Friday, July 25, 2008

Cell phone cancer scare? Don't sweat it

I’m not concerned that cell phones might cause cancer because I believe in three years cell phones will be able to cure cancer.

That will be the first useful application for a device over which I’ve had an uneasy relationship since its noisy introduction about ten years ago.

I used to maintain that the only words that should ever be spoken in public into a cell phone are, “No! No! No! Make the incision behind the left ear! The left ear!”

Now, I’m as guilty as the next guy. I make so few meaningful calls on my cell phone that I often wonder if I even need it at all. It’s still too complicated and clunky to carry around for so much pointless yapping.

But extrapolating that thought leads me down a dangerous path. Because I say so few meaningful things in general that if I get rid of the cell phone for that reason then the logical conclusion is I just ought to shut up all together, and despite the rising chorus of “Amens!” I’m not going to just shut up.

So I continue to use my cell phone mostly for ordering pizzas, arranging tee times and killing time with old buddies by repeating things like our favorite Homer Simpson lines back and forth to one another when we should be working.

And all the while the cell phone keeps becoming more and more remarkable.

I remember about 10 years ago Maxim asked me to do a story about “The Next Big Things.” The roster included Segway scooters, hydro-oceanic energy harvesting modules, and self-healing plastics that will eliminate catastrophic damage on things like airplane wings.

And it included a nifty little MIT-produced prototype they were calling the “Handy 21.”

Here’s what I wrote: “In just 10 years, the geniuses at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are convinced the only e-device you’ll ever need will be the Handy 21, a voice-driven, wireless wonder that will be your cell phone, camcorder, radio, TV and Internet gateway all rolled into one. It’s being called a ‘communication chameleon’ for its Capt. James T. Kirk tricorder-like efficiency.”

But the geniuses at Maxim ditched the Handy 21 because they said it was too far-fetched. Of course, those are the same geniuses that thought they’d all have jobs at Maxim through 2010 before we all learned in unison that they hire fresh geniuses to run Maxim every six months or so.

But lo and behold, such technology is now ubiquitous. Soon they say we’ll be able to point our cell phones at foreign language signs and newspapers and, will wonders never cease, they’ll translate them.

Seems a small price to pay for all those malignant growths behind our left ears.

Coincidentally, I’ve found what in my darkest thoughts is probably a malignant growth. It’s either that or there’s a little man inside my head who’s trying to get out and is starting by poking a tiny finger through the inside of my left eyebrow.

But I’m not worried. If it does turn out to be cancer, I’m sure that in a few years I’ll just need to adjust my monthly plan to allow for cancer cures along with unlimited text messages and connectivity.

I’ll just hold the phone up to my right ear until I hear it scold me, “No! No! No! I need to make the incision behind the left ear! The left ear!”

Then, fully cancer free, I’ll use the remarkable little cell phone to do what it does best. And within 30 minutes -- voila! -- I’ll be enjoying a big greasy pepperoni and anchovy pizza and a cold six pack of Yuengling.

And trying to figure out what buttons I need to push to get the cell phone to perform liposuction on my gigantic butt.

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