Author Archives: Midlaw

I am the past Managing Partner at Brooks Pierce McLendon Humphrey & Leonard, a law firm with 95 attorneys in offices in Greensboro, Raleigh and Wilmington, North Carolina. I also have roles at Guilford College, Westtown School, the NC IOLTA Plan, the Tannenbaum-Sternberger Foundation, The Greensboro Public Library Foundation and the NC Bar Association and Legal Aid of NC. For many years a resident of Greensboro, I am a native of Tarboro and Edgecombe County. I have a taste for and interest in hummus, which is extensively exercised in this blog.

WUNC to broadcast interview with Brian Lampkin about The Tarboro Three

The Tarboro Three will be a lead story on WUNC’s The State of Things next Tuesday (August 20) at noon.

Frank Stasio will interview author and former Tarboro resident Brian Lampkin about Brian’s recent book, The Tarboro Three: Rape, Race, and Secrecy (Scuppernong Editions/2019).

The Tarboro Three is of interest for the story itself of course, but it’s also worth reading to see how a Tarboro immigrant, now emigrant, observed and now interprets Tarboro.

The interview will air on Tuesday, but then it’ll be posted on WUNC’s website as a podcast after that. WUNC is on “terrestrial radio” at 91.5 FM in the Chapel Hill/Raleigh/Durham area; at 88.9 FM from Manteo, serving the North East outer banks and coastal communities; at 91.9 from Fayetteville; at 91.1 just south of Winston-Salem in the Welcome, NC, area; and, at 90.9 FM from Rocky Mount.

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Lawyers, information, intelligence (organic and artificial), which is primary?

I’ve come across three articles today that grapple with artificial intelligence.

One says that automation and artificial intelligence will take over all human jobs within 125 years (half in the next 25 years). Another says, well, OK, but lawyers have at least 7 skills that no machine will ever take. And the third says that all routine lawyer jobs will be taken by the machines, but maybe not the exceptional, non-routine, jobs.

All businesses will be (are) information in some fashion. Virtually all information can be digitized. Ultimately, all that information will be obtained, accessed, and understood by means of automation and artificial intelligence.

Virtually all evidence in virtually all business and commercial cases will be obtained and accessed as it comes into being. Discovery will be completed before there is a complaint.

The role of lawyers will be something new. Or, maybe it’s more accurate to say that the role of lawyers will go back to the origins of the profession.

One of those articles says, “Lawyers Are in the Information Business. Get Over It.”

Maybe instead, information companies are in the law business.

 

Contronyms: at the frontiers of language

Somewhere in Southern California, there’s a lady named Judith Herman.  She’s got a blog: Lexie Kahn, Word Snooper. Her snoop is “Lexie Kahn, Private Etymologist.”

Herman is doing good work.

She’s published “25 Words That Are Their Own Opposites;” and “16 More Words That Are Their Own Opposites.” Others are on this trail. Somebody posted “20 Words That Are Their Own Opposites.” Grammarly posted 75 Contronyms (Words with Contradictory Meanings)

Words that mean exactly what they don’t mean.

Go English!

 

 

Basil is for Idiots

Basil is for idiots, but pesto

basil_genovese-plantOver the millennia, the peoples of the Mediterranean have learned a simple but profound truth: Almost anything goes better with olive oil, garlic and a little salt. Maybe some lemon juice. Over time, they realized that, if you have the oil, the garlic, and the salt, then you can just go out into the back yard, scoop up almost anything that’s green and fresh, and mash that up with the oil and garlic and have something good to eat …  although, if you try this, things will go a lot better if you have some basil or parsley in your yard.

Which of course brings the discussion to pesto and pistou and persillade and green sauce. It’s time to get ready.

With fresh basil, you can have the best pesto. The good news is: any idiot can raise good, fresh, plentiful basil.

All basil wants is a lot of sunshine, plenty to drink and a well-drained place to sit. (Basil and I are a lot alike.) You can have all the fresh basil you want – at trifling cost.

It’s a little amazing how many different recipes are described as the one for “classic” pesto, and it’s daunting to observe the near-religious fervor that infuses notes and articles about it. Just put “pesto recipe” into your search engine and push the button.

Remember what Bobby Bare said: “Just buy you some basil and plant it by June, and you’ll be a rocking and a rolling soon.”

Mulebus – Leggett, where school busing – mulebusing – began?

Not Leggett in fact, but in concept

The history of public education in North Carolina is documented. Charles Lee Smith, The History of Education in North Carolina, Bob Etheridge, The History of Education in North Carolina, Benjamin R. Justesen & Scott Mathews, Public Education.

What’s not documented so well is the history of public education in small places in North Carolina. In the late 19th and early 20th Century, small places provided public education for themselves (albeit, on a racially and not equal discriminatory basis). They had small schools, one-room schools, no grade levels, one teacher per school. Out in the country, local citizens provided room and board in their homes for the teachers. Everything was close and personal.

Leggett was such a community: a small place in a remote corner of a county whose prominence was fading with the end of the Civil War. Small and remote? Yes – but even so, for Lower Fishing Creek Township, Leggett was uptown. For all northwest Edgecombe County.

Leggett had its own School Board early on. When the time came for consolidation of one-room schools, Leggett was among the leaders. Lower Fishing Creek. Upper Fishing Creek. With consolidation came the need to bring the students to school. Busing.

Leggett claims to be where school busing began in North Carolina. They did it with mules.

Soup in milk cartons — Spanish; fortune awaits at Greensboro Farmers Market

These Spaniards sell fresh soups, chilled, in the likes of milk cartons in their grocery stores. Sometimes in bottles, like milk bottles. Salmorejo, gazpacho, ajoblanco. Wonderful, highly flavorful, fresh cold soups.

Maybe they do this in grocery stores in the US. I am not a good shopper. Often I don’t see what’s there.

I suppose it’s a close call, but when you can get such soups, so fresh, so easily, and so economically, with little or no chemicals, why would you go to the trouble to make them yourself?

Maybe we could get them at the Farmers Market? They’d need coolers. Like they do for seafood and and chickens.

If not, you’d want to learn to make your own ajoblanco.

Octopuses

Octopuses, they say, have nervous systems that differ radically from ours (us vertebrates). Clusters of nerve endings are located around their bodies and among their many legs. Those nerve junctions can operate independently. They don’t need to send every bit of information back to a central brain. They coordinate directly and independently of brain central.

This makes them quick, resilient and smart in a special way.

We don’t entirely understand them and their angle on consciousness.

In light of this, should we be eating them? With mashed potatoes and alioli?

Fidueà, sepia, creatures from the sea

MidLaw Has returned to the Mediterranean coast of Spain.

These people have a genius for dragging strange creatures from the sea then ingesting them.

The creation of fidueà may have been Spain’s finest hour in the 20th Century. The daring to put the first cuttlefish into the mouth, whatever the century, the most courageous.

They find and boat creatures of the sea, bring them to shore right away, deliver them off their boats little more than 10 yards (maybe meters) to the restaurants, where they cook’em. You eat’em. There. Then.

What a concept.

There’s a fortune awaiting the restaurateur who first brings fideuà to the Carolina coast.

New book about Tarboro, worth a close look

Two weeks ago Brian Lampkin’s book came out. The Tarboro Three: Rape, Race, and Secrecy.

No time yet to read it, but MidLaw has given it a heavy skim. The publisher’s blurb sets it in line with Blood Done Sign My Name, Oxford’s “raw mix of memoir and history.” And no story of race, sex, and the legal system set in a small Southern town can be without its relationship to To Kill a Mockingbird.

A preliminary skim suggests that The Tarboro Three looks well written, fair minded, and after bigger game than simply recounting news stories or skewering villains. Lampkin, who wrote for the Daily Southerner for a time and is now in Greensboro, recaptures much of what set Tarboro apart from similar small places — its history, its legends, the people, and its racial culture — and displays them in the light of an awful event.

Looks like he saw complexity and decency as well as injustice and drama. His book is worth a close look.

The march of 21st Century banking law — hermeneutics exposed

Lalita Clozel at the Wall Street Journal is reporting that:

Fed Vice Chairman for Supervision Randal Quarles said the agency’s policies on bank control have been difficult to parse, except for people “who have spent a long apprenticeship in the subtle hermeneutics of Federal Reserve lore, receiving the wisdom of their elders through oral tradition.

Wall Street Journal, April 24, 2019, Lalita Clozel, “Fed Moves to Ease Rules for Bank Investors.”

So, the Federal Reserve is promulgating new rules intended to elucidate (and loosen) its bank control policies. And so begins the lustration of yet another once tidy and “pleasantly remunerative” corner of MidLaw’s erstwhile law practice. 

This must be among the final steps in eradicating law practices where obscure practitioners could dispense subtle hermeneutics for a fee. Shame that.

O tempora, o algorismi!

 

Cartoon by P.C. Vey, New Yorker, March 9, 2009