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    This gem was forwarded, on behalf of the author, in late 1987 by Lew Goldklang, whose resemblance to Mr. Dithering is striking.

From its secret corporate bunker just north of Sausalito, Autodesk today announced the release of AutoShield(TM), an exciting new software product that renders nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete. AutoShield runs on IBM PC, XT, AT, or 100% compatible computers. At least 640KB of random access memory is required; a math co-processor is recommended to ensure appropriate response time to incoming warheads.

The company also announced the formation of a new subsidiary, Auto-da-fé Inc., based in Key Largo, Florida, which will handle all production and marketing. Officials vehemently denied cynical press allegations that this would also provide a convenient front for money laundering operations out of Miami and Havana.

The new software defends against land-based SS-20 Malenkov-class ICBM's, submarine-launched missiles, cruise missiles, and aimlessly-tossed empty Stolichnaya bottles. It also protects against all suitcase weapons larger than a thermos of borscht.

AutoShield offers three levels of Advanced Defense Extensions which provide escalating levels of protection:

ADE 1: Passive--incoming projectiles bounce harmlessly off an invisible screen.

ADE 2: Active--allows users to shoot down second-stage boosters at ranges up to 280 nautical miles. Enemy rockets appear interactively on-screen like an arcade game.[Footnote]

ADE 3: Aggressive--protects completely against a hostile first strike, and then takes the initiative to launch an all-out counterattack by broadcasting an extremely-low frequency (ELF) signal to all submarines lurking in the Bering Strait and all B-52's on patrol between your workstation and Thule, Greenland.

Ray Tracing, sightless yet visionary jazz pianist and company spokesman, who once pioneered dramatic advances in Moiré pattern analysis by counting LISP parenthetical nesting for 96 straight hours (just before he went blind), noted that AutoShield preserves a great American tradition, allowing each rugged individual to have as much or as little security as he pleases, without depending on his neighbors or any incompetent, flabby authority for protection against treacherous communist savages.

Mr. Tracing declined to give specific details on the revolutionary new technology, calling it proprietary information, but hinted that in the passive mode AutoShield uses a subroutine-activated piezoelectrochemical quark excitation tunneling technique--a variant of the GARDOL shield popularized in the Colgate toothpaste commercials of the late 'fifties. Apparently, scrapings from Ed Herlihy's teeth were crucial to its success, although hexachlorophene does not seem to be an active ingredient. He also pointed out that in both of the active modes AutoShield generates well over 10**12 joules of energy out of seemingly thin air by new breakthroughs in sub-molecular resonance and unified field reverberation. ``We just exploited a loophole in the second law of thermodynamics big enough to drive an Abrams tank through, before it rattles itself apart'', chuckled the irrepressible Ray.

He also said that Autodesk engineers had tapped a hybrid technology that is a combination of harnessing the universal ``strong'' force binding together atomic nuclei, a previously unknown new force, believed to be the mysterious ``force'' in the Star Wars movies, and the primitive metaphysical power of snapping one's fingers continuously to keep wild hordes of elephants away. ``See, it works!'', beamed Ray, snapping his fingers smartly while chewing gum at the same time, in a clumsy but evocative Gerald Ford imitation. ``No elephants here, and no Russki missiles, either!''

``It was pretty trivial'', claimed Ray. ``One of our guys did it over the weekend out of sheer boredom, in between watching the football game and counterfeiting food stamps.''

While a closely guarded corporate secret, the new technology seems to be quite similar to that used in the movie E.T., whereby a coat hanger, umbrella, tin foil and scraps of other crude, household throwaway items are employed to project energy beams across the vastness of all known galaxies and out to the very edge of the universe with a focus and intensity millions of times that of the most powerful industrial lasers.

Early beta-site versions of AutoShield required an additional minimum peripheral hardware configuration to support Advanced Defense Extension 3, including a Raytheon Patriot-class phased-array radar, a Titan three-stage booster rocket, a Shiva-class nuclear-powered X-ray laser and 10.2 kilograms of Uranium 238, enriched to at least 10% Uranium 235. In a last-minute, dramatic marketing maneuver, Auto-da-fé removed this restriction, calling it an expensive hardware crock. ``By performing all counterforce measures in software instead, we are making AutoShield affordable to a much larger market of keenly defense-minded but nearly broke citizens'', beamed backup company spokesman Mo Zambique. Major hardware vendors at Livermore Labs and Helionetics were chagrined at the loss of potentially lucrative OEM contracts, but vowed to recoup any lost business in the robust third-world counterinsurgency arena instead.

AutoShield is guaranteed to work during any level of attack, from restless native uprisings to small-bore tactical field weapons, and on through strategic counterforce measures all the way up to massive, all-out screaming Armageddon.

In the extremely unlikely case that it should fail, the company offers full credit toward another product, less a nominal fee for handling and postage. Proof of purchase is required, along with a comprehensive, well-documented bug report isolating the problem down to the suspect procedure within 10 lines of code.

Auto-da-fé is negotiating with Federal officials to sell a site-license to Washington for an amount equal to the entire defense budget. Government sources indicate this will be approved readily, as all other items in the new defense budget will also be rendered impotent and obsolete. ``What the hell, we were going to squander it all anyway'', said Pentagon spokesman Sergeant Fleakiller, ``We'll just gouge it out of the acquiescent tax base one way or the other; there's still plenty of plasma left in that soggy turnip. No problem.''

The imminent sale should give a one-time surge to the company's cash flow, resulting in new quarterly earnings per share of $35,714.29 which, at the present P/E multiple of 41.3 would indicate a fair market price of just over $1,475,000 per share. On Wall Street, respected securities analyst, swashbuckling international commodity trader, and incessantly blabbering TV game show host Long June Silver was euphoric. ``It's really the ultimate product; every government on the planet will have to buy one. The company is going to absorb every last piece of currency in circulation. We liked the stock at $50 and continue to be aggressive buyers at these levels'', he said expansively. Back in Marin, company officials quietly contemplated a 25,000-for-1 stock split.

Auto-da-fé is insisting on taking payment in newly-minted 7 1/2% Treasury bonds with a unit face value of $1,000,000 (the ones with Teddy Roosevelt's loudmouth blustering face on them). Company analysts are eager to scrutinize the fine engraving details and rag content. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing will have to run their recently acquired high-speed German presses night and day non-stop for nearly two years to print it all up.

Company spokesmen indicated that profits from the sale would go toward restocking the kitchen refrigerator with Classic Coke, which has recently dropped to levels so dangerously low as to impact programming productivity.

About the Author

Preston McChesney Dithering is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the Federal Open Market Committee, a part-time editor of Trialogue, the Trilateralist newsletter, and an ephemeral, shadowy character who contributes these sporadic screeds about national security and economic issues for your personal edification; you shouldn't have to act so stupid. He is also a lifetime ex-officio member of the California Prune Advisory Board.

Mr. Dithering has written extensively and with extraordinarily sensitive insight on American finance, culture, and nutrition, including the phenomenal best-selling trilogy, A Nation of Quote Suckers, A Nation of Screen Suckers, and A Nation of Aspartame Suckers, available immediately through Authorized book dealers, value-added resellers, wholesale discount distributors, gray marketeers, anonymous mail-order houses, sprawling concrete suburban malls, chi-chi boutiques, supermarket checkout stand blister packs, home shopping networks, all-night mini-marts, pornographic newsstands, remote trading posts, bartering clubs, penitentiary commissaries, broken, ornery vending machines, and roving flatbed truck hawkers in your area. Watch for these profound works soon to be nationally televised as a blockbuster miniseries for your entertainment, simultaneously coordinated with a wave of life-threatening interactive battle toys, moronic video games, software simulations, bubble gum trading card series, sugary breakfast cereals, carcinogenic soft drinks, teasing puzzles, smart-ass T-shirts and other overpriced designer clothing, and tax-privileged theme parks in targeted redevelopment enterprise zones in your neighborhood.

Meanwhile, Mr. Dithering would really like to hear from all you bored housewives out there.

AutoShield is a trademark of Auto-da-fé, Inc.

Auto-da-fé is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Autodesk, Inc.

Auto-da-fé is a registered trademark of the Spanish Inquisition. Great fun while it lasted; too bad you missed it; coming again real soon to a theater of operations near you.

Bicameral legislature, self-evident truths, neo-mausoleum architecture, flatulent filibustering, pork barreling, ineffective protectionist tariffs, tobacco subsidies, Prohibition, paternalistic socialism, benign neglect, incomprehensible policies, doctrinaire intransigence, language obfuscation, currency debauchery, unbacked fractional reserve notes, hyper-elastic debt ceilings, debt monetization, confiscatory taxes, perverse Byzantine lopsided tax codes,[Footnote] massive private gain at public expense, laissez-faire mercantilism, lucrative patronage, cozy cronyism, bottomless corruption, strangulating bureaucracy, comical ineptness, flippant insouciance, sullen insubordination, terminal bloat, creeping disintermediation, staggering trade deficits, voodoo economics, dollar bashing, intrusive citizen surveillance, satellite reconnaissance, calculated disinformation, shameless media hype, patriotic symbol manipulation, slush fund diversion, Senate select sub-committee investigations, lawyer-mongering, plea bargaining, subpoena quashing, pathological perjury, moral turpitude, ineffectual Presidential task forces, token civilian control of the military, forced conscription, sub-atomic tinkering, pitiful giantism, titillating indiscretion, stupefying horror, intermittent assassinations, lugubrious motorcades, virulent anti-communism, unenforceable loyalty oaths, manifest destiny, eminent domain, gunboat diplomacy, expeditionary brigades, insurrection squashing, gratuitous violence, gun-running, strategic incursions, surgical strikes, rural pacification, economic destabilization, blundering interdictions, horribly botched bizarre clandestine operations, official denial, mock bewilderment, outrageous interminable scandals, internecine power struggles, malignant brain tumors, bungled suicide attempts, affable doltishness, ludicrous gaffes, howlers in elementary logic, preadolescent fantasies, weepy nostalgia, technology worship, doomsday scenarios, emergency broadcast systems, self-righteous posturing, religious zealotry, institutionalized gibberish, stratospheric hyperbole, vituperative castigation, fulminating rhetoric, incoherent ranting, thundering bombast, pseudo-Evangelical blather, hair-splitting equivocation, bald-faced lying, wretched excess, moon golf, industrial disease, and bankruptcy are trademarks of the United States Government, 1913-1987. All rights reserved, or you'll hear from this week's Attorney General, who'll send the Feds down to slap the cuffs on you right in your office, deliberately embarrassing you in front of your own staff, just like on Wall Street. No fooling.

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Editor: John Walker