Packet Rat: The Rat pencils in some hi-res resolutions for 2003

Michael J. Bechetti

Now that Oliver North seems to be the only significant figure from the Iran-contra scandal not yet appointed to a government post and fatally honest

Treasury secretary Paul O'Neill is out the door, the Rat gets a distinct impression of dwindling agency expectations.

'So I guess people won't mind so much if I break a few of my 2003 resolutions,' the whiskered one told his spouse while scribing his traditional long list of promises.

'I mean, if Admiral Poindexter is going to be in charge of the Total Information Awareness program, and Henry Kissinger is in charge of getting to the truth behind Sept. 11, these resolutions should make me a saint.'

At the top of his list: Get to know the nice folks over at the Office of Management and Budget. Now that they have fully booted up Clinger-Cohen superpowers, the wirebiter figures it's wise to stay on their good side to avoid a sudden reassignment to the Homeland Security Department.

The No. 2 resolution: Take the whole enterprise architecture thing more seriously. Although the Rat's agency did manage to get an architectural model done this year, no one's quite sure whether it's as-built or an artist's concept.

'I've got a couple resolutions for you,' his spouse suggested. 'Like, don't change your cell phone service every three months so you can have the latest wireless gadget. The early cancellation fees are killing us.

'And you should resolve to toss all the blow-in cards from your trade magazines in the shredder so the ratlings don't sign us up for even more useless junk mail. We're already getting five copies of every known Linux rag. Another subscription and we'll be kicked off the paper recycling pickup route.'

The cyberrodent sighed and added his spouse's suggestions to the scroll, right after his resolution to stop downloading MP3 songs.

Ever since the Naval Academy raided midshipmen's PCs at the behest of the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America, the Rat has been keeping a close eye on who's watching his home network. The results have just about persuaded him to move his music collection back to eight-track tapes from whence it came.

Finishing up his own list, the Rat drew up a resolution for members of Congress to keep next year without crossing their fingers. He'd like to see an antispam and Internet privacy bill with some teeth.

'Instead of turning Poindexter loose on the general population, maybe they should aim him at the idiots who choke my mail servers,' muttered the whiskered one.

Not that he minds the official e-mail about cattle. But the lengths to which spammers have gone to get less wholesome farm-related content past his mail filters have made the Rat resolve to break out a pitchfork.

'Enough resolutions,' he finally remarked to his offspring. 'Come on, kids. We have fruitcakes to drop off on our unsuspecting neighbors' doorsteps.'

The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad packets in cyberspace. E-mail him at [email protected]

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