"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 1 May 1997. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Hit & Run LXXXII


[It's Ruined!]

A little savagery goes a long way

toward enlivening any dreary

corporate conference's rote

recitations of feel-good

welcomes and earnest

lowest-common-denominator panel

musings on the State of the

Profession. So went Zine2000, a

Web design conference held last

week in New York for a crowd

definitely more "e" than "zine."

Breaking up self-styled graphics

guru David Siegel's chipper

self-promotion, the Font

Bureau's dour David Berlow

provided the conference's

highlight. At one point,

following Berlow's intense

debate with Verdana creator

Matthew Carter, Siegel piped in

that he will have "a chapter

about that in my next book -

though it will probably be

obsolete by the time it's

printed." Berlow gave Siegel the

long, cold stare: "No, it was

obsolete when you wrote it." The

stunned Siegel's replied with a

very Anthony Michael Hall-ish

"harrrrsh!" The most profound

insight came a little earlier,

though, when Berlow responded to

Siegel's initial plugs for his

Amazon bestseller Creating

Killer Web Sites; Berlow hissed

that he is "writing a book

called Killing the Creators of

Web Sites." Murder can be fun,

indeed. Wonder if anyone's

optioned the screenplay yet.



While we thought making fun of

academia's five-blind-men

approach to cultural

elephantiasis became redundant

after Eric Weisbard went to work

for Spin, you can understand why The

Wall Street Journal surrendered

to the temptation when it

reported last week on the rise

in "whiteness studies." But

don't get your panties in a

bundle about chemical

manufacturing research (this

field won't offer insight into

how to get them clean), these

courses won't be underwritten by

Procter and Gamble - expect

instead a Kraft-Velveeta chair

of American (Cheese) Studies, as

graduate students undertake

research on Spam, Elvis, and

trailer parks. A supposed growth

industry within the hallowed

halls, scholars of whiteness

recently gathered in the

multicultural hotbed of Berkeley

for a conference: "The Making

and Unmaking of Whiteness." Our

favorite abstract, proposing a

paper entitled "Whiteness Redux:

Banality, Contradiction, and the

Rise of Whiteness Studies," gave

some insight onto the field's

burgeoning popularity. In

suggesting that the "renewed

institutional presence of

whiteness is ... where politics

after whiteness begins," and

that white studies "intimates a

process of identity

renegotiation wherein the white

subject doing white critique is

involved in a process of

remembering itself," the author

reveals white studies as the

academy's response to its own

bleak future: White people

studying white people study why

white people study white people.

Academics, stuck in an era of

university downsizing, have

created the discipline as a

pointy-headed Ponzi scheme.



Where's that little tinhorn

crackpot Ross Perot when you

need him? In a move guaranteed

to push the outer envelope of

the North American Free Trade

Agreement, Arizona Governor Fife

Symington wants to cut his

state's costs for incarcerating

Mexican-born prisoners by simply

building the prisons ... in

Mexico. As The New York Times

reported last week, Symington

hopes to more than halve the

cost of incarcerating Mexican

prisoners convicted in the

United States by hiring

stockholder darlings like

Correctional Services

Corporation, Corrections

Corporation of America, or

Wackenhut to build facilities

across the border, where the

cost of hiring guards and other

employees is cheaper. This is

easily the most creative idea in

"correctional services" since

crime-busting Congressman Jack

Metcalf hired inmates at the

medium-security Washington State

Reformatory to conduct his

election-eve telemarketing back

in 1995. The only obstacle? The

US State Department won't spring

for a piddling little bilateral

treaty on the matter. Once that

hurdle is past, though, expect

to hear a giant shawshanking

sound from south of the border.


[Waco, not Wacko!]

Where our southern border

actually is, however, is a

matter of no small dispute at

this point, and it could be just

as beneficial to Governor

Symington to build his prisons

in the Republic of Texas. Waco

may have been on the mind of Tim

McVeigh, but the members of the

Republic of Texas are radical

constitutionalists who contend

Texas was never legally annexed

by the United States. McLaren,

for his part, was actually

impeached from his own office

back in March, and in an

apparent bid to regain his title

as king of the sandbox Sam

Houstons, he has now acted

against the wishes of his fellow

Sam Houstons by taking hostages

in a trailer park near Fort

Davis. McLaren's counterparts -

the "real and legitimate"

Presidents of the Republic of

Texas - have now taken to the

airwaves and bandwidth to

distance themselves from

McLaren's recent actions, but

we're wondering more what this

does to Texas' nationwide

tourism campaign: "Texas: It's

like a whole other country."

courtesy of the Sucksters

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