Kenny Asimov’s Three Laws of Robot Baseball

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As the grand-grand-grand-grand-nephew (by marriage) of the great science-fiction author and robot expert Isaac Asimov, I, Kenny Asimov, feel more than qualified to devise the Three Laws of Robot Baseball. Now I realize there are quite a few people in the robot-baseball community who believe my recent stay in Space Sector Four’s Apple Junction Penitentiary is cause for my removal as the first-ever commissioner of Basebot. All I can say to those people is, even though they may have seen the indicting hologram of my alleged offense, they don’t know all the facts of the case. Yes, it might have looked like I was distributing illegal robot sexual prosthetics to robot minors, but I assure you I was not. It was all a big misunderstanding, and I have my team of lawyers to thank for convincing the appellate judge the same.

While the time I spent incarcerated was hard on my family and my robot concubine, Wendy, it allowed me to not only kick my pesky synthetic-smack habit, but to also carefully consider the basis for the Three Laws of Robot Baseball. I take this new sport very seriously, my friends and robots, and I feel it deserves the same amount of respect and attention that all the other elite robot sports get, like extreme ultimate robot fighting and robominton.

For Basebot to thrive, we must recruit the most athletic and aesthetically pleasing robots. Nobody wants to watch baseball played by uncoordinated and ugly robots. I know I don’t. Therefore, I call on robot manufacturers around the Milky Way to create faster, stronger, and hotter robots designed solely for playing Basebot. And while anatomically correct robot players might help us tap into the trillion-dollar “adult” market, they are at this time not required. (If and when they are, contact me and I’ll get you a good deal on prosthetic robot genitalia.)

I also ask all human fans to be courteous and orderly while attending Basebot games. Believe you me, I know how satisfying it is to mock robots, but we must refrain from it while the robots are out there playing on the hexagon. We can’t have our robot players humiliated (no matter how comical it may be), as it will only lessen the quality of play. As for our robot fans, all I ask is that you stay in your specifically marked seating areas in the upper bleachers of all Basebot stadiums. And keep your beeping to a minimum, please.

Ultimately, Basebot’s success will rely on the robot players themselves. If they play the sport with honor and integrity, the game will no doubt evolve into a solar-systemic pastime. Thus, certain robotic laws must be adhered to so that the sport can be played the way it was meant to be played. With that said, I give you the Three Laws of Robot Baseball:

Law Number One: A robot may not injure another human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm on the playing field.

So no killing human umpires. A robot may argue with a human umpire over a disputed call provided the robot does not read the umpire’s mind. This will ensure a fair fight, as well as prevent any residual brain damage on the part of the umpire. In addition, a robot must not use its laser rays to zap off an umpire’s pants in an effort to embarrass the umpire. And should family members of the human umpire be in attendance, robots must not kidnap them and/or threaten to drill holes in their heads to try to persuade an umpire to reverse his or her call. As for robot umpires, robot players are encouraged to not only argue with them, but to attempt to destroy them as well. Everyone likes a good robot battle, so let’s not disappoint our patrons.

Law Number Two: A robot must obey orders given it by human managers, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

For instance, if a manager wanted one of his robot players to rip the eyes out of a human umpire’s head, the robot wouldn’t be allowed to do it. It doesn’t matter how many bad calls the manager believes the umpire has made: no eyeball ripping out allowed. Now in regards to team mascots, well, that’s another story. Even though most team’s mascots feature humans dressed in some kind of funny-looking suit or uniform, robots do have more leeway in terms of the level of harm they can administer. You see, even though they’re humans, they’re dressed up like nonhumans, so managers are allowed to order their robot players to harass, molest, and torment an opposing team’s mascots as they see fit.

Law Number Three: No pepper games allowed.

I am confident that if these three laws are strictly abided by, we shall have quite a popular and revenue-generating robot sport on our hands. Yes, there will be a constant struggle to fill team-mascot positions with human applicants, but if worse comes to worse, I’m sure mutants would be more than up to the task. I mean, mutants have to work somewhere, right?

The inaugural season begins three weeks from Monday in Boise. President Tony Danza VI is scheduled to throw out the first titanium sphere at 1:05 p.m. sharp. He’ll be followed by Fantasia-bot’s rendition of our Galaxy Anthem, and the ceremonial proclamation of “Play ball!” by the recently unfrozen and reattached baseball legend Ted Williams. I look forward to a great day and the advent of a great new robot sport!

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The Water Lover’s Newsletter

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Dear Subscribers,

It’s hard to believe another month has passed but here we are again sharing our expertise with you about the world’s best beverage: water. We hope you have enjoyed some of our previous picks and are ready and eager to sample some more.

It’s been an exciting month and we’ve discovered some new waters that will knock your socks off. And for the dedicated aquaphile, we’ve revisited a few old favorites with some surprising results.

Emu


This is the first Australian water we’ve tried and we suspect it won’t be the last. Who knew Alice Springs really had a springs? Well it does and Emu comes right from the source. Clear, wet and splashy, Emu leaves no aftertaste. Just that wonderful thirst-slaked feeling that locals must get after a long, hot day in the Outback. At $2.95 a bottle, you’ll want to put a few “down under” your own water cellar.

L’Attrape


Just when you thought the great waters of France had been exhausted, there’s L’Attrape. Less a water than a potion, L’Attrape provides a spiritual experience not found in other drinks. Aged in oak casks for fifty years, this “l’eau regional” has a stillness and flatness that echoes over time. Although filtered at the source, you may still wish to decant before serving to ensure a pure, clear, oak-free beverage. At $10.95 a bottle, these won’t last long.

Las Vegas


Young, bold and splashy, Las Vegas has a crystalline 24/7 clarity that brightens up any table. Unlike older, more mature waters, Las Vegas is bottled directly from the municipal taps to give you the exciting taste of today. It’s the same great-tasting water high rollers all along the Strip use to freshen up their spirit of choice. Buy a case for your next big party. But don’t keep for more than a year as Las Vegas is a “l’eau nouveau” and doesn’t age very well.

Ganges


Exotic and unpredictable, Ganges is a water for those who want to take a chance on adventure and live a little dangerously. Clear, colorless and odorless, Ganges nevertheless may have a fecal coliform count of anywhere up to 1,000 ppm. Often goes best with a slightly saline water administered intravenously.

Redistillé


New from Evian is Redistillé, billed as “the essence of water.” The clever folks at Evian have taken their famous spring water, distilled it and then distilled it again and then distilled it once more. They then pour it through a tightly knit sweater. Evian dares you to find any hint of taste, flavor or color in their new product. When you’re looking for a perfect impurity-free, palate-cleansing drink, Redistillé has everything you’re looking for and less. Lay in a case or two and don’t worry about aging. The first bottle will be as tasteless as the last.

L’Office


Ordinarily, we don’t recommend spring waters sold in 18 liter plastic containers. But L’Office is different. It’s a clear, fresh, campy water meant to recreate the “joie de vivre” and “esprit de corps” of the old 1950s office water cooler. Buy your own retro cooler for as little as $279 and get two or three containers of L’Office for your next home party. Watch as your guests are magically drawn to the cooler and let the fun begin.

WaterPak


If you’re at a loss for what to get friends and family for a gift, look no further than WaterPak. WaterPak is twelve mini-bottles of the best waters from around the world. Without breaking the bank, you can let your friend or loved one try a dozen of today’s trendiest waters. From the clear, flat taste of Switzerland’s Alp to the flat, clear taste of Colorado’s Rocky, they’ll enjoy the best the world of water has to offer. And for those who can’t get enough of a good thing, WaterPak is now introducing their Water-of-the-Month Club.

La Piscine


As children we were all warned not to drink the water from the swimming pool. Now, just in time for the dog days of August, La Piscine’s refreshing hint of chlorination lets you experience the forbidden taste of summer without the guilt. Pop one open whenever you’re stuck inside on a humid day — or throw a bottle in your beach tote for the best of both worlds! Just don’t drink more than 12 fl. oz. in a day, per the La Piscine warning label.

Cheers,

The Editors

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Desserts Of The Aborigines

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We continue our survey of foods around the world (see “Strudels of the Outer Mongolian Steppes” and “After-Dinner Mints of the Kalahari Bushmen”) with a look at the desserts of the Australian aborigines. Some of our more cynical readers may doubt that the aborigines have any desserts, but I assure you they do, and very fine desserts they are, too. They may not always have time for a seven-course dinner, those aborigines, but they enjoy their desserts as much as the next man. In fact, there’s no surer way to enrage one of these gentle nomads than by hiding his dessert. And what antics! First he’ll tear his hair out, then in a sudden attack of remorse he’ll try to paste it back on with some “bokku” (mud), and then he’ll throw his oatmeal on the ground and cry himself to sleep like a baby. It really is something to see, if you have the heart to carry it off.

It may surprise you to learn that these hardy, vanishing people have their cake and eat it too, though it’s actually more of a simple mud pie filled with nutritious minerals and other small rocks, and often garnished with flying insects, forget-me-nots and what-have-yous. These plain slices of “kreenod” (mud) need not be cooked. They need not be eaten, either.

Another after-dinner delicacy popular with the aborigines is “bokku-ninga,” or muddy dog (literally, “living hairy filth”). The origins of this dish are obscure, and it’s probably just as well. Perhaps it has something to do with the abundance of dogs, and the even greater abundance of mud (“shoobiki”) in the area. The problem is how to bring the two together at a temperature high enough to keep the taste buds from growing suspicious.

To catch the dog, there are several common ploys. One way is simply to stand there and yell “Here, Sport!” or “Come and get it, Duke!” at the top of your lungs. This doesn’t fool any dog worth eating, but for some reason the canines find it an irresistibly funny line, and it never fails to crack them up. The Australian dingo, after all, has a highly developed sense of humor. He will laugh himself sick, thus becoming an easy prey to aborigines and other forms of carnivorous plant life. From there it’s an easy matter to freeze the dog with dry ice, stuff him with confetti and one shredded Sunday edition of the New York Times, and lower him into a vat containing not more than 236 and not less than 235 gallons of hot mud, plus a dash of chives. I can tell you right now, if you don’t have the chives it’s not worth the trouble; although if you do have chives I can’t see why you should bother with the dog or, for that matter, with the mud. Cooked muddy dog, by the way, is a dessert admitting of endless variations, and its taste has been described as being anywhere from “a little bit like shoe leather” to “quite a bit like shoe leather.”

By this time in the festivities most aborigines have either passed out or taken to writhing on the ground. Unless my interpreter is kidding, this ritual means “my compliments to the chef,” “hail to the chief,” or words to that effect. For the few rugged individuals left standing, however, there is one final concoction, the crème de la crème of outback cooking. It is called, aptly enough, “bokkura” (muddy mud), and it differs from “bokku,” or regular mud, both in the spelling and in the fact that no one has eaten it and lived. “Bokkura” is made by placing one “bokku” (literally, “awful muddy thing”) on top of another, and then throwing the whole mess over your shoulder, hoping no one notices.

And so we can see that dessert for the aborigines is very much like dessert for us, and that one man’s meat is another man’s poison (literally, “poison”).

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Think Outside the Pot

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Every morning, as I wait impatiently for my coffee to percolate, I study the warnings printed on the side of the coffeemaker’s glass carafe. “Do not bump, scratch or boil liquid dry in this carafe. Do not use on open flame. Do not hold over people.”

Sure, they sound like simple demands, but I often wonder: Do these product safety warnings always have consumers’ best interests at heart, or might they be attempts to make us conform to some arbitrary notion of ideal behavior? Before you answer that question, consider the following samples of dialogue, all concerning imaginary situations in which it might be wise to ignore the warning printed on the side of my coffee maker’s glass carafe, “Do not hold over people.”

DOMESTIC

(Setting: the average home.)

Woman: I’ve cleaned everything in this kitchen except for the bottom of the coffee carafe, and I’m not sure whether that’s dirty or not. I hate to waste good cleaning fluid on a not-dirty surface.

Man: Well, turn it over and look.

Woman: I can’t! It’s full of coffee, and I don’t want to waste good coffee, either.

Man: I see. Well, then, hold the carafe up high, and I’ll stand under it and look.

Woman: (elevating carafe) Is this high enough?

Man: (standing beneath carafe) Perfect! And you’ll be glad to know, it’s spotless. Your cleaning is over!

Woman: I’m glad you suggested that I hold the coffee pot aloft. Otherwise I might have stood here all day, trying to decide whether to clean it or not.

Man: And instead I simply had to stand beneath the pot for a brief, not-at-all dangerous period of time.

(Both laugh.)

LAW ENFORCEMENT

(Setting: John Adams middle school faculty lounge, suspected of harboring a dangerous criminal. Police officers kick down the door.)

Police Officer #1: Attention, John Adams Middle School faculty members! Freeze! Now, slowly raise your hands above your heads, without stopping to put down any objects you might be holding.

(A teacher, in the midst of pouring coffee, freezes. He is clearly torn between obeying the orders of the police and the rules printed on the carafe.)

Police Officer #2: You, with the coffee pot! That means you, too!

Teacher: (raising coffee pot above his head) Don’t shoot, officers!

Police Officer #1: Well, we were going to, but now that your hands are above your head, we won’t.

Teacher: How fortunate that I was able to maintain enough clarity of thought to choose the greater of two competing authorities.

Police Officer #2: (brandishing gun) Shut up!

Teacher: (still holding coffee pot) Yes, sir.

PROFESSIONAL

(Setting: A hair salon.)

Hairdresser: I’m thinking a high bouffant would go really well with your wedding veil.

Bride: Well, I don’t know. I’ve never really worn my hair up. Just how high off my head would it be?

Hairdresser: Oh, about five and a half inches or so? I assure you, it will really accent your cheekbones.

Bride: Five and a half inches? I’m afraid I still can’t picture it. If I just had some way to visualize how high that is . . .

Hairdresser: (looking around room) It’s about the height of . . . that coffee pot! (Grabs coffee pot and holds it above Bride.) Now look in the mirror. Your hair would be just that high off your head.

Bride: Wow, now I can picture it clearly! I think that will look great. I’m so glad you thought to hold the coffee pot over me. I’ll be giving you a big tip.

DOMESTIC #2

(Setting: the average couple’s bedroom.)

Woman: Good morning, honey! Boy, did I sleep well. . . . How long have you been awake? And what are you doing standing by the bed like that?

Man: Well, when I woke up I realized it was raining, and there’s a leak in our ceiling, just above your bed. I didn’t want to wake you, and I couldn’t let you get all wet, so I ran to the kitchen and grabbed this coffee pot.

Woman: And you’ve been holding it over me ever since? Aw, honey, that’s so sweet! I’m going to give you a big kiss.

Man: Just let me put down the coffee pot first!

(They laugh merrily.)

LAW ENFORCEMENT #2

(Setting: a roadside diner.)

Detective: Ma’am, we understand that the notorious mafia don we’re pursuing is eating in this diner right now.

Waitress: That’s right, detective. He’s one of my regulars. I heard him admit to killing those poor men just yesterday.

Detective: Well, we appreciate your cooperation, but we certainly don’t want to put you in any danger.

Detective #2: I wonder if there’s a way you could indicate which one he is without pointing or making any other obvious gesture.

Waitress: How about if, when I refill their coffee, I just hold the pot over his head for a moment?

Detective: Perfect! We’ll be watching from here, and when you’re clear, we’ll move in and arrest him.

Detective #2: I know it seems like a small gesture, but simply by holding the coffee pot over that man’s head, you will be contributing to the safety of the entire community. We salute your bravery.

Detective #1: Yes, not everyone would be willing to set aside conventional safety rules in order to confront a dangerous criminal.

Waitress: Hadn’t we better put the plan into action, before the gangsters decide to leave?

Detective #2: Good point! And ma’am, before you go, can I get some more decaf?

(They all laugh, although the waitress seems to be forcing it.)

SELF DEFENSE

(Setting: the average home.)

Man: (looking out window) The zombies! They’re scaling the walls!

Woman: Quick – take the coffee carafe! It just finished brewing.

Man: (Brandishes full carafe.) They’re climbing back down! They’re running away!

Woman: And you didn’t even have to pour the coffee out of the carafe!

Man: No, just holding it over them was enough.

DOMESTIC #3

Woman: (holding full coffee carafe over man’s head) Are you sleeping with that blonde woman?

Man: Yes, I am. What are you going to do about it?

Woman: (Pours coffee on man’s head.)

Man: Auuuuugggghhhh!

(The woman laughs.)

*****

These are just some of the situations in which it might be advantageous to break Mr. Coffee’s rules. Sure, we’d all like to “avoid breakage or injury,” as my coffeemaker puts it, but at what cost? Is it worth sacrificing the potential for self defense, domestic tranquility or revenge that may present itself at any time? The lesson is clear: You don’t have to be an obedient drone just because you enjoy a home-brewed cup of coffee now and then. Don’t let your appliances trump your common sense!

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