Atheism & Cool Latin Legal Terms

Not very long ago, any skilled attorney was well-versed in latin–the basic concepts and key phrases, at least. That tradition, however, has gone the way of all the earth. There is little need today to dress up a legal doctrine in an arcane language. There is one holdout, however. It is the magnificent term, res ipsa loquitor. Every law student knows it–and loves it. It just sounds cool.

Res ipsa loquitor, or res ipsa for the hip-wannabe legal personality, has its origins in 19th century England. A man was harmlessly walking down the street when a barrel of flour came crashing through a second story window and conked him on the head. In order for the gentleman to recover a remedy from the injury, he had to prove that someone had, in fact, been negligent. The problem was, no one would talk. Without evidence of negligence, the genteleman would have been out of luck. The jurist Baron Polluck came to the rescue, however. He put forward the notion that the very fact that a barrel of flour crashed through a second story window implies that negligence must have existed since that is the kind of thing that doesn’t normally happen otherwise. It’s a pretty basic concept. So basic that he needed to make it sound fancy. Hence, res ipsa. It literally means, “the thing speaks for itself.” Polluck was right to make up the term, though. I mean, which sounds better….to say, “I invoke the doctrine of ‘the thing speaks for itself’ or ‘I invoke the doctrine of res ipsa loquitor’? Exactly.

Which brings me to the existence of God. It seems just as reasonable to me to invoke res ipsa loquitor to establish the existence of God. Who among us, upon finding some organized structure [say a rocking chair] would assume that the rocking chair was a creation of happenstance? Of course, that would be absurd. It would naturally be inferred that some higher entity organized it. The order of the thing speaks for itself.

Why then do we stumble daily into evidences of organization and somehow are deaf to the message of so many creations around us. The things speak for themselves. To paraphrase an ancient prophet, the organization of the planets and the order of the universe manifest there is a God. In other words, res ipsa loquitor.

Published in: on July 10, 2006 at 7:48 pm  Comments (2)  

Mothers recently ran a story entitled "What is Your Mom Worth?".  You can read it here.  The purpose of the article was to estimate, based on all the work mothers do 'round the clock, what they would be compensated if they were hired to do so in the workforce.  The estimated salary, according to, is over $130,000 a year for stay at home mothers.  On its site, one can even access a salary calculator and generate a "mommy paycheck" that prints off a personalized check for all those services around the house that have gone unrewarded [non-negotiable, of course].  I suppose many mothers might feel a sense of vindication from arguments such as these.  That is understandable, I guess, since much of the work of managing a home goes often unheralded.  As someone who has never been a mother, however, I think the folks at severely have missed the mark, and have done mothers a disservice by so doing.  There is something inherently insulting to take something as noble and lofty as motherhood and equate it with money.  It doesn't validate the work mothers do.  It debases it.  

My mother sacrificed much to stay home and raise me and my siblings.  Following's rationale, she would have certainly surpassed Bill Gates some time ago in terms of wealth.  But the value of what she did was worth far more.  She made us peach milkshakes from peaches off the tree in the backyard.  She made us her fantastic pizza's on Friday nights, enough that there were leftovers to have for the BYU football game the next day.  She sang "When You Chance to Meet a Frown" to me when I was mad at something to try to get me to smile, and laughed when it only made me more mad.  She washed my clothes–something that, I'm sure she hated.  She did it all because of love.  She raised six children.  The value of that is not monetary.  It transcends anything worldly.

So this mother's day, and throughout the year, I hope mothers never think of what the monetary value is of what they are doing.  Even the rotten stuff, changing diapers, and cleaning up puke, all convey a mother's love.  While we don't recognize it enough, the message is received.  Thank you, mom, for changing my diapers as a baby, for being patient with me as a teenager, for helping me, now with my own family.  Thank you for your sacrifices.  You have given me a wonderful life.  Thank you.
And to my lovely wife, on this mother's day, I thank you also.  While you are tired from picking up toys and changing diapers, your boys will one day say the same to you.   You are wonderful.

Published in: on May 14, 2006 at 1:43 am  Leave a Comment  

My Barber

I took a law school final exam this morning. It’s a brutal experience. The tension is palpable. Afterwards, most people do something to relax, whether it’s going for a run, going to the bar, or going to bed. I, myself, go to my barber.

I love barbers. I mean the old-fashioned kind–the real barber experience, where the only thing you talk about is politics [how the world is going to pot] and sports [why the local team lost the game last night]. My barber creates just such an experience. He is quick with the clippers. He still uses the straightedge. He uses hot shaving cream for the shave. It’s perfect after a final. If I could afford it, I would go there every week.

The thing that I love about going to the barber is the perspective. It’s a perspective that is all but lost on my generation, I think. As he’s cutting my hair, my barber teaches me to work hard, to save my money and invest it wisely, to treat people fairly, to be honest. The biggest lesson I learn from him, though, is implicit. He is always so happy. He doesn’t hold a position of high status in society, like a doctor or a C.E.O. He doesn’t drive a nice car. I have now idea what his house looks like, but I’m guessing it isn’t very big.

Now, I’m not someone who is seeking after the almighty dollar at the expense of what is truly important, but in a world of greed, it is nice to get reminders of what is really important. Work hard. Be good to people. Love your family. Be honest. Everything else just works out.

Getting my hair cut is better than therapy.

Published in: on May 8, 2006 at 5:37 pm  Leave a Comment