Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

December 18, 2012

RANDOM THOUGHTS: Communications have changed

By Dorothy Copus Brush
Chronicle correspondent

CROSSVILLE — Not far from Crossville an infant was born near Byrdstown in a rented log cabin in 1871. From those humble beginnings Cordell Hull gradually grew interested in law and politics. He studied at Cumberland University of Law in Lebanon, TN and then was elected state representative in 1892 and again in 1894. After serving in the Spanish American War he was elected in 1906 to serve in Congress. From that time until his death in 1955 he served his country in Washington, D.C.

Cordell Hull remains a significant figure in world history and yet few people today, even in Tennessee, recognize the name. But there are good reasons to remember.

He helped draft the Federal Income Tax Law in 1913 and in 1916 the Inheritance Tax Law. In 1933 he was chosen by FDR to be the Secretary of State and remained in that position for eleven years.

Early in January 1941, our ambassador in Tokyo informed Hull that in case of war a massive surprise attack would be made on Pearl Harbor. This information was passed on to the president and both the Army and Navy. For the rest of the year negotiations to preserve peace continued.

Hull was to meet with two Japanese officials on December 7. They delayed the time from 1300 to 1345 and finally appeared at 1420. Our espionage had picked up the message Tokyo was relaying to the two. It told  the attack on Pearl Harbor was underway but FDR phoned Hull with the same news just as they appeared for the meeting. They handed the official message to Hull and started to speak but an angry Secretary of State held his hand up and waved them out of the office accusing them of lies.

In 1945 he received the Nobel Prize for Peace. Cordell Hull worked

tirelessly to establish what eventually became the United Nations.  Although

a significant figure in world history when people on the street or students in a classroom are asked who was Cordell Hull they have no idea. Would the world of tweeting and twittering have made a difference?

Hard to believe even the Pope has been caught up in this latest rage. He is tweeting and twittering. This whole new world is only six years old. Twitter came into being March 21, 2006 after a “daylong brainstorming session” by board members of the podcasting company Odeo.

They were searching for a social tool to microblog broadcasts of daily short burst messages to the world. In today’s attention-deficit population they decided a short message using only 140  characters or less was important. Twitter became the tool to send tweets.

In the first year they reported 400,000 tweets a quarter. By their 6th birthday in March 2012, they had 140 million users sending 340,000 tweets daily!

Though they have had a short life their logo has been upgraded three times. The first was a simple twitter with the letters in blue. In 2010 the logo was redesigned and twitter was in black but a bird colored blue was added. It became known as Larry the bird and many believed was a salute to the basket ball star Larry Bird. In June of 2012 the third redesign is just a lone blue bird.

Even though this way of communicating is new it has proved to be dangerous. Auto accidents increased because drivers were trying to tweet while driving. Even worse more and more pedestrians are being killed or injured because they are so involved with tweeting they cross busy streets without paying any attention to signs or traffic.

Only time will tell what changes await communicators. Mark Twain cautioned, “If you have nothing to say, say nothing.”

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Dorothy Copus Brush is a Fairfield Glade resident and Crossville Chronicle staffwriter whose column is published each Wednesday. She may be reached at