Stanley Kubrik's HAL 9000

Stanley Kubrik’s HAL 9000

I get lots of email. Even after I sort out the spam and junk mail, I have hundreds of emails every week, most related to the dog game and my two blogs, Dog Show Poop and The Back Story.

A good bit of it comes from my volunteer copy editors, anxious to point out where I have errors in grammar, spelling and/or facts. Here on The Back Story, I have very capable professional editing support. However, I am a one-man shop at Dog Show Poop and welcome my volunteer assistants. I feel strongly that they have been major contributors to the success of DSP. I have tried to bolster their efforts by upgrading my word-processing software and blogging platform. Now, in addition to my loyal volunteers, I have my word processor’s auto-correct, whom I have named Hal, after the Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer in Stanley Kubrick’s film, “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

While my Hal is not quite as sinister as Kubrick’s, he can be very irritating. Most recently Hal has insisted on replacing the phrase, “Tibetan Spaniel” with “Tibetan Terrier.” After the Tibbie’s owner pointed out the obvious discrepancy in my post, I confronted Hal with the error. “But Dave, Tibetan Spaniels never win a Best In Show. So I changed it to Tibetan Terrier,” Hal explained. “Well this one did win a BIS and stop calling me Dave. My name is Billy,” I replied. Hal makes me nervous sometimes. I don’t know if I can live with a computer that can outwit me.

It’s not entirely Hal’s fault. After all, he spends a great deal of his time asking me did I really mean to spell that dog’s name that way. I patiently explain to him that the owners thought it was cute to purposefully misspell commonly used words. “I don’t understand ‘cute,’ Dave, …excuse me, Billy. It’s just wrong,” Hal complains. As Hal has only limited ability in foreign languages, he has no appreciation for those owners who use random words from Arabic, Swahili or other languages that do not use the Roman alphabet. I agree with him. I think one should find some common ground with one’s Artificial Intelligence partner.

In the end, Hal has provided me with lots of support and a very credible alibi. Hal, on the other hand, doesn’t like to be the fall guy and thinks I should just postpone cocktail hour until after I have posted my last report of the evening. And that’s today’s Back Story.