Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Law Professor's GPS

I finally have a car with a talking GPS.I have many complaints about it.  Mostly it is culturally insensitive. For example, the speaker might say, "turn left in 400 yards." Suppose, though, I were a country boy. Wouldn't it be better for her to say, "Bubba, when you get on down the road aways, hang a left." Or, if I had the low self-esteem model I want to hear after a turn, "Excellent" or "you are such a good driver." In fact, just periodically she could say, "I am still here and you are doing fine." There are so many variations. If Valley Girls is still relevant concept how about, "like really! how about making a right turn." For the hippie, "Duuuuude, if you want to a right turn in 400 yards would be like groovy. I'm just sayin."

 The biggest problem is that law professors cannot possible understand what she means. I want something a bit more Socratic:"Which direction do you think you should turn" and then, "Ok, but suppose your destination is on other side of town?" And then, "But why would you want to go there in the first place.And, then, "so what is the answer? turn left or right?

 Or she could do what many law professor do when a student gives exactly the wrong answer in class, "Yes, that is wonderful and thoughtful turn but think about the possibility that we could improve that analysis by considering two right turns." Or for the law professor who is even more sensitive it would be "Please consider making a right turn but first 'how does that make you feel?'"

 If you are law prof with a strong sense of entitlement her lack of indirection and sensitivity to status must be quite upsetting.  For example, what is this with "prepare to make a right turn in 400 yards" or "make a right turn now." Does she know to whom she is speaking? Does she even know that "to whom" is used correctly in the previous sentence. Frankly, I think apologies may be in order. The one I dislike the most is "make a U-turn." The implication is that I have made a mistake. That, we know, is not possible. Why doesn't she say, "I am pretty sure you are going the right way but just to placate my anal propensities would you consider turning around?" Or better yet, "Professor, you have made an excellent turn but I have some concerns about reconciling that turn with the destination you entered."  Or even better than that, "You are right, I am wrong, St. Augustine is west of Gainesville. Please forgive me."

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