Friday, October 8, 2010

Comics 802 and 803: We've Been Here Before

i believe i can fly
[Alt: This is a fun explanation to prepare your kids for; it's common and totally wrong. Good lines include 'why does the air have to travel on both sides at the same time?' and 'I saw the Wright brothers plane and those wings were curved the same on the top and bottom!'

I find Comic 802 too boring for words, so you should read this dude's rant about it. I will note, however, that this time he has a preorder up for posters, so all of you who for some reason think that when he posts an obvious poster grab he's not doing it because he wants to sell a poster can get fucked.

803, now! 803 is terrible. Randy is back to his old tricks, which is to say, he is complaining about how teachers don't cater to his every whim in class. Randy is special, you see, and his teachers told him to shut up when he called them out on providing explanations that did not stand up to his rigorous engineer's standards. (He says it is "totally wrong," which is not true. It's actually reasonably close to correct, albeit way too simplified.)

Furthermore, he thinks that it is a good idea to equip your children with clever zingers to harass their teachers when they do not provide you with the engineer's version of a scientific explanation. He further thinks that it is wrong for the teacher to say "that's really too complicated to go into at this juncture, and we need to move on" instead of saying "GOLLY JEEPERS YOU'RE RIGHT LET'S LOOK INTO IT RIGHT NOW AND BORE THE REST OF THE CLASS AND DERAIL THE CURRICULUM."

I'd like to address the "equip your children with clever zingers" bit first. I attended a private Christian school when I was a lad. Around middle school to high school, we started receiving education on "clever things to say to a teacher who is teaching that evolution is true or that the world is older than like two or three weeks old, tops." They were mostly envisioning that you'd say this to a teacher, and imagining that everyone would laugh at how flustered he got and praise you as brilliant and clever and possibly lick your nipples when you got home. Just throwing that out there--Randall is suggesting the same tactics used by young-earth creationists who write propaganda textbooks.

And on to the part where Randy thinks that teachers should cater to students disrupting the flow of the classroom. This works pretty well in his hated humanities courses, actually. I've had a professor literally change the final project to something else because of things that came up in the class. Humanities classes tend to be full of lively discussion, and the teacher is there to guide that discussion to the right places. Unfortunately the comic is apparently about a science class! There is no time for that sort of bullshit in the hard sciences. You would never get your curriculum done! And if you only get 2/3 of your hard science curriculum done then you're only 2/3 superior to those damn humanities students!

But I guess in Randyland it's always appropriate to correct someone about science, especially when they're a teacher. It's their own fault for not being engineers, I guess.

(notice how I'm ignoring the "joke" about Santa being your parents? that is because it is so fucking stupid there's really just nothing to say about it.)

111 comments:

  1. Completely unrelated, but if you like webcomics, please check out Carl's new site webcomics.me . I know it hasn't been updated in a while, but he just made me an author and I made my first post in here about a bunch of webcomics! Also, Kirk is going to post Questionable Content stuff soon. So, keep that in mind, xkcd is not the only bad comic on the Internet.

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  2. Cross posted from xkcdsuxredux:

    "Santa Claus is your parents" doesn't work on so many levels. The first is that "Santa Claus" and "your parents" are not equal in number. This isn't a grammatical mistake, but the logic of the sentence would work better with something like "Santa Claus is an invention of your parents." Secondly, the natural reading of this sentence implies that Santa is a hermaphrodite and both your father and mother. In general a sentence of the form X is your Y will be read that way. Consider "Santa Claus is your father," or, even better, "I am your father." Luke doesn't take away from this that Darth Vader isn't real, he takes away that Darth Vader had sex with his mother. To disambiguate the word "really" or "actually" should have been added.

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  3. Webcomics.me is DOA. People visited (and continue to visit) xkcdsucks because they hate xkcd and because angry rants are funny. They didn't visit because of Carl's ability as a critic. So the new website is going to tank because a) it isn't about a webcomic that we all want to hate on and b) it is going to try to be more "mature" and less full of angry rants. Carl's "mature" and "balanced" critical pieces on books were boring, and a website full of content like that is not going to take off. Especially since this site and xkcdsuxredux (also awesome) are still providing all the xkcd hate that I could ever want.

    Basically I'm saying that Carl is pulling a Randall: taking a limited success in a small area and drawing the conclusion that he is God's gift to webcomics/webcomic criticism. The difference being that Randall wisely stuck to the limited format he was successful in.

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  4. anon 11:45 - I think you're very wrong that webcomics.me is going to be more mature. Especially with yours truly on board (I don't know about Kirk's Questionable Content rants, but I think they won't be too serious either). You can only have so much xkcd hate before you get bored. I mean, Rob does pretty well so far (I won't comment on xkcdsuxredux anon, he seems pretty lame), but I think he'll grow bored of bashing xkcd for the same old sins against webcomicking, especially since Randall himself has already ran out of ideas.

    Anyway, the latest goatkcd is pretty good, but it's unfortunate that the "very wrong" caption became obscured.

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  5. @anon 11:45 - So you don't like the new site and that's great and all, but the fact that you don't like it doesn't mean it will fail. Honestly, I liked his book reviews, and I look forward to seeing Carl ranting about stuff other than XKCD.

    @comic 803: A couple of things (from an aerospace engineer, no less)

    A) The alt-text is wrong. The Wright Brother's planes had cambered airfoils, just like pretty much every other non-supersonic plane. Symmetric airfoil use in wings is pretty damn rare.

    B) Sure fighter jets (and some special aerobatic display planes) can fly upside down, but they can't do it with the nose pointing straight forward because, guess what, wings doesn't work right when they're upside down! When planes fly upside down, they point their nose up, which shifts the stagnation point on the wing, and the end result is that the air pressure on the side of the wing facing the sky is less than the pressure underneath. Which creates the same conditions that the teacher is describing! Wow, who saw that coming? Which brings me to...

    C) At a basic level (such as is being taught in a middle school or high school classroom), the teacher's explanation is pretty much correct (Aside: "why does the air have to travel on both sides at the same time?" is actually a really good question. Interestingly, for most airfoils, the air over the top actually gets there *before* the air on the bottom). Want a more complete explanation? There isn't one without several years of calculus. Even then, any calculations you can do with a pencil-and-paper method will just be using higher order approximations of what is actually happening... If you want to *really* explain it, it'll require analysis of computational fluid dynamics simulations.

    If Randal ever actually learned any of that "hard science" stuff he likes to feel superior about, he'd understand that simple explanations and approximations are not annoying, they're actually crucial to forming a foundation of knowledge from which we can build off of.

    Remember comic 451? Yeah, it's pretty clear that Randall's not an engineer.

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  6. I'd just like to note that lecture interrupters are the worst kind of people on the planet

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  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  8. also, carl sucks and rob and aloria are the luminaries of the worldwide xkcd hating community

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  9. yeah it's true that this explanation at a basic level is pretty accurate, but dismissing honest, intelligent student questions pertinent to the topic as "zingers", "derailing the curriculum" or "disrupting the flow of the classroom" is some of the most ridiculous bullshit i've ever heard; the fact that this is considered true by some educators has a lot to do with the quality, or lack thereof, in the us. i hate randall and xkcd as much as the rest of you, but let's not make batshit insane claims just to make him look worse.

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  10. furthermore, http://i.imgur.com/LP2Ti.png

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  11. Hey internet, sup?

    I have to say some things about this xkcd that I feel were left unsaid, and actually contribute both to its underlying shittyness and to its surprising quality (i.e. tolerable by xkcd standards and orgasmic to cuddlefish). First and foremost, this has some serious GOOMH power to it, its the cuddlefish equivalent of uncut methamphetamine. Anyone who has seen that crappy little figure in any first grade through twelfth grade physics class knows exactly what he's talking about, and only the seriously handicapped haven't though "what the hell?" at least once, even if they were slow enough to do it in their twelfth grade one. I myself did it in third grade.

    Cuddlefish love anything that makes them think they're part of a unique group above other people, and that the people who are outside that group are too stupid and selfish to even begin to understand them. This does that perfectly. Here's a newsflash cuddlefish: I get what you're asking here, that teacher you've asked this too probably gets it, but we're mature enough to know that that level of detail is important to very few people, and that this basic understanding is more than good enough for the vast majority of people.

    I'll give credit where credit is due. Randall did point out a surprisingly grating and unintuitive diagram, and did it with much less pretentiousness than usual. Still, the underlying message is total bull. Being a detriment to an already overburdened education system for your own vapid brainlust makes you a massive asshole. Stupid stupid people won't understand it's wrong, smart smart people will know why it's wrong and just deal with it, but smart stupid people will realize it's wrong and yell "NOOO YOU ARE MISFILLING THEIR BRAINS! THEY MUST KNOW HOW AIRFOILS WORK IN PERFECT DETAIL OR ALL KNOWLEDGE FOREVER FAILS!!! WHAT IF THEY NEED TO FIX A PLANE! WITH SNAKES ON IT!!!" and fuck everything up for everyone. Smart stupid people are evil. Bush was smart stupid, Hitler was smart stupid, that one fucking guy in that goddamn basement somewhere who insists all my posts be perfectly grammatically correct to every minute and useless standard is smart stupid. They are the caltrops on the road of human improvement. If anyone needs to be put on a government population regulation, it isn't stupid stupids, its smart stupids.

    That said, this applies to more than just physics in terms of school subjects, but still only applies to major pricks as far as questioners go. Asking derailing questions like this is giving a giant middle finger to the idea of teaching the class you're in. It's saying "I already understand this more than everyone else, but I'm going to make you go into obscene detail, because this tiny facet of this subject is more important to me than everything else in this class that everyone else, and probably I myself, need to learn" it's selfish, short sighted, and makes you a lot more stupid than the stupids you think you're mocking by asking this.

    I have done this more than once. I was that kid in class who knew goddamn everything, but didn't give enough of a damn to do well enough in the class to maybe skip the next semester, or year, and get into a serious class. This didn't just apply to physics, but to Social studies, Math, Bio, pretty-much all classes which require learning a relatively solid science without going into obscene detail. LA is immune because literary interpretation actually requires that sort of questioning. Language classes are immune because you have to ask the question in that language, and if you can ask "Wait, isn't the subjunctive tense sort of misused there? Your preposition implies that the object of the verb doesn't reciprocate." without whipping out a translating dictionary, you win French forever.

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  12. @Markus: If your political comments failed to convince everyone you should be in your "stupid stupid" category, I'm sure calling subjunctive a "tense" pushed a few more people over the edge.

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  13. I love this place.

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  14. "Wait, isn't the subjunctive tense sort of misused there? Your preposition implies that the object of the verb doesn't reciprocate."

    Pour que tu pusses te permettre d'employer un tel exemple, il eut fallu que tu susses les règles de la grammaire française.

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  15. "I'd just like to note that lecture interrupters are the worst kind of people on the planet"

    Except this isn't a lecture; it's a classroom in a primary school or high school. Students actually asking questions when they don't understand something is healthy- far healthier than just sitting there, pretending to listen, not taking anything in.

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  16. Ah, so much wrong.. where to begin?

    "Challenges your expertise": He equates "asking a question" with conflict. It's not about learning, it's about the student trying to surpass the teacher.

    "insightful question": This question is insightful? Uh... sure.

    "Right": First of all, the answer Female Lecturer gives seems a bit condescending but maybe I'm just being petty. But when I lectured, if a student asked an advanced question, I was comfortable giving an abridged answer and moving on with the lecture. Better yet, I would tell them I'd explain in my office hours-- you'll see how little they actually care when they have to make an effort on their end instead of shooting their mouths off (and out of the dozen times I used this line, I probably had two students actually follow up). When you get 50 minutes, you try to be careful with how you spend them.

    "Wrong": A bit dismissive, but as a lecturer you need to determine which questions are relevant and which are just a student trying to show off. In Randall's mind this answer probably signifies that the lecturer is in fact a fraud and if only he could teach the class, then he'd show THEM who's a loser and make them all regret not inviting him to the party.

    "Very wrong": ha ha oh I get it, non sequiturs are funny.

    Long story short: Randall's audience thinks that all of their questions are insightful, and any lecturer that doesn't answer every question on the spot, in full, is a bad person.

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  17. in a Bio lecture I had last year (I dropped the course for the reason I'm about to go into) our Professor was not very well equipped to handle questions from people, he also was ill-equipped to deal with spergy asperger kids too that had to always ask questions if they didn't understand or to derail the lecture for 5 minutes. This was a daily occurrence and this was one of the only lectures I was in (outside of my comp sci class) where a good half of the students were either dicking around on their computers or sleeping because of how off topic our prof kept going. So of course I dropped the course because I felt like I couldn't learn anything and fuck reading the textbook but the point being... I'll bet that kid read xkcd :(

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  18. @Cam
    "but the point being... I'll bet that kid read xkcd :("

    Lots of people here read xkcd! How do you differentiate between people who read xkcd because they're all GOOMHR antisocial nerds worthy of shunning and people who read it for the right reasons?

    I know, I know, I watch porn for the stories too.

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  19. Oh hey, Rob thinking of another man's dick, there's a surprise.

    Better watch what you say Rob, or your goat might get jealous.

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  20. @Markus et al.

    If your post is longer on the screen than your dick then it's probably too long.

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  21. @Anon 12:49- I was pointing out some people of relatively universal unpopularity to exaggerate a point. What I'm saying is there is a lukewarm point in which ones intelligence is enough to use that brainpower in noticeable ways, but too little to realize and appreciate the repercussions of those actions. Think Peter Parker/Spider Man "Great power, great responsibility" crap.

    Also, french has some fucked up tenses. That's prettymuch how france spent the last five centuries. Tenses, cheese, and sarcasm.

    @Anon 4:09- Yeah, I was in a rush. Even after six years of French classes I still can't do anything even vaguely grammatical without whipping out a book and flipping through an assload of charts. I suck at grammar in English and am no better in French. I should probably just have put in some sort of crap about pronouns. God, stress pronouns should just relax.

    @MSD- I dunno, his goat is a very forgiving person.

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  22. I was just reading the Penny Arcade for Friday, and could only think one thing: "holy crap, that's like something you'd see in XKCD."

    But at least it gave me something prettier to look at than really bad stick figures, I guess.

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  23. and actual characters. never forget this: the bare presence of something which is an actual character, instead of a throwaway for a single comic's joke, improves the joke.

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  24. "If your post is longer on the screen than your dick then it's probably too long."

    what if you don't have a dick

    "How do you differentiate between people who read xkcd because they're all GOOMHR antisocial nerds worthy of shunning and people who read it for the right reasons?"

    The right reason is of course the art. Never before had anyone imagined such magnificent floating furniture and heads, and such subtle hints at how our society dismisses personality in favour of total anonymity - where the individual can only be identified based on major differences, in appearance nonetheless.

    "[...] and this was one of the only lectures I was in (outside of my comp sci class) where a good half of the students were either dicking around on their computers or sleeping because of how off topic our prof kept going."

    I know that back from my three-year-long uh.. vocational school (?) which was all about software development. In the first year, about half of the class would fool around or do nothing at all during more technical courses. In the last year, the class was half as large. (Because OH CRAP YES YOU NEED BOOLEAN ALGEBRA AS SOFTWARE DEVELOPER.)

    "Except this isn't a lecture; it's a classroom in a primary school or high school. Students actually asking questions when they don't understand something is healthy- far healthier than just sitting there, pretending to listen, not taking anything in."

    You win.

    "dismissing honest, intelligent student questions pertinent to the topic as "zingers", "derailing the curriculum" or "disrupting the flow of the classroom" is some of the most ridiculous bullshit i've ever heard"

    Except it relies entirely on how you dismiss the question - because, if it would derail the lesson, there's no point in determining whether it is a honest question or if it's intended to mock you. In both cases, the right answer is that such-and-such is (partially) true but will not be considered right now, or in this course. (Though one of my favourite teachers would instead dismiss the asker by giving them the assignment to research their question, and to report about it in the next lesson in detail. That did shut up questions intended to mock pretty fast.)

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  25. @Rob Nah, I disagree. Maybe sometimes, but not by much. The real advantages of characters lie in other directions. Far from finding the joke augmented, dependency on the foibles of an invented character to carry a joke often annoys me. It becomes akin to lazy internal self-reference. You see it taken to its horrific extreme in Friends, where the character being the character frequently is the joke, and I despise it for that.

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  26. "Except it relies entirely on how you dismiss the question - because, if it would derail the lesson, there's no point in determining whether it is a honest question or if it's intended to mock you. In both cases, the right answer is that such-and-such is (partially) true but will not be considered right now, or in this course. (Though one of my favourite teachers would instead dismiss the asker by giving them the assignment to research their question, and to report about it in the next lesson in detail. That did shut up questions intended to mock pretty fast.)"

    This is all simple proof that trolling, sufficiently advanced, is indistinguishable from stupidity.

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  27. Yeah, way to go, dismissing anything I wrote by stating I am stupid or trolling.

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  28. We do that all the time in my science class! Its fun, and I like being able to ask questions. My teacher is awesome, and answers them. We rarely get overly side-tracked and it helps the spread of knowledge as opposed to the teacher saying something is right and therefore it is so. If we learn now that our betters have only concrete truths, what will we be in the real world?

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  29. Probably one of the most asshole-like comics I've ever seen from XKCD. As the reviewer said, the teacher may not have time to accurately answer the question without derailing the class, as it would be too complex. So that apparently makes the teacher a bad person, which is total crap.

    My Chem teacher has had to do this a few times, which is fine for me. If I have a question, I can easily ask my teacher after school if I really wanted to. But I guess that went over Randall's head.

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  30. "We do that all the time in my science class! Its fun, and I like being able to ask questions. My teacher is awesome, and answers them. We rarely get overly side-tracked and it helps the spread of knowledge as opposed to the teacher saying something is right and therefore it is so. If we learn now that our betters have only concrete truths, what will we be in the real world?"

    better prepared.

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  31. Yeah didn't you know that anyone in any position of authority, no matter how small, becomes infallible?

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  32. it has nothing to do with being right and wrong and everything to do with power dynamics. if you act like Randall's model student (eg, correcting your authority figures with clever zingers when they say something wrong) you will upset the power dynamics at the workplace. unfortunately, while you may be undermining their charismatic authority, they still have the rational/legal authority derived from their position--which they can use to fire you or otherwise make your job less pleasant.

    school doesn't particularly care how you learn that arguing with authority figures will make your life unpleasant--you can either learn it as many people do, and just believe that they are better and smarter than you, or you can learn it as a quirk of the system and exploit it to your own ends. but if you don't learn it at all then you're going to have a hard time of it in the real world.

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  33. "Stop a man who tries to steal your cookie, and he will attempt to steal it again. Shoot a man who tries to steal your cookie, and someone else will come and try to steal your cookie. Always remember, the only way to solve life's problems is to just eat the god damned cookie." - P.B.

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  34. eat the man

    rob did it

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  35. 804's alt-text is, to me, the funniest thing XKCD's mentioned in, like, months. It's relatively understated, it relies on at least cursory knowledge of the Bible (easy enough to come by) and math that's not taught in high school (hooray), and it's an incongruous juxtaposition that has just enough logic to it to tickle my funnybone.

    The comic itself blows.

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  36. Those people talking about derailing the lesson really need to read Gatto's Seven Lesson Schoolteacher. Especially the fifth lesson.

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  37. @Femaletoth, I thought the comic would have actually been *somewhat good* (not just mediocre) if he had not put in fucking POST-PUNCHLINE DIALOGUE AGAIN.

    Fuck, wasn't the alt-text enough to explain the joke to anyone who hadn't got it yet?

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  38. @Anonymous 10:48PM, the entire text is terribly one-sided and lacks depth. The fifth lesson is the dumbest one of all.

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  39. I wanted to write a guest post for 804. I really did. I wanted the fame, glory, and women that comes with having my own post on a widely read blog like this. But you know what? As I tried to type something, I suddenly understood why Carl stopped. I just couldn't generate enough emotion to write anything worth putting up.

    That said, I'll leave you all with a couple of thoughts:
    1) Mr. Beret is playing his role perfectly and acting like a normal guy. I guess it's only fair that the world's most needlessly recurring character should do that.
    2) Next on the list of "recurring characters in xkcd" is Mr. Hat. As usual these days, he's less "overreacting voice of reason" and more "generic bad guy."
    3) And we reach the last recognizable character with the cynical Megan. I guess anyone would be depressed after being stalked by Randall for as long as she has, though.
    4) This punchline reads exactly like Randy discovered a certain page on Wikipedia and decided to try to act as though it was funny. He's been doing that a lot lately, it seems.

    I'd also like to point out too that Anon 2:07 is wonderfully prophetic in mentioning how "characters being their characters" is an awful comedic device. In today's xkcd, we have a three panel setup that's just that: characters filling space by doing exactly what we've learned they do.

    So, tired setup with Wikipedia-inspired punchline? Par for the course, I guess.

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  40. I, I think Anonymous 11:34 might not understand it?
    I mean his or her first sentence could go either way, but the fifth is quite obviously the least dumb unless you're retarded.

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  41. I'm really unconvinced of the jaded "the real world demands unquestioning obedience at all times" arguments. They do not reflect my experience. I guess I don't have a career in retail or on an assembly line, though. Then again, that's not what science class is preparing you for.

    However, I'm generally with the idea of not disrupting the class by being inane -- and if it is an honest question, allowing it to proceed and maybe be addressed later. Those people I recall, particularly from University classes (being honest here, nobody at high school or primary school gave enough of a shit) were monopolizing, simpering asshats.

    The real right answer is a combination of the first two given by Munroe. You simply are not going to teach an 8 year old fluid dynamics to a level that can give a satisfying explanation of how airplanes fly, but you can give the jist while acknowledging that there's more to it.

    I think he should have done one where the commonly-taught facts are dead wrong rather than incomplete. Like (remembering something that actually happened in one of my classes) teaching about the Coriolis effect, giving the students the task of flushing their toilets and reporting which direction it goes, and marking wrong the 50% of the class whose toilets flush in the opposite direction as the one the teacher tried once.

    It's like that Asimov letter (http://chem.tufts.edu/answersinscience/relativityofwrong.htm), where he chides somebody who implies that "the Earth is spherical" is just as wrong as "the Earth is flat".

    Then there are those teachers like my Grade 5 teacher, who insisted that there are 364 days in a year except for leap-years (52 weeks in a year x 7 days in a week = 364, no questions or counterproofs will be allowed). *sigh*.

    I approve of the alt-text.

    "Fuck, wasn't the alt-text enough to explain the joke to anyone who hadn't got it yet?"

    You must be trolling. Without the axiom of choice hint, how other than the alt-text could a reasonable person come to the conclusion that it's referring to the Banach-Tarski theorem? I would go so far as to say that, without the alt-text and the dialog you call "post-punchline", that would be an unreasonable stretch interpretation of something more simply explained as wacky. And seeing as the "post-punchline" part comes before the alt-text, I don't see how it's post-punchline.

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  42. "I guess I don't have a career in retail or on an assembly line, though. Then again, that's not what science class is preparing you for."

    it's not "unquestioning obedience," it's "not being a dick." it's actually a bigger deal in office jobs than in the service industry, where the power dynamic is much more straightforward and there's no real internal politics. people who have aspirations of power and advancement who are working in the service industry don't last very long.

    what you should be learning in school is how to work within the structures of the system. if you're learning bad behavior like Randall suggests, you'll have a hard time of it, because you don't understand how the system works.

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  43. Rob I don't want people to be boring and I don't want to be boring.

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  44. Boring is better then stupid or dead. Because stupid and dead are both bad boring is just an adjective describing a noun that is making you bored, or meh if you will and is thus meh. Meh is above bad by several degrees and thus better.

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  45. If you don't want to be boring don't ask boring questions.

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  46. it's not like you're required to be boring or to interact with boring people. it's just that you are if you wish to operate successfully in the "real world" that Anon 11:10 aspires to. no one is required to enter into this particular world, but it's the one that, for some reason, most of America's youth seems to aspire to.

    of course, let's NEVAR FORGET that the reason this comic is douchey is because it's encouraging people to be a douche. it's the rough equivalent of, in a history class (I'm assuming Randy's writing about like a middle school science class or something, though it could take place in any class where the history of flight is discussed, and it gets bonus douchepoints if it takes place in a non-science class), demanding the complete socioeconomic history of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and how it relates to both the Central Powers and the Triple Entente when Archduke Ferdinand's assassination is mentioned as a precipitating cause of the war.

    you /can/ always delve deeper. you /should/ do so on your own fucking time.)

    actually, part of what makes this one so obnoxious is it's not directly encouraging bad behavior--there really is nothing wrong with asking questions. what it's encouraging is a sense of entitlement and a sense of smug self-assuredness that rivals my own.

    it's saying that when a teacher says "that's complicated and we need to move on," that's the teacher being, and I feel it's important to note that this is the word the comic used, wrong. it's encouraging the sense that when you get that answer you've asked an "insightful question" that "challenges [the teacher's] expertise," and that in doing so you have stumped her. it encourages those smug, smirking bastards who constantly nitpick lectures instead of asking questions which are genuinely intended to instruct.

    it encourages, not bad behavior (asking questions), but a bad perceptive filter (believing that the questions you are asking are insightful and challenging and not just obnoxious time-wasters and that your teacher is wrong for telling you that there isn't time to go into that in class). and there is nothing worse than a nerd who believes that he is smart and everyone around him, including his teachers, are mindless sheep.

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  47. Oh cockeating shit, I was that nerd in grade 10 and 11. Reading Atlas Shrugged didn't make the situation any better either.

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  48. 10:48: lol wut. I mean, seriously, I don't believe (most of) your schools in the US are like that. Maybe this initial stuff that the things you learn ain't connected so well - but besides that, it sounds straight ORWELLIAN. (IIRC he didn't describe a school though.)

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  49. But Rob, if the nerd doesn't speak up then he will have no way of feeling superior to said mindless sheep; without that his self-esteem will be crushed and he will go nowhere in life!

    We should be praising his actions as self-affirming and enlightened and also give him a trophy for being exceptional.

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  50. The newest comic has colour! Well, it has A colour. That's something.

    And damn it people, start listening to Isaac Asimov c/o Anon! The world is not binary absolutes, we do not think "question" equates "douchy" any more than "person" equates "douchy" -- some are, some aren't. Use your discretion and don't be/ask one!

    My favourite professors are ones who can deal with people who ask those questions by suggesting that if the student is struggling with the material they can see them after class, and then moving on with the lecture. This move perfectly threatens their sense of superiority and generally stops questions of the douche type indefinitely [well, in that particular course, who are we kidding].

    Oh, and the worst type of lecture-interrupter is the one who corrects the obviously-Francophone mathematician who writes "Et" instead of "and", as in "[...] obeys conditions A et B", as if this were somehow WRONG or otherwise UNTRANSLATABLE. For even more reference, this was at an officially bilingual university.

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  51. 802: I liked the poster actually

    803: Boring and dumb, and I literally had to read "Santa Claus is your parents" about 3-4 times before I understood what he even meant. It just looked like a gibberish sentence to me lol (dumb I know, but not funny either way).

    804:
    Panel 1: Heh, that is kind of cute and fitting of beret guy (except it is not a scone)
    Panel 2: Meh, typical Black Hat guy, not funny.
    Panel 3: Ugh, Randy...
    Panel 4: I didn't get it at all, and I love that. It has been a while since there was a God honest punchline that was obscure in some interesting way. I looked up the Axiom of Choice and *still* didn't get it which had me a bit puzzled and interested.
    The Alt: Ah ha, there is the clue I need. It was hidden a bit obviously, but flows pretty well with the joke. Also, I would have expected that joke to have been made before but the only results I get for solomon banach-tarski are either xkcd related or related to the fact that Tarski's biographer was named Solomon.

    Long story short, I could see 804 running during the 'glory days' of xkcd and I think that anyone who puts it down is just looking for things to be mad about. :)

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  52. "I admit that half of the jokes in the comic weren't funny and I didn't even understand the main joke and yet I still believe it is above criticism". Really?

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  53. I concur with the people who point to this as proof that Randall is not the engineer he wishes he could claim to be. If we spent all of our time doing precision modelling, taking into account all variables, not only would we as student never have learned anything, but we as professionals would have never gotten anything done. There's a reason we generalize and take shortcuts with our modelling - because unless you're inventing a technology from scratch, IT DOESN'T FUCKING MATTER. The tolerances on things are enough to take into account those little niggling things.

    The people who would constantly question and contest the professor's lecture were complete asshats. Not only that, but mose of those kids didn't make it through the program. Why? Because they loved to act smarter that they really were. Nobody gives a shit that the professor didn't show the long and convoluted process that you read about to get to the solution. Nobody cares that, well actually, sir, I jsut read this magazine article that says this theorem isn't completely accurate. Shut the fuck up. The worst are the ones who answer other students questions before the professor can. I had one professor who finally got to the point that he said, "Shutup and let the guy with the PhD do the teaching." Hell yeah, sir.

    Going off of what Rob said: I see plenty of kids who are too god-damned smart for their own good fall flat on their face in the real world. One of those reasons is as Rob said - they pull shit like this in the workplace. Bosses don't care how smart you are, they care about the end result. If you're too busy being a know-it-all prick to be a team player, your ass gets marginalized, at best. At worst, they find someone else who will be a team player, even if they don't achieve your lofty standards of intellect. pack your shit and clear out your desk, friend; you've just joined an elite group of society known as the unemployed.

    Finally, gonna pile on the hatred to Markus. Subjunctive isn't a tense, it's a mood. Thanks for letting us know how smart you are, though.

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  54. French teachers, when teaching their students, teach them the Subjunctive tense, or at least that's how all of my teachers phrased it and that's how my book phrased it. Even if its not technically right I can understand why he said tense since I was taught that way and he might have been as well. Maybe we had the same teachers, thus explaining why we're both wrong and seem like such total idiots. Either way, who fucking gives a shit about that, its a pointless detail that anyone could mess up and yet two people comment on nothing but that little detail and ignored all of the other bullshit he posted. Now, stop nitpicking because I, the king of hypocrisy have ordered you to do so (plus its annoying to me, and I think to other people as well).

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  55. Oh, and any of the grammatical errors in above post can be blamed upon retardation that afflicted me for spending all night on a computer trying to set the world right (the retarded idea was formed during another night I spent not sleeping due to more sane reasons). I did this mostly by being a nitpicker about critiques nitpicking about other peoples things.

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  56. Panel 4 of comic 804 was quite funny.

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  57. OMG they skipped a comic has this ever been done before?

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  58. I didn't skip 802, the review is right there at the top! It says this: "I find Comic 802 too boring for words, so you should read this dude's rant about it. I will note, however, that this time he has a preorder up for posters, so all of you who for some reason think that when he posts an obvious poster grab he's not doing it because he wants to sell a poster can get fucked."

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  59. Anon 0555, I really hope you're joking with your assessment of panel four.

    Ves and/or Rob, are either of you going to write a post about the tendency of XKCD fans to like a comic more the less of it they understand? Because I'm tempted to do so.

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  60. if you want to write a guest post for 804 just email me. link should be in my blogger profile

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  61. I liked 804. I mean, it's not perfect, but it feels like a bit of a return to form for xkcd. That said, Halloween is still a few weeks away. Little early to be topical?

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  62. eh, I'll give it a pass. Halloween has a season, after all, and people are carving pumpkins already.

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  63. #804's concept felt way too similar to Open Mic Night/#785 (the only 2 original, "regular" characters + awkward generic girl + wacky generic guy on a particular topic).

    It feels like such a lazy formula: topic which everyone is familiar with + self-indulging self-references ("Look! There's that silly beret guy and the ever dastardly black hat guy!") + the usual awkwardly wacky girl which Randall has an obvious paraphilia for + nerd who has such HILARIOUSLY IMPOSSIBLE things happen in his life whom Randall obviously wishes to be.

    And it's actually a step in the right direction.

    Well, a "better" direction.

    captcha: ousidswe -- How Randall spells "outside" due to his unfamiliarity with the subject.

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  64. Anonymouse: That sort of typo would be forgivable, because that whole part of the keyboard is a major cluster-fuck [Spell Check demands a hyphenate there, which I am okay with].

    Also: Are we certain that Randall does not think he IS that nerd? I mean, he's making a living off of this crap, which is hilarious improbable at best. That said, 804 gets a passing mark -- nothing too objectionable except for the XKCD at the airport/open mic syndrome, but 3/800 is not a bad run at all, I suppose.

    Shit. I'm becoming apathetic to this scam -- somebody point out the blaring flaws, stat!

    The only one there I really like is panel one, and that's just the grammatical ambiguity so I don't know if that counts anymore than "To serve man". I actively hate the third one, and the second/fourth are just... well, they pass. I'm not terrifically amused, nor terribly enraged.

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  65. So this website basically posts xkcd comics just so people can make fun of them?

    Just a question directed to pretty much everyone on this website...


    u mad?

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  66. no, we just make fun of xkcd comics, and post them so we don't have to give xkcd.com pageviews

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  67. UndercoverCuddlefishOctober 11, 2010 at 8:44 PM

    @8:37 trolling is generally more successful when you are not the one doing it

    in other news xkcdsuxredux has pretty great posts so far while webcomics.me is not entertaining at all who saw this coming

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  68. I find it highly ironic that in order to make fun of a comic you have to actually look at it, which is pretty much the main intention of the creator anyway.


    It's like the concept of showing disapproval for book by purchasing copies of the book for the purpose of burning them.

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  69. except, instead of giving money to Randall's ad-free merchandise-supported website, we don't even give it hits, and we make fun of it and spread the hate to other corners of the internet and regularly convert fans to the hatred.

    but yeah, it is pretty hilarious that in order to write a negative review you have to actually look at the thing you're reviewing (at no cost to yourself and no profit to the author), I guess.

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  70. So... I came across this on the Internet. It.... it's just awful.

    http://stopdroplol.com/funny-pictures/popular/23965-the-three-people-who-get-th

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  71. UndercoverCuddlefishOctober 11, 2010 at 8:59 PM

    while we are on the topic one quick favor i would like to ask of you rob

    stop fucking linking back to xkcd through the comic images you put at the beginning of posts they are helping his google pagerank and i am certain there is some amount of click through

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  72. well, also it amuses us that Randy gets "xkcd sucks" in his analytics every day.

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  73. @UC
    Yeah, but doesn't it increase what Randy pays for his bandwith? That's something.

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  74. UndercoverCuddlefishOctober 11, 2010 at 10:31 PM

    @10:05 "we don't even give it hits" is entirely incompatible with "doesn't it increase what Randy pays for his bandwith[sic]?" and is the reason i made my initial request

    however i am all for trolling randy by making him look at "xkcd sucks" every time he checks his analytics (i bet he stares at them for a couple of hours a day in between masturbation sessions over a picture of megan that he took the one time they actually did something together and reading wikipedia articles for "inspiration")

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  75. the important thing to remember, I think, is this: randy does not make money from pageviews. he doesn't seem to be running any ads on the site at all, which means it's based solely on merch revenues.

    which is to say, if treason is defined as giving aid and comfort to the enemy, giving Randy hits is only giving him comfort--it in no way aids him. and it won't be very comforting if he knows that the traffic came from a hate blog.

    I don't disagree with those who don't want to give him pageviews, but I don't particularly mind.

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  76. Anon 8:56 ...

    Welcome to 4 years ago???

    Seriously, the check is even dated 2006, and it was amusing at the time http://verizonmath.blogspot.com/

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  77. Hey Rob, I hope you continue posting updates on xkcd sucks. They don't have to be huge essays or anything but it'd be a shame to see this site abandoned. It's become a ritual to view xkcd every monday wed and friday then immediately check out xkcd sucks. It'd be a shame to see this site fade away.

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  78. On the other hand, for ever cuddlefish who takes the time to comment on here saying that if we don't like a comic we shouldn't read it, that's one less moron randalizing Wikipedia or posting Xkcd comics in response to every vaguely relevant forum post. Also, as Rob is proof of, plenty of people come here liking Xkcd and eventually being convinced that it sucks, so we're actually robbing Randall of fans. I'm not even convinced that this site gives him that many pageviews that he wouldn't have already, since a lot of regulars here seem to still have friends who constantly link to Xkcd demanding to know their opinion.

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  79. The check thing was amusing? No, it's pretty much exactly what we've been talking about here. It was showboating by Randall, trying to make sure everybody knows he's the smartest kid in the room. It was an asinine stunt.

    So some Verizon peon isn't real good with basic math. What is sending a check with some complicated math that another peon is going to have to deal with supposed to accomplish?

    Plus, the peon who is really going to be hassled by this (more so than anybody at Verizon), is the guy at the bank. Once he figures out that the sum is $0.002, he'll be sad that he wasted his time deciphering a transaction that's too small to be processed. Why does Randall hate his bank?

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  80. @Sepia

    You humorless tramp, it was amusing ... on 12/09/2006.

    So sorry that you've never been in on a good ol' pile-on, especially on a corporate entity that deserved it.

    Show boating? Sure! So is everyone else on the Internet, including 2-cool-fer-skool Sepia! In the context of a pile-on it was amusing though.

    And while we're on the topic of keepin'-it-real, what makes you think that it would ever even get to HIS bank? Even though check processing is a little more complicated than this, basically:

    Randy->Verizon Mail Room->Verizon Payment Processor->Verizon AR->Verizon's Bank->Randy's Bank(BB&T)->Randy's Checking Acct

    Do you really think it'll make it that whole way through before BB&T has to figure out the equation?

    Does it make Randy's comics suck less today? Nope.

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  81. UndercoverCuddlefishOctober 12, 2010 at 10:01 AM

    i am going to go ahead and join sepias newly formed "pile on" and agree that the check thing was not funny

    warranted maybe but definitely not funny beyond the basic joke of "here is a check for an amount that you have demonstrated you do not understand" (he should have followed this one up with two more irredeemable checks to various news stations for a million dollars and a billion dollars respectively)

    the "advanced math" (simple tips that randy picked up from high school or wikipedia) does not make the check any more entertaining it just smacks heavily of randy being randy

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  82. being a dick's a-ok if you use math

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  83. You're right that it doesn't stand on its own, it's not timeless, it's a throw away joke, it's not a paragon of hilarity, it's typical Randall, but ...

    At. The. Time.

    I remember being amused by it, and I stand by that, because the timing had more to do with the humor, then 'the joke'. Ever hear of 'you had to be there?', it's like that.

    Hating on it is akin to hating on the middle joke of a Joey Buttafuoco routine by Denis Leary from '93, because you think he phones it in on Rescue Me. It's really inane.

    Don't give me that *I*-_never_-laughed-at-Dane-Cook hipster smug shit.

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  84. *I*-_never_-laughed-at-Dane-Cook

    because he's not funny

    YOUR MOVE, CAPN

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  85. UndercoverCuddlefishOctober 12, 2010 at 1:10 PM

    i can agree with your point but in this case the timing is the only source of humor since writing verizon a check for any amount (absurd or not) would not be remotely amusing without the proper context i promise i was using the internet when this was a thing that was still relevant and new and it was not funny then either

    back then i laughed at the occasional xkcd comic but now i find myself laughing at randy all the time it is just unfortunate that i have not laughed with him in ages

    i enjoy some dane cook bits so i do not really know what you are on about

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  86. I don't know who Dane Cook is, so I *really* don't know what you are on about. I thought the check thing was mildly amusing when I first came across it a few months ago in the context of also hearing about the Verizon $0.002 thing for the first time.

    On another topic, I actually have a question about Rob. Yes, it is probably an incredibly stupid question, and I promise I don't have Asperger's and can usually recognize sarcasm in real life, but I have been wondering about it for a while.

    What is with the "Rob is fat" jokes? Is he actually fat? His profile pic makes him look fairly skinny, so is this just sarcasm? Or is the profile pic out-of-date? This is a genuine question, which is why I am posting this as anonymous.

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  87. Truth is, I remember seeing that check then and not even remembering or looking at the name on it, so I didn't even look at the name on it when I first posted my response here. So it really was a wtf moment when someone posted it.

    "Why hate on something 4 years old and completely out of context right now? It was amusing at the time."

    "Oh, it was Randy, well it was 2006, he was trollin' Verizon like everyone else at the time, bfd."

    Thing is, I could see a number of people's name on that check (Scott Ramsoomair, Jerry Holkins, Mike Krahulik, Brian Clevinger, or even Scott Adams but with a different memo) and it would still be in character for that person, but because it's Randy, it's not just dismissed as old hat from times gone by here, it's wrong to have ever found it amusing.

    Hating on Dane Cook is more of an American Comedy thing, and I am an arrogant and xenophobic American so I automatically assume we share the same cultural cues.

    Hating on Dane Cook is so popular, that it's probably now hip and cool to like him:

    http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/15643423

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  88. "What is with the "Rob is fat" jokes? Is he actually fat? His profile pic makes him look fairly skinny, so is this just sarcasm? Or is the profile pic out-of-date? This is a genuine question, which is why I am posting this as anonymous."

    I'm still thin. I ride my bike for a living.

    it started on the IRC channel, I think, where I call everyone (esp amanda) fat because it amuses me. someone decided to start saying "no, you are the fat one," and it managed to catch on and then I guess it stuck. I don't fully understand it myself, to be honest.

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  89. Okay, thanks, Rob!

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  90. I should point out that the explanation IS totally wrong. Randall didn't exactly do a good job of pointing out WHY, but then again, it isn't like he's an engineer or anything. The wrong explanation is that two air particles that are just above and below the wing in front of it are BEST FRIENDS and want to stick together as the wing passes between them. They love each other SO MUCH that the top particle travels faster over the curved surface to keep up with the bottom particle. Because it has to travel faster, it gets farther away from it's neighbors, so there is less pressure above the wing than below. This is bullshit; there is no reason for the particles which start out with identical x coordinates, to maintain identical x coordinates.

    The correct explanation is: `Same reason that your arm goes the way your hand is tilted when you stick it outside a car window going 70mph.'.

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  91. Nice post. But I gotta ask, are you really saying that kids shouldn't ask in science classes if they have a question? BS!

    Btw, thanks Anonymous for that quote, I actually had no idea what "Santa Claus is your parents" meant. Maybe I'm just slow. :P

    I'm starting to think xkcd really isn't that good. o.O

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  92. "it started on the IRC channel, I think, where I call everyone (esp amanda) fat because it amuses me. someone decided to start saying "no, you are the fat one," and it managed to catch on and then I guess it stuck. I don't fully understand it myself, to be honest."

    no, you being fat predates the irc channel
    i think a cuddlefish started it
    bless him

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  93. OK, just had to point out a logical error in this post. I love this site, and I have to agree with pretty much all you say, but saying that the "equip your children with clever zingers" bit is invalid because creationists do the same thing is a Hitler Was A Vegetarian argument, and it's logically false. Just because a particular group does a particular thing does not identify that thing with that group alone. So equipping your children with clever zingers is not stupid because creationists do it, it's stupid because a smart aleck little kid is the most obnoxious being in the universe.

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  94. Excuse me, sorry, that should have read "a Hitler Ate Sugar argument". Whoops!

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  95. that isn't a "logical error" that's a "point you disagree with." perhaps if I had drawn conclusions instead of merely making comparisons.

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  96. I think that the best way to address this is the way my old science teacher did - when a student recognized an error (often found in an outdated textbook diagram) she would not talk about it in class, but would offer extra credit to students who looked up the topic that night to show her in the next class. I agree that stopping the class for one question is usually pointless, but she provided a good alternative :)

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  97. Rob's not saying "this tactic is used by Young Earth Creationists, therefore it is wrong". He's saying something more like "Young Earth Creationists can use this tactic just as effectively as Randall, so using it doesn't necessarily mean you're smart".

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  98. "Just throwing that out there--Randall is suggesting the same tactics used by young-earth creationists who write propaganda textbooks."

    I suppose YMMV, but to me this sounds pretty much like Rob was implying that because Randall is using the same tactics as young-earth creationists who write propaganda textbooks, those tactics are wrong. Which would count as a logical error. The proper term is an association fallacy, although Hitler Ate Sugar is so much more entertaining to say. An association fallacy takes this form:

    A is a B.
    A is also a C.
    Therefore, all B's are C's.

    In this case, the way I read it was that:

    The tactic (teaching your children clever things to say to teachers) is used by Randall Munroe.
    The tactic is also used by foolish people like young Earth Creationists.
    Therefore, Randall Munroe is a foolish person/the tactic is a foolish tactic.

    The tactic is still stupid, but not because it's used by YECs. It's stupid on its own terms.

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  99. the problem with logical fallacies is people assume that if something vaguely resembles a logical fallacy it automatically invalidates something. it's like they think that I'm trying to be logical when I write something, and am building up a proof or some shit. this is incredibly stupid.

    the way you read it, 7:14, is wrong. 12:03 is much closer to the mark. here's what I was going for:

    -The tactic of teaching your children "clever" one-liners in attempt to be a dick to your teacher is used both by Randall Munroe and YECs.
    -YECs are morally and intellectually bankrupt individuals who are utterly deluded and live in a bubble world where they genuinely believe their shit.
    -Randy should spend some serious time reconsidering his tactics.

    much like how Hitler's management tactics should probably be seriously questioned before being put into use. indeed, calling it "Hitler Used Sugar" or whatever is fallacious in itself--nobody is suggesting that everything associated with Young Earth Creationists is terrible. merely that, if the thing associated with them relies on moral or intellectual integrity or an accurate understanding of the world around them, it should give you pause before rushing headlong into things.

    the problem with using your intro to logic class as a tool in "debate" online is it assumes binary truths. it's assuming that someone is arguing that something is right or wrong, or that when someone draws a comparison they are doing more than pointing out an irony.

    the clever one-liner isn't just a thing YECs use, it's symbolic of their entire intellectual strategy. it relies on the delusion that the Evil Evolutionists are so patently wrong that their entire worldview can be destroyed by the judicious application of these witty one-liners. rather than imparting knowledge and understanding on students, it teaches them, in effect, how to tilt at windmills and battle strawmen. in so doing they perpetuate a deep, systemic misunderstanding and mistrust of every science we could possibly study.

    and much like the YECs, Randy is teaching kids to ask questions that don't really get to the heart of the matter. he is challenging the wrong assumptions--in this case, that the shape of the airfoil is responsible for lift. he is encouraging them, rather than researching and gaining an understanding, to attempt to dismantle things they don't agree with or understand with allegedly witty one-liners, which, as far as their education has told them, will instantly bring their teacher's house of cards tumbling to the ground.

    the tactic is defined by intellectual laziness and dishonesty, a fact which is best illustrated by the YEC propagantists' heavy reliance on said tactics.

    the YECs don't make it a bad tactic, they just provide a really enormous warning sign.

    on a related note, I'm sorry your intro to logic class didn't teach you to deal with actual human language. I know it's hard, but you should probably avoid the knee-jerk reaction to start shouting "OMG LOGICAL FALLACY" every time someone draws a comparison that doesn't indicate a direct causal relationship, or whatever other "fallacious" things you think they're doing. the odds are very good that, rather than being a fallacy by any stretch of the imagination, you simply did not understand their intention, or do not agree with it. you should learn the difference between people being wrong (much as you were wrong in your interpretation of my post), and you not understanding what someone else is saying (much as you did not understand what I wrote). it's a vital distinction to make!

    even better, I have a shortcut for you. any time you find yourself having an opinion, just remember that you are wrong. you aren't just wrong about this, you are always wrong about everything. this is the one assumption it's always safe to make. you'll avoid looking like a dumbass in the future if you just keep that in mind.

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  100. What if I'm of the opinion that everything I think is wrong?

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  101. then you're wrong about that, also. I am not sure why you people have such a hard time understanding that literally everyone is literally always wrong about literally everything. it is an incredibly simple concept.

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  102. I rarely bother to read this blog and even more rarely post, but you clearly didn't get the point. While I don't find the comic funny, it is accurate. A full explanation will take lots of calculus, true, but a good, simplified explanation (many of which can be found on the internet) is far better than the one often provided (the one in the comic). That one is dead wrong; there is no reason whatsoever for the streamlines to match up, and they don't. There are many much better explanations which are just as simple as this one, and those explanations are more-or-less partially accurate. Its also not that hard to add that the model is a simplification and not the absolute truth.

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  103. except the air on top of the airfoil does travel faster, the shape of the airfoil is responsible for this, and it's this partially this speed disparity (and the resulting pressure differential) that generates lift. so "dead wrong" is entirely misleading--the only part where it's wrong is the /cause/ for the speed disparity, which is a bit tricky to explain.

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  104. Yes, derail the curriculum. Fuck the curriculum.

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