Copyright © 2000 Robert G. Ferrell

Breaking Wind, er, News

Washington, DC - The United States Postal Service announced today that it was adopting a new security policy designed to confuse would-be postal criminals. Effective immediately, any parcel larger than a small cheese grater whose destination is a US state, territory, or possession with an "r" must be shipped in a beryllium-lined envelope and clearly marked "Danger: Python." In addition, it must be delivered in person to any clerk named "Benny" or "Annette." Parcels of this type left in boxes or other unattended pickup locations will be coated with vegetable shortening and set on fire in the street to the accompaniment of scratchy Wagner or Sousa recordings (depending on local supplies). "We think this will significantly impact the incidence of postal-related crime in this country," an unnamed Postal Service official said. When asked to comment on the increased inconvenience the new policy will undoubtedly cause postal patrons, his reply was, "Frankly, we just don't care. It's not like we have to abide by it ourselves or anything. Besides, most of us use FedEx anyway."

The new policy comes fast on the heels of the "Stamp out Violence in the Workplace" campaign launched last week by the Postal Service, in conjunction with the National Rifle Association. The kickoff gala featured Sly Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jack Nicholson, and was highlighted by a festive celebrity turkey shoot with imported assault weapons and small-bore howitzers designed for use by sportsmen. Charlton Heston, President of the NRA, delighted the crowd by parting the Potomac briefly with a surplus low level thermonuclear "Peacmaker" missile.

"If Moses had access to a couple of these babies," Heston quipped to the assembled onlookers, "It would have been 'Let my people go, or I'll blow you and your whole sorry excuse for a kingdom into glow-in-the-dark pieces even the crocodiles won't bother with.'"

The NRA then announced its plans to lobby for the legal ownership of nuclear weapons with yields of up to 1 kilotons. In a prepared statement, a spokesperson for the NRA said, "It's typical of our wasteful, spendthrift government to shell out billions of dollars dismantling these things when plenty of good, honest, taxpaying sportsmen in this country would be happy to take them off the military's hands. Good for the economy, good for the sport. Everybody wins."

Redmond, WA - Microsoft lawyers revealed today that they had secured a patent on the Transport Control Protocol/Internet Protocol, also known as TCP/IP. This is the set of software and hardware specifications upon which Internet traffic is based. TCP/IP, long an "open" standard to which anyone could contribute, is critical to the daily operations of hundreds of thousands of computer systems and networks worldwide. According to a Microsoft spokesman, "Well, it was just luck, really. In the course of researching another product, we realized that no one had ever applied for a patent on TCP/IP. So we decided to give it a shot, and here it is." When asked about the ethics of securing a patent on technology not developed by their company, Microsoft replied, "Ethics has no place in business. We saw a clear opportunity and seized it. That's what capitalism is all about."

Microsoft announced that it plans to require anyone who wants to use TCP/IP to purchase a license for each workstation or server, but that it was prepared to give everyone 90 days to comply before it began to prosecute. A special Web site ( has been set up to provide more information and online registration for TCP/IP licenses.