1974 Sense and Nonsense
Apparently computers aren’t Infallible after all. I heard on the news that someone fed the old cliché: “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” into a computer. They then pressed the button for a translation into Russian. What came out was “the liquor is still good but the meat is spoiling”.
With a computer one has to be very explicit. A top chess player once said there was no way that any computer could ever duplicate the speed and cunning of a champion human chess player – at least not enough to beat him at his game. That is reassuring if true.
I have become very depressed after reading science fiction novels where the world has been taken over by robots and run much better than us ordinary mortals ever did. In fact this has given me a complex about any machine. Recently, I have noticed that my vacuum cleaner has a sneaky look about it. Also there is no way I’d ever turn my back on my old iron when it is plugged in.
Cars, I am certain, especially old ones, develop definite personalities. They also respond better to certain people than others because of this. We used to have a 1957 Chev that hated me. It had a weakness in its transmission which it took advantage of when I was at the wheel.
My husband said it was like a stubborn, cranky woman. (I’m glad I’m not a stubborn cranky old woman). He would put it into low gear, then at a certain speed change to neutral, swear nastily at it, step on the gas and it would slide nicely into drive.
I would do exactly the same thing, using exactly the same language but there was no way she would let me put her into drive. I’d go for miles in low gear. She’d also have flat tires, dead batteries, and other things I’d rather forget, which I am sure was her way of letting me know how much she disliked me.
An automobile was also the villain in a friend’s excruciating experience. She had parked her car, without locking it as was her habit, and dashed to the post office for some last minute business. When she returned she noticed she had left her keys in the ignition.
“1 thought I must have broken routine completely” she later explained. “I never leave my keys in the ignition! However, I also never leave the car unlocked either!”
When she turned the key on, she realized that someone must have been in the car during the short time she had been gone. The radio had been turned on! Angrily she placed the car in reverse gear. It was then she noticed her side view mirror was broken.
“The first thing I thought of when I saw that mirror was my camera – I had left it under the seat… It was gone! I knew I had to inform the police right away – it was an expensive camera!”
When she opened the car door to more closely examine the broken mirror, something caught her attention. For some reason, a patch of paint on the exterior of the car seemed slightly roughened. A light flickered somewhere within her worried tired mind. She rushed out and peered at the license plate number. It was not her car!
She felt in her pockets, found her own car keys, and threw the alien keys on the front seat of the alien car. She quickly found her own car only two parking spaces away. It was almost identical to the one she had just left.
“I felt terribly guilty. I was shaking like a leaf,” she recalled. “When I got to my car I remembered I had left my purse behind. I had to sneak back to that car to get it.”
“Before I drove off, I carefully reviewed what I had done. I thought of the keys on the seat and decided to creep back and replace them in the ignition. As it was, I did leave my junk mail behind as evidence of my near crime.”
“Just think of how embarrassing it would have been if I had driven a stolen car to the police station to report a stolen camera!”