Friday, January 30, 2004

Update on "evolution"

According to CNN.com, former President Jimmy Carter had this to say about the proposed ban of the word "evolution" in Georgia classrooms:

"As a Christian, a trained engineer and scientist, and a professor at Emory University, I am embarrassed by Superintendent Kathy Cox's attempt to censor and distort the education of Georgia's students.

"The existing and long-standing use of the word 'evolution' in our state's textbooks has not adversely affected Georgians' belief in the omnipotence of God as creator of the universe. There can be no incompatibility between Christian faith and proven facts concerning geology, biology, and astronomy.

"There is no need to teach that stars can fall out of the sky and land on a flat Earth in order to defend our religious faith."

A rose by any other name

According to this report, Georgia's school superintendent has proposed striking the word "evolution" from Georgia's science curriculum and replacing it with the phrase "biological changes over time." Regardless of one's personal feelings on the evolution-creationism debate, you've got to hand it to State Representative Bobby Franklin, who summed up the matter nicely:

"If you're teaching the concept without the word, what's the point? It's stupid. It's like teaching gravity without using the word gravity."

Thursday, January 29, 2004

You can't escape your past

According to this report, Cleveland Indians minor league pitching prospect Kazuhito Tadano has come clean about his participation in a gay pornographic video.

"I did participate in a video and I regret it very much," Tadano said. "It was a one-time incident that showed bad judgment and will never be repeated. I was young, playing baseball, and going to college and my teammates and I needed money.

"Frankly, if I were more mature and had really thought about the implications of what I did, it never would have happened."

Through an interpreter, he added: "I'm not gay. I'd like to clear that fact up right now."

It is interesting that Tadano, like Mike Piazza before him, felt the need to proclaim his heterosexuality.

This past year, in an episode of ESPN's new drama, "Playmakers", a gay professional football player watched his season come to an end when rumors of his sexual preference surfaced.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Oscar Snub

Now that the nominees have been announced, one has to wonder how Oscar can get away with neglecting not one but two brilliant performances last year from the magnificantly gifted actor, Will Ferrell. His moving performance as the tragically indulgent Frank Richard in "Old School" provided the conscience of the film. Several months later, Ferrell's astonishing range was highlighted by his next role as Buddy in Jon Favreau's "Elf," in which Ferrell brought unparalleled optimism and joy to the hearts of all those he encountered, most notably James Caan's hot-headed mobster, Sonny Corleone.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

True Crime

A good friend of mine was mugged at gunpoint Saturday night in downtown Dallas, just off Greenville Avenue. My friend was in a group of four individuals who were approached by two men immediately after getting out of their car. The assailants forced them facedown onto the pavement and took their money. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

My friend said what affected him most was not fear, but a feeling of complete helplessness.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Today was a good day.

About two weeks ago I worked on a response to a motion for summary judgment. We (another lawyer from my firm and I) went to court to argue against granting the motion. (Admittedly, I didn't utter a word, but that's beside the point.) A week later the court coordinator alerted us to a request from the judge for additional briefing on a particular issue. I spent a good deal of time drafting our supplemental response. We filed it Friday.

This afternoon, I got a another call from the court coordinator letting me know the judge had ruled in our favor and was denying the other party's motion for summary judgment.

As this is my first "real" legal victory, I feel a self-congratulatory slap-on-the-back is in order. So there you go.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Yard Work

I just spent my entire Sunday digging up flower beds. I am exhausted. My back hurts. I want to take a shower and then lay on the couch for the rest of the evening.
This is why I am a lawyer. When it comes to hard, physical labor, I'm a lightweight.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Who says motion practice is boring?

Admittedly, I'm a little late in breaking this news, but for those who haven't yet read Washington v. Alaimo, check out this link for an enjoyable opinion invovling a persistent, if not deranged, pro se defendant.

Episcopal Division

Having grown up and been married in the Episcopal Church, I've been following the fervor over the consecration of New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson, who is openly gay. This morning, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported the most recent development in this religious battle that threatens to tear the American Episcopal Church apart:

The Fort Worth Episcopal Diocese's executive council has unanimously approved joining an alliance of conservative clergy and laypeople, less than 24 hours after its charter was formalized in Plano.

Some critics say the alliance's goal is to displace leaders of the U.S. Episcopal Church who approved the ordination of an openly gay bishop.

Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker called those statements "scare tactics."

"It's disinformation and it's caused by people who simply want to say ... either embrace the gay agenda or leave the church," Iker said Thursday evening before attending a ceremony at St. Vincent's Cathedral Episcopal Church in Bedford.

"That ain't going to happen," he said. "We're here to stay."

The alliance, called the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, was formed to oppose last year's ordination of New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson, who is openly gay. Representatives from 12 dioceses and some scattered parishes created the group's charter and theological statement at a closed-door meeting Tuesday in Plano.

On Wednesday, the diocese's executive council, made up of lay representatives and some clergy, voted to join the network. The 21-member council, which also approves some budgetary matters, represents geographic regions of the 24-county diocese.

Read the rest of the article here.

Bishop Iker has been very clear on his position regarding this matter, and I agree with him in many respects. However, having several gay friends, I am often troubled by any attempt, be it religious or political, to discriminate against homosexuals. Here's an excerpt from Bishop Iker's address to the 21st Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2003:

On Sunday, Nov. 2, in defiance of the stated teaching of the Anglican Communion and in spite of the clear warning of the Primates? Meeting not to do so, a practicing homosexual was consecrated a bishop in the Diocese of New Hampshire. The response from around the world has been swift and direct. Primate after Primate has denounced the consecration, refused to recognize the ministry of Gene Robinson, and declared impaired or broken communion with the Episcopal Church. This Convention will be asked to make our response by adopting a resolution to be presented to us immediately after lunch today. Those who have participated in this consecration are in open rebellion against the Anglican Communion and have declared their independence from the stated boundaries of Anglicanism. As a result, I will not recognize the ministry of Gene Robinson, nor will I permit any bishop who consented to his election or participated in his consecration to exercise any ministry within this diocese. In this way, we seek to maintain not only our theological integrity, but also our unimpaired communion with the rest of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Quite honestly, I feel the need to tell you that I am tired of this controversy and weary of the continual battles revolving around it. I resent being placed in the position of always having to respond to the latest revisionist attack on orthodox Christianity. I am tired of being interviewed about it, issuing statements on it, and going to meetings about it. All of this is a huge distraction from the mission of the Church and very harmful to the healthy functioning of the Body of Christ. I am deeply troubled by the anguished pleas from faithful members of the Episcopal Church, both here and elsewhere, who now feel compelled by actions of General Convention and the Diocese of New Hampshire to join other faith communities. At the same time, I am acutely aware of the responsibilities of my vows as a bishop "to guard the faith, unity and discipline of the Church." The controversies before us at this time are an assault on all three ? faith, unity, and discipline. The secular culture of modern society is undermining the basic tenets of the faith, with the full support of many church leaders.

Weary of the battles and debates that I am, I will not be silenced or intimidated. I will not give up or give in or go away. Like many faithful Episcopalians across the United States, I am alarmed by the relentless efforts in this Church to create a new religion ? call it "Episcopalianism" ? which is increasingly at variance with the teaching of Holy Scripture and historic Christianity. I am tired of the "General Convention religion" that attempts to give us a new and improved version of Christian faith and practice every three years. One thing that I have discovered in the past decade as a bishop is the incredible sense of institutional loyalty to the Episcopal Church on the part of many of our members. They seem to place General Convention on a higher level of authority than the Bible. They give greater weight to the majority votes in the Episcopal Church in the USA than to the overwhelming majority of the rest of the Anglican Communion. And they tend to become very upset, even angry and accusatory, when others contend that ECUSA is wrong and the rest of the Church is right. Apparently they ascribe to the General Convention an attribute that we deny to the Pope himself ? infallibility in matters of faith and morals.

I have been amazed at the hateful words and angry denunciations that have been directed at me personally, often in letters to the editor or in terse e-mails, simply because I defend the Church?s traditional teaching on sexuality. I do not hate homosexuals, nor do I fear them. To say that the Christian Church opposes the blessing of same-sex unions is not a hateful thing; it is speaking the truth in love. To say that the Scriptures forbid the ordination of persons involved in sexual relationships outside the bonds of Holy Matrimony is not bigoted or prejudiced. It is a faithful expression of the Apostolic Teaching of the Church. Why is such animosity and anger directed at those who simply uphold what has been taught ?always, everywhere and by all? in the Christian Faith? I am not disloyal to the Episcopal Church, but I will not sit on the sidelines while this Church attempts to dismantle orthodox Christianity step by step, defy the clear teachings of Holy Scripture, and separate us from the moral consensus of the historic catholic church for over 2,000 years.

Read the rest of Bishop Iker's address here.

Now that many conservative Disoceses are forming alliances within the Episcopal Church denouncing Bishop Robinson's consecration, it will be interesting to see how the national Episcopal Church of the United States reacts.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

The Blog and The Bitterness

"The blog, and my bitterness, are all that I have."

-- A quote from the irreverent Jim Dedman, in response to my comment that I'm not as charged up as he is

Lexis Luthor

Having recently entered private practice after spending a year as a briefing attorney, I have been enjoying the benefits of the Lexis new associate reward program. Every time I've done a search on Lexis, I've qualified for an online drawing for various prizes. Lately, I've hit the jackpot, racking up numerous gift certificates to Amazon.com, ranging from $10 to $50.

Sadly, I just received an email informing me that my participation in the rewards program is coming will cease at the end of this month.

I'm thinking of switching to Westlaw.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

From Crichton to Krakauer

I finished "Prey" yesterday. While the novel started off well, the ending was predictable and uninspired. You can almost hear the tense movie score as the camera tightens on the protagonist and his seemingly hopeless plight. While Crichton's formulaic approach must surely save Hollywood screenwriters a good deal of time, this latest offering was disappointing.

I have now turned my attention to "Under the Banner of Heaven" by Jon Krakauer. I've read two other novels by Krakauer, "Into the Wild" and "Into Thin Air", both of which I enjoyed very much. Krakauer's non-fiction reads like good fiction, vividly bringing settings and characters to life. This most recent novel involves the murders of a woman and her infant daughter by Ron and Dan Lafferty, who claimed they were acting on direct orders from God. The brothers were Mormon fundamentalists who, according to Krakauer, believe the modern Mormon church went unforgivably astray when it renounced polygamy.

I know very little about the Mormon faith, but look forward to Krakauer's meticulous investigation and effortless prose.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Johnny Fiamma wins Iowa

Now that John Kerry has won the Iowa caucuses, I feel it is my civic duty to alert the public of a potentially scandalous rumor of which I have become aware. From several reputable sources, I have learned some disturbing news that may affect the future of this great nation, should Kerry eventually end up in the White House. Yes, friends, you heard it here first.

It appears that John Kerry is a Muppet.

Monday, January 19, 2004

A Brave New World

I flipped on the TV this morning to learn of two recent "miracles" of science. In Michigan, a woman has given birth to sextuplets. Although the father of the children credited God for the birth of his six offspring, one has to wonder if the couple's use of fertility drugs also had something to do with it. Moments later, Matt Lauer let me know that whenever my wife and decide to add on to our family, we now have the option of choosing the sex of our unborn child. Good to know.

Anybody else ever feel like they're living in an Aldous Huxley novel?

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Wanna be a baller?

Although Texas barely squeaked past Nebraska in yesterday's game, the Horns' decisive victory over Wake Forest last week has set the stage for what should be another exciting season of men's basketball at The University of Texas. Following the early departure of T.J. Ford for the NBA, many thought Texas would be unable to compete at the same level as last year, when the Horns made their second appearance in the Final Four. With a double-digit win over the then-ranked No. 3 team in the nation, the Longhorns are looking pretty good to me.

Where ya't?

Because top ten lists appear to be a blog requirement, I decided it was about time I add my own to the blogoshpere. However, inasmuch as I simply want to be unique (don't we all?), I am adding an extra pick to top the list off at eleven.

The category? My favorite New Orleans restaurants, inspired by yesterday's post. The following are all top places to gorge, in no particular order.

1. Jacques-Imo's.
Okay, I said I wasn't going to rank these, but Jacques-Imo's is hands-down the best restuarant in the Crescent City. Located uptown on Maple, this local favorite has a wait every night of the week, but it's always worth it. The Shrimp and Alligator Sausage Cheesecake is amazing, and if you've never had a Deep Fried Roast Beef Po-Boy, this is the place to give it a go. I've never had a bad meal here. It is without a doubt one of my favorite eateries anywhere.

2. Bluebird Cafe.
Featuring a low-priced menu with mammoth portions, Bluebird Cafe is breakfast heaven. On the weekends, the line snakes out the door and around the block, but if you can make it inside, you are treated to a hearty helping of huevos rancheros, cheese grits, corned beef hash, pancakes, omelets, etc. Follow the crowd to Pyrtania Street.

3. Mr. B's Bistro.
My favorite restaurant owned by the Brennans, Mr. B's has great food and an upscale, but not stuffy, atmosphere. The dress code says casual, but at least wear a shirt that buttons, less you be mistaken for one of the tourists. (They're easily spotted in shorts and t-shirts with sayings like, "I love Nawlins.") Try the Gumbo Ya-Ya.

4. Mystic Pizza.
Someone told me this pizza joint on Magazine Street had shut down. I hope not. We used to go there for cheap pitchers of beer and gourmet pies at least once a week. The Mediterranean Pizza, with sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, roasted eggplant, roasted garlic, roma tomatoes, mozzarella and feta cheese, and capers, is wonderful.

5. Crazy Johnnie's Steakhouse.
You've got to head to Metairie, but it's worth the 15-minute drive for Crazy Johnnie's "special" -- a perfect filet mignon with buttery mashed potatoes and cinnamon apples for a crazy $8.95. Rumor has it Crazy Johnnie gets his steaks from the same supplier as Ruth's Chris. Whether this is true or not, the steaks are melt-in-your-mouth fantastic.

6. The all-you-can-eat sushi place next to Popeye's on Canal.
I can't remember the name of this place, but we used to go there a lot because it featured all-you-can-eat sushi for $12.95. I know what you're thinking, at that price it's gotta be pretty sketchy. But the fish was fresh and the selections were ample, though it was mostly different rolls. Owned by Ninja, this is a good place to take someone who is discovering sushi for the first time, as it also has typical Chinese buffet fare.

7. Franky and Johnny's.
Franky & Johnny's is a real find. You can get boiled crawfish or shimp (if in season) as well as some Italian favorites. But in the end, this is the place for fried seafood. Great restuarant. Great prices. Smoky, fun atmosphere on Arabella Street just off Tchoupitoulas. Order the catfish platter.

8. Tacqueria Corona.
Although this restuarant has several locations, I've only eaten at the one on Magazine Street. Tacqueria Corona features the least expensive and most authentic Mexican food in Big Easy. The margaritas are made with fresh lime juice. Everything on the menu is fresh and simple. Excellente.

9. Camellia Grill.
This is the greasiest of all greasy spoons. Although Jimmy Buffet rated Camellia Grill as one of the best places to get a cheeseburger, the best thing on the menu is the chocolate pecan pie. Get it ala mode and watch in amazement as they take a slice, flip it upside down on the griddle -- the same griddle you've seen them cook hamburgers, eggs, hashbrowns, etc. -- and let it warm to the perfect mouth-watering temperature before adding a heaping scoop of vanilla ice cream.

10. Nola.
Owned by the same guy who owns Emeril's, this funky, casual establishment in the French Quarter is pricey, but tasty. The menu changes, but it's always good. Get reservations.

11. Port of Call.
There's always a pretty crazy lunch rush for the best burger in New Orleans. Don't even bother looking at the menu. Order a cheeseburger. The monstrosity is big enough to feed a family of four, and it comes with with a loaded baked potato, so you won't be hungry until the next morning.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Missing the Big Easy

It's days like these when I really miss New Orleans. When it's lightly raining, but not too cold out. It reminds me of sitting in the bar at the Columns Hotel, which just happened to be two doors down from where I lived during law school. Or maybe we'd head over to Mystic Pizza to play some Golden Tee and drink $2 pitchers of beer. Or perhaps we'd play a few frames at Rock and Bowl. If you've never been, you must visit. It is an intoxicating city, and for much more than its liberal attitude towards alcohol.

Laissez les bons temps rouler.

Friday, January 16, 2004

"Quality" Reality TV

I now unabashedly declare before the three people who frequent this blog that "The Apprentice" is currently one of my favorite television shows. For those unfamiliar with this entertaining reality drama, here's a summary from realitytvworld.com:

The Apprentice is a 15-episode unscripted drama in which 16 candidates from all walks of life, including both Ivy League MBA graduates and street entrepreneurs with no college education, will endure rigorous tasks each week while living together in a hip Manhattan loft apartment. The tasks test their intelligence, chutzpah and street-smarts. They face the challenges of living in close quarters and must complete sometimes humorous, but always difficult, job assignments and will be forced to think outside the box in order to outshine each other to get to the top.
The candidates have been divided into two teams -- men v. women. At the end of each episode, one person is "fired" from the losing team at a meeting presided over by Donald Trump. The winner purportedly lands a $250,000 a year job running one of Trump's many business ventures.

Trust me, this show is addictive. So far, the women have trounced the men, due in part to their willingness to exploit their sexuality for the sake of making a sale. The men, on the other hand, have come across has good planners but bad executors. Both teams have their respective "wild card" members. For the women, it's Omarosa, a political consultant with a chip on her shoulder. For the men, it's been Sam who has twice found himself on the receiving end of biting criticism from his fellow team members. Who will be the next to be fired?

Does it really matter?

So far, we've seen bickering, back-stabbing, bonding, and wondrously amusing cliches of gender roles. It's fun stuff.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Try this

Last night, I met with a potential client about a case set for trial this Friday (i.e., tomorrow) in Justice of the Peace Court. Generally, an attorney has bit more notice than this when evaluating whether to take a case. Nonetheless, based on the fairly simple "he said/she said" nature of the dispute, I agreed to represent this person.

For the past 24 hours, I have prepared for this trial, assuming all was in order and we would proceed. Imagine my dismay when I got a call from the court a scant fifteen minutes ago informing me of an internal mistake in their office. Apparently, although a jury trial was requested two months ago, no one actually put it on the docket as such.

Consequently, there will be no jury pool present tomorrow morning at the courthouse. Although my client was willing to proceed with a bench trial, we were unable to contact opposing counsel, who had initially made the jury request.

So... the case will be reset for mid-March. (sigh)
Apparently, seeing her name on this blog shamed Angie into contacting me. Following months of silence, I received several emails yesterday in rapid succession.

I also learned that she is in fact working like crazy, having billed fourteen hours in a single day this week. For any non-lawyers out there, this is an obscenely long day, as you obviously cannot bill for everything you do at the office, such as lunch, restroom breaks, checking personal email, etc.

Learning of Angie's frighteningly long days, it reminded me of my time in law school when I thought I knew what being a lawyer would be like. Now, don't get me wrong. I am very happy with my firm But, like so many things in life, the actual practice of law has varied quite a bit from what I expected. Less of our time is spent in the intellectual trenches, hotly debating issues of personal/social/political importance. Instead, we file motions, write letters, answer discovery, review documents, etc.

That said, it is those rare moments when you find the analytical cogs of your mind turning that you remember why you chose this profession.

And, believe it or not, it can actually be a lot of fun.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Is it something in the water?

As a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin, I tend to follow Longhorn football rather religiously, even in the offseason. Amazingly, following Texas' most disappointing season in recent memory (with inexcusable losses to Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Washington State), head coach Mack Brown has inexplicably convinced two star players -- Cedric Benson and Derrick Johnson -- to return for their senior seasons. Granted, neither would have probably been picked as a top ten draft choice, but their decisions still stunned me, in light of the barrage of criticism that has been heaped upon Brown and his coaching staff since the Holiday Bowl loss.

Even more astonishing is the report that Chance Mock, who was relegated to back-up quarterback after the incredible play of athletic marvel, Vince Young, has also indicated that he will remain in Austin for his senior year.

Under Brown's tenure, several outstanding players -- including Ricky Williams, Casey Hampton, Quentin Jammer, Chris Simms, and Roy Williams -- have chosen to stick around for four years, forgoing the millions they most likely would have received had the entered the NFL.

Well, at least now Brown will have another shot at the dual quarterback system. He handles that so well, just ask Major Applewhite.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

The Polarization of the Practice

Earlier today I attended a luncheon given by the Tarrant County Bar Association. A panel of three respected lawyers, representing almost 100 collective years of experience, discussed changes in the legal profession--for better or worse--during their respective careers. Kleber Miller, an attorney in his sixth decade of practice, made an observation that struck a chord with me.

When asked what he perceived to be the most negative trend in the practice of law, Mr. Miller paused just briefly before providing his answer -- the polarization of the legal community. He was not referring to the specialization of attorneys, which complexities of the law have made almost absolutely necessary. Instead, he focused upon the pervasiveness of an "us v. them" mentality amongst practitioners. In the past, he said, civil attorneys would routinely handle cases for both plaintiffs and defendants. This provided perspective and enhanced the effectiveness of the lawyer, according to Mr. Miller. In addition to the diminished opportunity to hone one's legal skills, Mr. Miller also opined that such practice has created a schism between opposing counsel that previously had not existed, at least to the same extent.

My feelings on this subject are difficult to express, most likely because my lack of experience does not provide me with the perspective to adequately appraise Mr. Miller's commentary. Additionally, having been in private practice for less than a year, I have no basis with which to compare then and now. But, as I said, his reflection grasped my attention.

Finding Angie

Upon graduating from Tulane Law School, I accepted a job clerking for then-Chief Justice Scott Brister (now on the Texas Supreme Court) at the 14th Court of Appeals in Houston, Texas. It was there that I met Jim Dedman, who inspired me to start this blog. Jim and I would occasionally go out after work for a beer, often accompanied by our friend Angie. Sadly, I have been unable to contact Angie for quite some time now. Perhaps the demands of being a new associate at Vinson & Elkins have completely taken all of her free time. Or perhaps she has not gotten my periodic messages.

Or maybe she just doesn't like me.

Sniff, sniff.

Monday, January 12, 2004

All the small things

I'm reading "Prey" by Michael Crichton right now, which is yet another one of his "movie-script" novels about the perils of unchecked scientific experimentation and discovery. This one focuses on nanotechnology, which Crichton defines as "the quest to build man-made machinery of extremely small size." (Please, no copyright infrigement suits over that quote.)

Because my mind tends to find interesting ways to link subjects, I began thinking about a movie from my youth that addressed this same topic. Yes, I am referring to the Rick Moranis' vehicle, "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids".

What ever happened to Rick Moranis? For awhile there, I recall him doing quite well. Remember his string of hits -- "Parenthood", "My Blue Heaven", and "Little Shop of Horrors?" And, as my wife just reminded me, who could forget his Oscar-worthy performance as Louis Tully/Vinz Clortho, the Key Master in the classic film Ghostbusters?

Such a talent....

Dedman made me do it

Alas, I have given in. For a little over a year now I have silently observed the blogs of others. I resisted setting up my own blog, routinely citing my lack of HTML knowledge. And then a suggestion from the brazenly conservative and often entertaining Jim Dedman led me to www.blogger.com, where I now find myself.

So... after an exciting day at the office, I am now spending my evening in the computer room, while my beautiful wife watches Oprah on the PVR. Yes, blogging certainly is a fine way to spend one's spare time.

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