Monday, June 13, 2005

'Start a Rumor' Monday

Fecundmellow is out of town, so she's asked her internet entourage to pick up the slack of 'Start a Rumor' Monday, her indispensable feature whereby she kicks off each new week with a fake news story that The Onion wishes it had thought of. My favorites are still W.'s fake news conference on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Jesus' press conference to anoint Kanye West as an apostle, the Congressional edict that Calista Flockhart and Sarah Jessica Parker have their feeding tubes re-inserted along with Terry Schiavo's, and the decimation of Hollywood Squares with all their square-fillers off testifying at the MJ Trial.... and by the way, if you heard that last one on Leno, he totally ripped it off Summer.

Compared to all this gold bullion, this was the best I could do, but I'm new at the game. Be gentle, it's my first time, etc.

Bush, G-8 Organize to Assist Poorest Grad Students

In a surprise move, Tony Blair has announced that an extra day has been tacked onto the G-8 summit beginning July 6, in order to negotiate debt relief for American grad students in the humanities. The ambitious plan comes after weeks of negotiating how to lift 18 of the world's poorest countries, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, out of their own abject levels of debt and bankruptcy. G-8 Chairman Blair became so excited upon delivering his own news, he made the international hand signal for "keg party."

The biggest surprise in the morning's announcement was that U.S. president George W. Bush, perceived by many as reluctant regarding the African initiative, has led the charge to rehabilitate graduate students, with the support of most, if not quite all, of his administration.

Christened "Operation: Ph.Free," Bush's plan includes innovative strategies for assisting a population widely thought to have fallen off the radar at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Among the first programs leaked to the press this morning, in addition to basic-level stipends and research grants, were new Pell Grants targeted to grads who carpooled to get coffee or beer, as well as special government bonds redeemable for free Xeroxing. Environmental groups, initially excited by the anti-pollution measure, quickly withdrew their support amidst the impending deaths of untold millions of trees.

As it happened, Bush saved his most extreme and controversial programs for the afternoon press conference. With the familiar, shit-eating grin plastered on his face and no discernible iris in either eye, Bush announced a hefty tax incentive for all grad students who agreed to shorten and simplify the titles of papers, articles, and dissertation chapters. "For so long," Bush said, "we have lived under the tyranny of the colon," referring to the habitual academic practice of linking a witty pun or quotation to a long, abstruse explanation of the paper's entire subject matter, all within the title of a piece. "Under that regime, our minds were not free. Our essays were not free. 'Ph.Free' is not just about making grad school less expensive, but allowing anti-Americans graduate students to express themselves simply, and with peace." MLA, quickly deluged with dozens of papers sharing identical titles like "More on Shakespeare" and "I, Too, Have Read Beloved" hastened to find a way to distinguish all of these submissions.

One of Bush's most sweeping proposals was that MasterCard must forgive any and all outstanding charges on graduate student accounts, provided the student can give a concise history of "Master" as a problematic term, starting with Hegel via Kojève. A parallel injunction to the VISA Corporation required representatives of the company as well as officials at the Department of Homeland Security to personally pay the travel expenses and phone bills of all international students who have been treated like horseflies ever since 9/11. Whether these specific plans of action could work without bankrupting America's creditors was unclear, and yet MasterCard CEO Bob Selander testified, "Frankly, I'd do anything to have a break from chasing down the Moms and Pops of Ph.D. students at their permanent addresses, demanding money that we're still never going to see."

Executives at Discover and American Express, long perceived as the Jermaine and Tito of American credit card companies, quietly rejoiced at their sudden lucky break.

Reactions to the Plan
Cabinet members and other Administration higher-ups, expected to echo the surprise felt by journalists and by grad students themselves, shocked the public with their hearty endorsements of the plan. As Dick Cheney told the White House Press Corps, "My daughter, whom I have absolutely no problem identifying to you as a lesbian, would be absolutely nowhere without the brave work of queer theorists and feminists, who spend their lives explaining sexual politics and basic principles of equality to your own 18-year-old sons and daughters, who hopefully are not lesbians like my daughter is."

Donald Rumsfeld was reached for comment while aboard I.S.S. Komodo Dragon, a new, fission-powered, heat-seaking Death Star/Annihilator scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral next week. Rumsfeld entertained journalists with his own jocular confessions. "I didn't even know what 'the Subcontinent' was! I absolutely didn't, until I took a Postcolonial History course by correspondence. The value of these people is tremendous, to society, and to our children and our children's children." Pressed to be clearer about who he meant by "these people," South Asian subalterns or the Western academics who study them, Rumsfeld jumped onto a couch aboard the Death Star/Destroyer, and said, "Whoever! All of them! I don't even know what I'm saying! I'm in love with everybody!" Right then and there, he gave this reporter $50.

Even former Attorney General John Ashcroft, found outside a Travis Tritt concert in Branson, MO, had kind things to say. "Having used the PATRIOT Act to review all the library accounts of every Ph.D. student currently at work in America, I can testify that they are all working on fascinating, important subjects. Especially all those folks who write about 'the phallus,' even though that is definitely not my thing. I mean, so to speak." Current Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez was ominously impossible to locate.

Among the highest-profile members of Bush's inner circle, only the hatchet-faced Condoleezza Rice admitted to reservations. "I was Provost at Stanford, you know," Rice told UPI. "Grad students? I know how they do. We're talking about subsidizing people who buy new copies of books after they have already read the library copy, and who think nothing of doing a credit card balance-transfer with each new moon. These bitches will whine about the paltriness of their stipends, and then they'll buy four pineapple-flavored mojitos and a plate of cheese fries for dinner! I'm concerned that we are merely abetting these putrid habits with all of these new incentives."

Indeed, early enthusiasm for the plan began to dim among some academics as it became clear that Bush never intended to allot more money, but actually wished to rescind the money previously sworn to Africa and divert it back to America's own Ph.D. seekers. As Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak said from her office at Columbia University, "Please, you just knew that was coming." The White House Press Corps sought reactions from African leaders to this new wrinkle in their own plans for rehabilitation, but were unable to locate the capital of Africa in time to interview anybody.**

Once again stuck doing damage control for the double-dealing U.S. President, Tony Blair struck out wildly, trying to recapture his street cred with financially punked Ph.D.s, who resented any implication that they were any less oppressed than the homeless crowds in Zimbabwe or land-mine victims in Angola. Making the international sign for Death Row Records with his left hand, Blair maladroitly assured the people of Africa as well as iPod-touting grad students everywhere, "I am positive, positive, that President Bush, Bono, the rest of the G-8, and I will be able to work something out in Scotland in July, so that the Ph.D.s everywhere can still party with the Africans, and no one will have to face the bill in the morning. Y'all hear? Now kill it with a skillet. Peace out."

Bush, from a pier in Kennebunkport, swore up and down that he had not meant to be an "Indian giver" to Africa, unwittingly drawing the wild ire of exactly the grad students he had meant to win over to the Dark Side his good graces. The President has since been unreachable for comment, but his wife Laura Bush was overheard saying at one of her Book Club luncheons, "Some people you just can't please."

Ever the iconoclast, Rice also stood by her man the President. Asked how she, as Secretary of State, planned to explain Bush's change of heart to African leaders and citizens, Rice responded with her usual diplomatic finesse. "Basically, I have one sentence for those people, and it begins, 'Hey, you made that bed...'"

Meanwhile, the world awaits the G-8 conference, mere weeks away. In the silent pall after Bush's about-face and Blair's Bulworthian apology, Dan Quayle was reached in Indiana while walking his dog. He told reporters, "You know, 'Ph.D.' and 'philanthropy' both start with 'Ph.' Not a lot of people know that, because, I mean, it's obvious when you say, 'P-H-D,' but 'philanthropy,' if you're just hearing it out loud, that's trickier. It really, really sounds like it starts with an F. Especially if you're a Republican like me, and you aren't used to the word."

** In Hillary Rodham Clinton's memoir Living History, she describes a White House Press Corps reporter approaching her on Air Force One, en route to Hillary's historic trip to sub-Saharan Africa, and asking the then-First Lady what the capital of Africa actually was.


Blogger Dr. S said...

does this Operation apply to recent PhDs, too?

9:33 AM, June 13, 2005  
Blogger lilmzbabygrl said...

I think you did an awesome job!!

10:23 AM, June 13, 2005  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Dr S.: No new details have filtered from the White House today about the possible grandfathering of "Ph.Free." I suggest contacting your Senators but not, for God's sake, your State Attorney General.

@Miss Jessi: Thanks! - and thanks for stopping by, period.

10:30 AM, June 13, 2005  
Blogger Ash said...

Priceless. The mastercard balance transfer is rather apt. I'm a grad student in Mcgill and I just wanted to say what a fab blog you have. Cheers

10:05 PM, June 13, 2005  
Blogger summer of sam said...


i am sooo proud of you. this was awesome. i'm in the guilderland publik library, and people looked at me funny as i laughed.

perhaps i should hand you the torch?

10:53 AM, June 14, 2005  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Summer: What's with the crazy-talk?! Everyone still knows who rules the form.

12:27 PM, June 14, 2005  

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