Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Comic 676: Wasted Effort

Holy crap, look who is posting a full day early it is THIS GUY. In part that's because I don't have a lot to say on this comic. Mostly it just reminds me of the kind of comic you would see over at Abstruse Goose, which, as that link shows, only recently dealt with the topic of the Awesome Powers of Computing. Abstruse Goose is, needless to say, perhaps the single worst webcomic out there that has any sort of following, so I try not to link to it much. Oh, the promise it had back in the early days...

Anyway, today's comic just seems boring to me. Yes, computers are complicated, and you use them for frivolous things. What's next? I mean lots of things are complicated. Every damn thing in your body - in every living organism - is complicated as hell, way more complicated than a computer - plus, you can more credibly claim credit for "causing" it - but anyway. To make up for a lack of thoughts about the comic, I made you all an edit:

Guys! Aloria is going to guest post in like a week! GET EXCITED NOW.


  1. wow carl you are SO EARLY

    anyway I agree with what Sven said on the prev. post: why is HE a god? he's not the one who invented all this, he's just standing on the shoulders of giants.

    nice edit btw.


  2. also: randall needs to take better care when writing out letters. they have all been bunching together lately, i feel

  3. So I youtubed Maru to find out who the hell it is. Enter a total flood of comments "I came here from xkcd oh ho ho" "you to???? oh ho ho"

  4. well, I'm here because of xkcd.
    and I'm so HAPPY about it

  5. Poor Maru.

    Maru used to MEAN something, you know.

  6. You need to get over the fact that the heads aren't always connected to bodies or that sometimes people hover over their chairs. The fact that the art isn't very good should be obvious to everyone who looks at the comic for 3 seconds, they are stick figures for God's sake. You can say Randal is lazy for making these mistakes, but are you any less lazy for continuing to bring it up?

  7. Over on the forums, SocialSceneRepairman said, "Okay, my Randall. Head. Out. Now."
    Get this guys! Mr. Repairman here was totally just thinking about how complex the box that lets him kiss Randy's ass is! However, that's not what makes this special. Okay, get ready for THIS. RANDALL JUST PUT A COMIC UP ABOUT HOW COMPLICATED AN ORDINARY EVERY-DAY OBJECT EVERYONE USES IS! HOLYSHITMINDBLOWN.

    Srsly. People are taking this whole "get out of my head" thing way too fucking far. There's 6.7 BILLION of us. That phrase about how a room full of monkeys in front of typewriters eventually banging out one of Shakepeare's pieces given enough time? It'll take two monkeys jerking each other off about 3 seconds to come up with some of the gems the fine folks over on those forums are amazed by when they see Randall too came up with.


    j0ecool's comment is like me taking a paleontology class, then going to Qwantz and exclaiming my surprise over how Ryan North just made a dinosaur reference.

    Another good one: "It's good to be a geek. Other people don't think this way."

    Holy SHIT those forums piss me off more than the comic. For the sake of my blood pressure, I had to stop at the bottom of the first page. I'd reques someone to report their findings back, but I wouldn't be able to sleep knowing I purposely asked them to risk their lives.

  9. john: ugh ugh ugh

    the only good thing about this comic is that it got me looking at cat videos on youtube. and since i am supposed to be studying for finals, that was not such a good thing. so this comic showed me that i have no self control. thanks, TERRIBLE COMIC.

  10. Aw man, do you have a final in 3 hours that you've barely studied for too and is it currently 5 AM?

  11. bah another east-coaster. i's 2am here in the COOL PLACE where no one from xkcdsucks lives =(

    anyway my finals in like 15 hours actually so i will probably sleep as soon as i resolve to start studying.

  12. Here's a multiple choice question. Does the fanbase of xkcd consist of:

    a. Primarily middle school kids (most like a thought like today's comic would not have occurred to them, because kids in middle school are morons);

    b. Primarily college age kids who haven't grown out of the "I AM OPPRESSED BY SOCIETY BECAUSE I AM A GEEK EVEN THOUGH I AM WHITE AND ALSO MALE" phase, when in fact any discernable social stigma against nerds has long since vanished;

    c. Primarily kids of any age who have such a hero-worship thing for Randall going on that anything he writes seems like the best thing since sliced bread;

    d. All of the above.

    Remember, you have only one chance to get it right. Try not to overthink - usually you will score better on tests if you go with your "gut instinct."

  13. Errata: ugh, a.'s parenthetical should read "(most LIKELY a thought like today's comic"

  14. Oh, you want a "cool place" where no one from XKCD lives? Try my non-university home a few hours north of Anchorage =P

  15. Multiple-choice anon here

    Also in AK


  16. Wow, it says a lot about Randalls lack of ideas when he is copying Abstruce Goose and not the other way around!

  17. John, the whole "Randall, Get Your Dick Out Of My Mouth!" affair has reached stupidly inane heights months ago. But, amazingly, it gets worse every time. I'm thinking that if one were to create a "xkcd comic threads suck" blog, it would thrive even more than this one. It pisses me off. And I'm not usually very irritable about stupid things on the Internet; what ticks me off is that the xkcd community is SUPPOSED to be made of slightly-above-the-average folks, yet they think they're WAY, WAY above the average when, in fact, they keep behaving like morons every time.

    Then again, it's important to notice that the most active members in the forums rarely post in the comic threads at all. Probably THEY are too disgusted with them already.

  18. Dear Cuddlefish labeled "December 17, 2009 1:24 AM"...

    You need to open your eyes and start noticing these basic mistakes. The fact that the art is horrible should be obvious to everyone who looks the comic for 3 seconds, so I wonder why people read them anyway, since comics are -- for the tenth time already -- both a visual and a written medium, but mostly visual. Just because they are stick figures, for Quetzalcoatl's sake, doesn't mean you can overlook it with anything but a hand wave. You can say we're lazy for continuing to bring it up, but are you any less lazy for not even caring anymore?

    Shortly: comics = art + writing. If you overlook the art, what's the point of reading comics anyway? You could just as well read a book.

    Also, I didn't care at all at first, but now it's more and more evident. When Randall stops committing the same mistakes even a 5-year-old would've stopped making, then I'll stop pointing it out.

  19. "Just because they are stick figures, for Quetzalcoatl's sake, doesn't mean you can overlook it with anything but a hand wave."

    ESPECIALLY when Randall considers himself a "perfectionist", even when it comes to stick figures. Yes, he SAID that in a lecture (either that or an interview, but yes, he said exactly that).

  20. nah that anon was right and you should find something else to criticise in a scribbly stick figure comic apart from the scribbly stick figure art. lately xkcd sucks and r munroe can be a fucktard but constantly criticising shitty stick figure art is pointless. if he could draw he would and attaching the head or whatever does not make any difference to a the quality of an xkcd comic. the main problem with his drawing is when it is unclear what is supposed to be happening in his picture until you read the text.

  21. Y'know, anon 1:24 (and toki, who got a post in while I was writing, Toki was an awesome arcade game, now I want to play it again), if Randall took half of one second to draw a line connecting the head to the body, we wouldn't complain about it. It would take practically no effort on his part. Almost none at all.

    Randall thinks his fans aren't good enough to put forth .5 seconds of effort into his comic. To draw a 1/16th of an inch line. That should say something.

    John, I feel you on the GOOMH thing. But then I remembered something Scott Adams (guy who does Dilbert) said in one of his books. He said he would purposely try to make his strips so completely insane and surreal that it couldn't possibly happen in real life, and yet people would constantly say "That's just like what happens at my office!"

    Obviously, these people saying GOOMH didn't really have the same idea or thought. They just had a vaguely similar one. Given that a large portion of xkcd's audience is geeks it's not surprising that at least a handful of them would be thinking "Man computers be crazy and shit." So then Randall makes a comic about something computer related and well, that's all it takes.

    I think the reason it's so prevalent though is that a lot of the fans look up to Randall and think he turns water to wine and resurrects the dead with his touch, so when they see him mention something tangentially related to a thought they had, they feel as if they have become that much more like their god. Thus, their posting GOOMH (or its variations) is a way of proving to themselves "I am this much closer to being like Randall!" This act also works on the level of gaining acceptance of their peers. Since the other forumites have the same adoration of Randall, when someone posts GOOMH it instantly will garner the respect (or jealousy) of the others.

    On that note, I really should be getting some sleep.

  22. Carl, I laughed out loud at the edit. Trufe.

    My problem with 676 is the fact that "A GOD AM I!" is like the most ridiculously cliche sci-fi trope ever. (Simpsons did it!) I don't think I can think of any self-respecting work in the past 20 years that played it totally straight. So why Randy would do so... I don't even fuckin' know.

  23. Nate, as far as I know, the "Get out of my head" used to be a legitimate trope, because the meaning was totally different. The most practical example refers to the strips about following a pattern to step on tiles, or going up the down escalator: it's something that a lot of people do, thinking nobody else would be silly to do so (in fact, it surprises me that Randall never did a strip about moving one's head to make a speck on the bus window avoid "obstacles" as they pass by). Then, when Randall did those comics, they came as a honest surprise. They were unexpected observations on things that hit very close to home. *I* felt this way in some early comics, but I never came out and spoke about it.

    Now, though, it has turned into a meme, and a completely ridiculous one. It's pathetic that such geeky and "mathematical" people wouldn't stop for a minute and consider what are the chances that SOMEONE reading a comic has gone through a tangentially similar situation a moment before, especially with such mundane comics. So, yes, the "get out of my head" is done solely for the status of a "loyal fan".

    It horrified me when that Omegatron idiot on the thread, commenting on the "God" strip, said the intelligence of the YouTube comments would increase since more xkcd fans were going there. My GOD, how pretentious can those folks be??

  24. As some people have pointed out, what's most annoying about this strip is the "I am a God" comment. At BEST, you (stick figure sitting at the computer [Randall?]) bought the component parts for your machine, put it all together, wrote up and compiled a kernel (can you do this for OS X? I have no idea...), did some more coding and compiling for the frontend (again, not sure how much if this is necessary/possible on OS X), and typed in a web address.

    Until you go to the kiln and fry up the PN junctions necessary for the transistors in your machine, you are not a God.

  25. Fernie: "It horrified me when that Omegatron idiot on the thread, commenting on the "God" strip, said the intelligence of the YouTube comments would increase since more xkcd fans were going there. My GOD, how pretentious can those folks be??"

    So, normally I would never defend XKCD fans, but in this case I feel it is worth pointing out two things.

    One: The average youtube commenter is mind-numbingly dumb.
    Two: despite having abysmal taste, the average xkcd fanboy is usually reasonably intelligent. He just thinks this intelligence makes him clever, perceptive, insightful, etc., and he is none of these things.

  26. If you want to build a computer from scratch, you must first create the Universe.

  27. Most of the xkcd-fanboys I've meet over the course of my years in college have been painfully mediocre people.

  28. He doesn't even get the facts right. "x64" is a marketing term. (It's actually called AMD64 or x86-64.) Boasting with tech terms that don't have any meaning to most users (like POSIX) he should know that.

    I didn't like the "God" statement either. It's just stupid. It would be even if it came from a programmer. Stick guy however is only *using* one of the most popular PC programs to view some Internet meme.

    So it's again just a reference packed into some tech description. (Although I have to admit that I like the description because it reads like a tale.)

    The replacement comic was actually funny (for this blog's community, anyway). Not much, but more than the original because that had no joke. Now, writing a comic without a joke is perfectly fine... if it has some goddamn point at all. References alone almost always ain't jokes and don't have any point.

    And yes I too hate their forum more every single time I read one of the comic threads. Fortunately I never got around to register there.

    - Anon 06:47 or something

  29. Here's what is really stupid about this strip. If you think about what he is saying, he only bought/built his computer to watch the video.

    It would be like me saying: i5 processor, 4 gigs ddr 3 RAM, video card with 1GB gddr5 memory, 1 terabyte SATA hard drive, bluray burner, blah blah blah

    Just to type a post no one reads or cares about.

    I am an idiot.

  30. Anon 2:04 I'm a college student but I don't match any of those other things. Am I not allowed to read xkcd sucks anymore? D:

    John and Amanda: Finaallllss. Just took my first one and am celebrating by coming back here :]

    I think this comic is really boring by the way. I know barely anything about computers and the x64 thing seemed wrong to me. I literally stared at it for a whole minute trying to come up with what it meant. Thanks to Anon 06:47 I get it now from the AMD64 name.

    And the "I am a God" comment is stupid. If he's going to say something about being a god it should be about making nanosized computer chips that are so mind numbingly small that we have to make computers for them because we can't even begin to be capable of making them ourselves.

    See? I think that'd be pretty cool... a comic about computers doing stuff we can only dream of. In reality, we can pick up a cat and train it to jump over a box or whatever >.>

  31. "...Every damn thing in your body - in every living organism - is complicated as hell, way more complicated than a computer..."

    Not everything!

    The male Homo Sapiens Sapiens orgasm for instance:

    Pushy, pushy, grunt, snore


    As far as the "I am 'a' God" quip, at least he used the indefinite article - like the New World Translation Bible rendering of John Chapter 1, Verse 1 The Watchtower Society would have us read.

  32. See misandry is always OK because women are opressed.

  33. "The male Homo Sapiens Sapiens orgasm for instance:

    Pushy, pushy, grunt, snore"

    Wow, Randall has a brand new source for plagiarism of cliché unfunny jokes.

  34. @Professional Mole - You're CLEARLY missing the point! XKCD is a constrained comic, like Dinosaur Comics or The Angriest Dog in the World or CTRL-ALT-DELETE. In this case, Randall Munroe's constraint is that he cannot draw anything that a reasonably bored middle-schooler couldn't reproduce, and he cannot write anything funny. In a way, it's almost impressive.

  35. hahah mal.

    anyway pfsc and cowbirds in love are also stick figure comics and i think they do the stick figures very well, wayyy better than xkcd at least

  36. In Fernie Canto's case it is:

    Pully, pully, grunt, snore


    When I look up to the skies
    I see your eyes a funny kind of yellow
    I rush home to bed I soak my head
    I see your face underneath my pillow
    I wake next morning tired still yawning
    See your face come peaking through my window

    Pictures of matchstick men and you
    Mirages of matchstick men and you
    All I ever see is them and you

  37. ::slaps ALTF across the lips with my nuts::

  38. Let's not forget that this comic is yet another example of "I'm imagining that machines are people!"

  39. Hahaha I'm starting to warm up to ALTF.

  40. Female Moth said:

    "...::slaps ALTF across the lips with my nuts::..."

    All three of them?
    Yer a dirty little fecker

  41. Good one, Mal. Very good one..

    Now, for you xkcd-affiliated cuddlefishs lurking who are tired of us criticizing Randall's obvious lack of effort, here's something that's not me complaining about how stupid it is that Randall doesn't even bother to connect his heads...

    Imagine you're doing a comic. This comic comments how the computer works(badly, but that's what it does), in very colorful detail. It details how the CPU works, the kernel runs and the graphic server renders what you see on your screen. It then ends badly with a godhood dellusion, but bear with me. How would you draw this comic?

    a. A series of panels with the narration distributed along them, with anthropomorphic computer components doing the tasks mentioned, in a whimsical and beautifully rendered way;

    b. Without anthropomorphism, but showing the components(CPU, monitor, etc) from the inside to the outside of the computer, drawn with nice degree of detail, until the climax showing what's going on the screen and the person who's amusing himself with it;

    c. With the whole narration cluttered in a corner, and the drawing of a person sitting in front of his computer, and nothing else.

    If you chose c, congratulations: you've just graduated from the "Randall Munroe XKCD School of Bad Comics".

    Summarizing: "comics = art + writing" coupled with "show, don't tell". This might be one of the most boring and worstly executed xkcds in the history of the strip.

  42. Well, there's not really a joke, and there's also not really any artwork, but there is an awesome idea. And no, it's not very well expressed. So I don't give randall much credit for, well, anything. But I just hope that the crappiness of a comic doesn't keep you from taking a moment as you type out how bad the comic is to think, wow, pressing a few buttons here can distribute information almost instantly to almost anywhere on the whole planet.

    Computers are really incredible...

  43. Computers are pretty neat. But there's not really any reason to gush over them. (Except, I guess, if you're a comp sci major or define yourself via computer use.) I would say something MORE amazing is, oh, I don't know, language?

  44. I don't know which is worse, that Randall is continuing to make comics of this low quality, or that there's someone out there who thinks we need it explained to us.


    Here's another one.

  46. Frankly I kind of liked this comic. Of course he didn't invent it, that's not the point. The point is he's manipulating some pretty advanced technology to work at its absolute maximum- in order for him to look at lolcats. It's a funny juxtaposition. A lot of the stuff we do can be taken for granted- the way TVs work is pretty damn mindblowing if you really think about it, and we use it to watch stuff like cartoon fourth-graders poop out their mouths (South Park).
    Generally, xkcd has been circling the drain this past fall especially, but I thought this was a nice change of pace- a comic that didn't make me want to vomit when I saw it. I'm not saying this is a great comic, or anything like that. But I don't think in xkcd's heyday this would have been viewed as a bad comic- just an average one.

  47. Please tell me is run by a regular here, because this can't be anything other than mockery:

    "In a triumphant finale, the Author elevates himself (and the Reader) to God-like status for commanding such a complex machine to carry out frivolous tasks. With this the Reader suddenly reaches an explosive climax with hot threads of excitement and joy spilling across his keyboard. He is now satisfied."

  48. xkcd explained is always mockery. Welcome to the Internet.

  49. Am I the only one who was pissed off at the overuse of verbs to make the comic look more dramatic? LOOK GUYS MY COMPUTER IS "SCREAMING" AND "STRAINING" DESPITE THE FACT THAT I HAVE NO BASIS FOR COMPARISON TO MAKE SUCH AN ANALOGY

  50. It would have been mildly amusing, but the "I am a god" line kills it completely.

  51. Yeah, if it's screaming and straining just to play a fucking youtube video, he must have one shitty ass, underpowered computer.


  52. He evidently bought a new Mac. Randy's train of thought must have been along the lines of, "What better way to brag about how great my new computer is than to add hyperbole to a comic that's already telling the world how wicked sick I am?! Man, I'm so smart."

  53. WTF is an x64 processor?

  54. @Nate - I guess I just don't care, it's something that didn't occur to me when I read his comics before I read posts here. Stick figure art is going to badly and carelessly drawn by its nature, I don't think it makes a difference to the comics humour if the comic doesn't rely on details like scenery or facial expressions etc. I completely agree with Professional Moles other post on the of when the xkcd art becomes a problem and presents a bad and lazy comic.

  55. Hey this is Ian from XKCDExplained. I'm not trying to mock XKCD I love XKCD it's the best, most funny comic of all time.

    You guys are so mean for making fun of such a good comic.

  56. I am Dave from XKCDExplained, and I think it's very lame to make fun of stick figure art. This just in, XKCD is about the riveting content, not the stick figure art. That art is just a vessel for Randall's insights and observations.

  57. Taken on its own, I do think this is kind of funny, or at least an interesting (if humorously exaggerated in lieu of meaningful analysis) observation.

    Wait. If he has the ability to make interesting statements... does that make him equal to a philosophy major?

  58. I'm just going to say that the last crack by Caswin was less funny than any joke I've seen made on xkcd.

  59. No.

    No. No. No.

    That is not how you write beret guy.

  60. I like how Beret Guy murders people because they disaprove of his vehicle.

  61. Cut it out, guys. You're hurting my feelings.

  62. @Fernie Canto

    "(in fact, it surprises me that Randall never did a strip about moving one's head to make a speck on the bus window avoid "obstacles" as they pass by)"

    Wow. That would be a serious GOOMH moment for me. I like to keep the speck in vegetation, preventing it from touching road signs and other non organic stuff.
    Telephone pole+guardrail=frustration and neck strain.

  63. I found the original mildly amusing. I laughed out loud at the edit. Nicely done.