Welcome to McDNAld's!

Francis Vale

5,196,525; 5,164,316; 5,322,938; and 5,352,605

Mark these numbers well. They represent the day Mr. Potato Head took on Bill Gates. These are the patent numbers issued by the U.S. Government to Monsanto. They are for a newly bioengineered strain of potatoes that have bug bombs built right into their lab-altered genes. If a potato beetle makes the very natural mistake of eating one of these highly unnatural spuds, poof! Its tiny guts explode at first succulent bite.

But it’s also probably byte, because these "New Leaf Superior" potatoes engineered by Monsanto come with a license that looks remarkably like one used by the software industry: By "opening (the seed pouch) and using this product, the user is licensed to grow these potatoes for only a single generation to eat or sell". So, if you make a backup copy of these Michael Crichton-inspired tubers, and use that copy to restore your seed file for planting next year, you have broken the law. Maybe it’s time for the SPA to change its name to the Spud Protection Association.

And guess what. Every time you drive through McDonald’s and chow down their fries, what kind of potatoes do you think it’s probably using? That’s right, Bunky. Already, you have woofed down pounds of these FDA-approved DNA wunderkinds without knowing it. Kind of makes for a warm glow in the belly, doesn’t it? Of course, the FDA and potato growers will maintain that fighting bad bugs with mixed up DNA is better than drenching the potato fields with so much pesticide that the Love Canal looks like virgin Arctic ice.

In fact, Monsanto may be on to something here. If you can grow stuff that requires a software style-license, maybe Microsoft can plant a field of new software products that sprout at highly predictable times and naturally resist pesky bugs. Microsoft is certainly in need of some bioengineering of its developers, as they have obviously eaten way too many of these arterial brain-clogging fries -- How else to explain the system software roll out debacle known as NT 5.0?

Mr. Bill also seems to have munched on too many of these McDNAld’s crispy treats, as his behavior of late appears to have come under the influence of rampant mutant genes. How else to explain his paranoid, megalomaniac ranting during his address at the recent Microsoft annual shareholders meeting? Bill cried out, "The more we see of this (DOJ) case, the more clear it is that there’s an effort here to advance the interests of a handful of competitors over the interests of the public and the economy." Wow! The ruthless tyranny of the subversive few once again finds itself exposed and on public display. I certainly didn’t know Bill felt so strongly about my personal welfare. Hey DOJ, you mess with our boy Bill, and we are all doomed to a life of bitter economic deprivation.

I’m beginning to find this whole McDNA thing very spooky. How many home fries do I have to eat before my own DNA gets all mixed up with Monsanto’s idea of what a potato’s genes should be? Or suppose I eat DNA altered corn on the cob, and these two unnatural sets of genes don’t like each other? Does Maalox cure genetically run amok heartburn? These are very scary thoughts.

Even Intel says it’s been scared silly lately. During numerous points in his taped testimony, Gates, when asked by the DOJ if he was aware of any Internet software development by Intel, said, "I can’t think of any." So how to explain the numerous e-mails by Gates on this very subject? And the sworn testimony by Intel execs how Gates was "enraged" over the CPU maker's efforts to develop better streaming audio and video software? And how Gates in turn threatened to cut off Windows operating system support for Intel CPUs? Intel said it found Bill’s threats "credible and fairly terrifying," and thus dropped the project. Actually, what’s really terrifying here is how easily the fields of potato heads growing up in Redmond, WA have consistently snuffed out innovation and not bugs in PC software.

Eating genetically altered potatoes without knowing it, a few troublemakers in America threatening to ruin the public welfare and wreck the economy; hey, these are pretty frightening times. What we need now is a strong leader to take control to keep us safe from these threats from within (literally) and without.

What do you think, Bill, up for the job?

The Bottom Line

Home Users: If these Michael Crichton-inspired killer spuds don't make you crazed, then the bug infested Windows 2000 will.

Business Users: Have your workers been acting kind of strange lately? Maybe you should ask how many times a day they've been chowing down at McDNAlds

Power Users: Who knows? Maybe eating all those DNA altered spuds will rewire your brain so you can finally pass the Microsoft Certified System Engineer (MCSE) exam.

Copyright 1999, Francis Vale, All Rights Reserved

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