Saturday, 21 August 2010

The World of Robots. By Zack Kaufen (

I wake up. The church bells of my nearby church are going off, monotonously, in a rhythmic sequence. Dong, pause, dong, pause, ad infinitum. Aren’t the church bells supposed to dong once for every hour it is? Did they suddenly change overnight the way time is measured.. to the metric system perhaps? And it’s now one hundred and twenty five o’clock? The church bell ringers are definitely feeling the strain of this sudden change; their workload will slowly increase per hour until they reach one thousand o’clock, at which point they breathe a sigh of relief and drop back down to one again. They’ll be demanding a payrise very soon.

During the night before, I think as I make coffee, the church bells unfailingly struck upon every hour, because god instructed the church to taunt those who still aren’t asleep at dong-dong-dong-dong four in the morning. I ponder as to whether there are late night bell ringers in the tower, paid overtime for the night shift, clocking on while Steve and Terry, the lightweight daytime ringers clock off and scurry home. Or whether there’s just some mechanical device set to do its business on the hour, every hour. It's business being bell ringing. A robotic bell ringer.

Of course, I remain slightly cynical. Religion and technology don’t exactly go hand in hand. Religion throughout history has been angry at science every time science has come up with an idea that challenges its world view. Galileo Galilei is said to have demonstrated that mass didn’t affect gravity’s force on an object, an act which outraged the church. Because apparently god was explicit about this in the bible, stating “And one rock and one piece of plaster, when dropped, will travel differently depending on how much they weigh. To which Moses nodded, smiled, pretending he understood. He then asked again about how much longer they would be wandering the desert.” Anyhow, religion said no, Galileo said yes, dropped two cannon balls and proved it, and religion said no again. Until eventually they came out in agreement stating “Yes, that’s what god said all along.” A convenient new testament added to the bible saying how god was just kidding about what he said to Moses, and also that evolution was all his plan also.

But it’s the twentieth century now (I presume so anyway, I’ve not been quite clear since someone told me that the 1900s was not the 19th century. An attempt to create a formula to figure out what century a year was in was probably tainted by the fact I thought the show Buck Rogers in the 25th Century was set in the present day), and after all Robo-Bell-Ringer B.R.I.A.N (Bell Ringing Is Absolutely Nice) is one of god’s creatures too. A sentient one even, perhaps. 

Though I do wish he’d have the robo-equivalent of an existential crisis, wonder what his purpose in life is (probably bell ringing by the way, Brian) and hurl himself out of the bell tower. So I could sleep in peace.

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