Bright, sunny morning. Alan’s on vacation all week; Spriggy’s getting a haircut this morning; Project Table reaches a turning point. I have one story to finish, then jury duty in the latter part of the week. Jury duty! In Detroit! This is why we live in Wayne County, so that we can be called for jury duty in Elmore Leonard country, not out in suburbia somewhere. I hope you know that I speak from the heart when I say: I can’t wait.
Really, I can’t. I love jury duty, even though it’s always the same for a journalist. You sit around, you shuffle here and there, and if it ever gets as far as questioning by an actual attorney, you always get the hook. (I was a peremptory challenge in a federal case once — such a proud moment.) Lawyers don’t want journalists on their juries, for several good reasons and a few bad ones. This, however, is my first time as an unemployed journalist, so maybe things will break differently this time. But I doubt it.
First rule of jury duty, for everybody: Bring something to do. I recommend a book, although you may prefer knitting. Whatever, but make sure it’s something that will keep you happily occupied for at least two or three hours. The ability to pass a 120-minute block of time with minimal resources is a dying trait in this great land of ours, as evidenced by the giant televisions everywhere we go, tuned to Oprah or Maury or some other nightmare. In my first try at jury duty, in the federal case, I read a big chunk of T.C. Boyle’s “World’s End” and had a wonderful, peaceful morning. In my last, the pool was parked in front of a big, loud TV. Bummer. And still, jurors had difficulty sitting still for the hour or two it took the parties upstairs to settle the case and send us all home. ADHD seems to be a culture-wide affliction.
So, the bloggage: Last Sunday the New York Times business-section front was a long, thoughtful analysis on the future of the Ford Motor Co. by the excellent Micheline Maynard. This Sunday the Free Press used their business front to bring us the grumpy opinions of a bunch of GM retirees. It would be one thing if these guys had anything interesting or insightful to say. But what do you say about quotes like these?
Ed Kulba, an 80-year-old GM retiree and World War II veteran, doesn’t see the benefits (of a possible GM merger with Renault or Nissan). He started working in a Detroit auto factory when he was 17. He cringes at the thought of a French or Japanese company controlling GM.”This is what us World War II veterans went over to fight for, so we could keep it American,” Kulba said.
I missed that part of my World War II history. Of course, I was educated in Ohio.
Thanks to Amy Alkon for pointing me toward this ESPN.com story on the death of Pat Tillman. I was struck by the attitude of the officer in charge of the investigation, who suggests that the atheist Tillman family needs to “let go, let God,” essentially:
Kauzlarich, now a battalion commanding officer at Fort Riley in Kansas, further suggested the Tillman family’s unhappiness with the findings of past investigations might be because of the absence of a Christian faith in their lives. In an interview with ESPN.com, Kauzlarich said: “When you die, I mean, there is supposedly a better life, right? Well, if you are an atheist and you don’t believe in anything, if you die, what is there to go to? Nothing. You are worm dirt. So for their son to die for nothing, and now he is no more — that is pretty hard to get your head around that. So I don’t know how an atheist thinks. I can only imagine that that would be pretty tough.”
Demanding competency and accountability for the needless death of a fine young man = the desperate flailing of a godless family. Huh.
For years, advertisers and those who sell time and space to them have run panting after one market: Women. Broadcasters speak of “the demographic,” which is, basically, women age 29-50, roughly — women in their peak buying years. The thinking is: Men buy golf clubs and beer, and women buy everything else, so that’s who you go for. Virtually everything on TV that isn’t sports-related is aimed at them, including TV news, with its steady diet of fear-tainted boogeymen — sexual predators, germs and Things That Can Kill You AND YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW IT. So what happens, after years and years of this?
Men are leaving TV news. Gee, I wonder how that happened.
P.S. Of course, the pay in TV news is roughly the same as in acting: A few titans earn millions, and millions of peons earn nothing.
The Yarn Harlot — love that name — writes about writing. Truer words, etc. (Thanks, Mindy.)
On to Project Table!