The Cupertino Effect and Basketball Lingerie

iPhone image

I never cease to be amazed at how my cell phone has become so essential to my day-to-day survival.  If I inadvertently leave home without it, I feel disconnected from the world and have a sense of impending doom.

Without this gadget I couldn’t get Ann’s text asking me to stop by the market for some critical ingredient for one of our BigLittleMeals recipes.  Or, at the dog park I’d be unable to share photos of our grandkids with other dog owners who are showing me their grandkids on their phones.  Or, heaven forbid that I should have to find my way to the Ace Hardware in Santa Rosa without Google Maps.

Despite the number of reasons I can’t live without my cell phone, there are some compelling reasons why I could very well live without a cell phone.  Primary among those reasons are the auto correction and voice recognition technologies.

zits cellphone

I am in awe of the dexterity of our children and grandkids who can compose email or text messages using their thumbs at the speed of light.  I, on the other hand, must laboriously hunt and peck my way to producing a two sentence email and usually by the time I am half way through have forgotten what I wanted to say in the first place.

Even at this slow pace, I am prone to embarrassing auto correction blips, aka “The Cupertino Effect.”  I first heard about this phenomenon on Radiolab nearly 10 years ago.  It refers to early spell-check technology where certain words were misinterpreted by the software.  A classic example, and hence the source of the term, was when the word “cooperation” was corrected to “Cupertino.”  Evidently a NATO document is out there somewhere with the sentence, “The Cupertino with our Italian comrades proved to be very fruitful.”   And I love the example where “Donner party” was translated to “dinner party.” 


Microphone icon

That fateful button

So you can understand why I was so stoked when voice recognition technology made thumb typing moot (or so I thought).  Just hit that little microphone button and dictate what you want to send.  Turns out that this is just as hazardous as my hunt-and-peck messages.


To illustrate,  not long ago while riding with friends from the Santa Rosa Cycling Club we stopped for coffee at the popular Basque Boulangerie Cafe in the town of Sonoma.  I wanted to let Ann know I would be a little late getting home. Not having my reading glasses handy I dictated the following text message:

Correct text message

What I dictated.

It wasn’t until later that I saw what I had actually sent (and Ann’s response):

Basketball Lingerie Text

What I actually sent (and Ann’s response).  


Although “basketball lingerie” may have sounded “iffy” to Ann,  when I Googled “basketball lingerie” I was bemused to discover that there actually was a Lingerie Basketball League with four teams in 2011 in Los Angeles. It was short lived; the teams hung up their lingerie the following year.

I realize that I am not the only one who has suffered from auto correction bloopers.  The Internet is full of examples, some of them quite funny.  But despite the constant threat of these linguistic ambushes, I plan to continue dictating messages on my phone.  If nothing else, it is a great source for discovering new puns – which, as you should know from a previous blog, is my kind of humor.







  1. sara deseran says:

    Laughing here in SF! I love that Tlish (short for Tacolicious) autocorrects to Tlush all the time. And considering half the people that dine there are drunk it makes a lot of sense.


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