"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 25 January 1996. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Hit & Run XVIII


[Cafe Utne]

"Ladies Night" makes perfect

sense as a strategic compromise

at the local well, and it was

only a matter of time before

infomerchants on the decidedly

testosterone-engorged Web

dabbled in similar tactics.

Café Utne, centerpiece of

the Utne Reader's downsized Web

joint, has lately been hosting

debate on its shrewd policy of

mandating a 4-5 week waiting

period on male-specified

membership applications (females

get in right away). Though

well-intentioned, the move may

be more of a goodwill gesture

than an effective workaround to

the net's 3 to 1 male skew -

after all, chances are the ratio

will outlast the ultimatum.



The jaded observer might note

that the issue may extend

further than engineering a

balanced community: depending

on the sponsor, a healthy

female presence may run

market-researched rings around

raw eyeballs. Which isn't to

slight the buying muscle of the

net's male populace - it's just

that of the many significant

consumer decisions necessary to

bring one to the point where

they could surf Utne Lens, none

involved the purchase of a

Saturn. Still, like the spotted

owl, women are a key indicator

of a healthy, wealthy

ecosystem. Controversial or not,

the flame-prone might be

surprised to see their ire

crumble in the face of the

unthinkable - a gender-balanced

online forum with zero percent

financing, no money down.



We feel so dumb. After flushing a

good 1000 words worth of Suck on

another damn parody, it dawns on

us that these HTML tributes are

not some weird example of

retrograde hive-mindism, they're

just a more confessional form of

email (besides being a fairly

doctrinaire method to get a

mention in Suck). Like laughing

at junior playing with his own

offal, we know it just serves to

encourage 'em, but we can't help

it. Who's to say we should

ignore the remarkably

dubious-titled "Design Police"

while paying lip-service to the

folks behind the more

adroitly-aimed Suck Drinking

Game? Just because the former

opt for an experimental approach

to humor while the latter use

the more traditional tactic of

actually being funny?


[Incurable Romantix]

If the stress of having to come

up with some sincere

manifestation of love for the

old ball 'n' chain is getting

you down, or you just want to

console yourself with the myriad

of side effects from having a

significant other, you might

consider checking out Incurable

Romantix from Autonomy

Publishing - "an interactive

Windows program designed to

enhance your marriage and

romantic life." We particularly

enjoyed the Compatibility Check,

in which you choose a rating for

important variables like "how

partner looks/feels" - um,

scratchy? Painful? And of course

there's that old standby of

hucksters, automatic writing: "I

can barely imagine a world

without you. It is a shadow

world, a hollow world. It is a

dark, unhappy world where the

sun refuses to shine, where the

song remains the same, where

nothing progresses, Brunhilde,

where nothing grows." Leave it

to a handful of lonely Led

Zeppelin fans with an extension

course in Visual Basic, too much

free time, and a thing for some

vampira named "Brunhilde" to

craft such a ground-breaking




Some providers have gotten so

desperate for content that

they're publishing password

files: a search on Alta Vista

for "root daemon nobody csh"

might change your concept of

"world readable." Before you try

to get hired as a security

consultant by running crack,

though, remember to keep your

hourly rate high enough to cover

the overhead.



CyberHome Magazine "explores the

interface between real estate,

homes, computers, and online

services." Now there's an

expedition we'd rather not

embark on - but hey, what a

great catch-all ploy to lure

in ad reps! After all, content's

just marketing bait - while most

sites offer up a measly faux

earthworm or two, this here's a

day-glo nightcrawler with an

ornate multi-level headdress. And

while someone on CyberHome's

staff has been surfing

("Remodeling Pro Gets Hot Wired"),

the most fascinating information

we could find describes the

Butler-in-a-Box technology by

Mastervoice: "Dialing home, the

subscriber is answered by a

pre-selected voice, possibly

simulations of such celebrities

as Marilyn Monroe or Sylvester

Stallone. One simply then gives

voice instructions on the

operation of up to 32 home

appliances, and the obedient

electronic genie gets the job

faithfully done...[and]

addresses the subscriber as

'Master.'" Norma Jean's soul

will never rest, as long as

she's toasting Pop-Tarts and

whispering "master" to some

dweeb with delusions of


courtesy of the Sucksters