Archive for June, 2009

Spam - Email
Spam is the junk mail of the modern age. It’s completely unsolicited, highly annoying, and sent out to millions of people every few seconds. These emails include ads for porn sites, money making schemes, and some of the most useless products in existence. They also generally feature more bad spelling than a group of delinquent fourth graders who’ve just discovered the joys of text messaging.

This shady method is extremely popular with marketers because of the low operating costs involved. All you need is a list of email addresses, easily obtained from your local computer hacker, and you can send out a massive number of advertisements for herbal Viagra with a touch of a button! Your ISP will probably shut you down within a few hours, but you can simply use another one. This will also cost you a piece of your soul, but you undoubtedly got rid of that years ago.

So how pervasive is the problem? Over 90% of the email traffic on the web is made up of spam. This is to say nothing of the mobile phone spam, instant messaging spam, and blog spam. It’s also estimated that spam costs the United States over $13 billion a year, but that’s just the financial side. The time loss, bandwidth usage, and psychological damage incurred from discovering how it can ‘En1arge your Manh00d – G U A R A N T E D’ bears a horrible price all of its own.


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BAD NATURE – Frog Rain

Frog Rain
You just can’t trust the weatherman. He tells you that it’s going to rain, and it’s sunny outside. He says that there won’t be any snow tomorrow, and then you can’t get your car out of the driveway. Oh, and he forgot to mention that huge torrent of frogs pouring down from the sky in front of you.

You might be surprised to learn that frog rain is an actual (albeit quite rare) meteorological phenomenon. Thousands of people, a few of them even respectable, have supposedly witnessed the incidents firsthand (often with a “Hmm… what’s that plummeting towards me… *SPLAT!*”) There are numerous theories as to the cause, mostly having to do with waterspouts picking up the animals from a nearby lake or stream and transporting them at rapid speeds through the air.

Why it always tends to be frogs is a bit more of a mystery. The tadpoles may be easier to transport than other forms of aquatic life, which then complete their transformation during the journey. Or maybe Kermit is a secret weather wizard bent on destroying his human oppressors. Whatever the case, it’s always a good idea to pack an umbrella – you never know when you might suffer an unexpected delay due to ‘Aerial Amphibious Bombardment’.

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People love nachos. People need wallets. Ergo, it makes sense that if you combine the two, you will have a marvelous fashion accessory and stumbled onto greatness. That is, until you actually see the nacho wallet (by Israeli designer Anat Safran), and a little piece of your soul dies. Specifically, the part that held out that maybe, just maybe, there was some small amount of fashion sense left in the world and you didn’t have to completely give up on the human race.

The nacho wallet, in truth, is just one piece of a horrible puzzle. You can purchase hats that look like a giant sunflower. Handbags that are shaped like a cheeseburger. Any normal person who sees these things immediately shrinks back and grabs for the holy water, but there are those who look at them and think, “Hey! I bet those watermelon sunglasses would make me a real hit with the ladies!” For them, there’s nothing ironic about these purchase decisions, and as long as they continue to shell out their money for bad fashion accessories, they’ll continue to be manufactured for the masses.

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Four Humours
The Ancient Greeks made a great many contributions to medicine: they discovered medicinal herbs, and surgery techniques, and even came up with the Hippocratic oath. One of the things that would not fall into this list was the four humour theory. This was the belief that the health of the human body was dependant upon the balance of four basic substances:

Yellow Bile
Black Bile

Diseases and physical ailments were due to either an overabundance or a startling lack of the humour in question. If you suffered from swollen eyelids, it meant you had too much blood in your system, so it was promptly bled out of you. If you had leprosy, it meant you that didn’t have enough yellow bile, and it was dripped into your mouth until you got better.

You might understand why this theory is no longer popular.

Each of the humours was also associated with a particular temperament. Blood was sanguine, and connected with fun and spontaneity. Because if there’s one thing that’s fun, it’s lots of blood! Yellow bile was choleric, and generally associated with ambition. Phlegm was phlegmatic and tied to a calm manner, while black bile was melancholic and connected to people who wrote really bad poetry.

One of the amazing aspects about the four humour belief system is just how long it lasted. It was in widespread usage until the nineteenth century, when these mysterious things called germs were discovered. Doctors realized that if you wanted to stop the spread of disease, you simply needed to wash your hands. Slightly more pleasant than draining all of the black bile out of your body to stop that pesky cold.

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David Hasselhoff has many grand achievements to his name: he hung out with a talking car in “Knight Rider”. He showed off his surplus of manly chest hair on “Baywatch”. He also starred in “Baywatch Nights”, the spooky version of the program, in which vampires show up at one point. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment, however, is the solo album that he put out in 1997. It was a cover of Blue Swede’s “Hooked on a Feeling”, and the music video is one of the most disturbingly surreal things to have ever been created.

The poofy-haired singer jumps and spins through a variety of obviously blue-screened exotic locales. He spins giant animated cubes on his finger that are filled with his singing face. He flaps his arms to fly with a flock of geese while angelic children float nearby. He also rides his motorcycle past an alien creature that seemingly escaped from Area 51. The production quality for the video is beyond bad: it makes “Plan 9 from Outer Space” almost look impressive in retrospect. Copious amounts of eye bleach are recommended after viewing, along with an full frontal lobotomy.

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The Hummer stretch limousine is what happens when you take something that is already a symbol of conspicuous consumption (the Hummer) and multiply it by a factor of ten thousand.

It’s massive. It’s armored. It has a full bar and satellite TV inside.

This might make it sound like a good form of transportation, but the Hummer stretch limousine is anything but. It’s widely understood that large cars are used by men to compensate for certain physical… deficiencies, if you know what I mean, wink wink, nudge nudge, so the person who owns this vehicle must truly be lacking in that department. That, and have $260,000 to spare.

There’s also the small problem of gas consumption. Normal hummers already get absolutely horrible mileage, and when you increase the length of that vehicle by four city blocks, you basically need a portable gas station to drive alongside you in order to keep the tank filled. Rest assured that it’s all worth it, though, when you drive down the street and everyone sees who totally awesome you are, not for a moment thinking you’re a complete tool who sideswipes everyone when you try to make a right turn.

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It’s possible to go through one’s life and never encounter a velvet painting. If you live in a major city, or just not in the Midwest, it’s doubtful you will ever see one. Until one fateful day, that is, when you go to a garage sale and notice something odd sticking out of the corner of a wooden trunk, which you then open and discover a velvet painting of Ted Nugent with a halo smiling knowingly at the viewer. Not that the author has experience with anything like that, or the screams that reportedly followed.

The most common figure depicted on velvet paintings is Elvis Presley (more specifically, ‘Classic Elvis’, as opposed to ‘Fat Elvis’). You can also find paintings of John Wayne, Dale Earnhardt, Mr. T, and other heroic figures from American history. No matter the person, the presentation is always the same – bright colors on dark velvet, which helps to emphasize the angelic look that each one contains. It’s a testament to our culture – the TV and music icons are like holy figures, and so must be painted as such. That it’s done in such a kitschy and tacky fashion is a simple afterthought.

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