The Carl Alert System
CARL KASELL: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR News quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. And here again is your host at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
Thank you, Carl.
SAGAL: Thank you, guys. You know, one of the things we like to do on our show is keep you prepared. Not for natural disasters, but for un-natural disasters. It's the stuff you don't expect that will get you in the end.
KASELL: For example: You definitely want to be on the watch for tiny Irish people who promise you gold.
SAGAL: Paul, the celebration of St. Patrick's Day this week reminds us that many in Ireland are sick and tired of the stereotypes people have about the Irish. In fact, last week, a team in Ireland opened a museum to rehab the image of one particular sect of Irish society: whom?
PAUL PROVENZA: The druids.
SAGAL: Close, but no cigar.
PROVENZA: The alcoholics.
FAITH SALIE: No, he said one particular sect. He didn't say all.
PROVENZA: Oh, I'm sorry.
SAGAL: No, I mean, much like druids, they are magical, smaller, though.
PROVENZA: Oh, the leprechauns?
SAGAL: The leprechauns, yes.
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SAGAL: Dublin's $6.8 million National Leprechaun Museum wants to re-educate people about leprechauns.
CHARLIE PIERCE: Oh, look, there it is.
PIERCE: Down there.
SAGAL: The original leprechaun comes from eight-century Irish folklore, and it's a far cry from the cute little guy, you know, saying top o' the morning on your St. Patrick's Day card.
PROVENZA: Or on your cereal box.
SAGAL: Exactly. It turns out the original leprechaun, or the OL, as they like to call themselves...
SAGAL: ...was a sometimes sinister magical creature. For instance: the eighth-century leprechaun's Lucky Charms cereal was also magically delicious, but instead of having Pink Hearts and Yellow Moon marshmallows, it was filled with actual hearts and rat poison.
SAGAL: And the legend went, if you managed to catch him at the end of a rainbow, he would give you syphilis.
SAGAL: Here's a question about an unnatural danger so great that President Bush warned us about it in a State of the Union Speech.
Charlie, concerned about the threats that our nation faces at this difficult time, a group of Republicans in the Senate have introduced a bill to ban what?
PIERCE: This is my favorite senator, Senator Sam Brownback, who introduced a bill, with a number of co-sponsors, to ban human animal hybrids.
SAGAL: In fact, yes.
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PIERCE: This is called locking the barn after the centaur has been stolen.
SAGAL: I was about to say.
SAGAL: It's not been a good week for the Republicans in terms of the Latino vote. They're also kissing the mermaid vote goodbye this week.
PIERCE: However, Democratic Congressman Dr. Moreau...
PIERCE: ...was in opposition.
SAGAL: Human animal hybrids will be banned. Overseas, you see scientists are fusing human DNA with that of cows and other animals to forward medical research, and because it's totally awesome.
SAGAL: Imagine if they could combine you with a pig, you'd have bacon 24/7.
SAGAL: But Sam Brownback of Kansas, as you said, he introduced the legislation. He says creating human/animal hybrids is a violation of human dignity and challenges the definition of what it means to be human. So under the propose law mermaids, merman, centaurs would be banned, or at least they'd have to use separate entrances at restaurants.
SAGAL: On the other side, Democrats said this was ridiculous. It solves a problem that doesn't exist and everybody should just calm down. And then Henry Waxman quietly gave himself a cat bath.
KASELL: There's one danger that looms above all others. I refer, of course, to the robot apocalypse.
SAGAL: Mo, there's a new US military robot being developed. It's called the Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot, or EATR, E-A-T-R, EATR. It's capable of seeking out biomath energy from the environment to power itself. This week, the maker of the robot had to formally deny widespread reports that the robot would use what as fuel?
MO ROCCA: Human flesh.
SAGAL: Exactly right.
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ROXANNE ROBERTS: Whoa.
SAGAL: The EATR robot is designed to go on long range, long-term military missions. It's eco friendly. It's independent. And that's all super, unless it feasts on the flesh of man.
SAGAL: As Fox News and a number of blogs suggest that it would. In response to such concerns, the CEO of the company which makes the robot said, and I quote him, "We completely understand the public's concern about futuristic robots feeding on the human population, but that is not our mission."
ALONZO BODDEN: I feel better.
SAGAL: At this time, he did not add.
ROCCA: What if it's only feeding on cellulite?
SAGAL: Well, that would be maybe good.
ROCCA: It'd be like kind of liposuction.
SAGAL: Yeah, take care of your cankles for you. That would be fine.
ROCCA: Right. Well, because liposuction isn't very sexy, but to have a robot suck it off of you...
ROBERTS: It'd be kind of like a personal Roomba.
SAGAL: Now, Fox News, which uncharacteristically got quite hysterical about this, the EATR engine might be used in vehicles, including ambulances. Seems like the worst possible application...
SAGAL: ...of an engine fueled by people. You're hurt and the EMTs roll you in the back. They close the doors, they rush you to the ER. And they get there and they open up, all that comes out is a burp.
SAGAL: And remember, when the robots finally come to kill us, we'll remember - ruefully - that we started them off small.
Roxanne, in what is being hailed as a major breakthrough in robot technology a team from the University of California, Berkeley has taught a robot how to do what?
ROBERTS: To kiss.
ROBERTS: I would consider that an innovation in robotry.
ADAM FELBER: Nice sci-fi twist there.
FELBER: What is kiss?
SAGAL: No, not kiss. Something presumably more useful than that.
ROBERTS: OK, I'm going to need a hint then.
SAGAL: They will be stationed outside of dryers.
ROBERTS: They'll be stationed out - fold the laundry.
SAGAL: Close enough. Pair socks.
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SAGAL: Finally, an innovation that will make a difference in our lives.
FELBER: That would make a difference in my life.
FELBER: I waste entirely too much time pairing socks.
SAGAL: Well, you know...
ROBERTS: Wait, wait, wait, can I just make a small point?
SAGAL: You may.
ROBERTS: All right. I sent my 18-year-old to college and I bought him 24 pairs of exactly the same socks.
FELBER: That's good thinking.
ROBERTS: Because if you buy all the same socks this is not an issue.
SAGAL: You know what the problem is...
FELBER: Right now, some scientists are listening to this show in Berkeley and crying right now.
FELBER: You just solved something that they just spent $50 million of stimulus money on.
SAGAL: Well, you know what the problem is, you know what it's like, you get the laundry out of the dryer and you confront the huge pile of unmatched, almost, but not quite identical socks and you say to yourself, just sell the house and walk away.
SAGAL: It will be easier.
SAGAL: But technology to the rescue, a team of programmers taught the robot to identify pair and fold together a single pair of socks in just 15 minutes.
ROBERTS: I'm just going to ask the guys, how many different color socks do you have?
FELBER: On me, at this moment?
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