Sep 24

Deadly Genius and the Back-To-Zero Problem

There are entire genres of art that have self-destructed in the last
hundred years — become drained of vitality, driven their audiences
away to the point where they become nothing more than museum exhibits
or hobby-horses for snobs and antiquarians.

The three most obvious examples are painting, the literary novel
and classical music. After about 1910 all three of these art forms
determinedly severed the connections with popular culture that had
made them relevant over the previous 250 years. Their departure left
vacuums to be filled; we got modern genre literature, rock music, and
art photography.

Other art forms underwent near-death experiences and survived only
in severely compromised forms. Jazz, running away from its roots in
honky tonks and dance halls, all but strangled on its own
sophistication between 1960 and 1980; it survives today primarily as
smoothed-out elevator music. Sculpture, having spent a century losing
itself in increasingly meaningless abstraction, is only now feeling
its way back towards a figurative vocabulary; the most interesting
action there is not yet in the revival of mimetic forms but in artists
who speak the vocabulary of mathematics and machine technology.

What makes an art-form self-destruct like this? Many things can
contribute — hankerings for bourgeois respectibility, corruption
by politics, clumsy response to a competing genre. But the one we
see over and over again is deadly genius.

A deadly genius is a talent so impressive that he can break and
remake all the rules of the form, and seduce others into trying to
emulate his disruptive brilliance — even when those followers
lack the raw ability or grounding to make art in the new idiom the the
genius has defined.

Arnold Schoenberg (classical music). James Joyce (literary
novels). John Coltrane (jazz). Pablo Picasso (painting). Konstantin
Brancusi (sculpture). These men had the knack of inventing radical
new forms that made the preexisting conventions of their arts seem
stale and outworn. They produced works of brilliance, taught their
followers to value disruptive brillance over tradition, and in doing so
all but destroyed their arts.

Artistic tradition can be limiting sometimes, but it has one thing
going for it — it is the result of selection for pleasing an audience.
Thus, artists of moderate talent can imitate it and produce something that
the eye, ear, heart and mind will experience with pleasure. Most artists
are at best of moderate talent; thus, this kind of imitation is how
art forms survive and keep an audience.

On the other hand…imitation Schoenberg or Coltrane is
unlistenably bad. Imitation Joyce is unreadable. Imitation Picasso
looks like a toddler’s daubings and imitation Brancusi is ugly junk.
Worse still is when mediocre artists strain themselves to be the next
disruptive genius. And perhaps worst of all is what happens when bad
artists turn disruption into cliche.

Art forms self-destruct when enough of their establishment follows
a deadly genius off a cliff. And we had a bad streak of this sort of
thing just about a century ago; three of the four deadly geniuses I’ve
named above flourished at that time. Why then?

Tom Wolfe argued in From Bauhaus to Our House that the
breakdown of the traditional patronage system in the late 19th century
had a lot to do with the degenerative changes in modern art. Wolfe never
identified deadly genius as a core problem. but his argument readily
extends to an explanation of why deadly genius become so much deadlier
at that time.

Wealthy aristocratic patrons, had, in general, little use for
disruptive brilliance — what they wanted from artists was
impressive display objects, status symbols that had to be
comprehensible to the patron’s peers. Thus, artists learned to
stay more or less within traditional forms or starve. Evolution
happened, but it was relatively gradual and unsconscious. Geniuses
were not permitted to become deadly.

After 1900 all this changed. Wolfe elucidates some of the complex
reasons that artists found themselves with more freedom and less
security than ever before. In an increasingly bourgeois climate, the
cry went up that artistic creation must become autonomous, heeding its
own internal imperatives as much as (or more than) the demands of any
audience. The breakneck pace of technological change helped reinforce a
sense that possibilities were limitless and all rules could be
discarded.

In the new environment, artistic tradition lost much of its normative
force. “Back to zero!” was the slogan; forget everything so you can invent
anything. And when the next wave of deadly geniuses hit, there was nothing
to moderate them any more.

It is unlikely that anything quite like the Modernist disruption will
ever happen again, if only because we’ve been there and done that now. But
as we try to heal all the fractures it produced, this one lesson is worth
bearing in mind. Genius can be deadly when it goes where mere talent
cannot follow.

Sep 21

The Art of Science

One of my earliest blog essays (Terror Becomes Bad
Art
) was about Luke Helder, the pipe-bombing “artist” who created
a brief scare back in 2002. Arguably more disturbing than Helder’s
“art” was the fact that he genuinely thought it was art, because none
of the supposed artists or arts educators he was in contact with had
ever taught him any better and his own talent was not sufficient to
carry him beyond their limits.

I am not the first to observe that something deeply sick and
dysfunctional happened to the relationship between art, popular
culture, and technology during the crazy century we’ve just exited.
Tom Wolfe made the point in The Painted Word
and expanded on it in From Bauhaus To Our House. Frederick Turner
expanded the indictment in a Wilson Quarterly essay on
neoclassicism which, alas, seems not to be available on line.

If we judge by what the critical establishment promotes as “great
art”, most of today’s artists are bad jokes. The road from Andy
Warhol’s soup cans to Damien Hirst’s cows in formaldehyde has been
neither pretty nor edifying. Most of “fine art” has become a moral,
intellectual, and esthetic wasteland in which whatever was originally
healthy in the early-modern impulse to break the boundaries of
received forms has degraded into a kind of numbed-out nihilism.

There are exceptions, though — artists who engage the world, who
are deeply involved with ideas, and who playfully incorporate all the
possibilities of our technological age into their work. When I was a
guest of honor at Arisia 2004 I had the good fortune to meet one of
these; Arthur Ganson, an
artist/engineer who creates beautiful and sometimes disturbing kinetic
sculptures.

One that I’ve just discovered is Bathsheba Grossman. She
visualizes and then realizes beautiful ideas from mathematics,
cosmology, and organic chemistry. Contemplate her Large Scale
Model
, an image of the galactic clusters in the three hundred
million cubic light years around Earth — an eidolon of a
substantial fraction of the observable universe laser-etched into a
three-inch-tall glass block.

It isn’t quite “to see the Universe in a grain of sand”, but nobody
with more sensitivity than a brick could fail to have dizzying and
wonderful vistas of time/space and paradoxical thoughts about scale in
the presence of this luminously beautiful work of art. All too many
artists portentiously claim that what art is supposed to do is induce
one to meditate on one’s place in the universe, then deliver pettiness
(or perhaps a toxic political screed) as the punchline.
Ms. Grossman’s Large Scale Model is the real deal, and a hard slap in
their faces.

Or contemplate Ms. Grossman’s gorgeous metal sculptures, derived
from mathematical forms by a process that combines hand-modelling with
CAD and produced with cutting-edge 3D-printing technology. It’s not
just the end results that are beautiful but the whole dialogue between
art and technology implicit in her
technique.
After reading about it, I am not surprised to learn that she sometimes
writes her own modeling software — and, having seen her art, I
would lay a healthy bet that she writes damn good software.

There’s something refreshing even about Ms. Grossman’s most narrowly
commercial work. She will laser-etch the protein structure of your
choice into glass, using the same technique as in the Large Scale
Model, for prices starting at $145. These images of cloudy, intricate
structure are visually beautiful enough as abstracts, but they derive
their true power from being about something. About
hemoglobin, the molecule in your blood that carries oxygen. Or about
the DNA polymerase crucial in cell replication, or the
neurotransmitter acetylcholinesterase. Each one is a joyful
celebration of our ability to know, to find beauty and meaning in the
complexity of the natural universe.

To see these craft objects, unashamedly made for money (that’ll be
$40 extra for molecular-surface etching, thank you), is to have your
nose rubbed in the desperate poverty of most modern art, to be
reminded of the vacuum at its core and the pathetic Luke Helders that
the vacuum spawns. It’s a poverty of meaning, a parochialism that
insists that the only interesting things in the universe are the
artist’s own psychological and political quirks.

Bathsheba Grossman’s art reminds us that exploration of the narrow
confines of an artist’s head is a poor substitute for artistic
exploration of the universe. It reminds us that what the artist owes
his audience is beauty and discovery and a sense of connection, not
alienation and ugliness and neurosis and political ax-grinding.

Forgetting this value rotted the core out of the fine arts and
literary fiction of the 20th century. We can hope, though, that
artists like her and Arthur Ganson will show the way forward to
remembering it. Only in that way will the unhealthy chasm between
popular and fine art be healed, and fine art be restored to a healthy
and organic relationship with culture as a whole.

Sep 20

What Did Dan Rather Know, And When Did He Know It?

Dan Rather’s just-released statement just begs to be fisked:

Last week, amid increasing questions about the authenticity of
documents used in support of a 60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY story about
President Bush’s time in the Texas Air National Guard, CBS News vowed
to re-examine the documents in question—and their
source—vigorously. And we promised that we would let the American
public know what this examination turned up, whatever the outcome.

Where was your skepticism about the four documents you ran with
when your own experts told you two of the original six were bogus, Dan?

Now, after extensive additional interviews, I no longer have the
confidence in these documents that would allow us to continue vouching
for them journalistically.

And why did you ever “have confidence” in those four when you withheld them
from your own experts, Dan?

I find we have been misled on the key question of how our source for
the documents came into possession of these papers.

So, you’re still not admitting that your “source” passed you crude
forgeries that anyone with the nerve to call himself an investigative
journalist should have spotted in thirty seconds flat?

That, combined with some of the questions that have been
raised in public and in the press, leads me to a point where—if I knew
then what I know now—I would not have gone ahead with the story as it
was aired, and I certainly would not have used the documents in
question.

Do you know that the memos were forged? Are you prepared to state for
the record that your source was not a Kerry partisan engaged in a fraudulent
attempt to manipulate a presidential election?

But we did use the documents. We made a mistake in judgment, and for
that I am sorry. It was an error that was made, however, in good faith
and in the spirit of trying to carry on a CBS News tradition of
investigative reporting without fear or favoritism.

Ah, the nebulous “we” — favorite weasel-word of
responsibility-evaders. Will you take responsibility for that
decision, Dan? If you won’t, whose decision was it? If you will,
where is your resignation?

Please know that nothing is more important to us than people’s trust
in our ability and our commitment to report fairly and truthfully.

Oh, we believe that all right. After all, if you don’t
have peoples’ trust, how can you manipulate them?

No admission that the documents are forgeries. No disclosure of
the source. Dan, given your history of appearing at Democratic
fund-raisers and donating to left-wing causes, can you give us any
reason at all to believe you are not shielding John Kerry’s oppo
researchers?

UPDATE: CBS claims
that disgruntled ex-Guardsman Bill Burkett was the source of the
documents, and misled CBS about them to protect the actual source.
Who is the “actual source” of this fraud against the American
electorate? Why didn’t CBS validate the documents before broadcasting
an unfounded attack on the President of the United States during a
time of war? Inquiring minds want to know!

AND MORE: This just keeps getting better! Burkett has not only
admitted that the forged memos passed through him to CBS, he says
he gave them
to Max Cleland
, John Kerry’s triple-amputee token Vietvet. Burkett
has already changed his story at least once about who his source was.

I can’t be the only person thinking Burkett has been set up as the
fall guy in order to make politically-motivated collusion between CBS
and the Kerry campaign deniable.

Sep 19

MSM Loses its Power to Swing Elections

One of the most notorious lines of the 2004 campaign season came to us
in Mid-July when Evan Thomas, the Assistant Managing Editor of
Newsweek, said: “Let’s talk a little media bias here. The media, I
think, wants Kerry to win. And I think they’re going to portray Kerry
and Edwards – I’m talking about the establishment media, not Fox –
but they’re going to portray Kerry and Edwards as being young and
dynamic and optimistic and all. There’s going to be this glow about
them is going to be worth, collectively, the two of them,
that’s going to be worth maybe 15 points.

Thomas’s admission validated the charges made in Bernard Goldberg’s
book Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the
News
, and capped waves of evidence from recent sociological
studies by the Pew Foundation, scientists at UCLA, and others that
have scrutinized the establishment that the bloggers call “MSM”
(Main-Stream Media). All the evidence shows that the MSM is extremely
left-wing compared to the U.S. population as a whole. Content analysis
has repeatedly demonstrated how this bias both distorts public
perception of specific issues and makes most Americans grossly
mis-estimate where the political center of popular opinion actually
is.

But the reaction to Thomas’s admission from Republicans and
conservatives was more weary than angry. They have been wrestling
with the reality of pro-Democrat and left-wing bias in the MSM since the
counterculture wars of the 1960s. Ironically, however, Thomas’s
public admission may have come just as the MSM’s power to reframe issues
and swing national elections was suffering a critical breakdown.

Part of what I’m talking about the Rathergate
forged-documents scandal, of course. It is not yet resolved as I
write, ten days after the original 60 Minutes II story
and a week after the evidence of crude fakery became undeniable to all
but the most blinkered Bush-haters. Dan Rather is still hanging
tough, and the editorial position of the New York Times
is still “Fake But Accurate”. But the longer the holdouts cling to
their forged evidence, the more damage they will take to their
reputations, with effects that will go beyond the current election
cycle.

Just the prompt effects of the scandal are interesting. The most
obvious one is that John Kerry now seems headed for a Dukakis-like
thrashing in the presidential elections. As I write, the
anti-Bush-leaning Electoral Vote
Predictor
website is projecting Bush at 331 electoral votes and
Kerry at 207. The site notes that this is the most lopsided spread
since it was launched.

There are many reasons besides Rathergate that Kerry is
losing so badly. He’s a pathetically weak candidate — a lousy
stump speaker with no program and a nearly nonexistent legislative
record, who ran on his Vietnam service only to have that prop knocked
out from under him by former crewmates and superiors who accuse him of
having been cowardly, opportunistic, and unfit for command. In fact,
Kerry has no discernable political base of his own at all; his entire
appeal comes from not being George W. Bush.

But Kerry’s weaknesses, glaring though they are, are not the
interesting part of the explanation. It’s the MSM’s inability to
cover them up and make them a non-story that is really
interesting. The attempt to present Kerry and Edwards as “dynamic”,
“optimistic” and “young” to which Evan Thomas admitted has mostly made
them look vacillating, frivolous and jejune instead. CBS, the New
York Times, the Boston Globe and the other centers of the MSM had also
been trying very hard to bury and discredit the Swift Vets;
nevertheless, Unfit For Command is now the #1 nonfiction
bestseller in the United States.

Nor were the MSM, despite a visible effort to do so, able to
suppress the evidence that Dan Rather’s anti-Bush memoranda had been
forged. In fact, as I write they are proving unable to defend even
the exculpatory fiction that Rather was an innocent dupe. The fact has
come out that CBS was told in advance that two of the six documents it
had were almost certainly bogus by its own examiners, and then witheld
the other four from expert scrutiny and ran with the story anyway.
The implications of that fact are being now dissected not just on
partisan right-wing websites but out where the general public can see
it.

There has been a lot of talk since the Rathergate
scandal broke that the rise of the blogosphere made all the difference
this time around. And sharp bloggers fact-checking the mainstream
media made all difference in Rathergate itself, there is no
doubt about that. But Rathergate is only part of a larger
picture that goes back through the Swift Vets at least to the Jayson
Blair scandal, and amidst the peals of blogger triumphalism I think
it’s time to pull back at this point and get a little perspective.

As an immediate reality check, the bloggers had very little to
do with the success of the Swift Vets’ book. It is indeed remarkable
that the Swift Vets were able to get their story past the big-media
gatekeepers, but nothing that the gentlemen at
InstaPundit or Power Line or Little
Green Footballs
uttered can have had much influence on that.

For a more comprehensive explanation, I think we need to look at
a couple of trends that are larger than the rise of the blogosphere
itself, and which actually drove that rise rather than being driven
by it. One of these is obvious: the plunging cost of communication.

Before the Internet and cheap long-distance phone calls, pulling
together a cooperative network large enough to produce and back
Unfit For Command, or to perform forensic analysis on the
Rather memos, would have been an extremely expensive and long-drawn-out
operation. The market for ideas had a much longer clearing time then.
In fact it is rather unlikely these sorts of organization would even
have been attempted more than a decade ago — everybody’s perception
of the time and money cost would have been prohibitive.

Other forces are in play as well. One is that people are less
willing than they used to be to derive their identities and a static
set of political affiliations from the things about themselves that
they can’t change. Your family’s politics is a far less important
predictor of your vote than it was a generation ago (which, among
other things, is why conservative talk of a “Roe effect”, of liberal
abortion supporters selecting themselves out of the population, sounds
so much like wishful thinking). Union membership stopped being
predictive sometime in Ronald Reagan’s second term. Even traditional
racial and ethnic interest blocs seem to be crumbling at the edges.

Increasingly, political power is flowing to consciously-formed
interest groups that arise to respond to individual issues and survive
(if they survive) as voluntary subcultures. The Swift Vets and
MoveOn.org are highly visible examples of the trend. Internet hackers
organizing against the DMCA and for open-source software is another.
Indeed, the blogosphere as we know it is a voluntary subculture formed
largely from the reaction to the trauma of 9/11.

To people in these subcultures, traditional party and ideological
labels are less and less interesting. Case in point: Glenn Reynolds
(aka InstaPundit), the pro-Iraq-war, pro-gay-marriage,
anti-gun-control, pro-drug-legalization king of the bloggers. Is he a
liberal Democrat with some conservative positions? A South Park
Republican? A pragmatic libertarian? Not only do Glenn’s own writings
make it difficult to tell, he seems to determined to flirt with all
these categories without committing to any of them. Other prominent
bloggers, including those who broke Rathergate, exhibit a
similar pattern. The MSM, looking through a left-wing prism, sees it
as conservatism — but most bloggers despise the Religious Right
and Buchananite paleoconservatism as heartily as they loathe Noam
Chomsky.

Finally, I think we need to look at what bloggers call the “cocoon
effect” and understand that it too is a special case of a larger
phenomenon. Even among bloggers who describe themselves as liberals
there is a widespread sense that the MSM has become a sort of cocoon
or echo chamber, in which left-liberal orthodoxy is shaped by a tiny
self-selected elite and never questioned because no alternatives are
ever permitted a serious hearing. Thus the MSM often experiences honest
shock, disorientation, and disbelief when it is forced into
contact with actual reality.

But it isn’t just bloggers who notice that cocoon. So do
blue-collar workers, firearms owners, rural residents, and indeed
anybody who lives in “red state” America. It wasn’t always like this;
before 1965 or so your average auto-worker in Birmingham and an
editorial-page writer in New York City might have disagreed on much,
but they lived in the same political universe and spoke the same
language. The Vietnam War ended that; during and after it, elites in
academia, show business, and the media embraced the preoccupations of
the New Left even as heartlanders were rejecting them.

The journalism schools went with them, and the MSM has been
drifting steadily further out of touch ever since. An index of the
drift is the the way that the degree of trust Americans have in
journalists has plummeted since 1970. Today, survey instruments find
Americans rate journalists lower in integrity and honesty then
used-car salesmen or lawyers.

It’s a commonplace among analysts of American politics that the
dispute over Vietnam has been at the bottom of our culture wars ever
since. So there is some sort of completion in the fact that the
disconnect between the MSM and the rest of America reached a critical
break while the MSM was attempting to boost on its shoulders John
Kerry — the man who cofounded Vietnam Veterans Against The War,
who met with North Vietnamese Communists while still a Naval officer,
and who described our involvement there as an extended war crime.

A long-serving governor of Louisiana once boasted that he could not
fail of reelection unless he was caught in bed with a live boy or a
dead girl. Thanks to Rathergate, George W. Bush has a lock
on the White House unless he’s at least as seriously embarrassed
during the next forty days. Kerry’s approval ratings are hovering
around 36%. It seems that the MSM cannot deliver Evan Thomas’s
15-point swing anymore — or, if it can, that the left-wing
Democrats’ base has dwindled to 20% of the population or less and the
Democratic National Committee, too long swaddled in the media cocoon,
is in far worse trouble than it understands.

Either way, the self-destruction of the MSM and the collapse of
John Kerry’s candidacy looks to me like no fluke. It is, rather, a
culmination of trends that have been building for three decades. The
trend in communications costs is not going to reverse. Therefore
media gatekeepers will continue to lose power, voluntary subcultures will
continue to gain influence, and the MSM’s ability to set agendas will
soon be one with the dust of history.

UPDATE: A reader wonders if the MSM ever had the power to swing elections. The Assistant Editor
of Newsweek thought it could deliver 15%. Popular-vote margins in Presidential elections have often
been 5% or less. What does that suggest?

Sep 19

Top Ten Reasons I’m Neither a Liberal Nor a Conservative:

I’m reposting this screed from 2002 because it’s no longer visible on the Web, and in the near future I expect to post some things that will get me accused of right-wing bias.

Top Ten Reasons I’m Not A (Left-)Liberal:

  1. Gun control. Liberals are completely wrong about this. A fair number
    of them know better, too, but they sponsor lies about it as a form of class
    warfare against conservative-leaning gun owners.
  2. Nuclear power. They’re wrong about this, too, and the cost in
    both dollars and human deaths by pollution and other fossil-fuel
    side-effects has been enormous.
  3. Affirmative action. These programs couldn’t be a more diabolical or
    effective plan for plan for entrenching racial prejudice if the Aryan
    Nations had designed them.
  4. Abortion: The liberals’ looney-toon feminist need to believe that
    a fetus one second before birth is a parasitic lump of tissue with no
    rights, but a fetus one second afterwards is a full human, has done
    half the job of making a reasoned debate on abortion
    nigh-impossible.
  5. Communism. I haven’t forgiven the Left for sucking up to the monstrous
    evil that was the Soviet Union. And I never will.
  6. Socialism. Liberals have never met a tax, a government
    intervention, or a forcible redistribution of wealth they didn’t like.
    Their economic program is Communism without the guts to admit it.
  7. Junk science. No medical study is too bogus and no environmental
    scare too fraudalent for liberals. If it rationalizes bashing
    capitalism or slathering on another layer of regulatory bureaucracy,
    they’ll take it.
  8. Defining deviancy down. Liberals are in such a desperate rush to
    embrace the `victimized by society’ and speak the language of
    compassion that they’ve forgotten how to condemn harmful,
    self-destructive and other-destructive behavior.
  9. William Jefferson Clinton. Sociopathic liar, perjurer, sexual predator.
    There was nothing but a sucking narcissistic vacuum where his principles
    should have been. Liberals worship him.
  10. Liberals, by and large, are fools.

Top Ten Reasons I’m Not A Conservative:

  1. Pornography. The complete absence of evidence that exposure to
    sexually-explicit material is harmful to children or anyone else doesn’t
    stop conservatives from advocating massive censorship.
  2. Drugs. We found out that Prohibition was a bad idea back in the
    1930s — all it did was create a huge and virulent criminal class, erode
    respect for the law, and corrupt our politics. Some people never learn.
  3. Creationism. I don’t know who I find more revolting, the drooling
    morons who actally believe creationism or the intelligent panderers
    who know better but provide them with political cover for their
    religious-fundamentalist agenda in return for votes.
  4. Abortion. The conservatives’ looney-toon religious need to
    believe that a fertilized gamete is morally equivalent to a human
    being has done the other half of making a reasoned debate on abortion
    nigh-impossible.
  5. Racism. I haven’t forgiven the Right for segregation, Jim Crow laws,
    and lynching blacks. And I never will.
  6. Sexism. Way too much conservative thought still reads like an
    apologia for keeping women barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen.
  7. Anti-science. Stem cells, therapeutic cloning — it doesn’t matter
    how many more diabetes, cancer and AIDS patients have to die to
    protect the anti-abortion movement’s ideological flanks. Knowledge –
    who needs it? Conservatives would try suppressing astronomy
    if the telescope had just been invented.
  8. Family values. Conservatives are so desperate to reassert the
    repressive `normalcy’ they think existed in Grand-dad’s time that they
    pretend we can undo the effects of the automobile, television, the
    Pill, and the Internet.
  9. Ronald Wilson Reagan. A B-movie actor who thought ketchup was
    a vegetable. His grip on reality was so dangerously weak that the
    Alzheimer’s made no perceptible difference. Conservatives worship him.
  10. Conservatives, by and large, are villains.
Sep 16

CBS and SCO Charge: Bush stole Unix!

OREM, UTAH — In a startling and unexpected joint press conference, CBS
and SCO, Inc. charged today that President George W. Bush had
conspired with IBM to steal Unix code while Linus Torvalds was AWOL
from the Finnish army.

Standing shoulder-to-shoulder at the podium, Dan Rather and Darl McBride
flourished what they said was documentary proof, in the form of source
code listings found in a wastebasket at Texas Air National Guard
offices.

Open-source hackers and bloggers immediately questioned the report. “In
1972 Linus was like, three years old!” one Slashdotter commented. “I could
be wrong, but I don’t think they let toddlers into the Finnish army”. Others
pointed out that the listings were laser-printed on sheet-fed paper
using a technology not available in any form until 1978 and not deployed
by the Texas Air National Guard until after 1984. The Linux operating
system was launched in 1991.

“We at CBS have consulted numerous experts and believe these to be accurate,”
Dan Rather said, “but it doesn’t really matter whether or not they are
authentic. George W. Bush’s role in flouting the intellectual-property laws
of this country must be fully investigated. It’s not the nature of the
evidence, it’s the seriousness of the charges!”

“SCO is seeking additional discovery from IBM,” added Darl McBride.
“We have confidence that if we can just get our hands on every IBM
code listing from the dawn of time and depose every IBM employee
living or dead, we will be able to drag this case out long enough to
swing not just the the 2004 elections but the 2008 ones as well!”

In related news, the Kerry campaign — still struggling to rebut
charges of computer illiteracy raised by the Swift Vets’ searing
expose “Unfit for COMMAND.COM” — is rumored to have received a
donation from Bill Gates that included both a large wad of cash and
all known remaining copies of “Microsoft Bob”. Spokepersons could not
be reached for comment.