Volume 9 Number 1 -- February 29, 1996

Giant leaping armadillos to shield cities from missile attacks

The Strategic Defense Initiative Institute, which directs American attempts to design and construct a missile-defense system (commonly referred to as ``Star Wars,'' although Darth Vader has since retired from the project) has purchased an agency from the Agriculture Department. Under the January budget agreement, Congress provided no funding for the Agency for Genetic Utility Exploitation (AGUE), so the SDI project used some of its surplus unallocated budget to purchase AGUE in its entirety.

The responsibility of AGUE had been to ensure that genetically-altered fruits and vegetables were properly regulated and made available in the foodstuff marketplace; under SDI leadership, however, its scientists have been redeployed toward development of animal lifeforms suitable for use in anti-missile defenses.

According to Dr. Icarus Farpsdale-Farpsdayle, director of the reorganized AGUE, their first project is already underway, the Ballistic Anti-missile Leaping Dasypodidae Initiative (BALDI) project of SDI's existing Genetically Updated Mammal Defense Reconnaissance and Operations Program (GUMDROP).


Once a stable genetic structure for the modified armadillos is found, AGUE would release hundreds of the new armadillos into the American countryside. SDI satellites would keep track of the precise geographic location of each of the armadillos in the BALDI network, and of all of their progeny. (The new armadillos have also been engineered to be especially fertile, producing six times as many offspring per mature adult as conventional armadillos.)

In the event of an incoming missile attack, the satellite system would determine the BALDI animal closest to each incoming missile, and transmit to that animal a coded pulse that would impel the animal to leap up, armadillo-style, into the path of the incoming missile, disabling it. Two other properties of the animals that AGUE scientists are seeking to modify are their size (so that they might possess the 2,300 kilogram mass required to stop incoming ICBMs), and their ability to jump (so that they may jump to an altitude of 2,400 meters).

While the BALDI system will still require at least three more years to develop and deploy, a group of scientists opposed to genetic manipulation of animals in the wild has already expressed its opposition. Dr. Amo Squameaterga, president of the Zoologists Opposed to Wildlife Indignity and Exploitation (ZOWIE), held a press conference in Ithaca, New York, at which he alarmingly stated, ``Does anyone understand what will happen should any of these 5,000-pound armored beasts misfire and come crashing down at terminal velocity into a populated city? The risks far outnumber the benefits, and this wild scheme has got to be stopped!''

Less is More with PQM

Attaining quality is difficult. Attaining Total Quality is totally difficult. At many firms, staff spend so much time at Total Quality meetings, seminars, and reading Total Quality newsletters that Total Quantity drops to zero.

TQM started out as a noble project--get people interested and involved in the work they do. At most companies, however, TQM rapidly decayed into trivial claptrap, with the by-product of hundreds of hours spent on TQM meetings, seminars, and newsletters, wasiting phenomenal amounts of time.

But this need no longer be the case. IncompeTemps Management Consultants, the division of IncompeTemps that provides discount management staff, has created Partial Quality Management (PQM). You tell us how much free time your staff has to spend at pointless PQM meetings, and we'll schedule exactly that amount--not an extra moment's time will be wasted. While staff will still be wasting time, they won't be wasting as much of it, so you'll save time and money. Plus, we offer a choice of two meeting styles--Traditional and Modern, described in the handy chart below.

Style Description Advantages Disadvantages
Traditional Droning consultant makes tedious presentation with incomprehensible vu-graphs and handouts in poorly-lit, overcrowded room. Management is pleased. Staff is presented with definitions of terms like ``Quality Improvement Task Watchdogged Holistic Integration of Leveraged End-user Yardstick Optimization and Utilization of Resources Essential to Advanced Hierarchical Expertly-Allocated Decision-making.'' Staff is bored and learns nothing.
Modern Energizing consultant leads exciting and motivating bingo game. Staff learns as much as in Traditional seminar (nothing), but do not fall asleep--instead, they leave the meeting alert and ready to do work. Management may be uneasy about staff playing bingo on company time.
Putting your company where you never thought it'd be.

Perot proposes ``Fat Tax''

Former presidential candidate H. Ross Perot has declared his intention to secure enough delegates at the 1996 Republican convention to become the party's Vice-Presidential candidate. Toward that end, and furthering his goal of balancing the federal budget in short order, the Perot organization issued a press release putting forth the idea of a ``Fat Tax''--a tax on all US citizens that would instantly pay off the US debt.

``While all current presidential frontrunners have voiced support for reducing government spending, they simultaneously advocate reducing taxes, undermining their stated goal of balancing the budget. The Perot Fat Tax plan is the only one to recognize that balancing the budget cannot be done while cutting government income at the same rate as goverment expenditure.''

The Fat Tax, if passed, would assess each American citizen with their fair share of the US National Debt, which is currently at approximately $18,892.39 per citizen.

Responses to the Perot plan from other Republican candidates were not long in coming. The curent frontrunner, Pat Buchanan, welcomed the Perot Plan, stating ``This makes even more obvious the need for abolishing abortion immediately. There have been more than 28,000,000 abortions since Roe v. Wade in 1973, and that represents 28 million potential taxpayers who aren't around to pay their share. If abortion had not been legalized by this scandalous Supreme Court decision, each citizen would owe less than $17,078.21--abortion has cost every American alive today $1,815.18!''

Candidate Phil Gramm, just before quitting the race, used the opportunity to rail against the debt. ``Liberals ridicule my proposal for a medical savings account. Well, if it weren't for this debt, every American could already have a medical savings account with $18,892.39 in it, which according to my doctor friends is enough to remove every pancreas, spleen, and gall bladder in this great nation. The Fat Tax must be put into effect immediately!''

Bob Dole also expressed his support of the plan. ``It is apparent to our sociologist consultants that the Fat Tax will help keep Families together. Most citizens will have great difficulty paying the Fat Tax, and this adversity will bring American families together against the adversity of the times like has been absent from American society since the Second World War. Americans come together in times of crisis, and if every man, woman, and child is forced to pay $18,892.39 by the end of the fiscal year, we will have a great crisis, indeed. The plan is pure genius.''

The only Republican candidate opposing the Fat Tax is Steve Forbes, because it goes against his Flat Tax plan to increase the budget deficit by cutting everyone's taxes. ``People in this nation need to realize that by collecting taxes, the government is taking hard-earned money that citizens would otherwise spend in the development of a prosperous economy. My response to the Fat Tax is to eliminate the Income Tax altogether, and replace it with a payment from the government to each taxpayer in proportion to their assets. Such a huge influx of money into the marketplace will jump-start the economy and lead to the most prosperous times since the Reagan supply-side boom of the 1980s.''

The only Democratic candidate, Bill Clinton, has not yet expressed an opinion on the Fat Tax. A campaign spokesperson stated, ``We make it a point not to intervene in squabbles among our foes.''


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Ask Dr. Staff

Dear Dr. Staff: Why does popcorn pop in a microwave oven? I read in a science magazine that things called quasars in outer space emit microwaves, but I held a bag of popcorn up to the sky one night for a whole hour, and none of it popped. Why do microwaves make popcorn pop only in an oven?

--Perplexed Popcorn Popper

Dear Popper: You've absolutely right that both microwave ovens and quasars produce microwaves. But the two things produce very different microwaves.

In order to answer to your question, one should consider exactly what microwaves are. Everyone knows what waves are, and every wave has a particular size, called its wavelength. ``Micro'' means ``small''; microwaves are waves with small wavelengths. Corn kernels are small things, too, which is why they get popped by small waves. However, each kernel has its own unique size, which corresponds to the wavelength that can pop it. Microwave ovens work by sensing the size of the popcorn kernels you've placed in them (that's why the kernels have to sit in the oven for a couple of minutes before they start to pop--the oven is sensing the kernels). The oven then transmits a microwave to pop each kernel.

But quasars don't know how big your popcorn is--they just spit out microwaves in all sizes. Most of these microwaves aren't the right size to pop your corn. If you had held the corn up to the quasar for long enough, a microwave of just the right length would probably happen across one of your popcorn kernels, and pop it; it just doesn't happen very often.

You may have seen old popcorn poppers in antique stores that used hot oil or hot air to pop corn--people used to pop corn in these devices before they had microwave ovens. They worked by heating oil and air until they produced lots of microwaves in roughly the right frequencies to pop the corn. But they were inefficient, because they didn't have the sensors that microwave ovens do, and they wasted energy because, like the quasar, their wavelengths of the microwaves weren't tuned to the corn--lots of waves didn't pop the corn, but instead just heated the air and oil. Everyone has abandoned those old devices, in exchange for modern, efficient microwave ovens.

--Major Microwave Maven

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