Could this columnist be replaced by Artie Fishel intelligence?
“Hey! Who are you and what are you doing in my office?”
“Hello, human person. My name is Artie Fishel. I own Artie Fishel Intelligence and I am very smart. I am fluent in more than 7,000 languages, which is 6,999-and-ahalf more than you know. I can compose music, write plays and create beautiful poetry, among other things. For the sake of this discussion, I also write newspaper columns and know where all the commas go. Beep! Beep!”
“Oh please. My readers love me, and as you can see from the photograph that accompanies my column, I am a dead-ringer for Brad Pitt. As for commas, I will admit I miss one or two occasionally – okay, maybe a few more than that – but readers are willing to overlook that minor grammatical faux pas in order to enjoy my weekly wit and wisdom.”
“You left out one important fact. To many people, you are also a ‘maumivu ya kifalme katika punda.’ That is Swahili for a royal pain in the – well, you know where. And that is exactly why I am here. Beep! Beep!”
“And I’m supposed to be afraid for my job by something that looks like R2D2?”
“Oh, ‘Ntukabone ikabutura yawe muri wad.’ That’s Kinyarwanda for ‘Don’t get your shorts in a wad.’ I will admit you have had a good run, but your time has come. The future belongs not to humanoids but to Artie Fishel Intelligence. That’s me, bucko.”
“What is it you can you do that I can’t?”
“To quote from a sonnet by the 19th-century poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, ‘Let me count the ways.’ By the way, that is among her most famous and best-loved poems, having first appeared as sonnet 43 in her collection of Sonnets from the Portuguese, which was published in 1850. Of course, you didn’t know that. Beep! Beep!”
“All I know about Ms. Browning is that she makes a heck of a shotgun. I didn’t know she wrote poetry, too. But, back to the point. Why are you here?”
“I am here asking the editors to replace your limited intellect with my superior intelligence. Not only can I speak 7,000 languages and all that other stuff, I can express myself without offending people like you do. I can be programmed to say nice, unoffensive things. I think the editors would find that a welcomed relief. That way, they wouldn’t have to spend so much time fielding angry calls about your snarky comments and could get a lunch break now and then. Editors have to eat, too. Beep! Beep!”
“Bless their hearts, but I’m not sure what I have done wrong that the editors would want to replace me.”
“Oh, you silly human person, how easily you forget. Southern Baptists took great umbrage at your twitting them over their decision to ban women from the pulpit and they let you and the editors know. If I am not mistaken – and, of course, I never am – one even called you a ‘spiritual moron.’ I can assure the editors that Artie Fishel Intelligence is neither spiritual nor a moron. After dealing with you, I think they would find me a relief and would tell you, ‘Nke oma.’ That’s Igbo for ‘good riddance.’” “I know the editors pretty well, Artie, and I am pretty sure that if I keep upsetting all the Baptists in town, they won’t need Igbo to counsel with me. Sawmill English is more their style. As for being a spiritual moron, I will admit the guy was half-right. I will leave it up to him to decide which half. I pray he figures it out.”
“Anyway, human person, I think readers would welcome some new and exciting topics such as the 3D structure of a protein or coherent extrapolated volition, instead of you droning on about Ray Charles Robinson, of Albany, Georgia, or the Gazpacho police. Besides, not only am I smarter than you, I am willing to take out the trash, get the editors their coffee and laugh at their jokes. Now if you will excuse me, Artie Fishel Intelligence has work to do. As we say in Hausa, ‘Kofar wane ta sameka akan hanyar fita.’ That means, ‘Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.’ Beep! Beep!”
To my loyal readers: I think Artie is bluffing, but if you should happen to see a guy that looks like Brad Pitt serving you at the McDonald’s drive-through next week, please say hello. In English.
You can reach Dick Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org; at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dickyarb.