Up To The Supremes

The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to accept one of the appeals addressing President Obama’s health care statute, and thereby has set the stage for one of the most anticipated legal rulings in years.

In its order accepting the case, the Supreme Court identified four issues for the parties to brief and set aside five-and-a-half hours for oral argument.  Five and a half hours!  It’s an extraordinary amount of time, but why not?  The issues presented are titanic and unprecedented and could have far-reaching consequences.  Can the federal government require everyone to buy insurance?  If not, should the entire statute fall?  Should the Supreme Court even decide those issues on their merits, or should it wait for the law to be fully implemented?

Many people will focus on the political impact of any Supreme Court ruling on the health care statute, but I think the legal issues are of the most interest.  In many ways, the statute tests the outer limits of Congress’ power under our Constitution — if in fact there are any limits left.  The Supreme Court may well decide that issue come June.

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Our Awesome Earth

The crew of the International Space Station recently took a series of time-lapse photographs of the Earth using a special camera.  The results, when strung together, are stunning.  (Pay no attention, incidentally, to the uninspired music accompanying the photos — these pictures are worthy of accompaniment by the finest Bach cantata, or a Mozart symphony, or perhaps a piece by Louis Armstrong.)

These photos just demonstrate why I would be a worthless astronaut.  I couldn’t resist spending all of my time at the window, staring slack-jawed in amazement as our magnificent world slid slowly by.

Inheriting a Fortune

What a great surprise, and on the eve of my birthday, to receive an e-mail from Steve Francis. Steve, you may know, is located somewhere, maybe England, where, he implies, the currency is in pounds. It really doesn’t matter where he is located. The important thing for me to learn from Steve on this birthday eve is that because of my “surname identity” I am “listed as an heir to the total sum of Ten Million Six Hundred Thousand Pounds.” Of course, it could be that “Pounds” is not a currency and it could be 10,600,000 pounds of ____, you fill in the blank. It may also be that I am listed as an heir to one pound even though the total sum is 10,600,000 pounds of – whatever. I am reminded of the song they used to sing on Electric Company, a program for kids that we watched when my kids were little. (I don’t know if it still exists) The song words were “My rich uncle died and left me all his MMMM.” I think it was to teach the sound of the letter “M”. MMMM turned out to be marshmallows at the end of the song. So pounds could be ____.

I don’t know Steve. I suppose he could be related to the Nigerians who have contacted me in the past offering to provide me with ill gotten gain if I will just send them a few thousand dollars to handle the necessary “grease” to get the money out of their country. No doubt because these pounds are available to me because of my “surname identity,” Bob, my other male nephews and my son have likely received this same offer, or if they haven’t are entitled to some of the pounds because they also have a surname identity. No money is asked for. Yet. Just my current telephone number, fax numbers and a forwarding address so that Steve can send me the necessary legal papers for “them” to file at their “high court probation division.” I am curious as to Steve’s ability to find my email address but not able to find my telephone number or address. I don’t have a personal fax so he couldn’t get that anywhere.

As I have recently retired (or even if I hadn’t done so) 10,600,000 pounds, if it is UK currency would substantially ease the pain of living on a fixed income. At todays quote that appears to be about seventeen million dollars. Of course, if it isn’t currency but that other stuff that you said when you filled in the blank above – well, I don’t need 10,600,000 pounds of that!

Not being much of a risk taker, I think I’ll let Bob or Jim or Tony or Bill respond to Steve. I’m sure they’ll share if it turns out, that because of our “surname identity,” we are entitled to 17 million dollars. If it’s that other stuff, they can keep it all.