August 22, 2005
REMEMBERING APRIL FOOL’S DAY
Friday April 1st. 7:00 P.M. The Pope is going to go any moment. It’s decided. It’s prime time. Everybody is waiting. Everybody is ready. The big heads of television have put on their serious faces.
All the TV viewers are glued to their TVs If we have to we’ll cancel Everybody Loves Raymond, Miami Vice, MTV, The baseball game. Yes, even ESPN will get into the final act of Pope JP. One feels the wolf’s teeth already in the wool of the lamb. Ah, if we could get the last spasms live. It would be fantastic for the ratings.
The reporters and the cameras of ABC NBC CBS FOX and even the local KPFQ are on the scene. Millions of candle burners are on the Big Square. The Pope. Only the Pope tonight. Nothing but Pope Stuff tonight. Everything else is secondary. Except the commercials, of course. But tonight even the commercials have a kind funerary solemnity to them. Decorum. No boobs in beer commercials. Only ethereal landscapes. No Levitra and viagra adds tonight. It would be indecent to suggest fucking to the people on such a night when the Pope is going to join the angels.
Damn, why is it taking so long? Experts of vaticanology have been convoked to the TV studios to explain the situation and offer interpretations of the consequences of the Pope’s eminent departure.
The waiting is unbearable. Why is HE taking so long to expire? It’s not fair. We want to mourn him so much. The people on the Big Square are running out of candles.
Even the Muslims and the Jews are waiting before their televisions. Why not. That pope was a good guy. He tried to reconcile them. And he loved little children. That’s why he got so pissed when he learned that some of his curates were fucking little boys.
Meanwhile on CBS Prof Doc Specialist of Death says that even if the Pope is not yet totally dead it’s almost the same. It’s a fait accompli. Doc Prof 2 contradicts Pro Doc 1 saying that not totally dead is not the same as totally dead, even one minute before the final spasm counts as still alive. Enters Monsignor Brushing with a little cross on his lapel who states calmly and venerably that he has learned that the Pontiff has already one toe in the vestibule of the house of the Father way above in the celestial light. Yes, maybe, retorts Doc Prof 4 who has been silent all this while, but right now looks like there is a short-circuit of the celestial light. Mild laughter. The people in front of the televisions are holding back their tears.
Meanwhile on ABC the big head announces that Archbishop Bostoff has just arrived in the studio with the latest news. He enters and everybody kneels before him, even the cameramen. The people watching ABC also kneel before their televisions. This time we are going to know for sure. But Archbishop Bostoff says that JP wants is going to make an appearance at the window of the Vatican to assure the people that he will be soon in the house of the Father above in the light. He wants to make sure the people burning candles on the Big Square see his death mask. That’s how much he loves the people who have gathered here for the final .... I was going to say solution ... but that would not be appropriate for a Pope like JP.
Meanwhile on FOX Cardinal Marrant is advising that no tears should be shed. Only joy should be felt. The newscaster asks politely if perhaps Cardinal Marrant could make a guess as to what time we can expect the Pope to ... but he cannot find the right word to ask that question. L’évêque de Lisieux who happened to be in America appears on the scene and says in French: on papote, et on papote, mais le pape ne clapotte pas parce que le Père ne l’a pas encore appellé à lui.
It’s 9:30 now. The candle burners on the Big Square are getting restless. The people in front of the TVs are afraid to go pipi or get another beer in case they miss the last spasm.
The children of the people refuse to go to bed. They whine that they want to see the end of the show.
The Pope exaggerates. How to fill the time now. All the shows have been cancelled. Quick let’s go to Krakow and do a live interview. Organ music, a few palms in the background, and close up of Lech Walesa with mustache and all. Very theologically official. Big crowd on Sukenick Square. Everybody, men in black, women in white holding candles. It’ll be centuries before another Polish Pope dies.
– Lech : A historical day for Poland.
[Fade out to JP as a little boy. More flashbacks. JP taking the Robe. Then flash forward to the Vatican. Picture of JP in his colorful papal costume].
In spite of the glorious spectacle, one feels the tension. The impatience. Is he going to die or not? Nobody knows. Suppose the Pope dies during a commercial. We’ll only get replays then, but not the real thing.
Let’s call San Pietro at the Vatican, suggests the Ceo of NBC. This way we’ll be the first to know.
– Monsignor Pietro, what’s up. Is it the end? Is he dead?
-- Almost. Almost, but not totally yet.
– Pietro, can’t you sneak inside the Pope’s chamber and get us a few pictures. Anything to show the people.
– Our saintly Pope JP wants to go all by himself. He is alone in his chamber. He is praying for the people. The door has been locked.
Meanwhile on the Big Square the people are starting to express their anxiety. Special latrines and hot dog stands have been set up. In some European cities people have to use flashlights instead of candles. All the candles have sold out and burned out already.
– Maybe somebody should go in there and finish him up, somebody shouts to the crowd from a window. Stones and Bibles are thrown at him as he retreats in the room.
Pan sur la caboche est c’est dans la poche, shouts a Frenchman to his television while emptying his glass of wine in one gulp. Sa femme lui fout une claque. Pour toi, la mort du pape ça veut rien dire. Faucheton. Tu préféres ton pinard.
On Trafalgar Square the betting odds are going up as midnight approaches. It’s now 50-1 before midnight.
It’s obvious the people can’t take it anymore. They are burning their fingers with the little clumps of candles they are still holding. There might be riots soon.
– Let’s get ready to show a movie, the CEO of NBC calls in to the studio, the weather report, or replay a football game, anything, just in case. Damn, doesn’t take that long to die. Can anybody do anything.
His show his death live would be great for our rating. We can’t wait any longer. Our sponsors are going to cancel.
Meanwhile the Pope is smiling religiously in his deathbed while mumbling urbi et orbi about the firmament. Let’s met again tomorrow, he whispers, because today it’s April Fool’s day my dear faithful.
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Microsoft lawsuit is called a 'charade'
In a simmering legal tussle, Google, the Internet search company, is asking a judge to reject Microsoft's bid to keep a prized research engineer from taking a job at Google, saying that Microsoft filed a lawsuit to frighten other workers from defecting.
Microsoft sued the research engineer, Kai-Fu Lee, and Google last week, asserting that by taking the Google job, Lee was violating an agreement that he signed in 2000 barring him from working for a direct competitor in an area that overlapped with his role at Microsoft.
"This lawsuit is a charade," Google said in court documents filed before a hearing on Wednesday in Seattle. "Indeed, Microsoft executives admitted to Lee that their real intent was to scare other Microsoft employees into remaining at the company."
Google countersued last week, seeking to override Microsoft's noncompete provision so that it can retain Lee.
"In truth, Kai-Fu Lee's work for Microsoft had only the most tangential connection to search and no connection whatsoever to Google's work in this space," Google said in court documents.
The judge in the case, Steven Gonzalez of Superior Court, who heard arguments in the case on Wednesday, said he expected to issue a ruling on Thursday.
Google's filings include details about a conversation Lee had with Microsoft's chairman, Bill Gates, suggesting that his company was becoming increasingly concerned about Google's siphoning of talent, and perhaps intellectual property.
Lee said Gates told him in a meeting on July 15, referring to Microsoft's chief executive, Steven Ballmer: "Kai-Fu, Steve is definitely going to sue you and Google over this. He has been looking for something like this, someone at a VP level to go to Google. We need to do this to stop Google."
A Microsoft spokeswoman, Stacy Drake, declined to comment on Gates's statement directly.
"Our concern here is the fact that Dr. Lee has knowledge of highly sensitive information both of our search business and our strategy in China," she said.
Lee said Google did not recruit him and had not encouraged him to violate any agreement he had with Microsoft.
Microsoft countered that Lee's job with Google gave him ample opportunity to leak sensitive technical and strategic business secrets. Microsoft noted that Lee attended a confidential, executive-only briefing in March, which was labeled "The Google Challenge."
"In short, Dr. Lee was recently handed Microsoft's entire Google competition 'playbook,"' Microsoft said.
Lee joined Microsoft in August 2000 after he helped to establish its research center in China. At one point, Microsoft said, he was in charge of the company's work on MSN Search.
Microsoft and Google, along with Yahoo, are locked in a fierce battle to dominate search, both online and through desktop search programs. Google has begun offering new services, including e-mail, that compete with Microsoft offerings.
Microsoft said it had paid Lee well in exchange for his promises to honor confidentiality and noncompete agreements.
The company said that Lee made more than $3 million during nearly five years at its headquarters in Redmond, Washington, and that he earned more than $1 million last year.
Microsoft asserts that there is "an extremely close between the work Lee did at Microsoft and what he will be doing at Google.
Google argued otherwise, insisting that Lee is not a search expert and noting that his most recent work at Microsoft was in speech recognition.
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