Monday, December 22, 2014



My favorite haiku from last week:

I actually hate
Baby It's Cold Outside
No Guitar Solo!

And now, "Let It Go"
From Frozen, A Christmas Song?
COLD equals Christmas?

Best rock Carol:
"All I Want For Christmas is
You" done by Foghat.

I'm not sure about the Foghat song, but I think the man asks a good question about "Frozen"...

Sunday, December 21, 2014


Sunday Reflection: Commitment to what's wrong

I find it painful to read things about people who cling to an untruth.  Most recently, it was Dick Cheney defending the use of torture, despite its utter discrediting.  I saw it in George Bush's assertion that war in Iraq was the right thing to do, despite the lack of a positive outcome and the loss of life and taxpayers money.  I see it with prosecutors who cling to discredited convictions, and I have even seen it in myself with a few of my decisions that have turned out to be wrong (such as over-sentencing drug defendants).

It is hard to admit we were wrong, but it is harder still when such an admission means we damaged other people.  In sympathy, for example, to George Bush or Dick Cheney, think what it means if they are wrong: It would mean that they destroyed the lives of others for no discernible benefit.  For prosecutors, you are put in the position of looking at someone and saying that they should lose their freedom (or even their life).  And if you are wrong?  That's too big a burden to bear.

At Christmas, there is new hope.  Like the baby Jesus, though, it has to come from a humble place, one where we are not exalted and powerful.  It is a difficult place to go, but God provides us with a good example, one that we see re-created in every Christmas pageant and manger scene in this season of truth...

Saturday, December 20, 2014


Shake it off!

I think Sparty does pretty well here… especially the awesome sprinkler move with real sprinklers:

Friday, December 19, 2014


Haiku Friday: Best songs of the season

Year after year, IPLawGuy tells me how much the Twisted Sister song shown above means to him: When he first heard it, how he plays it as he decorates the tree, etc. etc. etc.

I may not agree with him about the song (or at least this version), but I appreciate the sentiment.  Let's blog about holiday music today-- any holiday of the season-- that we either love or despise.

Here, I will go first:

My mom in the choir
Singing "Silent Night," candlelit
That gets me each year.

Now it is your turn...  Just make it 5 syllables/7 syllables/5 syllables, and have some fun!

Thursday, December 18, 2014


Advent Quiet Thursday: The Tree

It's a hard day to stay away from politics, given that yesterday President Obama both normalized relations with Cuba and issued a round of clemency grants.  But, I will resist…

One of my favorite things about this time of the year is having a tree in the house.  It's a live, green tree by the front window.  When I pulled it through the front door, it was still cold-- I could feel the cold from a few inches away, emanating from the trunk.

At one level, there is something deeply weird about bringing a live tree into the house.  Usually, we respect a clear line on that: People live inside, while trees live outside.  But that's what makes it special and good and different.

The last thing I do before going up to bed is see that tree.  It is everything that this season should be, this unusual season.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Waco Manhunt under way after shooting...

According to the Waco Trib, TV weatherman Patrick Crawford was shot three times outside the studio where he works south of Waco.  His station, KCEN, reported that he was attacked by a white man in his mid-30's.  Crawford survived the shooting, and the suspect is on the loose.  

It's an odd crime.  As someone whose career revolves around criminal law, some cases stick out because the facts just don't fit together well.  The Michael Brown case was one of those of course-- where the explanations given for the killing didn't fit what we would expect to happen.  The most common homicide scenarios involve a robbery gone wrong and a heated argument.  This sounds more like a stalking case-- where the killer tracked the victim to his work.  Those are more unusual and more complex.

In a town like Waco, being on TV is a big deal (though the pay doesn't reflect it, I think).  I still quote two different Waco weathermen, and I haven't lived there for four years.  People will pay more attention to this case than others.  

Meanwhile, I'm hoping the victim emerges alive and healthy...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Tumult and Advent

I did a little piece that is up on the Huffington Post right now-- Regular readers here probably recognize the ideas!  You can see it here.

For some reason, I find it hard to write in December.  Maybe because I should be more advent-y?

Monday, December 15, 2014


Some excellent haiku!

Check out all the ornament poems here.  I really liked Craig A.'s:

Clark the Cub on tree
Oh how I love thee! Needs pants.
Oh, and Red Sox suck!

and Anonymous's:

Stoked Texas Santa
presides in a sleigh pulled by
three fat cockroaches

Four year old artist's
imagination melded
with Waco real life.

and can't you just see Christine's?

A glass cowardly
lion catches the sunlight
and casts memories

And Meghan....

school gift exchange: My daughter
receives Hula Shark.

What is a "Hula Shark?"

Sunday, December 14, 2014


Sunday Reflection: Christmas and Advent

Today, getting ready for a little party, I stopped at the store to get a bag of ice and a fire log.  The cashier said "Huh-- fire and ice."  I laughed.  It's a juxtaposition I have seen before.

December is an odd time for Christians who care about the liturgical calendar.  It is advent, a time dedicated to quiet and reflection and waiting.  It has a unique place, and one that is all the more important now.  The "Christmas" season, by that calendar, does not begin until Christmas day.

At the same time, though, the society we live in celebrates the entire month as "Christmas."  That cultural season offers values completely the opposite of advent-- a loud frenzy of commercialism and parties.

As I get older, I am starting to see the dual nature of things, and this is one of them.  It is advent and Christmas, all at once.  They stand for opposite things, but sit beside one another, tangled up, in our own lives.  We create corners of quiet, but also wade into the tumult.  People lament the tension between the two, but I am beginning to see the connectedness....

Saturday, December 13, 2014


Tough Interview

The Colbert Report
Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,The Colbert Report on Facebook,Video Archive

Friday, December 12, 2014


Haiku Friday: The Ornament You Love Most

For Christians (and people who celebrate Christmas for other reasons), decorating the tree is a special annual moment.  For many families, there are ornament collections that build up over the decades, and many of them have special meaning.  My own tree is covered with the amazing ornaments that mom has made over the years.  Other favorites were less expertly made.  My parents, for example, have a Big Fig ornament, handmade by a nine-year-old Eric Frakes out of paper, that has lasted 41 years:

Let's haiku about favorite ornaments this week.... here, I will go first:

My mother made it
A simple silver star, a loop
A memory shines.

Now it is your turn... just make it 5 syllables/7/5, and have some fun!

Thursday, December 11, 2014


Advent Quiet Thursday

I have friends who are much better at quiet and contemplation than I am; my friend Susan Stabile is pretty much an expert at it.  Many of those friends have a place that they go to, that is reserved for that-- a prayer space or meditation room or even a quiet place in the woods.

I've never had that.  To be honest, there are times that my calmest moments, my stillest reflections, come when I am in a crowd and profoundly un-alone.

There are times that I walk down a street in New York City.  The sidewalk is crowded, and the city is noisy.  Something happens; I watch the people passing, and then I think about the people there, and then move on to a different, calmer plane-- something beyond thinking, I guess.  There is a part of my brain that is taking care of business (wait for the walk sign... don't step in the manhole...), but most of it is in the kind of calm space that others find in quieter places.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Well, he has to do something after this job is over...

Presidents and humor can be a strange mix.  Some can never pull it off-- Nixon, for example-- while others were naturals (Reagan, Clinton).  Obama is pretty funny when he wants to be, and that's a good thing.

The strangest case was Al Gore.  When running for president, he was profoundly unfunny and came off as stiff and lifeless.  Then, after the bizarre 2000 election process was finally over, he appeared on Saturday Night Live and killed it.  If he had shown that side a little during the campaign, he might have gotten those few hundred votes he needed in Florida! 

Tuesday, December 09, 2014


A March for our times

Cornell Brooks was in my class at Yale Law, and was always compelling, focused, and principled.  I'm not surprised to see what he is doing these days...

Monday, December 08, 2014


Sally! Geoffrey! Behave!

What am I to make of this from last Friday?:

 Mustang's Former Sally said...

Listen Osler--Geoff sucks.

Geoff wore red long johns
Backwards trap door in front.So
Always ready for love

 Geoffrey Mustang Boy said...

Sal's winter nightie
Lavender Flannel pink rosebuds
Impregnable buttons.

This over NFL sweatpants
Stainless steal chastity belt
"Undies." Impregnable.

Sunday, December 07, 2014


Sunday Reflection: Protest and Advent

On Friday, I was giving a talk to 30-some people from across the country about working with students on clemency cases.  I was giving the talk in Harkness Hall, which is across Wall Street from Yale Law School and down a block.  While I was giving the talk, a protest was held, involving several hundred students and faculty holding a "die-in" to make a point about the Michael Brown and Eric Garner deaths.  

It was really an interesting juxtaposition: Outside the window, the protesters were expressing righteous anger about a real and serious problem.  Inside, we were working to mitigate the effects of the law enforcement excesses and racial imbalances they were protesting.  The two projects weren't in tension; rather, they fit together to make a whole.  

At the end of the session, we walked into the street to do down the street to the law school.  The protesters, headed back, were going the same way.  We walked together quietly, the street full of people and meaning.

Saturday, December 06, 2014


The Non-Pizza Lunch

What a week!  Back at my alma mater, I got to give a talk on clemency and faith, debate my old friend Rich Sullivan on narcotics policy, meet with 30 other people working with students on clemency cases, and meet with about a dozen Yale Law students at one time or another to talk about writing projects, job prospects, and the Law Journal.

So… a few days ago I posted pictures of a few of the posters from this week.  Many people are wondering:  What is this promise of a "non-pizza lunch?"

Well… first of all, it's not a non-lunch, it's just a lunch that is something other than pizza.  Apparently, YLS charges a $50 fee to organizations to clean up after a lunch, but waives it if the lunch is pizza.  (I heard a few various theories about why this might be).  As a result, they get a LOT of pizza at events, and a non-pizza lunch is a big deal...

Friday, December 05, 2014


Haiku Friday: My favorite winter clothes...

It's December… time to haul out the heavy clothes, the ones that save us from the cold.  For some reason, people (at least in Minnesota) have an odd affection for their winter clothes, and we have have favorites.  Let's haiku about that today.

I will go first:

Trusty ski helmet
Blasts tunes in my ears
So loud, IPLawGuy hears.

Now it is your turn!  Just make it 5 syllables for the first line, 7 for the second, and 5 for the third….

Thursday, December 04, 2014


Advent Quiet Thursday

Every year for advent, I leave off the political commentary for Advent.  Several years ago, I started paying more attention to the liturgical seasons.  Of them all, advent is the most challenging for me.

It is to be a time of quiet, of expectant waiting.  I'm lousy at that!  If you don't believe me, ask anyone who has been fishing with me.  I want to jump into things and wrangle them and get things done.  Yet, I know that there is deep wisdom in the call to quiet and reflection.

I'll have to work on that next week… this week I have my hands full in New Haven, though it is stuff I love doing:

Wednesday, December 03, 2014


The strange case of Georgia Southern

For years, Georgia Southern had a very good, even great, football program in what was first called Division I-AA, and now is called the Football Championship Series (I think they maybe need to revisit that change now that the former Division I-A also has a championship...).   Recently, they moved up to the top classification, and have excelled.

In fact, this year they won the Sun Belt conference with an 8-0 record in league play.  That's pretty remarkable.

However, it looks like the NCAA will not allow them to play in a bowl game, because they are still classified as a "transitional" team.

What could possibly be the rationale for denying a conference champion the chance to play in a bowl game?

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