"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 8 April 1999. Updated every WEEKDAY.



Who says Larry Ellison doesn't

know how to laugh? Determined

not to let the end of the

balloon-exploration era get him

down, the dapper Oracle chief

and unstoppable ladies' man has

come up grinnin' with Hey Idiot,

the "cash portal" whose zany

scheme involves becoming the

sole market maker in its own

stock. In case the elaborate

joke is lost on prospective

buyers, the site's stock page

contains an all-caps message


JOKE." Less elaborate than the

prank, though, is the idea that

there is still some comedy to be

wrung from this tired "we're a

portal" gag. A better joke would

have been to make up a company

that sells only reasonably

priced value stocks and get

nothing but misinformed abuse

for your efforts.



After AOL acquired Netscape,

rumors surfaced it was being

investigated by the Department

of Labor. But the Feds seem to

be the last to have gotten the

news that there's no work force

left to protect. Jamie Zawinski

said goodbye to the world's

coolest desk, and

"smart-browsing" architect John

Giannandrea also went offline

after five years. Given the low

probability of palatable

communiqués, AOL probably made

the right move in shutting down

Netcenter's online forums and

laying off 425 Netscape

employees - including the author

of the "Doom@Netscape" Web page.

("What do you get when you cross

Netscape with AOL? AOL.") Still,

it all fits with AOL's skill for

seeming somehow defeated in the

midst of victory. The Frontiers

of Freedom site created by

former US Senator Wallop devotes

a special section to critiquing

AOL's government lobbying - even

linking to the "Why AOL Sucks"

page. The gloves may finally

come off if AOL gets serious

about its plan to corner the

drooling-geezer market with that

CBS acquisition. The only

stumbling block? Unlike

Netscape, CBS wants actual




Could Johnny Hart draw a rock so

big even he couldn't lift it?

Flatly declaring, "I know all

the answers," the beloved B.C. and

Wizard of Id cartoonist has

attracted a critical mass of

criticism for his habit of

introducing edgy Christian

themes into his comics. Hart's

God shows a Catholic fondness

for booze, but the cartoonist's

crabbed fundamentalism inspired a probing

story in the Sunday Washington

Post (one of several papers that

has canceled the Sunday B.C.,

where most of the Christian

stuff appears), and Hart's

off-the-record observations

(Jews and Muslims are going to

hell, Yitzhak Rabin was

assassinated in fulfillment of

scripture) lack the

crowd-pleasing reliability of a

good Marmaduke. This is that

rare trend where the Internet

was ahead of the curve; we

recall Ted Rall and comic strip

geeks discussing Hart's theodicy

in the appropriate newsgroup

back in our own Pleistocene age.

The Post story goes into even

greater depth, with Gary

Trudeau, Abraham Foxman, and

others engaged in Jesuitical

debate about the quickie

baptisms in Hart's Easter and

Palm Sunday strips. It's

pleasing to see such luminaries

giving some thought to religious

topics, but it all makes you

wonder: What are these people

doing reading the comics on a

Sunday morning, when they should be

in church?



Speaking of Usenet and religion,

our wholly unauthorized John the

Baptist is at it again. David

Nicol, lone lighthouse keeper of

the alt.fan.suckdotcom

newsgroup, has responded to the

massive outpouring of love and

enthusiasm that failed to greet

his earlier venture with an all-new,

Web-based Suck Fan Club.

Attractions include your own

Suck Fan Club homepage,

information on how to get in

touch with Suck fans in your

area, state of the art

e-commerce technologies for

buying Suck Gear; in short,

everything except the inevitable

Investors Tools and My Suck

sections (but there's always

version 2.0). As always, we urge

one and all to support Nicol's

efforts, but the fact that

actual readers' responses to his

project have so far run the

spectrum from abuse to

biliousness just drives home the

lesson that you can't have a fan

club if there aren't any fans. A

Suck Enemies List, on the other

hand, might carry some weight.



Almost four years after her

mysterious disappearance, there

may be a breakthrough in the

case of reviled atheist

matriarch Madalyn Murray O'Hair.

Fanciful heresiarchs have spun

theories that O'Hair and her two

adult children vanished to New

Zealand with a steamer trunk

full of krugerrands (in an

unbecoming show of early Y2K

hysteria, the godless Termagant

was in possession of US$500,000

worth of gold coins at the time

of her disappearance). But the

new prime-suspect pooling seems

to hold that she was bumped off

in Texas by a former office

manager, who may also be

connected with the brutal death

and dismemberment of a man

killed at the same time as the

O'Hair disappearance. Meanwhile,

O'Hair's organization, American

Atheists, has caught the wave of

New Jersey chic and relocated

from Texas to a more "civil and

progressive" home in the Garden

State. It's uncertain how the

atheist community will take the

news that O'Hair has gone to

that great delusion in the sky,

since most of them had

reportedly grown to loathe her

intensely. But among society at

large, the message may already

be clear: We understand Johnny

Hart is working up a cartoon

where the Fat Broad gets

brutally clipped and mutilated

by that One-legged Baseball


courtesy of the Sucksters

[Purchase the Suck Book here]