Sicker By The Minute (10/16/00)

It's like the man never sleeps! Mike Dell is bucking for a spotlight case study in some scholarly psych journal or something, because his ongoing obsession with Apple continues unabated-- in fact, it's obviously getting worse by the minute. What started as Mike's seemingly harmless yet vaguely pathetic obsession with Steve Jobs turned into a full-time attempt to pattern his entire life after that of Apple's fearless leader. Longtime viewers already know the score: Dell's consumer-targeted WebPC, the Inspiron laptops in various colors, follow-the-leader investments in LCD manufacturers, the push for wireless networking, the adoption of FireWire, and even such sick, self-destructive moves as copycat earnings warnings. Clearly these are cries for help.

Unfortunately for Mike, we're not exactly climbing over each other just to help some sick billionaire Steve wannabe seek professional treatment. The man's filthy, stinking rich; surely he can hire his own team of psychiatrists to unlock whatever suppressed memories of childhood trauma led to his current sorry state. In the meantime, we find ourselves much more inclined just to sit back with a big bowl of popcorn and bask in the drama as he spirals ever further towards rock bottom.

Of course, it's Mike's latest act of Apple-emulation that reveals rock bottom to be rushing up at incredible speed. Faithful viewer Larry Villella was the first of literally dozens of people to inform us of the next chapter in Mr. Dell's tailspin into madness: according to CNET, Dell has just recalled 27,000 laptop batteries due to a serious defect. If you're at all familiar with Apple's product history and the pattern of Mike's psychosis, you shouldn't have much trouble guessing what that defect is. Think "PowerBook 5300." Yup, Dell's notebooks are apparently bursting into flame. Well, okay, maybe it's not that bad, but then again, neither was the 5300 situation, and now it's a permanent fixture in Apple lore. And while we're pretty sure that no incidents of 5300s igniting in the field were ever reported, it seems that at least one Dell laptop has started an honest-to-goodness fire.

While this is obviously an even more destructive progression in Mike's illness, it's notable for a very important reason beyond the simple emergence of pyromaniac tendencies; namely, the whole PowerBook 5300 fiasco occurred before Steve Jobs even returned to Apple. See what this means? Mike has gone far beyond an unhealthy obsession with Steve, and has now sunk so low as to be imitating Gil Amelio. Now that's sick. Maybe we should call the white-coats after all, before Mikey does any more damage. Then again, we haven't seen storylines this twisted since Dynasty went off the air. Darn these moral dilemmas...

SceneLink (2613)
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The above scene was taken from the 10/16/00 episode:

October 16, 2000: Michael Dell's Apple obsession spirals way out of control, as his company eerily recreates Apple's PowerBook 5300 fiasco. Meanwhile, Apple is looking for a few good sales shills to help boost its bottom line this holiday shopping season, and Bill Gates is maligned by a hacker who altered a newspaper's web site-- or is it the other way around?...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 2614: C'mon, Be A Shill For Steve (10/16/00)   It sure is bracing being thrust back into the "beleaguered" days again, isn't it? Sure, things aren't nearly as dire as they were in those heady days of '96 and '97, when rag-clad Apple employees were living in cardboard boxes and accosting passers-by with signs reading "WILL CRAFT HUMAN INTERFACE FOR FOOD."...

  • 2615: Bill The Hacker-- Or Not (10/16/00)   Here's a quickie to serve as food for thought. By now you may have heard how Bill Gates was the "victim" in a hacker's attack on the Orange County Register. As faithful viewer Ken Hall points out, a Reuters article discusses how some nefarious individual broke into the paper's web site and altered the content of three stories which were, appropriately enough, about hacking...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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