Archive for Sunday, July 20, 2008

Obamamatrons disrupt peace of mind

July 20, 2008


Boomer girl

I don't think this is what Alexander Graham Bell had in mind.

When the brilliant inventor uttered the famous words, "Watson, come here, I want to see you" into his new-fangled sound transmitter, I doubt he could have imagined that - 132 years in the future - a frazzled woman, frantically trying to put dinner on the table, would pick up her cordless phone, only to hear:

"Hi! This is Kelly from All-Right Insurance Company with a message about your insurance policy. It is VITALLY important you call me back IMMEDIATELY so I can tell you how to save a SIGNIFICANT amount of money on your PREMIUMS ..."

"Kelly," I cut in. "Kelly, hold up. Doesn't All-Right Insurance know I'm on the National Do Not Call list?"

She continues, as if she hasn't heard a word I said: "If you call NOW, you can expect a 15 to 25 percent REDUCTION in your quarterly ..."

"KELLY! Yoo-hoo! Take a breath! Didn't your mother teach you not to interrupt someone when they're talking?"

But she rambles on, undaunted. "And if you call in the next FIVE MINUTES, you'll get a FREE review of your home, auto, life and boat insurance by one of our certified ..."

"Stop, Kelly, stop!" I scream, as I bang on the receiver with my spatula.

Then it hits me. Kelly isn't real. Kelly is an automatron. I must be on the receiving end of a robocall.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm no Janie Come Lately. I've gotten automated sales calls before. But, these days, it's getting harder to tell real from robotic, and it's making me batty.

Some robocalls are easy to detect. First, there's the suspicious pause after you say "Hello?" Then, there's the telltale click, followed by the voice like "Star Wars" droid C-3PO, without the British accent:

"Hel-lo. I have some im-por-tant in-for-ma-tion a-bout your cre-dit card ..."

Those are no-brainers. I hang up, utter the compulsory cuss word and move on.

But sometimes, automatrons can really do a number on you.

One night during presidential primary season, the phone rang at dinnertime. Seething and swearing, I ripped the phone out of its cradle and cried, "This better be good, my tuna surprise is losing its shock value as we speak!"

Then, I heard a deep, familiar voice say, "Hi, this is Barack Obama."

"Barack!" I swooned, melting into a pool of butter right there on the floor. "How sweet of you to take time out of your busy schedule to call! How's Michelle? And the kids?"

The candidate didn't seem to hear me. He kept talking about change, and believing, and a new America for all. I was inspired enough to abandon my casserole, sit down, and give him my full attention.

"I believe, Barack!" I said, sensing an opening in the conversation. But, the man kept talking. Suddenly, I realized he was saying these very words, not just to me, but to hundreds - if not thousands - of voters across the country at that very moment. This wasn't Obama. This was RoboObama! My gentleman caller was an Obamamatron!

My heart sank. I felt bewildered, betrayed. Not to mention imbecilic.

Since then, I've honed my inner spam detector and have no trouble discerning real from recorded phone solicitations.

(But the larger point here is, I'm on the freakin' NATIONAL 'DO NO CALL' LIST! So, please. DO. NOT. CALL!)

Still, I wonder what old Aleck Bell would think about how his invention is being used to keep modern families from enjoying a peaceful evening meal.

According to Wikipedia, "Bell considered his most famous invention an intrusion on his real work as a scientist and refused to have a telephone in his study."

Hmm. A brilliant inventor, indeed.

- Cathy Hamilton is a 52-year-old empty nester, wife, mother and author, who blogs every day at


Jim Phillips 9 years, 2 months ago

Actually Bea, I couldn't care less if he is/was/will be a practicing Muslim or not. There are many Muslims in the world who are not out to slay the infidels.I have no problem with most Muslims. Truth is, I expected you to take that route with your response and set you up, as it were. What concerns me Bea, is not Obama's religeous beliefs. What concerns me Bea, is his,"I want to teach the world to sing" approach to the negotiation of the war on terror.As far as your tirade about President Bush, you're danged skippy I voted for him--twice--and proud of it.I also see you avoided the Congress issue. Typical.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 9 years, 2 months ago

Years ago, when we learned we would need to pay a fee to have our phone number de-listed from the phonebook, we just generated a bogus name for the listing. To this day, I receive telephone AND snail mail solicitations in the name of this imaginary person. ( Hey, I've even received personal calls from those seeking someone to whom this imaginary person might be related! )

bearded_gnome 9 years, 2 months ago

yes, Clintonia:motel 1600, chinese tea parties/fundraisers, most investigated, most indicted, most jailed, most convicted, administration in history! clinton: first president disbarred and fined for actions while president! disrespect for the whitehouse. the economic benefits, well, there was the matter of the "clinton-gore" recession, a real recession not what we have now, early in 2001...can't blame that on GWB because it was clinton econ policies and ignorance about the electricity shortage that caused that. we also had: failure in eight years to kill Osama bin laden, with over twelve opportunities, just didn't have the nerve. had numerous attacks on u.s./interests, without response. "blackhawk down" incident, complete failure to support troops properly in the field. there's just a short list. oh, some of your benefits of clintonia are properly accorded to the '94 republican "take over" of congress, that forced Clinton's hand. *my point was:swooning. no, nobody's swooning over McCain, those who choose to vote for him do it rationally, after careful consideration, not some emfatuation or some sexual fantasy. McCain has executive experience, and served this country. four years ago, you guys made a big deal about kerry's service. well if John kerry's service is rated a 1, then McCain's is an 8! one of kerry's purple hearts was not earned "in the face of the enemy." after serving, kerry worked diligently to exaggerate war atrocities by vietnam vets. McCain has always treated his fellow vets with great respect. he was offered the chance at early release from that hell-hole north vietnam prison camp if he would just speak treasonously, he refused and endured further torture. compare the two. then, we have Obama, who has been all over the map on whether he would try to actually win in Iraq. mostly, he doesn't seem to actually care about winning in Iraq; he seems to imagine that we can turn Iraq over to al-qaeda and the iranians, and somehow win in afghanistan. the two are linked, and it would disrespect the sacrifice of our troops to just toss it away in Iraq. especially now that we really are winning in Iraq.[I will note, readers might consider going back 12-15 months, and reading what I wrote about the surge]Obama called the surge a failure on his website until this month when he changed that, but still doesn't acknowledge that success is at hand. our hard working troops made that possible. he says he will withdraw troops no matter what, yet he's going to meet commanders in Iraq, but he's already decided his course: that's very cynical political calculation, and not consideration of what's best for our country.

beatrice 9 years, 2 months ago

I wouldn't want a call from any solicitor asking for my money or my vote, be it Obama or McCain. I find them as annoying as spam e-mails. Wouldn't you agree, Nick Danger? I love how the "compassionate conservatives" love to make fun of Obama's name, calling him "insane" even! That is okay, as long as you don't truly hate America and have the civility to also call him Mr. President when the time comes. Obama for President!

Jim Phillips 9 years, 2 months ago

beatrice--No, it won't drive us crazy. we survived the Bill and Hill show and we will weather the Obamanation should it come to pass-although I refuse to face the east and bow to Mecca.

George_Braziller 9 years, 2 months ago

The article was about an irritation with automated phone call solicitations in general and not an invitation to stir up the rabid "your candidate sucks but mine is great" debate.

beatrice 9 years, 2 months ago

guardian, the neocons did not "survive" the Clinton administration, you went nuts and elected Bush. Fortunately, those in the middle who weren't paying attention won't be fooled again. And why would you need to bow to Mecca? Thinking of converting are you? Oh, I get it, now that the Rev. Wright nonsense has died down the neocon talking point is back to calling Obama a Muslim. Well, if you must lie rather than speak the truth, go for it. But please know, we will call you a liar when you deserve it, and you, Guardian, are nothing but a party over country liar. labmonkey, I have received a couple calls from McCain. The annoyance of the calls from politicians really does go both ways, and I certainly am not a Republican. Obama for President!

beatrice 9 years, 2 months ago

Good point, bearded. People certainly aren't swooning over John McCain, that is for sure. Why, to even think it possible that people could be inspired by an intelligent individual with vision for a better future for all Americans and not just the wealthiest of the wealthy ... terrible! Better stick with the guy who wants to be a lot like the present guy since we know that level of horrible leadership, is that your argument? And what was it we got under Clinton: strong economy, balanced budget, shrinking deficit ... so your point is? Obama for President ... it will drive the neo-conservatives crazy!

more_cowbell 9 years, 2 months ago

Vote third (or fourth) party. They can't afford to call with a phone-bot or a human.Next time you're shopping, think of whether you'd be better off with just two choices of every product. And if those choices where the same size, price (well, put out by bankrupt companies) and with red-white-and-blue packaging.Take cereal, for example. One is "Delicious new Change-O's" and the other one is the classic tried-and-trusted "Frosted McCrunchy". Both heavily processed to remove any irregularities and largely empty calories. Neither will actually provide a healthy breakfast, but merely result in a temporary sugar high followed by the inevitable crash, and then a craving for some more empty-calorie junkfood at midterm elec... uh, lunchtime.Enjoy your vot... uh, shopping.I'm more_cowbell, and this message will self-destruct in five seconds...

Godot 9 years, 2 months ago

Thanks, Cathy!! Love your boommergirl mag, by the way. You are one of the most creative and entrepreneurial talents in Lawrence.

Jennifer Forth 9 years, 2 months ago

I have found that machines have as little patience for us as we do them. Give them three rings. If it's a machine, it usually hangs up after that as you clearly aren't home and they should move on to the next person to pester.

Keith 9 years, 2 months ago

You can always just set the phone down and let them waste their time, not yours.

Cathy Hamilton 9 years, 2 months ago

Gosh, Godot! Thank you very much.'s got a brand new, blog-gy format and I invite everybody to check it out.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 9 years, 2 months ago

Marion: "The 'Do Not Call' list does not apply to political and non-profit groups."Evidently, it also does not apply to those with whom one has a financial relationship. I maintain a land line which I almost never use, employing CallerID to field unwanted solicitations. If I don't recognize the CID or a message is not left, then callers can talk to the "chip" with no reply.

beatrice 9 years, 2 months ago

Guardian, my "tirade" on Bush lasted all of two sentences. If you want to see a tirade, check out bearded on Clinton. Now that is a tirade. It is inaccurate, of course, but tirade none the less.On your Muslim comments, sure, I believe you. Gosh, you really set me up there. I have no doubt you and bearded are proud of voting for Bush. You must be so proud of his accomplishments. That is why I'm sure that you two love to point at the great and many similarities between Bush and McCain. McCain's desire to bomb Iran and stay in Iraq for 100 years is so very Bush-like, it must make you happy. Come on you two, say it loud and say it proud: McCain, it would be like another term for Bush! (I'll bet the thought makes your hearts race just a bit, doesn't it?)In fact, the whole Republican party just loves to point out the similarities between Bush and McCain, because that is the sure path to victory in November. That is why it just doesn't make sense that most Republicans are trying everything they can to distance themselves from Bush and his administration. And bearded, if you are looking for a President who disgraced the office, don't forget to look at Nixon (I have no doubt you voted for him, too -- all three times). And that wasn't just about sex. You probably even think the sex is worse, don't you. Of course, I'll admit that Clinton's diddling the intern was disgraceful. Not his policies, but that. You, on the other hand, will acknowledge none of the many wrongs committed by Bush, following him like a bunch of lemmings. Party above country. Sad.Obama for President!

George_Braziller 9 years, 2 months ago

I love to pick up the phone and have the solicitors ask for me by my legal first name. I can hang up immediately because it isn't anyone I know.Not a single person on the planet uses it, not even my Mom. (OK, she DID use it with the middle and last name all run together when I was a kid and in deep doo doo because of something that I did.)What Mom hasn't?

labmonkey 9 years, 2 months ago

We received a call from the Obamamatron during the primaries and I was a little discouraged because both my wife and I are registered Republicans. So appearently they weren't very selective with their numbers.

George_Braziller 9 years, 2 months ago

Godot you just confirmed exactly what I said.

bearded_gnome 9 years, 2 months ago

wow,without knowing it, Boomergirl is giving us a good reason not to vote for Barry H. Obama:"Barack!" I swooned, melting into a pool of butter right there on the floor. "How sweet of you to take time out of your busy schedule to call! How's Michelle?And the kids?"The candidate didn't seem to hear me. He kept talking about change, and believing, and a new America for all. I was inspired enough to abandon my casserole,sit down, and give him my full attention."I believe, Barack!" I said, sensing an opening in the conversation. But, the man kept talking. Suddenly, I realized he was saying these very words, notjust to me, but to hundreds - if not thousands - of voters across the country at that very moment. This wasn't Obama. This was RoboObama! My gentlemancaller was an Obamamatron!remember this swooning by women like her used to be directed at Bill Clinton, and see what we got! it should tell you something else, obama, as his pastor wright said, is just another politician, not a transformative figure! he's got the robocalls going. I also like the "obamamatrons! that's good. and does Boomergirl also consider that Barry H. Obama's wife is the angriest millionaire in america? she was not proud of america most of her adult life. america is a downright mean country. now, Boomergirl, Michelle Obama is being pulled back from the spotlights because, like obama's pastor, she's become a political liability. transformative figure, yeah riiiiiiiight. president Obama? don't think so. national polls have him sinking. majority of voters in many democrat primaries indicated: Obama is less than truthful; Obama shares some of rev. Wright's views. 20% of hilaroids from the primary say they will vote for McCain. though the mainstream media tries to cast this number in another way, this is historically high. then, Boomergirl, remember that your sex symbol Obama kept his little daughters in that evil church from the times they were born, soaking up the hate. Obama was a community organizer in south Chicago; nowadays, it is safer to be an american in Baghdad than in south Chicago! finally, Obama only served 143 days in the Senate before running for president. he has zero executive experience. zero experience managing a budget. he is the least qualified candidate ever to run for president. so, melt in your pool os swooning passion, but it certainly shows we shouldn't* vote for Barry H. Obama.

Jim Phillips 9 years, 2 months ago

Once again, I'm going to burst your bubble here. I'm not wild about McCain either. I was hoping more for Fred Thompson. I really don't see where Bush and McCain have that much in common. McCain is more liberal than conservative.I'll wait while you prove bearded comments are incorrect. I'm afraid you will be disappointed and I will be waiting awhile.While you are relearning your history lessons, I believe you will find that politicos generally (publicly) distance themselves from controversial lame duck presidents since the 1980s. It happened with your hero Slick Willie and it happened with my hero, Regan. So this really is not an indictment of GW.So, what about the Congress thing?

Godot 9 years, 2 months ago

Funny, I read the headline as "Obama Matron" and expected to read about the hordes of post-menopausal feminists, steel gray hair flowing from pony tails and weaves, bra-less and clad in flowing skirts and/or yoga pants, pounding the pavement and the keyboards in support of Obama, indeed melting like butter at the mere sound of his clipped words offered up in stuttering phrases as he searches for just the right words to sway his targeted audience-of-the-day.

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