An illustration showing exactly how our modem works. Note that we're requesting data from a homosexual man's mouth.

Emily and I recently decided to switch ISPs for our DSL provider, as Earthlink's customer service policy of "if we pretend we don't have any customers, maybe they'll eventually stop bugging us" began wearing on our nerves. You see, Earthlink DSL is a very complex service which requires their home office to successfully bounce a series of laser beams off the moon, through an alien amplification crystal, and then into the pocket of an obscenely fat man who manually delivers the data to its proper destination. This obese gentleman apparently doesn't like making stops around our neck of the woods ("Earth"), so we had to suffer through massive service interruptions on a daily basis. Earthlink's wonderful customer support helped ease the pain, offering such delightful conversations as the following:

ME: (On hold for 40 minutes) "Pick up the phone you shitfuckers."
AUTOMATED VOICE ON TELEPHONE: "Did you know you could find the answer to many technical support questions on our webpage?"
ME: "I can't get to your webpage, you stupid recorded voice."
AUTOMATED VOICE ON TELEPHONE: "Did you know that every question to every answer ever conceived in the history of the universe is on our webpage?"
ME: "Well that's great, magic voice, but I still can't get to it so shove off, bilgequeen."
AUTOMATED VOICE ON TELEPHONE: "Did you know that our webpage was recently ranked number one by the International Conglomeration of Businesses Which Rank Things Number One?"
ME: "I've got a number one finger I'm holding up right now, disembodied voice. Does your webpage know which one it is?"
AUTOMATED VOICE ON TELEPHONE: "Did you know that Earthlink DSL is over 100 times faster than a 56k modem? You can use our connection speed analysis program by logging into our webpage, which was recently voted to the position of honorary Pope."
ME: "SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT-"
ACTUAL HUMAN BEING WHO ANSWERS THE PHONE AFTER 45 MINUTES: "Hello, my name is Shawn, I'm a level negative 23 tech support worker at Earthlink and I solve such difficult problems as 'is your DSL line unplugged?' and 'do you physically own a computer?'. What can I help you with today?"
ME: "The same thing you guys help me with every day, Shawn: I have no DSL access."
ACTUAL HUMAN BEING WHO ANSWERS THE PHONE AFTER 45 MINUTES: "Have you ever had DSL service before? Are you sure your DSL service is through our company? Are you confusing DSL service with the act of purchasing new socks? Does your DSL service have ears and a tail? If so, you may be confusing your DSL service with your pet cat or dog."
ME: "No Shawn. It's my DSL service. It's down. It's been down for two days now."
ACTUAL HUMAN BEING WHO ANSWERS THE PHONE AFTER 45 MINUTES: "Okay sir, let me bump you up to our level .0003 tech support. Please hold."
AUTOMATED VOICE ON TELEPHONE: "Did you know that, after visiting our award-winning webpage, Carol Stockard of Rising Falls, Utah, was cured of the breast cancer which had been plaguing her for-"
ACTUAL HUMAN BEING IN TECH SUPPORT: "Heeluh seer, mee nayme ees Bartolougoichoi Happeinyminourous, wheet seems to beea thee porblame?"
ME: "I have no DSL service. I haven't had any in two days. Is the network down up here or something?"
ACTUAL HUMAN BEING IN TECH SUPPORT: "Weel, leet me see here!" (Places a microphone next to his keyboard and amplifies the sound of typing 500 million times so each keystroke causes pieces of my phone to fall off) "Eet appears ower neetwork ees down!"
ME: "Do you have any idea when it will be back up again?"
ACTUAL HUMAN BEING IN TECH SUPPORT: "Leet us tayke a looook!" (Typing noises cause our apartment to rumble and slide off its foundation) "Eet says heyer that wee don't know!"
ME: "Do you have at least an estimate?"
ACTUAL HUMAN BEING IN TECH SUPPORT: "Allew mee too poonch that eento dee computahr!" (Sounds as if he literally punched something into the computer cause my ears to begin combusting) "Oor eestimates say yoor serveece should bee available by 2018."
ME: "Thank you. I hate you."

A typical Earthlink employee.

It should come as no shock to you people that when I asked Earthlink to switch my DSL circuit to Speakeasy, they simply decided to disconnect the circuit and have Speakeasy manually connect it themselves. Now if any of you are remotely familiar with DSL, you'll know what a pain in the ass this is. I don't know what kind of networking wizardry goes on behind the scenes during a DSL activation, but it takes three decades per line and involves more people than the entire Revolutionary War. Thanks to Earthlink's award winning customer support, we've been stuck on a 56k modem for a week now, still awaiting the networking gnomes to summon Lucifer and claim the DSL line in Speakeasy's name. Nobody, and I repeat nobody, should have to use a 56k modem for anything besides putting out industrial fires these days. The way the Internet is structured right now, each webpage has over 300k in popups, Flash ads which take over your entire monitor and turn it into a digital plate of pulsating vomit for 10 seconds, and skyscraper ads (which were given their name from the fact that people would rather jump off a skyscraper than have to view them). However, all of these annoyances pale in comparison to the sheer volume of spam email I get on an hourly basis. Since it currently takes roughly two furlongs (I don't know how long that is) to download my email on this glorious 56k "data packets are delivered via telegram" connection, I have had more than enough time to see how much spam I get before my Outlook filters send them automatically to the trash. Are you guys ready? Here it is:

73 SPAM MESSAGES PER LEGIT EMAIL.

That's correct, I get 73 worthless, bandwidth-clogging, obnoxious, intrusive piece of shit spam messages for every one legitimate email. A whopping 1.4% of my daily inbox is actual mail! God I fucking love the Internet! Now I probably wouldn't be as pissy as I am if it wasn't for the fact that the spam mail I get is completely ridiculous, inane bullshit that couldn't ever possibly appeal to anybody anywhere. Whoever sends me these digital jewels should probably stick to their fulltime occupation of child molestation, because I can't imagine any halfwit deciding to respond to or click on any link in their crap cauldron messages. Let me provide a brief overview describing the main types of spammers who ream my email account nonstop each and every minute of each and every day. I mean, it's not like I have anything else to do while I sit here and wait while Cliff Yablonski's email account downloads a 16-meg bitmap image of an old person sitting on a fire hydrant.

Fighting the nonstop battle against spam mail makes me feel like a very obese African American individual attempting to flee from a rollercoaster ride of fast food.

THE AMAZING CREDIT CARD OFFER - I don't claim to be any expert in the banking industry, but I don't think it's very wise to trust a credit card company who sends 20 messages to each of my email accounts, informing me that my glorious credit rating and history has qualified me for their exclusive "Platinum Gold Cubic Zirconium White Zinfandel Discover Card" which has an APR larger than my waist size. I guess the interest rate doesn't really matter though, since most of these cards have a credit limit of $12 and are printed on recycled shoe heels which melt when swiped through a credit card machine.

THE WEBCAM SLUT - It appears tales of my legendary sexual bravado have reached every nook and cranny of the Internet, as mascara-addicted camwhores from across the globe desire my presence during their pay-per-view performances. Granted, I would make wonderful comments such as "oh dear God, PUT IT BACK ON, PUT IT BACK ON, FOR THE LOVE OF JESUS PUT IT BACK ON" and "I think the pancake batter you're storing in your hips is leaking out" would enhance any camwhore stripping session, but I'm afraid that prior obligations prevent me from attending such exciting events. The Webcam Sluts try to disguise their email by "customizing" the subject line so it reads something like:

hey sexxxy! I miss u, [email protected]! cum see me tonight, plz!

I asked [email protected] if he was interested in watching this spectacular event, but he claimed he couldn't attend due to the fact that he doesn't exist.

THE EXCITING "SOLD OUT IN STORES" DEAL - Stores across the globe are apparently in a really awful situation these days according to the emails which indicate the hottest toy this Christmas cannot be found anywhere except inside the special email they handcrafted and delivered to me via the Holy Ghost. Due to my tragic unhipness and being white (I think these two characteristics go hand in hand), I am often unaware of the "must have" product of the week / month / year / eon. Currently, RC motorcycles and cars are the popular items, mainly because they were both "AS SEEN ON TV" and are a "LIMITED TIME OFFER." Think about it; networks only show the absolute most quality products on television, so that lends an amazing about of credibility to the RC car cause right there. Add to that the fact that it will only be on sale for a limited time, and you've got something that was sold out in stores for a very good reason! The Exciting "Sold Out In Stores" Deal emails are quite annoying because they invariably come with a 400 k animated gif which shows the item in question moving up and down like a gecko with Tourette's Syndrome.

I predict that in the year 2004, the amount of spam mail will become so huge that Internet connections will begin spontaneously exploding, showering victims with a deadly rain of fire and "FREE UNSECURED VISA CARD" offers.

THE CASINO OF TREMENDOUS FORTUNE - Online gambling is probably the best idea since the invention of real life gambling. Instead of forcing idiots to haul their bulky asses off their couch and go to a stinky, smoke-filled, revolting casino staffed by rejected Sizzler employees, the idiots can lose hundreds of dollars from the convenience of their own home! And, better yet, there are no bothersome governmental employees that investigate your casino to make sure your slot machines aren't simply discarded shoeboxes holding rollers with images of lemons stamped across them! The online gambling industry is really quite incredible and has the best odds out there, assuming you're comparing them with the odds of you getting AIDS from dry humping a pumpkin.

THE MAGICAL MONEY EMAIL - If I've learned one thing from spam mail, it's that at any given point in time I have approximately 90-billion dollars waiting for me to claim it if I would just perform the most simple of tasks, such as provide bank account routing numbers, credit card information, and my home address so they can personally come over and crown me the King of the Universe. Sadly enough, I have never pursued the leads provided by these fabulous offers, and I assume there's a bank vault out there somewhere labeled "Rich 'Lowtax' Kyanka's Vault of Ill-Gotten Riches," simply sitting around and housing the fortune which is rightfully mine. I'm not exactly sure where this money came from or why it's mine, but I imagine I have a few thousand different parents who die on a regular basis and leave me millions in their inheritance each time.

THE CRAZY KLINGON MESSAGE FROM THE MOON - Spam mail is fortunately not limited to English-speaking individuals, as I regularly receive a stream of spam mail from places as far off as The Forbidden Zone on the planet Zugoofa 13. I'm not exactly sure what the Crazy Klingons are trying to sell me, but I do appreciate their effort and the highly decorative emails they send which look like the following:

µ|°È¯S¦Ò ¤ô§Q¯°ò¼h¤­µ¥?????? ?? ??? ????? ???¥x¹q¯S¦¥qªk¯S¦Äµ¹î¯S¦¥|§Þ¤G±M SOLED OUT IN STORE!!! S¦Ò ¤ô§Q¯°ò¼h¤­µ¥ò¼¥x¹q¯S¦¥qªk¯S¦Äµ¹î¯¼h¤­µ¥¥x¹q¯S¦¥

If I could decipher what their cryptic message meant, perhaps I could charter a rocket ship to their home planet and pick up a few copies of whatever wonderful time warping device or RC car they're offering, but my puny Earth brain keeps me from realizing what a tremendous deal they've got waiting. Besides, the weather on Zugoofa 13 is really crappy this time of the year,what with the lava storms and such.

This is an actual image that came in a spam mail to me. If this doesn't sell me, I don't know what the hell will.

THE "HEY, YOUR DICK IS TOO SMALL" NOTIFICATION - I've always been comfortable with the size of my penis and the performance it gives when requested within 24 hours of activation. However, the marketing wizards of the Internet have decided in their infinite wisdom that I'm simply not man enough to satisfy ol' woman Emily, who desires much more penis than I can provide. Luckily for me, I am continually offered a barrage of pills, medication, procedures, tips, techniques, and other highly expensive things which will make my manhood so large it will need its own email account. Then they can send message to my dick's account and offer suggestions detailing how to make the rest of my body larger and more pleasing to the ladies, possibly by shaping my entire torso into what appears to be a walking penis.

THE GANG BANG GAY FARM ORGY OFFER - Perhaps if my penis was manly enough, I'd be interested on the sexual happenings at Ye Olde Gangbang Farm. Unfortunately, there must be a series of neurons misfiring in my brain, preventing me from showing any interest in the sexual escapades occurring at my favorite animal house. The Gang Bang Gay Farm Orgy Offer folks are relentless and know that deep inside my heart of hearts, I secretly desire access to the horniest barnyard this side of Texas, so they continue to send me exclusive promotional offers every 10 seconds or so. Their deals are very sweet and difficult to pass up, offering me such lucrative incentives such as "1 DAY 100% FREE ACCESS TO THE SEXBARN" which only require me to give them a valid credit card number. You know, for my own security, in case one of the animals sexes me to death and they are forced to buy a NASCAR casket for my funeral.

THE GENIUS WEIGHT LOSS PROGRAM INCENTIVE - Did you know that ancient astronauts perfected the first diet over 400,000 years ago by using a miracle plant known as "Green Halbamiosis"? Well they did, and the medical industry has been trying to keep this secret a, well, secret for as long as possible! However, the trained medical technicians and super smarty scientists at WOWCOOLOFFEREMAILDEALS.COM have unearthed this exciting enigma and are ready to pass the deal onto me and me only so I can lose over 450 pounds in under 30 seconds without exercising, changing my diet, or doing anything besides sending them a large amount of money! I can mix the Green Halbamiosis into a shake form, sprinkle it on top of my Big Macs, or simply leave it under my pillow when I sleep and it will work its magic in no time! Hell, I probably don't even need to be in possession of the miracle weight loss drug; it will work its magic on me from the factory warehouse in WOWCOOLOFFEREMAILDEALS.COM headquarters, where it either sits around in a large crate or doesn't exist at all! I'll be paper-thin in minutes, ready to slide under doors or become invisible simply by rotating sideways! This beautiful weight loss might deteriorate the muscle mass in my arms to the point where I can't move them up and press the "DELETE" key when more fabulous highly scientific breakthroughs courtesy of WOWCOOLOFFEREMAILDEALS.COM come flowing in!

The great thing about all this spam email is that through the miracle of technology, clicking the "UNSUBSCRIBE" button on them causes the spammer to realize I have an active email account which I read, thereby allowing him to resell my email address to hundreds of completely different spammers and make more money! What a wonderful feature! I love the Internet! All these exciting free offers, deals, and incentives downloaded at a crisp 3.2 kbps speed, with additional backup copies sent to every other one of my Something Awful email accounts (you know, in case I accidentally lose a copy and an emergency occurs requiring my dick to be bigger). The Internet is truly the tool of the future, assuming the future is a giant polluted sea of white noise where shithead spamming fuckwits drown out all legitimate forms of communication with their unwanted bile that spawns and reproduces at an amazing rate. I'll make sure to send Earthlink a very special Christmas present this year to show thanks for their wonderful customer service. If the gift emits a ticking sound, that's because it's a clock. If the gift sets off the anthrax detectors, that's because the post office has faulty anthrax detectors.

There's Gold in them there Hills

Those crazy Something Awful Forums peeps have been working hard to entertain you like the monkeys in the zoo work to gross you out as much as they possibly can at the exact moment they see you looking at them. Just like those crazy monkeys, the forum goons have recently created a pile of dung and are now sifting through it for delicious, protein-rich grubs even as we speak, but better than the dung-pile is this week's Comedy Goldmine and its theme, "Arcade Games that were Never Meant to Be."

Come on over and give it a look. What's that one monkey doing with his hand..? OH NO!

– Rich "Lowtax" Kyanka (@lowtax)

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