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This brave little rodent wants a piece of Gates

As far as anti-Gates groups go, the Society for the Prevention of Gates Getting Everything makes Netscape look like Mr. Rogers.

    As far as anti-Gates groups go, the Society for the Prevention of Gates Getting Everything makes Netscape look like Mr. Rogers. Only two weeks after the birth of this bold group of populist rebels, SPOGGE (rhymes with rogue) is nibbling its way to victory over Microsoft chief Bill Gates.

    As Attorney General Janet Reno announced the Justice Department's bid to fine Microsoft up to $1 million per day for alleged attempts to monopolize Internet access, the regular folks at SPOGGE were feeling pretty good about being the new squeaky wheels on the block.

    "Well, we're elated. What other term could we possibly use?" said SPOGGE founder Bob Lawrence. "Three months ago, we started putting together our campaign [and] launched it two weeks ago. A friend of mine was sitting in a cafe drinking coffee and looked up and saw Janet Reno [on TV]...and thought to himself, 'Damn, those guys are good.'"

    Like many average Joes, Lawrence said he feared Microsoft's grasp could soon exceed its reach, maybe right into his pockets. Yet he found most protest sites too personally hateful toward Gates, who was depicted as figures such as Satan or Hitler. Some sites even have interactive games wherein users inflict bodily harm on the world's richest man. SPOGGE doesn't want to knock off Bill Gates--maybe just knock him down a peg or two. Hence Spoggie, the roaring rodent, was born to take a bit out of Microsoft's big cheese.

    Spoggie is dedicated to fighting Gates and Microsoft with "'dogged' defiance of absolute power, my resolve to stand up to domination, and my ultimate demand for freedom from economic oppression," said the bellicose vermin in a prepared statement posted on the society's Web site.

    But SPOGGE isn't all fun and games. "There's certainly a very serious message in it, and the message is: 'Hey Bill, leave some for the rest of us,'" said Lawrence. That message is also the group's official motto.

    If you think the same, you can show your defiance through the traditional instrument of expression

    Spoggie, the roaring rodent, is mascot to the Society for the Prevention of Gates Getting Everything.
    in the computer industry: the T-shirt. But you can't buy one. For $15, you can license SPOGGE's "softwear." According to the terms of license, only one person may don his softwear at any time. Softwear pirates who manage to cram three or more users into one licensed product can apply for amnesty by mailing a photo to SPOGGE.

    The society is also offering mugs, stickers, and, naturally, rodent pads. "Get yours now. You know that Bill is going to get his. He always does," the society's Web site reads.

    Lawrence has pledged 50 cents from each purchase toward child computer literacy programs. Somebody has to make up for the $200 million Gates won't be passing out to public libraries after SPOGGE nibbles him down like a day old crust of bread. Though the society has 7,000 supporters--and Lawrence counts everyone who visits the site as a supporter--he figures he has only collected enough to buy a mouse, so far. But he's expecting more as SPOGGE wear catches on. After all, it's only been two weeks.

    All people named Bill Gates and all Microsoft employees are entitled to a ten percent discount, Lawrence said. Today, in honor of the Justice Department's antitrust action against Microsoft, Lawrence is offering the same discount to people who happen to be named Janet Reno. "It seemed only fair. There ought to be some reward for the courageous action she's taking."

    Never mind Janet Reno. With Spoggie on the case, you have to wonder how Gates can sleep at night.

    Margie Wylie writes about the weird, the wacky, and the wonderful of the Information Age Wednesdays in Perspectives.