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December 1998
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February 1999


Whew. Nothing personal, but you're a tough audience and the Internet is a difficult place. That counter at the bottom is harsher than almost anything I ever saw in print. Subscription renewal rates provide a vague analog, but they take a while, and you're never quite sure what causes them to drift down. Internet page-view numbers snap up and down. Right now, I'm not sure if it is delayed holiday doldrums, or all the Republicans dropping out at once, or my sappy Christmas column, or just what. Since you're not even sampling the column, maybe my "come and read" e-mail isn't enticing enough. All I know is half of you disappeared over the last three weeks. But if you're really gone, you're not reading this...

The Big Lie

Hitler is generally considered the godfather of modern propaganda. Serving as the midwife was the minister of the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, Joseph (or Josef) Goebbels.

"Propaganda has only one object - to conquer the masses. Every means that furthers this aim is good; every means that hinders it is bad," he wrote in 1929. He believed that a lie, told frequently enough, caused the public to believe it was true. And he subscribed to Hitler's statement in Mein Kampf that the greater the lie the more chance it had of being believed.

I am put in mind of this bit of history by the current impeachment trial in the Senate. Both techniques were on display in the presentation by the House Managers: big lies, repeated frequently. One would hope that, more than six decades after Hitler and Goebbels refined the technique in Germany that a more media-savvy public--not to mention the U.S. Senate--would be immune to such simple propaganda techniques.

Prediction: There will be witnesses. They will be brought in on a nearly straight party-line vote, so the American people can see this for exactly what it is: the prosecution of electoral politics by other means. But the Democrats will extract their revenge by dragging out the witness process to insure absolute maximum damage to the Republicans, who deserve the last, full measure of public anger over their role in this process. It would only take six sane senators from the GOP side to put this partisan charade out of its misery, but there are no Profiles in Courage in the U.S. Senate of 1999.

Insanity in Iraq

Neal Macklin of Saratoga, Calif. notes an item in the news:

It highlights what to me is unbelievable about the world: The UN inspections of Iraq were uncovering attempts by Iraq to hide weapons development, so the response is to lessen the inspections!!!

U.S. planes attack Iraq defense sites

WASHINGTON (AP) - Chief U.N. weapons inspector Richard Butler declared Monday his agency is not dead and will return to Iraq, possibly as a less intrusive monitoring system. Iraq stopped cooperating with the U.N. Special Commission, or UNSCOM, last year.

New of Microsoft

Another Big Lie

Speaking of the techniques of the Big Lie and the Repeated Lie, as we were in the general news section above, we find another practitioner of the art of propaganda in Washington these days, and that is Microsoft. In a mantra reminiscent of "It's not about sex," the Microsoft lawyers and spokesman repeat constantly "We're winning in court," and "Every piece of evidence presented by the government bolsters our case, not theirs," and "We're not a monopoly." I leave it to the credulous and gullible among you as to whether any of these statements are true, and particularly if they are true every day of every piece of evidence. You'd think people would get dizzy from spinning this hard, yet the Microsoft people never seem to get dizzy.

A Microsoft Case You Never Heard Of

I got a piece of email from Ray A. Jones; Archive Retrieval, Inc., Kirkland, WA, Manufacturer of The Archive, a full turn-key document storage and retrieval system for businesses and Governments

According to an article in the January 7, 1999 issue of the Seattle Weekly, Microsoft has been cooking the books to the tune of breaking federal regulations. It ended up firing an employee with a sparkling reputation who went public on the matter. It paid him $4 Million in settlement money after being sued by said employee. Please see Page 7 of the January 7, 1999 issue of the Seattle Weekly, and get everyone else to also. This big fat steak of an apparent "company secret" makes the antitrust trials look like an appetizer in comparison. This is the kind of thing where Bills and affiliates can go to high-class jails to cool their heels....

[since the Seattle Weekly site makes finding archival material VERY difficult, I am reprinting the top of the story here]


THE ALLEGATIONS WERE shocking: For years, Microsoft has systematically distorted its profit figures in an effort to consistently beat Wall Street expectations and keep its stock price steadily rising. The false reports would violate SEC regulations, and amount to outright fraud.

More shocking was the source of the allegations: Microsoft's chief of internal audits, Charlie Pancerzewski, who reported directly to the company's chief financial officer.

Most shocking of all was what happened to Pancerzewski when he reported the suspicious bookkeeping to his supervisors, Microsoft CFO Mike Brown and chief operating officer Bob Herbold, in the spring of 1995. Soon afterward, Pancerzewski--who for nearly five years had received stellar performance evaluations--received his first-ever unsatisfactory one, and was eventually forced to resign.

Two months ago, Microsoft quietly settled a lawsuit containing these allegations, filed in 1997 by Pancerzewski under the Whistleblowers Protection Act....

Another Chattanooga Choo-Choo Joke

A Chattanooga Choo-Choo joke is a shaggy dog story whose rhyme and meter match the phrase "Pardon me boy, is that the Chattanooga Choo-Choo?" A tip of the PSACOT hat (if the column wore won) to Kent Peterman, grade-school teacher extraordinary and Sonoma County bon vivant, who submitted this one:

Roy Rogers was camping in the wilds when a mountain lion stole his new handmade boots. Roy was upset, so he jumped on his horse and chased after the mountain lion but lost him. He offered a reward for the capture of the beast. After a few days a grizzled old miner comes up to the ranch with a mountain lion on his wagon. He goes up to Mr. Rogers and says, "Pardon me Roy, is that the cat who ate your new shoes?"

Horror Movie Rules

I must have seen 20 variations of this theme, but they put me in stitches every time. This one came from Kevin Sullivan in Massachusetts. As always, when I source humor, I identify only the proximate source who sent it to me. [In a recently rerun episode, the Comedy Central program South Park had a lot of fun with this by having the locus of evil in a particular episode be the Indian Burial Ground Pet Store.]

I must have seen 20 variations of this theme, but they put me in stitches every time. This one came from Kevin Sullivan in Massachusetts. As always, when I source humor, I identify only the proximate source who sent it to me. [In a recently rerun episode, the Comedy Central program South Park had a lot of fun with this by having the locus of evil in a particular episode be the Indian Burial Ground Pet Store.]

When it appears that you have killed the monster, never check to see if it's really dead.

If you find that your house is built upon or near a cemetery, was once a church that was used for black masses, had previous inhabitants who went mad or committed suicide or died in some horrible fashion, or had inhabitants who performed necrophilia or satanic practices in your house move away immediately.

Never read a book of demon summoning aloud, even as a joke.

Do not search the basement, especially if the power has just gone out.

If your children speak to you in Latin or any other language which they should not know, or if they speak to you using a voice which is other than their own, shoot them immediately. It will save you a lot of grief in the long run. NOTE: It will probably take several rounds to kill them, so be prepared.

When you have the benefit of numbers, never pair off and go it alone.

As a general rule, don't solve puzzles that open portals to Hell.

Never stand in, on, above, below, beside, or anywhere near a grave, tomb, crypt, mausoleum, or other house of the dead.

If you're searching for something that caused a noise and find out that it's just the cat, leave the room immediately if you value your life.

If appliances start operating by themselves, move out.

Do not take anything from the dead.

If you find a town that looks deserted, it's probably for a reason. Take the hint and stay away.

  • Don't fool with recombinant DNA technology unless you're sure you know what you are doing.
  • If you're running from the monster, expect to trip or fall down at least twice, more if you are of the female persuasion. Also note that, despite the fact that you are running and the monster is merely shambling along, it's still moving fast enough to catch up with you.
  • If your companions suddenly begin to exhibit uncharacteristic behavior such as hissing, fascination for blood, glowing eyes, increasing hairiness, and so on, get away from them as fast as possible.
  • Stay away from certain geographical locations, some of which are listed here: Amityville, Elm Street, Transylvania, Nilbog (God help you if you recognize this one), the Bermuda Triangle, or any small town in Maine.
  • If your car runs out of gas at night, do not go to the nearby deserted-looking house to phone for help.
  • Beware of strangers bearing tools such as chainsaws, staple guns, hedge trimmers, electric carving knives, combines, lawnmowers, butane torches, soldering irons, band saws, or any device made from deceased companions.
  • Listen closely to the soundtrack; and pay attention to the audience, since they are usually far more intelligent than you could ever hope to be.