Other Freauf Articles:
IT'S SMITH, STUPID,
By Betty Freauf
January 21, 2004
It was bad enough when we had to deal with real alive bureaucrats in the past on the phone but to receive an alive one on the other end these days comes as a real shock to us and now we're finding out that alive person could be in India or the prison viewing our whole public and private life on his or her computer screen.
If we get an alive one, there is hope at the end of the tunnel and with enough patience on our part after being transferred from one department to another for the answer to our often simple question, we learned to endure.
Then we got the machine that makes us choose between English, Spanish or perhaps some other language and some menu that tells us to push this button or that button hoping we'll get the department we needed.
But my experience recently with the Social Security Administration took the cake! It's so funny I have to share it with you although I'm sure many of you have had a similar experience.
It seems as of January 1, 2004, the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has some new changes for receiving a driver's license, permit or identification card. I suspect it has something to do with terrorism and all the laws enacted on President George W. Bush's watch.
My driver's license expires early in February and this time in addition to my $34.50 for renewal, they wanted me to have my eyes checked so I had to make an appearance in person.
Due solely to my negligence having been under some severe pressure the last few months and my mind not working properly, I misplaced the notice the DMV had sent me.
I called the DMV headquarters in the phone book and told the person answering about my dilemma. She said, "No problem. Just go to the field office and they'll take care of you. All the information will be in the computer" so inasmuch as it was the computer that generated the notice in the first place, I thought that sounded reasonable.
So off I went to a field office in a tiny town east of my home. I took my number and waited. When my number was called, I went to the window and told my story. "No problem", she said. All I had to do was show her my social security card and my original driver's license. So I gave her my laminated social security card only to find out the new rule says: No laminated, no metal U.S. Social Security cards.
Then she asked about a birth certificate. Well, I just happened to have a plastic birth certificate issued by the state in which I was born with me but she wouldn't accept that either because it was plastic. So I gritted my teeth. I said "Thank You" and left.
I went home wondering how on earth I could get an original social security card and a birth certificate by the time of my birthday. Government workers do not move very quickly on our behalf I learned long ago. I figured at least six weeks, if I was lucky, and by then I'd be driving on an expired license.
Now there will be dare devils reading this who perhaps drive without a license because they say it is a right but I choose to have a license simply because I don't like to be hassled by Big Brother or fines to enhance his depleted budgets.
I called the 1-800 Social Security number and this is what happened in our new nanotechnology world.
An automated voice robot came on the line. Was it a mere machine or was it a man-made robotoid designed to simulate human beings almost perfectly in appearance and behavior? Spielberg's movie ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE comes to my mind.
Should I be surprised? Robots have been used to help clean up oil from leaking shipwrecks. We have a robot wandering around Mars right now if we can believe our eyes. Robots are sent in to buildings by police to survey the surroundings to make sure it is safe for police to enter.
In the book FUTURE SHOCK by Alvin Toffler (c) 1970 P. 194, he writes "Whether we grow specialized animals to serve us or develop household robots depends in part on the uneven race between the life sciences and the physical sciences. It may be cheaper to make machines for our purposes, than to raise and train animals. Yet the biological sciences are developing so rapidly that the balance may well tip within our lifetimes. Indeed, the day may even come when we begin to grow our machines."
On page 210 it says "despite setbacks and difficulties, the roboteers are moving forward. Recently they enjoyed a collective laugh at the expense of one of the leading critics of the robot-builders, a former Rand Corporation computer specialist named Hubert L. Dreyfus. Arguing that computers would never be able to match human intelligence, Dreyfus wrote a lengthy paper heaping vitriolic scorn on those who disagreed with him. Among other things, he declared, 'No chess program can play even amateur chess.' In context, he appeared to be saying that none ever would. Less than two years later, a graduate student at MIT, Richard Greenblatt, wrote a chess-playing computer program, challenged Dreyfus to a match, and had the immense satisfaction of watching the computer annihilate Dreyfus to the cheers of the 'artificial intelligence' researchers." Much more is said in the book about the robots on pages 214, 228, 232 and 302. Get the book and review it if you like.
HUMAN EVENTS on November 8, 1990 had a story "The Scientific Background of the Russian Robotoids." In February 1993 it was reported that Intel had perfected a chip that simulates the brain. Later, on August 4, 1995, CNN reported perhaps in 20 years computer chips will be available for people with brain cell damage.
Will the next thing we'll be hearing is "Rights for Robots?"
To make this story easier to read, I shall call the robot a she. She immediately established where I lived by the zip code she asked me to supply. Although she didn't have trouble with the numbers in my street address, she did have trouble with the name and I had to repeat it several times. I suppose if I lived on Jefferson, Washington or Madison Avenue, it would have been easier for her. Finally it sounded as though she got it but I wasn't taking any bets that my application would arrive in my mail box with the correct address leaving the poor mailman to try to figure out what street. There was never any confirmation about the spelling of the street.
Then it got funnier. She said, "Please give me your first name. Say it first and then spell it and speak slowly and plainly." So I responded, "Elizabeth, E-L-I-Z-A-B-E-T-H." Then she wanted my last name. So I said "Freauf, F-R-E-A-U-F." She came back on the line and said it was not clear and told me to repeat the process which I did three times. Now, had I been talking to a real alive person I would have said, "F" as in "frank," eau and "F" as in "Frank" at the end with three vowels in the middle.
Compared to the spelling word challenges kids had at the turn of the century and knowing today's kids are being dumbed down to a sixth grade level, I would hope they could still handle FREAUF if I explained it to them like above. But, alas, I was dealing with an automatic voice machine with no brain, no feelings, no nothing! A robot!
After I had repeated the process for the name FREAUF three times, she finally said, "You still are not clear" (or something like that). Then she said, let me give you an example: Smith S-M-I-T-H. At that point I hung up nearly falling on the floor with laughter as I told my husband about what had just happened. I wondered if I had spelled it FREEOFF if I'd passed the test.
Fortunately while I was being entertained (or was I doing the entertaining?) by this machine, my patient husband was going through a stack of mail and he found the initial DMV notice.
I looked at it and it said absolutely nothing about laminated social security cards being unacceptable so off I went to another DMV field office in Salem, Oregon to the west of me. I held my breath as my number was once again called competing with the public announcements in both English and Spanish on yet another automated sound system on the floor at the DMV where a special station was set up with a bilingual staffer to accommodate those who couldn't speak English.
We got to the part of the S.S. number. Ooops! The lady said she could not accept it because it was laminated. New rules as of January 1, you know. Here it was the 15th of January and I was suppose to know about the new rules? So I pointed out to her that it didn't say anything on the notice about laminated S.S. cards being unacceptable so she checked with her supervisor and thanks to the lovely supervisor hidden behind the door, she let me have my driver's license after an eye check and my mug shot!
Now, I can see that supervisor making a quick note and about ten people will sit at a table for weeks on end trying to revise that notice so they'll be sure to say laminated S.S. cards are not acceptable.
So now both my husband and I are going to visit the Social Security office in Salem for new S.S. cards where hopefully we'll find a human being. We'll arrive before 8 a.m. and stand in line in the hall with mostly people speaking a foreign language until the door opens at 8:30. We'll take our number and wait an hours or two or more for service.
And then we'll have to contact our home state for original birth certificates so we'll also have them handy when it comes time for the Gestapo to say; SHOW US YOUR PAPERS! Welcome to the NEW WORLD ORDER
© 2004 Betty Freauf - All Rights Reserved
Betty is a former Oregon Republican Party activist having served as state party secretary, county chairman, 5th congressional vice chairman and then elected chairman, and a precinct worker for many years. Betty is a researcher, freelance journalist and a regular contributor to www.NewsWithViews.com. E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
"But my experience recently with the Social Security Administration took the cake! It's so funny I have to share it with you although I'm sure many of you have had a similar experience."