Thursday, July 22, 2010

Comic 769: All Is Fair...


what did menachim begin say to egypt's president Sadat at the friendly Oslo peace accords?  All is fair in love, Anwar

[alt: They offered to make me a green beret, but I liked my regular one. Although it gets kind of squashed under my helmet.]



This comic brings to mind many interesting, important questions. The first one is "what the fuck?"

For one thing, when is this comic taking place? I don't know much about wars and stuff but the guys helmet looks like how World War Two soldiers look, his rifle looks like something from the American Revolution, and his love/enemy's name "Cordelia" plus vocabulary like "i hope this missive finds you well" suggests something from the Civil War. The "maintenance shed" suggests a first person shooter. The stone wall I can't quite figure out, but it doesn't seem right with any of those (except the fps).

Second, what's he writing on? I know it may seem like a trivial question, but it matters. Is he writing a letter with ink on paper? In that case, why is he writing whatever comes out of his mind? In other words, if he were actually writing a letter to the woman he is trying to shoot, he wouldn't say "I fear you may have found a superior vantage poi--A splendid effort, my love..." because that doesn't make sense. The first half of the letter is negated by the second. So a normal sane human would just start over and not act like this was a conversation. How is the reader supposed to know what effort the writer is talking about? She's not reading it in real time. So that makes no fucking sense.

What if he's IMing her or something? It's hard to tell what he's writing on, though it looks like he's holding a pen. Nonetheless, it may be a stylus of some kind so let's think about this. When you write an IM to your friend Cordelia, do you start it with, "My Dearest Cordelia" ? No. you start it with "yo cord whuts up." THAT IS HOW YOU DO IT. Also, if the message is being sent digitally and instantly, it takes away the point of the last line - the mild amusement that the line induces comes from the image of him throwing a love letter tied to a grenade, ie, the two are actually thrown together and found at the same time. So that makes no fucking sense either.

Lastly, who the hell are these people? The alt-text tells us that the man on screen is our beloved Mr. Beret, a "character" who despite numerous appearances has only three consistent traits: 1, he is totally unpredictable based on previous actions, 2, he wears a beret (but not always, like here), 3, he makes xkcd forumites squeal with glee about something they call "existentialism" but which bears little to resemblance to actual existentialism. It's quite a mystery. I'd go so far as to say that it makes no fucking sense.

So who is he? Does he love someone named Cordelia and just so happens to be at war with her? Does he hate her, so he is mocking her? Does he not know her at all? Or is he just insane? Who knows! If these characters had any sort of consistency, if we were given any context for their actions, it might be funny. But we're not. We will no doubt never hear of this again (i would love to be wrong on this). So we can't help but be confused.

Oh context. Done properly, this could have been a pointed commentary on the tragedy of war, the innocence of soldiers, the current debate over Don't Ask Don't Tell (and the broader role of love in the military), a metaphor for a troubled relationship...so many possibilities, none of them even attempted.

I'll end on a nice note: the use of color is done well here. Adds to the visual effect (makes it easier to imagine this scene as a real soldier) without being distracting or annoying. I'd love to see this happen more.

Wait, no, I'll end on an unhappy note: lots of people pointed this out but I still should say, this joke was much better the first time.

==========
update: Some people have been yellin' at me in the comments on a few topics that I think are worth clarifying.

The first is, why does it matter when this is supposed to take place? I think it matters because the confused signals (19th century name, 20th century dress, etc) show that Randall hasn't really thought through what is going on in this comic. He hasn't pinned down the context. I think the other problems flow from that one: he didn't build this idea on a solid foundation, and the confusion about time is a part of that.

The second is about how he is writing to her. When I wrote that he was either IMing or sending a letter, I was, of course, being too limited. What I meant was that he is either writing to her in a format where he writes the entire message, sends it, and then she gets it all at once and reads it (e-mail, regular mail) or he is writing to her in a more conversational style, where he writes to her, she "communicates" back (not with words, but with bullets) and he then talks about the new thing she's "said" ("shot"). In any case, neither really makes sense.

Lastly, some people pointed out a much better joke that this could have been, and maybe it's even the joke he was trying to make. Basically, the better comic would have the image of a soldier writing a letter, and it would talk about how much he misses his darling Cordelia etc, etc, he just wants to see her again, etc, the usual stuff you'd expect. Then, as the comic progresses, you realize (perhaps the bullets give it away, perhaps this version would do something else) that he is writing about his enemy. That would be a reversal from what you are expecting in the first half. It might even be funny, maybe. As it is though, the comic starts with him saying that he's writing to his enemy ("through my telescopic sights") before the shooting starts, so it really makes no sense at all.

OK, i really should get started on the rage for comic 770 now...

185 comments:

  1. You were clearly trying really hard to find something wrong with the comic, and weren't very convincing about it. =\

    ReplyDelete
  2. I disagree with many of your points. I believe (and hope) he's making fun of this letter:
    http://www.jayandmolly.com/ballouletter.shtml
    Which is rather famous, not to mention awesome by itself. I agree, however, if he's not making fun of it, that it's kind of random. The style is similar, although perhaps saying "Sarah" instead of "Cordelia" would've made that clearer.

    I don't know about you, but I still use snail mail. Proudly. And when I write letters, I write like I talk, because it's interesting, and because it's just my writing style. So I don't find it at all weird that he stops in the middle of a sentence to begin another one in the letter, it's just how some people (me included) actually write letters.

    Finally, the fact that he wrote "this missive" and "my grenades" together does not at all imply that they will be sent or read at the same time. That's like if he said, "I hope you and your mother feel better" and you snobbishly replied, "what, they have to get better at the same time?" It's ridiculous. I'm sure you would have complained just as hard had he said, "I hope this missive finds you well. Also, I hope these grenades find you well." It sounds worse.

    Anyways, I usually agree with you on most points, but here I disagreed enough to actually comment. This is the only xkcd I've actually liked in a straight three months, so don't go thinking I'm a fanboy or anything haha.

    Omega

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh, and just as a quick addition to what I last said, I would like to completely agree that making it beret guy was random and unnecessary. There must have been some better joke in the alt text than that to make, c'mon Randall!

    ReplyDelete
  4. +1 to what Omega said.

    Also, is this an historical comic?

    That's what I thought.

    ReplyDelete
  5. smbc is trying to be xkcd.
    xkcd is trying to be a softer world.

    ReplyDelete
  6. New comic perfectly distills everything that's wrong with Randall and romance.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I don't really mind this comic compared to 770: 770 is TERRIBLE.

    Seriously godawful. A giant romantic BAAAAWWWW. I expect rage in copious amounts.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I just found this site: www.isxkcdshittytoday.com it's fun.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Wow. 770 is like asofterworld minus the expertly efficient writing, charming photos and punchline.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I think xkcdsucks needs a "what the fuck" tag.

    ReplyDelete
  11. @Anon 9:32

    That made me laugh harder than any xkcd ever. Even the ones that I think are good.

    God bless you.

    ReplyDelete
  12. @anon 9:05: xkcd is actually trying to be both SMBC and ASW.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Carl you ludicrous oaf, youre being way too picky, i actually liked 769, i didnt laugh or anything but at least it wasnt total shit as usual, so i guess its mediocre. on second thought, i suppose its better to be picky, hoping for a good comic than just swallowing the usual bland wallpaper paste.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Stop all commentary on 769.

    Focus all hated on 770.

    Just terrible.

    Terrible.

    ReplyDelete
  15. *hatred, pedants. R-key is stuck.

    ReplyDelete
  16. 770: Randall is an asshole.

    In before obligatory comment about Megan?

    ReplyDelete
  17. Is today's comic about settling for an underage girl because Megan won't go out with you? Because... height differences in xkcd are reserved for children.

    ReplyDelete
  18. The main problem with 770 is it has too much dialog to pass off as ASW, so its execution becomes cripplingly clumsy.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Jesus Christ could Randall get anymore wangsty? STFU and get a girlfriend.

    ReplyDelete
  20. http://forums.xkcd.com/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=62659#p2246716

    The second part of this comment. FTW.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I vaguely remember Carl saying in a comment once that when a day comes when most of the first posts on the xkcd forums are critical of the comic, his work will be done and this blog will no longer need to exist.

    I hope that was just for dramatic effect, cause I rather like it here.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I know this is terrible, but hey, everyone was thinking that, right?

    Theme song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jItz-uNjoZA

    ReplyDelete
  23. xkcdexplained is amazing like usual

    ReplyDelete
  24. I agree a lot with Carl about 'All is Fair...', it's like Randall couldn't make up his mind what the setting really was, or just threw a lot of ideas in a blender without clarifying anything or trying to make it make sense.

    As for the latest one, I think it really stands apart.

    Apart from all the good comics.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Somebody tell the writer of XKCDexplained that his edits to the comic are getting pretty obscene. Especially when it's her face, and the picture leaves so much up to imagination.

    Also, 770 is crap.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I love that Randall's so out of ideas that he tried to copy A Softer World.

    My modification:
    Of all the girls I love,
    you're The One
    who loves me back.

    It still doesn't work, but it scans a little better.

    That said, it's strange that Randall has the text as speech bubbles. It ruins the idea that it's the inner story of someone.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Okay, so, he's trying for another ASW ripoff.

    things he did right:
    -three panels!
    -the theme and punchline is a lot more ASW-like than his previous attempts!

    that's about it.

    things he did wrong:
    -for some reason he made this dialog instead of narration?
    -no art, at all. normally he makes an attempt, and it's usually not terrible! this time around it's just 'people hugging.' art is pretty necessary for an ASW ripoff!

    In this case I'm more than willing to admit that knowing the authors' works probably helps a great deal. Which is to say: ASW is pretty much entirely done tongue-in-cheek. Even most of the ones which are in a similar vein as this one are actually meant to be funny and sad at the same time.

    When Randy does it, it just comes off as angsty and a little bit creepy. Fitting in the context of XKCD, you have a lot of comics about relationship angst without a drop of irony, and a couple about wishing you were with someone else. This one fits perfectly in with those. It's just wrapped in the superficial ASW-ripoff cloak.

    Part of the problem is that, while ASW is capable of creating distinct characters in three panels and very few words, so it's clear it's not an author insertion comic, XKCD doesn't have characters. It has Randall's author-insert, Megan, and beret-dude. (Black hat guy is Randall's Gary Stu author insert.)

    So when Randy does it, especially since he made it as dialog instead of narration, he's not in any way distancing himself from the characters. He never does. This is one of XKCD's biggest weak points, really. Frequently people complain that we're taking a comic too seriously, but XKCD is basically just Randy's blog. He doesn't try to distance himself from his characters. They pretty much always express his opinions and beliefs--why should we assume his feelings are different?

    ASW has never had that problem. It's clear when there is a character speaking and it's clear it's not an author-insertion. (Even when the comics are expressing the author's sentiments, they are characters, not just puppets.)

    ReplyDelete
  28. UndercoverCuddlefishJuly 23, 2010 at 12:41 AM

    @anon8:37 thank you for clarifying your position i originally agreed with carl but you made me realize that his arguments did not hold much weight with your well supported comment

    @omega the comic has nothing in common with the letter you mentioned aside from the fact that it also involves a letter written during time of war and i was being very generous when i looked for similarities also you cannot merely justify the abrupt transition as "stream of consciousness" seriously the letter makes no fucking sense without gunshot sounds inserted in the middle i mean i have read quite a few stream of consciousness works and all of them still supply context for their transitions

    re:770 randall has to be the least self aware comic creator in the world also i love the forumites that are completely discarding every single precedent for character height in xkcd just so they can pretend this latest comic is not completely fucked up

    "i cannot have megan but at least i can have a 14 year old that i met on irc last week" -randall munroe

    ReplyDelete
  29. Rob, so "Megan" (Or any of the XKCD female characters), is Randall's author insert for what he thinks any woman would say in said such situation? Or is "Megan" finally known as an XKCD character who's subservient to the male character?

    Because if it's the former, Randall's pretty creepy.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I guess I should clarify. He has two non-Randy characters: Beret dude and Megan. I am using "Megan" to be any female character, because I'm pretty sure she's always the same character--there isn't enough depth to her to say one way or the other.

    I think she is often used as an author insert, though. Beret dude doesn't seem to be, but maybe he is?

    ReplyDelete
  31. UndercoverCuddlefishJuly 23, 2010 at 1:03 AM

    @TheMesosade megan is the unattainable object of randalls desire who is as intelligent as any man and tends to expose her vagina and/or get pregnant when randy is in one of his moods

    i am curious though was this really your first indication that randall was creepy

    captcha: cratican i think pubic lice have invaded rome

    ReplyDelete
  32. The new comic actually just made me whisper 'oh my god' to myself. 'this is so fucking creepy'. I can't wait for the blog post for this mwuahahaha

    ReplyDelete
  33. Just realized that we can view this comic in a different, non-pedophilic light.

    That girl could be his daughter, assuming she is younger than him, based on height. This could be an ironic commentary on how single men with custody feel about their ex's. In fact, it fits much better than that whole "They're bf/gf" theory.

    Of course, now I'm creating a giant hypothetical situation. But it hurts a lot less thinking about it this way.

    Come to think of it, I don't recall ever seeing XKCD deal with a married couple with children. Part of Randall's psyche? I think Randall has peter-pan's disease.

    @Undercover: No, but it makes Randall a lot creepier knowing that these thoughts spawn from his own fantasies than ones imposed upon a character of his creation.

    ReplyDelete
  34. UndercoverCuddlefishJuly 23, 2010 at 1:27 AM

    i have a hypothetical situation too

    so the girl could actually be megans daughter (since she keeps having kids) and randall is now imposing his romantic feelings on the youngster since her mother never returned them

    yeah that feels about right

    ReplyDelete
  35. I don't see how 769 is in any way a reference to the Ballou letter. The only thing they have in common is that they're both letters a guy writes to someone he loves during the war. Like millions of other letters written by millions of people during thousands of wars.

    The whole historical criticism thing is nonsense, this isn't everyone's beloved Hark a vagrant! and there's no real need for any historical accuracy. I can even gloss over the realtime writing thing since it's done for comic effect. It isn't -funny- but that's clearly what he was going for.

    Anyway, there are far worse things wrong with this comic to point out. Starting with the horrific "ho ho I am an intelligent nerd writing an intelligent letter to my lady" style of writing. Or the fact that the revelation that this is beret man ads ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NOTHING TO THE JOKE.

    New comic: shit in a handbasket.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Randall's White Knight Fan(s) over on the forums are ready to stab you for insinuating that according to Randall's own established art style, this character might be significantly younger than the man she's with.

    ReplyDelete
  37. So yeah.

    Tallness conventions eh?

    LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA LOLITA

    ReplyDelete
  38. Lots of negativity on the forums for 770. Surprising!

    ReplyDelete
  39. Required Reading:
    http://dresdencodak.tumblr.com/post/838275178/show-vs-tell-why-visual-is-not-optional (When Ever Tumblr gets back up)

    ReplyDelete
  40. None of you are getting the point of 770. Obviously, no girls love Randall back, so whomever he's speaking to is a figment of his imagination. Once he realizes this, the murders will no doubt begin.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Speaking of "this was better the first time," today's is seriously the exact (in a much more direct way than Wednesday's and 101) same joke as another. I'm not about to go find it, but if you remember, it's the one about how statistically speaking everyone has someone more compatible with them somewhere.

    Re: 3rd comment. Of course he's putting effort into finding what's wrong with it. He writes a full essay about each comic. He was also convincing. I imagine it wasn't particularly hard to be convincing just because this comic doesn't even succede at telling you what it's referencing or alluding to or what the joke is at all. It was also convincing. I don't know about you, but I'm convinced by reason and I'm convinced that a comic that can't show what its joke is is bad.

    P.S. "You try so hard, that makes it extra funny that you failed, ha ha ha" as a device to try to intimidate someone is really tired.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Comics like 770 don't need to be bad. I mean, he's done "our relationship sucks" comics before, and they've worked fine. The problem now is that, since then, XKCD has turned from a comic about topics Randall likes to opinions Randall has, so now whenever he does a Terrible Romance comic it always comes across as that this is what he actually believes.

    That, and the problems normally present with his comics' degrading quality. Even taken out of any context, it's not as funny as older, similar comics.

    ReplyDelete
  43. A nice parody of xkcd

    http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=1946#comic

    (note the horizontal alignment of the panels...)

    ReplyDelete
  44. I think I might be too late to comment on this comic (War) seeing as everyone's on to the next one already... Haha.

    But. I had a number of issues to note about your criticisms when I realized a single one suffices: A comic does not have to be realistic to convey its message. That alone is the basis of nearly all your points.

    Why are you so caught up on that anyways? I didn't particularly like this comic, but for other reasons. The construction of the joke wasn't very interesting. It rambled a bit too much. These things require an revamp of the whole comic (which wasn't a great idea to begin with), and not just the minor details you pointed out.

    ReplyDelete
  45. "I really like this one a lot. It's not funny at all, and I see why people would think it was lame if they were trying to see it as a punchline, but I think it's really deep - especially the alt-text. Hit a little too close to home. Mr. Munroe needs to, as they say, "Get out of my head"."

    Anon 3:13 : Usually I disagree with Aaron Diaz but his blog is pretty great. I used to think his comic was kind of lazy but the opposite seems to be true. Still not a fan of Dresden Codak though.

    And Kimiko Ross is probably one of the most insufferable characters in comics. Probably just behind Luna from Dominic Deegan.

    ReplyDelete
  46. ^That should probably be webcomics, not comics.

    "A nice parody of xkcd"

    I'm pretty sure Zach is a fan of xkcd and even said it's better than his own comic.

    ReplyDelete
  47. 770 reminds me of that one where the guy thinks of whichever girl he's not with for his entire life.

    ReplyDelete
  48. I'm suprised you could think his comic was kind of lazy... Fair enough that you don't like it though, I suppose it's not everyone's cup of tea. Anyway I like Kimiko, though maybe I'm also insufferable.

    ~Anon 3:13

    ReplyDelete
  49. By lazy I mean it updates once every two months. Its update schedule seems to have gotten better recently.

    ReplyDelete
  50. That it seemed like he didn't put much time into it, I mean.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Yeah I suppose the updating was quite slow, but the comics seem pretty meticulously crafted. No idea how much that contributed to the slow updates but, eh, I find the comic to be really fuckin' awesome.

    I don't mind if the guy wants to have a life outside of the comic.

    ~Anon 3:13

    ReplyDelete
  52. TheMesosade:

    That actually makes the comic rather deep and interesting. Although the alt-text completely ruins it.

    "I love you, until your mother comes back"

    Suggesting that the girl isn't loved by her mother and not completely loved by her mother, which is how she ended up with Dad in the custody battle.

    God that's even more depressing.

    Fortunately, I have an alternative explanation, which is reinforced with every comic Randall creates - he is writing for Goatkcd.

    ReplyDelete
  53. I immediately thought of 310. Then I also remembered 584, which I couldn't find at first because xkcd's ohnorobot archive is a piece of shit (probably why he took it off his main page) but luckily we've got our very own listing of all the times Randall has drawn cunnilingus! That's way more useful than a search engine.

    Anyway yeah rehash comics suck.

    ReplyDelete
  54. http://forums.xkcd.com/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=62659#p2246994

    Rage.

    ReplyDelete
  55. UndercoverCuddlefishJuly 23, 2010 at 6:28 AM

    maybe xkcd has actually turned into an elaborate prank on the forum dwellers sort of like that interdisciplinary comic like maybe randall is trying to see how fucking ridiculous his comic needs to be before nobody on the forums is willing to say "goomh"

    also somebody send chris hansen to procs house he is apparently about to make a terrible mistake (i mean one other than being a complete jizz guzzler on the internet)

    ReplyDelete
  56. I very nearly liked this one, except he gave away the fact that Cordizzla was his foe as well as his love before the "BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!" part. This would have been way better if he could have waited until after that to reveal who he was fighting.

    I thought the context was pretty clear. The whole "soldier in the heat of battle, writing a letter to his dearest love" thing isn't unheard of. For instance this PA comic:
    http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2009/10/19/

    Seeing that kind of turned on its head- "aha! His girlfriend (read: creepy stalker crush?) is also the sniper trying to kill him!" was funny, even if it was clumsy.

    HOWEVER... none of today's post mentions any of that. It's all, "what war is he in? what's he writing on?" Jeez!

    Overall: iffy xkcd, very poor xkcdsucks. SHAME.


    captcha: WOHMM

    ReplyDelete
  57. Carl, I have to say that it seems you really dug for problems with this one. I usually agree with all of your criticisms, but this one was actually in the vein of better-than-usual comics. I mean, it has color, an actual joke, and it doesn't fall into one of those stupid categories (maybe the quirky relationship one). But, yeah. Don't forget that it's okay to praise a comic for trying. Sorry if I sound defensive, I don't mean to be a cuddlefish.

    ReplyDelete
  58. In regards to 770: I love how on the forums the only people enjoying the comic go ahead and admit themselves that it's a ripoff of a softer world.

    ReplyDelete
  59. 770's joke is also a copy of http://www.phdcomics.com/store/mojostore.php?_=view&ProductID=12257

    ReplyDelete
  60. Why does the trained enemy sniper fire 3 shots very quickly? That is a noob military mistake if I've ever seen one. How did the enemy sniper not see him set up the decoy if they have been watching each other for so long?

    ReplyDelete
  61. Carl, I agree with BrotherDamascus. The entire post reads like you were trying way too hard to find something to talk about with this one. As far as I can tell, all that you're saying is essentially "This comic isn't too bad, but but but WHAT WAR ARE THEY IN???" Your gripe with the writing medium sounds to me both desperate and willfully ignorant. Aside from the sheer minuteness of the issue, the belief that your methods of communication - Instant Messaging vs. snail mail - are the only ones anyone in the world uses, ever, assumes that you are the paragon by which we must judge seven billion others. If I dare to (oh horror!) use snail mail, am I being unrealistic? Not true to life? More importantly, you seem to have utterly missed the dark humor of the grenade/love letter juxtaposition. It's funny (and thought-provoking) that his letter - not loving per se but tender in its own way - arrives via grenade (thus the point: the love letter, in theory something to express care and affection, is juxtaposed with the simultaneous destruction of the recipient). Randall is referencing, simultaneously (a concept you seem to find issue with), the messages chalked onto bombs and missiles by ground crews in almost all conflicts since World War II (but reaching their height during the Gulf War), and the well-known wartime love letter (for sake of example, let's take the Ballou letter). No, Randall is not trying to simply rewrite the letter; he is, instead, turning the convention on its ear by taking away the validity of our initial "oh, just another wartime love letter" reaction.

    Lastly: your ignorance of some aspects of Randall's art is appalling. I do not expect everyone to immediately know everything he jokes about and draws, but you spend your time finding fault with his work. It would behoove you to bother to research what you're seeing and try to understand before you jump into your criticism. The weapon the sniper in question is holding has nothing to do with the Revolutionary War; on the contrary, it represents the M14 Designated Marksman Rifle in use by the U.S. Army, Navy, and Marine Corps in front-line duty today. The wiki article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M14_rifle and a photo: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a0/Sniper_rifle.jpg
    Granted, Randall's knowledge of the weapon most likely comes from FPS play, and not from careful investigation, and his use of it in the comic is more an appeal to nerds/fellow FPS players than a wry commentary on modern warfare (and the irony of a 1950's rifle still being the most advanced weapon we can offer our troops for the job it is designed to do); regardless, the least you could do is spend the 5 minutes necessary to look up what is going on. You clearly were interested, or at least perturbed by the weapon's presence - could you not, then, possibly look it up? More importantly, if you look at the comic a scope is clearly visible mounted on the top Picattiny rail of the rifle. Considering that the first practically usable scope was developed in 1880, nearly 100 years after the conclusion of the Revolutionary War (and more than 100 years from its start), isn't it ludicrous to assume the character's weapon belongs in the 1770s simply because it has a wooden stock?

    You have demonstrated a surprising level of ignorance in your analysis. I only hope you do better in your review of 770 (God knows Randall has given you a lot to work with this time!).


    That said, there is no reason whatsoever for this being Mr. Beret; and the crack about the Green Berets seems out of place and hastily thrown in to appeal to the special forces wannabe drooling gamer fanboys Randall has been pandering to lately.

    ReplyDelete
  62. "Lastly: your ignorance of some aspects of Randall's art is appalling. I do not expect everyone to immediately know everything he jokes about and draws, but you spend your time finding fault with his work. It would behoove you to bother to research what you're seeing and try to understand before you jump into your criticism. The weapon the sniper in question is holding has nothing to do with the Revolutionary War; on the contrary, it represents the M14 Designated Marksman Rifle in use by the U.S. Army, Navy, and Marine Corps in front-line duty today. The wiki article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M14_rifle and a photo: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a0/Sniper_rifle.jpg"

    STOP. NO. That is not an M14, sir, I'll tell you that much. No clip in the mag, no exhaust port.

    It's probably either a Springfield or a Kar98k. Hence this is a Vietnam comic at the latest.

    ReplyDelete
  63. i believe xkcd is now created via a random comic generator. it makes sense, right?

    ReplyDelete
  64. man is this comic going to trigger gun-nerd arguments now?

    because gun-nerds are the worst nerds

    ReplyDelete
  65. I think gun-nerds are the most awesome kind of nerds. They would be much more likely to not only survive a zombie attack, but not manage to accidently shoot themselves in the face.

    Gun-knowledge FTW

    9:24 Anom

    ReplyDelete
  66. alcohol nerds are the worst. coffee nerds are pretty bad too. you know, the ones that insist that the more bitter and terrible-tasting the coffee is, the more awesome it is

    ReplyDelete
  67. The worst nerds are nerd nerds, i.e. nerds that take time to apparaise and judge the worthiness of other nerds.

    ReplyDelete
  68. what about nerd nerd nerds?

    ReplyDelete
  69. "The worst nerds are nerd nerds, i.e. nerds that take time to apparaise and judge the worthiness of other nerds."

    By 2034, the study of nerds will be a scientific field. There will be the XKCDian school of thought and the Geekian school of thought.

    The Geekian school will actually make sense.

    ReplyDelete
  70. Anon at 9:24,

    I believe you're right - what I thought was the magazine, upon closer examination was a trigger guard. Thank you for the clarification.

    As a Vietnam-era war scene discussing love for a sniper while also talking about her destruction - note the specificity of the female sniper - could this also be a Full Metal Jacket reference? (That Carl also missed...)

    ReplyDelete
  71. @gun anons:

    It is very unlikely that Randall was trying to draw a specific gun, so while your attempts to identify it are not unappreciated, they are ultimately without merit.

    In other words, you're giving Randall way too much credit.

    ReplyDelete
  72. @Adam It's fun to make a big deal where there is none, though. It is an archetype (I think thats the word) of a bolt action sniper, so there are real world similarities.

    @10:51 Anon
    While this could be true, it would therefore be a pedophilia joke. The sniper in FMJ was only like 14-16...however, seeing some XKCD jokes, this is not an impossibility.

    ReplyDelete
  73. THAT'S LEGAL AND MY COUNTRY SO IT'S NOT CREEPY! SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP!!!

    ReplyDelete
  74. "That said, there is no reason whatsoever for this being Mr. Beret; and the crack about the Green Berets seems out of place and hastily thrown in to appeal to the special forces wannabe drooling gamer fanboys Randall has been pandering to lately."

    Try harder. The alt-text says "They offered to make me a green beret, but I liked my regular one." Again, with emphasis: "I liked my regular one." It's really, really obvious that Randall's referring to Mr. Beret.

    ReplyDelete
  75. >scoped rifle looks like something from the American Revolution

    derp

    ReplyDelete
  76. It's really, really obvious that Randall's referring to Mr. Beret.

    Exactly - there's no reason for Randall to have made it Mr. Beret, yet he did. This being Mr. Beret, along with the alt-text, makes it seem like Randall is trying to appeal to sfwdgf that Randall has been pandering to lately.

    Sorry if I was unclear.

    ReplyDelete
  77. HAHAHAHAHA 770 SUCKS SO HARD.

    I mean...I'll try my own review.

    Art: 3/10 It sucks. The hair changes shape 3 times and the girl looks like a minor.

    Dialogue: 1/10 So cliche that it could be a Trope.

    Joke: 1/10 Its so bad. I mean baaaad. Its the same "You have no idea how LITTLE I love you" joke that XKCD does so badly.

    Alt-Text: 7/10 The score is only this high because its better than the actual joke in the comic. Switch them around and the joke gets a 3/10.

    ReplyDelete
  78. @Anon 1149

    My apologies. I read "there is no reason whatsoever for this being Mr. Beret" as "it's not clear this is Mr. Beret". Maybe *I* should try harder next time.

    ReplyDelete
  79. When I see the name Cordelia, I thought of King Lear which was written very early 1600s and takes place in Eighth century B.C. King Lear rejects his daughter and starts an all out war between the English and the French. The significance of that point being the King of France was quite taken with Cordelia even though she was without title or property (King Lear rejected Cordelia when she wouldn't dance like a Monkey with her other sisters to win Lear's affection, where affection=property of the kingdom).

    Essentially I thought this was the motivation of the backhanded shoot-at-me-so-I-know-where-you-are idea. Even so, this does nothing but cause further ripping of the time-fucking-xkcd-space continuum. It does seem unfair to nitpick the time frame, but I do agree this is large part of comic's integrity. Every comic has a serious component and these serious components, out of order, or out of context, is what makes something funny or not. If I am confused over what is supposed to be funny, I'm not having the good time the author thought the joke would bring. This includes the art, the diction, and most of the details.

    I've only been following this blog for the last couple of months, but Randall needs an editor. Even if it's just a friend glossing over the comic saying, "Dood, you forgot hair in the last couple of panels (i.e. 761)" or "Dood, this joke? Really?(i.e. 707)" or the last slightly modified as "Dood, this joke? Really? Again?(i.e. 754)"

    ReplyDelete
  80. UndercoverCuddlefishJuly 23, 2010 at 1:34 PM

    @anon9:20 i take issue with the idea that "there is no point in questioning which war this is supposed to be" since at least part of this blog has always been dedicated to appraising randall as a person and as a professional so really there is plenty of reason for picking apart the comic in this manner as it gives us a good idea of whether randy actually put any thought into the comic or if he just slapped it together carelessly in between cod play sessions (the former is pretty obviously not the case)

    your second paragraph is even longer and involves a lot of inaccurate scrutiny regarding the weapon in question so um does it matter or does it not matter the first paragraph said it did not but this one heavily implies that it does seriously make up your mind

    re:gun nerds there is no fucking way that pedantry about fucking weapons makes you more prepared for a zombie attack than somebody who maybe does not care about which model of shotgun they use and will just go out and kill fucking zombies while you are dickering around about reload times and bullet spread

    the worst type of nerd is actually the type that thinks randall knows anything useful or writes anything funny is there anything more sad than a nerd whose passion is "being wrong"

    ReplyDelete
  81. It's rather sad that, for all the work (not much of it, but it's still work) that Randall puts into drawing the stones in the wall, rocks on the ground, grass, pockets on the pack, etc., that he still draws such a lazy gun. Most ten-year-old boys who are into drawing guns realize, at some point, that there is more to a gun than stock, trigger, barrel, and scope.

    It's especially disgusting in light of the rather loving care he put into 631.

    ReplyDelete
  82. Someone on the LJ feed posted a link to Tim Minchin's If I Didn't Have You as if it were the same thing.

    Um, no.

    Minchin clearly loves his wife (the only woman he's had in his life), he's just pointing out the unlikelihood of the soulmates concept.

    The XKCD is some guy saying that he's settling for this girl, but will always want to be with a specific someone else. He's convinced the other woman is his soulmate.

    Considering Tim Minchin's happily married and Randall has no social skills, it's obvious which outlook is the more sensible.

    ReplyDelete
  83. "STOP. NO. That is not an M14, sir, I'll tell you that much. No clip in the mag, no exhaust port.

    It's probably either a Springfield or a Kar98k. Hence this is a Vietnam comic at the latest."

    Even a Springfield or Karabiner 98k is a stretch, due to the wood/metal difference. It's clear that the only wood part is the stock and the wood doesn't extend along the barrel. The trigger guard extends from the barrel to the stock.

    The closest I can think of to match this would be a Winchester 1906 shotgun with a mounted laser sight. (???)

    ReplyDelete
  84. I want to murder all the cuddlefish on the forums who are comparing the latest one positively to ASW.

    ReplyDelete
  85. The problem with this specific comic(769) is that it should not have been a letter. It should have been a narration or an internal monologue over a few panels... which is obviously too much because when randy puts some effort into his art it's one panel. :|

    ReplyDelete
  86. "I think gun-nerds are the most awesome kind of nerds. They would be much more likely to not only survive a zombie attack, but not manage to accidently shoot themselves in the face."

    actually, gun nerds are just the most likely to think they can survive a zombie attack, and as such do stupid things and get themselves killed early on.

    but I'm sure if the zombies come in the form of flying brightly colored discs or targets on concrete blocks they'll do fine. also if they have an ammo stockpile, because there will be a run on the gun store they were planning to hit up.

    seriously, nerds are incredibly bad at planning for apocalypses.

    ReplyDelete
  87. Wait... there are gun nerds who DON'T have an ammo stockpile?

    ReplyDelete
  88. pretty much every gun nerd I've ever met has, at best, enough ammo for a few days at the shooting range.

    which is to say, more than most people have, but not enough to actually last out an apocalypse. most nerd apocalypse plans hinge on hitting up gun and ammo stockpiles. they can't afford a real apocalypse-grade stockpile, so their fantasies hinge on literally nobody else in the city thinking about this sort of thing.

    my favorite are the plans that involve hitting up food stores though. those get picked clean when it's supposed to snow.

    ReplyDelete
  89. Behold with horror what a gun dork will actually do during a zombie apocalypse (or any other time for that matter):

    http://www.komonews.com/news/local/95276669.html

    ReplyDelete
  90. (ps: Lostman, you are an idiot)

    ReplyDelete
  91. Rob, i am pretending you know the difference between gun nerd and gun enthusiast when i say not everyone who loves guns is stupid

    ReplyDelete
  92. yes, I am quite aware of that.

    though I'm curious what your distinction is between gun nerd and gun enthusiast. is one of them actually crazy enough to keep a massive ammunition stockpile, large enough to last out an apocalypse? is a gun nerd the kind that's stupid and a gun enthusiast the kind that's just someone who happens to like guns? is it vice-versa?

    I mean, I'm using "nerd" as a pejorative here, but that is, sadly, far from standard.

    ReplyDelete
  93. UndercoverCuddlefishJuly 23, 2010 at 11:32 PM

    @rob i dont think of the word nerd as inherently bad but when i call somebody an x nerd it is almost always a negative thing because such people are typically obsessed with whatever x is to an obnoxious degree and i want to punch them

    gun nerds cream themselves over weapon specs and "the technology" while gun enthusiasts constantly go to the gun range and probably keep one on their person at all times though i suspect there is a fair bit of crossover here

    i think the type of person most likely to have a gun and ammo stockpile worthy of an apocalypse scenario would be a psychopath not just some macho dumbass or gun obsessed dweeb

    ReplyDelete
  94. UndercoverCuddlefishJuly 23, 2010 at 11:37 PM

    and loving guns is inherently stupid

    normal well adjusted people simply have a healthy respect for them and possibly own one for self defense without turning it into a fucking fetish

    ReplyDelete
  95. basically the only times I don't use nerd as a pejorative are when it's describing someone into a certain art form--music nerds, theater nerds, etc.

    I like guns. a day at the firing range can be pretty fun. so I don't mind gun enthusiasts. my (admittedly fairly minor) disdain for gun nerds is part of a broader disdain for nerds in general: they tend to think they are more badass than they are. in this instance, they think they are more likely to survive apocalypse scenarios than other people.

    even being a gun nerd will not save you from a messy death, nerds.

    ReplyDelete
  96. Wanna survive a zombie apocalypse?

    Go out and make friends. All these loner gun nut/nerd/enthusiast types would be goners doomed in a week, tops. No matter how much ammo they stock-pile.

    As Bertrand Russel once said, "cooperation is the one thing that can redeem mankind". When the artificial suns come raining down we will all appreciate the relevance of that.

    Oh wait, I'm off-the-meds. And off-topic.

    After a certain comic I've stopped going to xkcd. Now I don't know for myself what the fuss is about, but based on comments here I can emit a prediction.

    Randall will anthropologize again and tallify the girl, cough, I mean woman.

    ReplyDelete
  97. Oh wait, by the grace of the excellent languagelog I know what 770 is; from a post, aptly titled, "'Context is everything' again".

    Just in case anyone doubts, XKCD is everywhere.

    ReplyDelete
  98. Randall's surprisingly learned to take criticism well these days, and is really turning his comic around!

    ...is what I'd like to say, but unfortunately, the languagelog's tangent into discussing Japanese phrasing is still 10 times as funny as xkcd.

    ReplyDelete
  99. UndercoverCuddlefishJuly 24, 2010 at 2:38 AM

    i dont really mind the fact that languagelog used the latest comic since they are basically inadvertently saying "hey this is a style of phrasing that pops up a lot in english i wonder if other languages have equivalents" thus implying that the source of any attempt at humor in the comic is a completely unoriginal one which is a conclusion i am comfortable with

    i am willing to overlook the fact that they did not comment on the creepy undertones of paedophilia since it is obvious that they just got wrapped up in innocent discussion of language (which is on topic for the blog, while randalls desire to fuck children probably is less so)

    ReplyDelete
  100. So rob, you have hinted at having your own artistic pursuits and run a blog devoted to comics and the only time you don't use -nerd as a perjorative is in describing [art]-nerds. Interesting stuff.

    ReplyDelete
  101. Rob doesn't have a blog devoted to comics. Yes, he is that stupid.

    ReplyDelete
  102. Actually, Rob took over this blog by force several months back in a silent coup.

    ReplyDelete
  103. My main issue with this comment is the alt-text. Number one, who the fuck is Randall Munroe to say he could have been a green beret? I get it, he's referring to the hat, but the context of the sentence is formed to suggest this idea. Sloppy groucho marx-esqe joking aside, You don't wear berets in combat much less under a helmet. People like this make my Goddamn head hurt.

    ReplyDelete
  104. People who flip there shit when minor details about their subculture (the military can be called a subculture right?) are misrepresented are the worst kinds of nerds.

    ReplyDelete
  105. "So rob, you have hinted at having your own artistic pursuits and run a blog devoted to comics and the only time you don't use -nerd as a perjorative is in describing [art]-nerds. Interesting stuff."

    by jove, you have discovered my secret preference for artistic people over the mouthbreathing masses of garden variety nerds.

    ReplyDelete
  106. Anon 11:38-

    If you really want to go that direction, you can point out that based on the helmet, rucksack and rifle, the comic is clearly pre-Vietnam and thus predates Special Forces and their green berets.

    ReplyDelete
  107. Just pretend that this man is criminally insane and has a "thing" for the female police chief because she carries a gun; they are currently tracking him down for violent crimes against his neighbours with Kill-on-sight orders in response to his carrying a gun and firing at police officers.

    His shrink told him writing letters he isn't actually going to send would be a good way to get out his emotions.

    Well, that's how I made sense of this all, anyways.

    Captcha: Quitt. Ceasing to do something when you have a sttuttter.

    ReplyDelete
  108. Oh Rob; I always knew you were a little touched.

    Clearly your preference for bohemian types is due to an inability to quantify and understand the world around you- Everything needs to be dressed in gaudy chiffon and sequinned to catch your attention, before rendered in inteprative dance for your limited number of neurons can grasp the concept.

    Thankfully people like Randall are here to show us the true way forward, to challenge ourselves and value real contrubutions to society and knowledge that actually help people.

    Was it one of your pansy-ass poets that developed the MRI scanner- or was it a hard working and intelligent physicyst that's saved the lives of millions of people?

    Maybe you should consider that when your dear nana develops brain cancer.

    ReplyDelete
  109. you know, I can't tell if you're joking.

    ReplyDelete
  110. I don't think they are. That's worrying.

    "Was it one of your pansy-ass poets that developed the atomic bomb - or was it a hard working and intelligent physicist who's [people are who rather than that - since you have never interacted with anyone other than over the Internet you were probably not aware of this] killed tens of thousands of people?"

    Obviously I don't actually think Science Is Bad because I'm not a fucking moron. Unlike Anon4.19. Ho-hum.

    ReplyDelete
  111. yeah I don't mind science, I just find nerds insufferable

    ReplyDelete
  112. Was it one of your pansy-ass poets that developed modern weaponry- or was it a hard working and intelligent physicyst that's ended the lives of millions of people?

    ReplyDelete
  113. ...Should I even bother trying to set Anon 4:19 straight?

    ReplyDelete
  114. sure! if nothing else it will be amusing to watch him get eaten

    ReplyDelete
  115. @Anon 4:35

    Your post suggests that artists are bad, useless and pretentious, while scientists are good, useful and contributing members of society.

    Randall Monroe is not a scientist. Randall Monroe is a (very bad) artist.

    Now read your post again and see if you can spot the contradiction therein. Extra credit if you can find all the typos.

    ReplyDelete
  116. Well the only thing wrong with Robs outlook is that most nerds do consider their obsession an artform, especially physics, maths and computer nerds. There definately is beauty and wonder in numbers and an elegant equation can be as inspiring as a symphony, but then again I'm a maths nerd.

    ReplyDelete
  117. I don't have a problem with nerds in general. People are allowed to obsess over what they want. (Plus it would be hypocritical.)

    What I have a problem with are nerds telling people that what they like is superior to everything else, and by extension, anyone who likes anything else is wrong.

    There is nothing wrong with science (inherently), and there is nothing wrong with art (again, inherently). But I fail to see the logic OR the point of making one more important than the other. (Or, like Anon 8:43 pointed out, insisting that they're mutually exclusive.)

    Captcha: trept. I trept on a banana peel and rept my shirt.

    ReplyDelete
  118. Even if 4:19's joking, he can probably stand in just fine for a lot of xkcd fans who wouldn't be.

    ReplyDelete
  119. Anon 4:19, you've attained the level of stupid stupid dumb.

    You seem to envy people who bolster the world with new machinery and technology. They increase life expectancy, make life more convenient, and make life more comfortable. That's great!

    Here's where you're stupid, however. You called arts unhelpful. Artists of any sort do something much much different than scientists and engineers. Scientists and engineers extend and simplify life while artists, in contrast, enrich and fulfill a life not worth living.

    Almost anything we do for enjoyment or enrichment was created by artists. Books by writers, music by musicians, games by game-designers, sports by anyone with a creative mind, sculptures by sculptors, paintings by painters, and art by artists.

    Think about that the next time you're having any fun.

    And Rob: Either your definition of nerd is very different from mine or you're a mean mean person. Nerds are typically quiet people who spend a lot of their time studying and researching what they're interested (in some cases using the word interested very loosely) in. Those guys are totally cool with me.

    I hate pretentious geeks who would use a thesaurus to create an argument that sounded smart. I find people who boast about their IQ insufferable. I despise people who can't appreciate art and music because they're not science. But the nerd studying in the corner? He's harmless, probably modest, and typically a decent person.

    ReplyDelete
  120. "an elegant equation can be as inspiring as a symphony"

    No.
    No it can't.

    ReplyDelete
  121. Yes.
    Yes it can.

    See, now this is retarded. There really are people who do find aesthetic appreciation in Ricci flows with surgery, even though to most it's all a bunch of squiggles some weird dude living with his mom wrote. But finding/failing to find beauty in math speaks nothing of one's worth or anything.

    irt. TheMesosade:

    I agree with your reply to Rob, but I think he was being hyperbolic for stylistic effect. And to counterbalance Randall's Geeks Ueber Alles outlook.

    ReplyDelete
  122. UndercoverCuddlefishJuly 25, 2010 at 1:32 AM

    somebody please show me some math that can make me cry

    because seriously anybody who feels emotion when they look at an equation is psychotic stop lying to yourself about this shit and just admit that art has an important function

    ReplyDelete
  123. irt. UndercoverCuddlefish:

    You've already made up your mind, haven't you?

    Maths is not about to make anyone cry, but there is some kind of appreciation that goes beyond respecting mere accuracy, that some people can feel. While not necessarily being psychotic. I don't think people like Escher, Feynmann or Gardner, for any flaws they had, were psychotics.

    And it's not about replacing art. Why the exclusivism, the insitence to bottle everything up in neatly separated cathegories?

    ReplyDelete
  124. Okay, so about eight hours and about 7-8 replies to my troll in the ten or so hours I was sleeping- NOT BAD.

    This has been a rewarding troll however- the responses I recieved key to me particularly well.

    Ann Apolis & Anon 5:35 pointed out that science and technology have done bad things as well; while looking like a nice ad-hominem, actually generates the point that science is a tool. Without people and human expression, these tools are worthless and life isn't worth living.

    Gray, "Randall Monroe is not a scientist. Randall Monroe is a (very bad) artist"

    I owe you hugs and a high five- it's so called 'scientists' like randall munroe who fuck up public perception of scientists and damage public relations with their unnessary elitism.

    Sciense (should) benifit the public, therefore scientists are the servants of the public, not some kind of feudal wizards integrated into the ruling elite.

    8:43 and 8:42- "What I have a problem with are nerds telling people that what they like is superior to everything else, and by extension, anyone who likes anything else is wrong."

    Fucking this, guys. This is especially bad for certain university freshers, who waddle around like little self important pricks belittiling other subjects. (although some people like randall carry this sentiment throughout their degree). You're not cool when you do this, you're just a prick. Humility is a virtue.

    Themesoade:
    "Scientists and engineers extend and simplify life while artists, in contrast, enrich and fulfill a life not worth living."
    BOOM HEADSHOT!

    Thanks guys, for responding to this troll in a level headed, intelligent and balanced way.
    Last time I tried the inverse of this on the XKCD forums there was a several page shitfest.

    Capcha- Unduck. The pigeon tasted unduck

    Suck it, spelling nerds.

    ReplyDelete
  125. UndercoverCuddlefishJuly 25, 2010 at 2:36 AM

    @bland i think you are misreading me here i was ranting at the people who believe in the exact sort of exclusivity you are commenting on

    my point was that math and science operate on a purely logical basis so it would be completely irrational for a person to respond emotionally to a mathematical conclusion

    if somebody is overwhelmed with emotion when they finally solve a mathematical proof it is not a property of the proof itself but a cathartic reaction to the personal creative struggle that was required in the solving of that proof

    you can of course have both your art and your math at the same time (and in fact math and logic form the foundation for nearly all creative endeavors) but i will never believe anybody who claims that "an elegant equation can be as inspiring as a symphony" not because i have some bias against math but because it is exactly like saying that a mathematical principle can be equally as inspiring as a creative work which involves the application of that principle in such a manner that the human mind will react to it (hopefully you can see why this is a stupid claim to make)

    also oversimplifying arguments in my comments is way more fun than having to spell everything out like this so in the future feel free to just give me the benefit of the doubt instead of waxing argumentative

    ReplyDelete
  126. I would disagree with you UndercoverCuddlefish. To say that Maths and Science operate on a purely logic and therefore should not have any emotion is like saying that music is just varying frequencies of sound so how can that contain any emotion. The emotion comes from the person interpretting the material not inherent in the material.

    ReplyDelete
  127. @Undercover
    pi = the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter
    e = a number such that the derivative of e^x is e^x
    i = square root of -1

    Three seemingly unrelated concepts

    -2.71828182845904523536^3.141592653589793238462i = 1

    As a tutor, I've seen first hand many reactions to this equation that could easily match the feelings created by a great symphony. It makes people wonder about the nature of the world around them, about how we can reduce ideas to the lowest level to gain better understanding of the universe. Truly, all from seeing the mathematical conclusion, nothing else.

    But of course, these must all be irrational psychopaths to have an emotional reaction to an equation that they did not derive themselves...

    ReplyDelete
  128. I was hoping the commentary for 770 would be up. Maybe someone could explain to me why it's so "creepy"? I mean, aside from the supposed pedophilia implication, but I HIGHLY doubt that Randall is a closet pedophile, and if he actually was, he wouldn't purposefully portray it in his comic.

    I think this is more an example of his classic laziness and bad art skills than anything else. He was probably just so lazy that he forgot that short people are usually kids in his comic, and he lazily drew a female that happened to turn out to be shorter than the male. I'm assuming it's supposed to be an adult woman.

    I guess I actually like 770 because I relate to it, having both a horrible fear of monogamy and having been in unrequited love multiple times. So apparently I'm on the inside and can't see what's so creepy from the outside. I mean, when you're in unrequited love, everyone tells you you're a big huge stupid loser if you don't immediately move on and try to date other people. But then apparently, if you do, you're a big creep? He's being honest with the woman- he's not misleading her or leading her on. So I don't get what's creepy there.

    ReplyDelete
  129. "Well the only thing wrong with Robs outlook is that most nerds do consider their obsession an artform, especially physics, maths and computer nerds. There definately is beauty and wonder in numbers and an elegant equation can be as inspiring as a symphony, but then again I'm a maths nerd."

    and it's not art. I'm being very generous with my definition of art here, but they are not art. they can be wonderful and beautiful and blah blah blah, but it's not art.

    "And Rob: Either your definition of nerd is very different from mine or you're a mean mean person. Nerds are typically quiet people who spend a lot of their time studying and researching what they're interested (in some cases using the word interested very loosely) in. Those guys are totally cool with me."

    this isn't one of those nerd/geek differentiations, is it? I hate those. (my definition is usually: pick the one they say is a negative word (I guess nerd in this case) and say "a nerd is someone pedantic enough to care about the distinction between geek and nerd." never fails.)

    I really have nothing against kids who are into math and science. they can be fun. but there is a tendency among nerds, by almost any definition, to think they're more badass than they are. it's not always in a know-it-all sort of way, though there is certainly a significant number of them who do. but they're pretty much all kids who either think or know that they're intelligent (which is not the same thing as being clever). this tends to create the dark side of the nerd: they think that because they are intelligent that they are a unique exception to the most important universal law:

    everyone is always wrong about everything. add "literally" in there a few times if you like. anywhere it fits is fine.

    of course, most people do this to a degree, but among nerds it is remarkable because it tends to apply to an array of fields--nerds usually have diverse interests. some of them aren't so bad about it, but some develop just enough of an understanding about most subjects to be able to form an inaccurate opinion about them. the problem is they know or think they're intelligent, and they tend to equate intelligence with having good opinions. so they become know-it-alls, people who suddenly believe they are right about everything. these are the people I find insufferable. (also, pedantic nerds. I fucking hate pedants. but that's another story.)

    I use the word "nerd" differently when referring to art people, mostly because the know-it-all "I'm good at everything" mentality doesn't usually happen to them. in this case it's basically just "someone who is really into something." these people are frequently charming and hilarious and humble, they just happen to know a lot about their given art form. (ironically, they'll probably clash with non-art-nerds on their chosen fields due to the reasons discussed above.)

    but I do tend to like artists more than non-artists, because I prefer the lens by which artists view the world. there's a passion there, for creating, for capturing in their art all the excellent things the world has to offer, for communicating beautiful things. they care about people and beauty and ideas. even without having seen any of their art or even discussing art at all, an evening with someone who creates has always been more fulfilling for me than one with someone who does not. and I'm particular about whom I spend my free time with.

    ReplyDelete
  130. Chaos: no one is seriously implying that Randall is a pedophile here. It's just irritating when he breaks the artistic conventions that he himself set. Plus calling people pedophiles is inherently funny.

    ReplyDelete
  131. rob you fat fuck get off the comment thread we're having a serious discussion about stick figure pedophillia
    i dont want to hear about your tea parties with harold winston frostwillies and his erotic sculpture

    ReplyDelete
  132. people are calling this comic sweet?

    ReplyDelete
  133. UndercoverCuddlefishJuly 25, 2010 at 8:15 AM

    @makuus you are missing like the only point i really made which is precisely that music is nothing more than "varying frequencies of sound" but the end result of a composition is still imbued with something more than the mere truth of its own existence so there is actually room for human interpretation while facts and numbers simply cannot be reasonably interpreted as anything but themselves

    were you to take a class in logic and seriously suggest that there is room for personal interpretation in the field you would probably be laughed out of the room

    @mltop i am sorry that you have been tutoring students that feel a sense of shock and wonder at the basic coincidences inherent in a system of observation your job must have been very difficult as they struggled to wrap their minds around the fact that 1 plus 2 could possibly equal 3 three different numbers have such a fundamental relationship it is truly a moving and powerful thing

    maybe you should have had them derive the equation themselves so they would actually understand why this relationship is true since it seems that their reactions are based entirely on the fact that they do not understand the actual math hence fall under my label of "irrationality"

    i mean i can awe my little brothers by doing a really simple integral but they will eventually grow out of thinking that this is something worth being excited about

    ReplyDelete
  134. Guys, the xkcd site is down. It happened while I was visiting it, so I think I did it.

    ReplyDelete
  135. irt. Rob and the artistic lens:

    I think ... or want to think, rather ... that a good scientist or mathematician needs to be creative and passionate about it. Maybe not in an artistic sense, but in some fuzzy way both the scientist and the artist need to get in a 'zone', some idea space, to be really good at what they do. (With apologies to Alan Moore for ripping off his texts here.)

    However the reality of science, with which I have a bit of aquaintance, is a drudge and unlike this romantic ideal.

    ReplyDelete
  136. @undercovercuddlefish
    the only point i really made which is precisely that music is nothing more than "varying frequencies of sound" but the end result of a composition is still imbued with something more than the mere truth of its own existence so there is actually room for human interpretation

    The end result of a composition is a series of frequencies --"imbued with something more than the mere truth" is a bullshit phrase with no actual meaning. I agree with you, don't worry, but your point here is terrible. Just terrible.

    @Rob: I don't think you're particular about your company. You are here, after all, and about 40% of us are bitches or douches. Or both. And that's giving us the benefit of the doubt, really.

    @/b/: Haha. That is all.

    ReplyDelete
  137. irt. UndercoverCuddlefish:

    What makuus probably meant was something like this.

    Very simple rules (counting "occupied" neighbours on a 2D grid and taking a yes/no decision based on that) can give rise to very complex unpredictable behaviours, like replicating patterns and so on.

    Is your mind blown right now?

    That's where the "interpretation" (more like, the reaction) comes in.

    ReplyDelete
  138. I was getting at some of the themes present in Godel, Escher, Bach about messages and the nature of information. But that is good as well.

    ReplyDelete
  139. UndercoverCuddlefishJuly 25, 2010 at 9:39 AM

    @raven yeah i phrased it poorly it would be better as "the end result of a composition is something that leaves room for human interpretation" the bastardization of a sentence i ended up using was the result of reorganizing my points a few times and not bothering to read back over them

    @bland i have a feeling that you and i disagree on what exactly defines something as unpredictable since there is no way that a "very simple rule" will ever result in a behavior that you could not foresee if you spent enough time thinking about it

    maybe you are trying to poke at the idea of emergence which involves multiple rules interacting to create new behaviors that none of the individual rules can account for on their own and this is what i would say is ultimately responsible for the distinction between art and math

    i agree with the assertion that good science and good art both involve the application of creativity and passion

    my original claim had nothing to do with whether or not there is anything inspirational or worthwhile about math and science in general i was picking apart the idea that an equation is in any way comparable to a symphony as the latter is more complex by several orders of magnitude

    ReplyDelete
  140. Carl! You are a worthless hack of a webcomic blogger/critic! Why are the pictures on your blog not working on my laptop?! I can't figure it out myself so I assume it's your problem, you filthy animal.


    Munroe is a saint!

    ReplyDelete
  141. irt. UndercoverCuddlefish:

    Predictable in my previous post meaning a way to get the end result without running the system itself (which is what "thinking about it long enough" means).

    But what predictable means is not my contention. The idea is, there's a set of rules, and it gives rise to systems such that two things that start very much alike behave very differently, and in interesting ways so. For some value of interesting. That's the mathematical fact. How you react to this mathematical fact is up to you, this is what one may call "interpretation".

    ReplyDelete
  142. @UndercoverCuddlefish

    I'm going to talk about Euler's formula, since e^(i*pi) = -1 is really just an application of e^(ix) = cos(x) + i*sin(x).

    You claimed that if one just went through the proof of this formula that it would lose its mystery and hence its beauty. But every proof that I know is based on mysterious steps that don't come from logic. Usually this mysterious step is redefining e^(z) [z complex] as a power series which has the same form as you would derive in calculus for real values of z.

    But this simple example actually points to a much broader point. Which is that you might have it in mind that mathematicians and scientists do all of their work in the spirit of Euclid. Which is to say that one starts with a set of axioms and works out all of the theorems using logic.

    But often, especially in science, this is not the case. Why? Because generalizations are not a work of pure logic. Instead one must use creativity, intuition, and a bit of guess work. In the above our goal was to generalize e^(z) from the real number line to the complex plane. We had no axiom which tells us how to do this. We had to guess that the secret was redefining e^(z) as the power series.

    I could talk for another four paragraphs about this subject, but I'm already very sorry about how long this post is.

    ReplyDelete
  143. @UndercoverCuddlefish

    The Mandelbrot set is produced by a reasonable simple rule but it is impossible to tell what the pattern will be if you zoom in far enough as computers won't be able to deal with the excessive decimals.

    You are also switching what you said as you implied that an equation is the same as a proof. Whereas a proof is a series of equations or identities which show a thought process.

    ReplyDelete
  144. @Anon: Presuming you're serious Carl just stole the images from the XKCD site instead of saving his own copies and loading them onto an independent server. XKCD is down, so now Carl's stolen images are, too.

    And while we're at it "Art" is great probably because of flaws, variance, and personal touches, something that math and science is trying to avoid. As UC was saying, mathematics "looks" like magic, but it really is always just set rules operating as they are supposed to. Symphonies can be interesting because there is no way you will ever hear the exact same frequency/ duration/ synchronization of notes as you ever have before. ...Well, recordings aside, obviously.

    Math is a tool to make pretty things, but {Bookshelf} > {board, nails, hammer}. This is a bias, but it is very easily argued. Science? Oh yeah, I can get behind that. But Math, no. I mean it as a "tool" in the nicest way: I appreciate that is helps me do things I like.

    ReplyDelete
  145. plz can it be down for good?

    ReplyDelete
  146. I'll call myself Arthur from now on instead of Art so that people don't think I'm trying to be a personification of Art.

    @Ravenzomg

    It seems to me that notes are to symphonies as set theory is to mathematics. They are the underpinning and the backbone by which a symphony or a field of mathematics can be formed.

    But it's up to the mathematician to decide what object to create. You can't use set theory to derive Euler's Formula since he had to first create the object e^(z). And it's this act of creation which shadows the creative spirit of Beethoven.

    And yes, some of us find these sorts of creative leaps just as beautiful as you might find a symphony. Don't believe me? Tough. That's just the way it is. I can't explain it any better than I can explain why I like King Crimson's Epitaph better than I like Beethoven's Fifth.

    ReplyDelete
  147. UndercoverCuddlefishJuly 25, 2010 at 10:37 AM

    @bland you can not say that something is unpredictable if the only reason it is unpredictable is that you are not given ample context to predict what will happen

    @art you are mistaking the process for the result i have admitted several times already that there is a creative process behind math but that was never my argument

    i find math fascinating because i enjoy the creative process behind it not because i am somehow inspired by mathematical conclusions

    @makuus difficulty of calculation is really not the same as unpredictability

    on the proof versus equation thing the "an elegant equation can be as inspiring as a symphony" comment was what launched my initial rant and any discussion of proofs was incidental as i was elaborating on ways in which emotion can still come into play in the mathematical field

    this was after asserting that there is nothing to interpret or react to when it comes to an equation since an equation is nothing more than an observation

    @raven yeah that was it

    i like the mention of imperfection as being crucial to the understanding of artistic works

    in case anybody was wondering (unlikely) i was a comp sci major in college and i currently program for a living so i tend to side with the science crowd at least when they are not trying to assert that art does nothing that math and science cannot (which is exactly the goal of stupid comments like "an elegant equation can be as inspiring as a symphony")

    ReplyDelete
  148. Ehh, you can define e^z as power series, or the limit of (1+z/n)^n, but in any case the formula will work for the complex numbers. It's a natural extension and not magic. In fact, for every analytic function on reals there is a unique complex analytic function that extends it. The Euler formula is only impressive if you don't know the underlying math. What's really impressive is algebraic completeness of the field of complex numbers, which is pretty awesome when you think about it.

    ReplyDelete
  149. guys! go to twitter and search "xkcd" and you can see some people FREAKING THE HECK OUT over the fact that the site is down.

    Oddly, you'll notice that the image for this blog post is still up, and if you click "view image" it it still up at xkcd as well. That is so odd.

    Anyway, this is what I get for just copying the images that Randall puts up (it also means that if he goes back and changes something, my version is changed as well). I used to save every comic to my desktop and upload it, before I realized that was dumb and you can just use the image url, or, in firefox, just drag the image into Blogger's text box.

    Is there a smarter way for me to be doing this whole thing?

    Lastly, on this BORING AS HELL discussion of art vs science, some people will find beauty in an equation and not in a symphony. Just because you personally are the other way around doesn't mean that's always the case. People have different interests. Surely we can all think of a person or two that we know who is intensely logically-minded, and flips out with joy upon seeing a certain proof.

    i happen to find the proof that 0.999...=1 if not "beautiful" then at least very cool in a way that brings me joy similar to that of hearing nice music.

    ReplyDelete
  150. UndercoverCuddlefishJuly 25, 2010 at 11:13 AM

    fuck xkcd is back up time for me to hate randall some more

    ReplyDelete
  151. @UndercoverCuddlefish
    Do you understand Chaos Theory? Entirely deterministic systems with outcomes impossible to accurately predict based on the initial conditions. The equations for chaotic systems are often seemingly simple but give rise to complex behaviour. If that doesn't count as unpredictable then I don't know what is.

    ReplyDelete
  152. You can also prove e^ix = cosx + isinx using good old calculus, which is the most elegant proff in my opinion.

    z = cosx + isinx

    dz/dx = -sinx +icosx

    dz/dx = iz

    i(dx/dz) = 1/z

    ix = ln(z) + c

    when x = 0 , z = 1

    therefore 0 = ln(1) + c

    c=0

    ix = ln(z)

    e^ix = z

    e^ix = cosx + isinx

    when x = pi , cosx + isinx = -1

    Therefore e^i*pi = -1

    e^i*pi + 1 = 0

    Pretty COOL huh?

    Yes, yes it is.

    ReplyDelete
  153. HAHA: an elegant PROFF! I'M SO DUMB!

    ReplyDelete
  154. @UndercoverCuddlefish

    Actually I was responding to this comment, which I omitted for the purpose of making my post shorter:

    "maybe you should have had them derive the equation themselves so they would actually understand why this relationship is true since it seems that their reactions are based entirely on the fact that they do not understand the actual math hence fall under my label of 'irrationality'"

    What I was pointing out was that you absolutely cannot derive Euler's Formula without making some assumptions about exponentials.

    This is important because your argument is that equations are only artificially beautiful when one doesn't why the equation's true. So I point out that the reason why it's true is equally beautiful and somewhat mysterious, and your response is that we're not talking about how it is that we know an equation is true!

    @Timofei

    I think my point here is that these sorts of generalizations aren't as natural as they appear in retrospect. This is a very common theme in mathematics and science, and there are much better examples that I could draw from. However I didn't want to diverge too strongly from the arguments presented by others. Let me try to explain why a given generalization might only seem obvious in retrospect. I'll continue to use the example of Euler's formula:

    We need a generalization of exponentials for complex numbers. There are plenty of places to begin, since we know a lot of ways to define exponentials. The easiest one to think of is e^x = e*e*...*e*e (That's x number of e's). Another is the limit definition that you pointed out. Another is the taylor series. Yet another is that it's the inverse of the natural logarithm. [ln(x) may be defined rigorously as the definite integral of 1/t from t = 1 up to t = x. This is the first rigorous definition of e^x and ln(x) I learned.] There are surely many others that I am not aware of.

    In retrospect, and only in retrospect, do we see one of the definitions as the most natural for generalization.

    @Carl

    Thank you for inserting some sanity into the general debate (boring as it may be to you).

    ReplyDelete
  155. 769: What I don't think anyone has mentioned and what I think would be the most sensible explanation (with bad execution, though) for the "tangent" while writing the letter is that he actually didn't write down that part where he reacted to the shots - just talked to himself (war can make you a bit crazy? those in war are crazy to begin with?) or said it in his head. With better separation of the comment from the letter's text it could've come across easier.

    Not that I came up with this instantly and didn't have the massive "what the fuck" feeling the comic left me until I read this blog post, which caused me to think through the problems more specifically, I guess. Maybe it's just easier to base your ideas on shortcomings of others', haha.


    770: Not having seen this explanation laid out (unless implied?) by anyone yet I might be a bit off, but I think the point has to do with how the everyday socially inept nerdy romantic (probably including Randall) has trouble with social skills, in this case specifically "hitting on (desired) women" - making them fall in love with you. Being overall awkward with regards to social skills and never managing to make any progress has left a sad hole in his inside, which is expressed here: he cannot influence the matters to any extent and is thus forced to accept those who take him at face value or fall in love with him randomly, without needing be "conquered". The punchline is that he says it out loud, of course, but it might be interpreted as letting out the frustration deep down, a "cry for help", aswell, giving it a sad tone. Or the other way around, poking fun at a sad situation? In that case, it didn't work; I don't get the situation until the last panel and then go "awww, that's sad" at the same time as "ah, the guy's being brutally honest. I guess I should laugh here. ha ha?" with the sadness taking the edge of the "joke" ending up with a boring result. And if you ignore the sad undertones/the character's speculated background, it's just even more dull, on the level of "give me back the 10 seconds I spent reading this!"

    I managed to ignore the height issue, btw. I mean, women are generally shorter than men anyway. Yes, I do get the fact Randall usually only draws children as lower in height but in a closeup of a hugging scene you rarely see the characters' heads on the same level. But naturally attention to detail was thrown out of the window and the difference made creepily big.

    ReplyDelete
  156. I think UC and I agree that CERTAIN PARTS of Math are pretty nifty, such as proofs, but it is reasonable to fight anyone who thinks flat mathematical expressions evoke emotions en par with symphonies.

    For my minor in Math I only took one "proof" course [the rest were stats/probs/calc], and I absolutely loved proofs [once I could figure them out -- until that point they were just various sewn together expletives].

    But yeah, even just proving basic crap like that a system of numbers and formulae can pass linearity is entertaining. LEFT SIDE EQUALS RIDE SIDE, BITCHES! FUCK YES!! I'm not kidding, I said that series of words several times upon completing a proof from scratch, regardless of company. So I will clarify my position to tell you that I can see emotional response from WORKING OUT a PROOF of an equation.

    But Music can be appreciated passively/ actively/ whatever. People may disagree over what styles are best, but very very very very very few people will ever say that music cannot evoke emotional responses [and they're probably deaf]. But this is a pretty silly argument and seems to be breaching into Ad Populum or whatever....

    Tying ourselves to this Music argument for the arts is really a terrible course because Music, for all my bickering, is ridiculously mathematical. But once we get into Visual Arts and the like you deviate completely. Or, I dunno, the webcomic medium.

    Let the record show that small imperfections give a "flavour", or a "personal touch". Large, glaring imperfections give us abominations that repulse.


    ALSO: Randall made an Easter Egg.

    ReplyDelete
  157. Wow. The phrase "battle of wits between unarmed combatants" springs unbidden. How appropriate, given the subject matter of 769 (ObXKCDS)!

    OK, then, heres a summary:

    1. Some $SCIENCE is boring, therefore all $SCIENCE is boring.
    2. Some $ART is beautiful, therefore all $ART is beautiful.
    3 Conclusion: $ART is *better* than $SCIENCE, for all values of $ART and $SCIENCE.

    And thats logic, so it must be true - even if it is ugly.

    Oh, God, I crack me up.

    ReplyDelete
  158. What if we're seeing his thoughts as he IM's?

    On the IM'ing point, would you ever expect Mister Beret to say "yo cords whut up?" anyway?
    If Randall did that, I would wager that would be far more annoying, even if it was shown he was IM'ing. At least one could argue Randall was trying to preserve some concept that this was set in the past with the speech style.

    ReplyDelete
  159. @ Rob 6:22

    So, basically, you're a big, dumb prescriptivist doo-doo head?

    ReplyDelete
  160. @Ravenzomg

    "but it is reasonable to fight anyone who thinks flat mathematical expressions evoke emotions en par with symphonies."

    But here's the crazy thing! For some of us (read: myself) they do! It is a pecularity that I wish I could explain, but cannot. I am not here to convince you that my peculiar joys are somehow superior to the joy one gets from art. I only ask that you and UC accept that this joy exists.

    I think what gets lost in this debate is that art, mathematics, science, and philosophy are much closer than is obvious at first glance. Allow me to quote Einstein:

    "Where the world ceases to be the scene of our personal hopes and wishes, where we face it as free beings admiring, asking, and observing, there we enter the realm of Art and Science. If what is seen and experienced is portrayed in the language of logic, we are engaged in science. If it is communicated through forms whose connections are not accessible to the conscious mind but are recognized intuitively as meaningul, then we are engaged in art. Common to both is the loving devotion to that which transcends personal concerns and volition."

    ReplyDelete
  161. I'm sort of enjoying the big discussion here. And I think the major point is not "what evokes emotions and what doesn't". A lot of things can evoke emotion; hell, ANYTHING can potentially evoke emotion, but not everything is art. Everything CAN be art.

    As far as I know, the goal of Science is to come up with models that explain the world and all its features, in a way that we can approach the 'truth' objectively. That's not what art is all about. A piece of art is not a model of the world, and it's not an objective way of approaching the truth. Art is nothing but expression -- someone trying to say something, something that may not be "true" or "false" at all, as it is highly subjective and changes from person to person. Science tries to come up with answers. Art tries to come up with good questions.

    The distinction is not in being beautiful or provoking emotional response. A landscape can be absolutely gorgeous and provoke a lot of responses, but it is not art. Nobody "made" that landscape for expression: it just exists, it is there. A house can be beautiful and evoke emotions, but usually a house is not art: most people do not intentionally try to "express" anything with a house, as they're just trying to create a good shelter. Science creates shelters; Art creates everything that is outside them.

    ReplyDelete
  162. Fernie: Wittgenstein thought mathematics was just a series of rules for making certain patterns, which count as valid formulae. So mathematics reduces to a system for making interesting wallpaper designs, which means it's art. (Explore the flaws of that implied definition of art at your leisure.)

    A lot of mathematics wouldn't be science by your definition, because much of it is not useful for anything. (Well, it *can* be, but you often have to wait a few hundred years before something that's elegant and wonderful suddenly turns out to be applicable for, say, the most efficient way for air traffic controllers to stack airliners waiting to land.)

    Can it be art? I wonder if the people who say they can't be inspired by an equation in the same way as they can by a symphony understand that mathematics is not a bunch of equations, any more than Die Zauberflote is a bunch of notes. I'm not sure I'd be that inspired by seeing a couple of quavers and a semi-breve any more than by seeing a trigonometric identity, but I think people might be arguing past one another here.

    ReplyDelete
  163. @Arthur: I think the reasoning behind the negativity towards Science and Math [in regards to this "getting emotional responses from it"] lies in the exclusivity. Anything difficult enough to appreciate beyond mere logical construction is inherently beyond common understanding of Math.

    Sure, the same thing exists in that branch of art that isn't ABOUT making sense to everyone, but representing the Artist's journey to getting to this stage and what not. The uninformed viewer feels gypped, and rightly so! "It's four coloured rectangles! WTF is this!" and whatnot.

    But this is a small section of Art that most people just shun while appreciating the grande masse of Artwork that is accessible to nearwell everyone. Do I speak Hungarian? No. Can I appreciate a Hungarian band? Yes. Speak Finnish? no. Do you need to in order to appreciate some Finnish Metal? Not really, because you wouldn't understand them anyways.

    I don't understand the pleasure in a mathematical statement without the Proof anymore than I would appreciate your telling me "Electrons are Blue". I mean.... grand. But I don't feel one way or the other about that. Show me how you got that and I'd actually be kinda intrigued, but until that, no.

    So I think it comes down to accessibility. Math only becomes exciting after maybe 2nd year post-sec, really, and very few people go near that. Art can be appreciated quite more often.

    I won't deny that YOU and some others derive emotional pleasure from Mathematical Statements. I derive emotional pleasure from Trashy Vampire Romance novels. Let's agree to call each other deviants and leave it at that. ;-)

    RE: XKCD 771: I really like the concept, but once again Randall has presented it in a sequence that doesn't elicit a laugh. Pity, really, I think he had something here...

    ReplyDelete
  164. HAHAHAHAH THE FUTURE WILL HAVE A DISTORTED VIEW OF THE PAST.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA WHAT AN ORIGINAL IDEA!

    ReplyDelete
  165. Now that you mention it, I think he's used this idea of "the future misinterpreting us" like twice before, hasn't he? More?

    ReplyDelete
  166. What about art that's not accessible to most people?

    Maybe that's what Randall's propounding - if we could only be as clever as he and all his scientist friends are, then we could appreciate xkcd for the great art that it most definitely is.

    Er.

    ReplyDelete
  167. "So, basically, you're a big, dumb prescriptivist doo-doo head?"

    that would require me to be telling people how to use words. so, no. I am telling people how I am using them, so they can understand what I'm saying better, since there's a lot of subtext.

    "1. Some $SCIENCE is boring, therefore all $SCIENCE is boring.
    2. Some $ART is beautiful, therefore all $ART is beautiful.
    3 Conclusion: $ART is *better* than $SCIENCE, for all values of $ART and $SCIENCE."

    you are apparently a fucking moron if that's what you're getting out of this conversation.

    you might want to learn about nuance before you jump into a conversation like this--it might help. but since you don't have a grasp of it, let me sum up:

    the conversation is not that "all science is boring" or that "all art is beautiful." what I said specifically is that I tend to prefer the presence of artists because the lens by which they view the world is more interesting, to me, than the science lens. this is based on repeated observation and experimentation--artists pretty much invariably are more fun to spend time with, for me.

    I also asserted that artists are less likely to adopt the obnoxious know-it-all mentality that you have just demonstrated--the one where, despite your horribly flawed understanding of a situation, you assume that you have grasped it intuitively enough to demonstrate the flaws to everyone involved.

    other people have been arguing that math and science do not evoke emotions the same way that art does. this is primarily because art is designed to evoke emotion, and math and science are not. they can evoke emotion, but they do not do so in the same way as art, primarily because they are not art. this does not make them inferior, unless you are judging everything by its ability to evoke emotion in the same fashion as art. in that particular instance, math and science are demonstrably inferior.

    I'm sure you feel super slighted by the fact that I find you (presumably a computer science type, based on your horribly flawed understanding of this conversation) to be significantly less interesting than someone who describes themselves as a photographer or a poet. this is not a judgment on your field, despite the fact that I hold computer science in the highest disdain possible for a scholarly field--merely an observation. you bore me. I'm sure you're doing wonderful things. I would just prefer it if you did them where I didn't have to interact with you. you're kind of insufferable.

    ReplyDelete
  168. "despite the fact that I hold computer science in the highest disdain possible for a scholarly field"

    I am intrigued. Why do you feel this?

    -Anon 8:13

    PS: I see. I accept your definition of "nerd" as a valid one to have even though it is (read: feels) backward and wrongheaded.

    ReplyDelete
  169. rob you fat faggot stop calling me and my maths buddies boring just because you can't do advanced triple volumetric integrals or partial differential equations doesn't make them less exciting than unicorn jizz OKAY?

    ReplyDelete
  170. @Fernie

    I... Um. What?
    I briefly touched on this theme earlier, but it may be worth revisiting. Let me respond to your statement, "Science tries to come up with the answers." I couldn't disagree more. Science would be utterly boring if we only looked for models that merely explained this phenomena or that. A model is only interesting if we get more out of it than we put into it. The goal is to find out what new experiments are worth doing, what new questions are worth asking.

    You also brought up the issue of "truth". There's a lot to unpack here. We could argue all day about which is closer to the truth: a scientific theory or a Philip Dick story. But instead I'll just note the often surprising fact that scientific theories can agree extraordinarily well with experiment, and yet be utterly wrong in terms of philosophical truth.

    For instance, I wouldn't call Newton's determinism particularly close to the truth since now we believe through quantum mechanics that the universe plays with dice. And yet Newton's theory agrees extraoridinarily well with a wide array of experiments.

    @Ravenzomg

    I agree. I wouldn't call an equation beautiful without knowing its proof, its various interpretations, its applications, or its history.

    I also agree that we are definitely deviants.

    ReplyDelete
  171. man i'm a computer science student

    basically rob picks whatever philosophy allows him to hate on me :(

    i guess he also hates really good-looking people too

    ReplyDelete
  172. Actually I liked this xkcd more than the average one and can't help but feel like Carl immidiately tried hard to find something to criticize purposefully trying not to enjoy the comic at hand (since he has grown to a Randall-xkcd bashing spitefull nerd, no offense intended, just saying).

    While the comic might not be entirely hilarious or original I find it quite amusing.

    Honestly, where is the point about complainig about not knowing wether plays in the 19th or the 20th century? The drawing is so rudimental that it can not really be used to pin down a date. The time in which the comic takes place is "war", thats all that matters.

    The language used in the comic rubbed the readers nose on the absurdity of the whole situation. I did have a laugh about it.

    ReplyDelete
  173. The only reason Rob feels disdain for computer science is that programming is an artform.

    ReplyDelete
  174. nah, it's more that the people who study it are dumber than everyone else

    ReplyDelete
  175. (if you need proof, look no further than the CS people who think it is art)

    ReplyDelete
  176. From http://xkcdsucks.blogspot.com/2010/07/comic-765-homeopathetic.html:

    "Now i've gotten all distracted and forgotten what this comic was about. Let me just have a l-
    OH HOLY CRAP, IT WAS THE SEMEN INJECTION THING. WHYYYYYYY"

    From this post:

    "In other words, if he were actually writing a letter to the woman he is trying to shoot, he wouldn't say "I fear you may have found a superior vantage poi--A splendid effort, my love..." because that doesn't make sense. The first half of the letter is negated by the second. So a normal sane human would just start over and not act like this was a conversation."

    Carl, you're a pedantic, hypocritical, whiny bitch.

    ReplyDelete
  177. Carl is using what is called a "rhetorical device." you may have heard of them. the fictional writer of the letter is just getting interrupted in mid-thought.

    ReplyDelete
  178. it is true! I will admit it, I actually PLANNED THE ENTIRE THING! I knew EXACTLY what the comic was about when I started the sentence! But I pretended not to, because that was how I wanted to express my thoughts. In this case, I had a good reason, or at least, something I think is a good reason. i wanted to express how shocking I found the subject material of this comic. I thought the best way to do that would be to contrast it with a more mundane sentence. So I started out all innocent and carefree, and then suddenly shifted to the more offensive topic, which I also described in all caps. This was meant to highlight how surprised I had become. i thought it was mildly clever. A bunch of people complimented me on that line.

    not that i'm NOT a pedantic, hypocritical, whiny bitch, because i am all those things too.

    ReplyDelete
  179. not that it matters, but the gun looks like a crude drawing of a springfield 1903 to me, used in ww1/2, and limited use in Korea and Vietnam.

    The helmet looks like an M1 which was used by the US army from 1942 until the early 80's

    On the other hand, the reference to him liking his "regular beret" likely refers to the fact that in 2001 the US army adopted the black beret for all "normal" troops.

    But none of this matters because it's a goddamn comic strip making a play on the phrase "all's fair in love and war" it's still worth a chuckle even if it isn't historically accurate.

    ReplyDelete
  180. You are an idiot.

    And XKCD Rocks!

    Maybe your life would be more fulfilling if you spent your time creating something of your own that you can be proud of rather than spending your time attempting to tear somebody else's creativity down.

    Seriously, what's the deal with absolutely having to dedicate a large amount of your time and an entire website just to bash one comic strip??? Everything about you and this website screams "Loser" to me. I'm going back to reading XKCD, SMBC, and anything else I might find funny and enjoyable.

    Enjoy your wasted life of bashing. Hope it was worth it to you.

    -Austin Girl

    ReplyDelete
  181. yeah Carl, you should make something that doesn't suck for once

    ReplyDelete
  182. wait, i don't get it, i created a whole blog! what more do you want??

    ReplyDelete