Nearly 100 computer users marched today on Microsoft's Silicon Valley offices, demanding refunds for Windows software they didn't want to buy and don't intend to use, reports the Associated Press. Nearly 90 percent of personal computers sold come pre-loaded with the Windows operating system--a practice today's marchers denounced as a "rip-off by a monopoly" while proclaiming their loyalty to Linux, a rival PC operating system developed by Finnish student Linus Torvalds in the early '90s. Microsoft refuses to give refunds for pre-loaded Windows, claiming buyers are free to choose computers with non-Microsoft operating systems. In an uncharacteristic gesture of goodwill, Microsoft officials served refreshments to the demonstrators beneath a banner reading Microsoft Welcomes the Linux Community. "We don't want your drinks. We want refunds," said Linux supporter Eric Raymond, who, unfortunately, came to the demonstration dressed like Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars. We wish we were making that up.

› Also today: Mere hours after being notified of his Nobel Peace Prize nomination, exonerated slut, alleged rapist, and enthusiastic bomber of Iraq Bill Clinton was living it up aboard Air Force One with hemp beer. Stewards on the flight informed the Drudge Report of serving a hemp-oil-infused cream ale to the Prez-n-guests (including members of Congress). This report comes just weeks after an Air Force ban on all hemp products (a sergeant beat a marijuana charge by claiming traces of the drug came from a vitamin.) While none of the imbibers reported ill effects, all reported increased horniness and a ferocious desire for Pringles.

Today began the capital murder trial of John William King, the 24-year-old white supremacist charged with the murder of James Byrd, a 49-year-old black Texan dragged to death behind a pickup truck last June in Jasper, Texas. In their opening arguments, prosecutors characterized the brutal killing as "a publicity stunt" designed to draw attention and attract members to the Texas Rebel Soldiers, a fledgling racist group King hoped to found with members of a white supremacist prison gang. They also described King's tattoo-coated body as a "walking exhibit of racial hatred," featuring an image of a lynching, the words "Aryan Pride," and several neo-Nazi and Satanic symbols. If convicted, King faces life in prison or death by lethal injection.

› Speaking of race and murder: An auction today of OJ Simpson's assorted belongings raised a total of $430,000--enough to pay 1/78th of the $33.5 million civil judgment against him over the 1994 murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. Among the items on the block were five of Simpson's number 32 football jerseys, an original painting by disco diva Donna Summer, and the 1968 Heisman Trophy, which fetched a whopping $230,000.

Today was Ash Wednesday, the day for Catholics to remind themselves of their impending death by smudging their foreheads with grime. It also marks the first day of Lent, the 40-day period for Catholics to pay tribute to Jesus' stint in the wilderness by denying themselves something they enjoy. (Among the most common Lenten sacrifices: drinking, swearing, child molesting.) The period of Lent ends on Easter Sunday, when Catholics celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and are free to get drunk, cuss, and molest all the children they want.

› Also: Lent, schment! Alabama women ain't gonna give up their vibrators without a fight. Today an ACLU lawyer representing several Alabama businesswomen asked a federal judge to strike down an anti-obscenity statute passed last year banning the sale of sex toys. "It's a $10,000 fine and a year of hard labor if you get caught selling vibrators," said Sherri Williams, owner of two Alabama "romance boutiques," according to Reuters. The U.S. District judge gave no indication when he would rule on the matter, and a state representative noted that the law banned only the sale, not the use, of vibrators. "We see the legislature acting within its powers."

The makers of Jack Daniels are pushing for legislation to allow the sale of pre-mixed coolers and cocktails in Washington state groceries and convenience stores, reports The Seattle Times. Jack Daniels' coolers, packaged under names such as Lynchburg Lemonade, Cactus Kicker, and Blackberry Jack, contain 5.9 percent alcohol--less alcoholic than wine coolers or cider, both of which are sold in commercial stores. But since the products are made with liquor as opposed to being malt or wine-based, they're relegated to state liquor store shelves; a ruling that booze lobbyist Monita Fontaine likens to "putting the products in jail." If passed, bill SB5209 would allow spirit-based drinks containing 7 percent or less alcohol to be sold in groceries and taxed at a lower rate than pure spirits. While critics have denounced the bill as "the opening shot in an industry assault on the state's 66-year-old monopoly on hard-liquor sales," supporters have celebrated the bill as the opening shot in an industry assault on the state's 66-year-old monopoly on hard-liquor sales.

More business in Olympia: A conservative Christian women's group is opposing a bill that would create a commission to look out for women's interests, reports The Seattle Times. Sponsored by Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles and 14 other legislators, bill SB5098 would seek to ensure equal access and nondiscrimination for women in government, business, and education--a move the Christian group Concerned Women for America calls a waste of taxpayer's money and unnecessary in a state where female lawmakers have strong representation (nearly 41%) in the state legislature. "Besides," said CWA spokeswoman Mandy Crump, "we're the ones who fucked everything up back in Eden, and if anything, women deserve much worse than what they're getting now."

› Also today: Talent at the University of Washington! Tonight was the second annual UW Talent Show, hosted for the second year by Seattle drag superstar Chocha Fresca. In the packed U-Dub Hub, thirteen acts battled it out for the grand prize: a Gap gift certificate and dinner at the Wildrose (if there's one thing college kids like, its dinner at a dyke bar!). First prize went to singer/pianist Robin Young, who performed a self-penned ballad for his recently deceased mother, then lightened the mood by grabbing Chocha's ass. Congratulations, Robin!

Shocking news regarding America's finest actress Lisa Kudrow. Today the website Mr. Showbiz revealed that our lady Lisa (of Friends and The Opposite of Sex fame) remained a virgin until her marriage in 1995 at age 31! "My virginity was something I had decided was something that I owned, to give away," Kudrow reveals in the March issue of W. "It was an honor I was bestowing on a young man, and he had to be worthy of it." Please, make this woman President now.

› Also today: Thumbs down on the premature death of Gene Siskel. The skinny half of the bitchy movie-review duo Siskel & Ebert died today at age 53, following a 10 month battle with a brain tumor.

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 21 The week ended with an enormous sigh of relief from Seattle book lovers, who learned this week of the sale of ailing independent bookstore Elliott Bay Books to Bellevue developer Ron Sher, an apparently tasteful man who has no plans to turn the beloved literary institution into a goddamn Barnes & Noble. Sher told the P-I the only changes he planned to make to the venerable Elliott Bay are the addition of used books to the store's stock, the creation of more comfortable places to sit and linger, and transformation of the downstairs café into a Honey Bear Bakery. Most happily, the bookstore's nationally celebrated reading series will continue, curated as always by Elliott Bay's Rick Simonson. Actually, all this stuff was reported on Friday, but we didn't have anything for today, and good news is timeless.

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