Monday, November 26, 2007

Entrepreneurs Offer ‘Monster-Beater’ Prize

Two entrepreneurs, Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines and Larry Ellison of Oracle, have offered a one-million-dollar prize to any inventor who develops a Monster Beater that can be cheaply deployed in underdeveloped countries to protect them from the scourge of Giant Monster Attack, or GMA.

“GMA is the global issue of our generation, just as Naziism and Victorian Prudery were for the generations before us,” said Ellison at a press conference announcing the prize fund. “No other issue has confronted humanity with so many challenges and threatened us like this one has. We’re announcing this prize, funded from our own pockets, in hopes to spur investment and creativity towards solving this difficult and dangerous problem.”

Kelleher said that he’d been interested in GMA prevention ever since he worked on the ill-fated 1969 US Army project to construct a mechanical Godzilla. “We did pretty good,” he told the gathering of reporters. “Mecha-Godzilla may have had a vacuum-tube brain and rattled every time he took a step, but his rocket fingers and laser eyes made him dangerous to the lower orders of giant monsters, like Angurrus or Swamp Thing. Imagine what we could do with the technology and resources we have today!”

Mecha-Godzilla was constructed under the Army’s Primary Robotic Intervention and Monster Abatement Tactical Environment project, or PRIMATE for short. Plagued by technical problems, the project was abandoned in 1972 after its Belly Button Blaster malfunctioned and caused a reactor breach, killing 15 members of the 18-man crew.

Spokesmen for the armed forces would not comment publicly on the prize, but highly-placed Navy sources told TIC News that they were skeptical that a civilian-designed system could marshal the necessary resources to construct a sufficient monster deterrent.

“The Japanese have spent trillions of Yen on Project Ranger, and so far all they’ve got are some poorly-designed animal-themed vehicles that can barely handle normal-sized monsters, much less tackle them after they’ve used their growth powers. How is a private investor going to be able to match that kind of resource layout?”

Some commentators didn’t agree with that outlook, though. Jason Gutierrez, Spokesman for Robotic Defense Initiatives, said that his company had made great strides in Monster Combat Units using only funding from the private sector. “Through a variety of partnerships, sponsorships, and grants, we’ve managed to design our first prototype combat unit, Ultraman. We’ve currently got it stationed in Los Angeles, where it can react to Godzilla waking up in Yellowstone Lake or El Chupacabra in Mexico, whichever pops up first. RDI feels that when governments refuse to act, the private sector has to step in to protect the public.”

On Tuesday the Internet was buzzing in response to the prize, which also has a separate arm to bundle smaller donations into grants for qualified companies hoping to gain the prize. Typical of the attitude was commentator Glenn Reynolds, who on his blog Instapundit said “More like this, please.”