Raise your right hand.

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!

Posted at 10:06 am in Media, Same ol' same ol' |

9 responses to “Raise your right hand.”

  1. MichaelG said on July 24, 2006 at 11:10 am

    Ford can navel gaze all it wants. It can reorganize. It can have lay offs. It can bring out hybrids (nice, but niche vehicles). It can restructure its marketing arm. It can run a big ad campaign with some dolt from AI singing about pahs-uh-bil-ah-dees. It can bring out a new Mustang — excellent car, but another niche vehicle. They can poll focus groups, commission studies, hold meetings and discuss the state of FoMoCo, consult the stars and cast the I Ching ’til the cows come home but the problem is very simple and very basic. Ford doesn’t have a car to sell. The 500 is a warmed over Volvo that Ford has maybe sold dozens of in the last year. The Focus is a decent small car but it’s elderly. The Fusion is a warmed over Mazda 6 that’s lingering on the lots. It’s a competent enough ride but no comparison to the Civic let alone the Accord. Ford has nothing to sell against the Hondas, against Toyota’s Corolla, Camry and Avalon or against VW’s fine offerings. They have nothing to pitch against the new Chryslers and Dodges. Their Lincoln-Mercury division also sells the Mazda 6; this time tarted up as a luxury car (Mercury Milan and Lincoln Zephyr) against Cadillac’s exciting new line up and the interesting new Imperial Chrysler has on the horizon. All the analysis and re-analysis and talk and expert opinion and charts and graphs and consultants and columns in the NYT are nice but they don’t address the one basic problem: Ford ain’t got no product. Until and unless Ford puts some really strong cars on the street there will be no recovery.

    By the way it was 108 here in Auburn yesterday, 111 in Sacramento. Whew. The goats and chickens spent the day crashed in the shade. The dogs lolled inside in the air conditioning. So did I.

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  2. Dorothy said on July 24, 2006 at 11:27 am

    I’ve been reading the Yarn Harlot for several months now. I’m not a knitter, but I do crochet. But you don’t need to do either to enjoy her most excellent writing style. I often wonder if she has the time to read all the volumes of comments each of her entries garner. She couldn’t possibly – AND accomplish all of the wonderful knitting projects that she tackles!

    Michael have you tried frying an egg on the sidewalk yet? Shees, 108 does NOT sound like fun. I think our highest last week was 97.

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  3. mary said on July 24, 2006 at 11:28 am

    Hey, I worked at an outdoor job fair on Saturday in Mission Hills, and it was 117. We all thought we were going to fall over dead, so we finally moved it into a conference room. It was hot enough to make grown men weep and beg for mercy.

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  4. MichaelG said on July 24, 2006 at 1:17 pm

    Wow — at 117 I would have remembered something I had to do elsewhere. Like indoors. Have lots of people looking for jobs?

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  5. mary said on July 24, 2006 at 1:39 pm

    Remarkably we had 87 people show up between 10 am and 3 pm. I think I would have phoned and said I was faxing in a resume. What’s even weirder is how many of them were there looking at some very hard to fill jobs, like NICU respiratory therapists.

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  6. MichaelG said on July 24, 2006 at 1:51 pm

    Great! Sounds like it was successful for all concerned.

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  7. mary said on July 24, 2006 at 3:27 pm

    It was. There will be a nurse recruiting open house in October, so if you know any nurses who want to move to Los Angeles, send them my way. It probably won’t be 117 then.

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  8. basset said on July 24, 2006 at 11:23 pm

    back to jury duty for a minute… reminds me of the time I got called on a drug case when I was still a tv reporter here in Nashville. they asked me the usual questions and I replied, truthfully, that I was personally acquainted with the judge, the prosecutor, both court officers and a couple of other random people around the courtroom. figured that’d be it.

    wrong. got to stay for the whole thing. made a quick comfort stop on the way to the jury room and by the time I got there they’d elected me foreman.

    so after the first half-hour it was 11-1 and stayed that way for the next two days. ended in a hung jury, the defendant got brought up on another, related charge and copped to the whole thing.

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  9. vince said on July 25, 2006 at 1:13 am

    Don’t count on an instant disqualification from jury duty, Nance.

    I’m a journalist and they seated me in a criminal trial.

    I do have some advice. Don’t do what I did.
    During the closing arguments, the young, stumbling asst. district attorney, already flummoxed during her closing arguments, suddenly stopped cold, interrupted by a ringing cell phone.

    In the jury box.

    I could have died.
    I forgot to turn it off after the break.
    My fingers have never flown so fast to the mute button. It only rang once, but I apologized to her and to the judge, while turning 15 shades of red.

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