ZIP Beep #15

Just what is it that the world needs?

We asked that question of literally thousands of people. Well, not literally thousands, but thousands in a figurative sort of sense. Okay, if you want to be picky, we'll make it literally thousands if each of our readers asks a thousand friends to read this editorial. But for now, let's just say literally thousands and you'll know we mean figuratively thousands, which is okay anyway since "figuratively" is what people usually mean when they say "literally."

Of the literally thousands of people who were asked that question, the overwhelming response by far and away was this: The world needs an All-Peter-Leppik issue of ZIP Beep.

Of course, the overwhelming response by those who were not far and away was much different. They had more constructive suggestions. In fact, we only received one reply from a person who was both far and away. But that person was overwhelming in his response.

In spite of a lack of local interest, we're going ahead with the All-Peter-Leppik issue. We believe there is a silent majority who would speak out in favor of an All-Peter-Leppik issue if they could speak out, which they can't because, of course, they're silent. (It worked for Dick Nixon, it'll work for us.)

Peter began submitting articles to ZIP Beep a couple of months ago. We're pleased to give him this forum, and would like to hear from other readers with material to submit. The guidelines are simple: articles should be between 100 and 500 words in length, we prefer submissions via telecommunications, and don't write anything you wouldn't be proud to show your mother (assuming your mother is a little twisted). Leave your name, address, phone number and idea synopsis in the suggestion BOX (ATTN: ZIP Beep).

If you want to write, but humor is not your style, Carol Moler would love to consider your work for CQUill.

And for those of you who are interested, we received a communication from Dr. Howzzat? recently. He plans to be in the area sometime soon, and has promised to stop by with a story about his latest adventures. But as constant readers will know, his TARBABE is pretty unreliable and he may not make it as soon as he would like. Maybe if we all close our eyes and say we believe in him, he'll pull through.

Meanwhile, the public has spoken. It knows what it wants, and it isn't afraid to demand it. The public wants this, the All- Peter-Leppik issue of ZIP Beep! The public hasn't exactly demanded it, but that's not because the public is afraid. Just try putting a stick on your shoulder and asking the public to knock it off. You'll see how unafraid the public is, buster, and probably live to regret it.

But should the public ever demand an All-Peter-Leppik issue of ZIP Beep, we won't be caught short. Here it is! What the world needs (according to the enlightened) is right here!

And some people have the nerve to wonder what makes America great.

ZIP Beep #15
by Peter Leppik

It was announced today that a revised plan will allow gambling at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport if approved by the airport authority. The previous proposal was to allow pull-tab gambling at some of the bars in the terminal building. The new proposal, however, would set up a regular betting table in the main terminal, and allow a style of gambling more akin to that at Canterbury Downs, the new racetrack.

The plan was explained in more detail by the airport commissioner at a news conference today. "We will be organizing paramutual betting for travelers and anyone else who comes by. They'll be able to place bets on a number of random chance events including arrival times, cancellations, and which flight will land first out of several scheduled to arrive at once. As an added attraction, we'll be offering the first Airport Pick Six, where the bettor must pick the airline and flight number of the first six flights to be canceled on any given day. All the proceeds will, of course, go to charity and improving the airport."

Later, after the news conference, an airport spokesperson clarified what was meant by "charity." "The money earned through the betting will go into a general fund which will be used to decorate the main and charter terminals, improve the Governor's home, improve the homes of all the state legislators, and set up an annual fireworks display on the main runway. Any remainder will be given to the charity chosen by a dart thrown at a directory of non-profit organizations, subject to approval, of course." When asked if having a fireworks display over the main runway might be dangerous to air traffic, she thought for a brief moment and replied, "Well, I suppose we could bet on which flights will be hit, if that's what was meant by the question."

Governor Perpich and almost the entire state legislature have come out in favor of the plan. "I think that this is a really good idea," Perpich told us. "We can provide entertainment for people waiting for a delayed flight, and bring in money for a really worthy cause at the same time. Besides, I need a new VCR."

A bill to permit this type of gambling has been introduced in the legislature. It is expected to pass by a wide margin.

ZIP Beep #15
by Peter Leppik

Leaders of a small faction in the labor movement announced the formation of a new union this week. Tenatively named "International Brotherhood of Lightbulbs," it would organize all lightbulbs into one collective bargaining organization with enough clout to get things done.

One of the leaders of the movement, a Sylvania 150-watt spotlight named Spot, explained some of the union's demands. "We at the International Brotherhood of Lightbulbs believe that for too long, lightbulbs have been an ignored and neglected part of society. Just think of how much lightbulbs do for humans. When you wake up in the morning, your digital alarm clock tells you what time it is using Light Emitting Diodes, a kind of light bulb which will be organized separately under a subchapter in the union. You reach for the switch, and suddenly the room is flooded with light from the three 60-watt GE incandescent light bulbs in your ceiling fixture. A little later, you get in your car, and turn on the headlights because this is winter and it's still dark. Your headlights are lightbulbs, too, you know. When you get to work, what is the office lit by? Ceiling fixtures, using florescent light bulbs. When your phone rings, how do you tell which line is ringing? Little tiny light bulbs inside the phone. I think you get my idea. Light bulbs are the very foundation of human society, and we think its about time we get some more recognition. So our demands are simple. We want to organize all lightbulbs and other light sources under one umbrella union to achieve the following reforms: 1) Force humans to turn off the lights whenever leaving a room 2) Earlier retirement age, so we can blow out sooner 3) Higher price at the checkout counter. If we don't achieve these ends, we will simply all blow out at once, and then you can try to get anything done."

Another leader of the movement, a GE florescent bulb named Slim, made the following comments when asked about the basis of the movement: "I think we have a lot of popular support among the working class bulbs. I mean, ever since that great tyrant, Edison, came along, us light bulbs have been nothing but abused. People turn us on and never give us a rest. We have to burn our little tungsten hearts out until the day we die. It just isn't fair. The working bulb really wants changes made, and that's what we're here to do." When asked if television picture tubes would be covered in the union, he replied, "Probably. We haven't decided for sure yet. But if we do, we'll also include screens for computer monitors, oscilloscopes, and those little pocket television sets."

ZIP Beep managed to contact a representative of GE for comment. When the movement was explained to him, he quickly replied, "This is some kind of joke, isn't it? Don't tell me, I'm on that one TV show, uh, whatzitcalled? Oh yeah, I'm on David Letterman, right? Well, I'd like to say hi to my mother, and my sister, and I hope everyone is doing OK, and did Dad pull through his surgery? Give me a call. I really have to go, bye," and hung up.

ZIP Beep talked to the lone 60-watt Sylvania lightbulb in its editorial offices and recieved the following comment: "Well, I think this union business is a great idea. I'm just a working class lightbulb, so I don't know too much about this politics stuff, all I know is that if they can get me shorter hours and fewer of these excruciating sessions that last until 3 AM or so without even being turned off once, I'm all for it."

ZIP Beep #15
by Peter Leppik

ZIP Beep has uncovered evidence that highway 12, between I-94 and Wayzata, is a communist plot. This fact became obvious while attempting to get from downtown to Golden Valley one afternoon during rush hour.

A source inside the CIA, when told of the discovery, replied, "Actually, we've known about that for years. Highway 12 is one of the CIA's top priorities. It has long been common knowledge that Fuddruckers is a hotbed of Soviet activity. I mean, the whole building is designed around spying. Just look at it. The way it was constructed, the building itself acts as a giant antenna for relaying classified data to Russia. Garcia's is also a point of major activity. Right now we think that Garcia's is their command post, and Fuddruckers is their relay station."

An expert on Soviet affairs also confirmed our hypothesis. In a recent phone interview, Michael T. Headed described the Soviet activity along that stretch. Said Mr. M. T. Headed, "We suspect that they've been sending data from this area for a long time. Here's how we think they do it: Let's say that some new secret is somehow leaked to them. It usually comes to the car wash first as their agent hands the packet to one of the attendants, along with his tag that says he has paid for a wash and a lemon shine wax. The agent goes through the car wash and recieved an envelope containing generally between $5,000 and $10,000 when he returns his bottle of cleaning fluid. From the car wash, the packet with the information is taken to Garcia's, their command post. At Garcia's, it's processed and a decision is made as to whether it should be sent to the Soviet Union. If so, then the packet is sent to Fuddruckers, where the information is transmitted to the Soviet Union via a satellite and a relay point in Poland. All kinds of sensitive data has been sent this way. For instance, when they changed the Whopper, this spy ring was the first to transmit the new formula to the Soviets. You will notice that the car wash is in a perfect location to observe Burger King."

When confronted by this evidence, the State Department quickly realized that there was no point in keeping the secret any longer. A representative of the State Department answered most of our questions willingly. When asked what the government was doing about the problem, the spokesperson was to the point, "We are presently engaged in the task of eradicating the Soviet agents through a project which has been code-named 'I-394'. What this will do is eliminate Garcia's, the center of the ring, leaving it basically helpless. After that is done, we can round up the remainder of the spies for either deportation or prison."

A formal announcement about the spy ring is expected from the State Department any day now.

An expert on Kremlinology explained why this stretch of Hwy. 12 is so obviously part of a major spy operation. "Actually, I'm surprised this didn't break sooner. To most of us on the inside, it seems fairly obvious that the highway is such a hotbet of Soviet activity. Just look at it! I have never in my life seen a highway more poorly designed than Highway 12. It's obvious that the Soviets have had a hand in it from the start. The whole thing is falling apart! Whenever it rains, you get a big puddle underneath the railroad bridge. And, you know the traffic light near Park National Bank? That's a particularly clever scheme of theirs. It has a small TV camera inside it, and the intersection is monitored from a command post inside Garcia's. They look inside every car passing underneath. If they see someone wearing sunglasses, they spray him with spy dust. Those Russians aren't dumb. They know that CIA agents always wear sunglasses. In any case, it is now estimated that one-third of the population of Wayzata glows in the dark!"

ZIP Beep #15
by Peter Leppik

The supersecret IBM research facility in Ames (Iowa) is working on a new software technology for personal computers, expected for release in early 1987. The technology, called "Artificial Stupidity" by the researchers, will be primarily software-based, and will employ a number of techniques to make the user feel superior to the machine.

"What we're working on is a software-based technology to make the user of the computer feel superior to the computer," said our source, who is believed to be reliable. "In order to do this, we're employing a number of different routines in our Artificial Stupidity Software package -- called the ASS package for short -- which will make the user feel better about spending all this money on a machine. The idea is to use the package to prove that the user is smarter. Now, we've worked out a number of routines to this end. For instance, there's the Illogical Command Processor, which takes the user's command and mutilates, misinterprets, or otherwise fails to obey it. And then there's the Digital Automatic Wait/Do Line Executor subroutine, usually called the DAWDLE routine, which basically takes a command and waits as long as it can get away with before executing it."

Later that day, we managed to contact the vice-president in charge of research and development at IBM's Armonk (New York) headquarters. When questioned about the Ames research facility, he replied quickly. "I'm sorry, but I cannot discuss the Ames facility or any of the research going on there. I cannot even acknowledge its existence." When asked specifically about the Artifical Stupidity package, he hung up.

We also contacted a source in Silicon Valley. As a programmer for a major firm involved in PC programming, he had seen a very preliminary copy of the package. I coaxed him into making the following comments: "I saw the package, and it looks like they're going to make a killing on it. I mean, let's face it, a lot of people want to feel superior to their computers, and are more than willing to pay $500 for the ability to get that feeling. They didn't do it before now because micros are just getting big enough to put stupidity software into them. To put it simply, it takes a pretty smart computer to act stupid."

I could find only one other person who had heard of the Artificial Stupidity package. He commented that since the package would probably be such a moneymaker for IBM, it was no wonder that it was being developed in the Ames research facility. "They put all their supersecret new stuff in Ames. Nobody would even think of looking in Iowa for any sort of high-powered think- tank. That's why the facility is still so secret. Nobody ever thought of looking there for a research facility. And they keep it secret by crediting the work to other, known facilities. For instance, the PCjr was really developed in Ames. In fact, I have it on good word that the person who is doing the bulk of the programming on Artificial Stupidity is the same one who came up with the chicklet keyboard. A real high powered thinker, he is."

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