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Showing posts from July, 2011

The Only Course I Ever Flunked

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I was always a good student, but until law school (where my splendid academic performance resulted from an alphabetical accident, as described in "How I Became a Law Professor," see "Related Posts" below), I never worked hard at making good grades.Mostly I succeeded as a student at all levels because I was genuinely interested in the courses, and/or was good at studying and taking exams.I didn't do well in courses like physical education, while I made "B" sorts of grades in science or math courses, where I cared less about the subject matter.

In college at the University of Maryland my grade point average was an almost perfect 3.0.But there was one major blot on my record that pulled it down to that level: the course in microbiology. I flunked it.And in addition to it being the only course I've ever flunked, I damn near flunked it twice.This was very hard to explain to my father, Robert Whaley, who was paying a lot of money for my education. I sh…

The Ohio State Hospital Nurses: A Letter to President Gordon Gee

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For some time I've trying to think of a way to thank the many nurses at the Ohio State Hospitals for all they've done for me during my many years of medical troubles.Finally I decided to bring my admiration to the attention of OSU President Gordon Gee, who would certainly know how to use such a commendation.Thus, the following exchange occurred just this month.

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                                                               July 12, 2011
Dr. E. Gordon Gee Office of the President The Ohio State University 205 Bricker Hall/190 North Oval Mall Columbus, OH 43210-1357

Dear President Gee: You kindly sent me a congratulatory letter after an article appeared about my 2009 heart transplant, and we've briefly met at a couple of law school social functions, so I take the liberty of passing on the following to you to use as you see fit. I joined the law school faculty in 1976, and in March of 1978 I ruptu…

Jumping the Broom: How "Married" are Married Gay Couples?

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When gay friends flew out to California to get married (in the brief period where it was legal in that state), but then returned to their home in Florida where gay marriage is forbidden by state statute, they asked me were they really "married" in the eyes of the law? I'm a law professor, but my area of expertise is commercial matters and not family law, but I've done some reading and research on this issue, and the answer is, well, complicated.

Article IV, Section 1 of the United States Constitution:

Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state. And the Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof.


You'd think this language would require legal marriages in one state to be recognized in another, but that hasn't been its history. Clearly a legal judgment (in which a court rules that one liti…

Is Evolution True?

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Readers of this blog know that whatever topic I harp on I'm dedicated to making sure what I write is true as far as I know it. I have no belief, no matter how strong, that I wouldn't abandon in an instant upon being shown it wrong. When I write on something where I don't profess to have all the facts, I say so (see Related Posts below such as "Muslim Atheist," "Two Cat Stories: Mama and Barney in the Wild").

So let's talk about evolution.

I have a neighbor who's a very devout Christian. When he learned that I was going to see the Steve Carell movie "Evan Almighty," he rang my doorbell the next day to give me some literature proving that Noah's Ark still exists and can be found today on Mt. Ararat. Contrary to what some of my steady readers might guess, I then thanked him politely, took the items he handed me (and even read them later), and moved the topic to something else ("Have you heard that barking dog behind our propert…

Two Cat Stories: Mama and Barney in the Wild

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As readers of this blog know, after my heart transplant I was finally given permission by the doctors to have a pet, but there were restrictions. I had to get rid of my beloved parakeets (who flew to my shoulders every night when I came home), but was allowed a mammal as long as I didn't have to deal with the feces. Well, that eliminated dogs, and I ended up with two much-loved cats, Mama and Barney, both of whom were rescued from the urban wild and now live happily with Old Doug. In prior posts I've told stories about them, and I'll not repeat those here, but as I get to know them both better I've begun to speculate about what their former lives might have been like prior to meeting me. This is all conjecture, of course, but their stories are very different, just as the two cats are very different.

Barney's Story:

Barney is a little over four years old, and he's quite large (one and a half times as big as Mama), having thick, beautiful dark grey fur which he …

Picking Your Battles: The Meaning of Words

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Because I care about getting things right, and because I'm a teacher (also qualifying for some uglier labels such as "pedant," "curmudgeon," and "control freak"), I can't stop myself from writing this post, knowing all the while that it's probably an exercise in futility. I frequently tell my son, nephews, and students that you have to "pick your battles." Wasting energy on debates not worth having is stupid. I only wish I would always follow my own advice.

This post is about the mispronunciation or misuse of a number of words that are pet peeves of mine. But they are not all equal. Some of these words are so engrained in society that their mispronunciation is now the norm. This means that the English language, as it always has, is changing, and I just haven't caught up. Those battles are not worth fighting, but even though the war is over, I thought I'd mention them all the same. There are others listed below where I'm …