I only had three hours of sleep last night so apologies in advance for any egregious errors that might follow.
To the end of fulfilling my obligation as a citizen of the State of California, this morning I reported for and served my jury duty at the Superior Court in Compton.
Where I live is not in Compton, but close enough to get summoned to the state court in that city. Upon calling in the night before to be told by a recorded voice to report at 7:45 a.m., I set the alarm and had a few more rations of medicine to calm my nerves. I mean there’s nothing really to be nervous about. I’ve been through this sort of thing before; but the thought lingered that wearing a plaid shirt and glaring at the defense attorney during voir dire just might not get me over the “thank you, Mr. Holmes, you’re excused” bar. So I fretted, only briefly flirting with the idea of dredging up an offensive concert t-shirt from daze gone by, and then finally passed out.
In the jury room, over 200 adults sat idling listening the instructions about how to complete the summons, request postponements, lodge excuses in an attempt to get out of service, etc. Most of them read newspapers, magazines or paperbacks. Others struck up conversations with nearby people, made telephone calls, listened to music, or played around with their telephones. One moron raised his hand to announce that he was a felon, which did get him out of service. (Who’s the moron, now?) I should add that this remarkably diverse group of prospective jurors was underrepresented only in the 20-something male demographic. Mere coincidence? I think not.
The group was convivial, laid-back, courteous, and (I dare say) even friendly. dave would have gone wild with all of those bootylicious girlies putting on quite a show going through the elaborate de-bangling process (i.e., removing all metallic objects, jewelry, etc.) prior to passing through the metal detectors. The little guy with the wand seemed to really like his work. TSA with a smile.
Anyway, having hours to kill allowed me to catch up on some newspaper reading. In today’s WSJ, there was a “Special Advertising Section” (sponsored by CERA) including an article entitled “Recession Shock: The Oil Market and the Global Economy” by Daniel Yergin. It was a well put together (for the most part, benefit of hindsight) recap of recent oil market swings. ZK readers might find this excerpt interesting (although you may or may not take issue with some of it):
If prices remain low, however, investments in new capacity will slow, and this trend could be amplified by government policies aimed at both energy security and climate change. Amidst the current apprehension, it is difficult to look beyond today’s economic emergency. But the cycle will turn around again. What happens then? Will investment slow so much that the seeds of the next disruptive oil price spike will take root? That certainly would not happen in the first years of a recovery, but such a scenario is certainly possible towards the middle of the next decade.
I also read the entire excellent Energy report (from Monday’s WSJ) front-to-back — some very clear-eyed reporting. As good as I’ve seen from any source lately. The WSJ seems to have pulled back slightly on their doomer tone. Other more imminent economic concerns have eclipsed most such reporting for the moment. CERA, on the other hand, to their credit (never thought I’d be writing this), has rather frankly framed resource depletion realities in far starker terms bringing to the fore of their distillations fundamental issues such as land use, clear cutting, spikes in food prices, etc. The overall message seems to be that the system may be staggering, but it’s not done yet.
Today I watched a huge group of potentially productive adults squander their time in a waiting room: the price we pay for a (marginally) functioning legal system I suppose. But still, it is all so extraordinarily wasteful in every aspect. Hundreds of people showed up to endure this debacle. I was never even called into a court room. I was one of the lucky ones. One day and, if not empaneled, you’re done and free to go. The fact that I and so many others were willing and able to do this suggests that a great many people aren’t ready to go AWOL just yet.