Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Comic 705: Die Harder

Hey there ladies and gents, it's me again. Gonna be a quick post today, is this update game exhausting you too? Don't worry, I have it on good authority that Carl will be back for the next one. In the meantime, let's do this.

Randall, please do not draw facial hair on your stick figures. In fact, please don't try to draw facial features on them at all, you've done it a few times now and it pretty much always looks like shit. Either you learn to draw for real, which won't be happening, or you keep it simple. You can't have it both ways.

We all know what's wrong with this comic. Right? Comics are a visual medium, even stick figure comics, and it's just not OK to have a talking head narrating the situation. It's pointless and lazy. The visual element of comics is a tool, it's the main strength of the medium over, you know, text. Showing something crazy happening is always more interesting, and usually funnier, than just describing it, whether the pictures are accompanied by narration or not.

The last line of dialogue here is also awful. Despite its flaws, this comic actually came pretty close to making me laugh (I've known sysadmins like that), but when I finished it, I went from ready-to-laugh Jay to disgruntled, glowering Jay in like a second. It's post-punchline dialogue, which of course is well-loathed, but worse than that, it's pandering. It's a shoutout to all the sysadmins in the audience, "hey, I recognize you!", to make them feel special. It spells out the punchline (so does the alt text), it's awkward, it's not something any human being would say. Not even in xkcd's universe. Don't believe me? Replace "sysadmin" with something realistic, like special forces op, anything. "Shit, we're dealing with an X." Italicized for extra emphasis. People don't talk that way.

In summary, there's a potentially funny idea here, at least for people who are aware of the sysadmin stereotype, but it's ruined by its execution. What a surprise that is. We'll be seeing each other again soon, but for now I'm going to turn you over to Carl. I'm grumpy, going to bed.


  1. Actually, that "extraneous" line is what would give the comic it's punch, if it really had any. It's a slightly-dramatised way of speaking, slightly over-the-top like it might be in a movie, where we are expecting something movie-size cool. Instead we get "sysadmin". That's the whole point of the comic. You missed the whole point.

    The comic sucks but so does this criticism.

  2. I guess it could be a parody of bad action movie dialogue, but I doubt it. I agree with Jay.

    Also, this reminded me of that Denzel Washington movie where he held a hospital hostage and pantsed a SWAT agent. I mean, it doesn't really have much to do with this comic, but man was that movie awful.

  3. Yeah, it *could* be a parody of bad action movie dialogue, but even with that benefit of the doubt that's really not a good place to put it.

  4. I said I was going to bed! I lied!

    Anon, if it's a parody, it's a lackluster parody, because people don't talk that way in action movies either. But it's not a parody. People talk that way in xkcd, because Randall cannot write dialogue, as he has demonstrated many times.

    You are just wrong here. OK. Going to bed for real.

  5. Dialogue like that actually does crop up in movies (and TV) - for whatever reason people love to "tell don't show" which is the opposite of how it should be imo. I sort of thought this one was funny.

    The current one: is it just me, or does the alt text, for once, contribute (even if just a little bit?)

  6. Nobody in particularFebruary 23, 2010 at 10:30 PM

    If you're going to parody the way people talk in movies, make it obvious. Parody is exaggeration of action and behavior, much like caricature is exaggeration of physical features.

    If a reasonably-minded person can read this comic without even thinking that parody was even a possible choice here, then the writer has failed in its parody. Could Randall Patrick McMunroe have achieved that in four panels? Was he even trying to? Probably not. It's probably him just not being very good at writing.

    Still, the problem with this comic, as has already been pointed out, is the reliance on overview instead of action. It would be pretty cool, funny almost to see a man break into a building, walk over glass, and beat up bad guys only to fix some broken wires. Decent use of anticlimax there. Instead? We hear a man explaining how somebody else did that. Show, don't tell. That's what any beginner writer learns.

  7. Way Walker's much-improved edit from a few posts ago deserves to be reposted right about now:


  8. Same Anon as #1.

    Your post is called "Die Harder". The comic features awkward dialogue specifically referencing Die Hard. But I bet it has nothing to do with action-movies, right guys?

    Seriously, take the comic again, imagine Jay's edit. That is, take out the "post-punchline dialogue". Does it get funny? Does it get at all funnier?

    Fuck no, but he's claiming it does. That's what I don't like here.

  9. Same guy again. So I checked out the edit, actually shown and not imagined. It was better T_T

    What have I doooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooone

  10. Nobody in particularFebruary 23, 2010 at 10:43 PM

    Better, still just tells us about something we'd much rather see, but at least it doesn't jam the joke into our heads.

  11. XKCDsucks is now appearing higher up than XKCD when I type "x" into the URL box. Strange, I still consider myself more of an XKCD fan than a hater. I like to think this site grew to something more than a hate site. Not to mention, here there is no meme spam (Except by you, anonymous)

    Comic 706.
    You know what I realized from this comic? The awkwardness of 2 dimensionality. (I'm not even sure if I'm making up words now).

    I decided to look (Pretty much purely) at the art on this one, and noticed several small, non-intentional humourous parts. Even funnier when I make it into a comic of my own, just take out the words. Panel-by-panel analysis, as people break things down easier when it's done like that.

    Panel 1:
    Art wise, there is NOTHING unique here. Wait, I'm wrong, these seem to be two stickfigures who do not suffer from a severance of the carotid and jugular blood vessels. That's right, total attachment here, the package deal.

    Panel 2: OH NO! Stickfigure Left has severed his head, and collapsed his hand into a wave generator, possibly FM radio. Evidently, some freaky stuff is happening now.

    Panel 3:
    Gadzooks! His head is still off! His hand deflated back to it's regular pointy end, and no longer emits radio signals. But his head! Worse still, Stickfigure Right head has came off TOO! He seems to be questioning this odd anomaly, by way of raising his bony, pointy right-stick hand to his detached circle-head.

    Panel Beat:
    WHAMMMMM! Evidently some collision has taken place!

    Panel 4: Stickfigure Right's hand has now metamorphosed into a defunct wave generator! His head seems to be falling off even FURTHER! However, Stickfigure Left's is once again in one piece. This is strange, but one a highly scientific mind can infer that Stickfigure Right has bludgeoned Stickfigure Left's head onto his body. The cartoon scars and stars (Holy wow, look at that rhyme there!) signify that he has indeed been bludgeoned! Lastly, he is on the floor, and his distinct lack of expression shows his emotional animosity with Stickfigure Right, for he had been bludgeoned by him, but he saved his life too from certain death by hemorrhaging.

    Also, since there is no floor, we can safely assume that Stickfigure Left has also become a mario-jump shadow of Stickfigure Right, in his fondness.

    Luckily, in this comic, sans text, we can actually assume a fair bit of what happened. My interpretation was just one of the less orthodox ways of interpreting it. Hope it was funny.

  12. third panel is Randall trying to be "deep"

  13. Nobody in particularFebruary 23, 2010 at 11:57 PM

    Honestly? The most recent one isn't that bad to me. I feel it's a call back to some of the very early XKCDs. Sure, it's not very deep philosophy, and can be countered completely by "Of course we don't do those things. We have the ability of long term planning."

    But it's a simple enough thought, and the "punch"line (har har) isn't bad, though pretty well-tread territory. In the end, it's just some food for thought. Hell, if Randall didn't sound so preachy it might even be a *good* comic. Perish the thought.

  14. whoa man it's like
    like we can do whatever we want
    but but the MAN is holding us down
    fricking fascist

    rules are for sheeple YO

  15. Ya, wouldn't have got this joke without the sysadmin. Then I got it on an intellectual level but not on a relateable level. Wasn't the target audience for this one.

  16. New comic blows dick. Seriously, the joke states that the action that constituted the punchline was predictable. Come on Randall, look at your comic for 5 seconds and you can see that.

  17. I don't really get the hate on the new comic. As far as xkcds go, it's pretty good. Plus, it makes for a great goatkcd.

  18. Nobody in particularFebruary 24, 2010 at 1:12 AM

    I haven't see Goatse in so long. Thank you, my friend, for bringing it back. I'm almost sincere here. It's liking meeting an old, horrible friend.

  19. Revised alt-text: "Let's see how much he cares about uptime when we kidnap his wife and kids.... Oh. Right, a sysadmin."

  20. I agree here. I don't really care about whether people talk like that normally or not, I don't see the issue with stylised dialogue. People don't talk like they do in Pulp Fiction, but it's still a great movie.

    The major problem is the usual for xkcd, the post-punchline dialogue. Some people won't get it without it, but he should just accept that. People who don't get it until it's spelled out, won't find it funny anyway.

    Also, it's a crime against the medium, that he just describe whats happening. He should have made the three middle panels into a Die Hard action sequence, with a concise narration floating over all of them. This could've actually been a great comic. Shame.

  21. Like:

    Panel 1:
    Same as now

    Panel 2
    Image of guy climbing up through the ventilation duct

    panel 3
    Image of guy walking on glass

    panel 4
    Image of guy shooting bad guys

    In the corner of panel 4:
    A picture of hans having the phone conversation. His receiving phone talk bubble says "But then this guy broke in, and killed everyone we sent to stop him.", and is placed above panels 2-4.

    panel 5:
    Hans: Fuck, did he get the hostages?

    Phone guy: No. He just reconnected the cables and muttered something about "uptime".

  22. Grrr, I hope 706 pisses you off. So predictable. And the "that's the beauty", doesn't make sense.

  23. Oh boy, the latest 'Freedom' comic is the best in a long time.... I didn't see that punch coming at all! I was sitting here thinking, gee, all this talk about random violence, I wonder how it's going to...WHAM!!! Right out of nowhere!! The guy talking about randomly punching people gets punched by his friend! It's funny because he should have expected it, and he didn't!

    The BEST part, though, is that among all the things in the setup that he lists as random things he could do, he mentions punching someone TWICE, just so you can be EXTRA amazed that you didn't see the punch at the end coming from ten miles away!

  24. About 705 and Jay's criticism, I'm not sure the dialogue is that farfetched for an action movie parody/reference. It does throw the joke on our faces, which is just as bad. It's as if Randall has just given up trusting his audience to GET his jokes.

    About 706... not THAT bad. Up to the third panel it's usual xkcd with hammy dialogue and stick figures on hite background... then it breaks the layout for the sound effect and we have, at the very least, a very communicative "I'm fucking hurt" stance from Stickman on The Left. Actually, I think that's the only good thing here in this comic: that stance.

    Other than that: punchline was telegraphed from the first sentence of the second panel; the stick people's heads don't connect with their necks once again; and the humor itself is no more than random violence, which is just as good as a substitute for a joke as pop culture references.

    That's all for now. Mole out.

  25. What I did like about the new one was that at least it was, on the whole, anti-left-stickman's-statements: it's true that you CAN be a maverick and break rules, but if you do you'll get punched in the face. Better than if it had been "OMG you're right! let's go do something quirky in public [ie sex!]"

  26. I like how everybody is suggesting that Randal should have drawn the action instead of just showing a guy on the phone explaining it.

    I agree that the comic is more boring as it is, and that "show, don't tell" is the right way to go, but..

    Do you guys really think Randal would have been able to draw that shit, in a way that would make it possible to tell what's going on, with his shitty stick figures? If Randy had shown us what was going on, you'd be complaining about how terrible the art is. Shit Jay, you have a problem with the guy's goatee. I don't see anything wrong with it. In the same way that long hair on a stick figure SHOWS the audience that it's a girl, I think the facial hair does a good job of SHOWing us that we're looking at a bad guy right off the bat. It's a visual cue that plays along with Randal's style of art. I think it's appropriate and works.

    Fuck me, did I just defend an xkcd strip? I hate that he threw in the post-punchline dialog to explain the joke, effectively ruining it, but that's it. I otherwise think it was a good concept and is otherwise a pretty decent strip. Certainly better than some of the more recent comics.

  27. Well I guess you'd be used to defending things you secretly hate, wouldn't you Ben?

  28. Ann, I think it was more "it sounds pretty rad punching someone in the face, but it's not the same when it's your face, innit?", which is a lame statement. It's just hipocrisy, instead of anything significant.

    Let's do an imagination experiment... Let's say the comic didn't go the way it did. Instead, it goes like this...

    Panel 1: Everything the same. Epyhphany, "oh?" and all that.

    Panel 2: Stickman-on-the-Right goes on how he could just punch the person he was talking to and all that crap.

    Panel 3: Stickman Right adds "In fact..."

    Panel 4: WHAM

    Panel 5: Stickman Left with a bruise on his "face" complaining: "What the heck, man?" and Stickman Right goes on about some extra fauxlosophy.

    Panel 6: WHAM

    Panel 7: Stickman Right on the ground, realizes the reason people don't go maverick and take stupid decisions is that there are consequences.

    And, just because it isn't Randall Munroe without it... Stickman Left delivers some PPD.

    Well... this is a sketch of a script, but there. That's how it should go if it was a comic about consequences and all that. Alterntively, it could start with Stickman Right punching Stickman Left and then explaining, and then taking the consequences. Whatever.

    Point is: now, it's just a comic about... how you shouldn't give assholes any stupid ideas? I dunno.

    PS.: Ben, I think someone actually suggested a good alternative: showing AND telling. Rather, I'd say Randall plainly shouldn't have tried to tell a joke he wouldn't be able to.

  29. I think I screwed up the sides... well, heck, you got it, left? ...I mean, right?

  30. Center.

    My takes:

    705: Could be better if he'd made an attempt at drawing the action. He's done this before. It's possible. It'd be even better if he did it without stick figures, but we all know that isn't happening anytime soon.

    So why didn't he do that? Is he in a rush to put something out on schedule? If that's the case, and he has a day job that's taking up the rest of the time, then he needs to slow down. If he doesn't have a day job, he needs to put more time into these things.

    706: Professional Mole did a better take on this. I didn't like the original at all. "Oh, look, we only don't do stupid things in conversations because of social mores!" And why are those social mores in place? They didn't just form on their own, did they?

    Oh wait. For the most part, they did. The ones that lasted the longest (i.e. "not punching people in the face randomly") did so because the people who followed them were able to breed. The ones who couldn't follow the rules found it harder to breed. Funny, that.

  31. Ben
    "Do you guys really think Randal would have been able to draw that shit, in a way that would make it possible to tell what's going on, with his shitty stick figures?"

    Yes, I think so. Especially since we already know what he is trying to draw, having watched Die Hard several times, plus there would be included some narration.

  32. "So why didn't he do that? Is he in a rush to put something out on schedule?"

    Well, Milkshake, I have a theory. First, the premises: we know Randall has no job and lives off his sales on xkcd store and other xkcd related business. Which means, yes, his webcomic is his job. I think he said that one time or another. Anyway, if that is not a fact then the theory is even easier to grasp.

    Now, it was also mentioned at least once -- in the Reddit "ask me anything" rally, I think -- that he has a buffer. That's the center of the theory this buffer.

    My theory is: Randall has no buffer. That's the best explanation for so many shitty/subpar strips in the first place: he's rushing. Why he can't make an extra effort to show instead of telling? Because he needs that strip ready for Monday, that's why! Why he doesn't connect those heads to the necks? Because the deadline is coming, and he has no strip to put on the site when midnight strucks!

    Granted, it might be more complex than that, I think he might have had a buffer some time ago, but blew it on wasting his time making poster comics. Which are a good waste of time, seeing it makes him money and are an awesome view, but, without a buffer, he's back to rushing strips and making them even shittier than they'd be if he just took his time working better on them.

    Bonus corollary: that is also the reason why he can't have an editor. See, he'd have to have the strip done, sent to the editor and then sent back with comments on improvement, and who knows how many times it'd take! But, on a rushing schedule, Randall just can't send his strip for review, or else he'll miss his updating schedule.

    I rest my case.

  33. What with all the facial hair, climbing through vents and killing all these people I was SO expecting this to be something about Gordon Freeman. I either worked too much on the Half-Life code or it was too long ago that I have seen Die Hard. (Or haven't I seen it even? That'd sure cost me some nerd credits!)

    Of course there's PPD as usual, but I think for the alt text it IS acceptable to spell out the punchline. If Randall can't make enough money if he doesn't explain every joke right away, the alt text sure is a better place to do that than appending PPD. I just hate the completely unnecessary meme reference in the alt text. Why not just my own blog's server? Why would my cat's blog be hosted somewhere else? "It sure doesn't make any sense, but take this wacky meme reference!"

    "Freedom"'s end is missing. Or wait, is it actually... no, no, this completely expected (and therefore not random) violence sure can't be the punchline! It can't be that lame, can it? (BTW, having someone actually punch someone else in the punchline sure was never seen before in recent xkcd comics.)

    - Anon 07:02

  34. Prof. Mole: True, but also not a good model. You know it already, I'm sure, but if it's his job now, he should be spending plenty of time on each comic as it is. If it's his job, he shouldn't be half-assing things.

    Also, I took a second and dug out a much better sysadmin joke he did, way back. Notice that he didn't explain the joke.

  35. 706 reminded me of a calvin & hobbes strip where calvin talking about how the means justify the ends and etc, and then hobbes pushes him into a mud puddle so he won't get dirty, and calvin's all "dammit it's only meant to apply to me".

    it was - surprise surprise - better done than randy's. but hey i dunno it's not like he's ever read any calvin & hobbes is it? right hardly i don't think he's ever even heard of that comic i mean it is pretty obscure.

    also it made me think of that whole thing all learner drivers go through when they realise wait the only protection they have from not dying in a firey steelsmashing collision when they sit in their little metal box of high-speed danger is because they trust complete strangers to obey some totally arbitrary rules and maintain control of their own little metal boxes of high-speed danger.

    another argument for Professional Mole's no buffer theory: some fo randy's ideas (like that behind 706) aren't bad, but they need time to be honed into their best/most interesting shape. there's craft involved in bringing forward the ideas behind what you're saying ina way that's...artful. and above anything you need time to do it.

    randy is clearly putting out raw incomplete half-formed 'i just thought of this' ideas, and it suggests he just doesn't have time to consider and rework what he's writing.

  36. That comic isn't funny though.

  37. Maybe if the joke was that we were so sure he would hit him, and then he doesn't. Because that is the new option for him. I think I would find that amusing.

  38. Come on, Jay! If you wanna complain about unrealistic dialogue, complain about the "walked across broken glass" line! THAT thing is awfully jarring; it's something that wouldn't be said in that kind of conversation, and is there ONLY to make the explicit reference to Die Hard. That is a clear token both of the "tell, don't show" mentality AND of Randall's terrible writing skills.

  39. Racists, every single one of you.

  40. "As far as xkcds go, it's pretty good."

    I hate this argument it's akin to saying, "as far as feces goes, this batch doesn't taste to bad."

    Ben: So what you're really saying is that no matter what Randall did, the comic would suck because he has no talent. Yes. Yes it would. Your whole line of reasoning boils down to, "the route he took was the best, because it doesn't suck as much as other possible routes." To which, I would refer you to the beginning of my post.

  41. Did a crappy edit of the new one:


    I didn't know how best to deal with alt text, so I'll post it here, a few lines down for your spoiler-y convenience:

    "Now, to publish my philosophical ideas before someone beats me to the punch..."

    Did you cringe? I did.

  42. Somewhere, at this very moment, Bill Watterson has developed a splitting headache.

  43. A new version of the latest comic:


    (Inspired by TheMesosade above)


  44. #1 and others, the humor in the comic is how it pokes fun at geeks for being cloistered and oblivious, not that it's a sysadmin doing things sysadmins don't normally do (like shooting terrorists).

    It would have been perfect if it had more panels and showed the story. People are taken hostage, the cables are cut. A guy shows up. He goes through dangerous situations. He repairs the cables. It's still set up like an action movie - you think he's going to call for help and rescue the hostages.

    Instead, he gets a bag of chips from the vending machines and returns to his workstations, muttering about careless coworkers and uptime.

    Obviously, that could use some tweaking and editing. However, it still would do a better job than the original.

    This just goes to show that Randall should abandon the M/W/F update pattern and only update once a week. He should use the week to develop a good idea, bounce it off people so he can edit and revise it, then make the final product. I like his longer comics - almost all of them demonstrate his effort and creativity. Most of his short ones just seem lazy.

  45. Oh yes a guy who has a sight dedicated to a comic sucking yup that sure is going to be an objective sight no bias here noseree bob

  46. Who the fuck cares about bias? Do you say this to all the fansites full of praise too? (I'm assuming there's fansites. Just seems like there would be.)

  47. You are biased against xkcdsucks.
    Therefore you have no right to criticise this blog, you fucking hypocrite.

    You see, in an ideal world everyone is an opinionless automaton.

  48. Lostman: I think xkcd would need a recurring plot, setting or cast beyond BHG and running gags to warrant a fan site.

  49. Just sayin having a sight dedicated to how much Xkcd sucks of course your going to say something bad about every single comic so it's not like it's the most convincing thing in the world?

  50. Anon 11:01AM. Are you saying it'd be more convincing if the blog was named "XKCDRocks!" and then criticized it?

  51. Not every single comic. Just the crappy ones
    So... Most of them

    Also your bias against this blog has failed to convince me yet again.

  52. You have it backwards. We don't think the comics suck because we're on this site, we're on this site because we think the comics suck. That, that really should be obvious.

  53. @Mike: He might be suggesting that if the website was called "BehindXKCD.blogspot.com - An in depth look at the writing, art, and humour of the popular web comic by Randall Munroe" and then proceeded to bash the comics, it might be easier for fans to swallow. =)

    @Anon 11:01 - You're right about the site having bias, but that doesn't make the arguments any less valid. FTFA: "Replace "sysadmin" with something realistic, like special forces op, anything. "Shit, we're dealing with an X." [...] People don't talk that way." That is a valid point that I agree with. People DON'T talk that way. Maybe it matters more to Jay than it does to you or I. I don't mind that the dialouge isn't believable, but that doesn't mean what Jay says is any less true.

    @Scott: Some of us are here because we find it entertaining, but still like XKCD!

  54. I like you Rinnon. It's refreshing to see an xkcd fan here who isn't incredibly stupid or blinded by his love for the comic (usually both.)

  55. To be brief, 706 blows. Hard.

    @Scott: I think the claim sometimes made, that even Carl conceded might hold some truth, is that it starts out the way you said and transitions into the other way around over time. Not that it matters, as several people have pointed out bias is largely irrelevant. Also your last line reminded me of something God would say to T-Rex in dinosaur comics.

  56. @R.: Thanks! I don't think it's that most fans are stupid, or blinded by love of the comic though... even the ones who who come on here and call everyone bias etc. Some of them sure, but not most. I think the main problem is that most fans (most people really) take a critisism of something they like personally. As if it's an insult to them directly, to their tastes in humour (or whatever is being critiqued). So when they find this site critisising something they like (especially if they really like it), people tend to take it personally and they get mad. They get mad like someone just said something insulting to them, and when they get mad, they want to lash back at this group of people who is insulting them. Except when you're mad, you don't reason very well, and so they come off as either stupid or blind. This is of course, just my theory, take it or leave it, I have no evidence to support it.

  57. Rinnon, what a pleasure!

    "He might be suggesting that if the website was called "BehindXKCD.blogspot.com - An in depth look at the writing, art, and humour of the popular web comic by Randall Munroe" and then proceeded to bash the comics, it might be easier for fans to swallow. =)"

    Hm... or maybe if we were called XKCDRocks and only gushed at every comic, no matter how lazy and unfiltered it is, that Randall throws at you. Let's
    face it, it has nothing to do with bias alone, it's because we don't have HIS/HER/ITS bias. Same thing I said about bash/hatesites and fansites before, and also what you said later about people taking criticism of things they like personally. If we don't like the same things, we're wrong. Yay.

    And, Scott, you fuking rock. Seriously!

  58. Edit 1: I liked uncivlengr's comment that he advertises the punch too much. I also think that if you want to do that joke, which is a pretty straightforward joke, then you should get to the point. So, I took out the second panel, "hid" the punch between the two other suggestions, and removed most of the post punch dialog. I also changed the characters to straw beard and black hat. I think that making him straw beard works better with my edit of Revolutionary because it sets him up as someone who is long winded and better fleshes out his brand of philosophy, but I think it can still work.

    Edit 2: Just trying to change things up after the expected happens.

  59. The interesting part is the word couldn't. That being amazed by all that we can do is meh, just as being amazed by all that we can't do is

  60. "Just sayin having a sight dedicated to how much Xkcd sucks of course your going to say something bad about every single comic so it's not like it's the most convincing thing in the world?"

    The weirdest thing about these assertions is the assumption that somehow the site (that's how it's spelled by the way, dude) came first and then the opinion that it sucks came after. "Of course you think it sucks--you have a site about how much you think it sucks!"

    The writers here did not start with the blog and then decide that it sucks to support this opinion. They came to believe that XKCD sucks and then went on to write for the blog. Certainly, once you've developed a negative view of something you will be more prone to dislike it--but it has nothing to do with writing a blog about it.

    The slightly broader version, "Of course you hated the comic--you hate XKCD!" is pretty circular and doesn't actually address any of the points we bring up. If you are going to complain about bias, you can't just say "you're biased, so everything you say is invalid." You have to address why bias invalidates any given point.

    Unfortunately this usually ends up being "you're just looking for flaws!" Which is true--as critics, we look for flaws. And guess what? We found them.

  61. So this new comic, "Freedom," had potential to explore the idea of determinism and how if you follow your mental rules rather than do any choice you can think of, you don't really have a choice at all [i]even if you acknowledge you have the choice[/i]. But instead, physical humour. Sweet. And by sweet I mean man that comic sucked.

  62. Man fuck the "people don't talk that way" shit. Like WTF!!!! Do comics need to have realistic dialogue? Does it add to the humor in any way?

  63. Very crappy review Jay.

    Also I think you people are overanalyzing this. It's a fucking webcomic. Rob, I think your next rant should be on "you guys are too serious on the comics," because I really need the answer.

    Also yes, you guys ARE really really biased. If it's meh, then it's bad. If it's bad, then its the WORST FUCKING THING TO EVER EXIST IN THE FUCKING WORLD OH MY SHITFUCKS I WANT TO KILL MYSELF.

    With fanboys- if it's bad, then it's a meh, if it's meh, then its really funny, if its good, they orgasm at the awesome might of Randall.

  64. Anon 2:24pm

    If you subscribe to the "comedy arises from the unexpected," then greater verisimilitude assists in that, for delivering realistic dialogue makes for a greater break from reality (i.e. Saying something unnatural in a natural way gives a better "wait, what?" effect).

    If, instead, humour arises from comprehension of the many levels of a situation, then realistic dialogue aids the reader in rapid comprehension of the many levels employed, and thus any barriers to comprehension should be limited and ameliorated. Realistic dialogue that a reader intuitively grasps aids then.

    So, yes, realistic dialogue can and does add to humour.

  65. "With fanboys- if it's bad they orgasm at the awesome might of Randall, if it's meh, then they orgasm at the awesome might of Randall, if its good...THE UNIVERSE WILL IMPLODE."

  66. @Mike: Awesome explination of why realistic dialogue adds to humour. I wasn't 100% sold on that point until now.

  67. I like how since Rob's rants went up to the sidebar, there has been a significant decrease in the number of mind-bogglingly retarded statements cuddlefish come in and say. Sure, there are still plenty of morons but at least it keeps them fresh instead of hearing the same things over and over again.

  68. Yeah, I've been pretty pleased with the result. And amused by the people who say "this isn't going to change anyone's mind, you are dumb for writing this."

    Mind you, I don't think it's actually changed their mind, but I think seeing their argument already on the sidebar discourages people from posting it. I call that a win!

  69. Rob have you written an article about "Dudes it doesn't NEED to be realistic!"?

    If not I might take a stab at it.

    The thing is, if dialogue is unrealistic, it should at least have verisimilitude--it sounds realistic enough, with most of the deviations coming from the omission of verbal pauses and circular dead-end conversations that real people have. If the dialogue rings obviously false, it should do so for some overriding reason. Why is the dialogue howlingly unrealistic, instead of something that might seem, even for a moment, like something someone might say sometime? Is it in service of a joke, or a point? Ultimately, no. It's only so awful because Randall is too incompetent to write good dialogue, or because he needs to cram in exposition and is too lazy to figure out a somewhat pleasing way to do so.

  70. I haven't. I might do one but if you want to, by all means.

  71. @Rob: I'm just saying it could have been worse, Randall could have been all "this man is right! woo! fight the power" (he has form) but wasn't. I'm not saying it was particularly deep, or even intentional.

  72. I don't have any problem with how he crammed in exposition. Given the medium (comic) and the genre referenced (action movie) it's fine. The problem is that the last line of 705 doesn't fit. "Dangerous" isn't part of the IT stereotype and it wasn't set up in the comic. What the comic did show is that the sysadmin won't really be an issue. So why the concern?

    I guess that could be the joke, something like the Knights Who Say Ekke Ekke Ekke Ekke Ptang Zoo Boing Zow Zing and the pain the word "it" causes them.

    "Huh? The admin didn't really do anything."
    "Oh, don't you see? The plan is doomed now!"
    "No, really, it's going fine."
    "FOOL! Get out while you still can!"

    I doubt it.

  73. @Rob: Actually, almost every single rant on the left was a pre-conceived notion I had, before I arrived here. You called me on all of those and they were the single greatest factor in my realization that this is not actually just a site for angry hate mongerers, but that there might really be people here I could enjoy discussing things with, even if we don't agree. So in short, good on ya!

    @Fem: That topic is definitely in need of an article. I look forward to reading it!

  74. Responses!

    'About 705 and Jay's criticism, I'm not sure the dialogue is that farfetched for an action movie parody/reference. It does throw the joke on our faces, which is just as bad. It's as if Randall has just given up trusting his audience to GET his jokes.'

    If it's a parody then it's a failed parody. I mean, OK, it's melodramatic, and action movie dialogue is melodramatic, but the melodrama isn't what immediately hits me about it: it's the awkward syntax. And action movies aren't known for especially awkward dialogue, in the way this is awkward. They ARE known for overly-slick, lifeless dialogue and one-liners.

    'Do you guys really think Randal would have been able to draw that shit, in a way that would make it possible to tell what's going on, with his shitty stick figures? If Randy had shown us what was going on, you'd be complaining about how terrible the art is. ... [also I don't mind his goatee]'

    I do! Randall can draw passable scenery, though he fucks up sometimes, and he seems to have a decent grasp of perspective and anatomy. I think he could draw the scene well enough that we (I) wouldn't mock him for it.

    The goatee doesn't REALLY, REALLY bother me, I just think it looks stupid. He's drawn much worse.

    'Come on, Jay! If you wanna complain about unrealistic dialogue, complain about the "walked across broken glass" line! ...'

    Can you explain what's so jarring to you about it? It barely even registered with me.

    Anon 2:34, I'd sure love to respond to you, but you didn't manage to fit any points into your comment, just vague generalities. Your opinion has been duly noted, however.




  76. Rob for your to-do list: "you're taking things too seriously/you're thinking about the comic too much".

    that needs to die.

  77. i will think about that one. hopefully i'll have time this weekend maybe

  78. Isn't that kinda already covered by rants #1 and #4?

  79. Kind of. Sometimes you need to address it explicitly. And it's slightly different in the sense that it's about taking it seriously--assuming that because we talk about something we think it is SRS BZNSS, rather than that because we talk about something we spend every waking moment talking about it.

  80. I truly want to know how Randall spends his day. I really do. There is no way, no way it takes longer than an hour to write/draw/upload one of these. And he only does it three times a week.

    I remember the Ryan North interview where he jokes that he wrote 2,000 Dinosaur Comics in one super-productive afternoon and has just been posting them ever since. I honestly wonder if that's what Randall does? I bet he could make three a day, easily.

    Is it possible Randall just sits down once every three months and writes like a hundred of these and just posts them over the next few months? Yes? No? Maybe?

  81. i picture randy one night thinking "shit it's 9:30 and i haven't got a comic yet, shit shit shit. wait diea! it'll have to do!"
    and then next time being like "pshaw, i got it up last time and i didn't even start until 9:30, i got plenty of time yet".
    and then eventually being in a situation where it's 11:45 and he's thinking "nah it's cool, i'll get something done i'm totally on top of this".

    ryan north probably has a whole bunch of discarded not-good-enough dinosaur comics, tossed away as part of the process of writing and rewriting and drafting and working on his comic.

    i can not imagine randy having so much as a single panel just lying around unattended.
    he's sort of like the beatles circa the Get Back sessions.

  82. whenever 'idea' is mistyped as 'diea' i mentally replace it with diarrhea.

    diarrhea'll have to do.

  83. I did kinda like the sentiment of the latest comic, since it reminded me of being back in junior high having my first similar thoughts about "mental rules."

    But I didn't think it was actually funny. Once again, Way Walker's edit is MUCH funnier. We *could* see it coming, so having the punch just be weak was a genuine subversion of expectations.

  84. "But shouldn't you exercise that freedom at least once before you die?

    This line has really been bugging me. - Why - should you exercise that freedom? Is anyone better off because you acted like an asshole and hit a guy in the face? Is that what allows you to die happy?

    I mean, I know it's supposed to be humorous but there's something so philosophically irritating about it, especially since the entire thing is so puerile and ill-defined.

  85. you know, notes from the underground is actually funny as hell.

  86. It's actually pretty common among some people to feel that if you never do anything unexpected or anything that breaks the rules you're limiting yourself--that you can't be truly free without actually exercising that freedom.

    It's similar to the idea that free speech is useless if you never say anything controversial. Most people are probably not too bothered with it, but there's definitely people who would argue that if all you ever do is follow rules, you're not really living, or you're not living up to your full potential.

    Of course, it's usually not expressed in such a prosaic fashion as "I could punch you in the face at any time." This is part of why this comic is so terrible. It is trying to capture a reasonably interesting sentiment--one which, admittedly, has been expressed many times in many ways by many better writers than Randall--but it does it in a way which is completely bereft of romance or nobility. It's not a defiant affirmation of the self, nor even a restless moment of existential despair. It's a quotidian observation followed by an entirely predictable punchline.

    Thanks, Randall.

  87. But really isn't thinking that you're not exercising free speech unless you say something controversial for the hell of it just as dumb as saying you're not really free unless you go around punching people for no reason?

  88. No. If you never have anything controversial to say you are a boring human being and there is no purpose in your continued existence.

  89. "If you never have anything controversial to say you are a boring human being and there is no purpose in your continued existence."

    That's why I always say THE BEATLES SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Man, I should *TOTALLY* make a nerdy webcomic to show off my cool philosophical issues.

  90. This comment has been removed by the author.

  91. What do "rules" mean, precisely, then, Rob? Are they social standards, literal legal principles, or internal moral standards? Because all three prevent me from punching someone else (in most circumstances). I guess by "mental rules" Randall is trying to say "social taboos", but the idea that rebellion for rebellion's sake is positive just seems so juvenile to me.

    Also, how arrogant do you have to be to insinuate that someone's life is meaningless without meeting some arbitrary criterion? If I'm a dull, uninteresting person who always follows the rules (or an interesting, engaging person who always follows the rules; I've known them!), who's to say I am not living a pour-soi existence? Shouldn't it be I who is the only one qualified to make that judgment?

  92. "No. If you never have anything controversial to say you are a boring human being"

    Oh, I agree. Hence why I said "for the hell of it". If you legitimately have a reason for saying something that'll piss people off that's OK but being "edgy" for no reason other than to make people mad always struck me as an arrogant-14-year-old type mentality.

  93. @nymous: don't bother arguing with rob. he's a fucking idiot and won't take you serious.

  94. So if we're not really living unless we express our freedom of speech and say something controversial, does that mean I can keep talking about filthy, penny pinching jews? Can I call Latino people Spicks? Can I call muslim people infidels? Can I call "brown" people pakis? Can I hit the highest possible and call black people niggers?

    I somehow get the feeling that we have these "social norms/taboos" in place so that people don't get hurt. I can call the above groups of people those duragatory terms from the safety of my home, or behind their backs, but if I start calling them those things to their face, someone's going to get hurt, and it would probably be me because I am being malicious.

  95. @Cam: Controversial doesn't have to be insulting. The social norms that you've listed are all based around the idea that you are being controversial by insulting someone. However, if I was was to openly discuss why is it that the word nigger is insulting to black people, when used by a white person and not when used by fellow black people, the conversation itself could be considered controversial, without nessecarily being insulting to anyone.

  96. "Oh, I agree. Hence why I said "for the hell of it". If you legitimately have a reason for saying something that'll piss people off that's OK but being "edgy" for no reason other than to make people mad always struck me as an arrogant-14-year-old type mentality."

    Well, yes. It's the arrogant 14-year-old mentality of Randall's comic that makes it so incredibly useless. The point shouldn't be that you're breaking rules just because the rules are there; the point should be that you're breaking rules because you have a reason to break them. Most people have a reason to break rules at some point; most people will also never actually break them, because there are rules in place.

    So, you're right. Just punching someone in the face for the hell of it is no better than saying something just because it's edgy. In both cases it generally indicates that you have nothing interesting to say or do on your own, and are still just defining yourself based on the rules.

    "Also, how arrogant do you have to be to insinuate that someone's life is meaningless without meeting some arbitrary criterion?"

    You have to be a person on the internet. I'm constantly amazed at how often people don't get this.

  97. If you don't like XKCD you're basically a humourless shell of a person and there's no point in you continuing to live.

  98. "If you don't like XKCD you're basically a humourless shell of a person and there's no point in you continuing to live."


  99. Hey Rob, you might want to get some ointment for that BURN

  100. dude


    i think this advice would be like super bono helpful to rob and his cohorts yo


  102. @Nymous:"Also, how arrogant do you have to be to insinuate that someone's life is meaningless without meeting some arbitrary criterion? If I'm a dull, uninteresting person who always follows the rules (or an interesting, engaging person who always follows the rules; I've known them!), who's to say I am not living a pour-soi existence? Shouldn't it be I who is the only one qualified to make that judgment?"

    You think you should be the only one allowed to judge whether or not your life has value? You don't think THAT is arrogant? This takes us right back to the whole Subjective/Objective argument. YOU seem to think life value is subjective, and as such only YOUR subjective judgement of yourself has any meaning to you. Rob seems to be implying a persons value can be objectively determined by a set of criteria. I don't agree with Rob that Controversy is that criteria, but I certainly agree with him a person's value can be judged by a set of criteria. Some people are just more worth remembering than others.

    @Rob: Clearly, as per Anon:9:45, or as I think he should be called: "God", that criteria is whether or not you like XKCD. I guess that settles it. I never thought in my wildest dreams I'd discover the meaning of life here, in a blog comment, but there it is. Looks like I've got a head start on you here. But you can repent! Come with me and we'll read old XKCD comics until the end of time!

  103. Ahem.

    I'd rather reign in Hell than read XKCD in Heaven.

  104. well Rinnon, I actually wasn't being serious with my post, I was just throwing it out as more of an "oh, so I should break the rules then? So you're giving me permission to be a racist douchebag then." but I would also bet good money that some people on these here interwebs would see all this "you should break the rules occasionally" and go call the Chinese guy at the liquor store an "imported Chink" because he's "breaking the rules"

  105. @Rob: Don't be foolish. What do you think they're going to have down in Hell to torture you with?

    Cam: Ah okay, It's hard to judge sarcasm and how serious someone is being on the interwebs. But yeah, you're probably right. Someone with less braincells than fingers is going to figure that fighting against determanism by doing something radical is the way to a fulfilling life and is going to get himself beat up. On the other hand though... why do I care if said sheep gets himself beat up?

    "Up Next, Randall writes a comic about how cool it is to stick a fork in an electrical socket to be "different"! Gene pool saved from possible contamination! Nobel Prize Awarded!"

  106. Rob: I agree completely that it is sometimes necessary to break rules or law to do what is morally right; I just think that what is admirable is not the breaking of the law but the doing of the right, if you catch my drift.

    Rinnon: I do absolutely believe that value is subjective. You can create a set of objective standards for it, but the assertion that those standards measure "worth" is subjective.

    I realize that on some level this argument is perhaps a touch semantic, but the implication that a twenty-four-year-old (or however old he is) webcomic writer can walk up to a samana who has spent his life meditating on a mountain and become completely satisfied with his place in the universe and say "Oh, you haven't REALLY lived" is somewhat infuriating to me. Maybe this is a personal weakness.

  107. "I agree completely that it is sometimes necessary to break rules or law to do what is morally right; I just think that what is admirable is not the breaking of the law but the doing of the right, if you catch my drift."

    Sure, that's definitely a good way to live.

    I'm not talking about what's right, though. This is about being an individual and expressing yourself against the norms and expectations of society--of being willing to be exceptional, or to have the adventures that society frowns upon, instead of simply fitting perfectly into society's molds.

    It's hard to say that without sounding like you encourage people doing edgy shit just for the hell of it, but that's no more interesting. That just means that you've defined yourself negatively based on the rules, instead of positively.

    What I'm talking about is a triumphant affirmation of the self, and being actually, really free. The sort of individualism that doesn't need to be anti-society because it's so profoundly individual.

    Part of this the reasoning behind some of the philosophy behind things like parkour and some lockpicking groups. There is no reason that a locked door or a fence or a railing should actually keep you from going where you want to go or seeing what you want to see.

  108. I guess I see where you're coming from - I just don't agree that it's a categorical necessity. If you need to do parkour (I do a bit myself, recreationally) to feel that you are affirming yourself, more power to you. I just don't think that everyone does need to - it's really more of a personal thing.

  109. so if my theatres have a "bottomless bucket" policy when you buy a bucket deal (for certain highly advertised movies, they get merchandised popcorn buckets for said movie and the deal is you get 2 large drinks and the bucket, and the bucket is refillable all day) that you can refill your bucket as long as you purchased it on the premises, am I being "edgy" or just a penny-pincher when I sneak the bucket back in to save $5 on popcorn each time I go to that theatre?

    Note about above hypothesis, back when my theatres did this, my dad and I were all over that shit and would always sneak buckets in with maybe some of the attendents wise but they never called us on it, but every time a new high advertised movie came out, the buckets changed and the jig would be up, so for we'd have to pay another $9 to keep having free popcorn for a month :(

  110. @Rob: "it's so profoundly individual."

    There's only one problem with that. A personality and its traits can only be defined as "individual" when you compare it to another. Art may have an objective component, but personalities do not. You cannot be kind unless someone else is cruel. You can't like something unless someone else dislikes it.

    That may sound patently ridiculous, but hear me out in a few examples:

    First we explore merit being relative. That's an easy one to demonstrate. A company fires the five worst-performing employees. No hiring occurs, then later, it wants to fire the five worst-performing employees. Since they got rid of the previous bottom, there's new people on the bottom to get rid of, even though previously they were good enough to stay. Their quality depending on the time and place. Alternatively, think of a society where every single person follows every single law perfectly at all times. Now imagine that someone throws a candy wrapper on the ground. We'd say "So what? It's just a damned wrapper." But in that society, it'd be a major deal. Someone broke a law. They'd have no sense of scale, because it'd never happened before. It might be a capital offense even. Interpreted as an attack on the very fabric of their society. Time and place.

    Second, is the "in a vacuum" portion of this experiment. Imagine that every person currently on the planet just *vanished*, and everything became automated. Put in one newborn. Raise them up to adulthood and educate them through these automated processes, and no contact with anything. Set them loose on a library, or in a video store, or on the internet. They'd have no context for anything. Would they be able to grasp humour? Would they know how to laugh? Would they know evil? I doubt it. Without a society, there's nothing to inform a person's personality, so saying someone's an individual and disregards a pro- or anti-society stance is an impossibility. In fact, individuality itself is a myth, since a person is still making a choice, even if it's to not make a choice, about how they act, so conformists are just as individual as counter-culture or anti-society wanks. Freedom isn't disregarding society to the point of being neither pro- or anti-, freedom is acknowledging the influence it has upon you and your actions, and considering that in what you do any why.

  111. If you'd please direct me to the point where I said that "freedom is completely disregarding all societal influences / doing absolutely nothing with any sort of societal influence at all," I'd appreciate it. Thanks in advance.

  112. @Nym "[...]but the implication that a twenty-four-year-old (or however old he is) webcomic writer can walk up to a samana who has spent his life meditating on a mountain and become completely satisfied with his place in the universe and say "Oh, you haven't REALLY lived" is somewhat infuriating to me."

    I understand what you're saying, and I agree with your example here, but I don't think we agree for the same reasons. The problem with the example you have provided, is that all we've done is switch the subjective point of view from the samana (the one we are trying to determine value for) to the webcomic guy. It's still a subjective point of view, as we don't know what criteria he is basing the statement "You haven't really lived" on. Without knowing what prior knowlege he posesses on this samana, if we assume that he has none beyond what you provided, I would agree that his subjective statement has little or no real merit in determining the value of that individual. To that end, the implications of objective determination of the value of a person are quite the opposite of the example you provided. Objectively determining the value of a life means that no one person, including yourself, can decide value. It can only be told to you according to a set of criteria that are pre-determined. What the criteria might be is far beyond my limited ability to decifer though, so I'm open to suggestions!

    @Rob: "freedom is completely disregarding all societal influences / doing absolutely nothing with any sort of societal influence at all,"

    Doing absolutely nothing with any sort of societal influence at all strikes me as next to impossible, perhaps with the exception of someone who did not grow up in a society. I mean, I understand your point: that making your desicions not based on rules placed by society, but based on what you feel is the right thing to do is important. I even agree with you completely. But I don't see how someone can have a societal influence factor of 0. That doesn't seem possible.

  113. Rinnon: the point I was making there is "I never said that." I am fully aware that we are all a product of our society and upbringing. The point is that you can own that and disregard it, instead of simply allowing those influences to be all you are.

    (This is usually the part where determinists get all "ah, but your decision to reject that is also a product of your environment," which is entirely missing the point, like determinists tend to do.)

    Nymous: It's not a categorical necessity, but I find people who don't break rules incredibly boring. I also like categorically insulting people on the internet.

  114. Well that was foolish of me. I didn't realize you were being sarcastic. I thought you were litterally quoting yourself in retaliation to Mike's point.

    And yeah, I'm familiar with the determanism argument. It's a pretty lazy argument frankly, stops you from ever needing to think about ANYTHING really. It's fun to use to scare 13 year olds though.

  115. It also just misses the point. Even if I am nothing more than a bundle of external factors, random chance, and etc influencing my every decisions, that bundle of etc is me. Even if it's hopeless to aspire beyond that, the aspiration itself is a noble endeavor.

  116. The whole is more than the sum of its parts eh? Couldn't agree with you more; though I've never heard that counter argument to determanism theory. I like it. You seem to have put a lot of thought into the pursuit of "self".

  117. The way I feel about that type of determinism - technically true, but it doesn't fucking matter. Suppose it means I was definitely going to make that decision, that certainly does not mean I haven't made it. It's the same way I feel about emotions just being chemical reactions - fine, that's just the physical events that make me feel that way.
    Pretty much it's the way I feel about the idea that gravity is why things fall down.

  118. "Objectively determining the value of a life means that no one person, including yourself, can decide value. It can only be told to you according to a set of criteria that are pre-determined."

    Pre-determined by whom? Whatever your answer, all you're doing is deferring the validity of the criteria to something else.

    Vis-a-vis the samana: I am aware that all I am doing is comparing the subjective value judgments of the samana and Randall. Objectively, they are equally valid. My sympathies, nevertheless, lie with the person who has much more self-knowledge. I feel that this is generally true.

    The idea of objective value requires a set of measurements that must tautologically determine something's worth for all observers. These simply do not exist.

  119. Rinnon: Yes, I spend a lot of time thinking about the self. It's a concept of philosophy which is slightly more relevant than most, and my favorite art tends to be in the genre of "figuring out who we are."

    (Sort of relevant, here is a monologue from The Designated Mourner that I enjoy.)

    ScottMcTony: Yes exactly.

  120. Which rules do you find boring? I'm fairly sure some of the rules are there for a reason, and other rules can cause problems if adhered to too often.

    Of course, if we want to go with the simple "controversial statement" thing, science seems to do that on a regular basis. When we discover something new that runs counter to the whims of the unmoving, we get a ton of loud arguments. This is a necessity to progress, but the arguments slow things down.

    Of course, fear of argument in the first place would mean we never advance at all.

  121. In that case, porglep zalphyd yglem.


  122. see my previous comment w/r/t "breaking rules for the sake of breaking them," which makes you just as boring as following them all the time, and a little dumber.

  123. Then you're contradicting your own statement. I simply demonstrated by breaking a rule. Was I doing it for the hell of it? Of course not. I had a definite reason behind doing so.

    Some of the rules are there for a reason. My point was simply "If you're going to consider all of the rules as pointless, then why speak intelligibly at all?" It was a simple example.

    You've failed to follow it. C'mon, Rob, you're better than this. You're disappointing me.

  124. You weren't breaking it for the hell of it, but you were breaking it for the sake of breaking a rule. You had no purpose in breaking it beyond the purpose of "breaking a rule." There was no reason behind it, nothing triumphant, no affirmation of anything except the fact that you like making toolish arguments.

  125. Continued disappointment. If you can't see the reasoning behind following simple rules of social interaction, then there's no reason for me to bother talking to you.

    Got more amusing things to do elsewhere. 'ta.

  126. Finally, something we agree on.

  127. @Nym: "The idea of objective value requires a set of measurements that must tautologically determine something's worth for all observers. These simply do not exist."

    I've considered your statement here, and I feel you've convinced me. The more I think about "value" the more I realize that I may value something more than you, but that doesn't say anything about the intrinsic value of the item or person. I suppose I was thinking too much about things which have a numerical value associated to it, like cost, and less about things which could be considered to have sentimental value, for lack of a better term. A rock could be extremely valued to me, and have no value to you. It doesn't change the value of the rock, just our perceptions of it. If I follow this reasoning backwards, it seems almost irrelivent what criteria we personally use to determine value, since it would end up being subjectively decided anyways, and thus my criteria argument has no meaning.

    I believe my argument was misguided by my feelings that some people are more worth keeping around than others. Example: It feels trivially easy (to me) to make the desicion to kill 1 person who is a known rapest and murderer to save the life of one of their victims. I would argue that the latter's life has more value than the former. But I suppose this isn't an intrinsic value, it's a value that is determined by societal norms, as interpreted in my mind, and then applied to the two people in question. In any case, I recant my previous statements.

    @Rob: I plan to read that monologue when I get home from work and have enough time to devote to it.

  128. @Milk

    Here is a simple example of what I BELIVE Rob is getting at, as far as rule breaking is concerned. I am driving in my car at 4:00am. There are no other cars on the road at all. I come to an intersection with no visual blockage and I can clearly see all 4 directions. The light is red so I stop. I double check to make sure there are definitely no cars or pedestrians, and then I proceed through the red light. I am not breaking the rules for the sake of breaking the rules, I'm not doing it to be a rebel, or to be different, but there IS a purpose behind my breaking of the rules (I have no reason to be stopped here). Instead of what most people do, which would be arbitrarily wait at the red light, because that is the rule, I look beyond the rule itself to the meaning of the rule. The meaning is, of course, to maintain order on the road so as to prevent collisions and pedestrians being run over (and I support this). However, at this moment in time the rule is not actively doing any of it's intended purposes. Breaking the rule at this point doesn't put anyone in danger, it's not as if it's particularly exciting, but simply waiting at that light is like not being willing (or able) to think beyond the dogma of the law itself. This is of course a VERY simple example, but I think it gets the job done. Someone correct me if I'm wrong or you disagree.

  129. also, finding all rules boring doesn't mean I don't understand them. I don't mean to be too mind-blowing or anything.

  130. I guess it varies by a case-by-case basis but I wouldn't generally support breaking the rule when you "know" it's not going to do anything because in most cases the reason the rule is there is that people is dumb and can't be trusted to make judgments like that.

  131. See, the red light bit? That's sensible. The earlier bits about la parkour and lockpicking clubs? Those are also sensible. But here you're dealing mostly with laws, which are very high-level rules. There are certain low-level rules that we don't even think of as rules anymore, but psychologically they still count as rules.

    These are the basic rules of social interaction, mostly. Communication, persuasion, bonding, humor, and many other aspects of human interaction besides arise from these low-level rules. This site wouldn't even exist if they were irrelevant.

    As for following rules versus not following them, it definitely depends on the situation. If it benefits you and does not harm others, no problem. Otherwise, you're just going to cause problems for yourself in one way or another, so there's no real point in doing so. For a quick example, albeit high-level once again, learning to pick locks in your spare time is all well and fine. Using this talent to help a friend into their own house is good.

    Using it instead to break into city hall and pull a prank is generally a bad idea. Then again, there's hacks, like the ones MIT students get into. I can get behind those.

  132. See, you're looking at it wrong. You're looking at it from a perspective of "which rules are going to benefit society the most if I break them." You're trying to make rules for breaking rules. That's boring.

  133. Looking at it from the perspective of "What rules benefit me the most" is psychopathic.

    Looking at it from that perspective and combining it with "while at the same time not letting me get caught" is sociopathic.

    And before you try, no, these aren't simply labels created by society to pin down problematic individuals who don't follow the rules. These are diagnoses created by psychologists to help them understand the individuals who cause problems repeatedly in society.

    These are the kinds of people for whom criminal behavior is very common, and who are often a menace to society. There's a reason we'd prefer to get rid of them. As "un-boring" as sociopaths might be, they're still monsters that should be put in their place.

  134. Rob just admit it already you're a dirty communist aren't you?

  135. Let's be fair, you have to admit psychopaths are the best when it comes to not giving a fuck about the rules.

  136. Rob can't be a communist, he's clearly Ayn Rand.

  137. Hardly. Ayn Rand is pretty dogmatic bro.
    Unless you've only read The Fountainhead. Howard Roark is crazy existential.

  138. I love when people try to dogmatically argue with my completely non-dogmatic philosophy. It's pretty entertaining, especially when they start calling you a psychopath. Keep fucking that chicken, Milkshake!

  139. Rob for a guy who supposedly doesn't fuck animals you sure to talk about it a whole lot.

  140. who says I don't fuck animals?

  141. AHAH! a confession!

  142. I am especially fond of goats

  143. Well now that you've admitted to THAT I guess we can regard everything else you say as projecting as well.

  144. Not sure how this comes out as a dogma. You're increasingly disappointing, Rob. You ought to go back to doing reviews, it's a lot more amusing. This? This is just sad. Besides, I never called you a psychopath, I merely pointed out that your arguments seem to lead in that direction. Meanwhile you're quoting /b/, which isn't exactly helping your case.

    If you look at how people make decisions, they make rules in their heads. Sometimes those rules are as simple as "Do what will benefit me now." Sometimes they're as complex as the laws on patents, which are an ugly mess written by a collection of madmen. Nonetheless they are rules.

    If you don't create rules in your head for how to follow or break rules of society, you're essentially doing things just for the hell of it.

    You already said you can't do that, didn't you? Doing things for the hell of it is just as boring as doing things based on rules, you say. Therefore all options lead to being boring.

    Doesn't hold water for me, but you're boring me. So maybe it holds water for you.

  145. It's like a party in my mouth and everyone's vomiting!

  146. Except Rob. He couldn't come.

    By which I mean he couldn't fit through the door.

    Because he's fat.

  147. Also a pedophile.

  148. After all, what kind of boring person cares about those dumb old age of consent laws anyway?

  149. "Besides, I never called you a psychopath, I merely pointed out that your arguments seem to lead in that direction." ahahaha. Sure thing, Glenn Beck! (and "keep fucking that chicken" is not from /b/, you cultureless fuck.)

    See, the thing is you are arguing with positions I don't actually hold. I don't like correcting people, but you're either arguing bullshit semantics, which makes you an idiot, or you're making up positions that I hold, which makes you an idiot. I'm not sure what exactly your point is, I just know that it has absolute fuck-all to do with anything I have ever said or believed. But it's pretty comical to watch you "not" call me a psychopath, and pull out the traditional middle school "lol I am not following the rules of communication because I don't understand what you just said!" bullshit.

    It comes out as a dogma because it's pretty clear your objection--and this is assuming you actually did understand it at all and are just making really terrible leaps of logic, instead of just not understanding at all--is based purely on "I don't like that someone is arguing this" rather than logic. You aren't objecting to what I say; you object to some really, really terrible misconstrued slippery slope version of my beliefs.

    Which, hey, at least you're being amusing. But if you're expecting me to actually engage with you like you're a real person you could probably start by exercising some basic reading comprehension skills.

  150. Rob: Now, granted, I haven't actually read what you've said, but I'm *pretty sure* it's retarded, so I don't have to! I win!

  151. fucking hell rob could you just stop being a furry for like five seconds and start acting like a normal person

  152. I am not a furry I'm a goat-fucker.

  153. you say po-tay-to, I say fur-fag

  154. in my opinion randall drew morgan freeman reeeally well.

    i mean you may not recognize him instantly if you don`t know it`s him, but if you know then you find lot`s of similarities.

    with a few guesses you maybe would be able to tell its him anyways.

    it`s the best you can do with a stick figure, if you ask me.

    oh and zombie feynman is just the same btw...

    PS: carl still didn`t get enough attention during his childhood, even if you delete my posts...