Back in 1994 somebody at the New York Times said:
“Frankly I don’t give a tinker’s damn how we distribute our
information; I’ll be pleased to beam it to your cortex.”
I was standing at the heavily laden buffet table in Healthy Hanks
International House of Hash. It was All-You-Can-Eat-for-$4.95
night. I was loading my plate with a heaping helping of Hanks
Healthy Hash Browns™ when the beam hit my cortex.
A tiny green LED turned on inside my head. Then I heard a
“ding, ding.” It was the kind of sound your computer makes
when you receive an e-mail.
“Darn!” I said.
“What?” asked my wife. Emmaline was standing next to me
at Healthy Hanks buffet table. She was putting three baby
carrots, three pieces of broccoli, and a small slice of turkey on
her plate. Healthy Hank always makes money when Emmaline
comes to All-You-Can-Eat night.
“The New York Times has just beamed some information to
my cortex,” I said.
“Well just ignore it,” said Emmaline.
“I can’t. That little light they installed in my head is blinking,
and a little bell keeps going ‘ding, ding,’” I said.
“Can’t you turn it off until you finish eating?” asked Emmaline.
“They must not have perfected that part of the technology
yet. I guess they figured they’d perfect the cortex-beaming
technology first, and worry about customer reception issues
“Well why in the world did you sign up the service in the first
“It took fifteen years and cost the New York Times a billion
dollars to perfect cortex-beaming information technology,” I said.
“The least I could do was to subscribe to the service. With the
New York Times Cortex Beam Information System™ they beam
the latest news straight to my cortex,” I said.
“And I have to eat alone so that you can find out that Barack
Obama has just named Billy Crystal to be U.S. ambassador to
“I’ll just step outside. I’ll be right back.”
“Go to the men’s room.”
“I might lose the signal.”
“@#$%^&,” said my wife. She rarely swears, but Emmaline
hates to eat alone. I headed out the door to download my
cortex-beamed information from the New York Times.
I walked toward Emmaline’s new car, a Lexus 300XTC.
Just as I started to activate New York Times beamed-to-my
cortex newsline, a gruff voice spoke behind me.
“Don’t turn around. I have a gun,” said the voice.
“Don’t shoot,” I said.
“Give me your wallet and the keys to your Lexus,” said the
“It’s not my Lexus,” I said.
“I saw you park,” said the voice. “Now give me the keys.”
“It’s my wife’s car. She’s back at the restaurant. I don’t have
“Jerk!” said the voice. Whack! There was a blow on the
head. I was out before I hit the asphalt.
When I woke up my pockets were turned inside out and my
wallet and watch were gone. I stood up. There was an eggsized
lump on my head. I was leaning against Emmaline’s car
when I noticed a little green light and heard a “ding, ding,” in my
I made my way back to Healthy Hanks. Emmaline was
standing near the cash register tapping her foot.
“I got mugged,” I said. “They whacked me on the head and
took my wallet.”
“Oh darling,” said Emmaline, and hugged me.
The police came and I told them what happened. I refused
to go to the emergency room. My head ached, but I didn’t want
anyone to know I was seeing green lights and hearing “ding,
dings,” in my head. I was afraid they’d take me straight to the
When we got home Emmaline asked, “Well, was the news
worth getting mugged for?”
“What news?” I asked
“The cortex-beamed information from the New York Times.
Was it important?”
“Bless you,” I shouted. “Bless your heart!”
I had forgotten about the cortex beam! What joy! They
wouldn’t drag me off to the booby hatch after all.
I activated the New York Times Cortex Beam Information
System™. It was a story on the latest developments in