Microsoft Patents Ones, Zeroes

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Issue 3311

Olympic Speed Skater Thinking About Maybe Taking Out The Garbage

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO—U.S. Olympic speed skater Jared Wells, 24, who placed sixth in the 500-meter sprint at last month's Nagano Games, is reportedly thinking about maybe taking out the garbage. "Yeah, those pizza boxes are really starting to pile up there," said Wells, speaking from his living-room couch. "I guess I should take care of that. But first I'm gonna finish building this house made out of Entertainment Weekly subscription-card inserts."

Governor Pardons Self For Living

LANSING, MI—Michigan governor John Engler issued a formal pardon to himself for living Tuesday. "Like, excuse me for living, okay?" read the four-page pardon, which absolves Engler from all culpability in his own existence. "I guess I'm not God. Hope that's okay with everybody." The sneering, sarcastic tone of the gubernatorial pardon is believed to be a reaction to the widespread criticism leveled at Engler in recent weeks, including a Lansing News-Clarion editorial calling him "Governor Lame-o" and a report by Detroit's NBC-TV affiliate suggesting that he "get half a clue." "I am sooo sorry I didn't live up to your expectations," Engler said.

Ganymede Totalled In Three-Moon Pileup

PALO ALTO, CA—Astronomers at the Palo Alto Observatory are citing "lunar error" as the cause of the three-moon pileup that totalled Ganymede and severely dented Callisto and Europa Monday, causing an estimated $700 quadrillion in damage. "Apparently, a comet passed within Saturn's orbit just ahead of Callisto," Observatory associate director Charles Rayburn said, "causing Callisto to swerve and lose control, colliding with Europa and creating a pileup which Ganymede struck from behind." None of the three moons were insured.

Area Grandparents Still Have No Idea What Grandson Does For A Living

BOSTON—Sources confirmed Monday that Walter and Nancy Brandt, grandparents of Boston-area systems consultant Charles Brandt, 31, still do not have the slightest idea what their grandson does for a living. "We are very proud of our Charles," said Nancy, 82. "Whatever he does in that job of his, I'm sure it's very impressive." Said Walter: "I think what Charles does is make sure companies have enough computers and employees so that they can—oh, I haven't a clue." The couple also has no idea what their granddaughter, Erica Haselrig, a Lodi, NJ, human-resources supervisor, does for a living.

Sudanese Youths Go Wild For Great Taste Of Any Food Whatsoever

KHARTOUM, SUDAN—In the biggest fad to sweep Sudan's thrill-seeking teens since 1994's "extreme thirst" craze, youths in this Northeast African nation are going wild for the great taste of any food whatsoever. The new "absolutely anything edible" fad is reflected in current Sudanese youth fashions, dominated by neon-colored, zebra-striped hats and shirts featuring slogans like, "Do you have any food?" and "I am extremely hungry." Sociologist Gavin Werner of Tufts University explained the craze: "For these young people, such fads are a way of setting themselves apart from their parents and forging a generational identity of their own. They are also starving to death and must obtain food if they are to live much longer."

Appeasing The Ignorant Masses

So, my despised arch-enemy and rival in the news-paper trade William Randolph Hearst thinks he can single-handedly stop The Onion dead in its tracks by putting that vulgar "Yellow-Kid" comical drawing panel in his New-York Journal?

It's True (Or Drew) Love!

Item! Has heavyweight funnyman Drew Carrey finally found love? According to my reliable sources, he sure has! The grapevine tells me that Carrey has been spotted about town on the arm of the redheaded woman from that Brooke Shields show. To date, they've gone bowling, eaten pizza–hold the anchovies!–and taken in a movie. Honestly, I can't think of a better match than those two. I mean, can you imagine the jokes? Oh, to be a fly on the wall on one of their dates!

Ask A Wiccan

Morganna Goldenwand is a syndicated advice columnist whose weekly column, Ask A Wiccan, appears in over three newspapers nationwide. She is also the author of Tread Lightly: A Guide To The Sacred Woodland Glades Of Upper Illinois, and has just released a CD, Blessed Morning!, a collection of Celtic chants accompanied by crystal Tibetan singing bowls.
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Little League Pitcher Just Getting Fucking Shelled

RED BANK, NJ—After watching the 11-year-old give up the fourth straight double that inning, sources confirmed Sunday afternoon that local Little League pitcher Dustin Bauer is getting absolutely fucking shelled out there.

Microsoft Patents Ones, Zeroes

REDMOND, WA—In what CEO Bill Gates called "an unfortunate but necessary step to protect our intellectual property from theft and exploitation by competitors," the Microsoft Corporation patented the numbers one and zero Monday.

At a press conference beamed live to Microsoft shareholders around the globe, Bill Gates announces the company's patenting of the binary system.

With the patent, Microsoft's rivals are prohibited from manufacturing or selling products containing zeroes and ones—the mathematical building blocks of all computer languages and programs—unless a royalty fee of 10 cents per digit used is paid to the software giant.

"Microsoft has been using the binary system of ones and zeroes ever since its inception in 1975," Gates told reporters. "For years, in the interest of the overall health of the computer industry, we permitted the free and unfettered use of our proprietary numeric systems. However, changing marketplace conditions and the increasingly predatory practices of certain competitors now leave us with no choice but to seek compensation for the use of our numerals."

A number of major Silicon Valley players, including Apple Computer, Netscape and Sun Microsystems, said they will challenge the Microsoft patent as monopolistic and anti-competitive, claiming that the 10-cent-per-digit licensing fee would bankrupt them instantly.

"While, technically, Java is a complex system of algorithms used to create a platform-independent programming environment, it is, at its core, just a string of trillions of ones and zeroes," said Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy, whose company created the Java programming environment used in many Internet applications. "The licensing fees we'd have to pay Microsoft every day would be approximately 327,000 times the total net worth of this company."

"If this patent holds up in federal court, Apple will have no choice but to convert to analog," said Apple interim CEO Steve Jobs, "and I have serious doubts whether this company would be able to remain competitive selling pedal-operated computers running software off vinyl LPs."

As a result of the Microsoft patent, many other companies have begun radically revising their product lines: Database manufacturer Oracle has embarked on a crash program to develop "an abacus for the next millennium." Novell, whose communications and networking systems are also subject to Microsoft licensing fees, is working with top animal trainers on a chimpanzee-based message-transmission system. Hewlett-Packard is developing a revolutionary new steam-powered printer.

Despite the swarm of protest, Gates is standing his ground, maintaining that ones and zeroes are the undisputed property of Microsoft.

"We will vigorously enforce our patents of these numbers, as they are legally ours," Gates said. "Among Microsoft's vast historical archives are Sanskrit cuneiform tablets from 1800 B.C. clearly showing ones and a symbol known as 'sunya,' or nothing. We also own: papyrus scrolls written by Pythagoras himself in which he explains the idea of singular notation, or 'one'; early tracts by Mohammed ibn Musa al Kwarizimi explaining the concept of al-sifr, or 'the cipher'; original mathematical manuscripts by Heisenberg, Einstein and Planck; and a signed first-edition copy of Jean-Paul Sartre's Being And Nothingness. Should the need arise, Microsoft will have no difficulty proving to the Justice Department or anyone else that we own the rights to these numbers."

Gates explains the new patent to Apple Computer's board of directors.

Added Gates: "My salary also has lots of zeroes. I'm the richest man in the world."

According to experts, the full ramifications of Microsoft's patenting of one and zero have yet to be realized.

"Because all integers and natural numbers derive from one and zero, Microsoft may, by extension, lay claim to ownership of all mathematics and logic systems, including Euclidean geometry, pulleys and levers, gravity, and the basic Newtonian principles of motion, as well as the concepts of existence and nonexistence," Yale University theoretical mathematics professor J. Edmund Lattimore said. "In other words, pretty much everything."

Lattimore said that the only mathematical constructs of which Microsoft may not be able to claim ownership are infinity and transcendental numbers like pi. Microsoft lawyers are expected to file liens on infinity and pi this week.

Microsoft has not yet announced whether it will charge a user fee to individuals who wish to engage in such mathematically rooted motions as walking, stretching and smiling.

In an address beamed live to billions of people around the globe Monday, Gates expressed confidence that his company's latest move will, ultimately, benefit all humankind.

"Think of this as a partnership," Gates said. "Like the ones and zeroes of the binary code itself, we must all work together to make the promise of the computer revolution a reality. As the world's richest, most powerful software company, Microsoft is number one. And you, the millions of consumers who use our products, are the zeroes."

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