PACKET RAT

The Rat goes ape over agency monkey business

Few moviegoers can enjoy any film that involves technology if they have the misfortune to be seated alongside the Rat. So it was with some trepidation that his spouse agreed on a family outing to see 'Planet of the Apes.'

'Promise me you'll suspend disbelief at least until we get back to the parking lot,' she asked as he bought tickets for the brood. 'After all, they do call it 'fiction' for a reason.'

'No problem,' the whiskered one assented. 'I mean, we're talking anthropomorphic, planet-ruling apes here. How much more preposterous could it get?'

After the film, the Rat managed to hold his tongue until he was belted into the family roadster. Then he let loose. 'That was the most wildly inconsistent, disjointed, ill-conceived pile of monkey dung I've ever seen,' he told his spouse.

'So you liked it that much?'

'See, this is what happens when you don't have a science adviser. You get scripts based on old sci-fi story lines, you get trained monkeys flying billion-dollar space ships, and you get miscounts of the number of stem cell lines available for research by a factor of 10. They should have called it 'Planet of the Political Appointees.' '

The cyberrodent was still feeling a little jaundiced from his workweek. Although it wasn't as bad a week as they were having in the Defense Department inspector general's office, our hairy hero had been driven up a tree by his own agency's new leadership.

The undersecretary-of-the-moment, fresh from his confirmation hearings, seemed to have landed from another planet.

Instead of doing what most political weasels do when they take over a highly technical operation with little or no experience'that is, get the lay of the land from the civil servants in their domain and let them lead from below'Mr. Bonzo arrived to launch a full agenda of projects without even taking time for an initial staff meeting.

As it turned out, all of the initiatives were information technology-related. Not to mention unfunded. And based as much on sound IT strategy and management science as in, well, 'Planet of the Apes.'

'If this guy has any brain cells, they must be waiting out a noncompete agreement with his intestine,' muttered the Rat as he read through the 15th executive memorandum sent his way in as many minutes.

'He was chief exec of a dot-bomb, an e-grocery store that sold a lot of bananas,' replied the department head, who had arrived under the Rat's radar. 'So, naturally, he's supposed to know everything about e-government.'

Parsing the message enclosed in that comment, the wirebiter surmised he could speak freely.

'Has he checked any of these initiatives against Section 508, or any other regulations, for that matter? The only thing he seems to have used for a basis for this last memo is something he must have seen on an episode of 'Star Trek: Voyager.' '

'I'm sure he's breezed through the PowerPoint version,' his superior sighed. 'If you can fit it onto a slide, I think he can grasp it. Just don't use too many colors or he might get distracted.'

So it was that 'Planet of the Apes' struck a little too close to home for the Rat. 'I have got to overthrow the chimp with an MBA,' he mumbled as he drove his family burrowward.

'Don't worry,' Mrs. Rat said. 'I'm sure there's some way for you to put this Bonzo to bed.'

The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad packets in cyberspace. E-mail him at rat@postnewsweektech.com.

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