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Tuesday, May 28, 2024 | Back issues
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Jaw Drops

It's not often that an article leaves me speechless.

Actually, it's never, but a recent piece on Slate.com almost did the trick. It took a couple of minutes for my jaw to undrop.

The headline is: The Supreme Court Justice Death Calculator.

Check it out.

No, it's not about a new death penalty case. It's about how likely each of the justices is to die within the next four years.

It may be because I'm on the cusp of elderliness myself, but I found this rather depressing and a little, oh, ghoulish. It's kind of like wondering how long your dog is going to last and then thinking about what kind to get next.

Far be it from me to question taste - clearly, I have very little - but consider how the justices may react if they run across this article.

You're deep in thought while researching an obscure intellectual property conundrum, or maybe you're exhausted after hours of channeling your favorite Founding Father and you decide to take a break and Google yourself.

And you find the Death Calculator.

Would you be surprised to hear about some justices suddenly chucking their robes and going on swingers' cruises?

We shouldn't be distracting our Supreme Court justices this way.

"Fuck it!" some justice whose time is nearly up is bound to think. "I don't need to research this issue. I've got a lifetime appointment and that lifetime is almost over. I'm going to decide this however I want. Maybe I'll roll some dice. What are they going to do to me? Fire me? Ha!"

You get the feeling some of them are already thinking that way, but there's no need to encourage it.

I have to admit the calculator is kind of fun to play with, though. I immediately calculated the odds of all of them dying - it's less than .01%. Apparently, they don't fly in planes together.

Justice with foot deepest in the grave?

Antonin Scalia.

You've got to figure he needs to get his blood pressure down.

I feel so guilty for using this calculator ...

Unexpected Scene: I don't spend a lot of time in courtrooms, so maybe the incident I witnessed the other day isn't all that unusual - but it was a first for me.

I walked into a courtroom during a trial just in time to hear the judge tell a witness not to do research on the Internet while testifying.

It got weirder.

The judge then told the witness to put his device on "stun."

I assumed I heard him wrong.

The witness then, with a straight face, said the machine was on "stun."

I don't know why I'm telling you this - most of you aren't going to believe me. I'm not sure I believe myself.

But whether I hallucinated this or not, it's an interesting concept. Why not let witnesses bring their laptops to the stand with them? After all, they get lots of hard questions and it's not a trivia contest or a final exam. Memory aids make sense.

I'd draw the line at porn and texting while testifying.

And no headphones.

Smoothie Move: My jaw moved south again last week after hearing a news story out of Vernal, Utah about the pro-drilling advocate who's charging liberals a dollar more than conservatives for smoothies.

This is weird on so many levels.

If you're not familiar with Utah (and there's no reason you should be), Vernal's claim to fame is that it's the site of a major dinosaur fossil quarry. Hence, the political dinosaur. That's not weird.

What is weird is that the conservative owns a health food establishment. Shouldn't he be serving endangered-species steaks or something? Shouldn't there be a fresh shotgun-killed mooseburger on the menu?

Stereotypes aside, does this liberal surcharge make any economic sense?

How does he tell who's a liberal if they don't tell him? OK, the guys who drive up in Priuses are obvious, but in winter it's hard to tell anyone apart.

And won't he lose money when liberals decide to stay away? Or does their lust for liquefied fresh vegetation transcend politics and an extra buck?

You'd think a conservative would be more concerned about his bottom line.

One could be cynical and say this is nothing but a publicity stunt (for either smoothies or oil-drilling - I'm not sure which). But this is Vernal, Utah. There won't be a mass migration.

But if you're going there, get me a smoothie and don't tell anyone who it's for.

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