A recent posting to the GoLUG mailing list caught my eye, and it begs to be shared with the wider world (edited, with permission, for clarity):
With all the negative reports I’ve seen about what is presently going on affecting free software, I have been having trouble sleeping. Last night I dreamt I saw the following in the news.
<dream> In an early morning speech at at David Duke University, President Bush declared:
“The federal government has no business controlling official standards. This is an area best left to private industry. Industrial groups like the RIAA demonstrate the benefits of standards being the intellectual property of corporations and their trade associations. Where would the computer industry be without Microsoft? I have issued an executive order to sell off the current standards held by the government. Due to the importance of an orderly transition, I am suspending the usual bidding process, and using the ‘no bid’ approach which worked so well in selecting companies to aid in Iraqi reconstruction and the rebuilding of New Orleans. After all, as President, it is up to me to determine what is best for the United States.”
By late afternoon it was clear that bulk of the standards would be in the hands of the same corporations that were selected previously on no bid contracts. The coveted unit of distance was won by Halliburton Inc. A spokesman for the company said, “We are honored by the trust the American people have given us. Our lawyers are presently meeting to determine how we can use our new intellectual property for the benefit of the country and our stockholders.” Halliburton stock rose by $200 a share.
The unit of time was won by Shaw Group of Baton Rouge. A corporate spokesman said, “We are considering changing the unit of time from the ‘Second’ to the ‘Bush’ which will based on the average time between words in President George W. Bush’s first inaugural address. Although this is slightly longer than the current ‘Second’ I think the public will appreciate the extra time they are given on their long distance telephone plans. Of course, telecoms will have to pay us royalties for use of our new unit in establishing their phone rates.”
Surprisingly most major corporations seemed unconcerned by the changes. A spokesman for Microsoft Corporation said, “We are always in favor of anything that reduces government regulation of our business. We don’t feel that royalty cost will have a major impact on our product prices. We have always kept a significant amount of cash assets for such contingencies. We feel we can buy enough stock to any standard holding corporation to replace or offset any required royalties. In fact we bought a 25% interest in Halliburton just prior to their stock rise.”
Stock analysts also seem encouraged. In an interview, a Goldman Sachs representative stated, “Sure prices will go up, but as with the oil companies, this can only lead to higher profits. It’s only small companies that are affected and they don’t trade on the major stock exchanges. I’m sure many small companies will do quite well selling themselves to larger traded corporations. The average family debt will increase but this will only increase the profits of credit card and other lending companies. All in all this is good news for the stock exchanges. We even have a new market sector the FU or fundamental units sector.”
Free software advocate Richard Stallman had this to say about today’s announcement, “I am greatly upset by what is happening. After watching trade groups like the RIAA, there seems to be no limit on the repressive legal actions the new standards companies can do. We will continue to fight such efforts in the courts. This will make developing free software much harder, but we will not give up. We will expand the GNU project so that GNU no longer stands for ‘GNU’s not Unix’. It will now stand for ‘GNU’s not Units’. We will be removing all current units from our code, and replacing them by GNU equivalents. There will be GNU/NAS which will be the GNU ‘Not A Second’ new unit of ‘Not Time’. Likewise there will be a GNU/NAM (Not A Meter) measure of ‘Not Distance’. I think you can see the pattern. I have developed a new Emacs mode (not-units-mode) to help in the process of code conversion.” </dream>
The above bit of satire was originally authored by Barry Fishman. Credit where it’s due.