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The Zweibel Prize

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Voyager Probe Badly Damaged After Smashing Into End Of Universe

PASADENA, CA—Confirming that several components had broken off the craft and that most of its scientific instruments were no longer operational, officials from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced that Voyager 1, the pioneering space probe launched in 1977, had been severely damaged Thursday after crashing into the end of the universe.

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The Zweibel Prize

Years ago, when I was a young news-paper man and you were but a series of brutish animal impulses in your drunken great-grandfather's pants-creases, a young man appeared in my office and presented me with an investment opportunity. From simple lye-soap and sulfur, he had devised an explosive material known as the dyna-might, and he said he needed only the resources of the Onion news-paper to finance and transform his brainchild into a million-dollar empire!

Had I agreed to such an arrangement, the smoke-choked abbatoir of The Great War could have been immensely profitable for me. But I was greedy, and instead of financing the venture in exchange for a share of the profits, I attempted to physically sieze this dyna-might invention for myself—which is how I lost the hearing in my right ear, as well as half a detachment of Swiss guard and a perfectly good block of office-buildings.

Fortunately, I learned from my mistake. Some years back, I established the Zweibel Foundation to celebrate any new development in the arts or sciences which has the potential to benefit me by being marketed to all mankind. Every winter, when the Zweibel mansion lies sleeping beneath a thick, white mantle of gently falling flakes from my skin, I summon my solicitor Beavers to my bed-side, and we sift through the many candidates for the Zweibel Prize.

Through the years, I have awarded the Zweibel Prize for many inventions of unique vision. The Iron-Lung is, of course, a Zweibel Prize recipient, as is the ear trumpet. I have also awarded it for the medicinal technique of strapping the unbalanced and foreign-born to a table and subjecting them to great amount of electrical current, then thrusting an ice-pick into the corner of their eye and applying a vigorous butter-churning motion. This renders them miraculously biddable for their remaining years.

And cunning machinations! There were no end to them in the early days: the efficient mechanical-gun, the doughty strip-mine, the chastity-harness, the space-saving Reservation for Red Indians, the Chamber of Gasses. Those were heady days indeed, and by offering the Zweibel Prize in exchange for a third of the invention's gross, I made a pretty penny.

But this is a sad era for human endeavor. The well-spring of great ideas seems to have run dry, and there have been no Zweibel Prizes awarded since the development of the Electrical Truss. I have decided to retire my Prize until a more enlightened and innovative day arrives.

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