Monday, May 25, 2009

Comic 587: Mathy McMurder

shitters
Oh man, here I am with another late update! keepin' it professional, here at xkcdsucks.

I'll be nice today and say that this comic has some good parts to it. I can't quite describe it, but it is related to the desperate-looking-for-patterns that is so endemic of sciencey TV dramas, which are certainly worth parodying.

The problem I think is that Mathnet (not something I was familiar with beforehand, I will admit) is as far as I can see already a parody. So the xkcd is just taking something funny and....making more jokes off it. very much like the critique of that Princess Bride comic a few months back: you are going to have to do more than just jump on the back of another person's humor vehicle.

Is there any reason they need that caption at all? It's funnier without it - a little more mysterious (when is the right time for George's useful pattern finding skillz?) and it just sort of flops on the end there. Better to end where the joke is. Perhaps if the caption had been on top, so we still end with the "This is not possibly helpful" concept it would work better at the very end.


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Have I already said that Abstruse Goose is one of the worst websites on the planet? It is. That is all I am going to say for a long time about that horrible comic.

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Guys do you remember how Randy is having an actual printed book of his comics made up to be sold for money? I am looking for sources to try to get me a review copy. I promise to treat it fairly (and since it will likely have a lot of old comics, I will likely have a lot of nice things to say) and link to any sort of website that may be selling it. If you have any helpful connections to make this happen, send me a missive. Let's make this happen, guys.

61 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. It wasn't all that long ago, was it, that you thought Abstruse Goose was relatively refreshing and fun in the vein of older, better xkcd, right? ::sigh:: How quickly webcomics degenerate.

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  3. The great thing about Abtruse Goose is that the author (somewhat indirectly) admits to being a shitty version of Randall Munroe.

    This comic's faltering point was probably the reference in and of itself. I feel like if I watched Mathnet, it might have been hilarious, more so if Randy broke tradition and actually introduced a character in a way that followed the pre-written personality for them.

    However, if I may make a suggestion for the next post, I would say that you may not reach the required level of rage for your blog post until you read through the forum thread about how everybody was clearly far too much of a genuis for high school and things would have been perfect if they ran it.

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  4. K: You could at least be a radical man and link said thread.

    But as I was saying in the last comic's comments, this xkcd didn't make me laugh simply because it fits firmly into one of Randall's ecks-kay-cli-chés which involves "{someone clever in their field} is introduced to {situation where their expertise shouldn't apply}" and then he nudges said person's intelligence down so they don't rely on rational thought/logic. Instead they make retarded statements that Randall expects us to smile at and go "oh that wacky Munroe."

    Well I, personally, am not smiling, Munroe. This shit wasn't realistic even at the height of social ineptitude nerds achieved before it become 'cool to be uncool.' There's surrealism and then there's 'wacky just to be wacky.'

    Dear xkcd: please stop making jokes that just say, "ha ha guys look at this expert being totally lost outside of his field ISN'T THAT HILARIOUS." You're insulting our intelligence as well as your own.

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  5. http://echochamber.me/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=39727

    Kalos's calling out and videogamesizzle's reply are fantastic.

    Most pretentious comment goes to glasnt: "Do people actually listen to scantilyclad underage girls telling them that their collective educational grouping is superior to others?"

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  6. Fascinating! Just as this one is, as Rehoboam said, "ha ha guys look at this expert being totally lost outside of his field ISN'T THAT HILARIOUS", the new one (Pep Rally) is the equally trite "ha ha guys look aspects of our culture don't make sense"

    In this case , I don't really understand quite why it's even worth poking fun at. It's a point so obvious as to border on the banal -- WOW SPORTS RIVALRIES DON'T MAKE SENSE BECAUSE WE'RE ALL THE SAME PEOPLE, HOLY CRAP. Is this worth pointing out? Will we have comics such as "WHY DO WE ATTACH SO MUCH VALUE TO AUTOGRAPHS" and "PEOPLE TEXT OTHER PEOPLE INSTEAD OF CALLING THEM WOW HOW CRAZY" in the near future?

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  7. I feel a bit begrudged at some of the comments in this comment section. Admittedly, I didn't like the comic but what you are complaining about isn't a reason for something to be not funny, but to be monotonous. Look at Tim Minchin, who I think is pretty funny, and yet you can classify most of his material as "He sings a song about something serious but then deals with it in an unnecessarily naive and/or scientific way to extract humour from an outsiders' view of things as common as love or war." You can do that with every comedian as they most of them have a set of material they work from.

    Randall is going downhill, yes, but not because most of his comics fit into a pre-set mould.

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  8. I agree that this comic didn't really have to reference that TV-show (which I had never heard of) on the other hand this is part of what has given XKCD it's fanbase, just look at this comment from "Smartdude992" on the forum thread:

    "I hate it when I don't get the joke on my own and I have to google it...this is just a reason for me to watch more tv..."

    God there is just so many things wrong with that comment. These references are simply for people to say "Oh I know this!" and feel smart (because Randall is smart and they know the same things!).

    I also agree that the "expert outside his own field" thing is getting kind of boring, because the comedy comes from the absurdity of the situation, but it is just not surprising anymore.

    "ha ha guys look aspects of our culture don't make sense"

    That is too broad a topic to really critize someone for using, honestly. There is plenty of potential for humor in that topic.

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  9. What I don't get is this.

    Mathnet is not particularly widely known and as such any jokes which require prior knowledge of it will fall flat to the majority of the audience.

    Why not slightly alter the joke to reference Numb3rs instead? Is it not far more well-known, and a similar joke along the lines of looking for mathematical clues where there are non could be made.

    Ignore me if you will, just my two cents. And yes, I'm English =P

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  10. Because Mathnet rules and Numb3ers drools, obviously.

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  11. Trust me, getting the reference doesn't make this one funny. If you went with the premise of "Mathnet was a real division of the LAPD," then they would have been cops first, math experts second, so they'd still know basic police procedure. If you're going with the premise of "they hired mathematicians to be police," then they'd have just been fired when Mathnet closed. So the joke makes no sense.

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  12. I like this one, but I agree the caption has got to go. I kind of thought it was a "DaVinci Code" reference, and with "Angels and Demons" coming out (dude has the same M.O) it was somewhat timely.

    Really liked the alt-text, as well. This is one of the better xkcds in a looong time.

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  13. David said everything I had to say re over-generalising humour. But some day I will get even, David. Just you wait and see...

    New one is meh, alt-text is risible.

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  14. "Admittedly, I didn't like the comic but what you are complaining about isn't a reason for something to be not funny, but to be monotonous."

    I'm sorry I can't see the absolute hilarity in pure monotony. Maybe I should study paint drying for a few hours until I can find it funny?

    Running a joke into the ground is not "comedy," and if anything it negates the humour on subsequent read-throughs. Running jokes are good; repeated jokes are bad. The former uses the concept of 'moderation'; the latter is closer to desperation.

    Top of the blog: "It's feeling more and more like Randall Munroe is a man who is out of ideas, so he is just writing comics that include as many references to computer science [or in this case TV shows - don't forget that carcinogenic Nathan Fillion story arc] as possible ... or comics with hardly any effort put into them, or some other not actually funny idea."

    He can be funny, but this isn't funny; it's just plain sad.

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  15. I was horrified to see that 90% of the posts in this comic's thread were "OMG, Mathnet! That show ruled so much", as if the mere MENTION of the show was enough to make the comic great. It's like people feel they have to lower their intellectual level to the point of sucking Randall's dick WHENEVER he mentions something that makes them feel "smart". Yuck! And, at least to me, when you cut out the "reference" part of the comic, the humour is okay but a bit dull.
    Worst thing about that thread, though, is the guy that makes "corrections" to other people's posts (including mine), and then another guy linking to ENCYCLOPEDIA DRAMATICA -- probably the worst comedy website in the world -- to justify it as a "cool" même. Yeah, the guy getting pissed off is me. They'd probably just ignore me if I tried being diplomatic, so I decided to simply be rude. That usually works, for better or worse. Fuck those guys.

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  16. Well face it, Fernie Canto, the people who hang out on the xkcd forums all the time won't be your crème de la crème of computing and technology. They're going to be the failures who never achieved anything more than a shitty office job programming some crappy system in Java. They have nothing better going on in their lives than circlejerking about getting a reference Randall throws out to them. Just be glad that you aren't jerking in that circle.

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  17. Cuddlefish PrimeMay 25, 2009 at 12:30 PM

    Junior high pep rallies were the perfect excuse to spend some quality time with my Game Boy instead of going to class, and for that I thank them. School spirit helped me to become a Pokemon Master.

    I basically agree with the sentiment in #588 (school pride, like nationalism, is arbitrary and dumb) but the comic itself is super lame.

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  18. I need to get a new name. Seeing another John say "Really liked the alt-text, as well. This is one of the better xkcds in a looong time." is slightly jarring. I'd never say that.

    Well, I would if it was true, but there hasn't been a decent xkcd in months.

    Pep Rally is terrible. It's not bad because of Randall's usual problems though. But really it's just a "What's the deal with Pep Rallies" type joke. Though observational humor requires jokes, Randall is just leaving us with the observations as if that's a stand in for humor.

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  19. Just for the idiots, nationalism =/= jingoism.

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  20. Cuddlefish PrimeMay 25, 2009 at 1:07 PM

    I don't think anyone has claimed otherwise, Anonymous.

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  21. Re: "circlejerking", hoo, I plan to never get into that kind of thing, ever. I guess, indeed, it's useless to try to hammer that point home over in the forums, since people are NOT going to give up that little pleasure very easily. The aggravating factor is, of course, the fact that xkcd is an "intellectual" comic, so everything they do there is justified by default -- even using the goddamn Encyclopedia Dramatica as comedic source.
    Regarding the comic, again, I got confused in one pretty arbitrary thing: all those lines aren't said by the same person, are they? On panel three, the two sentences seem "discontinued". This gives a different interpretation, from "random specialist in a silly situation", into "anti-pep-rally sentiment growing among people". If it's to be taken like that, the comic is far more bitter than comedic; and considering the subject matter, I can't really blame Randall. Actually, I CAN, but I'm not willing.

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  22. Hey, ED has a fine article on xkcd at least. (re: http://encyclopediadramatica.com/Xkcd)

    "Xkcd is a prime example of the idea that if you can't make a funny comic, you can at least shamelessly appeal to the interests of your fanbase"

    "Xkcd's creator is aware of the internet, and apparently wants to make very damn sure everyone knows it."

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  23. So this was pretty much a rehash of what I thought when Numb3rs first aired. I agree that this observation is just so blisteringly obvious as to not have any humor left in it.

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  24. I think they are different people, yeah.

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  25. I'm with Cuddlefish Prime on this: agree with the sentiment, but it's not at all funny.

    But wow, K and Fred, those comment sections are infuriating. I'm imagining the commenters as Napolean Dynamite. Living simultaneously in the real world and in an alternate reality where nunchuck skills are THE way to attract women, it's perfectly reasonable to put tater tots in their pockets for later, and pep rallies are expressions reinforcing irrational hatreds.

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  26. Like I said, the xkcd forums is full of dull-minded sycophants desperately trying to get Randall to offer his cock to -them- in the hopes that this wil some day lead to their world-wide recognition as something more than worthless.

    Anything Munroe says goes, and you can be damn sure that his forumites will masturbate heavily to the ability to 'associate' with him about high school. "Oh yes my high school was shitty too!" they cry out, proud because they were oh-so-clever but nobody respected them, boo hoo hoo. The reason that no-one respected them is because they're socially inept, gibbering morons who spend most of their waking lives circlejerking on a forum dedicated to a guy with too much time on his hands. Go figure.

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  27. Moreover the onion apparently beat RM to the punchline, such as it is, already. http://store.theonion.com/the-sports-team-from-my-area-is-superior-to-p-83.html

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  28. I'm going to have to agree with you on this comic, pretty decent, but could be better

    Also, Abstruse Goose is DISGUSTINGLY atrocious. If anything, you guys should be bashing that comic because it truly deserves it. It's literally a steaming pile of crap

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  29. FUCK I have a cold and a fucking sore throat and I can't fucking talk and I fucking hate everyone FUCKING FUCK FUCK

    FUCK the girl in the first panel all fucking alone she doesn't even have a fucking right arm that fucking thing she's holding what's it called it should fall to the fucking ground

    FUCK the text in the second panel it's all fucking squishy why is it all fucking squishy why would he make it squishy it doesn't fucking look good

    FUCK the shit in the bleachers FUCK his dad's fucking kidney he should have fucking died FUCK

    FUCK the shits on the forums FUCK YOU FUCK EVERYONE YOU FUCKING KNOW that if you had a pep rally for xkcd somehow you would fucking cheer

    FUCK my school didn't even fucking have a fucking sports team but now I wish it had so I could have gone to EVERY PEP RALLY just to spite you fucks

    I AM FULL OF IMPOTENT RAGE

    FUCK my throat oww

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  30. @CP: "I don't think anyone has claimed otherwise, Anonymous"

    Then you obviously didn't check out the XKCD forums.

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  31. What's a pep rally? No-one would tell me on the other thread, and the Wikipedia article is too short to be of any use.

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  32. I just checked the Wikipedia article, and I don't think it's actually missing that much.

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  33. I think this is where I check out. I can stomache no more!

    Bye, so long, and thanks for the fish.

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  34. What a way to check out...

    There's no 'e' in stomach. Sorry.

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  35. Man, Carl, you really got to step up on posting in a timely manner. I thought I'd already read this thread because everything being talked about here had already been talked about in the previous one.

    Either that or just turn this to a normal forum or LJ community or such horseshit.

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  36. Cuddlefish PrimeMay 26, 2009 at 5:41 PM

    Anonymous 6:09 AM:

    Wikipedia basically covered all there is to it. You crowd into the gymnasium bleachers, the relevant sporting team enters to thunderous applause, and then there's cheerleading and music and sometimes little games or other activities. The idea is to get everyone psyched for the upcoming match, thus "rallying" support and filling the student body with copious amounts of "pep". At my school, attendance was mandatory; I don't know how common that is.

    Accusations of jingoistic brainwashing and comparisons to 1984's Two Minutes Hate are, in my opinion, vastly overblown. It's really nothing more than a bit of high-energy, crowd-pleasing silliness.

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  37. COVIZAPIBETEFOKYMay 26, 2009 at 6:14 PM

    Cuddlefish Prime:

    Overblown, perhaps.

    Nonetheless, they were really fucking annoying.

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  38. Thanks for the info. I'm glad we don't have those in Scotland.

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  39. For me, the pep rally itself wasn't so bad but our gymnasium was nowhere near large enough to accomodate the entire school population. It was designed to be big enough for the school district, but the school had specialty programs that attracted at least 1/2 as many extra people from other districts, so you got to the point where there were people sitting on the floor and standing in the aisles and it was hard to really see what was going on sometimes. The cheerleaders and the band and the administration were talented and they did a good job but if you got stuck behind a pillar or something then it was hard to enjoy it.

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  40. The whole idea of a school, or a school sports team, as something to which one is supposed to have loyalty, simply appals me. It's at least as bad as patriotism and arguably worse.

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  41. Who'll grow out of what?

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  42. "The whole idea of a school, or a school sports team, as something to which one is supposed to have loyalty, simply appals me. It's at least as bad as patriotism and arguably worse."

    That.

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  43. I don't know what you think is wrong with that sentiment, or why you think I'll grow out of it, or why you assume you're older than me.

    To someone from somewhere we don't have that notion it is appalling.

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  44. Because it's a very sixteen year old sentiment. It's okay, everyone's sixteen once. One day you'll understand.

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  45. I wasn't. I skipped straight from fifteen to seventeen.

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  46. Patriotism's a bad thing? Weird...

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  47. Yeah pretty much all sixteen year old kids think patriotism is just the most evil thing in the world.

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  48. Most serious thinkers regard patriotism as a bad thing.

    How old are you, Rob? You're not very good at judging other people's ages.

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  49. Hahahahahaha.

    That's cute! "Most serious thinkers." It's like you have read the political ruminations of most serious thinkers!

    Which, you know, you haven't. (Sorry, your sophomore class doesn't count as serious thinkers.) But I will give you the benefit of the doubt. Find me at least three essays from well-regarded and influential "serious thinkers" which conclude that patriotism is a bad thing. Quotes from quote pages don't count--I want an essay or excerpt from a longer treatise.

    Then explain, in your own words, why these three essays demonstrate the viewpoint of the majority of serious thinkers. Please explain why you are ignoring the views of serious thinkers throughout history who clearly and solidly disagree with you. Also be prepared to defend why the writers you have chosen qualify as serious thinkers.

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  50. Alternatively, you could stop being a pompous ass.

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  51. Well, you're the one making claims about "most serious thinkers." I'm just asking you to back up that claim--and I'm even being lenient. Most people would require you to pull up a survey of people who qualify as serious thinkers. I'm just asking for an essay defending your position.

    If you're not prepared to back up your thesis with research, then stop making idiot assertions.

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  52. Has your kindergarten not gotten to the "sharing a world with people who don't share your opinions" yet?

    Never mind, you'll probably grow out of your pomposity.

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  53. Oh, my poor Class of 2011 Cuddlefish. I gave you an opportunity to back your idiotic opinion up with some actual research into the matter. See, this is how grown-ups exchange ideas. They actually back up their claims that a majority of "serious thinkers" share an opinion with them, rather than just asserting it and whinging that it is pompous of their opponent to ask for verification (which I would gladly read and comment on).

    You see, I operate on the assumption that those who invoke "serious thinkers" are prepared to do some serious thought of their own, and have done enough research that they should be able to, fairly trivially, produce a few essays with a minimum of searching. If you are prepared to say that a majority of serious thinkers hold to a standpoint, surely you have at least one essay you can produce offhand that suggests that this might be the case?

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  54. Rob, since you are so singularly unwilling to defend your own ideas, or answer straightforward questions, why do you suppose other people should have to jump through hoops for you?

    Because you're a dumb kid.

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  55. I haven't been asked to defend my own ideas or asked any relevant questions. I'm also not making any assertions about what the majority of "serious thinkers" believe or making any claim to fact, other than the fact that you are an idiot sixteen year old who doesn't understand the philosophy of nationalism, at all, which is self-evident.

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  56. "Alternatively, you could stop being a pompous ass."

    WHY CAN'T YOU DO THIS, ANONYMOUS?

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  57. Jay, here are some cuddles for you because I feel like you need them. [cuddle] [cuddle] [cuddle] Okay that is three, let me know if you need more.

    Cuddlefish Prime: yeah it was mandatory for me too. Usually students used them as a way to play hooky or just meet up with friends during the rally and ignore whatever was going on down on the gym floor. Like one of the cuddlefishes here, my gym was also too small for my school and usually we spilled onto the floor, or they split us up and had two separate rallies, and then the performers would be all tired either because they were anticipating having to do two rallies or because they were tired from already having done one rally.

    On an entirely unrelated note, the word "mandatory" always makes me think of my own name, and then I feel narcissistic.

    Anyway. Comic would have been better without the reference. I feel like all xkcds should be read like that: first read it as is, then think "good god this is awful, but maybe..." and then remove the reference in your mind. Perhaps you will laugh!

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