Newton Emerson with a (satirical) rendition of the
branch man Times reader and his source…By Newton Emerson
This article contains information of vital importance to the reader. However, under no circumstances should the reader stop reading and act upon the information until he has reached the end of the article. If the reader stops reading then the writer might stop writing and further vital information could be lost.
That information is as follows: the writer wishes to inform you that your pants are on fire. Do not stop reading! Perhaps the next paragraph will reveal that your shirt is also ablaze. It is too late to worry about your pants now. Their loss is regrettable but these things happen during times of conflagration. What matters is preventing further tragedy. Remain calm and await the information contained in the next paragraph.
That information is as follows: the fire in your pants has now spread to your shirt. Do not stop reading! The writer is clearly a highly reliable source who could supply crucial intelligence about equally unpredictable future developments. Also, you were warned about the initial fire so you are now largely responsible for the secondary fire. Remain calm and await the information contained in the next paragraph.
That information is as follows: the writer admits that he started the fire in your pants. Do not stop reading! You have been aware for some time that you are dealing with a flammable situation and the only way to handle it effectively is to collect more information. The writer is your key source of such information. If you abandon the article now you will simply be a person whose clothes are on fire. Is that what you want? Well, is it? Do you want other readers to point at you and say: “That guy got burnt by his source”? Remain calm and await the information contained in the next paragraph.
That information is as follows: the writer admits that he set fire to your pants using a lighter he purchased with your money. Do not stop reading! When you bought the Irish Times this morning you had no way of knowing that the cover price would be wired directly into the writer’s bank account and used to pursue a criminal enterprise. However, a trail of evidence now exists linking the wallet in your pants to the fire in your pants. This makes it all the more important that you continue reading this article in case the writer reveals further details about future arson attacks. Remain calm and await the information contained in the next paragraph.
That information is as follows: the writer believes that any attempt to call the fire brigade will result in a spate of arson attacks on your jacket, your shoes, your tie and possibly even your hair. Do not stop reading! The blaze which has spread from your pants to your shirt is nothing compared to the threat of this looming inferno. Only you can prevent disaster by refusing to call the fire brigade and trusting the writer not to set fire to any more items of apparel while he considers supplying you with one more piece of information. Remain calm and await the end of the article.
That ending is as follows: Are you dead yet?
First published in The Irish Times, Thursday 25th January 2007.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty