Forget Jim Carrey - Saddam Hussein is the real Grinch who stole Christmas - at least according to one Web site. It claims the Iraqi dictator is buying up the world's supply - such as it is - of PlayStation 2 consoles to build military supercomputers.
According to a WorldNetDaily report, US customs, the FBI and military intelligence - a contradiction in terms if we ever heard one - are investigating shipments of Sony's next-generation games machine to Baghdad. Some 4000 consoles have made their way to Iraq, those agencies reckon.
And that, says the report, is depriving American kiddies of their requested Christmas prezzies, poor dears.
It's hard to know what's worse: children engaging in (virtual) acts of mindless violence or the Republican Guard sharpening its skills on Tekken Tournament.
Or even - and this is the angle a "secret" document leaked to WND takes on the matter - a stack of the machines being wired together into some vast, supercomputer configuration to be used to take over the world.
Sounds a bit Billion Dollar Brain to us - ie. bollocks - but we don't suppose there's a good reason why Iraqi computer scientists can't get Linux running in Beowolf configuration on 4000 PlayStation 2s for the purposes of subverting Western democracy. Though we note that Florida seems to have done a pretty good job of that already...
"Most Americans don't realise that each PlayStation unit contains a 32-bit CPU - every bit as powerful as the processor found in most desktop and laptop computers," one unnamed military intelligence source told WND. "Beyond that, the graphics capabilities of a PlayStation  are staggering - five times more powerful than that of a typical graphics workstation, and roughly 15 times more powerful than the graphics cards found in most PCs."
Unnamed military source? 'Sony marketing mouth' would be a better description.
"Applications for this system are potentially frightening," said another intelligence source. "One expert I spoke with estimated that an integrated bundle of 12-15 PlayStations could provide enough computer power to control an Iraqi unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV -- a pilotless aircraft."
Thanks for clarifying the meaning of the words 'unmanned' and 'aerial vehicle' - we'd have never figured out they were the same as 'pilotless' and 'aircraft'.
Strewth. This sounds almost as bad as the scare stories from the early 1980s of Sinclair ZX-81s being nabbed by the Soviet military so for their Z-80a CPUs - handy for controlling ICBMs, we were told.
That story proved to be nothing but Cold War paranoia and survivalist jack-off material, and that's pretty much what the WDN report appears to be.
"Bundled [sic] PlayStation computers could also be used to calculate ballistic data for long-range missiles, or in the design of nuclear weapons... Iraq has long had difficulty calculating the potential yield of nuclear devices - a critical requirement in designing such weapons," says the WND story.
WDN describes itself as "a fiercely independent news service created to capitalise on new media technology and opportunities, to reinterpret the role of the free press as a guardian of liberty, an exponent of truth and an uncompromising disseminator of news". Or, as we say over here, 'conspiracy theorists'.
Put it this way, if Saddam isn't buying all those PS Twos, you can bet Elvis or JFK certainly is... ®