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Saying ‘Bwaa-haa-haa!' in nerdspeak

I haven’t seen Microsoft founder and world’s richest man Bill Gates in a while, so I could be wrong about this, but I’m guessing that these days he’s sporting a bald head and carrying around a cat named Mr. something or other.

Why would I think something so preposterous? Because it’s become very obvious to me that Gates is bent on world domination, and like all evil masterminds with similar ambitions, he has to look the part.

Now, some of you have probably thought for years that world domination has always been Gates’ goal. His Windows operating system runs roughly 90 percent of the world’s personal computers, and his Internet Explorer is the preferred Web browser of nearly 70 percent of Internet users, but that’s not what I’m talking about at all.

No self-respecting movie villain ever tried to rule the world by controlling people’s computers, except Christopher Walken’s lame Max Zorin in the utterly forgettable Bond flick “A View to a Kill.” Besides, Gates already controls everyone’s computers. Instead, like all great twisted geniuses, Gates is going to attempt to take over the planet by controlling the weather.

Gates and his cadre of evil scientists have applied for five patents for their plan to slow down and lessen the impact of hurricanes, or so they claim. The basic idea behind the technology is that a fleet of barges would be used to bring cold water up from the deep ocean in the path of storms, thereby eliminating the warm water hurricanes need to thrive.

That sounds all well and good and is very much in keeping with Gates’ philanthropic alter ego (don’t be fooled, people!), but if one reads the patent applications closely, one might notice some interesting clauses. The methods Gates and his henchmen propose to use are “not limited to atmospheric management, weather management, hurricane suppression, hurricane prevention, hurricane intensity modulation, hurricane deflection.”

Notice that they say “hurricane intensity modulation” in addition to suppression, meaning they could just as easily ramp up the power of killer storms if certain cities don’t give them what they want. And if you’re not scared by the phrase “atmospheric management,” you’re either a lot braver than me or you don’t understand what those words mean.

It’s possible, though not likely, that Gates really is doing this to try to spare people from tragedies like Hurricane Katrina, but the cost behind such an effort could be astronomical. Gates’ people aren’t discussing any numbers, but one website I found threw out the figure $250 million. Sure, that’s peanuts compared to the estimated $81 billion in damage Katrina inflicted on New Orleans, but can you imagine how the City Council of, say, Wilmington, N.C., will feel when they’re presented with that bill after a hurricane supposedly diminished by Gates’ plan?

Of course, there’s no guarantee the plan would work in the first place. Hurricane experts across the country disagree on whether it would be possible to bring up enough cold water in time to have any effect on a storm. Some have also noted that the outer edges of hurricanes, responsible for the winds and flooding that cause most of the damage, wouldn’t be affected even if the center of the storm were weakened.

And let’s not forget the law of unintended consequences. What will we do if eliminating hurricanes causes drought conditions that lead to crop failure? What if cooling the water merely diverts a storm toward some other population center? Unless it’s Venezuela or Cuba, won’t we feel guilty as hell?

One upside to this technology, if indeed it’s meant for noble purposes rather than evil, is that we could expect to see a new show on the Discovery Channel called “Deadliest Water Pumping” that would chronicle the brave men of the barge fleet, who willingly put themselves in the path of killer hurricanes to save people too ignorant and stubborn to obey evacuation orders.

I don’t see that happening, however. I, for one, remain convinced that Gates is doing this because he’s out to rule the world. No movie bad guy ever built a weather control machine because he wanted to help people, and what did all those evil-doers have in common? Unlimited resources and access to the most cutting-edge technology. Sound anything like a bespectacled billionaire from Washington state?

And if you needed further proof that Gates is bent on world domination, I heard that Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen just bought a razor-edged top hat and can already use it to decapitate marble statues with a flick of his wrist.

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Todd Hartley

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09 2009

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