Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Comic 688: There Is No Title For My Post About Comic 688

Self DeSUCKSption
OK guys, I've said this before. I love self-reference. I don't know why. I think it's hilarious. I love Stephen Colbert's portrait. I love the question "What question is its own answer?" and other Douglas Hofstadter-type sentences. Yet, I don't like this comic.

I think it's because this comic acts like it is really clever and took a lot of hard work when it clearly didn't. Especially if you read the alt-text ("...The graph of panel dependencies is complete and bidirectional, and each node has a loop..."), he's trying to act like the fact that he made this is somehow impressive. Now he's made impressive comics in the past, but this isn't one of them. for one thing, he has his usual habit of not labeling his axes (where the hell did he learn math, anyway?). "Fraction of this image" in panel 1 is not a fraction at all, but merely a piece of a pie chart (and while we're at it, it's a total copy of the Pac Man thing). He could have at least called it a percentage and included a label with a percent in each segment.

Panel 2 could also be labeled better. I mean, ink can be measured (either by volume if we are still pretending this is real ink on real paper, or area). I mean, there is no "amount" anywhere in there. A line is not an amount.

Panel three is the least clear; I think he just wanted to include images of all the panels, including a tiny little version of panel three itself (even this concept is not new to Randall). Why are there 0s at the beginning? What unit does that represent? I guess it's distance in each direction, in some kind of unit. I think what annoys me is that such a graph is meaningless - a chart is supposed to organize data into a useful (well, ok, sometimes) form - a chart that represents its subject by recreating it is missing the point. It's just a replica; it doesn't tell you anything you can't figure out from the original.

Also, saying "this image" in the first and last panels is unclear; it could refer to the panel or the comic as a whole. In this case it is the latter, still, using the word "comic" would be nice. Or even make it one big panel/image, then you wouldn't have the problem. Thought I guess that would invalidate the bar graph, so never mind.

Lastly, the alt-text. It's another case where I think he had two different ideas and just figured, the hell with it, I'll include both. The first was trying to make this whole thing seem fancier than it is, as I mentioned above, and the second was trying to work in a comment in the alt-text about the alt-text. I was disappointed that he went for counting characters, though, since i think that's a bit too easy (for example, he could replace two hundred and forty-two" with "220" and it would also work). That's especially true given that he has more content in the alt-text than just the description of itself, so if it had added up wrong he could always change it to "two hundred and forty-six" and just add four more characters somewhere. Not terribly complicated.

I was hoping he would go for the more challenging variant of listing how often each letter occurs, like so:
This sentence contains three a's, one b, three c's, two d's, thirty e's, two f's, two g's, nine h's, nine i's, one j, one k, one l, one m, twenty two n's, thirteen o's, one p, seven r's, twenty one s's, twenty three t's, three v's, eight w's, and five y's.
(this sentence comes from here, see way too much of this nonsense over here). That would actually take effort, unless a website exists just to create such a thing. Does it?

Of course, the best irony is that the whole thing is utterly wrong; there is also lots of gray ink all over the place that is not accounted for anywhere. here, look:

Just look at all that gray surrounding the black! it's not in the pi chart at all. Next time, try aliasing, randall.

Also, this. Also, this.

PS - reading that Randall Munroe guest strip on dinosaur comics makes me feel so very weird, with my least favorite writer putting words into the mouths of my most favorite comic's characters. It is perhaps the closest I will ever get to the Capgras Delusion.

PPS - what?
PPPS - ok, this makes up for it.

113 comments:

  1. Well done Carl, exceptionally picky critique today.

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  2. Well, as we know, the "gray" is not ink. It is the distortion common to enlarging a compressed image file. The strip was DRAWN in ink before it entered the digital world. Besides, gray is nothing more than tinted-black in both the real world and the digital one. So it still is black, if you want to get technical.

    Now, I know the 12 people who visit this site (all using multiple monikers to boost the numbers) would lick your cum rather than add an ounce of reason to the discussion, which is why you need me.

    Speaking of which, since my HOSTS file refuses all ad attempts to display on my screen, I am curious as to which company's would think their advertisements will be fruitful on such a limp-dick site. Did you fool them into thinking this site has hundreds of visitors, or something?

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  3. Well, Anon 243, if you print out this comic there will be some gray which is clearly ink. Though to be honest, a gray pixel can be thought of as 50% black, so you're right that Carl's complaint isn't necessarily relevant.

    Anyway, I would just like to say before all those sophisticates from the other post get here, what a horribly racist comic! Yeah, yeah, I see what you did there Randall, it's a predominantly white comic because everyone knows blacks can't understand math right? You awful, awful man.

    Speaking of which, can anyone here help me out with something? I'm planning to buy a cheap-ish SMG but I don't want to pay tax, so what gun sites gift wrap their stuff? I'm also not legally allowed to own a gun, so it would be nice if they weren't one of those busybody sites who feel like they have a right to run background checks on their customers just because they buy anything higher than .22.

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  4. Actually, Carl is the ONLY person who frequents this site. Nice try, Carl! Posting as an anon trolling yourself. As if you wouldn't figure out your own game!

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  5. Also, from this one's xkcd explained: "Taking a cue from this blog, the Author has derived humor from the explanation of an otherwise humorless item." Touché? You ain't got nothing on this guy, Carl.

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  6. I never looked twice at that height comic, but now that you linked to it... For fuck's sake, couldn't he at least have tried to draw the pyramid and Eiffel tower in a way that isn't completely retarded?

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  7. I thought they looked like that cos it was a log plot? Like he say in the alt-text.

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  8. Hey guys I have kind of a personal problem. Normally I wouldn't share this with people on the Internet but I think I can trust you guys. Basically, for the past few days my poop has been green. Not just greenish-tinged, a bright, Crayola-brand green. Should I be concerned? Is this a sign of some illness? I haven't really been eating a lot of green stuff recently, so I have no idea what could be causing it. Anyone know what's the problem could be?

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  9. No kidding, you're right. I take that back.

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  10. The image is grayscale, not RGB, thus it's technically still black ink. That is, ignoring the obvious that the image is a computer image, not being composed of ink at all.

    That said, it wasn't very funny. Better than standard fare, but not worth a laugh.

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  11. It's been a while and an interesting Cuddlefish(who, nonetheless, fails to understand how Google AdSense works) appears.

    And, doing the math, one question raises... I'm a monicker of whom?

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  12. But as the author of your poop, can you really say that it's green? Perhaps it's really more of a myrtle, and society is making you perceive it as green.

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  13. What if what Jay perceives as green is what I perceive as red, but we just both CALL it green because that's how we've been raised?

    Also, I don't think that portrait of Colbert is an example of self-reference so much as recursion. Although now I don't think those two terms actually refer to distinct concepts.

    Anyway Rob @ yesterthread - Just because a discussion is relatively coherent and about something you learned in college doesn't mean it's not feeding trolls. I'm definitely a troll, I'm pretty confident that you're a troll (oh no, am I engaging in the intentional fallacy and ascribing intentions to the perceived author of the comments in what I remember to have been the thread yesterday?), and I am also sure everyone else in that conversation was a troll.

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  14. Well, sure, but trolls are quite capable of having a useful discussion. I would rather lit theory to trying to explain the finer points of "why it is possible for people to dislike XKCD without being mentally unbalanced" to cuddlefish.

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  15. "Now, I know the 12 people who visit this site (all using multiple monikers to boost the numbers) would lick your cum rather than add an ounce of reason to the discussion, which is why you need me."

    Hide those tears man
    hide those tears

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  16. Let's first start with "why it is possible for people to dislike XKCD, still read it every time a new one comes out and maintain a blog about it; without being mentally unbalanced"

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  17. Rob didn't you already write a blog post addressing anon 8:23's statement? If you haven't we have certainly explained many times why we're here so maybe it's high time you address it if you have not done so yet ;P

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  18. That is the "no one is forcing you to read it" one, maybe? It is so fundamental I think I put it in all of them.

    The answer is "it is fun; we enjoy it." I am not sure why that is so difficult to grasp.

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  19. Think of us as MSTXKCD.

    [that doesn't work -Ed]

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  20. HAHAHA YOU DON'T GET IT

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  21. You know, I may not have said this before but I will say that I have had my doubts about how good (matter of opinion here, obviously) xkcd is, I do have some favourites like the Jeremy Irons one (although, maybe not the alt-text for it >_>), but I do have friends that absolutely adore it, and one or two of them would act exactly like some of the anons here with the whole "you guys must have some imbalance to want to attack xkcd".

    I know this because one day during a breaks (this must have been September) and I was still checking out places around the net that were saying xkcd sucks (or in many cases that it was at the bottom of the barrel for webcomics) and one of my friends noticed what I was reading and he remarked "there are people on the internet who think xkcd is a bad webcomic?" now my friends are intelligent people and I certainly hope that they don't post shit like what is found on the xkcd forum, but I don't know, but upon hearing them say somehing along those lines, it struck me that it really can be a shock to hear someone destroy something you like.

    I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but in some ways it gives an explanation why we keep getting cuddlefish coming here and saying we have no right to destroy suck a great work of art and other silly, meaningless things.

    -this pointless explanation brought to you by Cam, the most laid back hater on this blog-

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  22. Pffff gray not a color? Next time you'll be telling me nothing exists and everything is the same substance but with different attributes...

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  23. I liked this comic. It was reminiscent of the good ol' days of XKCD. The graphs didn't need to be labeled (though I didn't think panel 3 was as clever as the first two). That is all.

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  24. "Cam, the most laid back hater on this blog"

    The most laid back person I know said I was the most laid back person he knew so I know a thing or two about being laid back and, take it from me, Cam is pretty laid back.

    Unless, of course, you mess with Pink Floyd.

    Hey Cam, which one's Pink?

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  25. Cam's posting though, how does that make her the most laid back?

    Surely the most laid back hater would be the one who sits at home and makes a face at xkcd.com for a while and then has a sleep.

    Regarding the latest comic, I don't like it. It's not clever, it's not funny and I don't know how to tell people this in such a way as they don't call me a communist and throw their verbal rocks at me.

    Carl's cum tastes like vinegar.

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  26. John, I should point this out now (although everyone else who has been here forever already knows this, or those who go on the IRC) but I'm actually a guy, and yeah that can be kinda confusing since Cam can be viewed as unisex (although I am yet to find any girl Cams in my life).

    I think I consider myself a laid back hater because I don't comment on every post, despite my feelings for the comic mentioned in each post and if I do comment, it usually has more to do with commentary dialogue than the actual comic. Look back through the posts (if you have time) and you will find that 9/10 if I commented on the xkcd comics then it would sound like this "yeah, this one was kinda lame for the following reasons, Randall's done a shameless pl- oh hey Rob's chewing out another cuddlefish, let's get in on that action" and if it's not Rob, some one else will have started a conversation/weird internet debate about something else that means more to me than xkcd ever will (recent examples include Foxtrot and Pink Floyd).

    The above reasons are why I labeled myself as the most laid back hater on this blog, not the most laid back person.



    Also Way Walker, that comment makes me grin more than make me fume for several reasons;
    1) the fact that it's a line from "Have a Cigar" and since that whole song was a big "fuck you" to the label execs when they rejected the first cut of Wish You Were Here.
    2) the fact that the character in The Wall is actually named Pink Floyd, so if I want to be sillily literal I would say that Pink is Bob Geldof since that's who protrayed him in the film version.

    I don't really have a third reason but it would be that I smile because you must be a listener in some respect because you're not trying to troll me, or if you were then that's one of the shittiest attempts I have seen for anything.

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  27. Erh... the "it's fun we're enjoying it" isn't really accurate. I mean come on, it's the same story: Xkcd sucks. Carl is really late at everything and the post is usually 2 words just to be funny. I don't think it's very fun around here with all of the trolls flocking toward this site either.

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  28. man then all those people that love xkcd must not have fun reading it. its always the same story: Xkcd is great. then they go off into a great big internet circle jerk.

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  29. Um.

    1) We are not Carl.
    1a) Carl is seldom late, he just operates on a weird schedule.
    1b) I am pretty sure posting a few words to be funny is still something Carl is capable of doing for fun.
    2) We are also not you! I find the trolls kind of amusing.
    3) Even if the trolls were not amusing, this does not detract from the pleasure we can all derive from making fun of XKCD.

    Seriously. Making fun of something is enjoyable. You should try it some time! Get some beers, get some of your friends to come over, rent a bad movie (I recommend Desert Warrior). Spend the evening watching and making fun of it. It's fun! It's so fun that lots of people regularly have bad movie nights, and watch bad movies while drinking beer and making fun of them.

    It is also fun to make fun of things on the internet, except you can do it all the time, so long as you have internet access.

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  30. Oh yeah, add this after 1b:

    1c) even if Carl was usually late, being late doesn't mean you can't enjoy something. I sometimes show up late for movies and parties and still have fun at them.

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  31. Ann Apolis: "Think of us as MSTXKCD"

    In that case, the next post NEEDS to mention Servo and Crow.

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  32. Check out this thread. I expected a bit more maturity from the xkcd community. Someone tries to make a legitimate claim against their beliefs, and they mock it with satire.

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  33. Psh, rob doesn't go to parties. but yeah, carl is never late, he blogs precisely when he means to.

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  34. @alex: i don't know why, but i actually read that whole thread. colour me bored i guess.

    yeah some very cloistered folks ticking along in there, with the notions of superiority that that often implies. :-\ oh well.

    but but anyway that's not important.
    what is important is that the greatest satirical post ever is in that thread.
    specifically: http://echochamber.me/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=55076&start=80#p1965516
    that. is. excellent.

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  35. I love that. "Who could ever accuse us of being smug and elitist? We are probably the best, most humble community on the internet!"

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  36. Fuck you, alex. My I.Q. dropped because of that thread.

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  37. My God... You can have a NEGATIVE I.Q (Intelligence Quotient)?!?!?!

    (This is a joke, Lostman. This is a joke about you.)

    -William Monty Hughes, ESQ
    IQ 224
    "Cogito Ergo Sum"

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  38. Man fuck you Willy I see new comments and I come in here expecting to see somebody contributing to the conversation and I just get you. Fuck. Off.

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  39. Someone should get this poster on the forums: http://forums.xkcd.com/viewtopic.php?p=1964537#p1964537
    to make an overall black:white pixel ratio. Betcha there's a shitton more white than black.

    By god, Randall's a racist.

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  40. William, get back in the kitchen!

    (I may be implying you have a vagina.)

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  41. Carl Ugly "Anonymous" Wheeler: I know that it is you ; I can smell the stench of your unfiltered wickedness EMANATING from your post! It is REVOLTING!
    The most awful part is how you think you can fool I, WILLIAM MONTY HUGHES.

    !!!

    Truly, I am disappointed. It has been a decent length of time, you should know the true extent of my of my immense cognitive abilities by now... Additional evidence to add to the already impressive "Carl is a mongoloid" file, I suppose.

    One day -soon- you shall see the light... That of the Heavens* (if you are a baby or a foolish zealot incapable of rational thought, that is) or of Randall's divine genius! EMBRACE. Love, not war, et cetera et cetera.

    -William Monty Hughes, ESQ
    IQ 224
    "Cogito Ergo Sum"

    * I AM NOT AN IDIOT. I AM AN ATHEIST**. I DO NOT BELIEVE IN AN AFTERLIFE. IF YOU DO: HAHA.

    ** IS THIS A TAUTOLOGY? Hehehe.

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  42. man willy why you got a be such a fatass

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  43. Dammit Alex why'd you have to link that? I got sidetracked by someone linking to another thread where they're all "Waaaaaaah woe is us being smart is SOOOOOO terrible!" They can cram it, especially given what was said in a previous thread about how they like to gloat that they're so smart and elite and then whine about how nobody understands them.

    They can try being stupid for a few days and see how much of a "curse" being smart is. That'd put those smug asshats in their place.

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  44. PART 1 OF 2:
    Anonymous 5:03: PLEBIAN!
    Read (If you even CAN) this: http://xkcdisaparagonofhilarity.blogspot.com/2009/07/reason-as-to-why-i-did-not-update-this.html
    Done? No? It can't have taken you an hour! Oh, alright, I'll give you some more time.
    24 HOURS LATER
    Finished yet? NO?!?!? What sort of-
    Oh forget it. I'll write the following segment assuming that you have.

    PART 2 OF 2:
    As you have read, I am an excellent fighter AND athlete. In fact, since writing that post, my phsyique and skills have only become MORE perfect (intelligence also, but this is self-evident)!
    I am most definitely not obese, or even lazy! Your guestimated insults are so heavily inaccurate that I am completely unphased by them! Actually, I am rather flattered that you have been forced to fabricate flaws for me. Possibly to give you some retarded and false notion of superiority/equality.

    Update: I tried to contact my doppelganger, but I found tracking down his identify a trifle... Maybe the Universe will Find a Way?

    -William Monty Hughes
    IQ 224
    "Cogito Ergo Sum"

    P.S: The next cretin who refers to me by that dreadful abomination of an abreviation is going to become a non-person... I WILL MAKE SURE OF IT!

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  45. Willy you're not a fatass because you're fat (which you are) you're a fatass because you're a lazy, arrogant, social retard (like most xkcd fans).

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  46. I am bullied relentlessly at school, mind you; not because I am a smug anti-social dork, but because of my superior intellect. The weak HATE us gifted folks, let me tell you.

    This is exactly why I support eugenics; so all the worthless sheeple (who probably still think 9/11 wasn't an inside job) can be bred out of existence.

    Thank you Randall P. Munroe for providing us brights with intellectual entertainment in a medium usually devoid of intelligence.

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  47. Panel 2 doesn't need to be labeled since it's showing a ratio.

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  48. Anonymous 5-27: Please, I have many (attractive) friends. Of BOTH genders, even!
    (Quiet, hermaphrodites and asexuals).

    Anonymous 5-34: Finally, some INTELLIGENT discourse! Welcome, Anonymous 5:43!
    Will you help me defend "Xkcd" from these merciless mongoloid marauders? (alliteration)
    I have asked this many times previously, and all times have I been rejected, or not responded to... Worse, all of my allies have deserted me!
    Sometimes I feel that I am the only one who cares... The only one...

    -William Monty Hughes
    IQ 224
    "Cogito Ergo Sum"

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  49. Some random anonymous dudeJanuary 14, 2010 at 7:42 PM

    Panel 2 could also be labeled better. I mean, ink can be measured (either by volume if we are still pretending this is real ink on real paper, or area). I mean, there is no "amount" anywhere in there. A line is not an amount.

    This is not a scientific paper. It's a comic. Which is not really funny, but it's quite interesting and amusing.

    Think of any metric you like better. Volume, weight, pixels, atoms... any of them will give the same proportion of the bars in a linear bars chart.

    Panel three is the least clear; I think he just wanted to include images of all the panels, including a tiny little version of panel three itself

    It's a scatterplot. The axis represent coordinates of the comic. Each point in coordinates (X,Y) of the scatterplot indicates the presence of "black" in the coordinates (X,Y) of the comic. Obviously, this is the same as pasting the comic itself recursively.

    Also, saying "this image" in the first and last panels is unclear; it could refer to the panel or the comic as a whole.

    I agree. But that's what suprises the "reader" when s/he understands what the comic depicts.

    I thought you didn't like obviousness.

    Of course, the best irony is that the whole thing is utterly wrong; there is also lots of gray ink all over the place that is not accounted for anywhere.

    I don't know how far Randall went to make the graphs accurate, so I'm just plain skeptical. But since you claim it's wrong because of the gray, well, I'll be waiting your analysis on this comic proving the gray really renders the distribution of "black" in the comic incompatible with the graphs. ;-)

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  50. Some random anonymous dudeJanuary 14, 2010 at 7:49 PM

    He could have at least called it a percentage and included a label with a percent in each segment.

    A percentage is a fraction. And a fraction is also merely a "part" of something larger. Which can also be easily linked to the notion of "percentage".

    I don't see where you got confused here.

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  51. Some random anonymous dudeJanuary 14, 2010 at 8:19 PM

    Especially if you read the alt-text ("...The graph of panel dependencies is complete and bidirectional, and each node has a loop..."), he's trying to act like the fact that he made this is somehow impressive.

    Actually, he's just throwing in some more [unnecessary] info on the comic. I mean, it's a very obvious statement he made there. Each panel tells something about itself and the other panels. So...

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  52. "What question is its own answer?"

    A rhetorical one? Anyway, I liked this one, but I'm a sucker for recursion. I think the labels etc. are trivial issues, the real problem with this I find is the alt text which gave him room to include some humour in this comic and failed utterly.

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  53. At risk of falling into the "I'm familiar with the subject ergo this is funny" trap, as someone who spearheaded a FIRST Robotics Competition team a few years ago, I must say the latest comic is pretty awesome. No, obviously that design does not follow competition rules, but that's why they have rules. I still think the comic is pretty funny, if unrealistic (comics do not have to be realistic to be funny, at least not always).

    (Google FIRST Robotics if you don't get it).

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  54. @9:20

    What is the robot pushing in the last panel?

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  55. I think I would have liked it more if it referenced battlebots, or something else I'd ever heard of. Alternatively, if I didn't know the reference but the art was good enough I'd probably figure it out more quickly. I honestly thought FIRST was capitalized for emphasis and was looking for a punchline about second-system syndrome or something. Guess this joke wasn't for me.

    Alt text was just a gratuitous Hackers reference.

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  56. I WATCHED HACKERS THIS WEEKEND GOOMH RANDY

    $uhiforgothowmuchmoney

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  57. (same anon here) In order to comply with the xkcdsucks obligatory nitpicking, though, I feel obliged to point out that the umbrella can't be tied down around or else it wouldn't be able to openup, the whole "pole section detaches" thing is unnecessary (and against the rules) (you could just trigger the sprinklers and then retract and move) (not to mention that the required radio link between the two sections would also be against the rules, and so would the extra battery required), that the pole section went from hanging in mid-air to being on the ground without any lowering or disconnection, that water does not have movie-like effects on electronics as depicted in the comic (no real sparks or anything, in fact robots would probably last a few minutes until the water seeped into the sensitive electronics), that you still have to figure out a way of protecting your control station from the water, that you're screwed anyway because in competition they make you use their master radio pool which obviously wouldn't be waterproof, and that the scale of the pole is ridiculously wrong compared to the high ceilings used on typical FIRST venues (not to mention the difficulty of actually packing in a tall enough _stable_ pole of realistic proportions).

    Heck, I think you might even be able to almost pull this off while still strictly speaking following the rules if you replaced the fire with some other method of heating, and fixed the above.

    Still funny, though.

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  58. (same anon 9:20 again)
    @anon 9:22, it looks like soccer balls (maybe the element of the game this year, or just some made-up game objective). FIRST matches are basically some sort of made-up sport played with remote controlled robots instead of humans.

    FIRST Robotics is actually quite popular, though obviously doesn't get as much media coverage as Battlebots.

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  59. I don't really think it's very funny. I don't really know anything about FIRST, and this didn't do anything for me. Hmm, an unorthodox way of disabling the opponent's robot. Whatever. Maybe it's cool for people who really care about sparring robots.

    I'm not sure if I like the delivery or not. It's kind of cool for Randall to give all the information about the robot, then let us see how it works in practice. It just feels kind of ass-backward.

    Not really any strong thoughts on this one. Just...really not very interesting or good.

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  60. you know what? I don't think we can justify wasted panels or lack of detail visually with this comic, Radnall did well this time, and since we claim so many times that we would like xkcd to be great again, we've got to give credit where credit's due. In spite of that previous statement, I still don't like plugs unless your entire comic is to be a reference and since this wasn't the case I raised my fist and frowned at reading the Hackers quote.

    Also, as to what our anonymous FIRST expert was explaining, the absurdity of this comic works, I mean it is so over the top that you wouldn't find it anywhere in the real world and I thought that was why we made comics and books and movies, forms of escape from reality.

    I'm rambling again but I still say that we would really have to try hard to out and out hate this comic (nothing wrong with having no strong feelings though Mal :P)

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  61. I don't think there's anything to hate. I don't think there's much to love, either, unless the Recognition Factor is really strong this time around.

    I mean, yes, Cam, he managed to meet some of the bare minimum standards for quality, like being able to visually communicate what's going on, and not including insultingly obvious dialogue like "(Mal from Firefly)", and not including a giant cartoon vagina. It's really sad that we can no longer take these things for granted.

    Also, wait, hang on, you're talking about this XKCD as an escape from reality, but the show is already an escape from reality. Or...what are you saying here? I don't think many people are gonna be super up in arms about how this robot doesn't conform to FIRST rules, since I don't think many people have any goddamn idea what FIRST is.

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  62. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  63. The latest comic is probably only funny if you are familiar with FIRST in more than a "just saw it on TV once" way. But the genuine GOOMH potential for that group helps. No, I'm not saying that anyone familiar with FIRST has at some point wished they could build a robot with a telescoping arm that would trip the fire alarm and decommission the other bots.

    Captcha: urays. unorthodox robot attempts yeller strategy. Or, something funnier.

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  64. Comic 689 is simply backwards. I knew in the first panel that this had something to do with fire alarms (the punchline). But only after prolonged staring at that final line did I figure out what the hell the setup was.

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  65. its just boring.

    that's all i really have to say about it.

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  66. Mal I don't know what I was trying to get at, that's why I added the whole "I'm rambling again" thing because half of the time when I'm writing stuff, I forget what the hell I was writing about, but my laziness prevents me of rereading to find out what the fuck so instead everyone has to suffer through trying to find out what the fuck I was trying to say.

    Eh, just forget about the whole "this is an escape thing" because at that point I was trying to think of more reasons why we could potentially not have a problem with the comic. I don't know why I did that, especially since the only reaction I got from the comic was "oh dude BattleBots, I remember that show, man this is certainly more visual appealing than most of his recent ones." nothing on the funny though, just a general since of "why the hell can't Randy consistently churn out stuff that is at least this visually appealing?"

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  67. @mal

    it appears the recognition factor is HUGE on this one. FIRST players or programmers or whatever they are called just collectively jizzed their pants because their hobby was mentioned.

    ugh i hate that mentality. OMG MENTIONED SOMETHING I DO. MUST LOVE.

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  68. The worst thing about the latest comic is how he doesn't even try to make the writing legible anymore. FUSHER? CUCK? What the fuck are these things? In fact the entire thing is badly drawn. Randall should take some lessons from Øyvind Thorsby, who despite not being much of an artist manages to clearly visualise complicated concepts in his comic. Randall's attempt at visualising what's going on is pretty pathetic.

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  69. @Timofei
    I'm all for bashing bad comics (like this one) but quit fucking bitching about the art style. It's established, and it's lazy. It's supposed to be that way. Comics are not enormous and brightly such as the one you linked to. It's black and white with shaky lines and stick figures. You're more than welcome to dislike it, but it's consistent and so reading rants about it week after week is getting old. And this comic is fairly well drawn. I had no problem figuring out what was going on. Further, learn your letters. An 'F' with the two horizontal lines connected with a left-opening arc is called a 'P.' You have a bit more of an argument with "CUCK," but it's quite obviously an onomatopoeia (seeing as how it's originating only from inanimate objects) and, in this case, "CUCK" and "CLICK" would seem to indicate very similar sounds. It's sloppy, whatever, but I didn't have any trouble deciphering it, and didn't even see "CUCK" until you pointed it out.

    In any case, I knew what FIRST was, am not part of it, and will not show this comic to anyone who is part of it. It's not funny in the least. It might have been a bit more clever if it were more to-the-point, but it's so drawn out that any entertainment value leading up to the abysmal "punchline" is just lost. I'm trying to think of how he could have done a better job with this concept and I can arrive at only one conclusion: he shouldn't have used this concept.

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  70. First of all: I have never heard of FIRST. I've seen some robot soccer or whatever it's called, though.

    I didn't care for the latest comic, but I have to say, most of it is okay. When I first saw it I was all ready to groan and go "Oh hell, it's going to be a bitch to figure out what the fuck is going on in this one again", but it was actually pretty clear. There's no crappy dialogue, no overexplaining the joke, no unnecessary crap after the punchline, just a gag presented properly.

    It didn't make me laugh or giggle or smile or anything, but I'm kind of happy about how he didn't fuck up most of the comic like usual.

    By the way, on seeing the first panel, did anyone think that this would have something to do with rocket launches? It'd be amazing if NASA fired a gigantic umbrella into the air to plug the ozone layer or something.

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  71. "Wow, this is a much better design"
    "Let's build it"

    This is non-crappy dialogue???

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  72. This comic would be great for a picto-blog post. I think the final result is reasonable enough, and while not hilarious, it's quite amusing and entertaining. Randall has had some other "oooh wonder what would happen if we did this" comics, like that "Ducklings" (537) one and the "Egg drop failure" (510), which were far, far worse. This one is neat, and I didn't need to be familiar with FIRST. In fact, it was even better not knowing what the title referred to, and only realising it was a robot match on the comic itself. I think the title actually spoils it.

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  73. Well...this comic didn't suck as bad as most of his recent efforts. I didn't look at it and groan right away. There is at least a joke, and it's executed well enough. Not really funny, but not awful.

    What absolutely baffles me is all these FIRST people on the forums going "Ha ha, this comic is great! But this robot breaks the rules of the competition! Oh and sprinkler systems don't work like that!"

    So if basically the entire comic is completely implausible and stupid why the hell do they like it so much? Just because it mentions something they know about?

    Y'know, if I had a hobby, and Randall mentioned it in a comic, and got everything about it completely wrong? I'd feel insulted! I'd be really upset that he didn't care enough to at least remotely research the topic, and thought he could put down any old bullshit in five minutes to make a deadline.

    But hey what do I know? I guess being mentioned by the "god of the internet" is enough to make him blameless in their eyes. I guess if I was so desperate for love and acceptance as they are I'd latch on to anything I could get too. It'd be like if a beautiful woman came up to me and said "You look really nice tonight, Robert," I'd be like "She said I look really nice and I don't even care that my name isn't Robert because she paid attention to me!"

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  74. Whoever wrote this post is a douche. You either a) clearly don't understand the concept, or b) your hate for Randell is forcing you into stupid arguments about grey. Grey is simply a MIX of white and black. In fact, 'greyness' is measured in a percentage ratio.

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  75. Yeah, I wonder whoever wrote it. I mean, some sort of clue would be nice, like a huge "Posted by Carl" line right after every post or something.

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  76. THAT is robot soccer?
    those rectangles with a diamond shaped textures are GOALS?
    Oh boy, the review about that strip is going to write itself...

    metalhannes

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  77. Well, I entered a few robotics competitions too (not this one) and by the end of week one, everyone on our team had shared a billion variations of this "joke" with the rest. Robots that get the other one wet, robots that flood the whole building, robots that carry explosive payloads for kamikaze attacks, robots that have guns to shoot the other team, blah blah. Then we figured that we should stop dicking around and get to work.

    This isn't even funny. It's like when you've watched TV on the couch all afternoon, and feel like getting some chips, and say to yourself "man, I wish those chips would come to me so I could be even more lazy and not have to get up". It's horribly mundane. Now if the laziness was somehow extraordinary and the "solution" overly elaborate, it would be funny (like those future people in Wall-E I guess) but this is just a bunch of people saying "man, why do we actually have to put in effort to win this robot thing?".

    By the way, don't the sprinklers detect carbon monoxide? You could just stick a tank of the stuff in your bot and waterproof the chassis (with some silicone or rubber, not an umbrella).

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  78. I'm all for bashing bad comics (like this one) but quit fucking bitching about the art style. It's established, and it's lazy. It's supposed to be that way. Comics are not enormous and brightly such as the one you linked to. It's black and white with shaky lines and stick figures. You're more than welcome to dislike it, but it's consistent and so reading rants about it week after week is getting old.

    Just because Randall's art is supposed to be shitty is no excuse. Why is it shitty? What reason does Randall have for drawing everything poorly? Is there any justification other than "Randall is a lazy, incompetent hack?" If not, I don't see any problem with calling him out for it.

    The thing is, Randall is working in the medium of the web comic. Serial images. Pictures and words. When he absolutely refuses to put anything worthwhile in the pictures, and his drawings occasionally obscure what's going on, we ask why the fuck he's even drawing at all. You can't just say "But it's his styyyyle!" over and over again.

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  79. It seems like Randall is just picking semi-obscure hobbies at random and preying on the people who get off on recognition. Even though it has apparently been pointed out that pretty much everything except for the name is wrong about his depiction... I guess this is part of the "joke"?

    @Ar-Pharazon: My understanding was that there are sprinklers that are designed to detect heat and those designed to detect smoke (or generally high particle density). I could be insanely wrong though.

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  80. I've never heard of this First robotics thing, but I can gather it's like a "robot athletics" sorta thing.

    That's After a visit to XKCD explained.

    The truth is, I had no Idea what was going on-

    Here is My view

    In today's comic, a weirdass box on wheels with attached gadgets dumps a telescopic pole and spunks on a light fitting, making it rain indoors.
    Thankfully the spunk-box is equipped with an umbrella- so it may rejoice by pushing featureless scribbles aimlessly.

    Also, some dudes make faces at the sidelines while a trolley filled with scaffolding sorta sits... there?


    WHAT THE CRACK HAPPENED THERE?

    That's not even counting the near unintelligible dialouge.

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  81. Two items.

    First: we used to have smoke detectors that detected particles in the air. We had a moth infestation. Maggots crawled into the smoke detector and set it off all the time.

    Second: one of the kids I know who does FIRST shared this on greader.

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  82. I really do hate these ones where he thinks he's so clever but its really just lame.

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  83. what in the hell is panel two?

    i get the joke. that's not the problem.
    i just can't make sense of panel two at all. currently it looks like (from l->r): control panel - the game-breaking robot - mini house on wheels - wardrobe - empty ground - another wardrobe - a mini car (scaled to suit the mini house?) - a goalpost on wheels - control panel.

    what.

    can somebody clarify?

    also the footballs at the end only confuse things more for me.


    i don't get why randy didn't just make the scene a simple straight-up easy-to-draw robot vs robot fight? why reference FIRST competitions and try (and good god fail) to depict what goes on there?
    it's not a bad joke - what if we design our robot to step outside the rules in order to win rather than just design him to win? - but it's bogged down with needless nerdjerkery.


    also nitpicking: it's not the funniest design for the rule-sidestepping robot. especially because of the "water only insta-explodes Robby the Robot, not real ones" fact.
    it would've been better if either the design was more outrageously rube goldberg-esque in its inventiveness or audacity, or else it was more basically plausible (i mean, a telescoping rod? ever tried using a broom instead of the remote to turn off the tv?)
    hell even just some throwaway joke about the unrealistic effect of the water would've helped. instead we've just got an unworkable and unremarkable design that seems lamely unaware of its own shortcomings.


    all that said though, it's not really a bad joke.
    so.

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  84. I just read the xkcdexplained for this one and I... I don't know what to say but it feels like they have taken their cynicism and sarcasm to a whole new level.

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  85. @Cam: I think the "We Get It" explanation by them might've been the least veiled bashing they've ever done, but I've always had the general impression even with their earlier posts that the tone is pretty anti-xkcd.

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  86. Well I realise that, but this one. I don't know it just makes me feel bad for reading it, especially the whole he's going back to get his GED statement. It felt, I don't know, I just didn't feel right after reading it (for whatever reason)

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  87. This is low even for xkcd.
    Normally, I would expect something trite like "the first law of FIRST robotics", juxtaposing the competition and Asimov.

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  88. The best example of a self-referential pie chart is this little slice of genius:

    http://graphjam.com/2008/09/18/song-chart-memes-pie-i-have-eaten/

    Randall doesn't get points for originality here, but it's nice to spread the meme, I guess.

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  89. As far as the fraction/percent thing goes, anyone who uses percentages isn't really doing it right anyway... They're more or less useless for any real calculations.

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  90. William Monty Hughes, I hope you're being sarcastic/satiric/sardonic/etc.

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  91. Monty is the real thing biotch deal wif it *does the fyad dance*

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  92. First, curse you, Carl, for giving me **ANOTHER** time-suck. Abstruse Goose is MUCH funnier, if more arcane, than xkcd. I've read the first 100 and I like the author's sense of humor and humility.

    Second, re 689: I thought it was a riff on Junkyard Wars (not knowing about FIRST) and couldn't figure out what the task was supposed to be, or what was going on in the last panel.

    Total lose for me.

    Now that I know it's about one of the robitics competitions, meh. It seems he's mocking the effort that goes into one of the real contraptions. So no improvement for knowing what FIRST is.

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  93. First:
    688- Wasn't there already a comic about how Randy can't stop counting things....
    And Second:
    689- Randy was mocking the effort people put into robotics contests, but the comic right before this was about how great it was that he went into detail on so many things? Fail sandwich.

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  94. As far as the fraction/percent thing goes, anyone who uses percentages isn't really doing it right anyway... They're more or less useless for any real calculations.

    Ah, that's good to know. Now I can stop looking at interest rates on savings accounts and calculating what kind of money I'd be getting, because now I know percentages are useless in REAL calculations, so there'd be no point in figuring it out.

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  95. I hope you're converting those percentages to decimals before you calculate anything, because otherwise you might be making some serious errors.

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  96. Or maybe he avoids that by not being thick.

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  97. If you "use" percentages by immediately converting them into decimals and then ignoring the % sign, I'm not sure what's going on here.

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  98. FIRST comic flaws:
    1. Waaay too obscure (in line with the dumbing down of xkcd, is aimed primarily at high school students)
    2. Telegraphs the lame punchline in the first panel
    3. As I said, punchline is lame
    4. Punchline is also obscure
    5. Alt-text unfunny

    It's actually a bit amazing. The comic has all of the elements necessary for a joke (setup, punchline, mayhem, etc.) but somehow manages to be unfunny. It's kind of like a naked singularity, where a singularity is a joke and mass is laughs.

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  99. Cam: That's why I chose that line. Think of it as a good natured jab in the ribs.

    689: What I dislike most is that it's a joke made by practically anyone who's ever shown any interest in any robotics competition. It's kind of funny in the moment (and can get participants to think outside the box), but, played straight in a comic, it's just ego stroking. If you're going to do a joke like that, at least give it some kind of twist.

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  100. Am I the only one bothered by the whole "match-matchbox" thing? It would require relatively sophisticated robotics to get a robot to both hold match and box and then strike it successfully, I would imagine (although I don't know much about robotics). Why not just use a lighter?

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  101. Shouldn't be that hard to get a robot to strike a wooden match; it's just dragging it across the box fast enough. It doesn't require a whole lot of finesse.

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  102. Also, matches make smoke. Lighters don't so much.

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  103. Well Way Walker, at the very least your comment gave me a reason to post as, usually, xkcd in itself is not enough for me to make an extravagent post

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  104. Way Walker your edit is much better given that I actually laughed at the last panel.

    CAPTCHA: torism. It's like tourism in China.

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  105. Haha, excellent edit Way Walker.

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  106. Also Way Walker, what will those pesky spies think of next? Especially working together, although I guess Black Hat guy and his girlfriend are xkcd's version of them, although not as funny, because they talk instead of just simply outwit one another

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  107. That's what I love about this and xkcd could be better, you won't see cuddlefish make an actually funny strip from a mediocre xkcd.

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  108. your comics suck worse than xkcd lol

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