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Culture

1999 in rhyme

What did the year bring? Was it progress, or riches? Technologies, trials, Security glitches? So Skinny was summoned, to fearlessly peer, at this one-thousand-nine-hundred-ninety-ninth year.

    'Twas the night before New Year's
    And all through the Valley
    There was joy for the Nasdaq's
    One-millionth rally.

    Some overpaid coders,
    Swept under a rug,
    Were tweaking a fix
    For an over-hyped bug--

    But knocking back bubbly
    Was the more common task
    And since Jeeves was passed out
    There was no one to ask

    What the past year had wrought--
    Was it progress, or riches?
    Technologies, trials,
    Security glitches?

    So Skinny was summoned
    To fearlessly peer
    At this one-thousand,
    Nine-hundred ninety-ninth year,

    Recount the events,
    IPOs, acquisitions,
    The foibles and scandals,
    The Fed's inquisitions,

    The outages, auctions,
    Disgraces and freebies,
    Enough nouveaus riches
    To give you heebie-jeebies.

    A year that was credited
    Variously
    For killing the desktop
    But not free PCs,

    For bringing down Microsoft
    But not its stock,
    For stunning the Valley
    With house sticker-shock,

    For merging the telcos
    In one scary borg,
    For humbling lizard
    Mozilla.org.

    The year started out
    Well for tangerine-cravers
    When iMacs were offered
    In five fruity flavors.

    But marketing munchies
    Were tougher to hit
    When they ran out of
    Blueberry lickety-split.

    And speaking of munchies
    Web grocery trips
    Brought stalled IPOs
    Thanks to WebVan's loose lips.

    But Shaheen was hardly
    Alone in his shame,
    For no-no's abounded
    With many to blame--

    But maybe the most red-faced
    Witness of all
    Was found telling Justice
    "I do not recall."

    By contrast, the year
    Has brought plenty of heroes,
    Like Bezos whose net worth
    Has all of those zeroes--

    Or Ballmer, Tim Koogle,
    Bob Davis, Andreessen
    Steve Jobs, John Doerr,
    Jermoluk, Larry Eleeson

    Steve Case, Ellen Hancock
    Of Exodus fame
    And Barksdale
    Down, but not out all the same.

    And Diller the wily one
    Left at the altar
    When Lycos's shareholders'
    Faith 'gan to falter--

    Rob Glaser, McNealy,
    Leonsis
    and Pittman,
    George Soros
    and Buffett
    Frank Batten
    and Whitman--

    Meg Whitman, a woman
    Of world renown
    Whose eBay sold kidneys
    Online (when not down).

    And how about all of those
    Zillionaires
    Who owe their great fortunes
    To Linus's wares?

    But wealth isn't all
    That there is to the Net--
    Through needles' eyes camels
    Are simpler to get

    Than rich men to heaven,
    And thus with good cheer
    We declare that the man
    Of the year is Mahir.