Facebook finds God? Mark Zuckerberg says he’s no longer an atheist — Quartz

Facebook has found God. Well, it had to happen, with all the clickbait there.

For years, Mark Zuckerberg identified as an atheist—at least on his profile page. But in a holiday message posted on Dec. 25, the Facebook CEO nods at a potential return to religion. Zuck wished his friends a “Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah from Priscilla, Max, Beast and me!,” to which one user replied “Aren’t you…

via Mark Zuckerberg says he’s no longer an atheist — Quartz

“We can have democracy in this country, or… great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” — Art of Quotation — Rethinking Life

Heartening insight by a former SCOTUS member:

“We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” — Louis Brandeis, Supreme Court Justice, 1916-1939, statesman, political figure via “We can have democracy in this country, or… great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t […]

via “We can have democracy in this country, or… great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” — Art of Quotation — Rethinking Life

“Our Life Below the Surface”. — Old Guv Legends

This is an astounding, remarkable collection.

‘Vandenberg: Life Below the Surface’ is simply a breathtaking exhibition by creative genius & Austrian photographer Andreas Franke. The exhibit features a dozen digitally composited images on the Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg that was scuttled in May 2009. The 4 x 5ft photographs stretch along 200 feet on the starboard side of the Vandenberg’s weather […]

via “Our Life Below the Surface”. — Old Guv Legends

Israeli Police Question Prime Minister Netanyahu Over Corruption Allegation — TIME

The timing on this is astounding. Here is the PM upsetting the US Administration and playing paddy cake with the President Elect and now he is called into the Police Station? Truly? Do people not put one and one together anymore?

(JERUSALEM) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was grilled by police investigators for over three hours at his official residence Monday night, opening what could be a politically damaging criminal investigation into suspicions that he improperly accepted gifts from wealthy supporters. Netanyahu has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, but the involvement of the national fraud squad indicated…

via Israeli Police Question Prime Minister Netanyahu Over Corruption Allegation — TIME

Scary Stuff: A timelapse video shows a thick plume of smog burying Beijing in 20 minutes — Quartz

This is actually scary.

Beijing is spending the start of 2017 with an old friend, smog. On Dec. 30, the capital city issued an orange alert (link in Chinese) smog warning, just five days after it lifted its first red alert, its highest smog warning, of 2016. During that week of red-alert pollution, smog restrictions shut down highways and…

via A timelapse video shows a thick plume of smog burying Beijing in 20 minutes — Quartz

Deadpool Has Been Named the Most Pirated Movie of 2016 — TIME

What would Deadpool do?

Deadpool has broken many records since it hit theaters back in February — biggest R-rated opening ever, highest-grossing X-Men movie, first superhero movie to feature a Zamboni chase scene — and now, it’s earned a new accolade. The Ryan Reynolds-starring superhero flick has been named the most illegally downloaded movie of 2016. TorrentFreak compiled the…

via Deadpool Has Been Named the Most Pirated Movie of 2016 — TIME

Pain Is Love — City Jackdaw

I woke this morning to the news that Debbie Reynolds had died, just one day after Carrie Fisher. The strain must have been just too much for the aged star. “She’s now with Carrie and we’re all heartbroken,” said her son, Todd Fisher. “She said, ‘I want to be with Carrie’, and then she was gone.”

Debbie wanting to be with her daughter is a nice thought, but what a time their family must be going through. On hearing the news, the lyrics of Ja Rule came to mind:

If pain is truly love,

for my family I die.

via Pain Is Love — City Jackdaw

Juiced Justice

When we get to the end of a year, the Court process typically gets more busy. A lot of movement occurs to get everything done within the time available before the looming finish line and the traditional end of year break that lawyers have (usually the only break a litigator might see in the course of a year). Yet still there will be work to be done with emergency calls and requests for assistance with bail over the Christmas/New Year court shut down.

Each year, colleagues share their collective sense that this year is worse than it has ever been before. The demands on their time, the need to meet deadlines, the rigidity of the legal system, the lack of holiday spirit and the general sense that everything is all a bit-too-much.

This year, there is something different. A conversation yesterday with a colleague revealed that in addition to those usual complaints, 2016 has bought an increasingly “agitated” bench. Not necessarily a bench behaving badly (though there has been plenty of attention given in recent years about judges not being above bullying and inappropriate behaviour on the bench). Rather, the sense is that judicial officers have become sort of “angsty” or disruptive or plain hostile. Not because the case required it, but seemingly because of a default position adopted throughout the state. It’s not merely one colleague saying as much – there have been many.

So I thought I would do a little study of my own. Nothing scientific of course, there’s no time for that sort of thing at this time of the year and in any event, the law has no place for lawyers grumbling about judges. It’s kind of “looked-down” upon. One must uphold the majesty of the law of course. Though that doesn’t mean the majesty of judges, it means the law. But I digress.

Since the start of November 2016, I have conversed with 6 colleagues who run busy litigation practices throughout the state who have expressed their disquiet about the growing sense of judicial angst. We all have opinions on the causes – because we’re lawyers. Some point to a sense that the judiciary feels under attack from the public or politics – especially in light of the disgraceful loss of Justice Latham from the Independent Commission Against Corruption. Some opinions point to the increasing appointment of a narrow selection of people from the profession to be judges (consider for example how many judicial appointments are former Crown Prosecutors compared to the ratio of Crown Prosecutors to lawyers in the state of NSW). Other opinions point to the desire to protect the bar and barristers at all costs and leave any blame or attribution for inconvenience on the shoulders of solicitors – easy prey because it’s not like they fight back (though that is definitely a myth).

Whatever the reasons, there is angst. Some judges have become tetchy. Irritable. Annoyed. Others appear to have given up. Some have become left seemingly high and dry with insufficient courts and insufficient resources to get trials underway in a timely manner.

But it’s almost the end of the court term for 2016 and in a year that’s been awful, let’s just agree to adopt the Christmas spirit and maybe everyone get along in the new year. Alternatively, we could just wait and see how the Judicial Commission stats look after enough solicitors have had enough of court room bullying and harassment. But that doesn’t seem a particularly majestic possibility.

Aaron Kernaghan.

The Slide

33cd7a413e2d410baeb2cff5f435b76e_18As liberals excoriate themselves over their loss to Donald Trump, the hunt for answers will invariably lead toward the well-trodden path of looking outward for blame and inward for responsibility. The process will be marked by identifying those conservatives who supported the notionally-indefensible while hand-ringing and self-deprecating over their own missed opportunity to carry the liberal message effectively to voters.

But that process will miss its mark – as badly as the liberal cause did when putting up Clinton for election. It is a process that is as redolent with patronisation as is the very quest itself to place Clinton in the White House. The liberals didn’t fail to sell their message, it’s that they didn’t have a message to peddle. The electorate didn’t fail to engage with Clinton, it’s that she wasn’t engaged with them. The American voting population didn’t sell-out on the liberal ideology and promise of America – it sold-out on them. And all of that was put in motion many years before now.

The failure of the media to identify and call out for what it was, the nefarious “WMD” argument of the Bush era lead, inexorably toward the civil war within the media that has resulted in two polarised wings: the “conventional media” vs “social media” or whatever the latter calls itself from time-to-time. Those two camps are now as polarised as the political parties that they are notionally attached to.

Saying as much doesn’t take into account the fact that any traversal of social media (particularly Twitter) reveals a significant amount of liberal, left or otherwise social-leaning commentary. Yet those people are the opposition in the non-conventional media war. They are the people calling out the turkey arguments and nong-headed misguided, ill-informed treatises of the right wing. Or so they hope to be. Yet where is their help and support in liberal circuits? It takes the form of like-pages and landing pages designed to have you say “#I’mWithHer” or other trivialities that are as polarising in their statement as they are useless as a policy argument.

The fact is that the media civil war – in which it turned in on itself from a place of great regret that it failed to hold a government to account – has lead to the disempowerment of the media to have a valid contribution within an electorate. Those that thought of the fourth estate as the bastion for reasoned and principled argument forgot that to be a protagonist in such a discourse, you must have credit in the minds of the audience – otherwise you’re just an erstwhile antagonist. Antagonists can easily be dispensed with as “elites”, “entitled”, or “egoist” – all words that point to not only the lack of credit of the liberal media but also the nascent hatred by conservative media of those that engage with their core statements.

Therein lies the greatest problem moving forward – conservatives did not shy away from the WMD misnomer or lie, they doubled-down on it. In doing so, the most awful truth was revealed – “post-truth” isn’t a word that refers to the obvious tendency of Trump to lie. It reveals that the world we live in is now one in which arguing for truth and holding lies to account, will not amount to anything meaningful in the town square. Unfortunately for us all, that’s how guillotines get built – because you can fix problems by chopping off heads. Or threatening, cajoling or otherwise bullying the elites.

Aaron Kernaghan

It took just one juror for the Walter Scott murder case to be declared a mistrial — Quartz

The racially-charged murder trial of former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager was declared a mistrial today. The jury failed to come to a conclusion, due to a single juror who refused to consider a “guilty” verdict. Slager was charged with fatally shooting an unarmed black man named Walter Scott in South Carolina last year.…

via It took just one juror for the Walter Scott murder case to be declared a mistrial — Quartz