Uh huh…

August 15, 1997

In the beginning there was the telephone. And it was good. People who were separated by long distances could keep in touch in ways other than the postal service. Then came answering machines. They were good too. When you weren’t home, or when you were afraid someone you didn’t want to talk to was going to call, the answering machine took the calls for you. That way, you never missed a message when you were out, and you never had to spend an hour on the phone listening to Aunt Bessie describe the cute thing her eleventh oldest cat just did. Then came Caller ID. Now you knew who was calling in advance, and you could switch your answering machine off before Aunt Bessie took up the entire tape. So what’s next? I think the next step will be a machine that will not only answer the phone for you, but will talk to the person on the other end as well. Sure, answering machines do that, but it’s incredibly impersonal. Sometimes Aunt Bessie likes to believe she’s talking to a person. This is a true story: the mother of a friend of mine would call him up and talk to him for three hour stretches. All he had to do was say, "Uh huh" every few minutes. His brother made an art of it. His brother would pick up the phone, let her get started, and go mow the lawn. Every fifteen minutes he would stop, go to the phone, and say, "Uh huh." A machine could do this a lot more efficiently, and with less trouble. Eventually, I think, machines will be able to screen calls and, using the latest information available on the internet, give advice, console, talk about the big game last night, or just say, "Uh huh." Family disputes will never start, and at holidays people can bring along their machines to talk for them. Ah, can’t you just feel the warmth?


A guide to safe FAX

Q. DO I HAVE TO BE MARRIED TO HAVE SAFE FAX ?
A. Although married people FAX quite often, there are many single people who FAX complete strangers every day, with no adverse effects.

Q. IF I FAX SOMETHING TO MYSELF, WILL I GO BLIND ?
A. Certainly not, as far as we can see.

Q. MY PARENTS SAY THEY NEVER HAD FAX WHEN THEY WERE YOUNG, AND HAD TO WRITE MEMOS TO EACH OTHER UNTIL THEY WERE OLDER. HOW OLD DO YOU THINK PEOPLE SHOULD BE BEFORE THEY FAX ?
A. A reasonably responsible person can safely become an active FAX participant at almost any age, provided the correct peocedures are used.

Q. THERE IS A PLACE ON OUR STREET WHERE YOU CAN GO AND PAY TO FAX. IS THIS LEGAL ?
A. Yes. Many people have no other outlet for their FAX requirements, and are obliged to pay a "Professional" when their need to FAX cannot be satisfied in any other way.

Q. WHEN I FAX SOMEONE IS IT NECESSARY TO USE A COVER ?
A. Unless you are really sure of the person you are FAXing, a cover should always be used to insure safe FAX.

Q. I GET EMBARRASSED WHEN I PERFORM THE PROCEDURE INCORRECTLY, AND HAVE A PREMATURE TRANSMISSION. WHAT SHOULD I DO ?
A. Don’t panic. People often transmit prematurely, especially when they haven’t FAX in a long time. Just start over (Most people don’t mind if you try again.)

Q. I FAX BOTH PERSONNALY AND IN BUSINESS. COULD THIS EVENTUALLY POSE PROBLEMS FOR ME ?
A. Being Bi-Faxual can be confusing, and sometimes make your FAX life uncertain, but as long as you use a cover each time you FAX, you won’t transmit anything you’re not supposed to.

From the WEEKLY WORLD NEWS, May 24, 1994

MOSCOW —

Doctors are blaming a rare electrical imbalance in the brain for the bizarre death of a chess player whose head literally exploded in the middle of a championship game!

No one else was hurt in the fatal explosion but four players and three officials at the Moscow Candidate Masters’ Chess Championships were sprayed with blood and brain matter when Nikolai Titov’s head suddenly blew apart. Experts say he suffered from a condition called Hyper-Cerebral Electrosis or HCE.

"He was deep in concentration with his eyes focused on the board," says Titov’s opponent, Vladimir Dobrynin. "All of a sudden his hands flew to his temples and he screamed in pain. Everyone looked up from their games, startled by the noise. Then, as if someone had put a bomb in his cranium, his head popped like a firecracker."

Incredibly, Titiov’s is not the first case in which a person’s head has spontaneously exploded. Five people are known to have died of HCE in the last 25 years. The most recent death occurred just three years ago in 1991, when European psychic Barbara Nicole’s skull burst. Miss Nicole’s story was reported by newspapers worldwide, including WWN. "HCE is an extremely rare physical imbalance," said Dr. Anatoly Martinenko, famed neurologist and expert on the human brain who did the autopsy on the brilliant chess expert. "It is a condition in which the circuits of the brain become overloaded by the body’s own electricity. The explosions happen during periods of intense mental activity when lots of current is surging through the brain. Victims are highly intelligent people with great powers of concentration. Both Miss Nicole and Mr. Titov were intense people who tended to keep those cerebral circuits overloaded. In a way it could be said they were literally too smart for their own good."

Although Dr. Martinenko says there are probably many undiagnosed cases, he hastens to add that very few people will die from HCE. "Most people who have it will never know. At this point, medical science still doesn’t know much about HCE. And since fatalities are so rare it will probably be years before research money becomes available."

In the meantime, the doctor urges people to take it easy and not think too hard for long periods of time. "Take frequent relaxation breaks when you’re doing things that take lots of mental focus," he recommends.

(As a public service, WWN added a sidebar titled HOW TO TELL IF YOUR HEAD’S ABOUT TO BLOW UP:)

Although HCE is very rare, it can kill. Dr. Martinenko says knowing you have the condition can greatly improve your odds of surviving it. A "yes" answer to any three of the following seven questions could mean that you have HCE:

1. Does your head sometimes ache when you think too hard? (Head pain can indicate overloaded brain circuits.)

2. Do you ever hear a faint ringing or humming sound in your ears? (It could be the sound of electricity in the skull cavity.)

3. Do you sometimes find yourself unable to get a thought out of your head? (This is a possible sign of too much electrical activity in the cerebral cortex.)

4. Do you spend more than five hours a day reading, balancing your checkbook, or other thoughtful activity? (A common symptom of HCE is a tendency to over-use the brain.)

5. When you get angry or frustrated do you feel pressure in your temples? (Friends of people who died of HCE say the victims often complained of head pressure in times of strong emotion.)

6. Do you ever overeat on ice cream, doughnuts and other sweets? (A craving for sugar is typical of people with too much electrical pressure in the cranium.)

7. Do you tend to analyze yourself too much? (HCE sufferers are often introspective, "over-thinking" their lives.)

(Side note: This article is worthless because anyone who takes the Weekly World News seriously is in no danger whatsoever of excessive brain use.–CW)

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