But first . . .


Some of you read Thursday’s column too quickly or else I didn’t write it very well (or both), because the part about pigs and chickens was intended to be pro-animal rights. But I adopted something of a Friends, Romans, Countrymen, approach, trying to make the 95% of our friends who order Big Macs without qualm nod their heads . . . and only then get to the point. Forgive me if I did not make that point clear, as I will forgive you if you got too angry to reach it. But – throwing any subtlety, irony, or black humor to the wind – I do think it’s terrible to perpetuate needless animal suffering. And I do hope people come to see what we are doing to chickens and pigs and such rather than look away, so they can at least make an informed choice. That’s why I thought the Pollan piece was worth highlighting.

Steven Coultas: ‘I agree that if you’re going to eat other animals, why not cats, dogs and horses? I just take this the opposite way – since I wouldn’t eat cats, I won’t eat the other animals either.’

☞ Exactly. I just thought it would be more effective to raise the inconsistency and let people spot it on their own. And, in truth, I haven’t fully taken it to heart, either. I rarely buy meat. But if it’s served, I enjoy it. And I eat a lot of fish – although I would imagine that most of a shrimp’s life, or even a salmon’s, entails little of the torture we inflict on chickens.

More tomorrow – but don’t think you can get out of . . .


I don’t know how it works where you live, but in Miami they have actually figured this out. Indeed, I have only two suggestions. The first concerns the brutal, brutal time at which jurors are required to report. Eight in the morning! Who is even awake at eight in the morning? I finished posting my column around three, got three hours sleep, staggered into the shower, left a million dead skin cells on a freshly washed towel, staggered into my clothes, squinted blearily at the hundreds of other drivers I was shocked to find on the road with me at that hour – could this many people have been summoned for jury duty? – pulled into the parking lot, passed through the Dade County courthouse metal detector without even having to remove my shoes, found a seat as far from everyone else as possible, whipped the cushy blue eye-pad out of my cargo-pants pocket – these things could block out the flash from a tactical nuclear weapon – and went back to sleep.

My first suggestion is that Court begin at nine, but that the first couple of hours be spent trying to settle cases without going to trial, so jurors wouldn’t be needed until eleven – earliest. This would make jury service significantly less onerous.

My second suggestion is that some sort of friendly letter or brochure accompany the ominous jury-duty summons so people would be less apt to try to duck it.

(A similar brochure should accompany appointments to have an MRI. You are not, it turns out, locked like a torpedo inside a torpedo tube – at least with the ones I’ve had, you could wriggle out if you absolutely had to. And the noises! It’s so cool! Five minutes of nyack-nyack, nyack-nyack, nyack-nyack, nyack-nyack, nyack-nyack, nyack-nyack, nyack-nyack, nyack-nyack, nyack-nyack, nyack-nyack, nyack-nyack followed by five minutes of rubba-dubba, rubba-dubba, rubba-dubba, rubba-dubba, rubba-dubba, rubba-dubba, rubba-dubba, rubba-dubba, rubba-dubba, rubba-dubba, rubba-dubba, rubba-dubba, switching to other other-worldly mantras until, completely relaxed, you emerge with a nice image of your torn rotator cuff and a bill for $800.)

For Dade County Jury Duty, the pitch might go something like this.

Hey, amigo! Just what you were hoping for – Jury Duty. But it’s not as bad as you think. Here’s what you should know:

It’s very possible you won’t even have to do this. Just call in after 5pm the night before your service and a recorded announcement will let you know, based on your summons number, whether you need to report the next morning. If so (on the third night, my luck ran out), you’ll find a very large room with TV monitors hanging from the ceiling and reasonably comfortable seats . . . adjoining rest rooms and a snack bar (great tuna salad sandwiches and vanilla cappuccino!) . . . an introductory video explaining why good citizenship is important . . . free movies the rest of the day . . . a ‘Quiet Room’ for those who want to read or work with their laptops (yes!) . . . at least an hour for lunch (we got 80 minutes, so I went across the street and explored the Miami Historical Museum) . . . and a couple of nice guys with good people skills who manage the process in a relaxed, friendly way from a podium mike.

If you’re not placed on a jury, your service will conclude at the end of the day. And if you are self-employed, you will be paid $15. But what happened in our case is that the 56 of us who had not been placed on a jury (out of about 80 called in that day) were given a choice shortly after we got back from lunch: Leave, but forfeit our pay; hang around until 5pm. All 56 of us left. Those with real jobs were told that must return to their regular place of employment for the remainder of the workday. A few doubtless did.

That wasn’t so bad, now was it?

This is the second time I’ve had to do jury duty. The first time, it was all phone – I never had to show up. The next time, I might even have to serve on a jury. But in that case, if it went past three days, my pay would notch up from $15 a day to $30.

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