Tag Archive: Barack Obama


Autocorrect

I received an intriguing text from a friend last night. After asking her “What are you doing?” she answered “Norman.” I found this more than a little disconcerting, because the only Norman we know is the Pekingese owned by the couple downstairs. Thankfully, I soon got her follow-up text: “Oops, I meant ‘nothing.’ Damn autocorrect.” I breathed a sigh of relief, and I’m sure Norman did too.

While masquerading as a technological boon, smartphones have in fact plunged us into an era of disruption and uncertainty, quite similar to post-WWI Germany or post-Palin English. Thanks to affordable Bluetooth headsets that allow users to talk to themselves while walking down the street, it’s no longer possible to distinguish between Wall Street tycoons and other crazy people. Pedestrians engrossed in conversation are regularly walking into walls and falling into open manholes. And with real angry birds having lost their ability to frighten us, there’s been a drastic increase in dry cleaning bills.

But the biggest changes wrought by smartphones are caused by autocorrect. For the uninitiated, autocorrect inserts the word your phone believes you meant to type. For example, if you write, “I hopy to see you soon,” your iPhone will correct it to “I hope to see you soon.” Of course, if you write, “I lve Microsoft Word,” your iPhone will also correct it to “I hope to see you soon.” My friend’s Blackberry autocorrects our president’s name to “Ba Rack Obert.” That’s supposed to be smart? Even Hank Williams Jr. knows that “Barack Obama” translates to “Adolf Hitler” (are YOU ready for some political football, Hank?).

Tragically, autocorrect has essentially eradicated the drunk text. Previously, when I received such messages as “PAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARTEE” or “Houw aree u?” or “I drunk,” I could infer that my friend was inebriated and in need of a) a ride home, b) a breath mint or c) someone to record everything he did so his impression of T-Pain hosting “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me” can be seen on YouTube by potential employers. Now, however, those messages are as lucid as can be. “Norman feels terrible,” I read, “but he has found someone else with whom to share his love of Chaucer.” Meanwhile, the texts I get from sober people read as though they were written by a Pekingese. I spent three days trying to track down a helmet and headlamp only to find out the hard way that my weekend plans with friends centered on “speed dating,” not “spelunking.” Not that wearing the helmet proved to be such a bad idea.

I worry that some people will be tempted to rely on technology to magically correct not just what they type, but what they say. Imagine your friend asks what you think of her new boyfriend and you unthinkingly tell the truth. “He reminds me of Snooki,” you respond, “in that he both looks and smells like an overripe sweet potato.” You can’t undo that damage by rushing to add, “I meant to say ‘he’s wonderful!’ Damn autocorrect.” Nor, unfortunately, will autocorrect work in class. If you say, “The War of 1812 changed the course of history when the Nazis seized Plymouth Rock,” no amount of technology can save you. (Note to non-history majors: the War of 1812 really started when the Visigoths sacked Graceland in the waning weeks of 1974.) Indeed, this kind of loose talk has already infected the Republican presidential debates. When Rick Perry announced that “evolution is a theory that’s out there,” he had to have been counting on smart technology to express his real meaning (“but not as far out there as that Herman Cain fella”).

Personally, I’m sticking with my Eisenhower-era non-smartphone (also known as a “dumbphone” or “Bidenphone”). I love being late to events because I never received the last minute email containing the location change. I glory in being able to drop my phone wherever I please, depending on its solid concrete construction to protect the screen while hopefully not breaking my toe. But most of all, I take pride in knowing that the words I type are exactly the words my friends and family will see.

So thank you, Bidenphone, for your years of service. You may be dumb, but your lack of autocorrect makes me look quite smrat.

(image taken from http://www.engadget.com/2007/07/03/iphone-review/)

 

Not Here, Not Now

Incredible as it may seem, yet another raging controversy has broken out over yet another of our nation’s most sacred sites.  On August 17th, a federal jury in Chicago had the unmitigated gall to convict former governor Rod Blagojevich of a whole one of 24 criminal charges for trying to sell a US Senate seat to the highest bidder. What’s next?  Will the feds try to make it illegal not to pay one’s income taxes, or prohibit public schools from serving fried goose droppings on alternate Thursdays?  And now, before we’ve had any opportunity to come to terms with the horror of 8/17, we learn that hair stylist Jerry Kerl brazenly proposes to open a Kool Kutz franchise mere blocks from the very courthouse in which this travesty was inflicted on the hair head of Governor Blagojevich.  To which we can only say, “not here, not now.”  It’s just too soon.

Mindful of the controversy, Kerl stresses that his proposed hair cuttery will be “less of a conservative, fundamentalist salon” and more of a “community center, where people can gather to shoot the breeze and get a great cut for only $9.99.”  Kerl, who’s own cut of choice is “The Edwards” (named, of course, after the great 18th century theologian) has stated that proximity to the courthouse was not a factor in his decision to open his shop.  But now that he’s been attacked in the press, picketed, and had a straightener held threateningly to his flowing locks, Kerl is fiercely determined to exercise his right as an American to build a business—as the Constitution stipulates—“wherever the hell he wants.”

The opposition is being spearheaded by an unlikely union between middle aged white men with combovers and considerably hipper youth with fauxhawks. This special interest group, We Care For Hair, believes that the salon would be a victory for the meddlesome prosecution and a further insult to a governor who had to face the indignity of being held accountable for his actions.  Many New Yorkers have allied with We Care for Hair in order to show support for their own governor, “Teflon Dave” or “Pat the Bunny,” who also was treated horribly by commissions that object to him scoring free Yankee tickets and intimidating victims of domestic abuses perpetrated by his aides.  Sarah Palin has refudiated Kerl’s claims to the site while Levi Johnston (who wears the “Deadbeat Do”) has gone on a nudity strike, refusing to put on clothes until someone figures out how to give him the attention he deserves.

But Kerl has his allies too.  “Natural” blondes and Scott Brown (cut: The ”C-SPAN Centerfold”) have fought for the right of Kool Kutz to establish their branch in Chicago, notwithstanding the tender sensitivities of those supporting Blagojevich (who sports the “Rug On The Floor Of Michael Steele’s Office”).  “The right to good style is a fundamental right guaranteed in the Constitution,” patron Mitt Romney stated, stroking his $3000 nose trim (the “Tundra”).  “It’s included right there in the eighth amendment’s protection against cruel and unusual punishment.”  President Obama originally agreed with Mitt And Caboodle, but his remarks and conservative buzz cut (commonly known as the “Scorched Earth,” but technically called the “Moscow, 1812”) caused such a firestorm that he has since backed away from his previously definitive stance.  He issued a statement that he “was not commenting and will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to build a salon” but rather “was commenting very specifically on the right to perms and pompadours people have that dates back to our founding.”

With such heated views on both sides, the controversy is unlikely to be resolved in the public forum and most likely will end up in front of the Supreme Court.  We Care for Hair is looking to the conservative court of Justice Roberts (cut: “The Situation”) to uphold their viewpoint and protect future governors from being spared the horrid treatment their governor faced; the special interest group remains hopeful, as it believes that a body that wears the same clothes every single day will not view Kerl’s “right to style” as a Constitutional imperative.  The more liberal members of the court, however, are likely to make it a close decision.  “We believe in the right to a great do at any time,” said Supreme Court Justice and Kool Kutz client Elena Kagan (cut: the “Janet Reno”).  “After all, this is America, the land of the free and the home of the mullet.”

[Image taken from http://www.thehollywoodgossip.com/gallery/rod-blagojevich-picture/%5D