No, Virginia, you can’t believe anything you read “on the Internet,” except of course that there is a Santa Claus.
In this political campaign season (365 days a year), I hope you have learned not to believe much of what you hear, read, or see online, or on the grapevine, or through a beery haze without first doing some serious fact-checking.
This admonition to fact-check also applies to any rumors about your county law library:
The law library is closing? (Maybe, maybe not.)
A former Umatilla County Law Librarian said during a discussion about the importance of public law libraries:
“The folks who cannot pay for a private attorney and cannot get a legal aid attorney are already disadvantaged in being forced to be self represented. With the law library, they have a slim chance at self representation, but it is at least a chance. Without a public law library, they have no hope of achieving any sort of justice at all…. What is the point of operating court facilities if the system doesn’t work for everyone? ”
From a report on access to justice in Oregon:
“There is significant unmet need for outreach, community education and access to easily used, high quality self-help materials…. Lower income people obtain legal assistance for their problems less than 20% of the time.” (From, The State of Access to Justice in Oregon, by D. Michael Dale, published in 2000, sponsored by the Oregon State Bar, the Oregon Judicial Department, and former Governor John Kitzhaber.)
I was reading the Rex Stout novel (League of Frightened Men, with Nero Wolfe) and came across this wonderful, and largely forgotten, word: prestidigitation (see also Word of the Day a few years ago.)
Isn’t this what a lot of us do, especially “digital” librarians (without the deceit, of course)?
Ye old, “trust, but verify” cliché that many, most, attribute to Ronald Reagan, and that one hears way too often nowadays, surely goes back much further than Reagan, and likely even further back than the first place I read a version of it. It is certainly a turn of phrase that could easily be lifted (as have most of all our best lines :-) and used in other contexts, not excluding election campaigns:
Winston Churchill’s, “The Hinge of Fate,” 1950, Houghton Mifflin edition, page 687:
“…. Memories of the war may be vivid and true, but should never be trusted without verification, especially where the sequence of events is concerned.”
It occurred to me recently that I don’t like the word victim and don’t want ever to be called one, unless I’m not around to argue the point, in which case you can call me whatever you want. I hear and read so many stories about incredible people who I would prefer to call survivors or maybe alpha victims, though that’s not quite right either. You know the ones I mean, the ones who fight back, who stand up, who won’t let the bxxxxxxs get them down, etc. The bicyclist who stages a sting to get his stolen bicycle back, the rape survivor who braves a trial, a daughter who tracks down the man who shot her father, parents, family members and friends of survivors who figure out how to make the world a better place after the loss or injury of someone beloved, and so many other role models. We’re not to know what we’ll do on the other side of tragedy, but I’d like to think, if I had a choice (and not all tragedies give us one), I’d be one of those incredible survivors, rather than a victim, put upon, defeated, traumatized, passive. We need a better word.
Two very different books come to mind when I think about this, in addition to the stories I hear and read in the news. One is “Revenge,” by Laura Blumenfeld, an incredible story (I first heard Blumenfeld on Studio 360). The other, oddly enough, is “About Alice,” by Calvin Trillin. Among the other well-known joys of reading Trillin and his ever present, delightful puzzlement over the ways of the world, is his telling of some new Alice stories. The most extraordinary is the one he tells of a letter Alice wrote to a friend’s daughter who was raped. Trillin writes about Alice and her letter to their friend’s daughter (and please forgive me if I suffered confusion over quotation marks).
“This was a dozen years after Alice had been operated on for lung cancer, and among the things that she wrote to our friend’s daughter was that having lung cancer and being raped were comparable only in that both were what she called ‘realizations of our worst nightmares.’ She said that there was some relief at surviving what you might have thought was not survivable. ‘No one would ever choose to have cancer or to be raped,’ she wrote. ‘But you don’t get to choose, and it is possible at least to understand what Ernest Becker meant when he said something like “To live fully is to live with an awareness of the rumble of terror that underlies everything,” or to begin to understand the line in “King Lear” – “Ripeness is all.” You might have chosen to become ripe less dramatically or dangerously, but you can still savor ripeness.’” (Trillin, “About Alice,” 2006, pp. 8-9)
The exact quote, “Keyes finds that quotations tend to mutate in the direction of greater pith,” is from Louis Menand’s New Yorker book review of the “Oxford Book of Quotations,” by Fred Shapiro (author of the “Oxford Book of American Legal Quotations,” among others – and, by way of disclaimer, a boss of mine in a former life)
Doesn’t everyone enjoy a Good Quote now and again? And it’s even better if you can trust the source.
Also from Menand’s review:
No Excuses – it’s time to think about technology and your law practice: “When I meet someone in a bar, in a meeting or at the bar during a meeting and they give me a business card with an email address @aol.com, @juno.com or @prodigy.net – I wince. No kidding, I have a client who files bankruptcies through the CM/ECF as “bestguy68@_.com. I beg him to change it all the time – to let me help him – he won’t. Why? Because his wife likes it and because he just had 500 business cards printed! I can only help those who want to be helped. ” This quotation is from an excellent blog by someone who teaches lawyers and others some basic technology and business truths and skills. Now personally, I would have given her blog a better (er, more professional?) name, but we’ll cut her some slack. There’s a lot of useful information here for those of you who absolutely must stop thinking that “technology is cool.” It is, but if you have a business to run, it’s not. It’s a tool and must be managed with the same care and professionalism you use in other parts of your business. Thanks to Ernie the Attorney, always a class act, for the link.