October 18, 2000

Technology Isn't
Just For the Living

By Roy Rivenburg

Digital Death Bureau: We've got some good news and bad news. No, wait, it's all bad news. Sorry. For openers, you're going to die. And even if you don't, there's a decent chance you'll be buried alive. According to America's leading supermarket tabloid, the Weekly World News, "65 Americans Are Buried, Cremated or Embalmed Alive--Every Day!''

Just last week, while rehearsing for the presidential debate, Al Gore was mistakenly pronounced dead and then embalmed. Although it didn't affect his performance, it proves nobody is safe.

It also got us thinking about ways to ease the transition between life and death. For starters, the funeral industry could equip all coffins with Internet access. One of the biggest drawbacks to dying (aside from being unable to buy new Britney Spears records) is the difficulty of contacting loved ones from the other side. With current coffin technology, the dead must depend on Ouija boards, seances and other unreliable methods.

But that would change with our new fully digital casket, which for a small monthly fee provides unlimited access to chat rooms, online banking services (so you CAN take it all with you) and personalized news, weather and horoscopes.

Other burial innovations we'd like to see:

  • The Music-Box Casket: Wind it up, open the lid and it plays your choice of "Edelweiss,'' "Are You Lonesome Tonight'' or "YMCA.''
  • The Aquarium Coffin: Brings new meaning to the term "sleeps with the fishes.'' Comes with an activated carbon filtration system, underwater castle and deep-sea diver's helmet to be worn by the deceased. At funerals, the aquarium's soothing bubble noises and swimming fish will also help calm grieving next of kin.
  • The Jack-in-the-Box Coffin: Guaranteed to surprise unsuspecting mourners.
  • Rubik's Coffin: You'll have all eternity to solve this puzzle.

    Nomadic Coffins Bureau: In other casket news, channel2000.com recently reported that Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier, Calif., is seeking court permission to relocate 140 caskets from a sliding hillside. "If the request is approved,'' the report said, "the caskets will be moved to other parts of the cemetery at Rose Hills' expense.''

    And if the request is NOT approved, says reader Mark Kellner, the caskets will move to other parts of the cemetery on their own.

    Mark Your Calendars: In honor of Casper the Friendly Ghost's 60th birthday, the city of Los Angeles has declared Oct. 30 as Casper Day.

    The cartoon ghost will also be making numerous TV appearances with country singer Randy Travis.

    Election Results In: We realize some people get upset when newscasters project the winner of an election before the polls close, but it's absurd to keep pretending that Al Gore actually has a chance to become the next president. According to Canadian scientist Guy Cramer, Gore's bid will disintegrate on Election Day when a heavy flow of positive ions causes voters to become cranky and focus on the bad aspects of the Clinton-Gore administration.

    Off-Kilter Encyclopedia: A Philadelphia man claims that Silly Putty can be used as fishing bait.

    Voicemail Menu of the Month: Call National Discount Brokers at (800) 888-3999. Wait to hear the description of option No. 7, then press 7.

    Supermarket Tabloid Headline of the Week: "Humans Are Evolving Backward--And Soon We'll All Be Apes Again!'' (Weekly World News)

    Speaking of backward evolution, here's one of Curious George W. Bush's latest quotes: "More and more of our imports are coming from overseas.''

    Unpaid Informants: Terry Mattingly, Cheryl Smith, Ann Harrison, www.internetwire.com, Wireless Flash News Service, Chicago Sun-Times.

    Copyright © 2000 by Roy Rivenburg
    Distributed by Creators Syndicate