Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Smart news: not all smart ...or news

By Jim Heffernan
I recently acquired a new “smart” phone, and I’ve got to admit it’s pretty smart. Until now I’ve been strictly a landlinelubber (hey, I just made up a new big word) but landlines don’t work away from home base, as everyone knows.

So I finally joined the multitudes of smart phone users. I’m always a decade or two behind the times, so no surprise there. The thing about my new smart phone that surprised me is that it isn’t just for calling or hearing from people you don’t necessarily want to talk to or hear from in the first place. It includes a feature they label “smart news.”

How smart? Well, we’ll see as we read on. For a neophyte like me, it’s quite surprising to see the screen filled with actual smart news and advertisements all mixed together, making it difficult to differentiate between them.

Get it? Well, for example, it’ll show a headline like:
Trump avers he’s
greatest bad
weather president

And then the next headline after it is something like:
Dr. Scholl gets
esteemed prize
in podiatry

See? That second item is actually an ad for shoe liners that make your feet feel good going upstairs, disguised as news. So, if you’re quickly scanning the smart news for news that you deem to be important, like:
Italians decry
naming storm
after Florence

You might click to the next one, clearly an ad:
More Quakers eat
Wheaties than
their own oats

Of course you can readily figure it out but it can be somewhat startling to think you’re reading actual fake news and then realize it’s simply an ad for something. Imagine this scenario. Real news first:
Kim Jong Un
changes last
name to Novak

Very serious news indeed. Then it’s followed by:
Research shows
Spearmint won’t
lose flavor on
bedpost overnight

Totally commercial headline disguised as breaking news.

Here are a few more examples of this growing phenomenon:
Duchy of Fenwick
declares war
on United States

Whew. Very bad development, indeed. Next?
Dentists wonder
where yellow went
after Pepsodent use

Hmmm. Here’s more. First actual news:
President Trump
lies in bed,
also elsewhere

And then:
Tasters declare
Pepsi Cola
hits the spot

Followed by startling news:
Jesus returns
for second
coming event

And then:
New discovery
eliminates
dandruff

I’ve never had a dandruff problem, but I am aware of its heartbreak. No, hold it, it’s the heartbreak of psoriasis, the embarrassment of dandruff.

I suppose on the day of reckoning, though, nobody will care much about the second coming if sufferers can get their hands on an effective dandruff cure.

We Americans really are exceptional. And smart. Ask us.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

A day in the life of a registered senior citizen...

A registered senior citizen on the phone...
By Jim Heffernan
Well, the Internal Revenue Service called again and, boy, am I ever in deep doo-doo. They said I owe all kinds of more taxes and I’d better pay up by sundown or the fuzz will come and pick me up and throw me in the hoosegow. 

So I guess this will have to be sort of a goodbye, because I can’t come up with that kind of moolah by the end of the day. Now I’m waiting for the house to be surrounded by IRS or FBI agents wielding rifles and a bullhorn ordering me to surrender. Can tear gas be far behind?

I do wonder what the neighbors will think, although most of them won’t be surprised. But I can’t think about that now because the phone just rang again.

“Hello, Grandpa?” Holy smokes, I’m thinking it must be one of my grandchildren calling. “Is this Jason?” I asked, alarmed.

 “Yeah, it’s Jason,” the lad responded quickly. “I’m in jail and I haven’t got any money. I need you to bail me out, grandpa.”

Well, I told him I was waiting for the Internal Revenue Service to surround our house but I’d try to help him out in the meantime. I didn’t think he’d need as much as the IRS. “How much do you need, and where are you in jail?”

He said he’d need as much as I could muster because he was behind bars in Istanbul, Turkey, where we all know they don’t treat prisoners with kid gloves. I told him I’d see what I could do and that he should call back in half an hour.

Then, bing goes the phone again. It was a very nice lady with a distinct foreign accent kindly calling to inform me that I must immediately go to my computer and do certain stuff or the computer will be rendered useless forever. Of course they’ll need my Social Security number to verify my identity. Can’t blame them there.

But before I could say Jack Robinson, the phone indicated another call was coming in. I took it. It was Jason calling back about the bail money.

I had to tell him I just remembered I don’t have any grandson named Jason, which resulted in the phone suddenly going dead on the other end of the line. No click or anything. Just dead. Must be the Turkish phone system.

When the IRS agents didn’t show up by sundown, I figured they were busy at the house of some other geezer who owes them even more. As far as the computer is concerned, it didn’t go kaput at all like the lady with the accent said it would. I just typed all this on it, for crying out loud.

Jeepers, it makes you wonder if all these people could be trying to steal money from me.