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Study: Other Countries Weird

BOSTON—Examining a wide variety of cross-cultural data, a Boston University study released Monday determined that other countries are weird.

Japanese Family Puts Aging Robot In Retirement Home

KYOTO, JAPAN—Saying the move to the assisted care facility was the right decision after so many years of operation, members of the Akiyama family finally put their aging robot in a retirement home, sources reported Friday.

North Korea Successfully Detonates Nuclear Scientist

PYONGYANG—Hailing it as a significant step forward for their ballistic weapons program just hours after suffering a failed missile launch, North Korean leaders announced Monday they had successfully detonated a nuclear scientist.

Tokyo Portal Outage Delays Millions Of Japanese Warp Commuters

TOKYO—Saying the outdated system needed to be upgraded or replaced to avoid similar problems going forward, millions of inconvenienced Japanese warp commuters expressed frustration Thursday following a Tokyo portal outage that caused delays of up to eight seconds.
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I Wish I Were More Like My Online Persona

In the online world, I, Hankscorpio74, am known to be charismatic, tough, quick-witted, and tenacious as a copperhead snake. Like my namesake, Globex Corporation president Hank Scorpio, I am roguish and unflappable, possessing the confidence and flair of 20 men. Unfortunately, all of that changes when I drag my cursor down to "Shut Down" at the bottom of the "Special" menu. For all the admiration and respect I command in chat rooms, in real life, it's a different story. Oh, how I wish I were more like my online persona.

Online, I am king. No matter how formidable people may be in real life, the moment they try to mess with Hankscorpio74, they are sure to get the horns. (Or, to be more exact, the Doomsday Device.) When Hankscorpio74 suavely struts into a chat room, all the ladies are on him like Mynocks on the Millennium Falcon. Yet I have a hard time imagining the real-life Douglas Peltz being able to woo Hottie69 and LittlepartyChick into a private room for a "more intimate gathering" like Hank did a few weeks back in that chat room.

When a woman catches my eye in the real world, I'm usually too scared to talk. And, in the rare instance that I somehow muster the courage, I am met with barely concealed disgust. Is it my fault that Douglas Peltz has bad skin and a chronic runny nose? I often wonder if any of these ladies I see in real life are ones Hankscorpio74 has met and seduced on the Internet. Knowing how many conquests he's piled up, it's likely.

As masterful as I am throughout the Internet, there is one particular place where I am truly godlike: the Literati™ site under Yahoo! Games. Only the most brave or foolish dare challenge me, and both are disposed of with uncommon haste. I have seen web postings where people have discussed my Übermove. The Übermove is when I allow a mentally inferior opponent to get slightly ahead, causing him to grow more confident and, by extension, complacent. Then, when he least expects it, I put down all my tiles, not only getting the extra 35 points but demoralizing him thoroughly. The respect, fear, and admiration I earn with such moves stands in sharp contrast to the way I used to be treated in the high-school cafeteria, where my few friends and I would play travel Scrabble while being pelted by Nutty bars.

In the real world, I am at best ignored and at worst mocked and scorned. Yet, if my persecutors were playing Half-Life Team Fortress, they would be whistling a different tune as I expertly sniped them time and time again. Would my old high-school nemesis Doug Kilkrane have knocked my books out of my hands every day before science class if he knew the fear I strike into the hearts of opponents at Buffy The Vampire Slayer trivia? What has Doug Kilkrane done, other than throw baseballs well and date Amy Cass? Dick.

Hopefully, as I get older, aspects of my online persona will slowly creep into my real-life persona. Perhaps Hankscorpio74 will take over my actual personality, much like the ultra-suave Vic Ferrari occasionally took over Latka Gravas' on Taxi. Then again, I wouldn't want Hankscorpio74 to completely take over: The Douglas Peltz half helps balance out Hankscorpio74, giving him some much-needed humanity and humility.

If Hankscorpio74 were to completely take over, God help everyone, because no one would be able to stop him. But I suppose the only way that'd happen is if the real world became just like the Internet. Which probably won't happen too soon.

Oh, well.

More from this section

Japanese Family Puts Aging Robot In Retirement Home

KYOTO, JAPAN—Saying the move to the assisted care facility was the right decision after so many years of operation, members of the Akiyama family finally put their aging robot in a retirement home, sources reported Friday.

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