9-1-1, that spells “Moon”

By Phil Plait | May 15, 2008 3:00 pm

So a guy calls 911 because of someone knocking at his door, then calls a second time because of a suspected drug deal.

Then he calls a third time to find out the phase of the Moon.


Here’s a tip for all you prospective 9-1-1-dialers out there: go to teh intertoobs, type "google.com" in your address bar, and then "moon phase" into the little windowy thingy they give you. I bet that will not involve you being arrested on misdemeanor charges*.

Via Fark, of course. And I came up with the title of this post before I saw someone make the same joke in the Fark comments, just so’s you know.

*I am not a lawayer, so this does not constitute legal advice.


Comments (32)

  1. SSJPabs

    Actually 6666 spells moon.

  2. Tim G

    You really should call your police department’s non-emergency number for that sort of information.

  3. There must be drugs/alcohol involved somewhere, though the article doesn’t say.

    Several years ago, some local teenagers (high on marijuana) thought it would be “fun” to call 911 and hang up… Several times.

    As expected, if 911 gets a call/hangup, they investigate (just in case someone got disconnected while trying to report a real emergency). I’m sure you can imagine what the police found upon arrival.

  4. Greg E

    never took the Bad Astronomer as a Stephen King reader… figured he was more of a Bradbury, cyberpunk, Wells, and Orwell reader.

    I used to read King when I was a teenager in high school, but my tastes evolved for the better. I also found 90 percent of Kings works very derivative and uninspiring. He has some great short stories and a few novellas worth noting and reading, but honestly, King’s major flaw is editing and being too much influenced by other writers that his works basically become homages to their works. King is nothing more amalgamation of HP Lovecraft, John D. MacDonald, popular culture movies, and comic books. Not to say King doesn’t say intelligent things in interviews and in non-fiction.

  5. Wait–

    What’s the number for 911 again?


  6. OsakaGuy

    Those crazy 911 calls always increase when there’s a full moon, as those crazy callers know.

    “Hi, 911? Is there a full moon tonight?”

    “Yes sir.”

    “In that case, expect another call from me soon.”


  7. David D.G.

    Are you on some kind of phone-themed kick on purpose today, Phil, or is this just a coincidence?

    ~David D.G.

  8. justcorbly

    >>He called “to say he knew where narcotics were being sold…”

    No kidding.

    Bogus 911 calls are a problem across the country. Good on those Flordia cops for charging this guy.

  9. Chris B.

    Wow, Greg E. Thanks for the unsolicited review on Stephen King’s collected works.

    Yes, you’re much smarter and more sophisticated than most people.

  10. See, there’s the problem — you’re using large words and incomprehensible terms that are just going to confuse the people who need instruction the most.

    Which terms? Well, “address bar”, “window”, and the concept of typing just “google.com” will confuse the bejeezus out of many people, especially those who need this instruction the most.

    Let them dial 911. It’s more entertaining for the rest of us.

  11. Hoonser

    I suppose if you had a heart attack and dialed 911 and it turned out to be busy that would at least give you the resolve to live on to hunt down the idiots who tie up the lines with their moronic calls that don’t have any thing to do with real emergencies.

  12. > 9-1-1, that spells “Moon”

    Laws, yes!

  13. go to teh intertoobs, type “google.com” in your address bar, and then “moon phase” into the little windowy thingy they give you.

    Folks like this don’t HAVE internet.

  14. The BA quotes King? That’s it. You cannot possibly be any more awesome. Please stop!

  15. Mark Hansen

    I thought this was supposed to be an astronomy blog, not phone advice. Kindly stick to astronomy or I shall never visit again.

    Just thought I’d get in before the trolls do!

  16. Levi

    I hope it was at least too cloudy for them to see the moon…

  17. Gordon

    “What’s the number for 911 again?


  18. Agree with Mark…the astronomy gets lost somewhere here. Phil sometimes loses the phlot!


  19. Michelle

    That’s nothing. Sometimes here people call 911 to get another number, to report a guy watering his lawn or because a dog barks. Oh… And some of them call for an ambulance only because they’re too lazy to take a taxi to go to someplace close to the hospital.

  20. Rodger

    I had a guy call on 911 once to report a moon halo. Neither he nor any family members with him had ever seen one before, and they were convinced it was the end of the world. I gave him a generic explanation of what was happening and then asked him even if it was the end of the world, what could the police to do about it?

  21. Ronn Blankenship

    Gordon wrote:

    “What’s the number for 911 again?


    Apparently Gordon is a fan of the comic “The Dinette Set” and reads all of the little messages on the bulletin board, too . . .

  22. Ronn Blankenship

    Gordon wrote:

    “What’s the number for 911 again?


    Apparently Gordon is a fan of the comic “The Dinette Set” and reads all of the little messages on the bulletin board, too . . .

  23. Ronn Blankenship

    Hmm . . .

    Sorry about the double-post: when I pressed “Submit Comment” the first time I got some sort of error message about the message containing an illegal mix of Sweedish and UTF-8 (iirc: I can’t get the message to show up again to check), so I tried again . . .

  24. 74westy

    Mark, I think the expression “Just thought I’d get in before the trolls do” is self refuting. Perhaps “not earlier than” :)

    But of course if the phase of the moon is not astronomy, I don’t know what is. If the perp had asked a bad astronomer, “is that a half moon?” instead of a cop, he could have got a really cool answer like “Actually that’s a quarter moon although many people call it a half moon because half of the moon’s apparent disk is visible but if you picture the moon three dimensionally blah blah blah.”

    Too bad the article doesn’t say when the incident occurred so we can’t verify his assertion he was seeing a “half [sic] moon” but when he appears in court on June 3, 2008, the moon will be not quite new.

  25. James

    to Ronn Blankenship: now you end up with triple-post :)
    Regarding false 911 calls, my kids were calling 911 and hang up. At least once each kid, probably to verify their knowledges. Every time police officers were coming promptly to verify the call. I think such kids calls is a big pain for the emergency, but what they or I can do. Yes, I explained that’s not good to interrupt police with such false calls and my kids didn’t call it again. Not sure if it because of my explanation or they were already satisfied with the police reaction on the first call :)

  26. OsakaGuy:

    Those crazy 911 calls always increase when there’s a full moon, as those crazy callers know.

    See http://cectic.com/145.html

  27. Al

    As any Stonecutter knows, the real number is 912…

  28. themadlolscientist

    I thought it was 999. No, waitaminnit, that’s on the other side of the pond………..

  29. Tod

    I spent my 40+ year career in the telephone biz – starting out working the local central office, then telephone installer….

    I dated an information operator for a few months ages ago and she kept me in stitches with the stories she told…guys calling for the Giants score, ladies asking about which store had a sale going, you name it, people thought that calling “information” (411) actually meant that these operators were sitting alongside encyclopedias and newspapers!

    I can’t recall when but eventually Ma Bell redesignated (but not repurposed) 411 as “directory assistance” rather than “information.”

  30. Philip B.

    Wouldn’t it be easier just to get contact information from people like this, then mail them a nice $200 fine for wasting the operators time, and being a dumbass?


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