Burt’s Response to the Challenges of the Modern World
a. Recently received from two colleagues of my generation:
i. “I will only communicate by regular mail. If I used e-mail at work, people would drive me nuts;
ii. “Dear Mr. Hunter: In light of the volume of discovery filings you have made in our three cases of late, please to not fax me any more documents. I will accept only “regular mail”.
b. My immediate response to each of is my colleagues – read the article I wrote for a lawyer just setting up her office, “Hanging Out Your Shingle Isn’t for the Faint of Heart”: http://tinyurl.com/cb4k4sm. We are near to the time where using “regular mail” will be prima facie malpractice. What lawyer should want to double the length of his or her case by using the equivalent of “Pony Express” after the telegraph lines have been strung? (I will return to this subject in 25 short paragraphs or so.)
c. A third, younger, colleague refuses to communicate with unrepresented opposing parties, except by regular mai, l because “They might claim I said something I did not.” My response? I sat down with two people before Tuesday’s hearing, and we have a full, written, final, agreement to present to the court 1.5 hours later. Don’t be afraid to take some risks, or even to make mistakes. That’s how we learn.
Early tool for genetic engineering
d. Two friends recently mentioned, with concern, the genetically engineered wheat found growing in South Dakota. My FB Friend said, “I only want food God created, not food made by the hands of Man”. I avoided the, “But God made our hands reparte’, but I could not help but point out that we have been modifying our foods, even genetically for at least the last 10,000 years, and the environment where that food is grown for eons.
e. These people are scared and frustrated.
f. Change is stressful, as is the constant need to learn and grow. People like their comfort zones.
g. An article in Wired Magazine reveals that advertisers are gathering vast data on us, to the point we can walk into a store, be identified, and even have an electronic billboard flash an ad tailored to us as we walk by.
h. The C.B.S. news program 60 Minutes presented a woman who can guide her robotic arm with her thoughts. Now they are working on a wireless interface. 60 Minutes, in my opinion, is the best there is on a major network. Hmmm……I wonder if my friend who is against genetically engineered wheat would leave this one to God too?
i. A computer scientist has acquired a 1.5 billion dollar budget for a project to replicate the human brain. Science fiction writers have been dealing with this theme since Frankenstein.
Another form of hand tool believed to have been used by “Homo Leathermanius”
j. Scientists are decoding the human genome. (Old news; that started with Watson and Crick’s discovery of DNA in 1953, as Watson will tell you in his T.E.D. lecture.)
k. Genetic ethicists have begun the debate about making species “un-extinct”, the Great Auk, The Passenger Pigeon, and even the Woolly Mammoth; how neat is that? No current technology is likely to bring back T Rex, but stay tuned.
l. I recently cited a book that proposes that we attack the human aging process, with lifetimes of 200 years, and more, real possibility in the foreseeable future. “Long For This World – The Strange Science of Immortality” by Jonathan Weiner. According to the author, the key enemy to living forever is cancer. Cancer is referred to as “The Emperor of All Maladies – A Biography of Cancer” by Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee. I hope my friends who are against modified wheat, are not against the gene research what will dethrone the Emperor.
m. Manufacturing of tablets and pads will soon exceed laptops, which recently began outselling desktops, which became popular in the early 1980’s. Hmmm…….I think I detect a pattern.
n. Even third world societies are being transformed by cell phones. “Smart Phones” are powerful computers; the difference between them and pads will become negligible.
o. The gulf between “modern thinkers” (who believe in logic and science over ‘faith’) and the masses (who believe in faith, or not much at all) actually seems to be growing, to wit:
i. Many of us welcome the “Moslem Spring”, but I predict that these fundamentalist revolts will not lead to enlightened, tolerant, modern, democracies. Strangely, they are using social media and the Internet to bring on a revolution to install their religion and the rule of law.
ii. Fear and ignorance are driving people to radical politics and extremism. If you believe you have the only “truth”, you tend to believe in extreme methods to achieve your goals.
iii. Instant communication allows people with evil intent to influence the intellectually weak and vulnerable.
iv. Brilliant but twisted people can turn the Internet to their own purposes.
n. The time of mass media’s sending one message, whether it be Leave it to Beaver, Andy Griffith, the national political conventions, or man landing on the moon, is over.
o. Now, a person can live within Facebook and endless kitty pictures and bingo games, or video games, or porn, or even Martha Stewart! It takes a real effort to be intellectually curious, but if you are, there is a cornucopia of information awaiting you.
p. A good friend of mine carefully limits his intake of information to liberal political messages and religious writings. His FB posts are countered by other Face Bookers who carefully limit their intake to Fox news and diatribes from the right.
q. My support of Senator Manchin’s gun registration bill, the ONE bill with a chance of passage, earned me a rant, at the barber shop and on Facebook, from the Second Amendment fanatics threatening an armed rebellion if it passed! These people believe the propaganda of mouthpiece of gun manufacturers, the NRA. They want no knowledge outside of their small world view.
r. Fear of change seems to be fueling religious fundamentalism. The “Kansas Crazies”, as I call them, demonstrated a few years back at the Sago Mine disaster memorial service at WV Wesleyan College in Buckhannon for the idea that our coal miners died because our WV Supreme Court of Appeal awarded custody of a five year old boy, “Clifford K.”, to a gay parent.
s. Pat Robertson applied similar logic to the tornadoes in Oklahoma and to Hurricane Sandy. What would Jesus say about that?
t. As I say above, revolutions by Muslim fundamentalists in the middle east, against primarily secular dictators, are being welcomed by many, but I see little chance that those revolutionaries will create tolerant, democratic, societies in their stead. Intolerant societies who believe they have the truth and the duty to spread the truth are bound to be aggressive and to breed terrorists and “militants”. This is a development that should concern us all.
u. Drug cartels, Internet stealing, child porn, organized crime, computer espionage, and gang activities are all thriving in the Age of the Internet.
v. In order to survive in relative safety, people will have to give up much of their privacy. Security cameras will spread to most public, and not so public places. Our e-mails will be accessible to the authorities. Our Facebook record will soon be impossible to expunge, like our DNA. Google Map multi-lens cameras well see us down to the tiniest of scales.
w. A Facebook friend, just today, announced he is going to censor his conservative commentaries because “they” are going to be watching. He won’t stick to that.
x. Our movements will be easy to track unless we want to give up the convenience our devices provide us. Those of us who give up our devices will not have the ability to impact their world and to thrive that the people who master them will.
y. Television is changing rapidly. Channels multiply, quality deteriorates, reality shows grow proliferate. Believe it or not, I was recently auditioned for my own national reality t.v. show.
z. Public attendance at ball games, auto races, concerts and the like will dwindle. Just look at the stands of a NASCAR or Indy Car race, or any sport except football or men’s basketball. Nearly empty.
aa. Last night on the news, I learned at a family night at the baseball park can cost $200-$500! Disney World now costs $95 per person (over 10 years old) per day. Universal Studios is $85.
bb. Who watches the national news? Apparently people who need laxatives, pain meds, sexual stimulants, “reverse mortgages”, and adult diapers! That last one hurts.
cc. What are young people watching? I don’t know. They are in their world, and “we” are in ours.
dd. Back to my colleagues who I mentioned above; my advice?
a. Just get a modern multi-function machine. Receive your faxes/e-mailed documents into digital storage. Transfer those documents to your client’s digital file. Save postage, paper, and time. Move toward the goal of the paperless office.
b. Use e-mail at work, and any tool that makes you more efficient. You are supposed to be accessible to your clients. Set up some rules, but prepare for a new world where you will communicate by e-mail 100 times a day. You may find you do more in an hour that 3 months’ worth of snail mail.
c. If you represent a person against an unrepresented adversary, fulfill your responsibilities, suck it up, and treat that person with respect and skill.
d. This is not brain surgery or rocket science. Most of us lawyers are here because we aren’t smart enough to do the latter.
To anyone who has stayed with me this far, I suggest we all “live an examined life, push back from the table from all that bad food and all of that “junk thought”. Use technology to give you access to the whole world. Study, learn, broaden yourself, be open and brave, but careful, even cautious. Always be open to innovation, new ideas, change, and progress. Do not hide under a rock. “Faith” may be the only solution for many, but being a “modern thinker” must eventually prevail if we are to survive.
This post was written by Burton Hunter