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How can I get better at small talk?5 Ways To Instantly Turn Small Talk Into BIG TALK:Let me preface this by presenting the following idea: nobody is boring. Whenever I hear colleagues or friends complain about small talk I always ask them "Did you make an effort to elevate the conversation?" Or did you just ask them the same jibber jabber questions that you do with 80% of the people in your life? Conversations may be a two way street but you always have the power to make it more dynamic and engaging. Ask boring questions and you'll receive boring answers. Simple as that.People can only show as much as you let them within the context of the conversation. Not everyone shines under the same light and it's your job as a social being to figure out how you can help them show off their dazzling personality. A classic conversational trap is asking people questions that you can easily anticipate the answers to.For instance you'll ask "How’s your day?" and they'll respond with "Good." That's boring, uneventful and you feel like you're just going through the motions. In this article I'll explain how to morph those typical small talk questions into meaningful opportunities for relationship growth.1) What you normally ask: "How's your day?"What to ask instead: "What's the most surprising thing that happened to you recently?"--Doing this entices them to give better answers and actually reflect on the highs and lows of the past week. Giving them the opportunity to be insightful will compel them to open up and give intimate details about their life that they wouldn't normally share.2) What you normally ask: "What do you do for a living?"What to ask instead: "What gets you up in the morning? What are you most passionate about?"--Feeding people generic questions is only setting ourselves up to receive generic answers. Giving someone a positive and encouraging context to bring up their job, sets them up to talk about it with passion. Often times we worry about answering questions in an easily digestible way. This trend of thinking is toxic for those trying to maximize the output of daily interactions. Make people remember you by actively engaging with them. Become unforgettable and you'll move up on their mental list.3) What you normally ask: How are you holding up?What to ask instead: What's holding you up? What motivates you to keep moving forward?--This question is typically saved for someone going through a rough patch in their life. There's a line in the 2000 Danny Boyle movie The Beach that says, "Either get better or die. It's the hanging around in between that really pisses people off." Asking someone about their mental state when they're clearly in distress will only encourage them to lie and say everything's fine, so they can alleviate any discomfort.By focusing on the positive aspects of sadness such as hope and inspiration, you are subconsciously allowing that person to release their repressed feelings in a healthy and uplifting way. Hearing the thought process behind their coping strategies will give you insight into the severity of their issues without having to ask outright. They say the quickest way to a persons heart is through their stomach, but it's actually through subtlety.4. What you normally ask: How was ________? (Your date, your trip to New York, your hike up Torrey Pines)What to ask instead: If you had to do ________ all over again, what would you do differently?The broader your questions are, the less details people will give in return. Asking them about the overall quality of their experience will garner a common response ensuring that their time wasn't wasted. Answers like "It was good. I had tons of fun", are the ones you want to avoid. Ask poignant questions that will actually make them think. This thought train you send them on will make other stops organically along the way, providing you a better shot at finding out how_________ truly was for them.5. What you normally ask: Are you married?What to ask instead: Do you think life partners are over or underrated?The best way to get someone to talk about something specific is to bring up questions surrounding the central topic you secretly want them to elaborate on. If you want to know about their husband/wife, you have to get there incrementally by first talking about friendships, relationships, love etc. This question serves two functions: (a) it gives you their perspective on love and (b) personal values. Someone who puts a high premium on having someone by their side has a much different psychology than a person who is indifferent to the idea. Their answer to this is a natural transition into volunteering information about their own personal experiences.Getting information through the proverbial front door of someone's brain will always be underwhelming and overrated. Small talk is normally inconsequential and monotonous. But it doesn't have to be that way! Getting to know someone is like trying to break into a house. You can't just bust the door down right away. You need a plan of attack. Could you get in through the window? Maybe sneak into the garage? Going from small talk to big talk is allowing the other person to open up the doors for you. People want to be heard and understood. You just have to give them permission first.When life hands you small lemons, make big lemonade. Happy talking!Thomas
Can you put a soldier out of his misery?Am I the only combat medic to answer this so far?Yes you can. Medics are taught how to but not instructed to. There is a terrible and fine line out there in “the suck” that medics, and medics alone, are asked to walk.You don’t end a person’s life. Full stop. In the rare case that a soldier is mortally wounded (no way to maintain an airway or control bleeding and no higher medical assets within a reasonable time)… then a medic could administer an extra ampule of or two. Even though the doctors and instructors teach the medics this, in the end it’s on that one person’s shoulders. And conscience.Is it better to leave your friend/co-worker screaming in agony until they are too weak to yell? Then watch them convulse every few minutes for a couple of hours. Then finally they stop responding to your voice or even painful stimulus.Brain death is setting in. It takes a few minutes or a few days.Every minute you have a seriously wounded soldier in your unit you have medics that are out of the fight. You also have a much more complicated command situation. Nobody (NOBODY) makes this decision lightly. They also never talk about it.In the movies there is always an EVAC helicopter with escort available and ready to risk anything to get to the wounded. In combat it’s not always possible. “Birds” get grounded for many reasons and MEDEVAC Strykers are delayed by the need for escort vehicles/crews and IED laden roads. In almost all cases, the wounded will live to see the operating room. In some form.Combat wounded are intense. Gunfire is still raging in many cases. People are yelling, confusion is everywhere. The medic will be well trained but under a lot of stress. They know that they have to address breathing and bleeding in 2–3 minutes. They also need to avoid causing further injury and find any hidden wounds. While doing this they have to coordinate any available soldiers with combat lifesaver training to assist them with this or other injured. Finally, they also have to constantly keep the command apprised of the situation.Who has X injury?Can they return to the fight?Do they need to be evacuated from battle or can we take them with us?If they need to go NOW, how long do they realistically have?Can we ground evac through the combat or do we need a bird?While answering all of that the medic has assessed the wounded. Tried to control the bleeding and established a secure airway. Then they need to find a vein for an IV (super hard on a patient with blood loss or missing limbs). While doing this they also need to fill out the ‘9 Line’ medical evacuation form for the radio. Once this is done the medic will check the field dressings, the IV, the breathing. Record the wounds and vitals. Mark when/if was given (how much, when, where administered) and done so that the surgeon can see it and blood doesn’t wash it away. Often in black sharpie on the forehead if patient is unconscious- as awful as that sounds it works well.So, don’t talk about the morality of this until you walk a mile (or 26) in a medic’s boots. Don’t talk about what happens until you live and work with a small team of men and women in a combat zone for over a year at a time. Infantry units are closer than most marriages/families. Your platoon SGT is dad and doc is mom. It’s a horrific moment to see one of your guys literally torn in half and dying. It’s much worse to know that due to a sandstorm there aren’t any flights that day. It’s hell on earth when you realize nobody is coming by road because of the IED you just hit. It’s unimaginable when you realize you only have 2 ampules left and 3 critically wounded friends.I didn’t have to make the hardest choice. I wouldn’t tell you if I did. I sure as &$*# wouldn’t take any judgement from you in any case.Great question. I hope someone who actually held this responsibility in combat can clear it up a little.
In the U.S. Army, how do you call close air support?There is a form you can fill out:http://www.esd.whs.mil/Portals/5...There is also a 9 line abreviated form that can get filled out, all of this will be called over the net.:AIR SUPPORT REQUEST [AIRSUPREQ] (ArmyStudyGuide.com)Sometimes units will have a Combat Air Controller from the Chairforce attached to them, this person will have special training on how to communicate with air assets that may be on station to assist units, and will be the ones to call/guide air support onto target. Pending no CAC, the unit may call a 9 line up to higher to request CAS.
Transgender: How long did it take you to get used to your name?Names have always been a big deal to me. I started writing stories when I was six or seven (very simple stories at first, of course), but I was most drawn to characters and their names. I didn't just choose names at random, I choose names that felt right to me. Names with the right sounds and flavors were important to me.And as a part of this, my deadname never sounded right to me. Most folks called me by my last name (Zaring), or by a nickname (Dr Pingpong, Rabbi, Legs), or by my first two (at the time) initials (NM), or even just "Z." For my pen name and my stage name I used "NM Zaring." I often thought about what kind of name I'd use if I got to rename myself, and I had several options.So when I came out, I spent weeks working through the possibilities. Some of the possibilities included: Natalie, Natalia (and the various spellings), Nicole, Elise, Alyssa, and Alison. By the time I settled on Natahlia Lysse, I was certain it was the name for me. It felt right and had the sounds that were the most me.So the change became easy at that point. It took about a week before I had no issues writing my name. It took about a month before I no longer looked when someone called my deadname and about the same time before I didn't have a momentary pause before telling folks my name.Now (about 3 and a half years later), I answer to Natahlia, Tahlia, Alia, Lysse, and pay attention whenever someone says Natalie or Natasha. My boyfriend's sister is named Natalia, so I'm still getting used to hearing his parents say Natalia and not refer to me. So it wasn't as hard for me as for other folks, but I also had little to no association with my deadname.
How can I apply for an internship at IIT Bombay?Full-scale guide to internship ahead. It will take 3 minutes.During my sophomore year( 2nd Year) of studies I did a lot of research on Internships, how to secure it and how to get a sure-shot success.I have compiled all the questions and how to work on themWhy should I do an internship?Ans: No, you don’t need to do one, internship are not burden that you should do. You can go and learn to play guitar, feel free to explore yourself during vacations.Internships are not only in Education, there are a heck lot of internships for Music, NGOs, Tutors, Dance(Yeah you heard it right). Now for all those in colleges( I mean study focused minded people), internships are a must ( yeah you heard me right, it is must- A recent update in rule suggested that you must have 3 internships).P.S. I have still done only one internship and still in search for 2 more (I completed my recent internship from France, CNRS).2. What internship should I do, I am confused?Ans: First of all you need to find your field of interest, it can be anything, yeah anything you like, it doesn’t depend on your course/career but on your interest.I have interest in Machine Learning , Computer Vision and Embedded Systems and I am in Electronics Branch.So, once you know about your field of interest you are perfect to go ahead to search for an internship.How to find my field of interest? Refer here : “How do I find out what my actual area of interest is?”3. Where to search an Internship and how to proceed?Ans: GOOGLE , it’s all.Nothing can help you more than google. Let me be clear, never go for sites like Internshala,Letsintern,InternXXX (I am not devoting this site, these sites have all startups and local companies and jobs that won’t help your enrichment rather will prepare you for 9–5 jobs believe me, I have experience) before searching them on your own.4. What are per-requisites? What should I have? A good SOP? A good CV?Ans: I will focus on basic things to keep in Mind.a. A good balance between CGPA and Skills will help you a lot. Don’t worry,if you don’t have a good CGPA, you must be talented with so many things then( Guitar, Singing, Dance—- yeah buddy you are talented.)b. Your focus in career, I mean what you want to pursue further.Just make a list of 4–5 topics you want to pursue further.c. Compile a list of projects you have done until the time you are going to fill the form.Put all the details about the project, how it works, under whom you have done it, what is its benefit.Projects can be anything: Have you created an applications based on your interest, a cool DIY project, an electronic game, a computer program—it entirely depends on your choice.I created aa TIC TAC TOE game and I quote it in my CV.d. List of your training and online MOOCs, if you did anything.(I am a regular user of Coursera, udemy, udacity, and edx.I keep on learning new things).Just mention these MOOCs and training wherever you get space.If you have certificates, feel free to include their links.e. The workshops, seminars you have attended.Do you know- Your curricular labs may add a lot to your form, but how? Suppose you are interested in Digital Signal Processing, and you attended Digital Signal Processing lab and gained 10/10, Go on quote it in the form.f. A Good Statement of purpose, describing what is your interest.g. A resume for yourself (max 2 pages).5. What is a good Statement of Purpose and How to make it? How to make a good resume?Ans: Follow here: How to write a successful SOP , How to Write a Statement of PurposeRest you can post your questions in comment section for some-specific field in SOP, CV.6. When should I start to search for an Internship for Institute and Well-known Companies?Ans : When Should I Apply for Summer Internships?, Most of the interships application begin from late December till Feb beginning.For institute specific internships, there are two waya) Fill the application form of the Internship Advertisement.b) Mail the professor.The application form is different for different Institute, regarding the mailing procedure - I will like to quote an answer:( Source : Tuhin Kundu answer)While writing a mail to an IIT professor, some blueprints and strategies should be kept in mind:Show your proven academic record. Your chances increase manifold if your CGPA is >9.0 Not to lose hope if you haven’t got it. Neither did I.Showcase the major projects you have undertaken in your undergrad till date.Share links everywhere in your resume and cover letter. Links to your LinkedIn, ResearchGate, Codechef, SPOJ, Github etc are pretty useful.Upload your project reports to a cloud storage such as Google Drive and share the links in your resume.The mail you are going to write is the most critical part and is usually known as a cover letter. Professors are only going to open and see your resume only if your cover letter is strong.Talk about the technologies you’ve learned, the projects you’ve done or are doing, the collaborations you have undertaken with professors at your own college in your cover letter. This section is the one that convinces the professor of your credibility.Avoid attaching your CV in your mail.Upload your CV in Google Drive and share the links. Emails from unknown sources usually end up in Junk folder of university emails.Make sure your email stays at top.Email professors late at night such that your email will be somewhere at the top when the professor logs in into his email account in the morning.Talk about your inclination and motivation to work under a certain area/domain. Convince the professor about why you want to work in that certain field.Repeatedly spamming a professor will be of no good.Filter out the professors who match your research interest. Mailing every single professor of the entire department may result into marking your email address as a spammer by the institute email filter.An example of mail to professor can be:( Source : Rahul Goradia Answer)Subject : Regarding Internship in Embedded SystemRespected Prof.____________Sir/Madam,I am ——- from ——— pursuing ___________ and willing to do internship under ______________ posted on website for duration _____.Sir/Ma’am, You are working in ________ domain and you have carried out ______ projects. You also take interns in embedded Systems.I am wish to start internship under our guidance. My curriculum includes ____ related subjects to embedded system. I have completed __________ projects. I will be available during whole internship and will be very sincere throughout internship. (You can add reference of your faculty as well.)It will be a great pleasure to work under you.Sincerely————.Now let us focus on my IIT Bombay Internship.Actually I received internship offer from IIT Bombay, IIT Gandhinagar and IIIT-Delhi in my 2nd Year.Focusing on IIT Bombay Internship.The IIT Bombay has two ways of internship1) Ekalavya Internship Program **EKALAVYA HOME Page (EKALAVYA HOME Page)2) By mailing to the professor of your field of interest.Let me describe both one by one and all things which you requireThe Ekalavy internship mentioned : Apply for the internship only if you are completing the 3rd year in April/May 2017. Students completing 2nd year, with exceptional academic performance and other achievements may also be considered.The procedure for ekalavya internship,a) Apply for the internship.b) If you get selected for the first round.Then wait my friend , there is one round more.c) The second round is an Online Test, I was guided a lot by my seniors for the test, they helped me a lot for the test preparation.d) If you clear the online test( which has medium difficulty), congo you got selected.In order to get an internship by emailing the professor, you can look on etiquettes on how to mail a prof., how to search for one, how to get in touch.I will add links to the mailing etiquettes soon.I will edit more details soon, rest you can comment on specific topics which you want to know about, I will be happy to help.I am a student majoring in Electronics and Communication branch.Also, let me add, your present college won’t stop you from getting an Intern anywhere ( A motivation for you).Edit 1:The Art of Emailing Professors to Secure a Foreign Internship ( Source : Internshala )Email is the most under-rated, under-used tool for grabbing an internship abroad. Read all about how to utilize it effectively!There are two definitive ways to bag an internship-1. Apply to various internship programs such as MITACS, DAAD-WISE, etc. Fill up your application form in the fanciest way possible and leave the rest up to fate.OR2. Write an email to a professor as a prospective intern/student.The latter might sound easier than it reads.Being resilient: Professors are busy people. Do not lose hope if your first, second or even third email goes unanswered. You have to be resilient while contacting professors.Timing matters: The time you send out your mail matters more than you think. Never email a professor during the weekends or Friday night; that might be a convenient time for you to email the professor but it is also the professor’s day off and your mail will get buried under the numerous other student’s applications. Professors tend to check their mail during their office hours thus increasing chances of a reply if sent out at such a time.Whom not to contact: It is advisable not to contact more than one professor from the same department as, if found out, it will dampen your credibility in the eyes of both professors.Be specific: I cannot stress on this point enough. In the subject heading of email, be sure to include the specific area you want to intern in. The professor shouldn’t have to scour through the email to search for what you want . If you want to do a research project under him/her, a subject line such as ‘2015 Prospective Research Intern for xyz subject area’ would be ideal.Funding: Most professors are reluctant to provide funding and understandably so; you are an unknown candidate with only words to prove your credibility. Typing out a politely worded, technical email will help your chances. Make sure there are no grammatical errors. If you are good at academia with prior work experience pertaining to their field, then getting funded becomes much easier.The email is all about you being a student that the professor absolutely HAS to offer a position. The real question you should ask yourself is: What can I do to make the professor respond to my mail instead of ten dozen others lying in his/her inbox? Here’s what-Start Early: Consider this. You contact professors in October for an internship that starts in January. Provided one responds, confirmation of a project takes time. There are official procedures to be considered, especially if it’s a funded project. Then there might be a matter of VISA which needs a few weeks at the least. In the end, you might find yourself racing against time to get the confirmation.TIP: If you want an internship offer by January of next year, you should start with your research six months ahead. Keep in mind the vacation timings for the countries you are targeting because most professors will have their automatic vacation responders on during these months. By the time they read their mail, yours will be more than twenty thousand leagues under all other emails.Target the right country: If you desire an international internship, you have to be smart while choosing universities. Some professors just don’t have the funds to admit you. So what’s the point in setting up base camp there?TIP: At the outset, select countries which are known to provide funding to students. For example, news and statistics show that of late, Canada is an emerging tycoon in the education sector and is allocating massive funds to projects. So it could very well be your next destination.Spam emails: Most emails from unknown addresses are flagged as spam and don’t even signNow the inbox. Professors also can’t be sure whether you are truly a student or a fake.TIP: One smart preventive measure would be to use your university email ID which identifies your first and last name and also has something like ‘@iitg’ or some such credible ending. This validates both points at once.Bulk emails: A lot of students have a huge list of professors and play chance with their emails. Writing a bulk email with a set format to all professors will only result in immediate deletion from inbox.TIP: Spell the professor’s name correctly. Get the honorifics right- Professors are usually ‘Dr.’. Salutations such as ‘Dear Dr.X’ or simply ‘Dr.X’ should be used. Write about what interests you in their body of work.Do your homework: Professing interest in someone’s work by saying ‘I would be really enthused to work under you’ has absolutely no bearing unless you give evidence to support it.TIP: Run through the body of work the professor has done, select one publication or project that overlaps with your interest and READ IT. Come up with some interesting insight or query about it. Don’t be vague, use technical words. Try to add your own ideas. Nothing proves your interest more than actually doing your homework.I recently bagged my Latest 2018 Summer Internship in “France- Paris ,Lille”.I will love to share it’s detail along with 30+ Internships that a “first year student too can fill and achieve”.Meanwhile, you can ping me on Facebook or ask your questions in the comment section for any help.(facebook : Animesh Srivastava ).Thanks for all the sources:https://blog.internshala.com/201...Tuhin KunduRahul GarodiaHappy to help you all ! Cheers for an amazing life.
How do I fill a W-9 Tax Form out?Download a blank Form W-9To get started, download the latest Form W-9 from the IRS website at https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/.... Check the date in the top left corner of the form as it is updated occasionally by the IRS. The current revision should read (Rev. December 2014). Click anywhere on the form and a menu appears at the top that will allow you to either print or save the document. If the browser you are using doesn’t allow you to type directly into the W-9 then save the form to your desktop and reopen using signNow Reader.General purposeThe general purpose of Form W-9 is to provide your correct taxpayer identification number (TIN) to an individual or entity (typically a company) that is required to submit an “information return” to the IRS to report an amount paid to you, or other reportable amount.U.S. personForm W-9 should only be completed by what the IRS calls a “U.S. person”. Some examples of U.S. persons include an individual who is a U.S. citizen or a U.S. resident alien. Partnerships, corporations, companies, or associations created or organized in the United States or under the laws of the United States are also U.S. persons.If you are not a U.S. person you should not use this form. You will likely need to provide Form W-8.Enter your informationLine 1 – Name: This line should match the name on your income tax return.Line 2 – Business name: This line is optional and would include your business name, trade name, DBA name, or disregarded entity name if you have any of these. You only need to complete this line if your name here is different from the name on line 1. See our related blog, What is a disregarded entity?Line 3 – Federal tax classification: Check ONE box for your U.S. federal tax classification. This should be the tax classification of the person or entity name that is entered on line 1. See our related blog, What is the difference between an individual and a sole proprietor?Limited Liability Company (LLC). If the name on line 1 is an LLC treated as a partnership for U.S. federal tax purposes, check the “Limited liability company” box and enter “P” in the space provided. If the LLC has filed Form 8832 or 2553 to be taxed as a corporation, check the “Limited liability company” box and in the space provided enter “C” for C corporation or “S” for S corporation. If it is a single-member LLC that is a disregarded entity, do not check the “Limited liability company” box; instead check the first box in line 3 “Individual/sole proprietor or single-member LLC.” See our related blog, What tax classification should an LLC select?Other (see instructions) – This line should be used for classifications that are not listed such as nonprofits, governmental entities, etc.Line 4 – Exemptions: If you are exempt from backup withholding enter your exempt payee code in the first space. If you are exempt from FATCA reporting enter your exemption from FATCA reporting code in the second space. Generally, individuals (including sole proprietors) are not exempt from backup withholding. See the “Specific Instructions” for line 4 shown with Form W-9 for more detailed information on exemptions.Line 5 – Address: Enter your address (number, street, and apartment or suite number). This is where the requester of the Form W-9 will mail your information returns.Line 6 – City, state and ZIP: Enter your city, state and ZIP code.Line 7 – Account numbers: This is an optional field to list your account number(s) with the company requesting your W-9 such as a bank, brokerage or vendor. We recommend that you do not list any account numbers as you may have to provide additional W-9 forms for accounts you do not include.Requester’s name and address: This is an optional section you can use to record the requester’s name and address you sent your W-9 to.Part I – Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN): Enter in your taxpayer identification number here. This is typically a social security number for an individual or sole proprietor and an employer identification number for a company. See our blog, What is a TIN number?Part II – Certification: Sign and date your form.For additional information visit w9manager.com.
What's the best picture taken of you and why do you think it's the best?Mind the poor quality. Nonetheless, this is one of the many best photographs taken of me. I did mention one of the many but, this was the only one that was taken without me knowing, there were no "Is the lighting alright?" "Am I smiling too much?" or "Angle on point" I love the photograph so much, not probably because it's MY best but, the way it captured the genuine love and affection in the dog's eyes. A little walk down the memory lane wouldn't hurt. It was taken in my University where I had to leave home and face the world on my own. Like what everyone else faced, nothing new just the same old home sick, pain, back stabbing, meeting selfish people, fake friends, yearning to be loved, feeling lonely and than I met this guy. She was stray a dog. I soon discovered a soft spot for her within me and we grew to become real close. She's always there accompanying me through late night strolls around the campus. It was comforting to know that you could trust someone in that super competitive University world where everyone was just trying to outrun you Till one day, the management had gotten rid of her. That too in the most atrocious way possible. The dog catchers had flung chains around her neck and dragged her away from the campus. Tears run down my cheeks even now as I reminisce the last moments of her. Anyway, this picture holds so much love and genuineness that I doubt any other human could have. This picture was taken early in the morning before our hiking program, she hiked with us all the way to the top.
Why did my employer give me a W-9 Form to fill out instead of a W-4 Form?I wrote about the independent-contractor-vs-employee issue last year, see http://nctaxpro.wordpress.com/20...Broadly speaking, you are an employee when someone else - AKA the employer - has control over when and where you work and the processes by which you perform the work that you do for that individual. A DJ or bartender under some circumstances, I suppose, might qualify as an independent contractor at a restaurant, but the waitstaff, bus help, hosts, kitchen aides, etc. almost certainly would not.There's always risk in confronting an employer when faced with a situation like yours - my experience is that most employers know full well that they are violating the law when they treat employees as independent contractors, and for that reason they don't tolerate questions about that policy very well - so you definitely should tread cautiously if you want to keep this position. Nonetheless, I think you owe it to yourself to ask whether or not the restaurant intends to withhold federal taxes from your checks - if for no other reason than you don't want to get caught short when it comes to filing your own return, even if you don't intend to challenge the policy.
Has serving on a jury in the U.S. given you a different view of the law and the judicial system? Has your view become better or worse of the system?I already had a poor opinion of the jury and court system before I was ever summoned. My experience merely confirmed it.Trial by jury is an anachronism, and in an age where jurors have to send to the judge to ask what a Senator is, it is dangerous. It was a necessary remedy 750 years ago, when Henry II sent royal justices from shire to shire to try cases on the Crown’s behalf. Knowing nothing of local circumstances, the justices had a panel of local men swear to the truth of a matter. Of course it was an improvement over trial by ordeal or combat.Many matters today are simply too complex for reasonable decisions to be rendered by anyone except experts. To think that I might find myself at risk of being deprived of life, liberty, or property by the sort of person who voted for our current President is intolerable.Around 1976, I read Louis Nizer’s My Life in Court. Nizer argued for the plaintiff in a civil case in which a professional had been egregiously negligent. Any reasonable verdict ought to have included enormous damages. In his summation, Nizer said the defendant’s indifference to his professional duty had been little short of criminal.When the verdict was read, the jury found for the plaintiff but, to Nizer’s astonishment, awarded an insultingly trivial sum. When Nizer asked why, it turned out that the whole time, the jury had never understood the difference between a civil and criminal trial. They could not evade the defendant’s obvious guilt, but when Nizer used the word “criminal” in his summation, they feared that if they awarded large damages, this would somehow result in a prison sentence for the defendant.I was summoned for jury duty in 1997 and spent 2 or 3 days reading in the jury room. Finally, I was called.The judge, who had the reputation of being a judicial lightweight whose wealthy family had purchased her judgeship, gave a languid description to the jury, in a barely audible voice, of the difference between a criminal standard of proof (“beyond a reasonable doubt”) and a civil standard (“preponderance of the evidence”). I would be amazed if one in 10 understood what she meant. I was tempted to just speak up and ask them, but of course, I would have been immediately held in contempt.The case was about a traffic accident. The judge allowed one of the attorneys to make a statement before the jurors that, as far as I could tell, immediately prejudiced the case and made a fair trial impossible before it began.Years later, that judge was forced into retirement when it was found that she was conducting her own investigation into a case before her court and actually visiting the home of one of the parties to demand information.The sheriff’s deputy who escorted us to that courtroom was found as a customer in a crack house a few weeks later, in uniform, with his service revolver by his side.This happened in a city of over half a million people.I was called again in 2012. This time, I served for half a day on a grand jury. That, too, was an eye-opener.We were warned that we were not there to try the case, but only to decide, upon presentation of basic facts, if a “true bill” existed (that is, if it seemed there was probable cause to return an indictment and hold a trial). I did not find most of the presentations convincing.For instance, a robbery had occurred at a Walmart. A black man had been apprehended nearby, running. Now he may have been the robber, or perhaps he was someone else altogether. I asked on what basis this black man had been detained. The very polite detective presenting the case said he was sorry, but he had not been involved and was only presenting these facts on someone else’s behalf. I voted “no true bill.” In this, as in the other cases we heard, almost all the jury seemed to simply rubber-stamp whatever the police said.The next witness, a female officer, was not so polite; she seemed to regard any questions as an impertinence. A gun had been found under the hood of a man’s car; it had been assumed it must be his, and his denial of ownership was ignored. I pointed out to the officer that I did not own a gun and asked what was to prevent some gun owner who had committed a crime from placing it under the hood of my car, only to be discovered by a surprised mechanic when I took my car to the dealer for servicing. I don’t recall her answer, only her smart, sarcastic attitude. My overall impression of the process was that the grand jury was expected to uncritically vote a true bill for insubstantial and poorly prepared cases.My third experience was for Federal jury duty. This judge seemed intent on badgering everyone, of any background or persuasion, to acknowledging that they could be objective in judging any case. He made a show of asking for people’s opinions but then simply ignored them. For instance, the case to be cried was a gun crime (but not a violent one), and I told him that my cousin’s two children had been shot to death by their stepfather just a few years before, and the judge still said “But you can be objective in this matter, yes?” I suspect many people answered “Yes” for fear that if they answered otherwise, they would be held in contempt, perhaps even jailed.One poor woman even spoke up and said she had Crohn’s disease, which would make her bathroom needs urgent and immediate, and the judge still said he thought it best if she would serve. I found his forcing her to admit such a thing publicly, disgusting.Despite the judge, the attorneys found ample reason to challenge me, and I was dismissed.I believe cases should be tried before mature, well-informed people of sound judgement and sufficient knowledge to evaluate the evidence. To think that such a group is likely to be discovered in today’s United States by the present jury selection system is simply laughable.
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