Guest columnist: PACKET RAT

Guest columnist: PACKET RAT

The Rat reflects on what to put in a 2000 time capsule

After finishing the last of his year 2000 tasks, the Rat finally found time to read about the new York Times time capsule, which will be opened in 3000.

To the cyberrodent's chagrin, no one consulted him about what to put inside. 'They forgot the Cobol manual!' he fumed. 'I'm pretty sure that somebody's gonna need one of those to deal with the Y3K bug.'

Convinced that, without his help, scholars and the media would give future generations a distorted view of life at the dawn of the 21st century, the wired one decided to build his own time capsule. He obtained a little help through a $4 billion drafting error, thanks to a typo planted on Page 2,439 of the fiscal 2000 budget when it was still a Microsoft Word file.

Funding in hand, the furry cyberhero set out to secure the present for the future. Here's an excerpt from what, in addition to the Cobol manual, made his list:

GCN illustration by
Michael J. Bechetti

''A complete dump of the Web. Using government-surplus laser etching equipment, the Rat made a complete hard copy of the Web in 10 billion microfiche-size pages on a giant titanium disk. Of course, about 15 million of the pages say: '404'Page not Found.'

''Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional and Server Release Candidates 3, on CD-ROM. They will provide a vital reference for future Microsoft Corp. engineers attempting to isolate bugs in Win 3000 Release Candidate 54,756,437,657,471,233.

''Pepper gas, tear gas and rubber bullets. These are essential supplies should anyone need to negotiate another round of trade agreements.

''The Ken Starr Report'lest history forget how low we could sink. The Rat considered throwing in Monica's blue dress but didn't want to risk some future scientist unwittingly unleashing Bill Clinton on a new millennium, Jurassic Park-style.

''A laser disk episode of a World Wrestling Federation Smackdown. The whiskered one figures that watching this might explain to future generations the landslide victory of the Jesse Ventura-Vince McMahon ticket in the 2004 presidential campaign.

''A collection of Pokemon trading cards. By 3000, the Rat might let his kids have them back'if they behave.

''A printout of Linux source code, autographed by Linus Torvalds and enclosed in a glass penguin.

Of course, sealing things away is only half the job. Someone has to be able to find the capsule in 1,000 years. So he's going to do the one thing that'll guarantee the longevity of the information. The whiskered one is going to tell Strom Thurmond where to find it.

The Packet Rat appears regularly in GCN/State and Local's sister publication Government Computer news. See him on the Web at

Stay Connected

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.