Tag Archives: robots

Do You Swear??

As far as I was concerned “yuck” was not a swear word, and I didn’t think that
tearing the label off an empty tin can created indecent exposure, but that was before
my alien friend KB-11.2, filled me in on the finer points of galactic decency.
Kaybe and I were having a soft drink together at The Enchantment, a dingy
roadhouse north of Letongaloosa. The Enchantment is the kind of joint that college towns
like Letongaloosa must have to qualify for academic accreditation.
My alien friend Kaybe isn’t one of those scary bug-eyed, green-skinned beings
that you see in sci-fi movies.. Kaybe looks like a giant tuna fish can. Erector Set® arms
sprout from the curved sides of his body, and three spindly metal legs drop from the flat
underside of his stainless steel torso. He has ball bearing wheels for feet. Three sensoreyes
wave at you from the ends of floppy antennae on the top of his lid.
No one at The Enchantment even raises an eyebrow when Kaybe rolls in and
joins me at one of the back booths. Customers are used to seeing unusual folks around
the place.
One night Kaybe and I were chatting in our favorite booth when Recycle Rick
came in carrying a big black garbage bag.. Rick picks up cans and bottles along the
highway. He starts in town and when he gets to the Enchantment he stops in to sort
everything. Then he mooches a ride back to town.
Rick is meticulous. He takes the items out of the big bag one by one, tidies them
up, and sorts them. Then he puts them into smaller plastic bags. He knows all the recycle
rules and regulations.
On the night in question, Recycle Rick came in and set up shop right across from
Kaybe and me. The first item he pulled from the bag was covered with mud. “Yuck,”
said Rick, and wiped away the mud .
“He shouldn’t swear like that,” said Kaybe.
“Yuck,” isn’t a swear word,” I said.
“It certainly is,” said Kaybe. “The Commission on Foul Communication has
banned that word throughout the galaxy. All it would take is a complaint from an alert
cosmic citizen and that guy’s communication license would be jerked, and he’d face a
seventy thousand mazimba fine.”
“Recycle Rick doesn’t have a communication license,” I said.
“Of course he has a communication license,” said Kaybe. “Everyone in the
galaxy has a communication license. Every word you say goes far beyond these walls.
Your words go out into space. Children on other planets could be listening.”
“So, if I say, @#$%^ and someone turns me in, I can be censured by the Galactic
Commission of Foul Communication?”
“No,” said Kaybe.
“Why not?”
“Because ‘@#$%^’ isn’t a swear word.”
“But ‘yuck’ is?”
“Yes, of course, everyone knows that.”
“I didn’t know that, and Recycle Rick certainly doesn’t. Mild mannered Rick
would never swear.”
Just then Rick pulled out an empty tomato juice can from his bag and began
ripping the label off.
Kaybe rotated away and lowered his antennae with their three sensor-eyes to
the table in a gesture of acute embarrassment.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“You saw that,” said Kaybe. “He stripped that tin can bare. It’s indecent. I can’t
“You can look now,” I said, “he put it in a sack. You’re weird.”
Kaybe raised his antennae from the table and winked at me with one of his three
“You’re jerking me around,” I said.
“Guilty as charged,” said Kaybe.
“So ‘yuck’ is not a swear word?”
“Not in this galaxy.”
“And there’s no Galactic Commission on Foul Communication?”
“Oh there is, but it doesn’t concern itself with words like ‘yuck.’ The Galactic
Commission on Foul Communication deals with such reprehensible terms as ‘federal
regulator,’ ‘plausible deniability,’ ‘social justice,’ ‘politically expedient solutions,’
‘federally mandated diversity,’ ‘combatant rendition,’ ‘enhanced interrogation
techniques,’ and the like.”
“People on Earth use those terms all the time and the Galactic Commission on
Foul Language has never done anything about it,” I said.
“You live on a third-world world,” said Kaybe. “The commission doesn’t waste its
efforts on backward planets like Earth.”
“Lucky for us,” I said.
“If you say so,” said Kaybe.”

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Hadley & the Robo Caller



Mark Twain’s 19th century quote, “Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it,” has a 21st century counterpart:  “Everybody complains about robocalls but nobody does anything about them.”  That was true  until Hadley Wilkins decided he was sick and tired of getting robocalls.

Hadley Wilkins is the electronic genius.  You’ll probably recall that it was Hadley who made super hacker Henry Histoid  stop hacking residential cell phones all over the country.

It’s a fact that thousands of people have called to complain about robocallers—those electronic phone nuisances who call several times a week.  Ring!  You answer, a robo voice says, “Please press one now.”  When you press “one” and wait a bit, a live operator tells you he/she can do something good for you like cut your credit card interest rate.   Next the operator asks for the number on your credit card.   Then you’re done.

Consumer support organizations can’t shut down the robo callers because the robo calls are produced by untraceable digital auto-dialing machines. It doesn’t do you any good to be on the national “Do Not Call” registry.   Robocallers ignore the registry ban. Robo call centers make  thousands of calls a day.  You can’t avoid robocalls with “caller ID” because robocallers use technology to disguise the originating phone number.

One day, Hadley said,  “I’ve had it.”

He designed a robocall system of his own.  Hadley’s robocall message was a loud “btfsplk.”  That’s the sound you make when someone has  annoyed you and you stick your tongue between your pursed lips and blow out air. Some people call “btfsplk,”  a  “Bronx cheer.”

Once Hadley perfected the “btfsplk,”-sound, he found the  name and personal phone number of Cody Wolfeson, the chief executive officer of the nation’s largest robocall corporation. Mr. Wolfeson received Hadley’s robocall on his personal phone about five minutes after he got home from work.   He checked the caller ID.  It was blank.  He ALWAYS got a caller ID.

“What the….?”  Said Wolfeson and pressed the answer button.

A loud “btfsplk,” came  from the earpiece. “If you would like to hear this message again, please press “one” now.  If you wish to cancel any further ‘btfsplk,’ calls, please press “nine” now.”  An angry Wolfeson pressed nine.

A raucous braying sound erupted from the phone.  Wolfeson pressed the “off” button.   The phone remained on and connected to the   to the robo call.  “That was frustrating, wasn’t it?” the voice on the phone said. Then, “If you wish to hear a pig grunt, please press ‘seven’ now.  If you wish to hear a rooster crow please press ‘five,’ now.”  Enraged, Wolfeson hurled the phone across the room.  It struck a far wall and fell to the floor.  The robo voice continued to rise from the plastic shards that remained of the phone…

Wolfeson carried the shards to the garage, slammed them on the cement floor and tromped on them.  The voice continued.

By now Wolfeson was thoroughly spooked.

“What do you want?”  he screamed at the ghostly robo voice.

“Stop robo calling my home,” said the voice.

“Who ARE you? asked Wolfeson.

“I’m an angry citizen who your benighted company has been calling three times a day.”

“But who ARE you?  How can I stop the calls if I don’t know who you are?

“You’re an electronic genius, figure it out.  You have forty-eight hours.  If you don’t stop robo calling my phone, every business you work with, every person you know will get “btfsplk,” calls from me. Goodbye.”

The ruined phone went silent.

That night Wolfeson assembled a crack team of robo call experts and gave them the task of shutting off  robo calls to “the voice’s” phone.  Thirty six hours into the project they had narrowed the possible phones to several thousand, but could make no more progress.

“Stop robo calls to all of those phones,” ordered Wolfeson.  “I don’t care what it costs the company.”

After 48 hours with no call from the voice Wolfeson decided he was safe.  It was only then that he gave orders to limit robo calls to any one phone to two.

But Hadley never got another one.



Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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