The first British pier opened 200 years ago this month in Ryde, on the Isle of Wight. Photographer Simon Roberts spent three years documenting the country's remaining piers. (The Guardian) Roberts describes his collection of photographs, Pierdom, as "a comprehensive survey of Britain’s Pleasure Piers," and he captures the current state of powerful reminder of the achievements of Victorian engineers and entrepreneurs. The Telegraph has a bit more on how he set up his process. The Photographers' Gallery has a slideshow of some of Simon's photos, and Lens Scratch has a still series of his photos.
"The Demo" [SLYT] is the original pilot episode of the animated tv show, Bob's Burger's (previously).The theme remains the same, although the art style is a bit rough. The plot is exactly the same as the first episode, "Human Flesh", with minor differences in animation and timing. Oh, and Tina was originally a Daniel! [more inside]
This morning marked day two of marathon proceedings in what's likely the most momentous and politically-charged Supreme Court case since Bush v. Gore: the effort to strike down President Obama's landmark health care reform law. While yesterday was a sleepy affair of obscure technical debate, today's hearings targeted the heart of the law -- the individual mandate that requires most Americans to purchase insurance by 2014. With lower courts delivering a split decision before today, administration lawyers held some hope that at least one conservative justice could be persuaded to uphold the provision, which amortizes the risk that makes universal coverage possible. But after a day of deeply skeptical questioning by swing justice Anthony Kennedy and his fellow conservatives [transcript - audio], the mandate looks to be in grave trouble, with CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin going as far as calling the day "a train wreck" for the administration. But it's far from a done deal, with a third day of hearings tomorrow and a final decision not expected until June.
This past November, news broke of a rather odd domestic terror plot that had been broken up by the FBI. Four senior citizens in northern Georgia who met regularly at a local Waffle House, were allegedly planning to spread ricin and botulinum toxin in Atlanta and Washington, DC, in order to kill millions of people and "save the Constitution." But was there ever really a conspiracy?
Third, class arbitration greatly increases risks to defendants. Informal procedures do of course have a cost: The absence of multilayered review makes it more likely that errors will go uncorrected. Defendants are willing to accept the costs of these errors in arbitration, since their impact is limited to the size of individual disputes, and presumably outweighed by savings from avoiding the courts. But when damages allegedly owed to tens of thousands of potential claimants are aggregated and decided at once, the risk of an error will often become unacceptable. Faced with even a small chance of a devastating loss, defendants will be pressured into settling questionable claims.—Justice Scalia delivers the opinion of the Court, and a knife in the back of class-action suits. [more inside]
US Supreme Court Chief Justice told law professor and commentator Jeffrey Rosen, “I think it’s bad, long-term, if people identify the rule of law with how individual justices vote.” He expressed his intention to help steer the Court away from 5-4 decisions. Now, three years later, Rosen argues that Roberts has been an activist, combative chief justice, willing to risk confrontations with the other branches of government and public opinion.
God has called Oral Roberts home.
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip ends tonight, and Aaron Sorkin will be leaving television production for a while. His current project is Charlie Wilson's War, a movie starring Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman, based on the late George Crile's excellent, funny nonfic book of the same name. The movie will trace "party animal" Congressman Charles "Good Time Charlie" Wilson's (D, TX) rise from a scandal (he was caught in "a hot tub tryst with two cocaine-sniffing showgirls in Las Vegas",) to his role in the 1980's covertly funding Afghanistan guerrillas so they could expand their war with the Soviet Union. Wilson's actions would eventually help collapse the Afghan PDPA government, a power vacuum which would be filled by the Taliban. Who would have thought ending the Cold War would be so easy?
“I think it’s bad, long-term, if people identify the rule of law with how individual justices vote.”
Chief Justice John Roberts, decrying “the personalization of judicial politics,” describes his efforts to increase comity on the Supreme Court and to decide more cases unanimously. In Roberts' first term as chief justice, “while a relatively large number of the Court’s decisions” were unanimous, “several important, closely divided cases” were decided by 5-4 votes, with Roberts joining the more conservative justices.
Is this America's new meme? Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), May 18, 2006: "I am a strong supporter of the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment and civil liberties. But you have no civil liberties if you are dead." (via) Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), December 19, 2005: "None of your civil liberties matter much after you’re dead." Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), responded to Cornyn: "Give me liberty or give me death." Good on that. First Amendment, Fourth Amendment (General Hayden's version), civil liberties.
"A Souter in Roberts clothing" was the accusation made by Ann Coulter in one of her recent screeds. Maybe so. In 1995, Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. worked behind the scenes for gay rights activists. His legal expertise helped them persuade the Supreme Court to issue a landmark 1996 ruling protecting people from discrimination because of their sexual orientation. A ruling Lamda called the "single most important positive ruling in the history of the gay rights movement." In the blistering dissent, Scalia, joined by Rehnquist and Thomas, said "Coloradans are entitled to be hostile toward homosexual conduct." Thanks to John G. Roberts, the U.S. Supreme court decided that no, Coloradans are not so entitled. The National Legal Foundation (supporting the Biblical foundations of America's Laws) called it "the worst decision in the history of the court." Will Robert's nomination now be opposed by the Christian Right? In any case, watching the GOP cat fight will be fun!
Republican to Evangelical to English via Babylonfish. What Bush said about Supreme Court nominee
Bob Roberts John Roberts:
"In my meetings with Judge Roberts, I have been deeply impressed. He's a man of extraordinary accomplishment and ability. He has a good heart. He has the qualities Americans expect in a judge: experience, wisdom, fairness, and civility. He has profound respect for the rule of law and for the liberties guaranteed to every citizen. He will strictly apply the Constitution and laws, not legislate from the bench....He's also a man of character who loves his country and his family."What it meant to conservative fundamentalist Christians (in comments):
Pro-life protester wins settlement. Background: As Ann Norton, 57, and friend Diane Roberts picketed an abortion clinic, a passerby who disapproved of Norton's sign tore it from its backing, leading Roberts to telephone police. One officer was dispatched to the clinic to file a report, but several days later, the center said, Norton and Roberts were informed by police they were being charged with a violation of state law for displaying the graphic sign. Michigan statutes prohibit the public display of pictures of murder.