Federal Bytes

Shakespeare on Y2K

Connie Morella (R-Md.) last week trotted out Shakespeare's "Richard II" to cap her speech on the Year 2000 problem. In her closing remarks at a National Institute of Standards and Technology conference Morella said unprepared feds may soon be singing the bard's sad tune: "O call back yesterday bid time return/Today today unhappy day too late."

For the record the passage was taken from the Earl of Salisbury's speech in "Richard II " Act III Scene ii. In the play Salisbury laments the defection of 12 000 soldiers. Or was that COBOL programmers?

Hurry up and wait

Meanwhile Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) called on Samuel Johnson as inspiration for his Year 2000 speech last week. Moynihan warned that the Year 2000 problem could result in severe political repercussions. "As Samuel Johnson observed the prospect of hanging concentrates the mind " Moynihan said adding that both parties will "face a wholesale clearing of the decks" if they fail to effectively address the Year 2000 problem.

Moynihan is trying to advance a bill (S. 22) that calls for the creation of a joint commission to take on the Year 2000 crisis. Ironically opponents of Moynihan's idea said it is too late for a joint commission to complete its work in time to address the Year 2000 problem.

Lawyer jokes

Stewart Baker an attorney with Steptoe and Johnson Washington D.C. recently livened up a policy meeting of the Computer System Security and Privacy Advisory Board.

Baker started off by reminiscing about the government's unsuccessful attempt to incorporate Total Quality Management into its bureaucracy. He spoke of a TQM meeting of government managers during which each participant was asked to describe his agency's mission and how it relates to the customers. A representative of the Marine Corps had an interesting perspective of TQM: "Sir! U.S. Marine Corps! Our mission is to find the customer and kill him!"

MC on NC

NC is supposed to stand for network computer but Microsoft Corp. chairman Bill Gates has an alternative name for the much-discussed device: not compatible. Gates' NC nomenclature drew chuckles from the audience during his recent Spring Comdex keynote presentation.

A jaded observer might point out that Gates who would rather see people buy PCs might have a vested interest in this issue.

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