Saturday, May 8, 2010

Comic 737: Dated Humor

You clamored for more Rob, you begged and pleaded, but instead you got Harrison, who explains why XKCD sucks in general as well as specifically!

yogurt

Sigh. Okay, so this is one of those weird comics that comes up from time to time that just don't seem to have a purpose. It's not a joke, it's not an attempt at interesting or insightful commentary, it's just a couple of stick people exchanging "witty banter" (or perhaps, in the striking phrase of one commenter, "two douchebags arguing over something inconsequential") that is neither witty nor banter. (Discuss!)

I don't have anything against actual witty banter, mind. It's one of the defining elements of screwball comedy, and I love me some screwball comedies (plus stuff that doesn't really qualify but is clearly screwball-influenced). But there are two major, major differences between something like this and something like (the good, 1940s) Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

One: All good screwball movies -- actually, most comedies of any stripe that are worth anything -- ground their dialogue in strong characterization. Since everyone in xkcd-land is indistinguishable unless they're a girl or wear a hat, Randall has never developed strong characters. So this strip lives in a vacuum, a portal to a few seconds of two friends' lives (or are they really friends, after all? Can anyone really ever know another person well enough to be a true friend? Yes, duh, you're fucking retarded for asking) with none of the before or after to provide valuable context. It's another example of Randy doing something that might be funny in the right hands, but fails miserably thanks to the arbitrary restrictions he's set on his comic.

Two: Screwball comedies are, y'know, funny. This is more like a bad Johnny Carson joke: "This yogurt is really old. "HOW OLD IS IT?" "It's so old, people were using a different calendar when it was packaged!" Except Carson would never use that, since it's terrible and makes no sense, thus the May 7/May 12 crap to make it "work." Except even then, if you dig into it, it still doesn't actually make sense; the Julian calendar is currently 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar (which we use), so yogurt that expires May 12 Julian would expire May 25 Gregorian -- in particular, it'd still be good on May 7 of whatever year. Plus, to get technical about it, "civilization" never used the Julian calendar exclusively (think China), and between the 1400s and 1918 even different parts of the Western world used different calendars. Oh, and more importantly, it's incredibly awkward (would any real person ever say "when this was packaged was civilization using the Julian or Gregorian calendar"?) and unfunny. So there's that.

In conclusion, this is textbook bad xkcd: Randall writes a "joke" that's way too complicated for its payoff, puts it in the mouths of characters we've never seen before and will never see again (with not one but two lines of post-"punchline" dialogue), and draws it shittily. And then to top it off he can't even think of anything different for the alt-text.

A postscript: some commenters have said shit like "I've never seen a perishable product with an expiration date that did not include the year." So I'mma blow your friggin' minds now by telling you what I believe to be the SUPER-SECRET ORIGIN STORY of this terrible comic.

We know a certain dorm at MIT, which shall remain unnamed to protect the weird. A long time ago, there lived in the dorm a mildly lactose-intolerant senior, who decided one fine October afternoon to make himself some macaroni and cheese. (He was only mildly lactose-intolerant, remember.) So he bought some milk, cheese, macaroni, made his dinner and put the rest of the groceries in the community fridge. For the rest of the year, however, he never gave a thought to that milk when he opened the fridge -- after all, it couldn't be his, since he was lactose-intolerant!

Anyway, eventually the spring semester came and went, and the lactose-intolerant student cleaned out the fridge for the last time, but left the milk, thinking it was someone else's. Summer passed, August came, and people started to move in to the dorm for the fall. They noticed the milk, with its stated expiration date of OCT 18, and thought: Huh. I didn't know milk kept for that long.

Well, it doesn't.

Pretty quickly the truth was discovered, but instead of throwing out the year-old milk (now known as The Milk), the students (perhaps addled by the courseload) decided to keep it. It's still there, some 15 years later, living in its very own mini-fridge. A few years ago, it even had a bar mitzvah (question for Jewish readers: would it be kosher for sentient The Milk to eat meat?) I don't know if there are special plans for its 16th, but if they are, I'm sure they're awesome. Unlike the comic.

89 comments:

  1. Considering that the rule against eating meat and dairy at the same meal is an absurd overextension of the phrase "Thou shalt not cook a calf in its mother's milk" in the first place, I'm going to assume it's not kosher. Why not extend it further?

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  2. Well, we're sentient meat (although human is decidedly NOT kosher) and we can drink milk... Why not the other way around?

    But hey, I am completely in favor of gettin' some Talmudic-style arguments up in here! (Note: I am in fact not Jewish, not even a secular Jew)

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  3. Dan! (the new guy!)May 8, 2010 at 2:34 PM

    ... I really enjoyed the MIT story ... made me think of something that would belong in "van wilder" ... and bonus points for the great movie suggestions! I've only seen some like it hot!, but!, I'm sure the others are just as good! :D (as a side note: comedy gold: the last line in some like it hot! ... though something like that would fall flat with xkcd's faceless characters)

    As for the comic, well, it doesn't deserve any mention besides this sentence.

    -Dan (the new guy!)

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  4. "We know a certain dorm at MIT, which shall remain unnamed to protect the weird."

    Random Hall. The weird don't need protection.

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  5. Man, that MIT story is glorious.

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  6. "I don't know if there are special plans for its 16th, but if they are, I'm sure they're awesome."

    As a resident of a country with an age of consent of 16, this line made me feel queasy.

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  7. This is what annoyed me most about this comic:

    THE YOGHURT HAS STINK LINES COMING OFF IT YET THE GUY HOLDING IT SAYS 'IT MIGHT STILL BE GOOD!'

    And this is after he's exclaimed how bad it looks. Presumably Randall is trying to make some joke along the lines of 'haha people eat food that's way out of date'. But it just doesn't make sense for the guy to have this sudden conversion from disgust to interest.
    -Jack

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  8. people celebrate age of consent in your country? where the fuck are you from? where I come from people have already been fucking for a good long while and don't really pay attention to age of consent laws, because they are kids.

    however, the 16th birthday is often celebrated as a coming-of-age ceremony, mostly for girls but also to a lesser extent for boys. here, there's a whole wikipedia article about it!

    but I guess if you're a creeper I can see why your mind would go to 'it's not statutory rape anymore' when you hear about sixteenth birthdays.

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  9. Yeah, that would be the kind of thing that would happen at Random.

    If that happened at Senior House, they'd just let it sit for as many years as possible and dare each other to drink it through their nose.

    Captcha: bring [it on, bitches]

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  10. I liked this comic. The joke is that even though he knows it's old by the smell, when he reads a date that's coming up in a couple weeks, it still registers as "not old." This comic is thus a commentary on how we are inclined to take societal stamps of approval for what is true and not true as evidence of the truth in itself, even when our own senses might suggest otherwise. We have become willing to adapt our beliefs to what we expect rather than what is true. The satire author Terry Prachett once makes a joke in one of his novels to the effect that the characters in his story become unable to see a horse once it is up a flight of stairs in his house, because a horse wouldn't be in your house and it certainly couldn't go up stairs. We believe what "makes sense" rather than what is true.

    Okay, seriously, this is probably just a commentary on yogurt dating rather than wider society, but the same principle applies. The joke is that even though he rationally knows it's old yogurt, he still doubts himself when he says the apparently future date written down. I can relate to that, it would cause confusion in me if the two things did not match.

    The gregorian calendar thing is not that funny admittedly, but it's not the same focus of the joke.

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  11. Jack: I, along with probably most people with brains, read that as sarcasm. Is it Randall's fault for not making it clearer? Sure, a little. But it's also your fault for being a moron.

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  12. "the Julian calendar is currently 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar (which we use), so yogurt that expires May 12 Julian would expire May 25 Gregorian -- in particular, it'd still be good on May 7 of whatever year."

    Not true! If you think about it, the purpose of the Gregorian calendar was to fix the leap year system to reduce the amount of error that accumulates. It does this by DROPPING leap days. As such, the Gregorian calendar has to come BEFORE the Julian calendar, because that's the only change.

    And, for reference:
    http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=convert+may+12+to+Julian+calendar

    This was still a horrible xkcd though, no denying that.

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  13. Er, followup to the previous post, because I just realised I'm an idiot. Of course the Gregorian calendar is ahead, dfshjkdfhf. http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=convert+Julian+calendar+may+12+to+Gregorian+calendar

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  14. I don't understand what you mean by sounding awkward--how would YOU say the line Georgian and Julian calendars? It sounded pretty normal to me.

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  15. "fucking retarded"? Where do you live, Utah? Why don't you attack ethnic minorities while you're at it? That's just as much fun!

    Try thinking before writing next time.

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  16. I personally enjoyed the alt-text, but maybe it was because I imagined Randall keeping food in his refrigerator long after it had passed the expiration date in order to salvage it in almost a year because it will surely be good by then. Maybe it's because I personally can't imagine keeping food for that long after it had expired.

    Also, what do you think Randall does about food that has an expiration date before January 5? Does he refuse to eat it before New Years Day because "it expired almost a year ago!" Food for thought.

    On another note, Ishmael, remember when you threw that tantrum after someone used the word "retard?" Remember how you ended up looking like a fucking retard? I would have thought that you would have learned your lesson by now, but I guess not.

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  17. ""fucking retarded"? Where do you live, Utah? Why don't you attack ethnic minorities while you're at it? That's just as much fun!"

    file under "examples of why having intelligent discourse about discrimination is impossible"

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  18. If I lived in Utah, I probably wouldn't say "fucking," would I? Think before you write, gosh dang it.

    Also, maybe in my next post I will attack ethnic minorities! There's no telling what that crazy Harrison will do!

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  19. (By the way, when I said "crazy" there, I in no way meant to offend the mentally ill. Honestly, I'm not biased against anybody and in person I'm one of the nicest people you'd ever meet, and anyone who thinks otherwise is probably some sort of fuckin' Jew.)

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  20. as a crazy-american I am very offended at you

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  21. as an offensive-american i am offended by people who claim to get offended by me, i can't help it

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  22. Kashrut is only applicable to Jews. So unless the milk is Jewish, Jewish law doesn't care very much what it eats (as long as it doesn't eat living animals).

    Of course, if it had a Bar Mitzvah that would imply that it IS Jewish, which would raise a host of other questions. For example, is the milk circumcised?

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  23. "The satire author Terry Prachett once makes a joke in one of his novels to the effect that the characters in his story become unable to see a horse once it is up a flight of stairs in his house, because a horse wouldn't be in your house and it certainly couldn't go up stairs. We believe what "makes sense" rather than what is true."

    Didn't Douglas Adams play with a similar concept, the SEP (Someone Else's Problem)? Because that would make TWO good writers who made a commentary that Randall is too incompetent to even try to tackle.

    That comic is a car crash. It's a train wreck. It's mangled, messed up, and gloriously pointless. I think it came up at this time to remind us that, yes, xkcd is STILL going downhill, and the recent (relatively) good comics were just exceptions to the rule.

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  24. Why's everyone being racist against utah'ians? and like, americans in general?! ... i think the rest of the world is full of retards, especially when they're discriminating against people from utah! ... SEE!, i said PEOPLE from utah!, they're PEOPLE too!, not fucking retards or jews! (or retarded jews! ... could you imagine?!)

    ... too far?, i think not! :D

    On a side note, I think those captcha's are getting to the point where it's nearly as dificult for a human to decipher them as compared to a machine.

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  25. Dan! i love your gimmick ... it's hilarious!, but the proper name for people from utah is utahns! (i know, it's a wierd word!! but it's true!)

    also, they're not a race! :D so you can't be racist against them...

    Fernie, it's a fairly common trope (which, yeah, but I'm not linking to TV Tropes, because it's sort of kryptonite to me. But I think they call it Weirdness Censor?

    Anyway, it's a common fictional device, but it's also true. Look at the theory of the Big Lie, for instance. That said? This comic is not a commentary on that. This comic is a joke about "ha ha this yogurt is so old, man." It's a stupid idea, and it's presented in a way that makes me ashamed to be of the same species as Randall.

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  26. "I don't understand what you mean by sounding awkward--how would YOU say the line Georgian and Julian calendars? It sounded pretty normal to me."

    You wouldn't say it, and that's what makes it awkward.

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  27. harrison: tvtropes makes you lose all your powers?

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  28. tvtropes sucked entire afternoons away from me.

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  29. Um... uh... powers? What powers? I'm just mild-mannered, unassuming math student Harrison B------. Certainly I don't have any powers.

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  30. Ranarius WebfootMay 8, 2010 at 9:30 PM

    Tripleness: I'm willing to bet that The Milk does not, in fact, have a foreskin.

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  31. Milk that old may very well have developed a foreskin.

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  32. With the alt-text it feels like Randall is trying to force a meme relating to expiration dates. I look forward to the Wet Riffesque expiredyogurt.com where engineering students with crappy beards and math-related t-shirts film themselves eating year old yogurt with the year part of the expiration label covered over with whiteout.

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  33. @Anonymous 2:25
    I too look forward to such an expiredyogurt.com, because then there will be far less ESWCBaMRTS to give Randall money and fame.

    captcha: Sporse: n. A spousal horse.

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  34. "That said? This comic is not a commentary on that. This comic is a joke about "ha ha this yogurt is so old, man." "

    Yep, I also got that -- it's a joke on expiration dates, and the only way in which it could possibly work is in a much bigger context with already familiar characters, i.e. pretty much what you said in your post. Well established characters could have a fun conversation coming up with excuses to pretend expired food is still good to eat, but 1) that conversation needs to be REALLY well written, 2) that excludes comments on the Gregorian and Julian calendars.

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  35. Did anyone else notice that the art style is different? Not much, but the lines are a little thicker now, and I think the boxes are spaced wider. Is Randall changing something? Because his art has been stagnant since basically 436. Only thing I noticed about it, other than the joke not making any sense. Actually, it doesn't even sound like xkcd, more like a guest strip.

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  36. HAHAHA!!!

    We're SO lucky it's OK to pick on disabled, because unlike other minorities, as we all know, they don't have feelings, they never visit the internet, and do they even exist? Right.

    And I thought this blog was good...

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  37. You mean this blog is /awesome/!

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  38. Worst. Xkcd. Ever. Vomit-worthy. Why does the alt text just repeat what one of the characters already said? Usually the alt text is the one enjoyable part of an otherwise crappy xkcd, but in this case it just reminds you of the crappy comic it accompanies.

    And I've read the commenters attempting to justify this comic by pointing out the general public's over-compliance with date stamps. But personally, I've never known anyone who freely partakes in some spoiled or rotten product just because the date stamp says it may be good. The characters even point out that it may not be May 12 of this year, but of some previous year. Literally (yes, Randall, I mean this in the literal sense) I have never known anyone who shares your belief. It's not a funny or cute belief, like about how newscasters shouldn't say "backslash" when reading URLs -- it's just *stupid* to believe that.

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  39. I know some people are going to get upset at me for trying to threadjack here but Ishmael started it.

    We call a ship that's been pierced "crippled," and "disabled." No one finds that offensive, do you know why? It's because they ARE crippled/disabled. Some people might find the term cripple offensive when it is used as a noun, but it's a perfectly legitimate adjective.

    I have Asperger's. I'm not one of these self-diagnosed fucktards, I am definitely autistic. But when someone accuses someone of being an asspie because they lack any ability to recognize how they should act in a situation I don't get offended. Maybe it's because I don't define myself by my condition, the same way people in wheelchairs don't define themselves by their disability.

    So, in conclusion, stop being so fucking retarded, Ishmael.

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  40. Ishmael, I swear we've gone over this before (maybe because we have). There are a lot of people on the Internet that make fun of just about any target there is. I'm not saying this is okay, nor that you shouldn't be upset, merely that spitting into a lake of bile is not necessarily the best solution.

    I mention this merely because this seems to be a sore spot for you, and I think you would be wise to drop the point. This is probably not the best time, or the best medium.

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  41. nothing encourages people to stop using a word that you find distasteful like going on wild rants about how bigoted and hateful they are for using it. always assume bad faith and make deranged accusations! it advances the cause!

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  42. Now wait a goddamn minute Rob!
    Oh wait, I see it all now.

    Ishmael you fucking returd.

    I am a poop bigot :(

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  43. Has anyone considered that Ishmael may be a cuddlefish attempting to discourage any candid discussion of XKCD's many failings?

    Because I absolutely refuse to believe that anyone could really be that fucking retarded.

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  44. This is how you do a comic about expired dairy.

    I'm betting this comic was inspired by an actual conversation he had with someone that was oh so hilarious at the time. He wanted to share this humour with the world, but it wouldn't transfer into comic form any more than it would work if he'd related it to a friend later on, because we don't personally know and appreciate [Stickman 2]'s style of... well, whatever it is. And then he posted it anyways because somebody's eating this sh!t up:

    Six comments in, and "Goomh". "Finally! a strip with some culture!" is kinda funny in a terrible-pun way, though -- pity that couldn't work its way into the alt-text.

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  45. What, exactly, would be more dangerous about performing surgery on a child that has swallowed an operation buzzer than anything else? If the scalpel touches the buzzer and it sounds, it's not like the child dies or there are any negative consequences.

    But not only that, the single most dangerous surgery EVER?!

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  46. @gamer_2k4

    Why wouldn't you say it? Is this one of those "Don't even joke about that, man!" topics? If so, why? I mean, I've certainly heard people use hyperbole like this to suggest that something (or someone) is really old. Like so:

    "Back in my day we didn't HAVE afternoon recess!"

    "Well, sure; that would have been dangerous when you were a kid, what with all the dinosaurs running around."

    So what makes the calendar reference different from any other obviously hyperbolic suggestion of age?

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  47. Your momma's so old, she owes Caligula a reach around.

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  48. @ Chris: Yea, and that was a stupid joke too. That's something that you might hear from a bad 90s sitcom but it just wouldn't fly today.

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  49. Here's an edit of the yogurt comic. I haven't been doing edits for some time, but Ravenzomg's link inspired me to create this... thing.

    For some reason, I find the depiction of God as a stick figure with a glowing penis amusing.

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  50. @anonymous 12:41:

    Hey, I'm no comedian--I readily admit that Joe's joke was much better than mine. But the point under discussion wasn't whether the joke was 'stupid,' but whether anyone would ever say something like that. And people DO. People do make lame jokes about airplane food, and people do make silly hyperbolic statements about how old things are. For one thing, the 2008 election (with regard to Senator McCain) comes to mind. Whether such jokes are funny and original is an entirely separate issue--I merely disagree with the assertion that they are never told. Whether it would 'fly' or not is unimportant to my point. Just because I disagree about one thing (whether the line is unnatural) does not mean I disagree on all things (whether the joke is funny). Just as this blog often concedes a few good points even in an xkcd comic that ultimately falls flat, I can disagree with one particular point made in the blog without contesting the overall assessment.

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  51. I actually like 738. It's got a nice ironic twist in it, and it's not heavily dependent on art.

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  52. where's the irony?

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  53. @Anon 6:05 A double meaning I guess. I just like it for some reason. I use irony very liberally.

    (Anon 5:06)

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  54. I'm okay with today's comic. It doesn't start with "I" or "my" and that's enough for me these days.

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  55. I haven't decided whether 738 is funny or not. I think it's "the most dangerous surgery EVARR" because the instant the buzzer sounds, the surgeon has to reflexively start over. Not totally realistic, but as long as the comic KNOWS it's not realistic, then it has potential.

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  56. This comic is. UTTER. SHIT! And unnecessary punctuation used to add inflexion and rhythm in a written sentence is. WEIRD. BUT. AWESOME!

    Anyway, it starts bad. The art is shoddy, with those weird thick and squiggly lines just like that hurricane hunter comic had. Randall seems to be trying his hand at a thick pen line instead of using the fine ink tool, but that's just speculation. It looks bad, though.

    Then the joke is horrible and confuse. Is it that there's no year on the expiration date, but the yogurt is so obviously past its due date(and more)? Is it the "Gregorian x Julian" comment on the third panel? I don't know, but they both suck!

    And, finally, Randall has taken PPD to a new level, with Post-Punchline-Whole-Panel! That third panel is a disaster! If it has the punchline(that comment about using the Gregorian or Julian calendar), it makes no sense, because the thing still doesn't have an year on it! And then there's a guy with a laptop that has nothing to do with anything else. I have the impression Randall looked at this comic already finished and thought "Gee, there's nothing that my nerd herd can relate to, what can I do?" then he put this guy with a laptop there. And the final dialogue is stupid. The final line, in fact, is obviously a sarcastic and very annoying remark, which makes this comic with an even worse aftertaste than usual.

    It's a train wreck, indeed, and I'm lucky I don't like watching those sorts of accidents, or I'd be still looking at that. Uck.

    I'm hoping Randall will be back to doing good comics today, but, frankly, my hope stock is pretty low.

    CaochĂșn amach.

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  57. Today's comic doesn't refer to "most DANGEROUS operation", but "most DIFFICULT". I admit I don't understand what was the intention: if the doctor instinctively reacts to the sound of the buzzer, or if the game was much harder than a real operation, or both. I don't think it was bad, just not VERY funny. Chuckle-worthy, maybe.

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  58. Alternative caption for 738:

    A child swallows an 'Operation' buzzer (along with the batteries, battery housing and all necessary wiring) and it arranges itself in his digestive system so that a surgeon's scalpel can complete the circuit and thus activate the buzzer, leading to the single most difficult surgery ever performed.

    Maybe the electronics in this situation are as craaaaaaazy as that circuit diagram a few comics back.

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  59. 738 would only really make any sense if the child had swallowed, not just the buzzer, but the entire game.

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  60. I've got this one sorted: Randall lives in a parallel dimension where kids were still playing "Operation" in 2004, and his cautionary tale filtered over to our reality, where people are sensible and don't laugh at unfunny shit.

    If he'd written "1983" then I might've had something to think about.

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  61. Lester RoquefortMay 10, 2010 at 7:56 AM

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=October_2004&action=history

    Wow

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  62. Wait, why the hell DOES this take place in 2004? Is there something special about 10/2004?

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  63. "XKCD == Reality"

    These xkcdtards are getting funnier by the day. Also, more annoying.

    Mole out.

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  64. Simon, it's set in 2004 because the surgeon is supposed to be someone who played Operation as a child numbnuts.

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  65. If the game has been in production since 1965, how is that in any way relevant?

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  66. Surgeons are old d00d.

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  67. Didn't he already do a comic that was pretty much the same joke? What am I talking about, yes. Yes he did.

    http://xkcd.com/218/

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  68. ScottMcTonyAgainMay 10, 2010 at 11:45 AM

    But that time he did it so much better!

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  69. That joke is very different. It would only be the same if the surgeon made a daily habit of trying to yank out adam's apples and butterflies in the stomach.

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  70. Read the alt-text again Anon 12:53. It's pretty much saying that.

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  71. What do you mean again? I rarely read them at all. Time is precious, I don't want to waste any of it hovering a cursor over the comic to read an even worse joke before rushing over here to talk about how crappy the most recent XKCD was.

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  72. and yet you have the time to participate in a conversation spanning the length of multiple days in a comment thread while posting anonymously, implying you haven't provided an email address for comment updates to be sent. so you have the time to actively check the comments of a post which is not the most recent just to see if someone responded to your point.

    but yeah, time is precious.

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  73. Subtelty not really your forte, I take it?

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  74. spelling not really your forte, I take it?

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  75. I wouldn't call it my forte but I get by well enough.

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  76. one of the greatest tragedies of Western culture is that we've reached a point where being "good enough" is what people call literacy these days.

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  77. If the ultimate result is that a simple typo can be enough to feed a misguided sense of comparative accomplishment, you may well be right.

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  78. An even greater tragedy of western culture is that some people are so blind to the true injustices that they can honestly suggest that less-than-perfect spelling is one of the greatest evils in our culture. Never mind the racism, sexism, and classism that essentially define western culture; never mind our casual acceptance of rape; never mind gross ignorance of basic scientific principles; no, these are not the 'greatest' tragedies. It's spelling. You heard it from Rob.

    As for this being a phenomenon unique to 'these days,' I'm not sure what kind of idyllic past you imagine once existed, but I can assure you it did not. General rates of literacy--and the standard of proficiency required to be considered literate--have only improved over time. Yes, looking back at the great writers of history we see a mastery of the language absent from the average modern writer, but what we neglect to notice is that it was absent from the average historical writer too. We just don't bother reading mediocre literature from bygone eras, and this sampling bias creates the false impression that writers of the past were more proficient than writers today.

    Besides, 'good enough' will always be enough for someone to be considered literate; that's why we say it's 'good enough.' That much is a simple matter of definition.

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  79. aw, is Chrissy butthurt that someone complained that people these days revel in their idiocy instead of complaining about racism &c? poor ickle baby. and sadly he demonstrates the same problem about which I am complaining--namely, that he interprets phrases such as "one of the greatest tragedies," a phrase which obviously implies a plurality of tragedies, as saying something more akin to "the worst thing." he is also apparently incapable of grasping basic rhetorical flourishes such as hyperbole. another aspect of that selfsame tragedy--we breed people who think that they are wise and progressive, who believe that their stated concern for things about which they can do nothing makes them superior human beings, and yet they are unable to understand anything which does not express its absolute literal meaning.

    it does make for a beautiful strawman argument, though! "because Rob expressed his disdain for people who are unapologetically bad at language, he doesn't care about any of these things that I'm listing, which makes him an inferior human." nicely done! I also like that you replaced "tragedies" with "evils," which so subtly makes it look, to the sort of idiot that actually buys into your argument, that I was suggesting that the only evil in the world is being unapologetically careless with language. you forgot an evil that I didn't mention though! widespread intellectual dishonesty in order to advance a point. GUESS WHO I'M THINKING OF RIGHT NOW.

    really though, I'm not sure where you get the idea that the various -isms you mention are in any way unique to Western culture. they have been around since pretty much the dawn of time. but as far as I've been able to tell, the anti-intellectual phenomenon that makes people think that their "good enough"--that if other people understand what they are saying, they have no obligation to demonstrate a care for the arts of language, to do such a simple thing as to bother with correct spelling, or to even acknowledge that the error is an error, rather than pretending that it is the product of some profound attitude of uncaring.

    "good enough" has never been good enough when "excellent" has existed. if you're trying to suggest that as a matter of definition something is acceptable you're even worse at the whole language thing than I thought--and believe me, not understanding basic rhetorical flourishes is very nearly as dumb as someone gets, so that is saying something.

    to my darling cuddlefish: I no more feel more accomplished than you than I feel more accomplished than an insect. you live in your own little world where time is too precious to read the alt text of an XKCD in response to a point that you made, but not sufficiently precious to prevent you from repeatedly commenting on the XKCD in question. how could I think I'm more accomplished than you when you are obviously happy in your little world?

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  80. Rob, I really don't know how you can belittle the quality of other people's literacy when you are apparently incapable of detecting obvious self-deprecation. I was called on having failed to read the alt-text, and admitted defeat by poking gentle fun at myself on that account. I am amazed that you continue to entertain the illusion that there was ever a need to explicate what I had carefully made evident within my own text, and that you failed to realise that my remark about subtlety was in fact pointing out your failure to realise my intention.

    You really thought the inherent contradiction was a mistake and that detecting it was a stroke of ingenuity on your part? Do you actually think it is possible for someone to feel that rushing over here to complain about XKCD is time well spent, or that the microsecond it takes to read an alt-text is really a great expenditure of time? This is funny. You're funny.

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  81. occam's razor, see. the vast majority of people who comment here anonymously are complete imbeciles. they very frequently claim that they don't have time to do things, usually, to establish themselves as far too important or busy to involve themselves with the conversations here. (I should probably here note that there is never an attempt to establish what they are so busy doing--we are left to assume that it is spending time with THEIR GIRLFRIEND, with whom they totally have sex all the time, it's a shame you couldn't meet her when she was in town, but they were too busy having sex to be social, because she is THEIR GIRLFRIEND and they constantly have sex. it is also possible they are super important scientists and programmers and college professors, who are too busy doing very intelligent and important and high-paying work. the one exception to this, of course, was Ryan Learn, hero among men who claimed to be an editor at an undefined scientific journal. it was later revealed that he was a glorified proofreader who mostly handled formatting in Latex or whatever, and later still that he was actually just a college freshman at FSU who possibly interned at his college paper. Ryan Learn will truly be missed.) endless hordes of mindless cuddlefish are constantly saying, without a trace of irony, saying that we are wasting our time here, that we have no lives, and that they, unlike us, have no time to waste on such things.

    it is always better to assume that an anonymous fucktard is, in fact, an anonymous fucktard, and not someone whose carefully wrought irony is wrapped in an incredibly poorly crafted sentence. genuinely it's disingenuous, of course--like Chrissy's little tirade about how I am racist and classist and sexist and a rape apologist and hate science. so "I don't have time to go back and read the alt texts" is generally code for "I'm wrong and don't want to admit it so I'm just going to act arch so you will hopefully feel inferior for having wasted your time."

    humans are not rational creatures. they never have been and they never will be. (if you are for some reason still laboring under that delusion I suggest you start watching American politics for a day or two.)

    which is to say: if you are posting anonymously, you do not get the benefit of the doubt. I will assume that you are dumb as fuck, because chances are, dumb as fuck is what you are.

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  82. rob it would be easier to swallow what you're saying about illiteracy if you didn't seem to have an on-again-off-again relationship with your shift key

    (shit, do I use a :) or a ;) after that?)

    which is more ironic

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  83. oh no, someone has discovered that i dislike capitalizing things because the aesthetic bothers me, and intentionally avoid capitalizing walls of text to make them harder to read what do i do

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  84. You tale of becoming jaded after a long history of feeding trolls is truly heartbreaking, but I really don't think it justifies being an arrogant jerk. Fortunately your attitude isn't my problem any more than my opinion of it is likely to concern you, so it can just be left at that.

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  85. *Your. Yes, I am not much of a typist at all.

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  86. it's not a tale of becoming jaded. once again you demonstrate a terrible command of language. it's a tale of being unwilling to treat those who act in every way like one of the endless hordes of mindless fucks that post on the blog as if there is a chance in hell they are not, in fact, mindless fucks. at no point have I assumed good faith on the part of the anonymous commenters here. thus far my strategy has not failed me.

    treating you like a mindless fuck has its advantages, see. those of you who prove to actually be mindless fucks take offense and argue and whine about how much of a jerk I'm being, or say that the fact that I insulted them proves that they're right, or other stupid shit like that, ultimately proving my assumption right. those that are actually worthwhile to talk to are usually smart enough to figure out that, if they want to be treated like an intelligent human, they'd better start acting like one. once they do they find the discourse to be agreeable.

    sadly you seem to have failed the test. but keep trying your incredibly subtle attempts at irony if you like! it's rare enough to see cuddlefish who even know what irony is, so it's extra funny when they know what it is and are incredibly bad at it.

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  87. Start out jaded and have that attitude reinforced or become jaded over time, it amounts to the same thing.

    We appear to have quite the symbiotic relationship here. My unconcern for your assertion of superiority over me gives me a certain sense of personal power, while my responses are apparently perpetuating your own notion of being above the common chaff. It's delightful. Unfortunately, it must end here. I do have a disturbing amount of free time, but even I have my limits. I have other pointless discussions to partake of, after all.

    Enjoy having the last word. I promise I will come back to read it, and you can imagine my reaction in whatever way you see fit.

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  88. in the event anyone were still looking for a solid example of humans doing self-contradictory things without the faintest hint of irony, I invite them to look at our dear cuddlefish's allegedly final missive.

    here he makes the common assertion that "I don't care what you have to say." this is certainly not a universally false premise--it is largely true, for instance, that the standard internet insults in the key of lacking a girlfriend or a life or etc. are pretty much universally ignored, as they are entirely baseless. but imagine, if you will, someone who repeatedly returns to convince the same person that he does, in fact, have a girlfriend/life/etc., asserting that he does not care that this person keeps saying he has no girlfriend/life/etc.

    clearly he does care, or he would not bother responding. (I am reminded of a recent discussion in which some of the many idiot fucks who comment on this blog mistook the word 'caring' as in 'being something other than indifferent towards, as in "I care if it rains today," for 'caring' as in 'being deeply affected by, as in "I care about my sister."') it may be nothing more than caring because his poorly crafted attempts at irony are failing to accomplish his intention, or that he is annoyed that someone keeps making assertions that are not true, but a claim of unconcern is disingenuous at best.

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  89. Rob has demonstrated once again that he's nothing more than a fat communist who will never get laid.

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