Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dominion!



Whilst wiki-learning earlier today, I stumbled across the article for Bir Tawil, a tiny spit of land betwixt Egypt and Sudan that apparently neither country wants anymore. So I'm now accepting applications for the army I'm raising to take control of the Bir Tawil, which I will immediately declare an autocratic personal dominion of the Davis Dynasty. Guess what Vatican? There's a new micronation in town!

Doesn't seem like the place has a lot of natural resources, but it is named for a nearby water well. Maybe I'll build the world's largest sand volleyball pit. Or a gladiator pit. Or a giant statute of myself. One interesting question is what sort of law I'll impose...but basically I think I'll rule by fiat and ukase. Interesting that Osler also touched on this topic today.

Monday, December 7, 2009

SFW: Holiday Hi-Jinx

Aloha and Mele Kalikimaka, readers! This weekend the Missus and I did some holiday shopping in addition to our regular trip to H.E.B. for groceries. Hilarity and Scenes From Waco ensued!

At left are Peel N' Stick decals you can put on your window to spread holiday cheer in your neighborhood. The problem is, this snow-family is decidedly lacking in cheer. Mom's sweeping away, keeping the igloo tidy with a creepy Stepford grin on her face, while it looks like Dad is begrudgingly taking the snow-kid out to play catch or something. "Oh well," thinks Mom, "let it snow!" Snowkid is blissfully unaware of that his family unit is about to implode, as soon as Mom finds out about Dad's prurient interest in his secretary's sno-cones.


You know, I spent all last December looking for the perfect illuminated farm animal, but Target had what I needed the whole time! Light-up Santa Pig! And a steal at only $39.99. For the love of porkchops, who buys this stuff? Jesus was Jewish--there's no way he want's us to make Light-up Santa Pigs part of our lawn nativities.




Affirm: Undergarments for Judges. Not really holiday related, but I'm glad someone is finally recognizing the aging of our federal bench.








InTouch Magazine warns us, "It's Worse Than Anyone Knows." You're telling me, InTouch! Brad's beard is way out of hand! It's like his hair and designer clothes say "Hollywood A-lister," but his beard says "Could you spare some change or, in the alternative, some meth?"





I scratched my head for a bit, trying to figure out why this gas station Dr. Pepper machine is raised about two feet off the ground. Taller patrons? Nope. Floodwater? Good guess, but no. Only in Texas, my friends, will you find a drive-through Dr. Pepper machine. I kid you not.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Shared Wiring

So, I know I haven't blogged in a while (and I don't really consider this a blog post), but I did want to share some interesting links from Wired.com:

1. Concept Art Offers Peek at Tim Burton’s Twisted Genius - New York’s Museum of Modern Art will be displaying a collection of 700 art pieces produced by Tim Burton from the past three decades. Also, I am really looking forward to Alice in Wonderland!



2. Review: New Super Mario Bros. Wii Is Nostalgic, Chaotic - a review of the upcoming throwback-to-classic 2D Super Mario Brothers for Wii...the review also includes snippets of game play. As NES Super Mario Bros. was my first video game, I am interested to see how this 2D game will fair in a 3D gaming world.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

SFW: Jesus Said Rock

It's time for another exciting installment of "Scenes From Waco!" This one comes to us from the Genie Car Wash and Fast Lube, where I took the infamous Little Red for an oil change the other day. Remember, my friends, that nothing does more to keep you car in tip-top shape and improve your gas milage than following your auto dealer's suggested maintenence schedule. As in the case of Little Red, this becomes even more important after about 203,000 miles.
The poster at left advertises a rollicking good time down at Common Grounds, wherein the faithful will gather to keep the 11th Commandment: ROCK. Fans of Spinal Tap will note that much like that group's mega-loud amps, in Waco our commandments go up to 11, that we mayst rock even harder for Our Savior. I don't really recall Jesus saying "rock," except in one horrendously misinterpreted little pun to Peter: "Upon this rock ("petros" in Greek) I will build my church." So are we to recall that Jesus Said Peter? That's got potential for hilarity for sure. But now that I think about it, Petros was really an affectionate nickname for the disciple called Simon, so maybe the point is that Jesus Said Simon? I thought the deal was Simon said things, not that people said Simon. Maybe that's why I never got that game, because it's a very deep theological allegory.
I guess this post is really more questions than answers. Is it safe to assume that God does not want us to remember the Black Sabbath, and keep it holy? What are the Son of Man's thoughts on Marilyn Manson? Is the carpenter from Galilee partial to The Carpenters? As a fellow member of the Tribe, does Christ keep Gene Simmons and KISS on the Ever Blessed iPod? Did Jesus have a certain genre in mind when he told us to Rock? I know this doesn't make the cut, but are we talking classic rock, or do folk rock and alt country count? These are but a few of His Holy Mysteries.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It's Kelo-ver: Pfizer Leaves New London

After battling the eminent domain case Kelo v. New London all the way to the Supreme Court, and the court ruling in favor of the City of New London (5-4), Pfizer announced today that they are closing their R&D facility in New London, CT. Ouch. Although I am not a lawyer or law student, I did follow this case closely back in 2005, and hearing this final outcome of the situation reignited the arguments for me...I can understand the City's side of wanting control of private, blighted areas to redevelop for the benefit of the city, but I also have serious reservations about the Supreme Court's decision and the moral infringement on the 5th Amendment (also basic Free Market principles). The Pfizer announcement just seems like the ultimate slap in the face. So, I pose 2 questions for all those law focused readers:


1. Thoughts on the original Kelo decision by the Supreme Court? Effects on the 5th Amendment?

2. Because of the Kelo decision, revisions to state constitutions have been proposed (Proposition 11, recently voted on in Texas, passed and "will state in the Constitution that governments in Texas are prevented from seizing private property and giving it to a private developer to boost the tax base") - will this proposition, in turn, effectively protect private property and land owners in Texas?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Political Identity


I suppose that like the other human beings waltzing around this big blue marble, I'm constantly in search of an identity. Sure, most of us know who we are to some degree. But our nature requires that we define ourselves in terms of our models and examples. After all, there is nothing new under the sun.


So it comes as no real surprise that recent discussions of an Republican "identity crisis" have caused me to contemplate my own identity.  I know where I stand on certain issues, but where does that put me in the spectrum of my right-wing compatriots? Are we even compatriots any more?


Most voters articulate their views (even when those views aren't so articulate) in a few neat categories: social issues, economic issues, The Government, and foreign affairs. There's tons of overlap here, but the categories make it simpler to discuss in this format. On the almost every front, I'm a sure conservative. On economic issues, I think we need less taxes and less government spending if the private sector is ever going to really rebound. This ties right into The Government, which I think is too big, too driven by a Congress and Executive with solutions in search of problems, and too entrenched to change without major reform. On foreign affairs, I'd like us to walk softly and carry a big stick, but not be afraid to swing the bejezzus out of the stick when our interest, allies, or freedom are at stake.


Its on the "social issues" where I run afoul of many other Republicans, especially in Texas. It's not a question of stance--I don't like abortion, and I think it should be illegal. I think "marriage" means a man and a woman, and I think the death penalty is appropriate in limited circumstances. Heck, I even think the Bible's got lessons for everyone and the world would be a better place if we all learned and lived by them. But the problem's in presentation and priority. I don't think my views MUST be everyone else's, and that all those who disagree are apostates. I don't think that the Defense of Marriage Act is a national priority, or that gay marriage is going to morally bankrupt the Union. And as vile as abortion is, I don't think it's the first question someone should ask a political candidate for, say, city council. I believe what I believe, and I'd like the government to stay the hell out of it, thank you very much.



Thankfully, my views put me in good company. Reagan and Goldwater, for instance. And my former congressman, Dick Armey (Diana's  posted a great NYT profile of Armey on facebook). And not insignificantly, the majority of the American population. Especially during these economically turbulent times, the tough fiscal questions are at the forefront and most people fall to center-right. And perhaps surprisingly, most of the Tea Party crowd. But unfortunately every time a Terry Schivo-type issue comes up, the DeLay and Palin Republicans feel the need to run out and prove their righteousness. Well I'd rather be right than righteous--they're usually the same thing.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Rs Win! (And Hopefully Learn Some Lessons for 2010)


A brief respite from finals to reflect: It's a good day to be a Republican. We've just swept in Virginia (including the Governor's post), and elected a Republican replacement for noted gun hater Gov. John Corzine in New Jersey. But we've also got egg on our face from losing the stalwart NY23 seat to the Dems. Failure is always an opportunity in disguise, so lets look at the lessons to be learned from this situation. (photo jacked from Politico)

As Orin Kerr noted over at The Volokh Conspiracy, there are four clear lessons (I've put my own twist to some of these): 1) The conservative movement is alive and well. 2) American's want old-fashioned economic conservatives, and are much more accepting of social moderates than certain pundits would like you to believe. 3) 2010 could be disastrous for Obama, even though  there hasn't been a fundamental sea change in opinion since he was elected. 4) Radical right-wingers do not have large scale support.

Obviously the winners in New Jersey and Virginia had to be more moderate and right-of-center than their counterparts elsewhere (ahem, Texas), or they never would have stood a chance. But the real fireworks were in NY23. The Republican nominee there was forced out by a "Conservative Party" candidate who garnered support from the likes of Palin and Glenn Beck. Folks on the far right crowed when the pro-choice, pro-gay rights nominee Scozzafava suspended her campaign last week. But what are they to say now that their candidate has been defeated? I've thought for a while that the fight up there was local at heart--it was a special election, and the moderate party establishment nominated Scozzafava, she wasn't swept in by popular vote. So there was probably some resentment unrelated to her more left-leaning positions. And it's been generally acknowledged that Republicans only held that seat because we've been willing to elect moderates that the area independents could support. Case in point, last night's election. The "Conservative Party" nominee Hoffman won 45.2% of the vote, the Democrat 49.3%, and Scozzafava 5.5%. Isn't it pretty clear that without Hoffman in the race, the Republican would have won? And that's not even counting the independents who voted Democrat, but would liked to have voted for Scozzafava?

This was supposed to be the far right's big hurrah--Palin, Beck, Perry, and all those guys came out in support of Hoffman, and advocated a "purification" of the Republican Party. To win, they said, we've got to be even more conservative than we were before, and stick to our guns. Guys like Newt, however, said they opposite. Remember that Newt was one of the principle architects of our takeover in '94. He said that we've got to stop pushing people out of the  big tent, and start figuring out how to work together inside it. As Mark Davis recently said while sitting in for Rush, isn't a 60%  R better than a D?

The sad part is, I can't expect that we'll learn this lesson. The talk show guys will chalk the wins in New Jersey and Virginia up to anti-Obama backlash, and call the loss in NY23 a narrow miss. The Obama win in 2008 and the developments of 2009 probably won't be writing on the wall enough to forestall disappointment in 2010. If we want to win, we have to stop giving creedence only to the loudest and most acerbic voices in the party. We have to realize that maybe you can get away with purging the RINOs on a small scale, in safely conservative areas. But we can't keep attacking our own on a nationwide scale, especially in Dem territory like New York.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

From My Cold Dead Hands, Baylor Law Review!


Great news! My submission to the Baylor Law Review write-on competition has earned me a spot on the staff, starting in the Winter Quarter. As I understand it, our job is to review the law, which I give a solid 3 out of 5 gavels. Strong on casting, weak on writing and dialog.

Part of the the strength of my piece, I think, is that the topic was very interesting and I was able to enjoy myself a bit. The prompt was basically the cert question in McDonald v. Chicago, which is whether the individual right to bear arms the Supreme Court articulated in Heller last year should be incorporated to the states through the 14th Amendment. So that's fun enough by itself. But cert was also granted on whether such incorporation should occur through the privileges or immunities clause, overruling the Slaughter-House Cases! Crazy!

So what do we think? Is the right to bear arms "fundamental" and/or "implicit in the Anglo-American concept of ordered liberty?" I say hell yeah, but I've been known to make rash decisions based upon the awesomeness of firearms.

On a related note, I think  this should be the next Federalist Society Professors' Debate topic. Who do we want to see argue guns?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

ApOrang-splosion: Global Warming and Heated Debate

Global Warming is a dish best served cold, like pizza (30 Rock, anyone?), but the sequel to the controversial Freakonomics is raising more emotions than temperatures around the world. The book is gaining SUPER press exposure this week - from The Daily Show to the Wall Street Journal. Adding more fuel to this fiery debate, Stephen D. Levitt's NY Times "Freakonomics" blog hosts a SuperFreakonomics Global Warming Fact Quiz.

My question to you:

Would we "be better off doing nothing until the state of technology can catch up to the scope of the problem" or going all Inconvenient Truth on the Earth?

I fall approximately room temperature on the spectrum - I don't think it is worth spending trillions of dollars on a problem that we do not fully understand, but it couldn't hurt to compost in your backyard or drive an electric car (depending of course on the cost and/or how the electricity was generated).

Monday, October 26, 2009

Another Step Toward Legitimate Blogging!

My friends, this morning I embarked upon an exciting new adventure--participation in a legitimate blogging effort that has nothing to do with Baylor, Waco, our house, or whatever. As part of the promo efforts for our forthcoming book, a group of fellow authors and I are now posting over at the new Reclaiming the Right blog. The general idea is thoughtful conservatism, and an intellectual underpinning to some of the more emotion-driven current debates. Should be fun! Check out my first post, on Afghanistan (the author is listed as "Robert Wheeler," but that's a temporary bug). Don't worry, there will still be plenty of fun and debate here at The Davis Firm. I expect that the tone of my posts at the new blog will be more academic, and probably sound a lot like the pieces I wrote in a former life. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cath-Anglican: But Now I'm Found?

The New York Times article, "Pope Sets Plan for Disaffected Anglicans to Join Catholics," highlights a new twist in the Great Anglican Divide:

"In an extraordinary bid to lure traditionalist Anglicans en masse, the Vatican on Tuesday announced that it would make it easier for Anglicans who are uncomfortable with their church’s acceptance of women priests and openly gay bishops to join the Roman Catholic Church.

A new canonical entity will allow groups of Anglicans 'to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony,' Cardinal William Levada, the prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said at a news conference here."

As a new Episcopalian, I am not sure how this would play out - among Catholics and/or among Anglicans. In order to preserve traditionalist values, would Anglicans rejoin with the Pope? Friends, Catholics, Anglicans, lend me your thoughts!

Monday, October 19, 2009

I Knew That Obama Guy Was a Stoner!

The buzz today is that Big O is set to announce a new marijuana policy, under which the DEA will no longer enforce federal marijuana prohibitions where they conflict with state laws allowing the use and distribution of medical weed. This isn't exactly unexpected--as the ad at left demonstrates, NORML campaigned hard for the guy they knew would loosen marijuana laws. But the announcement is still big news.

What are we to think of Obama's new drug policy? I know our national drug policies need to be reworked, and think I can get on board with the idea that we may have over-criminalized marijuana use (just look at the number of young people in prison today for possession of relatively small amounts), but does that mean that the President should direct the DEA to ignore federal criminal statutes? I don't think so. If this is going to be his policy, he should ask Congress to rewrite the law. It's their job. His job is to "faithfully execute" the laws. See generally The Freakin' Constitution.

If the states want to decriminalize marijuana, and the Congress wants to decriminalize it at the federal level, let's have that debate. Let's talk about our drug policies and come to a legislative conclusion. If you're interested, Texas Monthly ran a great piece last month on the marijuana debate in Texas, and it included a good summations of the arguments for and against.  I mean come on, who did the country elect president, Barack Obama or Matthew McConaughey?



Friday, October 16, 2009

Snuggies and Healthcare

Ok, so Colbert and Jon Stewart are famous for putting members of Congress in awkward, and generally embarrassing, situations but D.L. Hughley got 2 members to wear Snuggies. I am pretty sure that sets a precedent.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Real Headline: 'Bunnies Burned to Keep Swedes Warm'


'Stockholm's Bunnies Burned to Keep Swedes Warm.'

This. Story. Is. Hilarious. Apparently the Swedes, well know for ingenuity in the furniture arts, have found a new way to make lemonade when life hands you lemons. Or more precisely, to make bioenergy when life hands you thousands of tiny rabbit cadavers.

Well what do you expect from the deranged people who brought us Bursjön the stool? (not to mention a demonic stuffed bunny, "Gosig Kanin") I mean, this is a perfectly logical solution to two problems--too many rabbits, and not enough heat. But how horrifying! It's like a car that runs on shattered dreams, or a sneaker-sewing machine fueled by the tears of Indonesian children.

Many of the destructive little herbivores start life as pets, and when kids get tired of their new friend they put them outside to "play with the other bunnies." Ha! More like "play with the grim spectre of a violent shooting death followed by slow roasting in a hellish pit of fire." What will we hear next? 'Norwegians Find New Life for Killer Whales...As Luxury Condos.' You monsters, not Shamu IX! We didn't even know if it was a boy or a girl!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

SFW: Gently Heartbreaking and Overpriced

We haven't had a "Scenes From Waco" installment for a while, so I thought we'd catch up with two.


The availability of movies is one of Waco's many idiosyncrasies. Some movies just never screen here, and you also run across a lot of videos at Blockbuster that you've never heard of before. Mostly straight-to-DVD Jesus stuff. But the poster at left struck me for two reasons: 1) I'd never heard of it, and what the heck is it even about anyway? Two ladies moving a stuff around for 90 minutes? and 2) The best billing they could give this flick is "Funny..." (ok, good so far) "...and gently heartbreaking." Huh? That's exactly what I want to see, a manic-depressive film about two ladies moving stuff around. Perfect Friday evening.


HEB stores are a big plus for Waco. I know HEBs in other places are sometimes the nasty, run down store in town. But here the betters ones are big, clean, and run great deals. They also sell a lot of non-grocery items, which are generally way overpriced. Case in point, the tin flamingo at right. All this thing does is sit in your yard (or living room maybe?) and bob up and down in the wind. How much is the pleasure of owning such a device worth to you? $20? $25? How about $49.95!? Well that's what they want you to pay. Worst part is, I see less and less of these things everytime we go to the store. Somebody's buying them! There's a flock of expensive tin flamingos overrunning the town!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

War is Peace, Irony is Fantastic

After winning the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, the Obama White House declared war on Fox News on Sunday saying,

"'What I think is fair to say about Fox -- and certainly it's the way we view it -- is that it really is more a wing of the Republican Party,' said Anita Dunn, White House communications director, on CNN. 'They take their talking points, put them on the air; take their opposition research, put them on the air. And that's fine. But let's not pretend they're a news network the way CNN is.'"

Anita Dunn is right, Fox News is no CNN:

Friday, October 9, 2009

WTF? There's a Nobel Prize for Sitting at Home and Eating Cheetos?

If you read my post yesterday, you know how highly I regard Obama's job performance thus far. (Ha!) But apparently he's doing such good job of being an ineffectual wiener that they gave him the Nobel Peace Prize! Conclusive proof that the Nobel Peace Prize has become a worthless paperweight. Literally, utterly worthless. Too bad Yasser Arafat isn't around to chat Obama up at Peace Prize Winners Reunions. But now Big O and Al Gore will have something to talk about besides how much they hate Bill and Hillary.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Obama: Hero to Zero in Just 10 Months

So it's October, and the Big O (or should that be a "0"?) has yet to deliver on a single major campaign promise. Don't believe me? Just watch the video below, he explains it himself (thanks to The Tuegel and Magnificent Vista for the tip--I missed the first 10 minutes of SNL this week). Come on, what did you think was going to happen? I mean the guy was campaigning on "I'm going to lower the level of the sea"--we know he got a little too big for his britches. Dear Barrack- just because you think you're invincible and everyone tells you that you're going to be the best president ever doesn't make it true.



If I had the time, I'd lay down some erudite and hard-hitting analysis on why Obama's first year is shaping up to be a failure. For now, I'll just hit three of the high points.

1) He's a wiener. Obama can't get stuff done because he's too busy trying to please everyone (and never switched out of campaign mode), and he doesn't have the cache on Captiol Hill to make everyone jump in line.

2) He can't manage expectations. Americans don't expect a prefect president, or even a terribly effective one, but Big O promised us the moon. Well ok, W promised us the moon, but Obama said he'd save the economy, fix healthcare, reverse global warming, turn all the Washington Fat Cats into cuddly kittens, and solve our race relation problems. Did Obama not go to that seminar on setting attainable goals? He's like that guy who gets Ds as a pre-law undergrad and is convinced he's going to be a Supreme Court Justice. You have to set your self up for sucess, not unmitigated failure. Case in point, the Olympics. Here's a good idea: go ahead and give the world a reason to shoot down the US, after they're already pissed at us for causing a global financial meltdown. I'm sure they'll give Chicago the Olympics, just as long as you ask nicely and smile. A smart politician stays a thousand miles from away from something like that if there's even a outside chance he'll lose. Instead Obama went and put his personal credibility on the line. Dumb. This is such a no brainer that I heard Hugh Hewitt say before the fact, "Of course Chicago is getting the Olympics. Otherwise Obama wouldn't be going to Copenhagen."

3) He played the race card. Or at least didn't properly deal with it after Carter played it. Don't even give me that line about how Jimmy Carter was spekaing for himself, and Big O had nothing to do with it. Obama's the party leader, Carter is a Democrat, and all such birds come home to roost with the president. Obama doesn't have to have anything to do with Carter's asine remarks for them to be his problem. You can't run a campaign on "post-racial" politics, and then let some crazy peanut farmer spout off about how racist your opponents are. Even if there are some racist nuts out there, what kind of arrogance is it to let someone call the majority of your opposision racially motivated? If Carter really was off the reservation and O didn't see some truth in his words, he should have lambasted the remarks publicly and called Jimmy a crazy old coot. Instead he just left the knife in tolerant white America's back.



Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wednesday Share and Tell


Oh, the trial of obtaining adequate sleep! I think Christoph Niemann illustrated this ubiquitous battle perfectly through his humorous visual blog: "Good Night and Tough Luck."

Cheers!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Going Rogue

After all of Sarah Palin's blunders and gaffes during the '08 election, you'd think someone would have caught this one: the (hopefully) unintended use of rogue in the title of her upcoming book, Going Rogue.

Top 3 Reasons Not to Describe Yourself/Political Entity as Rogue:

1. Probably not a good idea to apply the same word used to describe North Korea to yourself.

2. Although you may have seen X-Men 1 or 2 (hopefully you have not seen the ugly stepchildren 3 and Wolverine), the character of Rogue sucks the life out of everything she touches. Not exactly positive, vote for me imagery.

3. The definition of rogue from Merriam-Webster is as follows:
1 : vagrant, tramp
2 : a dishonest or worthless person : scoundrel
3 : a mischievous person : scamp
4 : a horse inclined to shirk or misbehave
5 : an individual exhibiting a chance and usually inferior biological variation

Seriously. Did you intentionally use this word or just think it sounded cool? Or maybe Sarah Palin is getting career ideas from Justin's blog. Wait a minute, didn't he intern in Alaska this past summer? Oh. my. gosh. Conspiracy!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Swan Lake of Death

There is an epic battle taking place in Brooklyn's Prospect Park:

Two rival houses lived separately, but harmoniously, on opposite ends of a territory. We'll call the Northern Clan "Swanords," and the Southern Clans, "Swansurs." The two houses were both without an heir for months, until this fateful deadly year. The Swanords were blessed with a beautiful baby boy, but not to be outdone, the Swansurs had five. Mwahahahahahaha! And the prophecy of the five Swan princes was set into motion.

Over the summer months, these Swanlets grew. The Father of the Swansurs trained his sons to be great, vicious fighters - forcing them to complete complex and traditional swan fighting patterns in the secret of the night. The Father of the Swanords, taught his son to respect the environment and to love everyone and everything. Swanord, Jr. grew to be a kind and gentle creature, while the 5 Swansur sons grew to be evil, bloodthirsty animals.

For the Swansurs had always been territorial. It was in their blood to rule all the lake they could see and destroy all that got in their way.

After months of palpable tension, life on the lake suddenly transformed in an instant of terror. The Swansur Father ordered a daylight attack on the Swanords! With the fierce battle cry of silence and flapping wings, the Swansur charged. Oh, the horror!

But, the Swansur made one fatal mistake: daylight. Since he had trained his sons by the light of the moon, no human had previously witnessed their deadly capabilities. And now, in the brilliance of the sun, Truth illuminated their evil plot.

"Curses! Foiled again! Seriously, humans. Stop making swans with your doggie bag leftovers, only to throw them at us in an attempt to thwart our violent ways!" shouted the mute Swansur.

That night the Swansurs held a family meeting and swore by their beaks that they would get those Swanords, even if it meant destroying the humans too.

So, yeah. You better watch out New Yorkers because they are watching you.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

They Want to End Immunity Day!

Ok, so the headline's a little sensational, but I'm kind of keyed up about this. At their next meeting, the faculty will discuss the pros and cons of Immunity Day, and may ultimately decide not to participate in the future. SBA has been asked to prepare an Immunity Day report, but our elected student representatives will not be allowed to present it to the faculty, or even be available to answer questions. The students and the charities Immunity Day benefits may lose out without an opportunity to speak in our own defense. Please read on for details, and tell your professors why Immunity Day should stay.


If you attend Baylor Law, you know that the Student Bar Association's big fundraiser is something called Immunity Day. You basically pay $5 or $10 bucks per class, and then you don't get called on during the eponymous Day. In the past we've given between $5000 and $7000 each to CASA, Caritas of Waco, Toys for Tots, and a number of other local charities. We've also partnered with Carter Blood Care, and let students chose to give blood for immunity instead of pay. Traditionally there's been a "party" at a local establishment the night before Immunity Day, but all the money we raise goes to the chosen charity--not to fund the party.

Of course, professors willing to offer immunity for charity are vital to the effort. But apparently, some Baylor Law professors want to end the philanthropic tradition. I've spoken with a few of them, and the main reasons seem to be (1) We hold too many Immunity Days (once a quarter); (2) Immunity Day is a lazy way to raise money; (3) Immunity Day doesn't make a difference; (4) We should be planning the kind of big fundraisers other law schools put on; and (5) The money goes to fund a party.

I'm always one to give faculty the benefit of the doubt, but this time their assumptions are way off base. We've already addressed the outlandish notion that SBA is using charitable contributions to throw a party (that one's a little insulting). And you've seen the numbers (almost $20,000 donated in the last year), so that's all that's needed rebut the idea that Immunity Day doesn't make a difference. But I'm really confused by the thought that SBA could be doing more, or holding a different kind of event to raise the funds we give to our beneficiary organization. The same professors who complain that Immunity Day is a drain on student's study time seem to argue that we should pull out all the stops to plan golf tournaments, or date auctions, or whatever other fundraisers their alma maters put on. Many of us (myself included) came to Baylor for the rigorous academics and advocacy training, especially the PC program. But the same faculty who tout Baylor's academic rigor in the recruitment materials don't seem to understand the consequences of such a tight focus. For example, Baylor has no established legal outreach clinic--all our student legal aid is ad hoc, because the 3Ls that normally participate in such things are in PC. And Baylor students are primarily represented by 2Ls, becasue the 3Ls who normally represent law students as Student Bar Association President, Texas Bar Representative, and American Bar Representative are all in PC. So if the upper third of our student body doesn't have the time for these pursuits, we're supposed to ask them to take more time off to sit in a fundraising booth, or make calls to alumni? If they've got a better fundraiser concept that interferes less with our studies, I'll propose it to the SBA myself.

Baylor is about hard work, and very little play. That's A-OK, and the main reason I'm here. Is one day a quarter, one day that does so much good for so many needy people, really that much to ask? I think not. Talk to your professors, let them know how you feel, and ask them to at the very least give us a chance to speak to the faculty.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mentat

It is by will alone I set my mind in motion. -Mentat mantra, Frank Herbert's Dune.

I had the strangest hallucination as I poured over an Admin Law brief a few moments ago (at 3:30 am).  No, "hallucination" implies something that's not there--this definitely happened. As I read a citation-laden passage, suddenly "a thousand points of law" started shooting around in my brain. Each seemed to move independently, but I could detect the ley lines connecting them all almost imperceptibly. In that moment, everything made sense. I saw the Matrix. I was The Law. I could have successfully argued anything--that the Legislature intended we all wear flip-flops to work, or that the 1st Amendment contains a super-secret cheesemakers' clause.

Then, as quickly as it came, Law-vana vanished. I was left with only the words of the deranged Mentat I had so recently been:

"It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
It is by the juice of Saphu that thoughts acquire speeds,
that lips acquire stains, that stains become a warning.
It is by will alone I set my mind in motion."

Perhaps the coffee version is more apt tonight:

"It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion.
It is the beans of Java that thought acquire speed,
that hand acquire shakes, that shakes become a warning.
It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion."

Oh well, back to work. Let's hope the final brief doesn't reek of "crazy nerd."

Monday, September 21, 2009

Baby Mama

We saw this morning on the Today Show that a couple who went in for in vitro fertilization (IVF) had the wrong embryo thawed out and implanted in the wife's womb. Wowsers! Enormous lawsuit aside, doesn't this raise some eyebrows about the whole IVF process? We don't have kids and we haven't tried yet, but it seems to me that if you are having trouble with the 5th kid, as this lady was, maybe you shouldn't be at the clinic in the first place. This isn't China, and I certainly don't think we should be telling people how many kids to have. But with so many babies out there needing adoption do we really need more rich folks buying pregnancies they couldn't work out on their own? Don't forget that every trip to the IVF clinic results in not just one implantable embryo, but many. That's a lot of potential life that gets tossed out. Thoughts?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Today is Gift

This NY Times article, titled "The Referendum," was sent to me by a friend today - it is a great testament to Master Oogway's quote from Kung Fu Panda:

"You are too concerned about what was and what will be. There is a saying: yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present."

Quote from article: "We only get one chance at this, with no do-overs. Life is, in effect, a non-repeatable experiment with no control."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Zyrtec Is For Crazy People

So Zyrtec has been running these commercials for a while that really creep me out. They're basically heartfelt soliloquies from sad lonely people to their pets and household items, in which the shut-ins blame their problems on allergies. The one below runs starts with "Dear bicycle..." and ends with "...and that's where they found me, up to my knees in pig stomachs, humming the theme from Little House on the Prairie."

I wish I could have found the cat one. Whoever Zyrtec hired to write these things thought this line would sell meds: "Dear Cat, gentle cat. Your hair mixes with pollen in the air, so I have to put you out in the garden." Seriously, that's what it says. That's not a sales pitch, that's the muttered ramblings of a lady named Mabel who used to sing back up for Gene Autry. (I really know a lady who sang back up for Gene Autry, but her name wasn't Mabel...and she was way too smart to fall for this Zyrtec bull.)

UPDATE: D found the cat commercial at some site called jezebel.com. One look at that page will tell you why I avoided it in the Google results and susequently missed finding the video.


A Point of Parliamentary Procedure


All the media hype from Congressman Joe Wilson's outburst has prompted me to reevaluate the culture of our legislative body. True, his faux pas was in poor taste and form...but in the grand scheme of things, was it really that bad? When did Congress become so stuffy? As an elected representative, is it not his job to speak up as the voice of his district? And just prior to his accusatory statement, Dems had been standing, clapping, and cheering - so clearly, Congress doesn't expect members to sit quietly during a presidential speech. By reprimanding Wilson, are we setting a precedent of allowing only positive speech towards the president? Have we digressed to the 1700's age of tyranny? Granted, his outburst was rude, but how can we as a free nation legitimately say that his action (although not favorable) was inherently wrong?

I would like to see more First Amendment freedom expressed on the floor. Remove some of the pomp and circumstance/safety blanket that restricts members from expressing dissent. In the least, it might help revive Americans' interest/involvement in the process. For example, the British Parliament thrives with heated debate. It is a well attended, alive body. However, during day-to-day proceedings in Congress, members are often alone in the chamber delivering pre-written monologues rather than engaging in an actual debate.

There used to be duels and walking cane beatings in Congress over hot-button issues! I believe there is a direct correlation between the lack of passion in our leaders to the lack of passion within the American people.

Aside: While writing this post, the "Oliver Cromwell" song from Monty Python is playing in my head...coincidence?

Go to the mattresses, Congress!

Fall

Fall reminds me of the East.
The crisp cool is out of place here, otherworldly and mysterious.
Fall is leaves drifted on a gothic mantlepiece,
ocher and russet reflections of the fire in a dark Philadelphia bar.
Fall is camping in Gettysburg,
woodsmoke and pipesmoke drifting and lingering like spirits.
Fall is the burning Shenandoah,
Harper's Ferry, apple picking, and Great Falls.
Fall is Boston,
Italian food and a gale on the Freedom Trail.
Fall in the East is the ebb of life,
preparation for slumber and a slowing heartbeat.
Fall here is a brief return to life,
a last trumpet of green storms driven ahead by impotent winter.
Fall reminds me of the East, and sets my thoughts wandering.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

We're Going to Candy Mountain, Charlie

Come hither blog readers! Jesse and I have formed a joint blog of epic proportions, titled: The Davis Firm. And I will be updating starting after now exclusively on the new blog. I am not guaranteeing that it's not a magical blog, but I'm pretty sure you won't end up losing a kidney. What more motivation do you need?

Classic:

Moving Day!

Hear ye, hear ye! "Self-Infliction" heeded the words of the Great Owl and has moved its house to the lee of the stone. No, Jenner, you are not invited.

So what this really means is that D and I now have a new joint blog (http://thedavisfirm.blogspot.com/), which incorporates all your past "Self-Infliction" and "Paperless Mache Project" favorites! We've got Baylor Law Hogwarts! We've got Baby Sasquatch! We've even got D's post from just this morning, and the post you are reading right now! Trippy!

So update your readers and blogrolls, kiddies--there's a (kinda) new game in town.

Websurdity Wednesday: Perry, Okra, and Twitter Crisis

As Jesse is revisiting his series (SFW) today, I too felt inspired to publish an edition of Websurity Wednesday. I am issuing the following awards today:

1. Most Inappropriate News Title: goes to NPR.com for "Open Your Mind (And Your Mouth) To Okra"
*the opening line of the article, "I have a wonderful relationship with okra, but it didn't start out that way." - gross.

2. Best Social Commentary on the Ridiculousness of Social Commentary During a Crisis Situation: goes to Lore Sjoberg for his most recent Alt Text on Wired.com
*kudos for exposing extra ridiculousness: "Two Australian girls, lost in a storm drain, recently used their cellphones to update Facebook to alert people about their predicament rather than calling emergency services. Some reports indicate they also took the time to complete a 'Which Smurf Are You Quiz,' and got the result 'Dangerously Oblivious Smurf.'"

3. Best Rick Perry Exposed Expose: goes to The Austin Statesman in a tie for "You can't confuse Rick Perry" and "Herman: Talk about boots on the ground - Rudy comes to Texas to stump for Rick"
*Confusion: "Throw a dime in a jar every time Perry says 'first and foremost' or tells you what 'the fact of the matter' is and you’ll have enough for a steak dinner before too long. But Perry’s favorite rhetorical tool of all time may be declaring that he, and the people of Texas, are not easily confused."
*Boots: "Hey, boys and girls, it's 'The Rick and Rudy Show,' the madcap antics of a GOP odd couple. One's for abortion and gay rights, the other isn't. One has a great head of hair, the other also has a head."

Enjoy!

SFW: Stout Claim, Wendy's

Seems like we're due for an SFW (Scenes From Waco) installment. I've got a camera phone now, so hopefully we can keep them rolling.
At left observe Wendy's promise to satisfy all prior failings with their Boneless Buffalo Wings. At least 19 suicides in the Waco area have been attributed to this sign, most notably among married men.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Not Just for Old Men

In continuation of my apparent peanut gallery series on Drudge articles...

According to a Hitwise News and Media Category Weekly Report, the #1 search term in the US is "weather". With my degree in communications, I find it interesting how our old world culture of "talking about the weather" has transitioned into the faceless internet realm. Just as Samuel Johnson noted, "It is commonly observed, that when two Englishmen meet, their first talk is of the weather," we are still equally concerned with the ongoings of weather patterns - enough to communicate our interest out into the web abyss.

Also of worthy note on the search term report:

#8: unexplained phenomenon
#9: man slaps child
#14: chupacabra

Good to know where our national concerns and interests lie.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Fashion: H1N1 v. Sith

One of the stories on Drudge today (headlined as: The H1N1 look hits Barcelona runways...), features this photo:

However, after viewing the entire gallery from the fashion show, I think we should be more concerned about the Sith invasion:























Beware: the force is strong with this one.



Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Snow White and the 7 X-Men?

Bam! Pow! Nooooooooo! Just as Marvel has introduced most of it's big name characters in feature films (successfully, except for Hulk and Daredevil) and alluded to future Avenger films and sequels, they sell out to Disney?! For some reason, the thought of Mickey Mouse saying, "Why, hello there Wolverine" or seeing teenagers wearing Iron Man or Spiderman mascot costumes at Disney theme parks makes me want to vom. Although, Disney might see this as their ticket into the recently popular vampire phenomenon with Marvel's Blade series:

"Vampires...I'll limit myself to observing that with the increasing popularity of vampires, we're on the verge of the unicorn syndrome all over again. If it hasn't happened already, in a few months look for airbrushed posters of sad vampires in Wal-Marts everywhere, and in a decade look for female college students saying to each other 'Were you into vampires when you were nine? Me too! We were such dorks!' "

It begins. Nothing says "Magical World of Disney" better.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Terminator: The California Garage Sale

The Governator strikes gold, genius, and bust simultaneously with a State garage sale:

"For the two-day event that ends Saturday, the state is selling off seized property and surplus supplies."

Among items being sold at extreme discounts: cars, motorcycles, laptops, Blackberrys, tools, desk chairs, antique pianos, cameras, surf boards, jewelry, etc.

So is this idea brilliant or lack luster? The article states that California is expecting to make $1 million in profit, which is chump change in comparison to their debts. And now they are going to be broke with nothing to show for it...

Mean Green Madness

OK, I LOVE North Texas, and as a previous Eagle Ambassador I learned most all of UNT's Traditions, so you can imagine my curiosity when I received the August UNT Insider newsletter linking to a new UNT Traditions website. Upon clicking the link, I started reading about the origins of UNT's nickname, the "Mean Green":


The first two paragraphs in the Mean Green section state:

"There are many spoken origins to the name "Mean Green." The oldest written source comes from a 1967 Dallas Morning News article by Randy Galloway entitled "MEAN GREEN ON THE LOOSE! Defense Swallows Foes For NTSU."

The article features defensive players; James "steals kids' candy" Ivy, Lindy "cheats at marbles" Endsley, Joe "kicks puppies" Greene, Ret "slugs old ladies" Little, Charles "the hatchet" Beatty, Henry "tears up dolls" Holland, Bob "likes to let air out of wheel chair tires" Tucker."

Wha? Oh how this makes me love North Texas more! I wish I had sweet nickname, although ol' "cheats at marbles" seems rather less than threatening...was he the Brick Tamlin of the football team?


Thursday, August 27, 2009

For Great Justice

According to a recent Wired.com article (titled, China: All Your Rare-Earth Metals Belong To Us), China has become self-aware...self-aware of the value in the modern world's need for rare-earth metals. The article reference's an article from Britain's Telegraph, which states:

"Beijing is drawing up plans to prohibit or restrict exports of rare earth metals that are produced only in China and play a vital role in cutting edge technology, from hybrid cars and catalytic converters, to superconductors, and precision-guided weapons. "

Where would we be without our rare-earth metals?! Perhaps Zero Wing was more of a warning than a mishap in translation:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Destiny: LCARS on a PADD?



Perhaps the recent revival of Star Trek has awakened the dormant creativity of technology geek inventors, but whatever the reason, I too am geekishly giddy about the rumored Apple Mac tablet. Although tablet pc's are not new to the increasingly popular laptop market, they have been less than desirable products. However, Apple's success in creating the iphone and itouch (essentially mini tablet) devices has opened up new possibilities for equaled success in a tablet. Especially as Verizon and AT&T are starting to sell netbook devices with internet broadband service (accessible any where). In addition, the iphone/itouch have created a market demand/society's acceptance of touch technology. A few major pluses:

1. Possibly the return of cell phones to their primary use....as a phone. As the Blackberry and iphone can be annoyingly slow/inefficient in web access and applications, a mobile tablet could resolve the processing speed and viewing issues (not to mention storage for music/photo files and battery life).

2. Say adios to Kindle. Why buy a Kindle when you can buy a new laptop (same size) with mobile internet access and a book app? I would hope for a textbook app...

I am sure there are more, but for now...ring ring....Mac Tablet?

Monday, August 24, 2009

"Cougar Town"--Worst Six Flags Area Ever

I had my surgery on Thursday, so plenty on that later (no gross photos, though). But right now I think it's important that we recognize the depths to which the lowest common denominator has sunk, at least from the perspectives of television excutives.

This fall Courtney Cox stars in a new ABC sitcom entitled "Cougar Town." Leave aside for a moment the fact that the show already sounds like the kind of ill-concieved amusment park idea you might expect from Dan Halen of Squidbillies fame. Aren't we a little bit insulted that ABC would call a show about a Cougar soccer mom something for excruciatingly obvious. Why not "On the Prowl" or something? It's like they don't expect us to comprehend the concept of a show unless it's parsed out to us in an idiotic title. "Hey Joe Bob, what's that new show about?" "I don't really know, Ray Don, but it's something to do with cougars!"

Worse yet, even the show's remedial hooked-on-phonics name leaves ambiguity for some people. "Cool, a whole town run by wild cats! It's like Parks and Recreation meets Grizzly Man!" I kid you not, this is a problem. This summer at the DA's office we had a rather flamboyant defendant who walked a pair of cougars around NYC in the early 90's (before Rudy cleaned the place up). Several well-heeled attorneys asked, straight faced, if these reports meant big cats or skanky over-40 women after fresh meat. Cougar Town is the state of the union, people, and that's a scary thought. I hope the show's funny, though. Courtney Cox has really floundered after Friends.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Straight From the Bog

A brief foray into the world of advertising. Ocean Spray has been running ads for a while that feature a quirky father and son team of cranberry growers. The ads are pretty funny and emphasize the fresh, "from the grower to you" flavor of Ocean Spray products. But I just noticed today the tagline which accompanies these fun little vignettes--"Straight From the Bog." Really?

Yes, I know cranberries come from a bog. They grow on little bushes, and eventually the farmer floods the bog so that the loose, ripe berries float into a collection area. But when I hear the words "Straight From the Bog," I don't think about delicious cranberries. I think of 5000 year old dead bodies, smoky Irish peat fires, feces, and the Bog of Eternal Stench from The Labyrinth. "Smell Bad!"


I mean, I get it. The tagline is funny because people make these kind of associations. But do you really want to remind potential customers that your food product comes from a swampy malarial marshland? Seems like a bad idea, yet according to Ocean Spray it's one of the best ad campaigns ever. Go figure. Maybe average folks don't know that bogs aren't just where the cranberry guys live. Read to your children!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Grounded In Dallas County Jail - No Friends or TV Privileges

We've got some criminal justice-minded folks reading the blog these days, so I though ya'll might be interested in this bit o' news out of Dallas. Apparently the Dallas PD picked up a 13 year old girl for shoplifting, the girl used a fake name and DOB to identify herself as 17 years old, and she ended up spending 13 days in jail.

Certainly this is a screw up, but what else were the police supposed to do? The girl didn't have ID, she told the cops she was 17, and her parents didn't come looking for her for almost two weeks. Sure the police could have investigated further, but where else were they supposed to check? Her bar-coded ID # tattoo? It seems like the cops are going to catch a bunch of flak for something that they couldn't really prevent. If the girl was going to lie about her name and age, she was going to lie about any other evidence that could have led to the truth (address, parents names, etc.)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Health Care at 'I' Level

As the health care debate becomes more politicized, it’s been instructive for me to step back from the party line, abandon the view from 30,000 feet, and zero in on a little personal experience. Many of my Facebook friends and twitter follower know that I’ll be undergoing surgery later this month for a cholesteatoma in my right ear. As JT has aptly pointed out, my particular situation presents an interesting opportunity for discussion—what if I didn’t have insurance?

The procedure to correct my problem is a mastoidectomy/tympanoplasty. This thing isn’t going to be cheap anyway, but D and I have good coverage through her job. Where would we be if we didn’t? The surgery is necessary, but not “emergency care.” So I couldn’t go to ER, which is required to treat everyone even if they can’t pay. Maybe some sort of charity clinic would see to my troubles, or some church fund. But my condition isn’t life threatening without years of neglect, and surely someone with cancer or something would take priority. No, I think we’d be stuck saving up for years, and letting my ear and hearing deteriorate until we could to afford to pay the “down payment” on hospital bills. You can go on a payment plan, of course, but without insurance you have to pay at least some of the money up front. And that’s just the hospital and anesthesiologist. Most doctors won’t even see you without full payment for the visit.

I think the final product of my musing is that everyone needs some kind of health coverage. And its not just coverage for them, it’s coverage for us. Just as mandatory auto insurance laws have reduced the cost of insurance for us responsible folks who maintain coverage, universal coverage (especially for preventative care) would bring down all our costs. On this point I should be completely clear. I still think that government has no place in the insurance business. Necessary arm’s length regulation, sure, but not a “public option” or “single payer” system. We just have too much historical experience to allow the government screw up another industry more than it already has. Obama offers up a public option as “competition” and “accountability.” Yet we know that such a heavily subsidized and bureaucratic entity will artificially lower prices (without concern for the other side of the balance sheet, since we taxpayers will be funding it) to the point that private insurers can’t keep up. It’s simply a back door to government run health care, be it today or in ten years.

So, loyal readers, what are our options for universal coverage without a public insurance agency? Mandatory coverage laws? Somehow divorcing coverage from employment?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The New Cold War – Battle of the Beefcake

After yesterday's conversation, I couldn't resist posting this hilarious piece on Russian President Vladimir Putin. Perhaps many readers have seen it linked from Drudge, but the video is priceless.

Sure, Obama had his Tiger Beat worthy beach photo, but at least we don't have to watch him ride horses bare chested or swim in Tuva. I wonder if ol' Vlad had the chance to enjoy any world famous Tuvan Throat Singing, since he was already in the neighborhood oppressing folks and tightening his iron death grip on the far-flung Russian proletariat.