Saturday, November 6, 2010

Comic 815: Coefficient of Suck

swivels

[ALT: As the CoKF approaches 0, productivity goes negative as you pull OTHER people into chair-spinning contests.]

[I should probably learn to stop summoning demons, but noted hell demon "shufti," despite being a vile spawn of Satan who is capable only of producing terrible drivel (this may be its sole purpose on earth), did save me the trouble of actually writing a post for this one. He says he did it in 15 minutes, but can you really trust an actual hell demon? -Ed.]

This comic strikes me as kind of like a horoscope - so completely bland that it can't help but apply to you. I guess that's why he chose to do a graph, then; might as well make some pseudoscientific claim while we're at it!

I always wonder if Randy even thinks about getting statistics for these comics. I mean, he obviously doesn't, or he'd link to it obsessively. But it does make one think - does it ever trouble Randy that he's abusing his precious science? [You know how people are always complaining that sometimes we take the comic too seriously? This is like the one occasion I actually agree with them. -Ed.]

Eh, probably not.

So yes, apparently the easier it is to spin in a circle on a chair the less likely you are to do anything but spin in a circle on a chair, to the point that your spinning-in-chair exercises will infect other people, like some boring, juvenile version of a laugh or a yawn, I guess.

Actually, this comic is exactly like a yawn, and not just for the obvious reasons. A yawn is a sign that you're tired and you need to stop what you're doing and have a rest. Just like the previous, I dunno, 200 comics or so, this is yet another yawn that should be encouraging Randy to step away from the site and take a break, etc. etc.

Back on topic, I wonder why the curve slopes downward towards its right tail. Perhaps he's trying to say that there's some kind of Ballmer Peak where at just the right friction coefficient productivity is aided (you can swivel to different directions as needed without being distracted by it) without it descending into a quagmire.

OBLIGATORY NICE STATEMENT TO APPEAR OPENMINDED: I like that he squeezed his stick man inside of the graph. That worked out kinda nice.

OBLIGATORY RETURN TO HATE TO SATE THE MASSES: The grab [sic] needs to be read backwards (right-to-left) in order to understand it as a joke, which conflicts with the stick-man and his left-to-right dialogue. [what -Ed.]I wonder if Randy should have flipped the graph so as to make it not quite so clunky. As it stands, I had to re-read the comic a couple times in order to make proper sense of it.

Hey I think I made it an entire review without swearing. Fuck yeah! [I didn't. -Ed.]

40 comments:

  1. sorry bro redux is better

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  2. While this shouldn't be viewed as an endorsement of the comic (it was rather yawn worthy, I agree), I don't think the points you make in your article.

    The editor points out one with the "taking the comic too seriously" comment. Really, he's trying (although failing) to make a joke.

    Other point I'll make is where you talk about how the graph should be reversed to make sense? Except that would invalidate the entire point of the (admittedly boring) joke that Randy was trying to make, particularly if you observe the alt text.

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  3. Anon101: Did you know if you put a negative sign in front of a variable, and graph the result, the entire graph flips without actually affecting the data???

    Mathematics? More like magic, bitches.

    Also and but so.

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  4. Rob is a gay robotNovember 6, 2010 at 8:18 AM

    Why would the graph make more sense if it was reversed? I don't think the joke is that productivity tends toward minus infinity at very low CoKF...

    I think the core of the joke is the guy happily revolving on his chair in the middle of the panel.

    If it was drawn by Zach Weiner, it could have been funny because of the funny face of the guy doing that. Here it works less well because we can't see the face of the guy...

    You guys are major nerds. Normal people don't read xkcd. Regular nerds read xkcd and enjoy it. Major nerds read it, and comment on how it is scientifically inaccurate and/or poorly designed.

    And, yes, super dorks bother to comment the comments...

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  5. This one actually makes complete sense. If your coefficient of friction lower you have more fun spinning, and, quite truthfully, stupid office games involving office chairs would be inevitable in some workplaces. Hell, if I found a zero mu swivel chair, I would drop my current project and investigate that.

    Additionally, at very high mu it becomes a regular chair, or a highly frustrating swivel chair. Some might say, how would that hurt productivity? Well, it's more like a regular chair is some sort of "base" productivity, and having a good swivel chair helps with productivity (we have swivel chairs in most offices for the same reason many offices had blue cubicles... it was found to subtly increase productivity).

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  6. next comic: "Guys! 1+1=2!"

    anon 9.30 "well you can't criticise THIS comic. it makes complete sense - one plus one does equal two."

    captcha: cangod. You know when you've been cango'd.

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  7. The graph would be better flipped. I had to stop and think about what was going on. On my first reading, I was thinking that spinnyiness increased to the right. I think the prominent image of the guy spinning made me think about spinnyiness (inverse friction) rather than friction itself.

    Yes, Arthur et al., I'm a moron and I'm probably making you bleed out your ears. I did eventually figure it out.

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  8. @Anon 8:18 - "Why would the graph make more sense if it was reversed? I don't think the joke is that productivity tends toward minus infinity at very low CoKF..."

    Maybe I should have been more clear. I meant the image of the graph should have been reversed; it would have said the same thing, but it would have flowed in the same direction as the text.

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  9. Yea, the problem with the graph flow is real. The problem is that we'll tend to read it from left to right, so we first notice that productivity goes down for small values of CoF, then it reaches peak, then it sort of normalizes... and the joke floats in that asymptotic blandness.

    The other way round, the absurdness of the productivity going down to zero(and below) would be the punchline.

    Seriously, though, this comic works better as a blog illustration. Mostly because it isn't even a comic. It has no sequence, it's just some... sort of infograph.

    Bleh.

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  10. Ok, thanks, I kinda get your point now. But a graph with minus CoKF would be a bit awkward, wouldn't it?

    P.S.: I'm not "Anon 8:18", my name is "Rob is a gay robot."

    Because Rob is obviously a robot, and because he is gay. Not that there's anything wrong with it...

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  11. @Sepia

    Well now that I got dragged into this:

    I actually agree with your sentiment here. From a humor standpoint the punchline should be found on the right side of the panel.

    But the graph as shown follows standard conventions. I don't see any way to break standard convention and keep the comic at all readable. As far as my limited creative mind is concerned Randall picked the Least Worst Choice. (Not to confused with the Best Wurst, which serves delicious bratwurst in Austin, Texas.)

    Aside: It's eyes man! Eyes! I bleed out of the eyes. Praise be to Jesus/Allah/Aqua-Buddha that I don't have to listen to any of you with my ears.

    captcha: tolories. Tolerating all of you has caused my doctor to become worried about my tolorie intake.

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  12. Arthur, you are such a MORONIC TURDSACK that you make me feel the IMPERIOUS URGE to grab a KITCHEN KNIFE and STAB MYSELF IN THE FUCKING STOMACH so that i won't have to read the RETARDED SOLID FARTS you dare to SHIT on this GODDAMN PIECE OF ASSPIE of a blog!

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  13. The solution is to break standard convention because rule of funny.

    It's like a nerdy joke that exaggerates or caricatures a scientific law to set up a punch line - there are the nerds who understand that outside the lab you can be flexible for a laugh and then there are the nerds who die virgins because if they saw that, instead of laughing they put on their angsty pants and complain that they got it wrong.

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  14. Alright, all of these "-Ed"s are really killing the guest posts. Please stop. Just comment after to post in summary or something. Not that we don't appreciate the notes, but the guests should probably have their thirty seconds of fame without the running commentary for everyone's benefit.

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  15. (though I only do them for shufti's posts, because it amuses me)

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  16. @Anon8:37 - I appreciate the sentiment. To be honest though I think my 30 seconds is at, like, five minutes by now, so I'm on thin ice anyways.

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  17. Ech, sorry.I meant to say something about how this looks like a rejected submission to GraphJam (on the lolcats website), but . . . idk what happened there.

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  18. Who is this Ed? He seems to be making unhelpful statements more and more often as of late. It's quite distracting.

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  19. Rob you fascist don't you know that only Americans will get your "-Ed." joke and that by posting them in this review you're RUINING THE REVIEW FOR THE ENTIRE WORLD???*

    *America doesn't count because it sucks and I hate it and no one outside of America cares about it anyway.

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  20. "It's like a nerdy joke that exaggerates or caricatures a scientific law to set up a punch line - there are the nerds who understand that outside the lab RANDALL can be flexible for a laugh and then there are the nerds who die virgins because if they saw that, instead of laughing they put on their angsty pants and complain that they got it wrong."

    there is no joke here. it's just randall making graphs out of things he thinks his readers can relate to. nothing insightful or witty, just "oh man it's 5 to midnight shit, not enough time for google gotta graph something..."

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  21. Does anyone have a screenshot of that XKCD post where Randall told us "The comic will be a little late tonight due to my problems"? Because that was a hilarious example of his not grasping how people talk, but Google seems to have cleared it from the cache for some reason.

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  22. Randall's problems have never stopped him from making a comic before...

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  23. "It's like a nerdy joke that exaggerates or caricatures a scientific law to set up a punch line - there are the nerds who understand that outside the lab you can be flexible for a laugh and then there are the nerds who die virgins because if they saw that, instead of laughing they put on their angsty pants and complain that they got it wrong."

    Which would be completely fine if it wasn't for the fact that Randall bitches about any inaccuracy-for-fun that anyone else makes about anything that he is marginally interested in.

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  24. ""The comic will be a little late tonight due to my problems"? (...) that was a hilarious example of his not grasping how people talk"

    That's not supposed to be human talk, it's mensan talk. Mensan people talk like that.

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  25. I <3 this thread

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  26. You'd think a society of people who are supposed to be smart would come up with a better demonym than "mensans". It makes them sound like a class of people in Brave New World.

    "And this is the mensan growing tank. Please try not to make loud noises, it frightens them."

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  27. or something out of dune

    "That's not supposed to be human talk, it's mensan talk. Mensan people talk like that."

    as in, the society of rich or insufferable people who mostly only join to show how utterly clever they are because they can pass iq tests?
    by ford i hate you

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  28. "I heard about this organization awhile ago and the IQ thread reminded me of it. Mensa is for people whose IQ is in the top 2% of the population. That's the one and only requirement for membership. They offer about 200 Special Interest Groups and provide social interaction with other intelligent people as well as other benefits. They have 100,000 members in over 40 countries. I think some aspies here may be interested. I wouldn't be surprised if an aspie created Mensa and I think there are probably lots of aspies who are members. "

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  29. Having an easily rotatable chair has some effect on productivity, I suppose. However, it's only a very small part of the overall comfort of a chair which will still only slightly impact productivity.

    The productivity/friction relationship won't follow the pattern Randall shows though. Productivity should remain consistently high up to a point (no gradual decline to the left). Once friction is high enough, rotating the chair stops being easy. There should be a sharp decline in productivity at this point to a new constant level (the same level as a chair that doesn't rotate at all).

    At this point, even for a nominally rotating (but high friction) chair, it will be easier to get up out of the chair and reorient it by hand. Or, if one is too lazy to get all the way out of the chair, one can lift one's ass off of it and reorient the chair while hovering over it. The most difficult part of this process is the hovering. If one were imbued with the innate ability to hover over the chair at all times, their would be hardly any difference between a non-rotating chair and an easily rotating chair.

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  30. Wait, I thought Mensa was a joke -- is Mensa real??? Because I am seriously starting to hate anyone who considers themselves "more intelligent", and may start having to refer to myself as "pretty average" just to be unassociated with "more intelligent" people or "different" people or however people like to claim that they are special and omfgyouhavetorespectmebecauseImspecial.

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  31. yes. unfortunately, mensa is real.

    I don't mind people who consider themselves more intelligent than the masses, so long as they don't view it as something which sets them apart and makes them special. plenty of people realize that being intelligent just makes you more keenly aware that the world basically sucks.

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  32. Why does the X-axis carry on like that? It has to stop at 1. That's as friction-y as it can get.
    At a coefficient of 1, spinning around to maintain productivity or whatever bullshit you're meant to do on a fucking chair is still possible, as this chair clearly still has wheels. Wheels that let you move and spin and shit. So the graph should represent a monotonic function.

    Also that bullshit about ``OTHER people'' is also bullshit. Negative productivity? Given any number of people, do you ever think they can be negatively productive? When they spin around, do they all press ctrl-Z and then save their work, erasing the redo history? No. If you're spinning on your chair (alone), the OTHERs are still doing their work. Suddenly adding ``OTHER'' people into the equation (why does he shout OTHER? Is the notion of talking to OTHER people so absurd?) just screws up the graph. You'd have to add another axis for number of people or something. Ordinarily, Randall would probably be anal enough to do that, but he nobly sacrifices his precious scientific method in the name of humour, and boy, does it pay off.

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  33. maybe Randall has invented such a thing as Bonus Friction. something which has more friction than the most possible friction. superfriction. the friction of the gods.

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  34. Greek Gods knew a lot about that sort of Friction. If you know what I mean [Which is that no, of course not, Randall does not know about this Friction and that is far too much credit]

    Captcha: Kahystst, the dark god of Friction. Not quite, but pretty close.

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  35. @R.

    You're on Wrongplanet?

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  36. @Anonymous Uh, he never put in an upper bound... why on earth do you assume that the x-axis on that graph goes past 1? There is no way to know what the scale is, although friction obviously only goes to 1. If you graduated middle school you should know that graphs can have different scales >.<

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