Federal Bytes

THE VERB "TO SATELLITE." A press release last week from the White House said business leaders and government officials will convene on Jan. 12 for the 21st Century Skills for 21st Century Jobs Summit. Speakers at regional summits nationwide will discuss how to raise the skill level of the U.S. work force so that it can succeed in the coming years. According to the release, "The vice president will satellite into regional skills summits" in four cities.

This raises questions for those of us who use words for a living. On the day after the summit, should newspapers report that Al Gore "satellit" into four regional summits? Will people at summits outside the four cities be complaining that Gore should have "satellitten" to their cities? If the link goes down, will Gore "dissatellite?"

These are important questions, and the White House owes us answers.

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THE ENVELOPE, PLEASE. Universal Systems & Technology Inc. last month trumpeted its win of a 1998 Telly Award in the category of Non-Broadcast Film/Video & TV Programs. The awards were founded in 1980 to honor TV commercials but were later expanded to include film and video production. The company won for a training video on how to use the Marine Corps' Precision Gunnery Training System. The 30-minute video is a quick overview on how to set up and use the system, which simulates gunnery exercises without actually blowing things up.

The company was kind enough to send us a copy. And while the training system looked like it might be a hoot to play around with, we have to say we preferred "A Bug's Life."

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GUNS AND ONIONS. It's been a little more than a month since the FBI turned on its new system for running instant background checks on would-be gun purchasers.

While the system has been covered closely by FCW, the satirical publication The Onion also recently devoted some space to this controversial program.

In its Dec. 16 online issue, The Onion ran a parody of a man-on-the-street interview, asking various characters for their opinions on the background-check system.

Typical of the bizarre responses, one "interviewee" replied: "As long as they don't start requiring background checks for meat-cleaver purchases, I should be fine."

Funny? Sick? You be the judge. The Onion can be accessed at www.theonion.com.

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