overturned. Thought you might be interested.

That did NOT come up in Ethics I

Here's an ethics question for you: if your client insists he's guilty and wants the death penalty, but you believe he's innocent, how do you best represent the interests of your client without breaching your fiduciary duty? What if your client is completely sick and you think if there was ever a man for whom the death penalty was adopted, his name is on your file? Can you respresent his wishes and yours by asking the jury for death? Or will that open you up to ABA sanction? Either way, you're not in a comfortable spot. My sympathy to the defense lawyers of Zacarias Moussaoui.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter

He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

Matthew 28:6

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

More on Gender Roles

If you have a minute, I highly recommend this article about Harvey C. Mansfield's book, Manliness. Read it with a sense of humor and reserve judgment till you get to the end; close scrutiny may invite premature outrage. I don't think he means to be taken so dead-seriously as some take him. He's just tossing out some ideas, and I don't think they're all bad ones. Certainly not ones all of us haven't entertained once or twice.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Shall we enter this "political thicket"?

The Observer, Notre Dame and Saint Mary's College's student-run newspaper, ran a political cartoon on Friday you can find here. It made me go "Hmmm."

Polk County Does Something Good

Kudos to my own home Polk County, Florida for catching this guy. In the video clip they interview Sheriff Judd, for whom I am proud to say I voted. I'm not sure if I caught it just right, but I believe they quote the guy's defense lawyer saying he has no problem with sting operations of this sort because "these guys should have to worry about who's on the other end." Sounds like this guy doesn't have a chance in court. At least he's not making any excuses (not that there are really any he could make). These are sick, sick people.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Opera Ad

We had the first dress rehearsal last night for the opera, and here's a piece of advice: Do yourself a favor and call the LaFortune Box Office at 574-631-8128 and buy yourself a ticket. It's $5-10 (probably depending on whether you are a student), 7:30 Thursday and Friday night. If you're afraid of terms like "opera," "aria," and "recitative," have no fear: this is in English, and a rather "updated" translation at that (think references to Clinton when the gods remind Jupiter of his follies). All the actors are students, and they are astoundingly good. I had trouble paying attention to the conductor because I kept wanting to see what was going on on stage. Oh, and the setting starts out as a hung over beach party. Offenbach would be proud. If you want more of the plot, read the synopsis. And ignore the Greek god bit--they use all the Roman names.

Update and correction: It would appear you can't actually buy tickets over the phone but must walk, with your ENTIRE body, over to the LaFortune box office to exchange money for admission. Also, as was pointed out to me, the performances are Friday and Saturday, not Thursday. Good to notice that now; they wouldn't have had a horn player Saturday!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Darned media's at it again...

If you have access to a library with a periodicals section, check out this week's issue of Chronicle of Higher Education (I'd post a link, but it's subscriber only and not worth the subscription). The cover article is an "expose" of Pensacola Christian College--"research" mostly gathered from disgruntled students, so you can imagine the tone. I frankly thought a lot of it sounded familiar. I do think from my own experiences on campus (my brother went there) and from talking to current students at my church that PCC does tend to be a little more strict than BJ in some areas, but the essence of the complaints does not really change. There were at least two fair criticisms, I think--an absolute distrust of students and a lack of any forum for disagreement. That being said, I thought the article horrible journalism. There was no indication that the author even attempted to interview a current student who was satisfied with the school or anyone officially affiliated with the school. That might have made the article at least LOOK fair and balanced. I'm sure anyone could write a scathing rant about any school if they got their story only from people who had been kicked out of it.

Frittering Away

Plug for the newly revitalized Frittering Away. The site's recent history is sketchy at best, but we'll pass over that at present. Perhaps one day the issues will be clear, but don't hold your breath. At any rate, it has been commandeered by a motley group of girls who plan to blather on about funny stories, stupid mishaps, and (it would seem) current weather. Come see us if you dare.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Poached theology

Poaching shamelessly from another's blog, I submit to you this article regarding the way Keswick theology has crept into American Christianity. To give credit where it is due, the article is linked through the blog of its author, Camille Lewis. I found it thought-provoking. It touches a lot of things I'm uneasy about in American Christian culture. It's like we're afraid of grace because we feel like we need the "guilt bat" to keep people in line. Smells a little like a lack of faith in the effectiveness of grace to produce "the fruits of the Spirit" on its own.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Restatement of a common-law dog

I'm thinking about getting a dog. I know, I know, a bit premature--I don't even have an apartment where I can keep a dog right now, and I can't have a pet with me this summer. But maybe, one day... I've wanted a miniature pinscher since my horn teacher in high school got a pair. I've even thought about names. If I got a pair I'd call them Lexis and West, but I don't want a pair. If I got one, I could call it Restatement, because it's kind of like an abbreviated version of a common-law dog. I could call it Stacy for short. Or Abstract, and call it Abby. I thought about Brief, but that would sound to normal, non-law-nerd people like I named my dog after a pair of underpants. I found this group online that lets you adopt abandoned or rescued minipins, and feel in love with one in Indiana. Her name's Angel, and she's a couple years old, fully housebroken. The problem with adopting, though, is that the adoption contract does not convey a fee simple in the dog; you have to fulfill certain conditions in the care of the dog and they can repossess any time they feel like you're not up to snuff. I don't know if I want a pet with such encumberances.

I dunno, a dog is a big responsibility and I might be traveling some in the next few years and have no idea what living conditions my summers may bring. Also, I'm not sure how much the care would cost, especially of a pedigreed animal. Minipins usually cost $400-500 from a breeder, and then there are shots, sterilization, check-ups, food, extra housing deposit... But they're so cute! I'd love to be greeted at the door by a yapping little prince or have him snuggle on my lap while I study.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Upcoming Musical Offerings

Opera Notre Dame presents Orpheus Goes to Hell at 7:30 PM on April 7th and 8th. Tickets are $5-10. The production will be in English and probably be almost as edifying as it sounds.

Also, the Notre Dame Symphony Orchestra will be playing its Spring Concert Friday April 28. The info is not yet up on the DPAC page, but I'll provide a link when it is. Usually these concert are at 8 PM and cost $3 for students. The program includes a Greig piano concerto, Chausson violin concerto, and a couple Mozart orchestra pieces.

International Economics

Probably everyone has read this at some point, but Tita sent it to me again, and I thought I'd post it for lighter reading, since I used the term "subject matter jurisdiction" in the last post...

You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd multiplies and the economy grows. You retire on the income.

You have two cows. You worship them.

You don't have any cows. You claim that the Indian cows belong to you.

You have two cows. You sell one and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. You profess surprise when the cow drops dead. You put the blame on some nation with cows & naturally that nation will be a danger to mankind. You wage a war to save the world and grab the cows.

You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows.

You have two cows. You reengineer them so that they live for 100 years, eat once a month and milk themselves.

You have two cows. They are both mad cows.

You have two cows. You don't know where they are. You break for lunch.

You have 5000 cows, none of which belong to you. You charge others for storing them.

You have two cows. You redesign them so that they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. You then create cute cartoon cow images called Cowkimon and market them worldwide.

You have two cows. You count them and learn you have five cows. You count them again and learn you have 42 cows. You count them again and learn you have 17 cows. You give up counting and open another bottle of vodka.

You have two cows. You have 300 people milking them. You claim full employment, high bovine productivity and arrest anyone reporting the actual numbers.

You have two cows. You choose one of them as the leader of your country and the other one as the president.

Govnernment Speech and License Plates

Last week the 6th Circuit overturned a District Court decision that enjoined Tennessee from issuing "Choose Life" license plates. You can read the news article or look up the decision at 2006 WL 664372 (American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee v. Bredesen--it's not in a reporter yet, obviously). The court classified the plates as "government speech" and allowed it. The way I understand it, the government is allowed to take certain positions (e.g. "Smoking is bad."). Here, though, the challengers claimed that the government was not taking a position but providing a forum for private citizens to take a position. Why this is somehow constitutionally worse eludes me. It seems to me that, if anything, private speech would be MORE protected than government speech (for example because it doesn't not have other restraints such as establishment of religion clause). Perhaps someone can explain that to me? At any rate, the court didn't buy the argument.

If you're taking Civil Procedure like me, there is a mildy interesting subject matter jurisdiction question in section II of the decision. Appellants tried to say that the state had reserved exclusive jurisdiction over claims arising from state tax laws, and this was such a claim. Court said forget it; the extra $10 the plate costs is voluntary, so it's more like a purchase from the state government than a tax.

Anyway, I know these kinds of plates have been challenged in other states, and I'm not sure if all the outcomes have been similar. If not, is this an important (or ripe) enough question for the Supreme Court to grant cert?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

More news from Central Park

Looks like we weren't the only out-of-town visitors in Central Park recently. Heh. New York doesn't seem to know exactly how to handle wildlife. It treats people less "humanely."

Monday, March 20, 2006

New York City

Trust me, the St. Patrick's Day Parade is going on somewhere behind me. Poor guys. It was cold.

Chris and Monica in Central Park. Awsome to see old friends, even if they are married :-). I've very much missed being able to run down to Monica's room for a girl chat at 10:50 and sneak back past the RA's at 11:01.

Ground Zero. They're going to start building on it soon. It's a little eerie to see this gaping hole in the middle of all the buildings.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Post-concert Celebration

Angelita, Adele, and me at the South Bend Chocolate Factory after the Chieftains concert. Thanks for being there, Mom and Dad!

A- in Spring Break

It's amazing how much you can learn when school is not in session. Lessons so far this Spring Break:

1. Never trust online information, such as posted train schedules, if there is also printed information somewhere. Unless the company is run by people under the age of 30, more than likely they don't assume the internet is their customers' primary source of information.

2. Always check your flight plan (including airline and where it's leaving from) BEFORE you start figuring out how you're going to get there on time.

3. It is possible to drive from Chicago-O'Hare to Chicago-Midway in about an hour.

4. Never pack anything irreplaceable in a bag you're going to check. It could be days before you see it again (if ever).

5. Constitutional Law is far more fun when studied on the beach.

6. A cool bath with a little vinegar takes some of the sting out of a severe sunburn.

I should be getting course credit for this.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Education Woes

Last weekend I attended the Norman Amaker Public Interest Law Retreat outside Indianapolis. I met lots of great students, teachers, lawyers, and other folks who try to make the world better, and have a renewed and reinforced interest in joining them.

One of the session topics was "Discrimination in Education," and a lot of difficult issues were raised in that session. The first was ESL students. One of the panelists pointed out (I think fairly) that schools often misdiagnose learning or behavior problems and fail to deal appropriately with them. For example, we expect a transient 4th-grader to learn English, but to ask a teacher to learn Spanish is "unrealistic," so the ESL teacher (who often doesn't know Spanish either!) becomes the "expert" any time there is ANY problem with the kid.

Another problem frequently identified is the obvious disparity between "rich schools" and "poor schools" (often labeled "Title I schools"). In New York, one district spends approx. $11,000 per pupil, while another (right across town) spends $3,000 per pupil. Clearly, one of those groups is at a disadvantage. One of the panelists was a former AmeriCorps teacher at a Title I school in NYC who said for the first two weeks she was short about 8 desks and had to have some of her 5th-graders sit on the rug (that she purchased). Her school of over 1,000 elementary students had ONE special needs teacher and TEN (!) child schizophrenics. 100% of the students were on free lunch. Um. Anyone see something wrong with this picture? Not meeting testing standards is the LEAST of this school's problems.

Third issue touched, relating to the second: vouchers. Almost everyone there was OVERWHELMINGLY against them. Their point: if you give people $2,000 to go to any school they want, (1) there may not be a better school available, and (2) if there is, they can guarantee it will cost more than $2,000. Hence, only the parents with means (who care to apply their money there) will be able to get their kids out of the "failing" schools, they will take their tax money with them, and leave all "the rest of them" to sink further. Something about that really bothers me. Call me a silly idealist, but I don't like the thought of there being a "the rest of them" in America.

Issue not touched but probably should have been: We threw the words "success" and "failing" around a lot, but never really defined them. What is a "failing" school? When can a student be said to have "succeeded"? Does it have to do with test scores? College admission? Happy and well-adjusted graduates (I challenge you to put a number on THAT)? My high school in Florida was great--if you were one of the privileged. We were an 'A' school--high rate of test passage, lots of AP students, college admission. But what about the "other" students at my school. Did they just get written off as that other 10% that, no matter what you do, just isn't ever going to look good on paper? I was given everything I could want at that school because I made it money. I passed AP tests, standardized tests, went to college. What about the students who didn't?

Friday, February 17, 2006

If I may...

Inherently Funny Word

This was referenced in class today. Here is a small excerpt from the article. You may want to pace yourself for the whole thing, the references are quite extensive.

Determining whether a word is inherently funny, some say, is subjective and based on context. Therefore, there can never be a consensus on the answer of "What is funny?", or many other questions explaining the nature of such an abstract concept.

It is part of the mythology of actors and writers that the consonant plosives (so called because they start suddenly or "explosively"); that is: p, b, t, d, k, and g are the funniest sounds in the English language - particularly when found in short words since these "create the greatest tension" (tension being a key to comedy). Example: Underpants is funny, underwear is not. Shorter words are held to "create tension" because separating words from the normal flow of speech is very difficult cognitively, and it's more difficult to discern whether a short word has ended or not. Now look again at that list of funniest words. Duck is not only admirably short but both starts and ends in a plosive, and the other plosives are legion.

Additionally, the meaning of the word certainly plays a factor. "Duck" is funny in nearly every language, presumably because ducks are seen as a silly animal. Additionally, when taboos are associated with certain words, that can make a word humorous. The ideal funny word, then, would have the proper linguistic characteristics, a humorous meaning, and be well fitting the context of the situation and the character of the speaker.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


The beginning of our obstetric pathology unit at school just happened to coincide with the Roe v Wade discussion here. Since I find this topic fascinating and somewhat relevant, I thought a spinoff post about the science of conception might be fun. I'll post things I think are interesting for a non-medical audience as I learn them, including carry-overs from our Roe v Wade thread.

Monday, February 13, 2006


Wired News thinks it's found The Secret Cause of Flame Wars. Heh. </bemused>

hat tip: Andrew Gerber

Thursday, February 09, 2006

liter fare

If you haven't the time or taste for the discussion below, try this on for size! Gillette has just introduced a new razor with five (6 if you count the extra one on the back for those "tough to reach" spots) blades. 6 blades?!! I'm a one or two blade man, myself. I have used the tri-blade Mach 3 on occasion but 6? Is this going to far? Or is it a great advance for men everywhere who need to get those "tough to reach" spots? Blog away.

Roe v Wade

I beg your indulgences now, before I begin, for I have not the expertise to discuss the finer legal points of this ruling but must instead resort to its medical implications and mammoth symbolic significance. I have stated that although I consider myself to be pro-life, I do not wish for Roe v Wade to be overturned. My reasons for this relate to the relative safety of legal vs illegal abortion and the fact that legal abortion lends itself to tight regulation. Medically, a legal induced abortion in the first trimester is a relatively safe procedure. Many studies have attempted to estimate the relative risk of abortion-related mortality vs pregnancy-related mortality. All of these studies are limited by a tendency to undereport abortion-related deaths and the universally poorer overall health statistics of abortion recipients. Still most of the data indicate the risk of death related to normal pregnancy is at least an order of magnitude higher than the risk of death from legal induced abortion. Other defenses for the safety of legal abortion point to the high mortality rates for abortion prior to Roe v Wade and the persistently high mortality rates for abortion in countries where the procedure is illegal. Of course there are many confounding variables in this type of data which I can list for you, but I merely wanted to present an argument. I will not belabor the gorry details of procedures involved in performing an abortion unless specifically queried. I will submit, however, that Roe v Wade has tremendous psychological importance for a number of women who probably will never have an abortion. There are issues related to women's power and control over their bodies and their lives that make this ruling an important landmark apart from the specific procedure it addresses. Overturning Roe v Wade may send a damaging signal symbolically about how we have come to view women. I will be the first to say that everything within the power of the law should be done to limit the number of abortions that take place and the ease with which they can be obtained. I also firmly believe in the rights of the fetus, but I think pro-lifers may have more effective tools for fighting the battle against abortion than seeking for the upheaval of a ruling that, in the minds of many, is part of the cultural and legal history of this nation.