Friday, July 3, 2009

xkcd getting around; and not getting around

So a few weeks ago, Randall Munroe apparently added a sort of side project to his regular comic-ing - he wrote a comic for "Building a Smarter Planet", which appears to be a mind-numbingly boring website about, I dunno, stuff. Some exciting headlines currently on the frontpage include "June 24th Food Safety Forum on Capitol Hill was a huge success" (awesome!) and "Implementation of a livestock disease traceability system in the US" (woah! that one was written by super-celebrity Robert Fourdraine, PhD, COO Wisconsin Livestock Identification Consortium!! Awesome!)

Oh right this is an xkcd blog. Um yeah so Randall is apparently making comics for them now. He says that he will "occasionally produce a few extra comics" but so far there is only one:

You can see the blog post where they announce this new feature if you click on the comic.

I actually do like the comic a fair amount, even if it does fit into the xkcd trope of "I say crazy things when on stage." It also suffers from the usual extra-dialog-stuck-in-after-the-punchline. But that's ok, those are minor complaints. Given the context it's in, this is a pretty good effort for Randall, and I am curious to see what others he comes up with. I think the lack of a set timeline helps him - I've often said that one of xkcd's flaws is that Randy forces himself to make comics more frequently than he thinks of good ideas. That of course won't happen here (unless we suddenly see "Randy makes a new environmentalism comic every June, July and August WITHOUT FAIL.")

My bigger concerns are with the post itself, written by one "Tim Washer" [holy crap, you can just add an E and change the H to T and his name is Time Waster! oh my god.]. Our friend is described as "the genius behind the web-comic XKCD." This just makes me vomit a little. Genius? Please. There's no reason to think he's particularly smart, certianly not from his comics or his studies of math or whatever. Ew gross. And using the hyphenated "web-comic" is probably the most succint way to say "I'm Old!" without using that exact phrase. But anyway.

Oh hey so remember how there is supposed to be an xkcd book? First off, notice how I used the phrase "web-comic" in that post - that is a crazy coincidence. I had forgotten all about it until I went to get the link right now after the previous paragraph was already written. Anyway, yeah, there was supposed to be one, according to the New York Times it was supposed to be out "sometime around june." Well clearly June has ended and so we are going to see just how "around" it is. Hey, it's not around at all! The Internet has no news at all on it since that first flurry of excitement in late April - unless I'm bad at searching, that is. If anyone has new information on it, I'd love to know what the status is. Despite what you may think, I really do have high hopes for a book of xkcd comics: As I will be glad to admit, there are a lot of very good comics on the site - they are just very few and far between after comic 350 or so.

And of course, I still need my review copy of the book...

78 comments:

  1. This doesn't have anything to do with the news post, but for God's sake, I went to a concert yesterday and before the show started there was a FUCKING screen onstage showing FUCKING images from a FUCKING camera that was scanning the FUCKING audience, and the FUCKING camera FUCKING lingered and ZOOMED IN ON a guy's FUCKING XKCD shirt. If I could have figured out where the guy was, I would've tried to punch him on-camera.

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  2. lol, Fred, keep it together

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  3. Fred: can you say FUCKING a few more times?

    In a high pitch annoying squeaky voice?

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  4. I will murder you for associating me with.. that.

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  5. An xkcd comic that didn't piss me off? Wow. Okay, I admit it, I smiled. And maybe I made a vague sound that could be interpreted as a snicker by some.

    Oh, and anyone who refers to Randy as a genius should look at this, where he claims (or rather plays with the idea that) a force .05 horsepower strong could pull a 1000-1500 lbs horse.

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  6. Randall isn't even right about a horse pulling with around the force of 1 hp. According to some guy called Stevenson and his associate Wassersug, as of 1993 the average horse can pull, for a few seconds, with a maximum power of 15 hp.

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  7. you know what makes me vomit? environmentalists

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  8. Is "wait, what? / back up" the universal response to a joke or weird idea these days? How many years before "having a witty response" comes back into vogue?

    That's less a complaint about this particular comic as it is something I've noticed about reactions to humor in general. Anyone else noticed the gaping void of response to humor? "Wait, what?" seems to be turning into "oh no my logic train skipped a rail please repeat yourself or I'll dwell on that one colorful thing you said."

    Laughter still acceptable. :-)

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  9. thomas: the fact of the matter is, people are not witty enough to have a witty response.

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  10. The sad thing is, there isn't even a need for a witty response. This whole issue wouldn't even come up if Randy didn't feel a need to keep going after the punchline for some reason.

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  11. I keep seeing XKCD popping up in blogs I'm reading these days.

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  12. William Monty HughesJuly 3, 2009 at 11:59 AM

    Hmph, another pretentious and churlish blag update by an elitist simpleton. When shall you see the errors of your actions, Carl? Are you immoral? Randall Munroe is a rightful member of the Web-comics PANTHEON. He is a GOD. Do not contest this. It is a fact.
    However, you? You are a mere PARASITE. Leeching off his hard-earned success and popularity to support your own bloated ass. Franly, it's depressing.
    Do you know what I do for a living, Ugly? I am an exterminator by trade (not really, but it IS possible that I could have been) and I am going to turn my career into a hobbie. "BITCH."
    I would suggest you watch your back, Mr. Wheeler.
    I will find you. I WILL FIND YOU.

    Farewell.

    -William M. Hughes
    IQ 224
    "Cogito ergo sum"

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  13. I don't think that you're going to be able to obtain a review copy until there's a definite date of release. Otherwise, you have no way of even verifying that it exists!

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  14. Harvard GraduateJuly 3, 2009 at 12:54 PM

    Hmm, yes, yes.

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  15. Again, William M. Hughes is the best thing on the internet, for 3 posts running.

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  16. i laughed harder than i probably should at WMH's "Franly."

    And holy crap you guys we have 36 diggs

    what does this mean

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  17. William Monty HughesJuly 3, 2009 at 1:59 PM

    IT WAS A TYPOE YOU DIRTY WHORE.

    -William M. Hughes
    IQ 224
    "Cogito ergo sum"

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  18. Fred, I think you and Anon combined explain why "Wait, what?" annoys a pretentious McDouchenburger such as myself.

    Randy tends to use jokes that have a setup and punchline in the same character, with anyone else being the straight man. Once the actual punchline is out ("flying machines for squirrels!"), that should be the end of the strip, but Randy adds an extra "Wait, what?" to let us know the joke worked on the stick people. "This bizarre moment threw my imaginary people off balance! Did you have to do a double-take as well?" It's like how Jon from 'Garfield' always wears that bald, wide-eyed expression in reaction to something Garfield did to the neighbor's lawn while Garfield sits around wearing an apathetic expression.

    Conclusion: GET OFF YER ASS XKCD, drawing your ideal audience won't make it appear. Give them some coordinates, however... =/

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  19. dude what a cheater WMH you changed your IQ by +100!

    I AM BEGINNING TO DOUBT YOUR CREDIBILITY SIR IF YOU CAN MAKE SUCH AMATEURISH TYPOS HOW CAN WE TRUST ANY OF YOUR CLAIMS

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  20. "IT WAS A TYPOE YOU DIRTY WHORE."

    Comedy gold.

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  21. 605 is the best xkcd comic in a very, very long time.

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  22. William Monty HughesJuly 3, 2009 at 2:37 PM

    "dude what a cheater WMH you changed your IQ by +100!"

    That was also a typoe.

    -William M. Hughes
    IQ 224
    "Cogito ergo sum"

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  23. @Thomas: If you start counting just after the last comic that was actually any good, then yes.

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  24. if 605 is the best in a very long time, then those comics must have been the worst comics ever made.

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  25. I think it would be interesting if Carl (or someone else, I'm too lazy) could go through the entire XKCD archive and rate each comic on a scale of zero to ten. Might be informative.

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  26. @R: And then we could make a chart about it!

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  27. And then we'd simply find a graph coming up from around 7.5, rising through to 9.5, keeping it up most of the time up until comic 300-350, then slowly dropping back to 7.5, with the occasional lapse down or leap up, up until now. only the last 50 or so have had a slightly lower average then 7.5. xkcd still kicks ass. tho today's isn't even remotely funny (a severe lapse..)

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  28. @Wilhelm, l2read. the force isnt 0.05 hp, its 0.8 hp (approx 600 W). over a longer period (say, more then a minute), the average horse produces LESS then one hp, so, if you kept it up long enough, over a longer period, that e-board will definetly pull a (slightly) smaller then average horse back, if we ignore pesky little things like friction effects and assuming the engine will actually be able to maintain its maximum power output for said longer period.

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  29. I'm tempted to go through the archives and rate them. One of these days.

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  30. Speaking as "little t" thomas, I must countervote Thomas and call out 605 as one of the worst for its failures in both humor and geekery.

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  31. Wow do you people need a life, I mean you have a right to your opinion but to create a entire blog just to bitch about how much you hate the site. Dude here's a though: just don't read it. This is the internet you can go to another page, you can turn the computer off. You can do any number of a million things other than read the comic but you are the ones who choose to go there and read it.

    The artist doesn't have to cater to you, he can just put up blank panels if he wants it's his website. Seriously you guys just need a life. If you guys devoted all of this energy to something else like picking up litter or working for charity you could make the world a better place instead of complaining about something that no one forces you to read.

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  32. dude, creating a blog takes like a minute. writing a post about it takes like... five? maybe?

    so sure! if we all devoted six minutes three times a week to working for charity, we would have... i don't know, played catch with a little kid, once?

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  33. oh yeah, let me fix your post for you:

    Wow do you need a life, I mean you have a right to your opinion but to create a entire blog comment just to bitch about how much you hate the site. Dude here's a though: just don't read it. (This part's fine. -Ed.) This is the internet you can go to another page, you can turn the computer off. You can do any number of a million things other than read the blog but you are the one who chooses to go there and read it.

    The blogger doesn't have to cater to you, he can just put up blank posts if he wants it's his blog. Seriously you just need a life. If you guys devoted all of this energy to something else like picking up litter or working for charity you could accomplish absolutely nothing instead of complaining about something that no one forces you to read.

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  34. Kudos to you for that post Rob (I miss Kudos actually being used in life!) but be honest, it's more than 6 minutes 3 times a week.

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  35. It depends, really. (Actually I made a grave miscalculation: you do not make a new blog every time you post. Registering xkcdsucks.blogspot.com is a one-time investment. My bad.)

    On weeks where I am not really caring I probably don't sink more than a half hour to an hour into the blog on a weekly basis. Most of that time is spent reading. The responses take anywhere from negligible amounts of time to maybe ten minutes for the long, rambly ones. I'm usually doing a bunch of other things at the same time, also.

    I am perhaps understating the number a fair amount, but the point nobody is actually expending energy here.

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  36. Guess this is a little nit picky, but the whole IBM "Smarter Planet" advertising blitz began like a year ago, and they're still running ads on TV, online, I think I've even heard a couple on radio in the last few week. How are you not aware of that?

    Maybe it's just me.

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  37. "That e-board will definetly pull a (slightly) smaller then average horse back, if we ignore pesky little things like friction effects."

    If we ignore pesky things like gravity, that board could fly. Just imagine the power it would take to *drag a standing horse*--that is, a horse producing *0 horsepower*. The power output of the horse is nearly irrelevant; certainly it does not line up one-for-one with that of the scooter as Randall implies. Perhaps that would be true for a horse on roller skates, but that's a very different problem.

    (A hilarious problem.)

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  38. WILLIAM: Once more you degrade my web-blog with your worthless commentary! If I only "leech off" of Randall's work, answer me this: Why is it that I create more output than he does? Surely my words and thoughts come from somewhere, and they do not come from xkcd NOR ANY OTHER INTERNET SITE. They are from the dark recesses of my own mind and I fully expect you to respect them. As estabilshed, I am smarter than you are (IQ = 124.3) and so you should listen to all that I say with the greatest interest. NOW: Begone from my web-site and stop filling it with your vicious slander!

    Good day!

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  39. What, you liked it? I found it annoyingly predictable. I figured out what the joke was by the first panel and the second panel only sealed the deal.

    Also something on this page keeps fucking loading something over and over and I'm turning NoScript back on now

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  40. The correct thing for Randull to say would have been that if a weak horse was pulling against the board that neither would make any headway. But man, that would have to be one weak horse. Has Randull ever seen a horse? Or a basic physics textbook (power != resistance to motion, dumbass; my house has 0 horsepower, it doesn't mean that you can drag it around with your toy, even it it was on rollers).

    Anonymous
    IQ 156
    "Convictions are more dangerous foes of truth than lies." -F.N.

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  41. @Anonymous on July 3, 2009 7:53 AM
    I'm guessing you got this from Wikipedia? Well the next sentence is: “However, for longer periods, an average horse produces less than one horsepower.”
    .....Randall's not wrong (at least in that regard)

    @ Anonymous “IQ 156”
    If you know any basic physics then you should know that, ignoring all forces of friction on your house, Randall's “toy” should have no problem dragging it around (albeit very slowly). There is no “resistance to motion” but friction.

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  42. Yes but friction exists, and is an a very important part of reality, which both my house and the horse belong to. Did anyone say "ignoring friction"? Then we aren't. Dumbass.

    Anonymous
    IQ 156
    "Convictions are more dangerous foes of truth than lies." -F.N.

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  43. Actually, yeah, Randy did.

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  44. If Randy did then it makes even less sense. First, no friction = no ability for his toy to drag anything, since it requires friction to work. Secondly, if there is no friction why stop at horses? He could drag a truck, a plane, my house, even the moon, albeit very slowly. Either way it makes no sense.

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  45. @Anon 3:31
    The horse pulls with a force of 0.75 hp, the e-board pulls the other way with a force of 0.8 hp, which equates to an e-board pulling an inactive horse with a net force of 0.05 hp under ideal conditions because the forces almost cancel each other out. Lern2math.

    So we have 0.05 hp trying to push around a fucking horse... This is so farfetched, even the comments on Randall blog are pointing it out.

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  46. OH JESUS CHRIST
    From TVtropes "better than it sounds webcomics" article:
    "xkcd: Stick figures make one-shot jokes about grad-level sciences and esoteric nerd culture. The fact that 95% of the general population has no idea what the hell is going on just makes it that much sweeter for the 5% who do."
    FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF

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  47. Cuddlefish PrimeJuly 4, 2009 at 7:32 AM

    Oh, TV Tropes. To think I loved you. :(

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  48. someone fix that so it reads "grade-level"

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  49. Dammit, why does XKCD destroy everything I love?

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  50. +Rob, fix it to say, "The fact that 95% of the general population doesn't slobber over these one-shot jokes"

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  51. Ooh, new theory!
    Some people read xkcd to make themselves feel smarter than everyone else in their own eyes. When you insult xkcd, it's like you're insulting their intelligence.

    Possibility?

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  52. To anyone that argues that the toy could in fact pull the horse.
    First, drop the 'no friction' argument - if there is no friction there is no way the toy will produce any amount of force as its wheels will just turn in place. The horse on the other hand will be able to push itself by digging its heels in the ground, thus producing enough force to drag the toy.
    If there is friction on the other hand, we firstly have to consider that even though a horse can only pull with less then 1 hp for a longer time, it can definitely resist a stronger pulling force. But nevermind that, we know that while a horse can only produce 1 hp of force average, it can spike up to 15 hp momentarily. What will keep your board pressed to the ground? There is so little downward force that the board will be thrown in the air, its wheels will lose contact with the ground and then its done for.

    l2 common sense

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  53. From the xkcd tvtropes article:

    "It's Popular Now It Sucks (the above Hype Backlash)"
    Oh fuck you tvtropes.

    More like "It's Awful Now It Sucks".

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  54. Turns out that the only ones who are arguing that the board can in fact pull a horse are Randall and Anon 3:31. Interestingly, those are also the only two people who are suggesting that we should ignore stuff like friction.

    I guess we've figured out Anon's secret identity. How about some cunnilingus, Anon 3:31?

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  55. Tvtropes should change their name to animetropes.

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  56. Why? Because some tropes are anime-related, just like there are literature-related tropes?

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  57. The Same Proud TroperJuly 4, 2009 at 6:41 PM

    Oh, side note:

    Carl, do you hate TVTropes? Or is it just a few stupid commenters?

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  58. It's that they feel betrayed by TVTropes.

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  59. tvtropes is one of the sites that sends the most people to this blog - 30-60 people a day, actually. So it's tough for me to hate them for that reason. I'm not too into it so if the culture is annoying I haven't really noticed, but as far as I use it, I think it's a pretty fun site.

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  60. Yes! Just the word I was looking for! Fun! No matter the culture, you'll probably like something there, seeing as how some members are split...

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  61. back to the horse...

    The horse will move when its hooves begin to slip on the ground, occurring when enough forces act on them to overcome the static friction between the hooves and the ground. The 600 watts of Randall's board is pulling on the entire horse, while at the same time the horse is pushing its hooves against the ground, in the SAME direction (think about which way the horse is actually pushing). This is a total of about 1150 watts of power, or more than 1.5 horsepower.
    1150 watts = 1150 neuton-meters per second
    1150 watts / 0.24 m/s = 4600 N
    At an example speed of 0.25 meters per second (about 0.56 mph), the force dragging the horse's hooves along the ground is 4600 neutons. Now lets calculate the force of friction.
    F = N*µ (the normal force times the coefficient of friction)
    N = (mass of horse) * (acceleration due to gravity) +...
    In addition to the horses weight will also be the vertical component of the vector of the horse pushing against the ground. If the horse pushes against the ground with an angle of lets say... 30°, then N = 113kg*10m/s^2+(550W/0.25m/s)*sin30° = 1130N + 1100N = 2230N.

    So, it's 4600N vs. 2230N*µ. As long as µ has a value less than 2, the horse can be pulled at a speed of 0.25m/s (in case you didn't know, µ generally will have a value less than 1).

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  62. Troper:
    Because it's 77% animu shit and 14% of that is Hahuri shit.

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  63. 77% "animu", huh? Where did you get that number? And 14% of that is "Hahuri", right? Again, wrong.

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  64. Last I checked, "animu" aired on tv (mostly in Japan but whatever) and therefore fit for TV Tropes. But yes, the anime examples outnumber everything else.

    But nobody cares either. Fuck xkcd and it's absurd love over there.

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  65. It's true, there is a shitton of anime on tvtropes.

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  66. A Somewhat Calmer TroperJuly 5, 2009 at 1:31 PM

    It does air mainly in Japan, but Sat. nights it does in the states. Also, the US is supposed to get Animax one day...
    Oh, and yes: it does have a ton of anime-related stuff on TVTropes. But that's natural, because it's one of the easiest things to access online. And something HAS to outnumber everything else. Not to mention, there's a ton of anime in general.

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  67. "That was also a typoe."

    ... It's spelled "typo." Short for "typographical error." There is no e.

    Which made me laugh. A lot.

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  68. Also, in my experience, anime fans are much more likely to have watched a massive volume of anime films and thus be more able to identify some of its various tropes (and similar tropes in more mainstream etc).

    It's one of those things you get with certain varieties of nerd. Anime and comic book fans will have massive collections of various and disparate series; RPG fans have a tendency to amass vast quantities of books and supplements; etc etc.

    Many of the anime fans I know also seem to desire nothing more than to talk about anime with anyone and everyone they come in contact with.

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  69. A Troper Who Will, From Now On, Be Known As "Troper"July 5, 2009 at 10:52 PM

    Rob: Your experience serves you well.

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  70. @dragon2041: Congratulations, you got the joke.

    (Welcome!)

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  71. K: I'm not sure if you know this, but the average horse (going by thoroughbreds) weighs over 4600N

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  72. I watched my first live horserace two days ago

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  73. Amanda: Always good to have more fans (especially bettors). The sport isn't doing too well unfortunately. :/

    --(same Anon as above)

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  74. i'm not going to try to defend whatever it was i said 9 days ago, but as for a horse's weight i just kinda trusted google/wikipedia/Ed_O'Donoghue: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&client=safari&rls=en-us&q=weight+of+a+horse&aq=f&oq=&aqi=g3

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  75. Still no more than one comic. *sigh*

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