Newt Gingrich "puzzled" by smartphone


171 Responses to “Newt Gingrich "puzzled" by smartphone”

  1. voiceinthedistance says:

    For me, it’s a tossup between horseless communicator and New Electronic Wireless Telecommunicator (NEWT).


    We should call it a tedious blabbermouth with nothing interesting to say.  Oh, the thing in its hand?  That’s a smartphone.

  3. Stefan Jones says:

    Oooh, OOOH! AppATronMediaComm!

    If you look really carefully, you can see that Newt’s got a copy of Fifty Ways to Leave your LoverWife on that bookshelf.

  4. TheOven says:

    Until it no longer makes use of cellular technology, it’s still a cell phone – regardless of what else it can do.

    And who call it an “auto-mobil”, or automobile for that matter. Only Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Burns I think.

    • bfarn says:

      Sir, this book doesn’t have Siam, Prussia, or AeroGyro.  It must be out of date…

    • Lexicat says:

       And David Byrne . . .

    • dculberson says:

      It might contain a cell phone, but it’s not only a cell phone.  Any more than my laptop is a DVD player or my game console is a netflix box.  Cell phone is one of many primary uses.

      • TheOven says:

        I only apply the same logic to “cell phone” that you do to your other examples:

        • First came the laptop – then came the  DVD playing abilities.
        • It was a game console before it was a Netflix box
         • It was a cellular telephone before it was “not only a cell phone.” 

        We refer to all of these things by their original purpose, regardless of the other features it acquires.

        Nothing else will catch as a name until the original is no longer adequate to describe the object. Smart-phone almost had it I think, but with almost everyone having one, and so few people having the old “dumb” phones (*cough*my wife*cough*) , I hear most people just calling them “cell phone”, “pone”, or “mobile”. 

        The real question is what icon do you use to represent a phone when a phone can look like anything? 

    • John Ohno says:

      Modern mobile phones don’t make use of cellular technology… Unless your smartphone is using an analog signal (in which case, I hope you have good lungs, so that you can shout sufficiently loud to be heard when you are far away from a tower!)

      • phuzz says:

        Well, the area served by each tower is still called a ‘cell’ (even in the UK where we call them mobile phones), and the complicated part of the technology that had to be solved to create the first cell phones was the hand-off between different towers, and that still  exists, so I think calling them cellphones is acceptable.

  5. Erick says:

    I like “pocket computer”.

  6. matt1shortsez says:

    For your health!

  7. Brainspore says:

    He could have easily learned that there is already a widely used term for this device if only he’d spent some time surfing that Informational Superhighway of Tubular Computing Networks first.

  8. AVR says:

    World “puzzled” by Newt Gingrich.

  9. ichabodius says:

    The “Smarter Than Newt Gingrich” Phone.

  10. MrJM says:

    What should we call it???


  11. anon0mouse says:

    “What is this witchcraft!?”

  12. japolo says:

    Doubledecker Soulwrecker!

  13. Brainspore says:

    That would just confuse him. He usually marries any secretary who gets into his pockets.


    I hate to admit it, but he does kinda have a point.  I use my iPhone all the time and yet go for days without a phone call on it.  
    “Computer” has kind of the same problem when applied to non-business devices.  Unlike the commercial mainframes I used to do programming on, consumer ones do almost no computing at all.  It’s all about moving data from one place to another and displaying it.  No batch accounting applications to be seen.  
    We do need better terminology to describe these relatively new appliances.  But we don’t need Noot to approve our nomenclature for us.

    • Happler says:

      So, you are saying that the CPU speed in your system does not matter, since almost no computations take place on your local machine?  

      Personally, most “business use” computers are more likely to be thin client style “cloud computing”, aka document processing, etc, while most non-business gamers are wanting their computer to do more and faster computing then ever.

      I think that the name “computer” works just fine for personal computers. 

      As for the cell phones, you have either “Smartphones” or cell-phones.

      I want to ask Newt, if you car does more then drive (like play music, or cool the air inside), it is more then a car?

    • mccrum says:

      “computer” used to refer to someone who made calculations, so you should really be using electronic computer if you want to be precise…

  15. Jeff Jewell says:


  16. bfarn says:

    Sounds like the opening moves of some plan to “frame the conversation”.  I kept waiting for “But there’s a darker side to this limitless potential, and with great power comes great responsibility.”  Check back in a year’s time to see if he’s progressed to mandatory tracking collars yet.

    • GlyphGryph says:

       Of all his flaws (and he has many), pretty much everything I’ve read seems to agree Newt is actually, genuinely fascinated with technology and the future and the potential it holds. Of all the candidates to make grandiose space claims, he’s the only one who would have at least tried to make it happen, for example.

  17. bzishi says:

    Germans call it a ‘handy’. I think they win.

    • MaxUtil says:

      Technically, they call a standard cell phone a “handy”. So I guess these should be an “uberhandy”

      • bzishi says:

        True, but the name is too charming to be thrown out. And since all cell phones are probably eventually going to be what we now classify as smartphones, we might as well keep the cool name.

      • KaiBeezy says:

        now, where did i hear someone call it an “uber”?

        i believe i did hear that, unless… wait, what’s it called when you think you remember hearing something, but actually you totally just made it up? not cryptomnesia, that’s when you think you made it up but you actually heard it somewhere

  18. waetherman says:

    Personal digital assistant was a term widely used long in advance of Deus Ex’s release, and even longer before the year Deus Ex is set. Hardly prescient. Actually rather retrograde, if you think about it.

  19. It’s the Noosphere!  You can call it the Newtsphere if you like.

  20. Andy Myers says:

    “Electric number wizard”

  21. WhyBother says:

    Mobile terminal. (Or would it be mobile terminus if you’re British?) Whether you use it as a telephone, for internet access, for lightweight computing, or for a combination of the above, it’s a terminal. Whether it’s operating in a cellular mode, tethered to wifi, or even connected to a satellite, it’s mobile. Thus, mobile terminal.

    A bit of a mouthful, but “mobterm” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. Of course, I also named my PC “electroni-box”, so I don’t have the best track record with these sort of things.

  22. Antinous / Moderator says:

    What’s wrong with jeejah?

  23. waetherman says:

    Telecommunication and

  24. Gilbert Wham says:

    You realise he’s trolling you, right? Loosely translated, he said, ‘What is this, I don’t even…’
    Newt Gingrich just  used an internet meme and you didn’t even notice…

  25. dunkalunk says:

    The term mobile serves me just fine.

  26. MonkeyBoy says:

    Since TVs have been known as boob tubes, I think a good name would be a teat – considering how infantile some people can get when deprived of or removed from their teat.

    • Stickarm says:

      Harlan Ellison has been here already:
      One could probably get away with reapplying this put down to smart phones by writing caustic app reviews, or something, but it would have to be backed up with a significant amount of work as was done by Mr. Ellison for his project. He offered a lot of criticism, sure, but he also clearly watched a heck of a lot of television in the process of doing so.

  27. Jerry Kindall says:

    The correct term for an electrified guitar is “guitar.” The correct term for electronic mail is “mail.” And the correct term for an intelligent phone is “phone.” Add modifiers for the obsolete variants: acoustic guitar, physical mail, voice-only phone.

  28. big ryan says:

    i have a feeling that eventually well just call it our HUD, and then well get so used to it being there that we wont even call it anything at all

  29. Snig says:

    I would comment “If you’re so interested in making government and society better and more productive, why didn’t you focus on that while you were in government, instead of focusing on excoriating Clinton for having an extramarital affair while blatantly extramaritally boinking the current Mrs. Gingrich?” 

  30. crenquis says:

    I always called it the ol’ benton harbor lunch box…
    Now, I just say “text me on the tip calculator”

  31. technogeekagain says:

    I think we should call it “Newt’s desperate for media attention.”

    • EH says:

      “Huh, we haven’t heard from loudmouth X in a long time…why now?” I guess they let him out of the cage he was put in during the 2012 election.

  32. nixiebunny says:

    I call it a Tetris engine that makes phone calls. 

  33. Sarge Misfit says:

    So many bad puns came to mind that I had a brain burp and couldn’t think for a moment. So, since I am sure that there are many others who will have a ton of fun with puns on this (and which I am going to continue enjoy reading), I’m going with a serious suggestion.


    Data for its computer aspects and Comm for its communication aspects.

    Or perhaps a shortened version, DCom.

  34. Is this “Newt Gingrich” guy for real, or is this an elaborate Troll or a comedy act ( like Stephen Colbert) 

    I cannot believe that anybody is that stupid that they know what a smartphone is, but doesnt know its called a smartphone. Really?
    Even his supposed name “Newt Gingrich” sounds made up. Sounds too surreal and hillbilly’ish to be a real name.

    Because lets be perfectly honest here, who would vote for somebody named “Newt Gingrich”?

    • wingo shackleford says:

       Haha!  Try Google.  He was a congressman for 20 years and was Speaker of the House for a few of those.  He recently ran for President. He is for real, and indicative of most American politicians.

    • AnthonyC says:

      Is this “Newt Gingrich” guy for real, or is this an elaborate Troll or a comedy act ( like Stephen Colbert) 
      You could ask the same question about a large fraction of our politicians. But alas, he really is a elected politician with a long career behind him.

    • Snig says:

      It’s a calculated attempt at “folksiness”, pretending to be a regular guy so people will like him.  Once you get to know him, you realize he’s a sanctimonious weasel.  It’s not an unusual political animal.  

    • BillStewart2012 says:

      Of course he knows it’s often called a “smartphone”, and a “cellphone”, but he’s trying to make a point.  It’s a revolutionary technology, it’s put networked video cameras in the hands of half the population (so it’s a lot harder for police to get away with things unrecorded), it’s running tools to keep people constantly updated about what their friends are up to, and to keep people who aren’t your friends constantly updated about what you’re up to, it’s got more computing power than supercomputers did when he was first harassing Bill Clinton and faster data connections than an average university did back then, it’s got music-player and music-distribution technology that helped trash the big music studios’ business model, can store a recent copy of Wikipedia and access the rest of it as needed. 

      It doesn’t yet have an intergalactic version of the Electric Thumb application, but you can definitely get an app to show “Don’t Panic” in big friendly letters on the front.

    • Rindan says:

      I am an American, and I want to assure you that Newt Gingrich is not a real person.  He is a comedian prankster.  All the news and stuff you might see about him on the web are just jokes.  He is kind of like Rick Santorum, Steven Colbert, and Michele Bachmann, just hilarious made up American jokes.

      It is always hilarious when non-Americans read our joke news and think they are real.  Do you really think one of the wealthiest and most powerful nations with one of the longest running democracies could really descend into the kind of stupid that these pranksters pretend is real?

      Ha ha, Americans are so funny and totally don’t have a batshit insane political class hell bent on running the nation into the ground.  You can go ahead and keep on respecting the Americans.  We are totally worth respecting.

      • Gilbert Wham says:

         If it’s any consolation, it’s not much nicer being British. We just pretend it is.

        • tré says:

          What’s the difference between collectively pretending something’s nice and something being nice?

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          …it’s not much nicer being British. We just pretend it is.

          I had the impression that being British means that you have to hand half your paycheck to a terrorist because EUROPE!, you’re not allowed to leave your home because health and safety and you have a one in four chance of being murdered by a Polish immigrant on any given day. I haven’t observed the nicer-pretending.

      • Kimmo says:

        I am an American, and I want to assure you that Newt Gingrich is not a real person. He is a comedian prankster. All the news and stuff you might see about him on the web are just jokes. He is kind of like Rick Santorum, Steven Colbert, and Michele Bachmann, just hilarious made up American jokes.

        It is always hilarious when non-Americans read our joke news and think they are real. Do you really think one of the wealthiest and most powerful nations with one of the longest running democracies could really descend into the kind of stupid that these pranksters pretend is real?

        Ha ha, Americans are so funny and totally don’t have a batshit insane political class hell bent on running the nation into the ground. You can go ahead and keep on respecting the Americans. We are totally worth respecting.

        Quoted for awesomeness

    • Gilbert Wham says:

       Many, many people, sadly. Though that wouldn’t preclude his not being real, I suppose. He is though.

  35. Shay Guy says:

    The YA novel series Remnants used the term “link.”

    I like just the word “cell,” by itself. Like an organism’s cell. Or a prison cell if you’re a Luddite. :P

    • Kimmo says:

      I was thinking link, but then I thought hinge.

      It’ll be increasingly weird for someone to go without one, until from the point of view of everyone whose existence hinges on their phone, the deliberately phoneless will appear completely unhinged.

  36. jackbird says:

    I like the term “handbrain” from Schlock Mercenary.

  37. timquinn says:

    And so, Kangaroo loudly proclaimed, “I can’t send Hare in search of anything!”
    “You can guru, you can!” shouted Newt. 
    “You can send him with Owl.” 
    But Owl had gone to sleep. 
    Newt knew too much to be stopped by so small a problem
    “You can take him in your pouch.”
    But alas, Hare was much too big to fit into
    Kangaroo’s pouch. 

  38. Greg Van Antwerp says:

    I’m now referring to mine as a “Newton” Kind of the definition of a “failed

  39. ShifterCat says:

    “A stupid person’s idea of what a smart person is like.”  Wasn’t it Newt Gingrich they were talking about?

  40. Jon Ptolemy says:

    I prefer “terminal.” Iain Banks uses the term in the Culture novels to refer to each citizens link to the Culture, often in the form of a piece of jewelry or a phone-like device in their pocket. They can contact the Minds (AIs) that run the Culture, call for help, retrieve information with their terminal.

    • ImmutableMichael says:

      Or better still, name it after one of the Culture Ships.  “New Toy” would be obvious, but “Subtle Shift in Emphasis” also works.  “Falling Outside The Normal Moral Constraints” is one to keep for the companies that make them.

  41. Keith Tyler says:

    In other news, on Defiance they call them “Hailers”.

    Has anyone noticed that the industry doesn’t actually call them “cell phones” or their own service “cellular” anymore, in favor of the more vague “mobile”? And among the mobile phone hardware wonks, the phones are known as “handsets”.

  42. “Sub-Etha Phone-O-Matic.”

    Share and Enjoy!

  43. Just_Ok says:

    I think we should call it “2 in the morning”, every morning.

  44. KaiBeezy says:

    carriage > horeseless carriage > car

    telephone > cellular telephone > pho

    calls for sriracha

    • Gilbert Wham says:

       There is a Brian Aldiss novel (one of his worse efforts) where they’re called ‘mofos’. Cigarettes were called ‘smokehales’. At this point, I cursed and hurled the book across the room.

  45. kiwidebz says:

    Neve Maslakovic described a multi-purpose communication, media and storage device in her book “Regarding Ducks and Universes” and named it simply “Omni”. I think that’s a very clever name.

  46. Candy's Dog says:

    Gasbag Gab Slab

  47. EH says:

    Whore Summoner

  48. crummett says:

    Nice to see Newt’s got his priorities set.

  49. We call it “the leash.” Sometimes also the “destroyer of personal space/time.”

  50. ludd says:

    It be a “Whatsit”.

  51. Singe says:

    I’d have called it a collar. And designed it to resemble one.

    .. I just realized that dovetails nicely with the word ‘caller’.

  52. spacedmonkey says:

    Beat me to it.

  53. Jon Konrath says:

    You need a shorter name for the obsolete technology, like when you change “wife with cancer” to “ex-wife”.

  54. et50 says:


  55. foobar says:

    If you really want to see him puzzled, ask him to spell it.

  56. Big_Bad_Bald_Bastard says:

    Given the way most people use it- Pocket o’ Porn.

  57. retchdog says:

    Oh, I’m a little verklempt… Talk amongst yourselves. I’ll give you a topic: A smartphone is neither smart nor a phone.

  58. retchdog says:

    i figured it was an homage to Shadowrun, a cyberpunk tabletop rpg which used the term for the same thing in its second edition in 1992! maybe the first edition too (1989), but definitely in the second. and Shadowrun probably got it from some obscure cyberpunk novel.

  59. pjcamp says:

    Ummm. . . Ummm. . . Wife Number Four!

    I guess it’s tough to stay in touch with reality when you’ve got world history turning on your every thought.

  60. Jake0748 says:

    Didn’t Newt’s head used to be much more gigantic?  Is he shrinking?  

  61. Angry Chief says:

    We should call it Motherbox.

  62. Robert says:

    Heap Big Magic Box

  63. FoolishOwl says:

    Is it just me, or did Gingrich try to folksy up the concept of the transformation of quantity into quality?

  64. neffezzle99 says:

    Personal Tracking Assistant with networking and phone-like capabilities

  65. Fnordius says:

    And no one has brought up the PADD yet? Or even tricorder, since it is a communicator, a PADD and an A/V recorder in one package? How the Trek geekery hat fallen!

  66. TheMudshark says:


  67. Gilbert Wham says:


  68. John Ohno says:

    I’m with Charlie Stross in thinking that the appropriate term is “glowing rectangle”. As in, “I’m sitting here in the dark, poking my glowing rectangle, and then I hold my glowing rectangle up to the side of my head and shout at it”.

  69. Patrick Fitzgerald says:

    I always call mine the Magical Internet Pants Rectangle.

    • Kimmo says:

      I like pants rectangle.

      In fact, I’m liking rectangle for anything with a screen that can do video.

      Just assume any rectangle has a computer and comms unless otherwise specified, eg dumb rectangle for a display.

      Heh, pants rectangle. I look forward to them getting a bit thinner…

      Hey, rectangle includes the word tangle, and a smartphone is indeed a pretty tangly thing, tangling threads from all over, fine and dense.

      Check out my new tangle. Hm, back to the drawing board?

  70. TripleE78 says:

     Which I’m pretty sure they copied from Shadowrun, which was out at least 10 years before that.

  71. Jorpho says:

    Unable to watch the video at the moment, I have been looking through the comments trying to find when this footage was actually made – ten years ago?  Fifteen?

    Because this is just another chuckle at a delightful old anachronism. Right?

  72. semoto says:

    Some very witty replies here! But I hope he hasn’t spent too much time trying to find a name for something that already has a name. It’s called a smart phone.

  73. gauch0 says:


  74. I think what Newt doesn’t realize is that most terms we use for things like cars, movies, etc…; are slang terms that were use so commonly they became part of our regular language. So I say we call it whatever the hell we want and eventually no one will care until the day we have to explain to our children what a phone is.

  75. donniebnyc says:

    Regardless of what we agree to call the device he’s holding, I think we can refer to this video as “just one more reason Newt will never be president.”  

  76. Jason Van Cleve says:

    It’s a “com”.  It’s used to communicate (or you can think of it as short for “computer”).  Plus com is easy to say.  “Handheld computer” is way too verbose for colloquial speech.

  77. Bigus Dickus says:

    How about PPID. Personal Privacy Invasion Device. And while we are at it lets stop referring to the service as Cell Service and call it PDS. Privacy Disruption Service.

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