The Geek Independence War (Part 1)

Fake News written by Jon Splatz on Monday, July 10, 2000

from the The-Revolution-To-End-All-Revolutions dept.

Americans celebrate their independence day on July 4th, but this is not correct. The Declaration of Independence wasn't actually signed and shipped off to England until July 10th. Why? Take a guess. Lawyers were to blame, as always.

The same is true of Humorixia, that independent geek paradise in the Pacific. The lawyers, politicos, and marketers acted fast to thwart Geek Independence. They almost succeeded.

"We the Geeks of Humorixia, in Order to form a more perfect, bullshit-free Society, establish real Justice, insure domestic Freedom, provide for the common defense of Geeks, promote the general Quality of Software, and secure the Blessings of Free Software to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this... Nation of Humorixia..."
    -- Humorixia General Social License

Ever since the founding of the first law college in the 1500s, the legal "profession" has been steadily increasing in power. In 1776, several attorneys held up American Independence by bickering over the exact wording of the Declaration. Lawyers were overheard saying, "'Inalienable'? Is that even a word?", "This sentence in paragraph 3 isn't gramatically correct!" and "How much of a contingent legal fee will I receive if this Revolution is successful?"

It wasn't until Thomas Jefferson threatened to throw the lawyers into the Hudson River that they finally capitulated and allowed the Declaration to be signed on July 10th.

History has a tendency to repeat itself. Humorixia declared its independence on December 17, 1999, only to be dealt setback after setback by hordes of lawyercrats. Naturally, the idea that geeks could form their own nation without a lawsuit-happy court system scared them to death.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I need to go back to October of 1999, when the island of Humorix didn't exist yet and I was an unpaid pundit for a lame humor site instead of the esteemed Benevolent Dictator of the world's first meritocracy.

I was sitting in my rat-infested apartment one day, dreaming of forming my own independent nation (little did I know that the "Royal Family" of Sealand had already achieved this), when word came via my Neural Implant From the Future(tm) of an astounding discovery made by the Humorix Vasy Spy Network(tm).

Microsoft was planning to form their own island nation to escape from US anti-trust laws. Forget Canada, Bill Gates wanted to live on "Innovationia", a Pacific enclave for Microserfs. But all the good islands were already taken by American billionaires and multinational corporations.

It was Humorix Operative Double-Oh-Zero who uncovered their plan when he intercepted yet another internal Microsoft memo (Why do they even bother with security?). According to this document, Microsoft had captured the Anomolous Sewage Lagoon #5 in Roswell, Georgia. This lagoon contains a temporal singularity that periodically spits out items from the 24th Century. Apparently one of those items was a terraforming machine.

Their objective was to use this ActiveTerraforming(tm) device to create a new island in the international waters of the Pacific. It should come as no surprise that this new island would be in the shape of the Windows logo. Bill's new mansion would sit at the southwest corner, while the thirty square mile Microsoft Campus/Sweatshop would occupy the northeast part.

Once built, Innovationia Island would become a bastion for corporate greed like the world has never seen before. Microsoft would issue a press release stating, "The sudden appearance of this island out of the blue is a clear sign that God Himself approves of Microsoft's Freedom To Innovate. Take that, Judge Jackson!"

Foreign policy for this new nation would be simple: If a country ticked off Bill Gates, he'd just punch a red button near his desk, and every Windows machine in that country would instantly crash and burn without any hope for repair. That's the beauty of proprietary, closed-source software.

An End-User License Agreement would form the constitution by which the DirectGovernment(tm) of Innovationia would operate. Citizenship would be automatically granted to all Microsoft employees at no charge, and to everybody else for only a nominal fee of US$10,000 to cover the required "re-education" treatment.

The License Agreement would guarantee certain rights, such as free speech -- well, sort of. Here "free" refers to free beer, not... um, free speech. You would never have to pay any money to speak, but if you said something bad about Microsoft, you might wind up receiving "Re-Education 2.0".

In addition, the EULA would prohibit certain acts that might threaten national security, such as running a non-Microsoft operating system, or deliberately crashing Windows machines by typing in "C:CONCON". Meanwhile, all Internet (er, Microsoft Network) traffic would be funneled through a single 386 DOS-based firewall that would filter out subversive material (i.e. Humorix).

But let me get back to the story. It was agreed during an emergency meeting at Humorix World Headquarters that we needed to do something about this hideous James Bond-ish plot. Going public wasn't an option, we thought, since nobody would believe stories told by an organization whose name contains the word "humor".

We finally sent our crack investigative reporter, Dances With Herring, to complete this mission. I'll leave out the details, since you probably don't care. Besides, I don't want the networks to use this story to produce any lame made-for-TV movies.

The upshot is that Dances was able to easily crack into Microsoft's computer network and make a few "innovative" changes to the blueprints for the new island. The Microserfs didn't realize their plan had been booby-trapped. When they started their ActiveTerraforming(tm) machine, they stood in horror as the new island took the shape of... Tux Penguin!

The Microsoft employees all fled in horror back to Redmond, not wanting to be near such obviously unholy and sinister ground. They also happened to leave their terraforming machine behind.

Humorixia was ours.

But the battle wasn't over. Microsoft would come back fighting. Then Raymond S. Eric would spread rumors that Humorixia was committing "atrocities against lawyers", which would provide an excuse for the American Attorneys Association to attack us. After all, they weren't about to let us get away with our crusade to prevent the Lawyerclysm.

I was trapped on Humorixia for six months while the island was under siege by lawyers. But this was a small price to pay to advance the cause of Geek Independence. In Part 2 of this series, I'll chronicle the epic struggle of Geeks vs. Lawyers, a conflict that will affect geeks everywhere for decades to come.

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