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C'mon gang--why can't we just get along?

The browser battles are violent in their own way. But is Microsoft really thirsty for blood or is Netscape crying wolf?

Just as the gladiola in my garden were about to bud, my son stomped the things into oblivion. Vermel claimed to be inspired by the Scottish warriors of Braveheart, which was playing ad nauseam on cable last weekend. Once the V-Chip is here, I'm putting the kid on a strict diet of PBS and warm milk.

The browser battles are violent in their own way. But is Microsoft really thirsty for blood or is Netscape crying wolf? At an intimate schmoozefest with technology journalists in the hills of Saratoga last week, Netscape execs made it sound like the Redmondians are literally sharpening their spears. Just before the champagne corks were popped, Jim Barksdale recounted to the guests how Microsoft's Steve Ballmer is taking competition between the companies to a new level, going so far as to urge a tribe of CIOs to chant "Kill Netscape! Kill Netscape!"

Sure, we've seen Ballmer get a tad swivel-eyed before, but honestly, kill Netscape? The man has had his rabies shots. The only time you might see him that foam-flecked is at a home game for the Trailblazers during overtime. Barksdale & Co. sound like they're playing a game of FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) to match Microsoft's own. Still, we're going to keep our fingers away from Ballmer's mouth.

Barksdale's Microsoft anecdotes may be apocryphal, but at least we know exactly what he'll be doing on November 5: voting for Bobby Dole. This week, VP-wannabe Jack Kemp made a whistle-stop in Silicon Valley and managed to win endorsements from 225 tech execs, including Gil Amelio, Sun's Scott McNealy, and Barksdale himself.

Conspicuously absent from the list of GOP supporters was Larry Ellison. We thought the samurai of Oracle was a shoo-in for the GOP list because of his close ties to Kemp. But Larry, who was Clinton's second largest campaign donor in 1992, is playing coy this presidential season. Or maybe he's just trying to sell both parties a bunch of NCs.

When I get tired of listening to politicians, I get onto Usenet and become one myself. Likewise, a bunch of users have taken to their newsgroup soapboxes over a proposed ISDN rate increase in BellSouth territory. Customers used to BellSouth's flat-rate charge may get hit with metered billing by the end of October. BellSouth's proposed "threshold billing" of a penny per minute will kick in after 200 hours of usage for residential ISDN customers and 320 hours for business users. Officials at BellSouth said they haven't made up their minds about the rate increase, but a leaked email from the telco made the company sound committed. If my garden doesn't grow back, I'm going to be committed. Do your best to keep me on the outside. Send a tip.