Stupid Evil Bastard turns 20 this year.

I’ve been bad at remembering to celebrate SEB’s blogiversaries for a while now. The very first post I made was on December 2nd, 2001 and it was short and didn’t say anything in particular other than “Look! I got it up!” and I didn’t write anything else for the entire month, but it was a start and I can’t believe it’s still here after 19 years.

The first post. Clicking it will take you to it. There are a few comments that have been left over the years. I tried to get a Wayback Machine screenshot of it, but they didn’t start tracking SEB until 2002.

Other than living day to day, there a very few things I can honestly say I have stuck with for 20 or more years. Playing video games would be one thing I suppose and the one game that comes close to a 20-year run is World of Warcraft which just turned 16 in 2020, but I haven’t played it continuously during that time. I took a couple of breaks during bouts of unemployment.

On April 21st of this year, I will have been married to my wonderful and amazing wife for 20 years. That’s pretty impressive to me. Considering the number of friends and extended family who seemed to have their shit together have had marriages end in divorce, I’m not sure how I managed to keep mine together.

This year will also mark my official 10-year employment at my current job come September. That’s as an actual employee. I’ve already hit 10-years last November if you count my almost-a-year as a contractor. That’s the longest stretch of employment I’ve ever had. Of course, most of the rest of my career was as a contractor so short runs are to be expected.

So, yeah, almost 20 years. You could say I’m celebrating prematurely, but I think it’s kind of a big deal even if I’m terrible at posting regularly these days. My experiments with Podcasting didn’t last long and I keep meaning to get into vlogging and/or streaming for the past couple of years, but have yet to do so with any seriousness. I can’t promise you it’ll still be around 20 years from now, that would put me at 73 going on 74 and I’ll probably be in rough shape by then if family history is anything to go by, but I’ll probably stretch it out for as long as I can manage.

For now, Happy 19th Birthday a month late, SEB. Never thought we’d still be hanging out by now, but glad we still are.

Merry Christmas 2020!

I’m a day late with this, but from all of us here at SEB, here’s wishing you and yours a safe and very Merry Christmas! It’s been a rough year, but it’s almost over and that can’t come quick enough for me.

I had a pretty good haul this year. Got a new coffee mug that says “I drink this so you all may live another day” which will be heading into the office with me in the New Year. Two new Hawaiian shirts, “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey” and “Dishonored 2” video games (yes, I know they’ve been out forever), a cast iron kitty door stopper, a USB Bluetooth adapter for my desktop, some new RGB case fans for my computer, and way more candy than I should be thinking of eating. I’m told a couple more things are still in transit.

Lastly, the family is safe and healthy which is the best gift of all. Hopefully the same is true for you and yours.

Christmas shopping back in the day.

While perusing Facebook this morning I came across this Frazz comic strip shared by the Decrepit Old Fool himself. Here’s a quick description in case you don’t want to click on the link. In the past I would’ve included the comic with a link back, but the site specifically mentions a license for blog posts and it’s $35.

Two kids are talking about Christmas shopping in the past. The girls says that her Dad said it used to be all traffic jams by the mall while her grandpa said it was traffic jams by the downtown department store. While they, the kids, would be the ones to grow up to not be able to get out of their own driveways (due to all the delivery trucks). It really is better to go see it for yourself.

This, of course, started me reminiscing about Christmas shopping back in the day. I can vividly remember going to The Pontiac Mall and trying to remember what my parents and siblings had said they wanted and often failing. The crush of the crowd was both frustrating and amazing. It was one of the few times of the year that you really got a sense of just how many people lived in your area.

The Pontiac Mall in its early years before I shopped there.
An example cover.

Of course, we did have mail order back then, but it was mostly limited to a few catalogs that took aim squarely at the Old White People demographic (e.g., Harriet Carter) or foodies (Swiss Colony). Both of those are still around and on the Internet these days, which is a helluva testament to their knowing their target markets.

Though no one I knew did the majority of their Christmas shopping through them. I certainly didn’t, but I did look forward to the arrival of the catalogs as one sign of the start of the holiday season. Also. I did drool over more than a few items in the Swiss Colony catalog. I’m a sucker for cheese and sausage gift packs.

I get excited just remembering browsing through the toys in this venerable book.

We didn’t have an Amazon Wish List. Back then it was the Sears Wish Book. Going through the toy section, circling desired items with different colored pens, discovering the women’s underwear section as I hit puberty, such wonderful memories. Sears is still hanging on by a thread, but back in the day they were one of the big department stores along with Hudson’s which has since gone extinct.

A lot of my clothing growing up came from Sears as did the very first video game console I had: The Sears Video Arcade! Which was just a rebranded Atari 2600. This gives you an idea of the kind of clout that Sears had back then. Atari wasn’t a household name yet, but Sears was. So, Atari agreed to let Sears slap their own name on it because Atari knew Sears was highly trusted brand and it would get their consoles into homes.

When I was growing up The Pontiac Mall had a Hudson’s and a Montgomery Ward as anchor stores. They built a Sears at the north end of the mall in 1973, but it wasn’t attached to the rest of the mall which was annoying during the winter. It was eventually connected during the huge expansion in 1988 that nearly doubled the size of the mall and added stores like J.C. Penny’s and led to changing the name to “Summit Place” which I hated and refused to use. Hell, for most of my childhood I was ignorant of the fact that “malls” were common so it was always just “The Mall” to me growing up. Things have changed a lot since those days. “Summit Place” closed its doors for good in 2009 with only J.C. Penney and Macy’s remaining until early 2010. Sears held out until 2014. It was finally demolished last year. Driving past it during demolition and seeing it reduced to rubble was more emotional for me than I expected.

MY CHILDHOOD, RUINED! Source: Jonathan Hair on YouTube

Not that I’m complaining about things now. The vast majority of my gift giving over the past decade plus has been done online. Yes, I’m Amazon’s bitch. I can’t begin to imagine doing it the old way in the middle of a pandemic. Those crowds would’ve been an unparalleled super spreader event.

I keep my Amazon Wish List updated throughout the year and yet I’m amazed at how many folks still ask me what I want. Here’s a complete list with things both cheap and expensive as fuck. Pick something. I guarantee you ANYTHING on that list will make me happy. That’s why it’s there. For that matter, I’m amazed at how many people don’t have an Amazon Wish List or don’t bother to keep it up to date. It’s one of the things I love about living in the future.

Anyway, I’ve not posted anything since Thanksgiving and I wanted to get something up and the Frazz comic kicked off a wave of nostalgia. I was originally just going to reshare the comic on Facebook as George did, but when I got up to two paragraphs of writing about it I figured it should be a blog post instead. Now I’ve spent the better part of an hour and a half working on this instead of the 2 minutes resharing would’ve taken. That’s OK because I am on vacation and can’t go anywhere thanks to the COVIDs.

What about you guys? Got any memories of Christmas shopping before the age of the Internet and the rise of Amazon? Do you still go to your local mall? Here in Westland where I live now, we still have a local mall — The Westland Shopping Center — that I have been to in the past, but haven’t been in the three years since I officially moved here. I keep meaning to go because I’ve not wasted an afternoon walking around a mall aimlessly in many years, but haven’t yet and probably won’t until this pandemic is under better control. DAMN YOU COVID-19!

Happy Thanksgiving 2020!

Image by Biljana Jovanovic from Pixabay

From all of us here at Stupid Evil Bastard to all of you who still drop by occasionally to see if I’ve posted anything new, here’s hoping you have a very Happy Thanksgiving. The year is almost over and, boy howdy, what a year it’s been.

Looking back, it can be hard to find a lot to be thankful about. Still, I try to be optimistic on this day and, if I’m honest, there are at least a few things. I’m still employed and we still have a roof over our heads. We’re not going hungry and we’ve managed to stay relatively healthy. Or at least, no worse than we already were before the pandemic started. Not least of all, the election swung in our favor and Donald Trump will be out of the White House shortly after the new year starts. All things considered; we’ve been lucky in this household when a lot of others have not. It is my hope that things turn around for them and soon.

That’s it. That’s all I wanted to say in this one. Be safe and try to enjoy the day.

Ubisoft is clearly not my favorite game company.

Ubisoft is launching a new ecosystem, whatever they mean by that, and to celebrate you can go out to their webpage and have them generate a summary of the time you’ve spent playing Ubisoft games since they started keeping detailed stats around 2015 or so. I’m guessing on that last bit as that’s when they start my review even though I know I’ve played Ubisoft games for several years prior to that.

Here’s mine.

This was interesting. If nothing else, it shows that I don’t tend to play Ubisoft games a whole lot. I mean, I have some impressive hours in here, but not when you consider this stretches back over five years. I’ve spent way more than 313 hours on just a single Call of Duty in a single year before.

For example: Advance Warfare – 432.2 hours, the original Black Ops – 469.3 hours, Black Ops II – 603.1 hours, Black Ops III – 838.2 hours, Ghosts – 762.4 hours, Infinite Warfare – 790.7 hours, Modern Warfare II – 704.5 hours, and one of the grand-daddies of time sinks, Modern Warfare 3 – 1,017.2 hours. Those are just the ones from Steam that I can easily look up. I’m sure I’ve put in similar amounts of time since they moved to BattleNet. Glancing at my combat record in Back Ops Cold War I’m already at 1 day, 5 hours, and 17 minutes for a game that’s been out a week.

So, yea, 313 hours over 5 years on multiple Ubisoft games isn’t as impressive as it sounds. You can also tell I don’t tend to do PVP in games like The Division what with my 0 rogue agents killed. I’m just not good at third-person shooter PVP. I was very surprised that none of the Far Cry games showed up in my review. I thought for sure I had played the last couple more than I had played The Division 1, but apparently not.

As for what the new Ubisoft ecosystem is, I think it’s just a new games launcher. I just realized I hadn’t reinstalled it since the last time I had to restage my system (again, shows you how much I play Ubisoft games) so I just did and… it looks more or less the same. Not sure what’s different about it. Still, it made for a mildly amusing video for the morning and a bit of reflection on how much time I waste playing Call of Duty.

Steven Tyler’s nipple got me thrown into Facebook jail.

I’ve gotten to be known for shit-posting memes constantly on my Facebook account. I know it’s hardly a vital public service, but it seems to amuse most folks who follow me over there and it weeds out the ones who don’t share my sense of humor. Plus, if I dump a crap load all at once I can go a day or two without posting anything and people will still see content from me. This is riskier than you might think, especially with my sense of humor, as some memes walk the line of being “Adult Content” and thus falling prey to Facebook’s “Community Standards Algorithm” which is apparently as dumb as a box of rocks.

Said algorithm is why this picture of Liv and Steven Tyler currently has me on a 7-day restriction:

The offending nipple.

Not that I need to explain the joke, but I’m going to. Steven Tyler is male and male nipples are allowed in pictures on Facebook whereas female nipples are, for some reason, not allowed. That is clearly Steven Tyler and he is clearly a male despite him having a decently feminine looking breast and hairstyle hence the humor in the caption. Apparently, it’s enough to fool FB’s artificial intelligence into thinking I’ve dared to try to share a woman’s naked breast.

The amusing part is, I’ve posted memes that had actual female nipples in them — albeit in painterly form — that had way more sexually suggestive captions on them and FB didn’t so much as blink an eye because “art”, apparently. I’ve also posted plenty of text-only memes that were incredibly vulgar in comparison to this that also didn’t raise the ire of FB’s Community Standards.

I also got a warning for this meme and this one I can at least kind of understand:

You missed.

Again, though, no actual female nipples are exposed in this picture which means it is actually in-line with Facebook’s community standards. I can only assume the words “nipples” and “pierced” were enough to trigger the “algorithm” into clutching its peals.

Both of these were within moments of each other and it was only a couple minutes later before the ban hammer was dropped on both posts. I suspected two in a row so rapidly is why it’s a 7-day restriction. I’ve disputed both of them and perhaps that’ll bring them in front of an actual human with more intelligence than a broken clock who can reverse the ban, but if it doesn’t it’s not like a 7-day vacation from FB is a bad thing.

I post this less as a rant and more of yet another example of why relying on “artificial intelligence” to make decisions about things like community standards is stupid. That said, people are expensive and the emotional toll of making them look at the horrible shit other people try to share on Facebook is huge. Compared to some of those folks, my shitty little memes seem pretty tame. So, if I’m doomed to complete my 7 days of not being able to like, comment, or share so that someone doesn’t have to review a snuff film because the “AI” caught it first, well, that’s a small price to pay.

I remember those early cable TV days.

Came across this meme on Facebook today and it made me a little ranty. It’s one of the big reasons I ended up cutting the cord years ago and switching to streaming only. It’s largely accurate except for Bravo.

Image may contain: text that says 'TV CHANNELS: THEN & NOW WHAT IT SHOWED THEN MTV Music videos WHAT IT SHOWS NOW TLC Trash reality shows that feature young, attractive people Medical shows and documentaries ANIMAL PLANET Trash reality shows that feature oddballs and grossouts Wildlife documentaries A&E Trash reality shows that feature doggies and kitties Historical biographies HISTORY Trash reality shows that feature murders and ghosts History documentaries BRAVO Trash reality shows that feature pawn shops Makeovers and weddings DISCOVERY Trash reality shows that feature gold diggers Nature programming WEATHER Weather Trash reality shows that feature gold-diggers Weather @MATTSURELEE'

I was a teenager in the 1980s when Cable TV started showing up everywhere. I can recall clearly hearing the news that it was coming to my hometown of Pontiac, MI and how excited everyone was for it. I can also remember the launch of several of these channels.

MTV was a channel I spent a lot of time on and is the major reason I can recognize musical groups from that era when I see pictures of them. Hours were spent watching videos and when we moved out to Orion Township in 1984, which didn’t have cable TV yet, my mother felt so bad that she bought a couple of MTV compilation VHS tapes to make up for it. I think I still have them around here someplace.

Some folks know that TLC stood for The Learning Channel and started off with a lot of educational programming and documentaries, but what a lot of them don’t know is that it’s one of the oldest cable channels. Founded in 1972 by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare and NASA as the Appalachian Community Service Network its focus was on education through TV and was distributed for free by NASA satellite. It was privatized in 1980 and became The Learning Channel and its main competitor was The Discovery Channel, which aired similar content. TLC was considered the better channel for shows about nature, science, history, current events, medicine, technology, cooking, and home improvement. So, of course, the folks behind The Discovery Channel ended up eventually buying them out and then slowly moved the content to the trash that it is today for the sake of ratings. Then in 2006 to 2008 they tried to shift their focus back to actual educational programming even using “The Learning Channel” in some promotions. That didn’t last long at all.

Of all the channels above, TLC is the one I’m most upset about because it in the early days I really enjoyed it. The HISTORY Channel falls into the same category. I struggled with history in school, but I enjoyed the hell out of the programming on The HISTORY Channel back when it actually had shows about history on it. Arts & Entertainment (A&E, natch) was also really good in the early days even if I didn’t watch it all that much because I have no artistic sensibility. BRAVO I didn’t watch much of because I recall it had a lot of operas and “serious theater” on it which didn’t have enough explosions to keep my ADHD addled attention. Not sure why the meme lists BRAVO as makeovers and weddings as that’s the crap it turned into before it went full reality TV programming.

The Discovery Channel was another early favorite because I was big into science stuff and so were they. My favorite program was out of Australia called “BEYOND 2000” which was all about the cool shit we’d be using in the future. I first heard about Dental Implants on that show and now they’re actually a thing here in the future. At the end of my time as a cable TV subscriber the only shows I could stand to watch on the channel was The MythBusters and occasionally How It’s Made.

The joke of the meme is the WEATHER channel, which covered the weather back then and still largely does so today, but it hasn’t escaped from the reality TV trend entirely. With shows like Fat Guys in the Woods and So You Think You Would Survive, they’ve got their toes in the water. Hell, not even the major cable news networks have managed to avoid the trend.

The promise of cable TV back in the day was that it had enough room for networks devoted to knowledge to exist alongside the standard TV fare and for a while it lived up to that promise. Alas, ratings mean money and when the first reality TV show showed you could get massive ratings for extraordinarily little expenditure the fate of these channels was sealed. Why show an informative documentary on how paper clips are made when you can air a show about the hardships of a family of little people and make four times the cash from it?

The same sort of thing happened to parts of the Internet. I first ventured onto the net before the World Wide Web was a thing, so it was a text-based experience. USENET News Groups were the main draw back then functioning much like web-based message forums of today or the Bulletin Board Systems we ran before the Internet was widely available. There were groups devoted to all sorts of topics and they put you in contact with knowledgeable people around the world. Alt.Sex was an amazing forum for getting information from experts about that topic right up until around 1996 when the boom in Internet Service Providers (ISPs) happened and suddenly the Internet became a lot more crowded. Groups like Alt.Sex went from being a place with useful info to nothing but porn ads almost overnight.

It’s almost like any form of educational thing gets ruined the minute you give it to the masses. Early cable TV was highly informative as was the early Internet. Once it reached the mass public both kinda soured. There are still areas of both that hold worthwhile content, but content aimed at the lowest common denominator reigns king and you must step around a lot of dog shit to get to it. It’s a shame. I miss those early days, but that’s probably me being a grumpy old man looking at the past through rose tinted glasses.

Hey you kids! Get the fuck offa my lawn!

Welcome to Fall 2020.

The leaves are only just starting to change color around here thanks to some pleasantly mild weather as of late, but according to the calendar summer has officially ended. If you go a bit further north, you’ll find the colors have started taking hold in earnest.

Fall Foliage. Source: Forest Wander

With 2020 being such an unending shit show, it really feels like it took Fall both forever to get here and no time at all. The holidays will be upon us in no time and I’m already stressing about it, but probably not in the way that you would think.

The Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas period is my favorite time of year, but with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the upcoming election and all the political bullshit that seems to be happening all at once, I’m having a hard time getting too excited about it. The past couple of years we’ve not had any money to do gift exchanges over Christmas which is a huge bummer for me so we’ve been trying to put some aside for this year, but we keep having to dip into it. I’m worried it’s going to be another year with a Christmas tree with nothing under it.

Which is a stupid thing to be worried about when there are so many other folks out there worrying about wear their kid’s next meals are coming from. I’ve been lucky in that I’m still employed even if we were just handed a 10% pay cut for the remainder of the year. The mortgage is covered, we have food on the table, and the gas and lights are still on. So, yeah, I don’t have much to be worried. So, of course, I’m worrying about other stuff like what happens if I lose my job or if Trump manages to get reelected or insert some other thing that hasn’t happened yet here. This has been affecting my sleep and eating habits which is just makes for another couple of things that are stressing me out.

Still, I’m hanging in there and trying my best to be as positive as I can despite my cynical nature. Memes help and I’ve been shit posting them like a mad man all over Facebook lately. I’m hoping the cooler temperatures of fall will help me to relax as well so I can get at least a little enjoyment in the days ahead. Hopefully you’re doing well and aren’t stressing out like I am.

Republican logic.

The lewdest city name in Michigan.

Browsing through Facebook this morning as I am often wont to do, I came across this meme that left me so outraged that I had to blog about it. The shoddiness of the research is mind blowing and I could not allow this injustice to stand.

Half-assed research will not be tolerated.

Dick is the best they could come up with? I mean, come on, Dick is a literal ghost town. A former lumber settlement that had a postal stop and a railway station and not much of anything else. The post office closed in 1906 and the place has been dead ever since.

What about Climax, Michigan? Now that’s a lewd name. I remember that I was driving along I-96 from Lansing to Detroit to pick up my paycheck — it’s a long story I won’t go into now — and I passed a sign that said, “CLIMAX 1¼ MILES” and all I could think was that at 70 MPH that just wasn’t enough time.

Nope, I wasn’t kidding.

At least Climax is still kicking with a population of around 783 (est.) as of last year. Then there’s Butman, MI, population 1,967. That’s a classic right there.

Yes, there are T-shirts.

Ironwood, pop. 4,936, sounds fairly lewd.

In addition to being able to last for hours, Ironwood has a giant statue of a Native American for some reason.

Here’s a few more for your consideration: Frankenlust, pop 3,514, sounds like a Mary Shelly porn novel.

Beaver Township, pop. 2,801, BEAVER FREAKIN’ TOWNSHIP! NEED I SAY MORE?

Mount Haley, pop. 1,650, not exactly lewd until you think about it.

Clam Union, pop. 893, CLAM UNION? WHY NOT JUST NAME IT SCISSORS AND BE DONE WITH IT??

None of them, however, can top Felch, Michigan. Population 734. Dick simply cannot compete with Felch for title of most lewd city name in Michigan. You may need to use Google to find out why Felch is such a lewd name, but you may regret doing so. Proceed at your own discretion.

When you consider this picture is the most common one on Google for Felch, MI. You can kind of understand why they might be felching each other. Not much else to do there.

Perhaps the meme maker skipped this obvious choice because they had already included Felchville for the state of Massachusetts, but I still say this is a far better choice than Dick. Dick is so pedestrian and overused that I don’t think it even qualifies as lewd anymore.

Bonus lewd non-city name: One of my favorite highway signs in Michigan is the exit from I-75 to Troy, MI, one of the suburbs of Detroit. I know I’ve mentioned this before on SEB, but this is so perfect that it cannot have been by accident. This had to be planned.

Exit 69 to Big Beaver Rd. Nice!