Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Monday, January 25, 2010
Friday, January 22, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
"Wash your mouth out with soap!" It's a phrase we heard as children from our real parents and those perfect TV sitcom parents. It was typically a threat for saying something inappropriate like a four-letter word (you now a curse word).
Things sure have changed this century. In general, four-letter words are more common. I'm not sure they are more accepted, but they sure do surface a lot more on TV.
I may get embarrassed watching primetime programs, but it usually has to deal with the sexual content or context — not the words being said by fictional characters or by reality TV cast members.
With 2009 still not far in our rear view mirrors, there are several lists still making headlines for 2010. Time magazine reported on a list of banned words for 2010. It's not dirty words. It's a list of over-used words. The list came from Lake Superior State University folks, who have been releasing a list of words banished from the Queen's English for mis-use, over-use and general uselessness for 35 years.
While the list might not wield any power in 2010, it's interesting to take a look at the list. I don't think I'll be using No. 14: Chillaxin'. I never knew about this word before reading the list. Other words like transparency will most likely be used whether it's talking about health care reform or full-body scans at the airport.
The complete 2010 list:
7. Friend as a verb
8. Teachable Moment
9. In These Economic Times ...
11. Toxic Assets
12. Too Big to Fail
15. Obama as a prefix
Sunday, January 3, 2010
I served once on a county jury in a Georgia town. I was shocked then to be selected for service, especially since I worked for the county's only newspaper. It didn't matter. The county attorney was also selected for the same jury. I imagine there are a lot of factors attorneys and prosecutors go through during jury selection. I may not have been the best choice, but I'm guessing I was a better than someone else choice.
I suspect I was chosen for the federal jury last November, because I had a low juror number and a third of the people who showed up for jury selection knew the defendants. By noon, I lifted my hand to take the oath with 13 other folks.
I took the judge's instruction to not look up information about the case or talk to people about it very seriously. While at home, I checked my e-mail via my iPhone and didn't turn my computer on for the three days I served as a juror. I didn't watch the local news in case the court case was on some TV station's radar. It wasn't, but just to be safe no news for me.
I didn't think I was doing anything extraordinary until I read this Time article about jurors. Apparently, some folks can't stand to be away from Google, etc. I figured it was best to stay away from all the technology for a few days. Besides, I was exhausted after each day at court. Sure, we reported at 9:30 a.m., but we didn't leave until after 8 p.m.
Who had time to input any more data anyway? We were given all this information and we had no outlet for it -- we were not allowed to talk among ourselves and we certainly were not allowed to speak to other people about it.
It's interesting to see how jurors are influenced by technology today. Information and data needs to be presented in a way, so it captures the minds and attention of the jurors. In the federal courtroom where I served, they had an electronic "white board" that enabled prosecutors and defendant attorney's to show evidence, highlight it and enlarge the image to make a point.
TV shows like CSI often have a negative impact on the court system. Hollywood reality and crime scene investigation reality are two different things. On TV, they have the best technology and can solve a case every time thanks to clever writers. In reality, state crime lab budgets have been slashed and the scientists don't always confirm data 100 percent. Test results aren't ready in hours like they are on TV. State crime labs often have a backlog of cases and can't pass along information to detectives for weeks and sometimes months.
Jury duty is important. It's not convenient, but it's not totally unreasonable either. If your can't serve, you just have to ask for an excuse.
Jury duty isn't comfortable, because you are deciding something very serious -- guilty or not guilty. I look at jury service as if the defendants themselves had selected me. They asked for a trial by jury and I was asked (summoned) to help make that happen. They may not like the verdict I helped deliver, but the system allows them to appeal that.
At the end of the trial, I did what the courts and the defendants asked me to do. I did it all with just the evidence and information the court provided. I didn't use the Internet, Twitter, Facebook, Google or anything else.