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Fight Terrorism, Win Great Prizes!

The United States government is looking for a few good ideas. So far all their methods of fighting the War on Terrorism have been the same old tried and true: bombing, freezing bank accounts, intercepting coded messages, scaring the hell out of the American public, and more bombing. Sure they've added a few new twists, like dropping food packets out of airplanes so the Afghans can learn what peanut butter and jelly tastes like, and encouraging Americans to get out of the house and spend what's left of their tax rebate, but once the novelty of wearing a "Shopper Against Terrorism" button wears off, what do we do next?

That's where you come in. The Department of Defense is looking for fresh ideas. That's right, they're holding a contest, succinctly called "Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (USD (AT&L)) and Combating Terrorism Technology Support Office Technical Support Working Group (TSWG) Broad Agency Announcement 02-Q-4655." They really should have held another contest first to find a catchier name.

What they're looking for is ideas to help in "combating terrorism, location and defeat of hard or difficult targets, protracted operations in remote areas, and countermeasures to weapons of mass destruction." In other words, "What do we do now?"

The deadline for entries is December 23, by which date you have to submit a one-page summary of your hare-brained idea. If you make it to the semifinals they'll expect a 12-page paper expanding on the concept, accompanied by three proofs of purchase from any American-made product and a receipt showing you purchased it since September 11. If you're chosen as a finalist you'll have to write a full proposal of up to 50 pages. Don't worry, it won't have to make any more sense than the name of the contest. And will actually be shorter.

The winner will receive a government contract so they can develop their idea. The losers will get brand new FBI files because "outfitting all citizens with aluminum foil helmets to stop the terrorists from tracking our brainwaves", "planting a homing device in bin Laden's beard", and "projecting holograms of Ann Robinson saying, 'You are the weakest link. Goodbye!' into terrorist cell meetings" fall outside the realm of the X-Files and right into the Crackpot Files. To enter the contest, go to

They're not the first government agency to sponsor a contest. In fact NASA is holding one too. Since they couldn't top the Department of Defense's ability to name it, they're just calling theirs "Name a NASA Observatory." The observatory in question is one they're planning to send up next July which, if it doesn't accidentally land in Kabul (whoops!), will make its way to the far reaches of the universe searching for Pauly Shore's career. Just kidding. Even NASA doesn't believe we'll ever see that again. Actually the space observatory will be looking for distant planets.

Until now they've been calling it the Space Infrared Telescope Facility, or SIRTF, but they want something catchier and easier to pronounce. While you're thinking about it, keep in mind that Apollo, Hubble, Voyager, and Russian Death Trap -- I mean, Mir -- have been used. There's no prize money or government grant if you win, though you will get to see the launch. On TV. Just kidding. I hope.

The deadline is December 20 and you'll need to submit an essay of 250 words or less. Extra points (and half the work) if your idea also works for the Pentagon's Bye-Bye Bad Guys Contest. You can get details at

Actually, you shouldn't even bother entering the Department of Defense's contest since I have the winning answer: music. Think about it -- the Taliban outlawed all music after it took power in 1996, so it would drive them crazy. And it's been proven to work.

The Israelites, under God's direction, used trumpets to smash the walled city of Jericho. The Scots scared the hell out of their enemies by using bleating bagpipes, a sound which to this day sends otherwise stable people screaming for Xanax prescriptions. During the 1989 invasion of Panama, U.S. troops surrounded the Vatican Embassy and blasted AC/DC, Jimi Hendrix, Linda Ronstadt, and the Marvelettes 24 hours a day trying to drive General Manuel Noriega out. And more recently, the FBI serenaded David Koresh and the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas with endless loops of Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" mixed with Tibetan monks chanting and the soothing sounds of bunnies being slaughtered.

It's true that the two times the U.S. government was involved it didn't work, but that's because they didn't use the right music. They had it all backwards. You can't expect AC/DC and bunnies screaming for mercy to do anything to deranged, evil people other than make them smile. That's why when some convenience stores took to playing music in their parking lots to keep the riff-raff from hanging out they played Beethoven and Mozart, not Snoop Doggy Dog and Metallica.

We need to surround the terrorists with trumpets. Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass playing "A Taste of Honey" comes to mind as being particularly torturous. Throw in a few bagpipers. Get Mel Gibson to go in full blue face make-up for added effect. Send Kenny G, John Tesh, and Yanni over there, telling them it's a USO show. And while we're at it, let's send the whole "80's Wave Club Tour 2001" along.

The result would be much more like what Noriega meant when he referred to "scorching, diabolical noise" and the "roaring, mind-bending din." It's a cinch to work. And I can't wait for the first Department of Defense grant check to arrive. I think I'll spend it on American-made products to help boost the economy.

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