Tuesday, December 21, 2004

For Your Infotainment....

So there I was, doing my morning perusal of at least one of the internets, and it jumped out and grabbed me. There it was as I read an article in The Daily Mail a few short paragraphs describibg the latest explosion in Iraq.

Down the page, and to the left, was the heading "Advertorials" ! Now, I try to stay as plused as the next fellow, but for a minute there, I definitely lost my plus, in fact it wouldn't be going to far to say I was non-plused. "Advertorials", indeed!

I got my plus back in a few minutes, only to marvel at the implications of that clever compound. "Advertorial", of course, is a aggregate of "advertisement" and "editorial"! And what a wealth of possibilities is thereby spread before us, like stout Cortez upon a hill in Darien, or something. Heretofore, in those darkened and dreary days now banished by this ingenious melding, the editor could only express his opinion and, if he was the daring sort, try to marshall a few facts to his side. Now, in addition to the opinions put before his public, he will have no trouble telling them exactly what to purchase in support of his position! And, given the pandemonious nature of the "facts" used to bolster "torial" half of this equasion, the same leeway can be admitted to the "advert" side without any problems. Here's a sample.

The title of our advertorial will be: "Our Duties in the Worldwide War on Terror"
In September of 2001 a group of terrorists proved that any time a group of terrorists desires to take over four airplanes and crash them into buildings, we must let them. It is obvious that if people employed to prevent such things had simply done their jobs, this tragedy would have been nipped in the bud. Your buds, on the other hand can be nipped quite easily with a pair of Clip-em budcutters, available at your local lawn and garden store. These are the bud-cutters so strong, they are guaranteed to cut through the blade or body of any box-knife extant. While the US was equipped with terroists watchlists, agents who reported on members of the terrorist group, fighter planes which should have been in the air, no Clip-em budcutters were supplied to airport security. Would you want your family to be similarly handicapped in such an event? The success of these (or those) terrorists must lead us to conclude that similar groups are active in every city, every town, and will strike at least on a weekly basis. By purchasing a complete set of Find-em maps, available at all local mapsellers, you will know the precise location of each of those towns and cities. Can you do less, or at least, not as much, or failing that, something, maybe? And having done so, and so done, would you deny your family, your country, the chance to tremble in craven fear while seated on comfortable lawn furniture? Any staunch defender of freedom will be sure to have a complete set of Sit-and-Set lawn furniture on his patio, purchasable at all major department and specialty goods emporiums, and made expressly for turning on side and use as a redoubt from which fire can be returned. No, fellow citizens, we must not allow chimeras such as facts, history, and the like to deflect us from our allotted stance of craven fear interspersed with blind aggression. And what better serves such a mixture than mixed drinks, served in beautiful Drink-em crystal glasses? The over-consumption of alcohol, topped off with a liberal helping of prescription drugs, will be the diet of heroes, and heroes are what we need...

I'm barely scratching the surface here. But the advertorial is, for sure, the wave of the future.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Jurist Prudence

I blogged earlier (Nov. 16) that my wife, Patty (the Moosette) was selected for Jury Duty at the Kitsap County Court. First, she attended several sessions, during which jurors were selected from the pool of potential jurors. She was selected. Then came the trial. (Now that it's over, all can be told!)
The case was one of medical malpractice. A man and his wife were suing their psychiatrist, for negligence, and demanding repayment of medical bills and damages. Seems that... wait... it goes like this:
The plaintiff, an engineer in his thirties, had a mental breakdown and made a suicide attempt. He walked into Puget Sound and tried to drown. (He was dissuaded by a passing duck, who told him to get out of the water. Remember, he was having a psychotic episode) He ended up in the hospital, and after release, was advised to stay under psychiatric care, and medication. So he engaged the shrink, who was responsible for his medication, and was supposed to go to a therapist, too, and join a support group. So, life went on, and his medications were adjusted, or one was discontinued and another started, and so on.
But sadly, after about six months he had another episode, which seemed to be a combination of extreme depression, paranoiaand psychosis. The onset was rapid, a matter of days, and neither he, nor his wife (who called the Dr. when she noticed) nor the doctor really appreciated how bad the poor guy was getting.
He took himself out to the beach and using a stethoscope to locate his heart, fell on a dagger, three times. He didn't die, but he did himself lots of injury, puncturing a lung, stabbing a piece of his heart, puncturing his spleen (they took it out) and nearly bled to death. Again, he survived, but it was a near thing. Lots of surgery.
So that, more or less, is the story my wife heard, over the course of three days of testimony. (Again, I want to say she only told me this after her jurist duties were ended, as she was instructed. But that didn't keep her from coming home each night and saying "Oh, have I got a story I can't tell you!")
What it came down to, is: was the doctor negligent in his care? Did he reduce, increase, or stop medications correctly? Did he not act quickly enough(by immediately having the patient come in to see him or go to a hospital) when the wife called him to report her husbands troubling new symptoms?
Of course, there was big-time expert testimony, from plaintiff and defendant's witnesses. Distinguished scholar-doctor-author-teacher kind of guys. And there was factors, factors. Here's a few: The doctor seemed to take very inadequate, sketchy notes. The patient did not follow his treatment plan completely, and engage a therapist and attend a support group, in addition to taking medication, as his treatment plan ordered. The doctor may have compromised, to save the couple money, by treating them on a two-fer basis (The wife is bi-polar). The patients paranoia, which might have been connected to his depression, might have made him less than forthcoming about his psychosis.
All this, and much, much more, Patty listened to carefully each day, taking notes, considering the judge's instructions, really trying to do her job as a juror, not just pre-judging on the basis of prejudices (Lousy rip-off shrinks, frivolous lawsuits, sympathy for a mangled guy and his distraught wife, what her know-it-all husband said on the basis of the truncated summary of each day's testimony, stuff like that).
Finally, after 9 days, both plaintiff and defendant had presented their cases, examined and cross examined witnesses, and the jury had been instructed in the law by the judge.
Now it was time, time for deliberation, time for the jury to decide if there was negligence, and if so, how much moolah should be awarded. A jury foreman would be picked, and the jury would retire, not even leaving for lunch, to bring this magnificent drama of American jurisprudence to its conclusion. (Which would probably go right to an appeal)
She came home exhausted every night, with a headache from being trapped indoors, and concentrating intently. This was serious stuff, and she took it seriously.
And through it all, all 14 jurors... wha?, all 14? Yup, all 14. 12 jurors and 2 alternates. Since nothing had happened to knock any juror out of the box, they were still two jurors long. Time to draw straws!
And Patty drew short straw, right off, and was excused from the deliberation. Bye-bye Jurist Prudence!
She got $13.00 from the pool, (Gotta liven up the elimination of alternates somehow)and should receive a check for $10.00 a day from the county. She returned to work next day and was grumbled at for discharging her civic obligations. And if she doesn't go down to the courthouse and try to check the records, (it should be a public record, right?) she'll never know how the whole imbroglio came out.
I ask you, is that Justice? We oughta sue!