Hello there, saucy lady.As Something Awful's leading expert in the field of emoticon science, I have advanced many a theory and prediction regarding the application, development, and future usage of emoticons. While my initial reaction towards emoticons was extremely hostile, I have come to accept that they will be replacing the written word in the very near future. This may seem a depressing prospect, especially to those suffering from depression or mistakenly interpreting what I just said to mean that grandma is dead, but it's the truth. I say all of this because I am by no means a perfect scientist, and thusly I'm willing to admit being wrong. I never went to a formal science school per se, but for what I lack in scientific discipline I make up in humbleness. Hell, this lab coat I wear is really a bathrobe, and yes, it sure does have some colorful stains on it. Regardless, you can trust that I am right this time for sure, and I'm willing to gamble my entire career on it. I was wrong before, especially when I called for the criminalization of emoticons, along with subversive thoughts and senility, but I'm right this time.

Now that the apologies and corrections are out of the way, I invite – nay, I demand – you to join me in embracing the emoticon revolution whole heartedly. But there is a catch, because things are always trickier then they seem. You see, like the Apostle John, I recently happened upon a pretty spooky revelation that scared all manner of excrement out of me. As of right now, we are on the threshold of what looks to be a war between two races of emoticon. So how does one embrace emoticons if there are two rival factions destined to meet in the chat rooms of battle? The answer is simple: root for the home team.

If you're reading this, then chances are you are a proud, card-carrying member of the western world. Unlike NASCAR, I hate to make race an issue, but I'm afraid I have to here. The Japanese are up to their old tricks again, and it looks like we're going to be locking proverbial horns with them. In shadowy Asian chat rooms and instant message conversations, the Japanese have been cultivating a new system of emoticons in complete defiance to the preexisting emoticon standard popular the world over. It looks like our ":)" isn't good enough for the land that brought us anime and horrendous experimentation on live humans. The problem is that while our emoticons are definitely stupid, theirs are ten times worse. I cannot fathom a world in which our dumb kids have to grow up communicating with really stupid Asian emoticons instead of moderately stupid American emoticons. In this age of increasingly amalgamated cultures, we have room for only one set of emoticons. There is no place in this world for a Greater Emoticon Co-Prosperity Sphere! It's only natural we select the better system, and without a doubt, that system is ours.

Maybe you have no idea what an Asian emoticon is or don't think that one even poses a threat to you. Maybe you think that you are safe in your quaint home, chatting with old friends online in a popular online community like Fark.com or through a chat program such as AOL Instant Messenger or ICQ. Yeah, you're probably safe. You know these people after all, right? In truth you are never safe. We are not perfectly immunized from the rest of the world, and seedy foreign influence seeps in all the time through our own apathy, negligent curiosity, and moral shortcomings. Worse, attacks do not happen as expected. Asian terrorists spamming Asian emoticons do not invade chat rooms, because nothing is ever that obvious. Instead the infection happens through the subtle and careful indoctrination of our own. A friend might take an interest an anime, and suddenly develop a new way of typing and talking, adopting the emoticons of the enemy along the way. At this stage, this person is not your friend anymore. They are effectively dead. Don't believe that this can happen to you? Our enemy is already infiltrating American conversations, gaining a foothold that will make the inevitable war all the more bloody and confusing. Just take this dramatization of a real chat log as an example:

John Doe: So anyway, my plan is to get a hold of one of Dale Earndhart's pubic hairs so that I can clone it and go into business selling Dale Earndhart pubic hairs on eBay. With the recent advances in human cloning and the unraveling of the genome, I think the science is definitely there. But more than that, I think the money is there as well.

Enemy Agent (original screen name changed to protect the not-so-innocent): That's really kawaii and I hope your business takes off! ^___^

John Doe: There is no God!

Me before attack.Me after attack.Here is a surprise for you guys: John Doe was really me, Joe Average American Josh "Livestock" Boruff. I was the victim of an Asian emoticon sneak attack, and let me tell you, it troubled me for weeks. I went from being a happy chatter to a cold, miserable wreck, ravaged by disease, famine, and a minor case of irritable bowel syndrome. The enemy had succeeded in programming an American citizen to spread demoralizing propaganda. The enemy had succeeded in getting to me. But I did not let them win the war, only one battle. I know now that I cannot allow my chat logs to turn into another Pearl Harbor, not when I can transform them into a Hiroshima or a Nagasaki.

You can see why it is important for us to be vigilant and prepared. We cannot stand by as our friends and family fall victim to this disease of the brain, let alone become victims ourselves. I hate to say it, but in order to maintain any sort of proper defense we have to familiarize ourselves with the virtual faces of our enemy.

^ ___ ^Our enemy calls this a smiley face, and that shows just how deranged their vision truly is. Where is the curve in the mouth that denotes a smile? The only suggestion of curves is in the eyes, but then those sharp angled lines hardly count as curves. Am I to believe that Japanese people smile with their eyes? Perhaps they do, and we simply know nothing of their kind. Regardless, we cannot let personal feelings get in the way of how stupid this emoticon looks. Immediately verbally beat up anybody who uses this.
> ___According to enemy handbooks this emoticon indicates sadness, but I can't help but think those are squinting eyes. If I'm not mistaken, squinting is an act often accompanying looking through the scope of a rifle or trying to make out targets at a distance. Sure, it's sadness - the sadness that comes from being a cold-blooded killer!

T ___ T

; ___ ;

Crying is apparently a popular activity amongst the numbers of our enemy, since they had to create two distinct emoticons to express tears flowing from their eyes. If I didn't know better, I would say this is when they are most vulnerable. Take pride in seeing this emoticon, because this is them being defeated by you. Endeavor to make the enemy cry and type out that they are crying! Mock them at every turn until they dehydrate from crying so much!
( p___- )This peculiar looking face might look like somebody with a bleeding eye, but it is in fact the enemy being sneaky, something that comes natural to them. The "p" indicates a magnifying glass, a tool used for snooping and uncovering secrets. So what exactly is our enemy trying to uncover? Weaknesses to exploit? The best method for corrupting our youth? If you see this emoticon, be prepared to take immediate evasive action, including using your instant messaging program's ignore or block features, or leaving the chat room immediately. Loose lips sink ships, and if the enemy is in a position to gain info from you, you put us all at risk.
( ^ o ^ )/This emoticon is meant to indicate a state of amazement not unlike the euphoria Kamikaze pilots must have felt. The slashes indicate raised hands, reaching out towards some ridiculous notion of an afterlife. Funny how the enemy's idea of expressing amazement looks like some sort of robot pig. That says a lot about their notions of true happiness. I'm not exactly sure what it says, but it certainly doesn't seem kosher.

Sass your enemies before they can even attack.If you see anyone using these emoticons, immediately strike back. We must fight at all costs to preserve our tried and true system, less we be perverted by these devious abominations. The latest Internet Census Reports indicate our numbers are dwindling, so it is important to fight with all our might to keep these dreadful emoticons at bay and out of the minds of our people. We must rally behind our emoticons, flawed though they may be, so that they stand sovereign in the years to come. Our failure to unite behind this cause will only bring defeat and shame, and untold years in servitude to the emoticons of the enemy.

Kofi Annan's Fantasy Adventure

In a move that's probably almost twice as thrilling as the inverted back flip, if that is indeed an actual move, Lord Lowtax has not only done some fine fantasy questing in the hit game "Terra World Online," but he's also taken the time to write about his journeys!

Prepare to step into the exciting, action-packed world of Terra World Online, a place crammed full of poorly animated sprites who are all competing in a gigantic race to figure out what the hell 97% of the scenery is supposed to represent. Sure Terra World Online may not have any coherent instructions, plotline, characters, content, decent graphics, intuitive interface, or redeeming qualities whatsoever, but hey... IT'S FREE! While the balding 40-year old slobs living in their parents' basement spend hours upon hours playing their $10-a-month subscription to Everquest, up to eight different people are laughing at them while exploring the exciting tile-based universe of Terra World Online. Yeah, these eight people are probably also balding 40-year old slobs living in their parents' basement, but there's a major difference here: TERRA WORLD ONLINE IS FREE!!!

Behold, his majestic adventure and review, shimmering like the codpiece of a fine robot!

– Josh "Livestock" Boruff (@Livestock)

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