Thursday, December 10, 2009

Comic 673: Dark

The Son of all fears? or something? i don't even know
OK so John said he was guest posting this week but I haven't heard from him so I assume he is off finding a dinosaur to paint. ANYWAY let's see what this comic is.

OH what this comic is is shitty. surprise! Why, he's taken a simple thing - Daylight Savings Time - and gone and made it dramatic! Oh ho. Why, it's just what you did a few weeks ago! But this time it's...repetitive.

Apparently sometimes movies can be inaccurate or silly from a scientific point of view. Now you or I, we might look past this. We might say, "oh, well, that's ok. I know the Sun doesn't work like that. Oh well. Maybe I can look past it and enjoy the film." Now sometimes this suspension is just too basic to the story, so you can't do it. Like here. . But sometimes it's just incidental, so who cares? The only people who would be sarcastic and bitter about it are tools, people who want you to know that oh, well actually they know the science and actually the movie is wrong. It's basically the usual scientific elitism that xkcd does all the time. The two smaller stick figures in panel 1 are the stand in for Randall 'n' his smart friends, sarcastically mocking their superior, who shouldn't even be their superior because they are smarter than her but they forgot the fundamental rule of xkcd-world, which is that the women are in charge, dammit.

Deep breaths.

I don't even get what this comic is trying for - is it mocking serious movie versions of simple things, or is it just mocking The Core and using a simple pun as the title? Whichever it's trying to be, cramming the other one in there is distracting. I think the alt-text implies that it's the former, incidentally.

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links links links links! let's go!
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Remember all the shit we gave xkcd for its creepy-as-fuck robot boyfriends comics? I feel it is therefore my duty to point out today's Amazing Super Powers, though I won't comment much on it: All I'll say is that I like it more than the xkcd, because it's far more tasteful and of course better executed.

If you click on only one link today, click on this one: CLICK IT, FOOL. I don't know why I haven't seen it before, but it's a (super long) interview with Ryan North that's completely fascinating. To all those people who think Dinosaur Comics is lame and lazy because it uses the same images over and over, read that interview. Ryan North is a person who completely understands the medium of webcomics, and works hard every day on his own comic. I particularly like the part about using punctuation, and how it can be tricky to express exactly the cadences of verbal speech when you are writing it down.

Sometimes I think Moe and the xkcd blog are in a race to see who can update slower. But then moe goes and does something like the current comic and I just go "awwww moe, you can get away with anything you want. You lovable little fucker you."

Kate Beaton's site is still down! What is up with that? You can still read the new comics on her livejournal but man it is not the same, and no one seems worried but me!

update: jay points out that after he recent hosting problems, she is now at harkavagrant.com. I probably should have known that, oh well. I'm still calling the comic "Kate Beaton's History Comics" no matter what, though. Unless she asks me not to, i would do anything she said.

Lastly, those of you who love me very much and want to show your appreciation, which is all of you, obviously, y'all should buy me this for Winter Holidays. E-mail me if you are wealthy and we will Work Something Out.

109 comments:

  1. I actually thought that the pun was pretty funny, but then I love puns, and I know not everyone does. If he had simply set up the punchline and then executed it this would have worked better, though, rather than taking a cliche'd dig at scientifically inaccurate Hollywood movies.

    (Kate Beaton also posts all her comics, including the ones that don't make it to her livejournal, to her twitter. But I am a tool who has twitter so maybe you should ignore this paragraph.)

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  2. As far as I know katebeaton.com is down for good. She just moved to harkavagrant.com.

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  3. So Randall make a comic demonstrating his failure to realize that The Core is already a semi-parody of movies like The Core. That's kind of funny, however unintentional.

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  4. Guys, we all know that XKCD is canonically opposed to computational linguistics. But according to that article, Ryan North has a PhD in computational linguistics.

    If you force me to choose between XKCD and Ryan North, I will look at you funny, because it is inconceivable that a sane person would prefer the former. Yes, I am saying that anybody who likes XKCD is either ignorant or pathologically (possibly criminally) insane. This is not a hyperbole or exaggeration. This is the sheer, literal truth of the matter.

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  5. Yeah "movies are scientifically inaccurate sometimes!" is a shitty joke, but Carl, did you SEE The Core?

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  6. what? Come on The Core was an awesome film if our world worked that way. If only Armageddon was as awesome as The Core was

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  7. Friday: Didn't Randall do this EXACT COMIC only less shitty a long time ago?

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  8. The latest XKCD made me furrow my brow a bit. Obviously, we're supposed to suspend our disbelief pretty extensively. What, they didn't know that sex makes babies, and that a woman's pregnancy precedes an infant? Okay whatever, fine, let's suspend our disbelief. What do we get out of this? ... I don't even know. It frustrates me because I don't even understand what the joke is supposed to be. So, I am annoyed that Randall wrote a comic that I don't get. The alt-text doesn't help, because I don't know enough stats to be sure if I just don't understand how that's a sample bias or if Randall's using the term wrong.

    Oh, I know! This is social commentary on starving Africans, who keep having babies even though there isn't enough food to feed babies. Randall is scathingly indicting their poor education and tendency to "do what comes naturally" which leads to too many babies. So obvious.

    One thing that I'm sure annoys me is this comis is that Randall acts like he's all experienced and sage and knows all about the human condition, when he's a single twenty-something who's worked one job and now sells T-shirts professionally. It's like 519 or 557 where it's like "Really, Randall? Who the fuck are you to give us life advice like you're some fucking expert? Pretentious cumdumpster." In this case, it's like "What the fuck, Randall, do you have to say about parenthood and reproduction?"

    ====

    @harrison - You're probably thinking of 441.

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  9. @Femalethoth
    I think the most worrying thing is that their child is old enough to stand and form whole words and they've only just noticed it.

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  10. @Kansas - You stupid fucker, you're not supposed to worry about that! Aren't you capable of SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF? Obviously you entertain the notion that these parents are stellarly ignorant of their own sexual/reproductive affairs for the sake of the JOKE

    ...

    Any minute now, an angry Cuddlefish will berate me for not getting the joke, and hopefully in the process will illuminate to me what that joke actually is.

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  11. This comment box is being stupid.

    Anyway, you can see Kate Beaton's comics on Hark, a vagrant. I think they're the same ones as on her lj but whatever...

    673 was a cute pun but wasn't really all that exciting. 674 on the other hand confuses the hell out of me. The baby going "baby" moments after its birth (and it can stand upright too!) doesn't make any sense. At first I thought that maybe they somehow adopted a child without realizing it, but instead it seems that they don't seem to understand how they keep giving birth to super babies that can walk immediately and be born without them even being aware of it.

    That woman must have noticed if she were actually pregnant so maybe the children time travel or something. It's about as believable as silent tools >.>

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  12. it's like you dumb faggots have just chosen to think that every xkcd should be firmly rooted in reality. if you're going to have a site dedicated to criticizing xkcd, learn how to criticize the comics without falling back to that hackneyed fucking point.

    the alt-text almost got a grin from me, but the comic itself was lacking. i won't say anymore as i'm sure you geniuses will enlighten us all on how it copies previous xkcd ideas and requires too much suspension of disbelief.

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  13. you make a compelling neckbeard

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  14. I sort of assumed "Baby!" was like a label, so that we wouldn't think it was a little person. Because Randy can't draw. But the baby talking actually does make MORE sense.

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  15. Friday's xkcd was lol funny.

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  16. @Mal:

    Actually, the comic that establishes xkcd's opposition to compositional linguistics specifically mentions Ryan North in the alt-text. I think it's more of a friendly attack on Dino Comics than anything else.

    Source: http://xkcd.com/114/
    Sauce: Light marinara.

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  17. Oh, and I laughed at today's comic. Not because it was good by any stretch of the imagination. Because it was pathetic. So pathetic, in fact, I'm beginning to suspect it takes SKILL to suck as hard as this comic does - like a kid who manages to get every question wrong on a scantron test, it's like it avoids humor at all costs.

    I've seen this blog complain a lot about unrealistic dialogue in xkcd, and there is no better example of it than in panel 1. A baby that has the word "baby" in his/her vocabulary? The ability to identify oneself is, according to reputable psychological sources, fucking complicated. Ignoring the fact that babies take a while to develop the abilities of, say, STANDING and SPEAKING, they would not learn the word "BABY" and repeat it mindlessly! They learn words based on external objects or people like, say, mama and papa. How would a baby know what he/she is? This takes unrealistic dialogue to an entirely new PLANE of existence.

    So assuming the baby isn't as old as seems to be implied in the first panel, assuming he/she has been around long enough to learn a) standing, b) talking, c) self-identification, why did it take his parents so long to start panicking? Name any plot revolving around unwanted pregnancy and you'll note the couple starts panicking as soon as the woman pees on a stick and it comes out positive. Where have these people been? On vacation? Did they forget they had a baby? Did they try to hide it away, keeping themselves in denial? Did they LOSE it?

    And of all the things that could follow the overused line "Let's do what comes naturally," I think this was, by far, the worst possible one Mr. Munroe could have chosen. I don't care if the last panel had them swinging through trees, naked, living amongst the monkeys or some shit like that. Another baby appears out of nowhere, after the simple transition of "Soon"? Shouldn't that be at LEAST "Later"? "Soon"? He just time-warped us through conception, pregnancy, childbirth, and learning to stand upright IN BETWEEN TWO PANELS. During which, presumably, the parents forgot they had a child again?

    If they're this identity-confused and reality-impaired, shouldn't they both be wearing berets?

    ARRRRGH

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  18. No. It is a declaration of literal war. Randall "Anti-Ryan North" Munroe has made incontestably clear that he hates the very thought of Ryan North, perhaps the greatest Internet Web Comedian of our day--even of our age. Randall Munhoe is raising an army of bad people who will assault Ryan North, and it is our solemn duty to stop him. Randall Manbloe cannot be allowed to live.

    King Neckbeard -- If you're going to yell at us for not suspending our disbelief sufficiently, please tell us what the hell we're supposed to be suspending it for. A comic whose entire existence is a string of unrealistic events that do not build up to a joke of any kind is...pretty bad, I think. If I wanted to suspend my disbelief qua suspension itself, I would read random speculative fiction.

    Furthermore, I can only assume that your disregard for the distinction between realism and verisimilitude is deliberate. I will say this many times:

    With art, as with writing, reality is the default. Deviation from reality is done deliberately and with reason.

    This is not to say that all deviation from realism is bad. It is to say that deviation is not done randomly or arbitrarily, but as a specific element of the work of art or writing to improve that work. When an artist develops a style, the changes he makes from the world as he perceives it are for the sake of some aesthetic goal. Does Randall have a goal, for the pursuit of which he deviates from reality? Or is he simply incompetent and unable to accurately represent reality, much less deliberately distort it for the sake of his artistic ends?

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  19. If they're this identity-confused and reality-impaired, shouldn't they both be wearing berets?

    STOOPID CRITIC, their identity-confusion and reality-impairedness is just part of your disbelief that you have to suspend! ONLY when you have shed your BLATANT bias against XKCD will you be able to understand the TRULY AWESOME joke at the heart of this comic.

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  20. Meh, yeah they're both making fun of shitty movie trends, but I'd hardly say "stealing shit from your childhood" and "shitty disaster movies" are the same joke. I wouldn't have paired the two so close in time though, if I was gonna make both.

    Also, I'm pretty sure anyone who took science in high school would actually know the science was kind of, well, bad in this. Which was just one of the points he was making here. Also, there are no ugly scientists, somehow.

    I mean, don't get me wrong, it's like he just went to TV tropes and distilled a few articles on bad disaster movies, but it's not like he was telling someone the math in a Beautiful Mind or Good Will Hunting is wrong.

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  21. I think you're being a little harsh on the baby there. It doesn't seem particularly out of the ordinary for a comic to have a twee touch like that at the bottom of a panel.

    But the whole not knowing pregnant bit = lack of verisimilOH GOD I promised myself if I ever said verisimilitude I would know it was time to kill myself

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  22. The new comic is the worst since drawing a vagina. I felt like stabbing over the internet again... leave those feelings lie, nothing good can come of it.

    *** red closes in ***

    Ooooh, substab as a captcha, teh internet can read my mind!

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  23. lol monkeys all copying each other

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  24. Todays comic was funny, made me lol, your obsession with realism is wierd.

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  25. The woman, as one echochamber commenter wryly states, has clearly just given birth to a new species of Pokemon.

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  26. - Oh man, we made a baby.
    - Don't panic. Don't panic.
    - Parenting can't be that hard. Let's just do what comes naturally.
    SOON:
    - That's one hell of an act! What do you call it?

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  27. Carl, explain to me this. How can you like that Moe comic when you recently wrote:

    "Oh my goodness! The stick man is writing where he was told not to! And there are crazily extreme consequences for this minor action! Get it? Because they are disproportionate! Oh my, I am struggle to type through my tears of laughter and soon I will have laughed so hard that my body will be lying on the ground, twitching, in a joyous state of pure humorous glee."

    Moe is consistently shitty (still not as sucky as xkcd).

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  28. Did anyone else notice that Daylight Savings Time has pretty much the exact same plot as Sunshine? Which kinda takes the sting out of the comic since I enjoyed the hell out of sunshine, regardless of how bad the science may be. Of course, I'm not a colossal douche, unlike Randy

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  29. @ Realist

    Sorry I let you down so often! :C

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  30. The new comic? Urgh. I think the only way in which this could be REMOTELY funny is to show how Randall himself is completely inept and has no idea of how that crazy "parenting" thing works. But again, that's only remotely, barely funny. Really? I honestly don't get the point. If Randall has no idea how parenting works, that's not funny. That's just sad.

    I think the Moe comic shows well HOW suspension of disbelief should come into play for humourous effect. This kind of humour depends on the author going further than the reader expects it to go, and it's tough to do that well. I won't say that strip is the Holy Grail of such thing, but it already succeeds at what xkcd fails.

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  31. Oooh, those philosophers on the forums:

    "It's kinda sad that this is how things work most of the time..."

    Yeah, isn't it? It's really sad that so many people, even though they are barely able to take care of ONE child, end up making more than one; and it takes an ULTRA-WISE genius like RANDALL to point that out in a poignant, biting way! Because he knows EXACTLY how human interactions and parenting are, given his solid background in being a "quirky scientist" who finds it hilarious that people make so much drama over love and sex because they are, lol, COMPLICATED! Lol!

    Lol, those quirky scientists are like SO lolly-lol lol! They are SO quirky that they don't make good parents, even though they're supposed to be so smart and cool. Lol!

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  32. As a fan of noscensical and silly humour, I really liked the last one. Where's the fun in realism or accuracy anyways?

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  33. I think that the joke in 674 is pretty clear. It's not really any sort of commentary on parenting, it's just a basic 'interpret a statement completely literally' joke. According to the comic, 'do what comes naturally' is common parenting advice. So the parents did 'what comes naturally' which, being Xkcd, means of course having sex. Which produces another baby. So not only have they done the wrong thing by taking the advice literally, it has 'hilarious' consequences which only compound their problems. I don't think that the joke is fantastic, but nor do I think it's utterly dreadful.

    I do agree though that the set up is totally clunky. It seems to me that he was aiming for a zany/quirky set up with them 'just' realising they have a baby, but it just seems stupid. A better set up could have framed the joke, as it were, much better.

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  34. You think that silent tools in a comic requires more suspension of disbelief than using a nuke to restart the Earth's core? I think someone's just a bit biased...

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  35. Carl,
    That "critique" really sucked.

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  36. Anon 549,

    That "post" was really dumb.

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  37. Carl, whenever you start talking about "scientific elitism," I almost hope that you are going to seriously off the deep end and start talking about the gold standard, global cooling, faith healing, and stockpiling toilet paper for the End Times -- almost. But it would really shake things up around here, at least.

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  38. "I think that the joke in 674 is pretty clear. It's not really any sort of commentary on parenting, it's just a basic 'interpret a statement completely literally' joke. According to the comic, 'do what comes naturally' is common parenting advice. So the parents did 'what comes naturally' which, being Xkcd, means of course having sex. Which produces another baby. So not only have they done the wrong thing by taking the advice literally, it has 'hilarious' consequences which only compound their problems."

    My reading of the comic was the same. Alt-text was okay (would have been better without the pun), comic itself was bad.

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  39. If they were really to do what came naturally, they'd be too busy giving/receiving head and killing the baby by putting it in a frictionless bubble or some such thing to make another one.

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  40. Is it just me, or is the entire premise behind the Sunshine ripoff is "I, RanDULL, know that it is Daylight Saving Time and not Daylight SavingS Time. I am awesome. You must love me."

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  41. "...Lastly, those of you who love me very much and want to show your appreciation, which is all of you..."

    Do you, perhaps, have a pet bunny and a very large cauldron?

    Innit?

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  42. Wee... First time posting, although that's irrelevant.

    Anyway, today's comic was yet another in a long line of "meh" comics for me. The only reason I got a chuckle out of it was because the parents were so stupid in it. Beyond that, I couldn't see much of a joke (Although now I can kinda see what the joke is thanks to coming here).

    I do consider myself an XKCD fan, but with all these comics that are coming out, my like for XKCD is turning into something more like "I hope today's comic will be good". rather than "I can't wait to see today's comic!"

    Oh, and disconnected heads in today's comic in panels 1, 3, and 4. How hard is it to draw a line!?

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  43. I don't see what the big deal is concerning the disconnected heads.

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  44. What's funnier is there is no new comic for Friday. Lulz.

    -Anonymous Bastard

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  45. Today's comic didn't really do it for me, but the alt text literally made me laugh out loud. Stats is always good for a laugh.

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  46. I admit I liked the DST pun. That's pretty much all I liked in it, though. =/

    Now, today's comic has just reached WTF levels. The man has his floating head in every panel, the punchline makes little sense, the baby saying "Baby!" like a Pokemon... I'm still forming a coherent thought about this, and I think it won't be good.

    Meanwhile, I'll read those other comments.

    CAPTCHA: ingeter. I almost wrote "integer" instead...

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  47. I agree with mos people here that XKCD has seen better days, but the author of this post did not get the joke. It's daylight saving time, not savingS. I thought it makes fun of people who call DST daylight saving time.

    That doesn't mean the joke was any good.

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  48. The Daylight Saving Time comic is just the plot premise of Sunshine, or that one episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog with a pun as the title. That's it.

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  49. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  50. @Anon 9:06

    He's drawing stick figures. It would take literally seconds of effort to not look like a third grader.

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  51. to be honest, carl, I think you're reading too much into it. Read this comic again, but instead of "Coming to you from the makers of The Core" substitute "Coming soon to theaters near you." It's a great buildup that way, leaving you utterly confused until the last second, when it kind of surprises you. I thought it was well-done.

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  52. i really enjoyed the last panel of this comic. the setup was pretty badly done, but i felt like it had a more lighthearted mood than usual, if that makes sense.

    and the baby comic was just sort of blah.

    captcha: eggamat. oh man that sounds delicious, like 12 eggs scrambled together and slowly fried.

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  53. also: SQUISHABLES OMG I HAVE ALWAYS WANTED ONE

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  54. @Mal:

    I think that xkcd comics do suspend disbelief for the purpose of delivering jokes. Whether this is done deliberately or out of laziness is not entirely clear; I would say it's typically out of laziness, as it tends to be pointed out WITH BIG FUCKING BOLD LETTERS TO INDICATE IT TO HIS LEGION OF RETARD FANS whenever he attempts to employ it deliberately.
    So either way, he's doing it for the purpose of a joke, and this blog would be better off addressing the shortcomings in the joke rather than the fact that his jokes always require fantastical situations.

    The only exception being his trademark Randall dialogue, which should always be mocked out of principle.

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  55. @King Neckbeard -- Okay, awesome. Please clarify to me what the joke of today's comic is, because I still don't get it.

    to be honest, carl, I think you're reading too much into it. Read this comic again, but instead of "Coming to you from the makers of The Core" substitute "Coming soon to theaters near you." It's a great buildup that way, leaving you utterly confused until the last second, when it kind of surprises you. I thought it was well-done.

    Or, rather, it WOULD'VE BEEN well-done if it had been done the way you suggested. It's not well-done if the way of doing it well is different from what he actually did.

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  56. @Mal

    The joke in today's comic was the incongruity between how the reader (and the characters) first interpret "what comes naturally" and what it turns out to mean. I will give it to you guys that it's hard to make fun of this particular strip because even though it's a reasonably well-executed joke (outside of the standard xkcd dialogue and art, I'm only talking about the joke), the problem is that the joke simply isn't all that funny. The alt-text joke is typical xkcd nerd humor because it's making a joke on how severe the statistical bias is on making statements about your ancestors' ability to procreate. I can't really explain why that's funny other than being a sort of "in joke" for math nerds.

    I found neither the comic nor the alt-text to be all that funny, but I guess I sort of grinned at the alt-text.

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  57. Femalemoth pontificates:

    "...@King Neckbeard -- Okay, awesome. Please clarify to me what the joke of today's comic is, because I still don't get it...."

    Ermmm.....
    Ahhhh....

    How does one clarify 'to' someone? Should it not be clarify 'for' someone?
    Now, is today's commic itself a joke or is there a joke to be found 'in' the comic? Both I reckon but your prose stipulates the former only.
    Being as I am a fucking dumbarse I would have phrased your penultimate sentence thusly:

    "Please clarify for me what the joke in (and/or 'of') today's comic is because I still don't get it."

    Innit?

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  58. Shite!
    After posting that comment I'm now missing an 'm'.
    Doncha hate when that happens?

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  59. What the fuck are you talking about? I wanted Neckbeard to tell me why 674 is supposed to be funny.

    If it really is the "do what comes naturally" incongruity... Ugh. I don't think this is a bad joke well-executed, or a good joke poorly-executed, just a bad joke poorly-executed.

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  60. I still don't get the joke of the baby comic. I can't. It refuses to be understood.

    I'd like to believe daniel daniel's post that the joke is that they take the statement "do what comes naturally" to mean "have sex again." Except that they already did that once and got a baby from it, and they'd have to be the stupidest, densest people in the world to not know that having sex produces babies, and would thus make the problem worse.

    This is of course assuming that they somehow made it to their adult lives without ever learning once that sex can produce children, which you'd be hard-pressed to make me believe, and even if THAT was true for some reason you'd think that the pregnancy would probably tip them off.

    Unless these are the two kids from Blue Lagoon, who were stranded on an island when they were like 6 years old and so don't know anything. Hell I guess they could be, it's not like Randall drew any fucking backgrounds or details or well...ANYTHING.

    Although the baby saying "Baby!" is kind of amusing to a degree, that somehow the baby passed right by the standard "mama" and "papa" or even "cookie" and somehow became self-aware before it could even walk. Of course I also like the theory that it's supposed to be a label to show the audience "Hey this is a baby you guys" as a sort of admission that "My artwork sure is shitty!"

    Also the thing about the alt-text being a joke to math nerds because "Ha ha your ancestors is a huge statistical bias!" doesn't even work unless there's only one man and one woman in the entire world and they're brother and sister.

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  61. Nate, I agree that the set up is really pretty awful and presents a thoroughly mediocre joke in a very poor way, but I really don't think that the comic is supposed to suggest any deep thinking about parenting. It seems more like Randall encountered the phrase 'do what comes naturally' as a piece of advice and had the 'hilarious' thought that, 'hey if I really did what comes naturally to me it wouldn't solve the problem at all!' and then tried to shoehorn that into a parenting situation, allowing him to emphasise the fleshly desires of the Xkcd cast. I don't think it's a problem in general that to make a joke on taking advice literally requires the suspension of some pretty basic thinking skills, but 674 just makes a total hash of the presentation.

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  62. Ok people, read the latest xkcd explained because it is kinda dark and funny at the same time.

    I have commented recently on how I thought the whole point of their existence was to simply explain what was happening in each xkcd for those who missed a couple points along the way but I found it entertaining, to say the least, every time they would colour their explanations with little comments basically spelling out either how much of an idiot Randall is because he can't explain or he doesn't actually know what he's talking about or them calling him a hack because of those.

    In short, ladies and gentlemen, it would appear that Tody, Dave and Ian are counting the days when xkcd will finally close down (for what reasons, who knows)

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  63. daniel daniel: I thought that the "do what comes naturally" thing meant having more sex just like you did, but still... It'd be better if the stick figure mother was at least pregnant at the end instead of somehow having a tinier baby...

    aloria: Your response literally made me laugh out loud. The comic would have been darker, but more hilarious if they had stuck the baby in a frictionless vacuum.

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  64. browsing through this forum, the thing i don't get is this: the comic is free and nobody forces you to read xkcd. some days are good, some days are bad -- if randall's comic/joke/whatever quality goes down, people will notice and stop reading the comics. the whole system regulates itself.

    and then i find this bunch of people (that is you and some other freaks, carl) that do seem to be on a quasi-religious quest to prove that xkcd sucks.

    what do you expect? the only really thing i can deduce from all this is: randall has a certain amount of success with a level of quality that you do not deem sufficient. so you bash xkcd in whichever ways you find to your disposal. that might cause a certain satisfaction, but, frankly, it is also HUGELY ineffective.

    if you earnestly believe that one should do something about the xkcd situation, stop ranting and deliver your own comic. be a real threat, a real challenge and a real competitor. spread the profit.

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  65. oh man you guys i'm totally inspired now i'm gonna make my own comic and you will all love it

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  66. i already tried making my own comic but it was unrelentingly awful because it was inspired solely by hate, jealousy, and resentment.

    it turns out that if you don't like something, criticism is a much more valid route to take than competition.

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  67. Let me start with your final claim:

    "if you earnestly believe that one should do something about the xkcd situation, stop ranting and deliver your own comic. be a real threat, a real challenge and a real competitor. spread the profit."

    See, the problem here is the webcomics business is an effectively unlimited market. It is not a choice of reading one or the other--you can just read both. And it's seldom a choice of "well, I can only buy five t-shirts, I will buy them all from this comic." Webcomics benefit from collective advertising. This is why you have places like Topatoco. Collective profit.

    The number of successful webcomics has only grown over the years. Maybe there will eventually be one that is so brilliant it drives all the others out of business, but I doubt it.

    Back to the rest of your post.

    "if randall's comic/joke/whatever quality goes down, people will notice and stop reading the comics. the whole system regulates itself."

    This is true of egregious errors, but for the most part people do not examine their tastes very carefully. A comic can continue to suck for a very long time before someone finally gives up and stops reading. This is because of a fairly simple little shortcut our brains take: if we have decided that we like something, we interpret it as favorably as possible unless given a reason not to.

    There are several cases on this blog where people have come to realize that xkcd is, in fact, terrible. Most regulars here still read, of course, but that is mitigated by a few factors. First: remembering that webcomics are primarily supported through merchandise and occasionally donations, those who no longer like XKCD are unlikely to continue to support it--so his income is reduced. (I just purchased several t-shirts online. If I were still an XKCD fan I bet one of them would be among the comics represented.)

    Second: assuming people click the links from here, "xkcd sucks" will now appear prominently on his Google Analytics, which will remind him that we exist and hopefully drive him to improve.

    Third: the odds we are generating new traffic--ie traffic he would not have had without the blog existing--are very nearly nonexistent.

    "and then i find this bunch of people (that is you and some other freaks, carl) that do seem to be on a quasi-religious quest to prove that xkcd sucks."

    Much like all critics, our intention is to criticize, and when people argue with those criticisms, we defend our points. Our intention is also to complain, because XKCD sucks and it gives us pleasure to make fun of it.

    "randall has a certain amount of success with a level of quality that you do not deem sufficient."

    Yes.

    "so you bash xkcd in whichever ways you find to your disposal."

    If by "whichever ways you find to your disposal" you mean "commenting on/writing for a fairly isolated blog," then yes. Maybe you missed the memo, but blogging is pretty big these days--hardly extreme.

    "that might cause a certain satisfaction, but, frankly, it is also HUGELY ineffective."

    I have sort of already covered this, but really, we're not trying to be effective. We're trying to have fun. So, sure, it's ineffective. There is no really effective way to put a business out of business.

    Oh, and one last thing you said: "the comic is free and nobody forces you to read xkcd."

    It is free, yes--if we had to pay for it we wouldn't read it.

    But to say that nobody forces us to read it is dubious at best. It is true that nobody is holding a gun to our heads. But XKCD is insidious. It is referenced in a lot of blogs that I follow. My friends share it and talk about it. I couldn't avoid XKCD if I wanted to. I figure I might as well derive some pleasure from it instead of just being annoyed by it when someone thinks it is worth my time.

    You seem to assume that reading it causes us some great anguish, rather than giving us cause to amuse ourselves by making fun of it. I'm not sure why it's so difficult to understand: the reason people do things is because they want to.

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  68. No, Rob. The reason we do things is because we HATE RANDALL with all our guts, and are TOO STOOPID to realize the greatness of XKCD. Or, rather, we do realize the greatness of XKCD, but because we are spiteful, miserable people, we pretend not to and instead make criticisms and so forth because we are so petty and bad.

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  69. Whoa, didn't think someone as stupid as you could say something so correct.

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  70. Cuddlefish, cuddlefish, they make me wish to have cuttlefish for dinner. That must be delicious!

    "randall has a certain amount of success with a level of quality that you do not deem sufficient."

    Hah! My friend, THAT is an understatement! The difference between Randall's success and the quality of his work is akin to the difference in mass of the Sun and Mercury!

    "if you earnestly believe that one should do something about the xkcd situation, stop ranting and deliver your own comic. be a real threat, a real challenge and a real competitor."

    Hm... yeah. You know how many webcomics I read? 35. Like Rob said, there's no such thing as "competition" in websites, since the web, unlike television or movie theaters, has no time-based programming(not mostly, at least). If I don't read a comic today, I can read it tomorrow; and if I read comic A, it doesn't mean I'll have to miss comic B.

    "and then i find this bunch of people (that is you and some other freaks, carl) that do seem to be on a quasi-religious quest to prove that xkcd sucks."

    What a coincidence, we also find this bunch of people (that is you and some other freaks, Cuddlefish) that do seem to be on an almost religious quest to prove this site is wrong. Good times, eh?

    ------------
    Now, stupid and bland cuddlefish annoy me, I'd like them to be creative, or at least try to... But, then again, they are xkcd fans, it's not like they have an example to follow...

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  71. You people are stupid, right? (I'm talking about the parenting comic) Realism? Really? Do you honestly think that the situation here is that, literally, they didn't know she was pregnant and suddenly they noticed the baby. Really?

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  72. I saw the new comic, and I saw BABY!

    My eyes narrowed- and the fires of rage brewed an ichor of hate in my mind-

    Sometimes I don't mind XKCD, today is not one of those days-

    The entire punchline is HURR DURR I LIEK SECKS!

    I honestly don't see how Randall can be considered sentient after professing such a monodimensional outlook on life-

    PokéBaby does nothing for this comic either

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  73. After a checking this site every so often for a couple of weeks, I figured out what bothers me. I personally like XKCD, but I have no problem with people disliking it. Thats not really my problem.

    The thing that makes me think badly of (some of) you guys is how much you hate the guy making the comics. Not just because he makes XKCD, but because you think he is a genuinely horrible person without ever having met him. I can get disliking the comic, but hating the creator seems to be going a little far.

    I am now ready to be called a cuddlefish and bashed for liking a webcomic you don't. Yipee.

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  74. after reading the interview (thank you Carl) the amazing superpowers hidden comic here http://www.amazingsuperpowers.com/ee/2008-12-07.jpg was somewhat disappointing.
    O NORTH AMERICANS AND THEIR ALL CAPS writing.

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  75. I don't think anyone here actually hates Randall, 10:03. It's mostly tongue-in-cheek (well, except for Fernie...)

    Julian: The premise is unbelievably stupid. Seems like a rush-job.

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  76. You people are stupid, right? (I'm talking about the parenting comic) Realism? Really? Do you honestly think that the situation here is that, literally, they didn't know she was pregnant and suddenly they noticed the baby. Really?

    Okay, well, help us out then and explain what IS going on? Seriously, it's all well and good for you to go STOOPID CRITIX YOU CLEARLY DONT GET IT but it would be kind of fucking helpful if you would go on to explain what it is we're supposed to get.

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  77. you guys cuddlefish wasn't meant to be used in a derogatory manner you guys, it isn't nice to take a perfectly good term and make it insulting you guys, it is a friendly way to refer to anonymous posters you guys

    you guys come on

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  78. "Okay, well, help us out then and explain what IS going on..."

    See, I don't know why you guys are like this. You're just being over-picky. We all know what is going on, and you know it. It's just a stupid caricature about a, as you guys have said it, not very remarkable observation about parenting.

    My point was that you can't just conform with a simple "Meh, this kind of visual presentation is not appealing to me". You've got to go on and say, "OMG RANDALL IS STUPID, EVERYBODY KNOWS BABIES CAN'T TALK" DUH! It's obvious that this comic is not depicting a situation that would arise in real life.

    The way I understand it: this strip's humor comes precisely from the way it is presented. As far as I'm concerned, saying "Oh, look X" maybe accompained by visual gags and then "Geez, I hope Y" followed by scene cut to create irony, are valid structures used in a comedy script, (or in this case, as the whole sketch). I am sure it is not the first time you see them.

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  79. By "scene cut" I mean: cut to "scene depicting the opposite of Y"

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  80. And yet, oddly, in Julian's response to Femalethoth, at no point in time did he explain what there was to get. Just, "You're being over-picky, you KNOW what the joke is, you just don't want to admit it."

    Um, no, we DON'T know what the joke is. I have a feeling you don't know what it is either, but you're such a slavish xkcd fanboy that you pretend to get the joke so you can talk down to us.

    So again. What is the joke? Where is the humor coming from in this baby comic? What is the punchline? Please, enlighten me.

    "It's obvious that this comic is not depicting a situation that would arise in real life."

    No shit! What does that have to do with its total lack of humor?

    xkcd 12 is one of my favorite xkcd strips of all time. It also does not depict a situation that would arise in real life. Yet it is actually funny. There is a joke there.

    So now you can stop using "Ha ha ur dumb for thinking realistic thats y u dont get it" and try to explain the joke now. IF YOU CAN.

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  81. Okay. So, you're admitting that Randall is creating an absurd situation, wholly devoid of verisimilitude, for the sake of a really shitty joke?

    It's obvious that this comic is not depicting a situation that would arise in real life.

    And it's ALSO not depicting a situation that's remotely funny, so it fails on SEVERAL fronts.

    The way I understand it: this strip's humor comes precisely from the way it is presented. As far as I'm concerned, saying "Oh, look X" maybe accompained by visual gags and then "Geez, I hope Y" followed by scene cut to create irony, are valid structures used in a comedy script, (or in this case, as the whole sketch). I am sure it is not the first time you see them.

    The entire setup of "Boy I hope XXXX doesn't happen!" followed by a quick cut to a scene of XXXX happening seems really lazy and contrived to me. HURR DURR IT'S FUNNY BECAUSE IT SUBVERTS THE CHARACTER'S EXPECTATIONS.

    "Boy, I hope I don't get stung to death by bees!"

    CUT TO: Tombstone, labelled FEMALETHOTH 1991-2009, STUNG TO DEATH BY BEES

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  82. Oh, big surprise, Mr. B student!

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  83. Man, this blog sucks hard! Dont open your mouth, only fart comes out!

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  84. Rob, that wasn't aimed at you, that was aimed at stupid mal

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  85. I thought this one was actually pretty good.

    This sight is getting out of hand.

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  86. hahahah. my sight is out of hand! guess i am not this guy

    (don't click if you are easily scared like me)

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  87. This comment box does suck XD.. I lost everything I wrote... Ok here it goes again:

    "you're such a slavish xkcd fanboy you pretend to get the joke"
    No, I don't actually like xkcd. I'm commenting on this on the same grounds that Carl made the blog ("I must save humanity from bad critique" :P).

    "so what is the joke, explain it if you can, what is the punchline etc"
    As I said, I think it has to do with the structure. See the tvtropes entry for "Ironic Echo Cut" to see where I'm coming from. And why do you people always want the strip to have a punchline? Why do you always want a typical "joke" (setup-punchline) structure? There are other types of humor, you know.

    "no shit! (that it doesn't depict a real situation)
    Well, I stressed on that because some people seemed to think it did.

    "so you're saying Randall created a situation devoid of verosimilitude to create a shitty joke?"
    I wouldn't say it is devoid of verosimilitude. It is there. The observation about parenting is real. But yes, I never said it was actually good, it is a shitty "joke" (as you call it).

    Bottom line: I think you were criticizing it from a wrong approach, and were ranting way much more than needed.

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  88. "This comment box does suck XD.."

    Something we can agree on.

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  89. http://scribs.us/?125
    My favorite part is that the alt-text inspired me to do a quick check, and the second integral is significantly easier than the first. It turns out to be ln (x² + x) + C

    ====

    As I said, I think it has to do with the structure. See the tvtropes entry for "Ironic Echo Cut" to see where I'm coming from. And why do you people always want the strip to have a punchline? Why do you always want a typical "joke" (setup-punchline) structure? There are other types of humor, you know.

    We don't always want the strip to have a punchline, but it would be really nice if each update had something recognizably humorous. Or otherwise worthwhile. Why do you think we always want a typical setup-punchline structure? Is it because it's more easier to pretend the things we say are wrong or unjustified if you misrepresent our criticisms?

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  90. It really seems to me like you guys are over-complicating it. Julian, I'm not sure where you're coming from in terms of structure -- the comic doesn't employ the ironic echo cut as explained by tvtropes. The 'joke' seems a pretty straightforward case of an overly literal interpretation of an instruction. Like, presumably, most parents, they are a bit anxious about the right way to raise their child. Common parenting advice is presumably to 'do what feels natural'. This advice, of course, is intended to be taken in the context of regular parental things, but the characters take it too literally, and do whatever comes naturally just in general. Which, consistent with Xkcd's obsession, is having sex -- hilarity! Moreover, this has the mirthful unintended consequence of compounding their problems by doubling their flock.

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  91. And I explained earlier how "they have sex because that's what comes natural" doesn't make any sense, hence why there is continued confusion as to what the joke is on my end.

    Compounded by the fact that the first kid they have didn't, y'know, die before the second one popped out, meaning they already HAD figured out how to be a parent unless their baby really is a superbaby that knew how to feed and clothe and take care of itself while the parents were doing who knows what. In which case why would they say "Aw crap?" They already figured it out, thus FURTHER proving that your explanation cannot be the joke.

    Unless in the xkcd universe stick figure babies come out of the womb about two minutes after having sex with no pregnancy involved. Then I could accept your explanation. However I would then say that's a stupid setup and the strip gives no indication that this is the case anyway.

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  92. Damn I misused the phrase "In which case" up there, I should have said "unless this is the case." This is what I get for trying to do three things at once.

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  93. Nate: People really are dumb enough accidentally have a kid and then immediately afterwards accidentally have another one. I know couples who have done it.

    Also, there is a huge difference between being a "good parent" and being able to keep a baby alive. xkcd characters often express I'm-not-ready-for-this-responsibility sentiments, as in 441. Therefore, despite the fact that they are able to keep the kid alive, they don't think they can actually do a good job of it.

    Therefore, the intended joke = couple panicking over the responsibilities of parenthood attempt to do what comes naturally but discover that "what comes naturally" is more sex, which produces another child for them to panic over. It is an unfunny joke and the set up makes no sense, but that is what the joke is.

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  94. Femalethoth: thanks for the mention (scribs is mine).

    Holy crap I don't even remember how I knew that now.

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  95. Nate, I'm not sure why 'having sex is what comes naturally' doesn't make sense to you, particularly given that this is Xkcd. The advice they're trying to follow is basically 'follow their instincts', but they took it overly-literally and out of context.

    As C.Toad said, the fact that they can keep a baby alive for 9 months doesn't mean thay they would feel any more enlightened about how to be good parents -- how to guide a child, raise it to adulthood etc. The joke seems pretty straightforward. How else would they get a second child (who, given the size difference, is perhaps impliedly younger than the first) as a result of the decision to 'do what comes naturally'? The only other explanation I can think of is that they kidnapped or adopted another one, but that makes far less sense in relation to the instruction they're following, human/Xkcd nature, and any possible humour.

    The set up, though, is poor in two major ways. (a) Going with the pregnancy angle, the label 'Soon' in the final panel would be better replaced with 'later' or '9 months later'. More effort should also have gone into establishing that they're new parents worried about their skills than 'oh no we had a baby'.
    (b) It seems like most of all Randall wanted to do a joke about taking the phrase 'do what comes naturally' too literally. Given the time lags involved with pregnancy, the joke would probably have worked better in an entirely different context.

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  96. So, basically, the comic requires us to suspend massive amounts of disbelief, for the sake of a really shitty joke, that's communicated really poorly anyway. It takes a special type of nudnick to think that criticisms like "Holy shit what the fuck is going on here none of this makes any goddamned sense" are invalid.

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  97. Mmm, I still can't decide if the joke is necessarily the literal interpretation of "what comes naturally". Maybe it has something to do with it but I think the point is not the sex per se. I get more from the scene cut. But maybe it's just that English is not my native language. Mmm, let's see, had the line read "Parenting can't be that hard. Let's try our best", or something like that, do you think the strip would have had the same effect?

    About the tvtropes thing, it says that "the implication that both things happen simultaneously seems to have to do with the resulting humor". We know that they don't happen at the same time, it's just funny to make it look like it does. Which is why I think it doesn't say "9 months later".

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  98. @Femalethoth. No, I think criticisms like "A baby that has the word "baby" in his/her vocabulary? The ability to identify oneself is, according to reputable psychological sources, fucking complicated." are invalid.

    And I still don't think "massive amounts of suspension of disbelief" are required (Only if you think it depicts a literal situation, and we have already stated it doesn't).

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  99. mal: i feel like you forgot to do the rest of the integral. unless you were only talking about the second one?

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  100. So, I tried to make sense out of this strip, but almost none came. Instead, I'll analyze it thoroughly, including a few obsvervations already made by other fellow commenters...

    Panel 1: So, we have a baby, and parents freaking out. Let me suspend my disbelief enough and ignore that the baby is standing and talking, a feat I believe most babies would need at least a good year to achieve. This couple apparently just realized that they made a baby, that after they had sex, the woman got pregnant for nine whole months and the little thing was expelled from her genitals. Nine months should be time enough for them to freak out and wonder what to do next, so this is definitely out of place. Also, PokéBaby is just barely amusing because it's unnecessary and out of place. Also, because we can call it "PokéBaby".

    Second Panel: nothing of note, besides the baby is doing another pose and Randall messed his stick figures. I'd expect after years doing circles for head Mr. Munroe would know how to connect the ends of it, but apparently I am wrong.

    Third Panel: the damned silent panel(I think it's called a "beat panel" or something like this). Which is the sort of thing that usually makes me cringe in xkcd, because it calls attention for the horrible art. I mean horrible because Randall once again messed up his stick figures. Let's just jump over this...

    Last Panel: "Soon"... seriously, how "soon" it is to have a second baby, even again suspending disbelief for it to be standing upright? "Aw, crap", on the other hand, is a pretty okay reaction line, but it doesn't cut it out, mostly because the whole scenario is so surreal I don't think anything else would anyway. This also is the panel where you realize Randall just broke a record, with at least one disconnected head per panel(it's just barely connected in panel two). Again, I think making a career out of stickmen would help him overcome this horrible flaw, but... you know the drill.

    The joke: Apparently, "do what comes naturally" is misinterpreted, either because this is seXKCD(and he just HAS to do her without a condom), or because "naturally" is interpreted as "in nature", and survival is usually tied to leaving offspring. Thus, what comes "naturally" is to have more kids. Funny? No, mostly because survival is also tied with making sure your offspring will survive. Sure, turtles can go with leaving their younglings to hatch by themselves, but we're not turtles, not even reptiles. Thus, assuming "what comes naturally" is having sex and having more babies isn't a good joke, it's just a very confusing one.

    Also, it disturbs me that the other kid has apparently been ignored during the whole period between panels three and four. But, heck, what would you expect from parents who don't even acknowledge the presence of that little creature if it isn't walking around shouting to make itself visible?

    Thus, this is a different kind of xkcd. It's not bad because it raises any sort of expectancy about its goodness, nor it is bad because of its obvious badness from start. This is a bad xkcd, because you don't even know what to expect from it, and somehow your expectations are subverted anyway. Seriously, I'm baffled at it.

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  101. And I still don't think "massive amounts of suspension of disbelief" are required (Only if you think it depicts a literal situation, and we have already stated it doesn't).

    If it's not literal, what the fuck is it? Is this all a metaphor for the process of childbirth? You can't just say something isn't literal and instantly expect us to understand what the fuck it actually is.

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  102. @rob, 11/12, 10:32: thanks for answering my post. i think i get your point -- even if i sometimes fail to see the ... um... constructvie criticism... in some of the posts. i might also be missing the irony. whatever.
    this has already taken up way too much of my time.

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  103. This reminds me of the strip ("No, Mr. Bond...") that got me into xkcd to begin with. Honestly, I think it still works.

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