TV-PGJuly 5, 2000: Strange, but (possibly) true: is Steve Jobs investing in the world's smallest country in preparation for world domination? Meanwhile, MacWEEK officially pronounces Mac the Knife dead, while his reincarnation as a clothing-challenged rodent brings hope to us all, and Microsoft hires some big guns as "Redmond Justice" heads to the Supreme Court...
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Tomorrow, The World (7/5/00)
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Still got a year's supply of bottled water and canned peas in your pretty-embarrassing-as-of-last-January-1st Y2K survival stockpile? Well, check the expiration dates on those nonperishables and don't forget to pack a can opener, because you may yet have the last laugh. Most computer systems shrugged off the first of the year like the non-event it was, true, but we at AtAT are now officially recommending that all citizens immediately commence survival preparation, because Steve Jobs has allegedly taken his covert plan for world domination to the next level. With the helicopter rides between Apple and Pixar and the free "thanks for saving our bacon" Gulfstream jet, you already knew he was amassing an air force; now we've discovered that he's buyi-- er, "investing in" his own country.

That's right; according to a HolyMac! article pointed out by faithful viewer Carson Baker, a secret Apple source reveals that his company has invested a sizeable chunk of change in the Principality of Sealand, the world's smallest sovereign territory. Well, okay, that's not quite accurate; Apple's investment is actually in a company called HavenCo, which happens to reside in Sealand-- but given that Sealand consists of a derelict "World War II anti-aircraft military fortress" sitting in the North Sea just off the coast of England, we can't imagine the country consists of much more than HavenCo.

HavenCo bills itself as a "co-location facility" that's subject only to Sealand law, which is apparently pretty laissez-faire when it comes to data transactions. In other words, HavenCo is taking advantage of its unique geographical position to act as a data haven-- a place where people can "get outside of the law in order to make trusted, secure transactions. No caveats. You can set your own rules." Sounds like a growth market, right? Apple thinks so, too, and has therefore pumped something like 800,000 clams into the business, thus securing a "fair percentage" of the company. It's pretty obvious where this is all going: Apple gains a controlling interest in HavenCo; the company launches the most successful IPO in history; the Principality of Sealand becomes a major player in the increasingly virtual world marketplace; Apple controls the country's economy; Steve stages a coup; and bickety-bam, Steve's got his own country, complete with a booming economy and an air force. Soon the newly-christened Principality of Appleland will annex other small countries, the Jobsian Empire will grow, and world domination isn't far behind. So make sure you're ready.

By the way, if the concept of a data haven hosted in a tiny sovereign country sounds at all familiar to you, you've probably read Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon, an excellent book that explores an uncannily similar scenario. Come to think of it, when the book first came out a year ago, we remember it being near the top of Amazon's list of books purchased from customers in the apple.com domain. At the time we just figured there were lots of crypto geeks and Stephenson fans at Apple, but now it's clear that Steve made the novel required reading as the new company manifesto. Or, of course, there's the remotest of possibilities that someone's used Cryptonomicon as the inspiration for the latest Apple hoax-- but are you ready to take that chance? Excuse us, but we're off to count the canned goods in our secret underground bunker...


 
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Of Knives And Rodents (7/5/00)
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Who says we never take requests? Faithful viewer Lucas Roebuck wrote in with this plea: "You guys should pay a tribute to the officially-deceased Mac the Knife." Say no more, Lucas-- a Knife scene was already on our to-do list. It's been obvious for ages that the Knife has vacated his former digs at MacWEEK, what with his last update there having been posted sometime around the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. The reference to everyone's favorite drug-addled utensil as now being officially deceased presumably refers to Stephen Beale's latest MacWEEK editorial, which discusses the Knife's fate.

In case you hadn't noticed, the Knife's column stopped appearing right about at the time that Beale took over the reins as editor. Coincidence? Only for those of you who buy the Magic Bullet Theory. And Beale now makes it clear; he attests that he "retired" Mac the Knife because MacWEEK is heading in a new direction. "We must choose: Do we spend our time chasing rumors, diving into corporate dumpsters and providing reports about unreleased products that may or may not be true? Or do we focus our efforts on providing accurate, insightful news and analysis about important Mac products and industry trends that have already seen the light of day?" Well, duh. Could the answer be any more obvious to anyone with the teeniest sense of drama? Except Beale apparently isn't operating on the same plane of existence as the AtAT staff: "We have chosen the latter route," he writes (that's the boring one, for those of you who lost track), and thus the Knife, formerly just toasted, is now toast. The column, according to Beale, was also axed because it had become merely "an entertaining soap opera with links to strange Web sites that had nothing to do with the Mac." (Hey! We resemble that remark!)

But was the Knife really canned, as Beale implies? Not so, says the buzz from the fans. One anonymous viewer writes, "[Beale's editorial] is more full of bull hockey than a bran-fed rodeo. The writer of Mac the Knife left in disgust months and months ago." Left in disgust? We shudder to think of what could disgust the likes of the Knife, but we're guessing it was something along the lines of an increasingly corporate atmosphere and soul-stifling bureaucracy. That's just a guess, though, based on MacWEEK's "new direction."

But fear not, Knifelings; we admit we were once skeptical that MacEdition's Naked Mole Rat was in fact our newly-transplanted Gay Blade and not just a skillful imposter, but we've since been convinced by three factors. First of all, there's the inimitable voice-- if that isn't the Knife, then whoever this Mole Rat is should be forging lost Hemingway manuscripts for fun and profit. Secondly, there's the ton of mail we've gotten from various faithful viewers attesting that NMR is definitely the One True Knife, citing numerous shadowy sources and inside info. Who are we to argue? And thirdly, there's the clincher: the Mole Rat only posts updates about once a month, with today's column about multiprocessor Macs being the first to see the light of day since June 8th. Twenty-seven days between columns? Yup, that's our Knife alright. Oh, how we missed him so!


 
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Welcome To The Cast (7/5/00)
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Let's say, just for a second, that you're in charge of a multibillion-dollar software company that got in trouble with the feds for blatantly breaking antitrust laws like a sixteen-wheeler through so much plate glass. In this hypothetical situation, your company has been less than diligent about covering its tracks, so evidence against you is easier to come by than cheap logo pens at a trade show. It doesn't help matters any that your legal team irritates the judge, doctors evidence (and gets caught at it-- multiple times), and just generally handles the case so poorly, you probably would have lost even if it had been an easy one. So, of course, you lose, and lose big. You file the inevitable appeal, and the feds immediately punt it upstairs to the Supreme Court. Now, here's the big question: given how badly they muffed your trial case, do you really want the same bunch of clowns defending you for a speeding violation, let alone acting as your sole legal support as your antitrust appeal goes before the highest court in the land?

On a completely unrelated note, we tuned into "Redmond Justice" the other night just to see what was shakin', and we noticed a Bloomberg News article which reports that Microsoft has hired some new lawyers for its antitrust appeal. Apparently the company signed up the law firm of Sidley & Austin to represent it as the case goes before the Supreme Court. One of the lawyers at that firm, Carter Phillips, is a hotshot when it comes to Supreme Court litigation-- he's got a slew of experience in that venue, and was in fact part of the team that won last week's ruling upholding Miranda rights. "He brings a unique expertise in Supreme Court cases," said Microsoft rep Jim Cullinan.

But don't fret, fans; just because Phillips is signing on doesn't mean Microsoft's existing legal team is getting the boot. Phillips is just going to join forces with the company's current firm of Sullivan & Cromwell (complete with the lovely and talented John Warden) and lend a hand when a little Supreme Court savvy is needed. According to the article, "the decision doesn't indicate a lack of confidence in Warden and his firm." Why, of course not. Who would ever think such a thing?


 
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