Sunday, June 27, 2010

Comic 758: Shrinking Comic Value

Raptor Feces                      oh that was too easy
I think we all remember the Raptor scenes from Jurassic Park. I found them scarier than the T Rex scene, perhaps most people did. But as a lot of people are pointing out about this comic, raptors are actually already really small. Here's an illustration from wikipedia showing that they are perhaps the size of a medium-sized dog. So really, what this comic is doing is just making Jurassic Park accurate, and if you didn't know that it wasn't accurate before, then come on, what the hell did you think.

the raptor thing used to be funny, now it's just so laborious. Does Randall think anything he says about Raptors will be funny, because ha ha, "raptors!"

what's crazy is, this isn't even the first joke about jurassic park and genetically altering someone's DNA to better fit your needs.

But let's talk about something else. xkcd makes a point, fairly often, of getting mad at people who don't understand science, or choose to forgo the extra work needed to understand it. You see this in comics that lecture people on how numbers work, or the people who want to sensationalize the Gulf Coast oil spill, or make fun of twitterers who don't know how Swine Flu works, or mock a president's misstatement from five decades ago. All very nice and superior. And then he comes in with this comic that's all like "Just turn on the gene for dwarfism!" like that's a thing you can do! Come on, man! "Activate the gene for extreme dwarfism" is as bad as those movies where people demand that blurry photos be enhanced (or my favorite, "uncropped").

Now some silly people will probably say that the point of this comic is that such a thing is overly simplistic, and Randall isn't endorsing the idea. But I think that's wrong - I think Randall just doesn't care. The point of this comic is to recontextualize Jurassic Park in a way where a previously terrifying idea - raptors on the loose! - is shifted to a minor annoyance - ugh, stupid raptors are out again... . To say that the joke is that you can't do that is to undermine everything actually written in the comic. Clearly, there are only some types of science that Randall has any respect for.

33 comments:

  1. Oh man, the new one is really a cut up. Ever notice how the radical sign is similar to the divided-into sign? And that a * a^2 = a^4 / a? Insight!

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  2. 759 is neither funny nor interesting. And the alt text is even less funny and even less interesting. I mean, seriously? Obvious advice on taking math exams? What on earth made him think that would be a wonderful addition to his "comic"?

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  3. I object to the word "recontexualize" on euphonic grounds.

    Apparently, so does Firefox. Of course, it also objects to "euphonic".

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  4. Who would go to a a park to see gecko sized dinosaurs?

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  5. Er, well, maybe I would, that sounds kind of cute actually.

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  6. They're fucking dinosaurs, of course we all would.

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  7. Oh! I thought he meant they'd end up breeding raptors for smaller size, and have domesticated raptors. Not some kind of genetic switch.

    Then again, maybe he's trying to work with the bad science of the original?

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  8. "Who would go to a a park to see gecko sized dinosaurs?"

    I think there was a movie about this, actually.

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  9. Well, since the "Raptors" in Jurassic Park weren't Velociraptors anyway; they were Utahraptors (though the script was not edited to reflect that, all background information - as well as the novel Raptor Red - confirm this), it doesn't matter about the size.

    Otherwise, yeah. Dumb comic, pretty much.

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  10. utahraptors were discovered just before the first movie was released

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  11. The whole raptor thing /used/ to be funny. But that was because it wasn't just a forced meme, but because it acted as an actual paranoia and added character to an otherwise non-sequiter(sp?) comic.
    Then he put it to rest before it got horribly old and forced. (Remember, this was back when XKCD was good)


    And then this. Just an out-of-the-blue reference. No paranoia element, it wasn't a running character trait anymore, it wasn't the joke, it was... just an out-of-date forced reference.

    Man, the difference between "then" and "now" is really noticeable when you write it out!

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  12. are you suggesting that you can clean up something the size of a dog with a broom and a dustpan? i find it sad that you have to stretch so far to make a joke against xkcd, this site used to have credibility.

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  13. still cants pell disappointedJune 28, 2010 at 6:20 PM

    i liked this site before it was famous

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  14. still 'cants' make sure i'm not doing what i'm making fun ofJune 28, 2010 at 6:30 PM

    that level of petty criticism fits perfectly on this website.

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  15. wow it turns out when i'm pretending to be a dude who can't spell i'm not allowed to spell stuff wrongJune 28, 2010 at 8:33 PM

    let's just cut to the chase here: a velociraptor could not be made to be tiny enough to be swept up. that is not really stretching.

    tl;dr you're a fucking moron, unsurprisingly

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  16. looks like somebody is butthurtJune 29, 2010 at 5:54 AM

    nor can you make a fucking velociraptor, whats your point?

    tl;dr your a douchebag that uses the term tl;dr

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  17. yes, and it is youJune 29, 2010 at 11:22 AM

    good point. it is a comic that is dumb on many levels

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  18. "jurassic park and genetically altering someone's DNA to better fit your needs."

    > implying that eating sugar can alter a person's DNA

    "Clearly, there are only some types of science that Randall has any respect for."

    Oh, jeez, YA THINK? thank you, captain obvious, that was hilarious! your humor has made my day.
    http://xkcdsucks.blogspot.com/2010/06/comic-755-purity-revisted.html

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  19. you probably had a better chance of making fun of my missuse of the word "your", but thanks for coming out.June 29, 2010 at 3:29 PM

    @anon 3:05pm

    it's hilarious isn't it? this site is every bit as stale and humourless as the site it's making fun of, who doesn't like a good chunk of irony in their diet.

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  20. it's like rain on your wedding day

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  21. Uhh, why has nobody pointed out that "switching on" genes is actually a thing? Scientists have changed tiny amounts of DNA and produced chickens with scales, sharp teeth and long tails. Short segments of DNA often control whether long segments are expressed.

    i.e.: little mutant raptor-chickens. I think it's entirely plausible that a few genes could be changed to switch on dormant dwarfism genes.

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  22. Urrgh 7:51...if you really want to play that game dwarfism would probably be caused by down-regulating genes regulating growth (or up-regulating repressors of those genes) but I doubt randall thought of that. Either way, it's not a matter of "on" or "off" and he probably didn't think about it like that.

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  23. except what i said was actually ironic, rain on your wedding day just sucks.

    the more i think about this site, the more i see the ugly truth. i frequent XKCD about once very 2 weeks or so and i might get small amusement from Randalls antics (usually not audibly funny, mildly amusing.) and then i visit here maybe bi-monthly.

    and i see the same person. i see people that are smug, arrogant, think they know everything, enjoying the ignorance of others and holy fuck it's Randall. you are all so wrapped up in making fun of every single one of this guys "comics" that you have BECOME him.

    no longer is it "XKCD sucks for good reasons" now it's "XKCD sucks because we have to make fun of everything this guy does because we are petty and smug and smarter than him.... right?"

    and really, does it surprise you when you log on? do you think "oh boy, a new XKCD, i wonder if this one sucks too!" it's like season 3 of any investigative "science" drama (house, CSI etc.) sure it may be amusing for a season or two, but when does the formula just simply start to wear you down and make it boring?

    anyways, probably wont ever visit again, to which your butthurt anti-Randall fanboi pride will say "good". but as far as i can tell, I get enough Randall in my bi-weekly visits to XKCD, i don't need to come here and read comics from a hundred other Randalls.

    tl;dr Alanis Morissette sucks.

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  24. This just in: Shit stinks.

    Oh no, am I smug and arrogant now?

    Carl seems to be saying that Randall has used this joke before and that "switching on" a gene for extreme dwarfism is fucking retarded science, which it is, and that retarded science is exactly what Randall criticizes others for.

    Sometimes we are reaching in our criticisms, but in this case we're reaching FAR less than the joke in the comic itself.

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  25. I think the raptor issue is not in the comic itself, but in the terminology used by the movie to designate a particular species of dromaeosauri. I remember seeing the name "Velociraptor" frequently applied in a generic manner to members of the said family even before Jurassic Park. It's a common misconception that most people (including Michael Crichton) chose to ignore. As a matter of fact, the actual Velociraptor species doesn't even have the popular finger claw so commonly emphasized by popular culture. So I believe the species in question is probably the larger claw-equipped Utahraptor or Deinonychus, although both of these are still not quite accurate to the movie proportions, the first for being too large, and the second for being too small, despite both featuring the claw.

    I fucking loved dinossaurs as a kid.

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  26. I lovingly fucked dinosaurs as a kid.

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  27. Is the guy who writes xkcdsucks a little bit autistic??

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  28. not as autistic as people who use multiple question marks unironically

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  29. naw everyone knows autistic people are the ones who refuse to use any punctuation or capitalization because they don't have to follow societies rules theyre a free spirit man

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  30. It's not that implausible that there could be a single gene variant for extreme dwarfism in velociraptors (maybe not to dustpan size, but still). There's one in humans (and the same variant in dogs gives dachsunds their short legs). Look up achondroplasia.

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  31. The phrase 'overly simplistic' is tautological.

    Sorry.

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  32. you are wrong.

    something can be simplistic, but not overly so. To differentiate the two, we use the phrase "overly simplistic" for the things which are overly simplistic.

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