Doom. Gloom. Horrible destruction. Widespread panic. People frantically running around, trying to escape, but all is futile; failure surrounds them left and right.

No, I am not describing my work experience at Gamespy, I am of course referring to the recent gigantic plunge in the NASDAQ. For all you people who are fortunate enough to not be familiar with the stock market, the NASDAQ is the tech-heavy brother of the Dow Jones, and is full of all the idiotic online IPOs that we saw pop for the last couple of years. Remember when everybody and their brother was filing for IPO? When we were treated to nine different online dog food company stores opening every hour? When you could get investment money for absolutely anything, just as long as it had the prefix "cyber", "e", or "virtual" in its title? I'm glad to say those days are dead and buried.

The NASDAQ plummeted about a week ago, and it plummeted HARD. However, people in the stock market industry refer to this as the market "correcting itself," not "crashing." There's a fine line between these two terms, but nobody will ever reveal what it is. It's a big stock industry secret, and the traditional way to learn the difference is to join their ranks, get the magical decoder ring, and talk to the mysterious "Stockbroker X" who drives a time-travelling rocketcar. A much easier way to tell the difference is to pick up the obituaries section of your local newspaper and look for how many stock industry people killed themselves the previous day. If they died from overdosing on cocaine, it's just a market correction. If they suffered from "brain and major organs exiting the body upon impact from a 50-story building jump", it was a market crash. If there aren't any reports of stock brokers killing themselves, you must've accidentally picked up the sports section.

Anyway, the big companies, big businessmen, and generally everybody else finally realized that these inane online e-cyber-online-businesses-online were a waste of money and weren't producing any results. After funneling millions and millions of dollars into such moronic concepts as online soap operas, investors began to wise up and understand that these companies just weren't profitable. They were losing money hand over fist. Why? Well most online companies have an absolutely ludicrous cash burn rate. Did you know that NBCi, the website nobody visits unless it's to download porn that your friend stored on their servers, had over 950 people working for them? 950 people. Working for NBCi. What the hell did these people do all day? Hang out at the water cooler? Brainstorm new methods to make their site even more confusing and complex? My guess is that they just sat around and were paid to get paid, because there's no way 950 people could all be doing something remotely productive for one single website.

Once the investors saw their cash being burned faster than a pyromaniac in a napkin factory, they stopped fueling the fire and cut their cash supply. Soon most all IPOs, despite their heavy initial investments, began to announce terrible losses each and every quarter. Then the stock market decided it was sick to death of these bloated IPOs, and caved in. The NASDAQ dropped quicker than my IQ after seeing this Daily Radar article. I tried to make a graph showing the NASDAQ's plunge, but the only graphical tool I have on this computer is MS Paint, and even that doesn't seem to be functioning correctly. As a result, I looked up "NASDAQ LINE GRAPH" in Google, and it came up with the following informational result:

FIGURE 1 - Some Kind of Line Graph

As you can see, this graph doesn't really offer much information to support my claims. It does however show that somebody somewhere is consuming over 4.5 times as much food as they did in 1968, yet they're only wearing 2.5 times as much clothing! I blame this on "The Ricki Lake Show", because whenever I watch it there are invariably some skanky teenagers wearing cutoff shirts and tiny shorts, causing their pasty white flab to ooze and drip all over their clothing. Note that Ricki Lake probably wasn't around in 1968, back when people were wearing one times as many clothes and eating one times as much food, so my theory makes perfect sense.

Since I couldn't come up with any statistical data or useful graphs, I decided to do the next best thing and represent the NASDAQ correction via graphical symbolism. I've got about 100 megs of stupid pictures laying across the Awful Network here, so why not put them to use?

FIGURE 2 - The NASDAQ: Before and After

The NASDAQ. Before - Notice how happy and content it is. The universal "thumbs up" signals he's happy getting paid millions of dollars for a worthless service.The NASDAQ. After - Notice the lackluster performance, depressed look, and general ugliness. Also notice that it's wearing brown pants, and they're really, really, really large.

So has the market fully corrected itself? Yes, partially. The number of outrageously stupid IPOs has been remarkably reduced. Overstaffed companies are shrugging off excess baggage to cut costs. People are beginning to realize that simply being on the Internet does not guarantee success, particularly if they're offering a product or service that nobody wants (or if they're hosted by Gamefan). When will we see the last major dip in the NASDAQ? I'm honestly convinced that the market will not fully "bottom out" until we see stock in Snowball.com fall into negative numbers. In other words, probably a couple of days.

To help take our minds off "real world" problems such as the unpredictable NASDAQ, the conflict in the Middle East, and the urge to kill the person in the "nine items or less" line at the grocery store who has 30 bottles of Hi-C that she counts as one item because they're all the same flavor, Hakan has whipped up a brief overview of a Guide to College Life. Yes, all you college students should take note of this handy article, and all you former college students should read it and stop talking about your college days, because there's nothing more boring than some old guy droning on and on about how his frat stole a biplane and put it on the campus lawn to freak out the stuffed-shirt dean.

If the professor asks a question to the entire class, DO NOT ANSWER IT! This is merely a ploy so the professor can become acquainted with your name, after which he / she / it will grade your assignments with much more scrutiny. If anything, start mumbling and hope everyone around you mumbles too. That way the teacher will think you all are saying the answer but just too quietly for him to hear. The best thing to do is to just sit there and hope no one around you answers. Try not to breathe during this silence either; if you have a booger and it makes noise when you breathe, you will be called on. Teachers can also detect fear, excitement, and when you don't know what the hell they're talking about, so expect for them to call on you for roughly 92% of all questions.

Go "University!" Beat "Tech!" Read da guide!

Cranky Steve's Haunted Whorehouse has been updated AGAIN with another spectacular Quake 2 mapping disaster. Today's map, "Waterword", grabs a positively negative score of -47, making it one of the worst maps on our fair site. How could it be so awful?

For all I can tell, one spawns inside of a huge box with flashing button textures for a wall (a Mittenz trademark) that is totally filled with water. I mean completely -- no air pockets, no sky, no sewer to weave your way out, no teleporter to whisk you to safety in the nick of time. Just a huge goddamn box totally filled with water and spawn pads floating here and there; you are going to drown at some point no matter how you slice it. Blocks of lava bob and weave in the fullbright haze, and way way waaaay at the bottom are about four rocket launchers sitting on the floor. Over them hover a half dozen frozen stiff Crackhor monsters stuck in a reclining position. There is no health, no armor, no Rebreathers, no Biosuits, and essentially there is nothing to do in the map other than drown.

Well, I guess that question is answered. Witness the horror of the review!

Something Awful would like to welcome its newest hosted site, the legendary Taco the Wonder Dog. I stumbled upon Taco the Wonder Dog years ago, shivering and hiding in a dark alleyway, seeking refuge from the rain and cruel city. I took the poor guy to a local YMCA where he was nursed back to health and given less revealing clothes. Ever since then, he has been producing the finest works of art and literary masterpieces known to man. Want examples? Check these out:

Taco is a very special person. Some experts claim he is suffering from Down's Syndrome, but I don't think so. I can see the true genius behind Taco. He is very "special."

Wow That's Amazing has updated their site with... well, something. I don't know what the hell it is, except it's called "Yak-Man's Adventure." I'm not going to bother reading it, as my dreams are disturbing enough as is.

– Rich "Lowtax" Kyanka (@lowtax)

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