Saturday, April 13, 2002

Attack of the Cloners

BioMedNet (requires registration) reports that there's a gunfight a-brewing for control of the technologies involved in cloning non-human mammals.

In Round One, back in January, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) agreed to adjudicate a dispute between Geron (who licensed the "Dolly the Sheep" Lifeform Creation Kit) and Advanced Cell Technologies and their UMass-licensed cloning technology.

Now the USPTO has kicked it up a notch by declaring another interference (patent-speak for adjudicating an "I shot you first!" "No, I shot you first!" dispute) regarding patents held by Geron and Infigen.

At stake is a gazillion dollars in licensing revenue, and the balance sheets of biotech companies whose valuations depend heavily on the value of their patent portfolios. Just to make things even more interesting, the FDA is soon expected to reach a decision on the sale of cloned dairy and meat (mmmmm... cloneburger) products.

With all due respect, the patent issues are too important to be decided by lawyers. Instead, we propose that the matter be settled on the Organian Treaty model: whichever group demonstrates that they can make best use of the technology wins. It's all well and good to say, "Look, I made a mobile haggis, give me the patent!", but as any engineer will tell you: if you really know what you're doing and lack any sense of ethics or responsibility, you can screw around with the basic design and make all kinds of improvements, usually in such a way that the project manager doesn't find out until it's too late. So --- yeah, great, you made a sheep, but can you make a fire-breathing battlesheep, or an all-ear cow with ten foot horns? And if so, which is better? Therefore, we propose the following dispute resolution mechanism:

1) Each party to the dispute will construct a destructo-clone (cow, sheep, whatever floats your boat). Prosthetics (lawnmowers, chainsaws, shotguns) are not allowed.

2) The battle-clones will then be placed in the Arena of Combat to do battle. Last clone standing wins.

It's just that simple. No legal fees, no endless appeals, just bread, circuses, and fun for the whole family. Everybody wins!

FULL DISCLOSURE: Happy Fun Pundit has registered the trademarks "World Clone Federation", "I Got Yer Clone Right *Here*", "Gotta Clone 'em All!", "Clone Cold 3:16", "PokeClone", "DigiClone", "I (heart) War Profiteering", and "All-Ear Cow". Please specify S-M-L-XL-XXL when ordering.

Thursday, April 11, 2002

New Book Denies Denial

Hot on the heels of the controversial French bestseller "L'Effroyable Imposture" (The Frightening Fraud), which claims that no aircraft hit the Penatagon on Sept. 11, comes a new German book by Dieter Hauff (formerly of the musical group "Autobahn") which claims that "L'Effroyable Imposture" never existed.

Hauff's essential thesis is that the book was never written, published, or sold, and existed only in the imaginations of the French media. Chapter One opens thus:

Nobody is that stupid, not even the French intelligentsia. Naturally, I haven't read the book, since it doesn't exist, but you can patch together various reviews and get the gist of it. So supposedly somebody got the idea that an explosion at the Pentagon would stimulate an increase in the military budget, and the destruction of the World Trade Center provided a great excuse to put this brilliant plan into operation. Wow, what a great plan. Let's interrogate all the second-graders and road-runner-hating coyotes, because who else would concoct such a cunning plan? We have to stop the conspirators before they put Plan B (dropping an anvil on Yasser Arafat's head in order to plunge the Middle East into war, or throwing snowballs at the bus and running away) into effect.

Hauff proved to be a difficult subject in an interview on German television:

HOST: Let's welcome Dieter Hauff, author of a new book debunking the Frightening Fraud. Dieter, welcome to the "Wake Up and Smile, Berlin".

DIETER: Hello, morning show host.

HOST: Dieter, why have you undertaken to debunk a very popular French book?

DIETER: I did not debunk it. It does not exist to be debunked.

HOST: And yet it's a best-seller in France.

DIETER: According to the same liars who invented the book in the first place.

HOST: So you believe the French media conspired to deceive the public?

DIETER: I don't believe in anything.

HOST: Uhmmm. Heheheheh. Evidently Dieter is also quite a kidder.

DIETER: Your chirpy cheerfulness grows tiresome.

HOST: Let's get back to your book.

DIETER: There is no book.

HOST: I mean the book that you wrote about the French book.

DIETER: I wrote no book.

HOST: (visibly flustered) Uhmm, OK. It says here that you wrote a book denying the existence of France's the Frightening Fraud.

DIETER: Your feeble notes are incorrect.

HOST: We have to break for a commercial.

DIETER: No we don't.

HOST: (ignoring Dieter) When we come back, we'll talk more with Dieter Hauff, who wrote a book denying the existence of a popular French book.

DIETER: You won't. I didn't. It doesn't.

The host grins weakly at the camera, as he flips quickly through his notes, desperately looking for something else to talk about.

HOST: Dieter, you split with bandmates Kieffer and Franz quite some time ago...

DIETER: I didn't.

HOST: God, I hate you nihilists.

DIETER: You don't.

HOST: Nihilism is not the automatic gainsaying of the other person's statements, you ass.

The interview ended with Dieter cutting off one of his own toes, still staunchly denying his own existence.
Beware the Indestructible Sandwich!

According to New, the U.S. military has created the world's first indestructible sandwich.

See, this is why our western forces are the best in the world. While the Ululating Fanatics are still trying to figure out how to get their old Soviet tanks out of 'Park', our western militaries have moved so far ahead that we can afford to spend time inventing better sandwiches.

But I worry that we may be headed for a new proliferation of military snack-foods. Why hasn't Noam Chomsky weighed in on this issue? Oh sure, an indestructible sandwich may not seem like a big deal, but the next thing you know the Russians come up with an indestructible Hoagie, and then where does it end? I don't think we want our boys in uniform to have a diet consisting of hypersonic armor piercing burritos*.

I also need to take issue with the notion that the indestructible sandwich is a new breakthrough. Apparently, the scientists involved have never examined the Hostess Twinkie. I ate one in 1979, and I swear it's still in my stomach, swimming and oozing around like a mutant goldfish. Once in a while if I bend just the right way I can feel it poking my liver. I fully expect that one day I will be reading an especially bad Maureen Dowd column, and the buildup of excess stomach acid will trigger a reaction that will cause the Twinkie to come to life and explode out of my stomach like the fetus in Alien.

Eisenhower warned us against the establishment of a giant military-snack food complex. But we didn't listen, and now the indestructible chicken nuggets have come home to roost. It's time to end the madness!

* "The Hypersonic Armor-Piercing Burritos" would be a good name for a band.

Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Afghanistan Water Makes You Horny

No, really. Would I joke about something like that? Well, yes. In fact, I'm about to. But that doesn't make it any less true, at least according to the lovely folks over at Cosmiverse (warning: not a peer-reviewed medical journal. Don't rush off to Afghanistan quite yet).

According to the article, Kandahari water has an amazing effect on the libido. Picture the scene: Hundreds of men in caves with almost no women, parched from the desert heat, drinking the mystical horny water all day. No wonder the place is a radical nut-hatchery. Consider this likely exchange:

"Youssef, let us return to our village in peace."

"Alas, I cannot stand, Hassan. For if I do, my robes shall form a tent large enough for a camel to sleep under. I must sit in this cave a while longer. Would you like some more water to slake your thirst?"

"Thank you, Youssef. You are very kind. I have noticed, however, that my "little martyrs" have grown large and blue, and ache quite substantially. It makes me very angry. Why has God chosen to punish me so?"

"I have heard that the infidel dogs in America are to blame, Hassan. We must attack and destroy them! Just as soon as we can walk again. Hey, did you see that new woman in the blue burkha? She reached for something the other day, and I saw the back of her foot!"

"Arghh! My little martyrs! Kill the infidels!"

The water might also explain the limp-fingered grip Osama had on his microphone in that last video - there's only so much gripping a hand can take, if you know what I mean.

Reading this article gave me a great idea for finding Mullah Omar: All we need to do is get a few Canadair CL-215 water bombers filled with horny water, and spray it over all of his probable hiding places.

'Cause if this water is all it's cracked up to be, it's guaranteed to bring "The One-Eyed Cleric" out of hiding.

Tuesday, April 09, 2002

Go, therefore, unto your enemy, and plant a big sloppy kiss on him.

The Globe and Mail's Margaret Wente reports that Canadian Member of Parliament Svend Robinson intends to visit Yasser Arafat at his stately home in Ramallah. Hey, Svend... make sure you let Yasser know you're gay; I bet there're openings in the Fatah gay caucus.
They congregate at the most exclusive country clubs across the nation.

They live in new houses, drive new cars, and send their children to the best schools

They are for capitalism, rationalism, objectivism, and a host of other "isms" you've never heard of.

You never heard of them before September 11.

You may not want to hear their opinion, but you have no choice in the matter.

They sit in front of their computers all day.

Now, they want to send your sons to die in far away lands.

They are the warbloggers, and they form America's new power elite.

Meet Garland Renault. Six months ago, he was a law school professor who dabbled in Internet publishing as a hobby. Today, his estimated net worth exceeds that of Bill Gates, and he's firmly in control of an information empire that unabashedly tells you what to think.

"I think the high point for me was at a blogger party a few weeks ago, when I got hammered and admitted that I was a paid flak for the Republican party. As it turns out, so was everybody else. Boy, did we get a big laugh out of that one."

There may have been laughter that night, but the game Renault plays is deadly serious.

"You toe the party line or you don't get the links. Without the links, no hits. No hits, no tips; you're living off your Republican party flak stipend, but then you're driving a Mercedes, not a Rolls. You badmouth me or any of my homeys, all the sudden your web host can't handle Moveable Type, or your domain name expires, or your ISP suddenly wants to hit you with traffic charges. Some of the guys had to learn the hard way, but learn they did, and they're all on-side now." He motions to one of his younger proteges. "Grief there got a bit uppity a last week. He's a good kid, just needed a little reminder of who runs the show."

"Grief" is Grievin Steen, host of the PerignonPundit warblog, which fell silent last week after Steen commented that Renault might be being "too soft" on Palestinians. The two day outage drove his PerignonPundit stock down 45%, a loss about which Steen is philosophical.

"Garland did the right thing. If everybody just went around speaking their minds like I did, we'd lose control of the debate." Asked if he felt that he controlled the debate, Steen demurred. "Not me personally... there's a tallish guy with a beard around, I saw him here somewhere... anyhow, that's Len Cain. He controls the debate."

Cain has also run afoul of Renault recently, but was unable to comment due to a broken jaw. His close friend, Watt Milch, said that a misunderstanding between Cain and Renault on the meaning of the word "is" caused the rift, which has now been repaired.

"It's good that Garland did this, it's real good." Asked about his role in the blog game, Milch proudly identifies himself as "the token liberal". "I set up the straw men for the others to knock down. That's why I wear this straw hat." Liberal or not, warblogging has been very very good to Milch, who recently bought the country of Luxembourg for his wife.

However, not everyone is so sanguine about the rise of Blogger power. One dissenting voice, the anonymous author of the Blair Bitch Project, rails against Renault and his clique. "Nobody dares to stand up against them. You say the wrong thing once, and a hundred of them come after you. It's the 21st century lynch mob, and they're going to pillory you in print, paragraph after sarcastic paragraph. Screw up a second time, and your disk drive crashes, and you start getting unusual amounts of spam in your email. Mess up a third time, and like as not, you just disappear."

Renault: "Warbloggers don't make anyone disappear. The CIA handles that for us."

Other critics are motivated less by idealism and more by sour grapes. Canadian bloggers Stan and Dave, who declined to give their last names, are bitter about being excluded from the inner circle. Speaking from his igloo far above the Arctic circle, Stan spoke harshly of the American blogger movement.

"It's so typical of Americans... finding a way to make a mint then keeping a good thing all to themselves. I can't even be a Republican party flak ... they won't let me join 'cause I can't vote in the US." Due in part to lobbying by disgruntled Canucks, the Canadian government has levied a substantial tariff against American blog imports, adding as much as thirty cents to the cost of each byte of American content. The tariff was instituted after Canadian protests about the American government unfairly subsidizing bloggers were made fun of in American blogs. Blogdom's resident militaristic poet, Warrin' Will, mocked Canada in verse:

Canada is stinky
And also very dinky
Their bloggers suck
I'd like to drive over them with a truck.

Another Canadian blogger, Dampening Nickel, gave an interview from his hospital bed, where he was recovering from a heart attack brought on by reading conspiracy theory websites. Nickel swears that he has learned his lesson from this heart attack, his fifteenth since September 11, and will not be returning to the conspiracy theorist boards. Asked about the meteoric ascent of Renault and company, Nickel shrugs.

"The conspiracy weiners were completely right about the whole thing. Who knew?"

What about diversity?

Renault again: "Bloggers are a diverse multicultural bunch. For instance, we let chicks blog." One blogger chick, Reagan Argle-Bargle, agrees.

"Bloggers are a diverse multicultural bunch. Garland says so." After a moment's thought, she adds: "For twenty five dollars you can see my Laffer curve." Other fembloggers like Regina Posthaste, RedCabbaGirl, Randreada Eris, and Readjoan Kabobs, echo the same sentiment.

"A diverse multicultural bunch? Yes, yes, we are."

Another blogger, Pjmnysfzdeh Supercallafragilistic, has not progressed beyond the second tier of blogging despite an extensive email campaign; one highly placed source says that the reason is "he's just a little too ethnic for the country club, if you know what I mean." Supercallafragilistic, an ethnically Iranian Jew, declined to comment.

In recent days, a new trial balloon has floated across the horizon of the so-called blogosphere: the annexation of Saudi Arabia by the state of Tennessee. The annexation, to be implemented by the mobilization of a new American conscript army, has caused remarkably little outcry. Watt Milch thinks he knows why.

"Because, strictly speaking, it's not a trial balloon. The Renault Act was passed unanimously by both houses yesterday, re-instituting the draft with local bloggers convening as Selective Service Boards." Asked if this was fair, Milch chuckles. "Let's just say that if you picked on any nerdy kids who got good Language Arts marks in grade school, you might want to think about moving to Canada right now."

Bloggers. They're here, they know the difference between "there", "their", and "they're", and they're running the show. Get used to it.

Afterword: Stop me before I meta-blog again... for those of you who are baffled by this post, I apologize --- I try not to engage in too much cultish inside-jokery, but this one was too good to pass up. The short story: some guy started a warbloggerwatch email list and blog, and accused several bloggers of "war profiteering" and being "flaks for the Republican party." (most of the story trees off fromInstapundit's Monday, April 8 entries. It's amazing how anybody has any time to blog, what with all the party meetings and beating up the elderly and gassing the poor and the glaven.

And obviously, anyone who disagrees with my politics must be a paid claque for the Enemy, because no thinking person could reach such a set of ideas honestly.

Monday, April 08, 2002

Tom Ridge Q&A: Anthrax

After new revelations surfaced last week showing that the anthrax in the letter to Senator Leahy was in fact even more sophisticated than what U.S. labs have produced, we decided to question Tom Ridge about it.

HFP: Tell us, Mr. Ridge - why did you originally claim that the anthrax was home-grown, since you clearly didn't know what it was at the time?

Tom Ridge: Well, we didn't want to start a panic by making people think that other nations were hitting us with secondary attacks.

HFP: And it's better to make Americans think that they are being attacked by their own citizens?

Tom Ridge: My cat has fleas.

HFP: So now that you've said that this strain is more advanced than even the government of the U.S. has managed, are you backing off your 'lone nutjob' theory?

Tom Ridge: Oh no, we still think it's an American. Possibly a super-villian. We're thinking about bringing Spider-Man in on the case.

HFP: Spider-Man isn't real.

Tom Ridge: Well, then maybe it was a really smart guy who did it. We're thinking of detaining Stephen Hawking.

HFP: Stephen Hawking isn't American.

Tom Ridge: Oh. Then it couldn't have been him. Still, he'd make a great super-villian, don't you think? With that space-age wheelchair and robot voice and stuff? Maybe Spider-Man should check him out.

HFP: Enough about Spider-Man! Why aren't you willing to concede that this stuff probably came from a foreign government's weapons lab?

Tom Ridge: We're looking into that. We think maybe an American snuck into one of these labs and smuggled it back in America so he could attack Americans with it.

HFP: If it came from another government's lab, isn't the most likely conclusion that it was an attack by another government?

Tom Ridge: My cat's breath smells like cat food.

HFP: Do you have any other leads to follow?

Tom Ridge: Oh, yes! The FBI has done a psychological profile, and considered all the possible sources for anthrax, and has come up with a likely suspect. This strain was traced back to an Anthrax outbreak in Texas cattle in the 1970's. After sifting clues, the FBI now thinks that the likely perpetrator is some kind of deranged, anthraxy cow.

HFP: A COW??!! A plain old cow???

Tom Ridge: Oh, no! This cow would be very old, and therefore quite cunning. An arch-villian cow, perhaps. We already have an action plan in place to take care of this threat.

HFP: Let me guess... Does it involve Spider-Man?

Tom Ridge: No it doesn't. Not at all. Oh, and let me add that we believe it must be an American cow. No foreign cow would do this.

HFP: Well, thanks for your time, Mr. Ridge. Do you have anything you'd like to say in closing?

Tom Ridge: Being bitten by a radioactive spider would be cool.

HFP: Thank you.
New Celine Dion CD Crashes Computers

Copy protection on the new Celine Dion CD can crash your computer. This means the CD can not be played on any PC, or on some of the more advanced CD players.

I take back everything bad I've said about electronic copy protection. I fully support the industry's efforts to make Celine Dion CD's unplayable. Now we just have to figure out a way to prevent them from being played in regular CD players. Next up: The new 'Kenny G' CD.

It's not a bug - it's a feature.