Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Politics: Caught in the Middle

Christian Democrats (no, it's not an oxymoron) find themselves caught in the middle - on one side fending off the Religious Right's efforts to lay sole claim to the "Christian" label, and on the other side struggling with secular humanists' attempts to remove any hint of Christianity from the "Democrat" label.

Senator Barack Obama took the latter to task yesterday, urging his own Democratic Party to "acknowledge the power of faith in the lives of the American people." As reported on, Obama noted the influence of his own Christian faith, and contended that "secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering the public square." Preach it, Senator.

I was going to post some similar thoughts for the benefit of the folks on the other side of the aisle, but came across a blog posting that said it as well or better than I could. Read and heed.

Oh, and if you want to order the bumper sticker, here's how.

Running: "Sorry, dude"

Got slapped in the face by reality tonight. I was running around the lake, and couldn't shake a guy who was running right beside me, then just a bit behind, then just a bit ahead. I cast aside my intended easy pace and blew past him with about 2 miles to go. It was a bold move because I had 3 "20's" on him - 20 pounds (at least), 20 years, and 20% body fat. But, I kept up the pace and when it was safe to sneak a glance over my shoulder, he was nowhere to be seen. I kept pumping; the endorphins were flowing. I rounded the last curve around the lake; my car was in sight.

Then he came out of nowhere and passed me like I was standing still.

He finished the run, and jogged over to join a group of equally gaunt LSU students. The cross-country team, perhaps? I walked over to him, and said with a smile, "I thought I had you back there, but you were just playing with me, weren't you?" He looked up at me, pausing from his post-run stretch, obviously incredulous that I had presumed to think that I could pass him for good. "Sorry, dude."

I laughed, said "nice run", and jogged off with the sound of muffled sniggers behind me.

Oh, well. It was still a good run.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Running: Rave Runs

I had a great run tonight - 4 miles around a picturesque lake on the campus of Louisiana State University (I'm in Baton Rouge for a few days on business). I found the route courtesy of the USATF's "America's Running Routes" site. I'm trying to jump start my marathon training, and may try and do it twice tomorrow. This easily goes into my top 5 list. Too bad it's 1,030 miles away from home!

Rounding out the top 5:

Charlottesville Ten Miler course. This is my favorite race, which I've run every year since 1999. It's a challenging course with enthusiastic crowd support on race day, and is a great training run as well.

Piedmont Park in Atlanta. I take a different route through this park every time I go, but it's always good for a workout and people-watching. As with the LSU route, too bad this one's 500 miles away from home.

Emerald Isle, NC. If I'm running at Emerald Isle, it means I'm on vacation, which is enough to put any Emerald Isle run in the top 5.

Reynolda Gardens at Wake Forest University. I enjoyed running through these roads and trails when I was an undergrad, but it wasn't until I was in law school and started timing my daily runs to coincide with those of my future wife (she calls it stalking) that I really fell in love with this route.

Politics: Land of the Free

Those pressing for the United States to join the anti flag-desecration club (consisting I believe of China, Cuba, Iran, and Iraq under Saddam Hussein) were rebuffed today as the Senate rejected a proposed constitutional amendment by one vote.

As I noted in a previous post, I believe that burning or otherwise desecrating the flag is constitutionally protected speech. I also believe that it is highly offensive speech, and that anyone who is presented with it and offended by it has the right to state a different opinion, within the bounds of the law. Enforcing that different opinion by statute, however, would make the land of the free less so.

I guess those wanting the U.S. to join the China/Cuba/Iran/Iraq anti flag-desecration club will have to be content with continuing to associate with those countries in the capital punishment club.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Career: Law School by Default

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal included an insightful commentary by Cameron Stracher on law school and the legal profession, "Law School by Default". Stracher notes that lawyers are leaving practice in increasing numbers, "a silent drain of talent to banking, business, and premature retirement," and that in light of the resulting student loan debt ($60,000 average) and opportunity cost of 3 years of law school, ambivalent college students considering this path would be well-advised to think twice.

Amen. I spent 8 years in practice before finally reaching the conclusion that I would be happier doing something else. Chalk that up to being a slow learner, I guess. Anyway, I am now 16 years out of law school, and am happily ensconced in a publishing career in which my JD degree and dual bar admissions frankly don't amount to much. However, I am still paying off my student loan debt, and have 11 years of opportunity cost to consider. What might I be doing now if I had spent those 3 years that I was in law school and 8 years that I was in practice doing something else?

Honestly, I probably did need to go to law school. Inspired by equal parts of Atticus Finch and "L.A. Law", the idea of the courtroom had long excited me, and it was something that I needed to get out of my system. But, for anyone who is not so compelled - think long and hard. There are a lot of less expensive ways to pass time while you figure out what you want to be when you grow up.

Politics: Who Are You?

Actually, the title of this post should more accurately be "What Are You?", but I couldn't resist using the title of one of my favorite songs from The Who.

Anyway - short post, but I wanted to put up a link to an interesting site maintained by the Pew Research Center for the People & The Press - The Political Typology. Recognizing that it is overly simplistic to divide the U.S. into "red" and "blue" states, as each party is comprised of voters of varying shades, it has identifed 9 different "Typology Groups":

Social Conservatives
Pro-Government Conservatives
Conservative Democrats
Disadvantaged Democrats

The site features a neat little questionnaire that you can complete and see which Typology Group you fit into. Depending on how I answer a couple of questions, I flip between "Conservative Democrat" and "Liberal". Interesting stuff.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Odds & Ends: An Ominous Adjustment

The Washington Post reported today that the U.S. Army, faced with the prospect of missing its recruiting goal, has raised the maximum enlistment age from 40 to 42. This is on the heels of a 5-year adjustment (from 35 to 40) just five months ago.

I find this very troubling. Not that I think 42 is too old - I happen to be 42, and I appreciate the Army's acknowledgement of the fact that I'm not quite over the hill yet.

Rather, what I find troubling is the last sentence of the article: "Some analysts have said if the military cannot attract enough recruits, the United States might have to consider reinstating the draft." While carefully couched in qualifiers ("some", "if", "might"), this sentence really contains the crux of the article. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and I don't care what kind of spin they put on it, if the Army wouldn't take anybody over 35 years old in December 2005, and they'll now accept recruits who are just a year away from their 25th high school reunion, times are getting desperate.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Family: Goodbye and Thank You

I buried an old and faithful friend yesterday. Sixteen years ago, as my future wife and I were finishing up our final semester of law school, I came up with the remarkably shortsighted idea of getting her a puppy. So, off we went to the local SPCA, and came away with a black lab mix – a lively little bundle with a smooth black coat, soft puppy belly, and needle sharp puppy teeth. We named him Wilson – his namesake was the university’s provost, who would soon be giving us our diplomas. We couldn’t begin to imagine what we would experience together over the next sixteen years.

Yesterday, Wilson stretched out for a nap in the sunshine on our deck, and didn’t wake up. Many memories washed over me as I dug his grave in a quiet corner of our backyard. My favorite is him chasing after a tennis ball with my parents’ golden retriever, Deacon. Deacon would come loping back to us dutifully bearing the slobbery tennis ball; Wilson would inevitably return a few steps behind with a mouthful of fur from Deacon’s tail.

Deacon has been gone for several years now, and it’s been almost as long since Wilson has been up to chasing after anything. But, he seemed to accept his body’s gradual deterioration in the same graceful manner with which he accepted the fact that the four children that entered our lives after his arrival would take his place in the spotlight.

Goodbye, Wilson, and thank you.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Politics: Don't Misunderestimate the Need for English

According to an article in today's Washington Post, “President Bush on Wednesday emphasized that illegal immigrants who want to stay here should learn English….” He noted that there are ways for immigrants to stay in the country legally: "One is to say you got to pay a fine for being here illegally. You got to learn the English language. In other words, you got to repay a debt to society and learn the skills necessary to assimilate into our society.”

Did he really say "you got to" three times in a row? While admonishing others about the need to learn the English language? I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Try a Google search for "Bush grammar" and see how many million hits turn up....

Politics: "Get Back Into the Game"

Former Virginia governor Mark Warner delivered the commencement address at Wake Forest University last month. I'm posting a link for several reasons. First, Warner was a great governor (he had an 80% approval rating when he left office). Second, assuming people will wake up to Hillary's unelectability in time, Warner may well be the Democratic nominee for President in 2008. Third, Wake Forest is my alma mater. Fourth, it's a good speech. So here it is.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Whitewater: Whitewater Center Hits a Roadblock

Three weeks before the scheduled opening of the U.S. National Whitewater Center outside of Charlotte, six neighboring residents upset about construction traffic on the Center's entrance road installed a steel gate and blocked access. According to, they offered to lease the road to the Park for $12,000 per month. Let's see...with six neighbors, that comes to the tidy sum of $24,000 annually per neighbor. Nice work if you can get it.

After a court hearing today, the neighbors agreed to unlock the gate, at least for the next ten days. Another hearing is scheduled for next week. In the meantime, work on the Center will resume, although the Center's opening has been delayed until the end of June or early July. Stay tuned....