The much-hyped new Star Trek movie has many people talking and writing this week. That includes my pal Bob Greenberger, whose blog (http://www.bobgreenberger.com/), discusses Gene Roddenberry's original concept of extrapolating a 23rd century based on what futurists foresaw in 1966. Certainly much of the technology we have today looks a lot like things we saw on the show, from flip-phone communicators to computer-accessed data bases to hand-held electronic "books."
One thing that seems to have been lost in the march to the future (in the original series, its successors, and the current film) is our concern for safety. We live in a time when we have people riding bicycles and playing sports while wearing helmets, knee pads and elbow pads. Cars are equipped with front airbags, side airbags, roof airbags and warning devices that alert us of an imminent collision. Yet, despite encounters with hostile aliens, meteors, and "space anomalies," all of which have sent the crew members flying out of their chairs, the 23rd century is devoid of seat belts!
What could this mean? Lawsuits for work-related injuries must have been outlawed and the future has no place for 1-800-LAWYERS.
One of the lead news items on AOL this morning is about two women in Oregon who, after fifty-six years, have had DNA testing to confirm that they were in fact switched at birth. One of the women said that when she heard the news she cried because "my life wasn't my life." The other said, "I'm trying to move forward and look at the positive."
Well, it's not like one of them grew up the daughter of billionaires and the other lived in a refrigerator box on the side of the highway. Each of them grew up in a small town in Oregon, got married, had children and grandchildren. Their lives, despite the comment, are their lives.
Yes, they can speculate what it would have been like to grow up with the family they were born to rather than the one they were "adopted" by, but that's about all. It's fifty-six years later, ladies; you are who you are and I'm sure there are "nature-versus-nurture" researchers who would love to talk to you both.
The news story also said that the hospital has offered counseling services, which both women refused. Somewhere, though, I'll bet there is a lawyer gleefully rubbing his hands together and saying. "I smell a lawsuit!"
Speaking of lawyers (which seems to be a recurring theme today), there was an article a few years ago in U.S. News & World Report that noted the increased percentage of female attorneys in the country. In the early 1970s, less than 10% of the 300,000 lawyers in the country were women. Twenty-five years later, however, their numbers had increased to 27% of the total -- some 270,000 of the 1 million attorneys were women.
What the article ignored was the fact that, in a quarter century, the number of lawyers in the country had more than tripled! (The current estimate is that there are now 1,150,000.) What are all these people actually doing? Whatever it is, is there almost four times as much of it as there was in 1975? And is "1-800-LAWYERS" more than a phone number, telling us, in fact, that there are 1,800 lawyers sitting by the phone waiting for us to call?
And finally,since I can't seem to escape the topic today anyway, there is the line from William Shakespeare: "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." It is frequently quoted, and, just as it was when I heard it used a couple of days ago, it is almost always out of context.
The quote comes from Henry VI, Part 2 and a scene in which Jack Cade is talking about a revolution that will put himself in charge. His underling, Dick the butcher, is the one who speaks the line and Cade agrees. In order to take control, he must eliminate those who would be able to challenge him.
There were undoubtedly fewer of them back then, making the plan feasible. These days, not so much...