Thursday, December 29, 2011

Comic 997: Still Waiting On Those Tits

wait wait
[Comic title: Wait Wait; alt text: You can't stab Karl Kasell. He sounds all slow and stentorian, but he moves like a snake.]

Sometimes Randy makes comics that make me think he's just discovered those games you play where everyone makes jokes based on a certain snowclone, except he doesn't have any friends so he just makes a bunch of them himself and then uploads them as a comic. Now, I like those games. They can be quite entertaining and more importantly help to pass the time in a world where everything is tedium--a world where the closest thing I can feel to joy or happiness--indeed, the only thing I can feel at all--is smugness.

The thing is, those things are mostly only funny at the time. There might be one or two that are genuinely funny, but you need to set up the flow of the game first. Most people with good taste simply leave the conversation in the past and move on. But some people--the Randall Munroes of this world--decide that the world needs to hear all of these not-really-that-funny jokes that seemed great at the time, all for the sake of the one or two good ones. But this isn't building up to a punchline. It's setting up the necessary frame of mind so that the punchline is something that you have a distant hope of finding funny. And the best of them--"wait wait, don't speak its name," in my vaunted opinion--isn't really that great.

Does it seem to anyone else that Randy's doing a lot more shotgun humor lately?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


[We've got a special treat for you today here at xkcdsucks. First, a guest post by "Ann Apolis," noted awful person. Then, some more words by your editor. -Ed.]

[Comic title: Making Things Difficult; Alt text: "Favorite mastectomy breast prosthesis idea: a fake boob containing a spare rechargable battery, accessed via a nipple USB port. Complete with a ring of LED charge indicators in the areola!"]

1. CANCER CANCER CANCER (oh yeah I hope you've noticed that "Some context for the cancer comics". "GUYS JUST IN CASE YOU FORGOT: CANCER. I KNOW I DON'T MENTION IT MUCH SO")

2. lol boobs

3. stick figures wearing clothes makes them look like creepy hunchbacks

4. "nuh-uh": why do nerds fetishise adults behaving like children? the ballpit thing is like this too. hence you have forumites saying "Anyways, I really hope Randall's wife does this in real life" and such. protip: maybe it would be easier to argue that liking animation and graphic novels isn't childish if they people who read them didn't tend to behave like children all the time

6. the alt-text is 'why can't women be more like computers amirite guiz' and 'lol boob' and 'mmmmm nipples' all at once

7. so yeah slitting my wrists see you all in hell


Hello, cuddlefish, Rob once again. I have a special request! I want you to remember this comic every time you are tempted to say that I'm making up Randy's creepy fetishes. One boob for milk, one for charging his Android.

That is all.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Comics 993, 994, 995: Christmas Edition!

Merry Christmas, cuddlefish! I got you some shitty, one-sentence reviews. Sorry they're late (except not).

993. Randy has discovered minimalist design philosophy, and hasn't yet realized that companies already make a killing using it.

994. Randy is living proof that Zeno was correct: he is always halfway to a good comic but never actually gets there.

995. Wouldn't it be wacky if someone tried to feed chocolate coins to one of those Coinstar machines?

Your regular shitty two-sentence reviews will resume eventually, maybe.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Comics 991-992: Ten Years!

phantom menace

The going theory on this one is thatt itt is meant to be a reference to the imminent re-re-re-re-re-release of Star Wars (ONE LAST TIME), this time in 3D! WOO 3D! YEAH! I guess the joke is thatt these people have been waitting for sometthing like ten years? And are still waitting? Is this meant to be funny? I can't really tell how.


Look att me! I'm making a list of LOLRANDOM humor, coupled witth various geeky mnemonics! This time the mnemonics are also slightly geeky! OOOO!

I have gone on record before saying thatt I hatte this fucking shottgun humor. Itt doesn't help his case thatt some of the existing mnemonics are already reasonably amusing--"King Philip Came Over For Good Sex?" Thatt's seriously the mnemonic you're replacing witth your boring alternattives aboutt Katty Perry and kernel panics?

Itt turns outt thatt if you throw enough jokes outt there, some of them will stick. WHO KNEW?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Comics 989-990: Frozen Humor

[Comic title: Cryogenics; Alt text: 'Welcome to the future! Nothing's changed.' was the slogan of my astonishingly short-lived tech startup.]

So basically this comic betrays Randall's true nature--that is to say, the fact that he is not an engineer but a passive consumer of goods, but he still thinks of himself as an engineer.

Engineers are, of course, the people who are working to produce new things--something Randall hasn't done in a very long time. The idea of an actual engineer, someone who is actually working with technology, deciding to go "eh, I'll just wait thirty years for the tech to become interesting," is kind of implausible. Why would you not want to be a part of that leading edge of innovation? Why would you want to just skirt along on its coattails? Certainly, we want to live in the future we're creating for ourselves, but to be a human, to be a creator, an innovator, is to want to be a part of that creation, however small.

Randall has, apparently, lost this. This isn't surprising, of course. I've mentioned that Randall is a creature who sedately consumes in the review for comic 662. But what is surprising is that he still considers himself an innovator although he is patently not one, and that he seems to believe that all other innovators are like him.

Everyone who is excited about the future, he suggests, would rather skip all the boring bits of "invention" and "design" and "innovation," and instead just want to live in the world where all that shit is done for us!

It makes me truly, profoundly sad to think that there are people out there capable of making this comic.


plastic bags

[Comic title: Plastic Bags; alt text: The high I feel when I actually remember to bring my reusable bags to the store--and take them inside rather than leaving them in the parked car--can last for days.]

So, for some reason Randy is writing a comic about how he (a) doesn't ever remember to bring a reusable shopping bag (b) doesn't like how many bags the people at the grocery store use to bag his order. Okay!

Maybe it's because I have a giant messenger bag that I use for all my shopping, but I do not understand in the slightest why this is a comic. Maybe someone else can enlighten me.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Comics 986-987: Songs From Fiddler On The Roof

[Hated Raven "Ravenzomg" sent this review, which, okay. -Ed.]

Hello, this is Ravenzomg of Ravenzomg fame here to give a very special double review because we're all tired of hitting the "next page" button!

Title: Tradition. Tooltip: An 'American tradition' is anything that happened to a Baby Boomer twice.

Title: Potential. Tooltip: Who even cares, that's why I won't fix the html reference.

Rather than talk about how generally uninteresting these comics are, I'm just going to quote comments on a forum post advertising xkcd.

"fuck xkcd

i've no problem with people liking it, but randall munroe is a lazy, complacent asshole. and that is my opinion about things.

first 200 strips are good, though"

"XKCD is pretty hit-or-miss with me. I really like the strips where he kind of pokes fun at his own interests, but in some of the others I just feel like he's trying to show off things he knows or believes in. Too much reliance on the "smart/right" character revealing something to the more "common" person, who's then like "huh, guess I was dumb". "

"Well it can't be helped that the kid has only been alive for 12 years or so, and hasn't even had a regular education! I mean, he was practically raised by hippies. It's not his fault for his lack of knowledge!"

"the only thing xkcd is good for is getting you to google shit you don't care about"

"I used to utterly loathe the comic with a burning passion; it was so offensively mediocre that I could spend hours extolling the sins of individual strips and the comic as a whole; I could froth endlessly about exactly WHY putting a heart under a radical was such trite garbage and why any individual should feel bad about appreciating it; I would eagerly await new comics simply so that I could be angry at them and wax vitriolic. Now though, I simply can't muster the energy or the desire. It's been bad in exactly the same way for so long that there's no point in it anymore. All the punchlines are the same. All the strips are the same. There are three or four premises that Munroe has, and he's realized that people will eat them up forever and there's no reason for him to ever try new things. So he doesn't! I would have a difficult time deciding if "complacency" or "mediocrity" would be the one word I'd use to sum up the entire comic, but either one would fit."

And my personal favourite:
"Also, just because one can draw a comic in 5 minutes doesn't mean that should be the update rate. Otherwise all we'd get is random thoughts and forced jokes."

I really. really. really. love this.

And on that note, I wish you all a very merry christmas. Oh wait, something's different--

It's this:

As we all know, Randall Munroe makes his income without the use of ads, and so relies entirely on Merchandizing income. And as usual, he's relying on nostalgia [hey remember that bobcat comic guys? remember how you loved it 3 years ago?] to sell stuff.

I won't comment any more on this fact. That's why you guys are here <3 -Ravenzomg <3 <3 <3

[The hated raven also wanted me to point out that the poster went down in price from $150 to like $95. Raven says this is only $35 more than it should be; in my estimation it is actually $200 more than it should be. -Ed.]

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Comics 985 and 986: Something About The Time Cube Guy

985. Randy has revealed that he has a superpower: he can detect ambiguity where none exists, as well as inventing problems that do not actually happen in the real world. He also lists several things that would be bad for a politician to do, and then lists some crazy people who support those things. It is extremely hilarious.

986. In this comic, Randall lets his readers know that he has a kidney disorder. This is a very hard time for him, as he can no longer satisfy his milk fetish for very long at all without having to interrupt himself to go urinate.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Comics 983 and 984: Privacy Issues

983. Randall is showing considerable restraint here by writing a comic called "Privacy" and not going all Richard Stallman on us. We can forgive him for wanting to drink Megan's milk in a beaver's dam for this admirable restraint.

984. Black Hat Guy makes a return, this time pointing out that Werner von Braun worked for the Nazis. Apparently Black Hat Guy has given up trolling entirely and is instead pointing out basic, barely relevant facts at inappropriate points in conversation. In short, he has become the typical XKCD fan.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Two Comic Updates

I'm just popping in to note that there are two great comics which just issued rare updates, and you should know about both of them.

The first is Moe, a comic I love that has not managed to break into the realm of superpopular webcomics, but it is still great! The newest comic just came out, and it's the first update we've had since August (and that, in turn, was the first update since May). Anyway, go, enjoy it, tell the author how much you love it, read the archives if you haven't yet, etc. Or you can read an interview with the author I did on that website I used to run.

The other comic to do much the same is Achewood, which is in fact extremely popular, but had apparently become too much for its author to keep up with, which is why he didn't post any new comics for nearly nine months. But now he has! Is it a sign of things to come? Goodness I hope so. I hope he can at least finish this story. He wouldn't start a story and not finish it, right? RIGHT?

Comics: they're the best.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Comics 981-982: Pure, Distilled Boredom

981. Oh, how surprising, Randy is sexually aroused by filesystems. Anything to get it up when Megan isn't lactating, amirite?

982. ha ha ha what if in maths the elements had feelings and could be intimidated???? SO WACKY! also remember the axiom of choice? because i do.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Comic 980: Money Shot

[Since the java reader for 980 is so fucking awful I can't be bothered to try, here is a guest review by hated raven "Raven". -Ed.]

This is Ravenzomg of Ravenzomg fame to review this monsjavaty.

Title: Money. Tooltip: There, I showed you it.

To demonstrate the absurd pointlessness of this massive... thing, I will review this comic using a single cropped but otherwise unedited screenshot and three sentences following it. I wish I edited the picture to make that juxtaposition, but look for yourselves (which I know you won't because that's why you're here).

(1)"fucking megan, keeping our kids from going to Hogwarts"

(2)It's a good thing his readers apparently aren't good at money, or they'd realize the absurdity of paying $15 for one 36"x24" poster, but $150 for four 36"x24" posters -- should i be yelling or laughing, what even is this.

(3)There are many things wrong with the java script (such as creating a new page every time it tries to reload the image or just being unintuitive), the graphic presentation (such as requiring us to follow it in what can only be described as an 'S' if it had fallen forward onto its face, drunk from all the colorfully named drinks it bought which it kept claiming made it "eccentric" and "interesting" in a way that you filthy plebes just wouldn't... ahhhh.... hold on [*throwing up noises*], or the fact that he presents sums on the order of 6000-8000 in thousands, and expects us to be awed at the fact that there is all of a 1-2 tiny boxes difference), and questionable factual issues/typological mistakes/general mistakes (such as... well, I'm not going to say anything because unlike the previous two criteria, he can actually ret-con these), but rather than make a ginormous list I'm going to let you all say what you disliked or found incorrect in this comic, because I know you are all just dying to post your individual fault that you have discovered and I wouldn't dare threaten your pride by stealing your stolen thunder using this stolen thunder which was itself stolen, mmk, so go nuts down there i know i might.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Comic 979: Old Problems

wisdom of the ancients

[Comic title: Wisdom of the Ancients; alt text: All long help threads should have a sticky globally-editable post at the top saying 'DEAR PEOPLE FROM THE FUTURE: Here's what we've figured out so far ...']

This is pretty much straight up GOOMH-bait. If you are disputing that you are dumb. The weird poem-thing in the left is sufficiently bad at being a poem that I can't tell if it's actually meant to be one, or is just some unnecessary nonstandard formatting. Who knows? The second panel is vaguely amusing, as far as GOOMH-bait goes. It captures the frustration described reasonably well, and in a way which isn't too boring. But GOOMH-bait is still GOOMH-bait.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Comics 977 and 978: Humor Needed

977. I know someone was saying they wanted me to rage about this one but I really can't say anything I haven't said countless times before: Randall is pandering. He's pandering to map nerds. He's pandering to the sort of nerds who wear Vibram Five-fingers because they think of it as hacking for their feet--really, most of these are pandering to some category of nerd or another. It's a list of panderings. I don't personally care enough about maps to, you know, care, so whatever.

978. This one, though, is stupid. I've been making this joke for, oh, several years now--it's not difficult to use Wikipedia to create reality. It's not surprising that this happens, because, despite the fact that your garden variety internet moron will declare that you are really dumb if you link to a Wikipedia article to prove or assist a point, Wikipedia is broadly useful, though not, perhaps, good to rely on.

This is not a novel concept, and he doesn't really do anything interesting with it. "It turns out that Wikipedia cites authors whose source is Wikipedia sometimes!" Yes, and? Did you just now discover this potential?

The alt text is even worse. While I don't doubt that his claim is plausible, his refusal to identify which book and which author just makes it sound like he's making it up. To put it into perspective, it's sort of like if he said "yeah, I totally had this hot celebrity chick over and she let me drink her milk, it was totally hot. She's really famous and you all know her, but I'm not going to tell you which one it is because I value her privacy." Sure, it's technically possible that someone saying this is telling the truth, but it's far more likely they're just telling a lie that you can't go and verify.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Comic 976: I'm Sailing Away

[Hated raven "Ravenzomg" wrote this guest review, apparently. I was forced to troubleshoot and remove problematic HTML just so I could post the fucking thing. -Ed.]

Hello, everyone! This is Ravenzomg of Ravenzomg fame here to review the latest XKCD!

Title: Sail. Tooltip: It only works a few times before you have to capsize the boat in the soap lagoon again.

I'm going to review this backwards. Rather than grudgingly admit a few things that are okay and spend the whole review talking about how awful everything is, milk, etc, I'm going to treat this comic as follows:

This is a pretty good xkcd comic. I'm not saying it's a great comic, but it is pretty good. How about a list? Everybody likes lists. That's why Cracked and The Oatmeal make money, right? And what is this, except a money-making instrument that Carl created a few years ago and still benefits from?

(1) No ppd. Hell, no dialogue at all. Let's do a quick calculation... oh right. The Ravenzomg Scale of Wordiness™ is ZERO. We always complain that Randall uses too many words. I was going to dive into the archives for you creatures, but then I hit the VERY LAST COMIC.

So many words! That's a 3.72 on the Ravenzomg Scale of Wordiness™, which is a full 372 infinities times as large! Goodness knows he's done even worse.

BUT NOT TODAY. Today we have no awkward monologuing or captions or anything. Just a simple art thing. Which brings us to

(2) The joke is actually appropriate to the medium! This joke relies on minimalist style. Which Randy employs. If the comic were any more detailed, the joke relying on the ambiguity of interpretation wouldn't work. So good job! Which leads into

(3) The absence of those usual art foibles. Sit back, reader, for Ravenzomg will do all the hard MS Paint work for you!

There are exactly zero (0) heads disconnected from bodies, zero (0) heads that have gaping holes in them. The head varies in shape and looks lumpy and weird, but that's what stick-figures are. and who wouldn't have lumps stuck in their head at a time like this.

Also note that, at the very least, he continues his no-copy-paste rule. Every man is different, every boat is different, and while the scaling seems... wonky, we won't hold it against him. Well, I won't. You guys go ahead, 'cause you guys like that shit (you like that shit).

(4) The joke itself is okay. It's slightly reminiscent of classic XKCDs that would at the very least cause a slight rise in your lip, without the accompanying furrowed brows. It's just a cute aesthetic joke that we look at, enjoy, and move on. No source of rage.

Well, unless you're some kind of idiot who doesn't understand the comic. Here is what is going on, for those less educated/American of you:

[link, because Raven broke the goddamn blog -Ed.]

Let's all just appreciate the caliber of this video and the knowledge we have attained. Now look at the comic, and realize what Randall has done. He's one-upped the so-called Bubble Man!

If you aren't getting down on your knees now, you are a failure of a human being.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Comic 975: Occulting the Joke

occulting telescope

[Comic title: Occulting Telescope; alt text: Type II Kardashev civilizations eventually completely enclose their planetary system in a Dyson sphere because space is way too big to look at all the time.]

The most remarkable part about this comic is how incredibly boring it is. I don't mean that in the sense that this one is abnormally boring--God knows Randy is good at making mind-numbingly boring comics. No, I mean that this one doesn't feel like it's even trying to be interesting, even though he is working with such ripe source material.

Comics in the key of "the universe is huge" usually attempt to invoke a sense of something. Sometimes it's meant to invoke a sense of wonder, sometimes it's meant to invoke a sense of cosmic insignificance. Sometimes it's meant to invoke a Lovecraftian sort of terror--the universe is huge and could destroy us at any moment and we wouldn't even know why, etc. But it's always meant to invoke something.

This comic, in contrast, does not attempt to invoke anything. It sterilizes the concept. The character describes his fear in the vaguest, most boring way possible. But it doesn't feel deliberate in the least. It feels, rather, like Randy has decided to take it as a given that if you say "the universe is big," readers will just fill in the gaps and feel the appropriate emotions, and laugh knowingly along with the quirky scientist's attempt to hide from its immensity. No attempt is made to sell this point to the audience, anymore than you need to attempt to sell Randy on the virtues of breastfeeding (even if he is unclear on why there always seems to be a child involved, hogging all the good milk).

I'm also getting some deja vu on this one, but I can't remember the last time he did this. Anyone?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Comic 974: Pass The Humor, This Comic Is Bland

the general problem

[Comic title: The General Problem; alt text: I find that when someone's taking time to do something right in the present, they're a perfectionist with no ability to prioritize, whereas when someone took time to do something right in the past, they're a master artisan of great foresight.]

This is another one of those comics which might have been okay if Randy had left it alone. It's possible this is just my "I hate when geeks do this" talking, but I am always happy to see the geek's tendency to spend hours trying to come up with a way to make a task that takes very little take time take even less time satirized. Which is what the comic is standing on its own!

Of course, we still see that Randy isn't quite sure what a beat panel is for. Apparently he thinks it indicates that twenty minutes have lapsed. Apparently, he also waits for twenty minutes before asking for the salt again when his request is initially ignored. Admittedly, whenever I ask someone to pass the salt it ends like this, so I may not be the best person to judge, but I feel that most people would have either repeated their request, gotten it themselves, or flung the salt shaker against the wall to make a point by the time twenty minutes had lapsed.

(This is as good a time as any to note that when people complain that a comic is not realistic, they are actually complaining that it lacks verisimilitude. The distinction is nontrivial: a fantasy adventure story may not be realistic, in that it contains wizards and elves and women who are not frivolous and weak, but it may contain verisimilitude. That is to say, when reading the story, the wizards and elves and women who are not frivolous and weak are believable within the context of the story. They behave in believable fashions. When reading about the wizards and elves and women who are not frivolous and weak, verisimilitude is never broken by someone saying "wait, that wouldn't happen." Randy, in contrast, can hardly go two comics without making people stop and say "wait, that wouldn't happen.")

I suggested in the opening sentence of this review that Randy didn't leave it alone. He usually fails to leave his comics alone by injecting an alt text that usually completely ruins it. In the alt text, he reveals himself to be the tortured genius that he is. No doubt he spent too much time performing a mundane task in recent memory and he was called out on it. "I bet you nobody called Einstein out for being a perfectionist when he was inventing the light bulb," he muttered, finishing his mundane task more quickly than he would like--but he swore then and there that he would exact vengeance by writing about it on his comic one day, oh yes.

I admit it is possible that a whiny alt text like this one could just be the product of Randy's imagination, but it nevertheless reads like Randy has problems with the fact that his so-called perfectionism annoys people when it makes him unable to perform simple tasks in a timely fashion. So he draws a false dichotomy: "if you don't let me focus on frivolous minutiae whenever I feel like it no one will ever look back on my works and proclaim me a genius!"

The sad fact is, of course, that Randy already has a legion of fans who are happy to proclaim his works a genius even when he patently spent no time on it at all. He has a persecution complex, but no persecution, even when that persecution would be richly deserved.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Comic 973: Talkin' About My Generation

[This is the standard notification I put at the head of every guest post notifying you that it is a guest post. This one is written by noted archaic concept "the pirate king." -Ed.]

mtv generation

[Comic title: MTV Generation; alt text: If you identified with the kids from The Breakfast Club when it came out, you're now much closer to the age of Principal Vernon.]

Oh look, it's white hat guy! Hello white hat guy! Does anyone remember white hat guy? He first appeared in this comic, and has since appeared in three others. His character has no consistency whatsoever! Even less so than black hat guy or beret man.

So apparently in this one, White Hat Guy is a crotchety old person. Or it seems that way. Randy is once again pointing out to us that time continues to pass even during the years you spend zoned out on the internet. Yes, the MTV generation is in their forties, blah blah, people get old. The conclusion of the comic doesn't seem to make much more sense than White Hat's initial premise.

"No, it's this NEW generation of kids who are spastic idiots!" Randy cries. So I guess Randall is really the crotchety old man here. This joke is tired and overused, and randall's delivery, as usual, lacks any and all creativity.

Ooh! But look at the use of perspective in the first panel! The tweenster is faded out, so you can distinguish him from a hovering midget! Or maybe they're in the future and that's a hologram, I don't know.

Also, I'd like to point out that the alt text is yet another chance for Randy to point out how dated movies and shows he liked when he was a kid are. He does this again and again and again. Face it Randy, you're getting old.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Comics 971 and 972: Alternatively Lame

971. Randy is back to his old favorite punching bag of homeopathy in this one! Before I read the alt text, I didn't catch that it was meant to be a jab at homeopathy and figured it was meant to be a satire about anti-consumerism in the key of Cake's "Rock 'n' Roll Lifestyle", which I could have gotten behind.

Then I read the alt text. I don't think Randy has ever more explicitly spelled out what a comic is about, or why he is writing it, in the alt text before. That's a lot of text for an alt text. And then you go back through and read it and it becomes clear that this comic is just another boring, lazy strawman attack on proponents of homeopathy. I don't think this even counts as pandering, but that may just be because I can't bring myself to give a fuck about it.

972. Here's what's happening here. I had to get someone to explain to me why this comic exists, because originally I thought 'surely Randy can't think that being aware of your tongue is that annoying, can he? and even if it is, it's not worth a comic, surely?'

How wrong I was.

Anyway, what's happening here is Randy read this Peanuts comic and decided to copy the joke more or less in its entirety, then, as an Original Twist, he declared that November would be tongue awareness month. That way once you know that you'd spend the whole month being aware of your tongue, and then you'd forget about it as soon as December rolls around. Just like how during breast cancer awareness month, Randy's only thoughts were of breasts and the milky bounty they contain, during tongue awareness month, your only thoughts will be of tongues.

BAM! Month ruined! How d'you like that, you fuckers?

I don't think I need to explain how mind-numbingly stupid this whole 'if I tell you to be aware of your tongue for a whole month, you will be' thing is. It's dumb. It's very, very dumb. This joke is dumb. This meme is dumb. Even the forumites are calling this the worst one of all time. Why the fuck would you intentionally release this as a comic?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Comic 970: Finger On The Milk Buttons

[Noted pirate king "The Pirate King" sent me this review, which is fortunate, because I didn't actually mind this comic that much. -Ed.]

the important field

[Comic title: The Important Field; alt text: I hear in some places, you need one form of ID to buy a gun, but two to pay for it by check. It's interesting who has what incentives to care about what mistakes.]

Oh my god this is a stupid one. I mean really, really dumb, in a lot of ways.

So we see some soldier (I guess?) using the "missile launch web interface". This idea is ludicrous. Randy knows it is ludicrous. It's likely that there are people out there who believe this is how the defense department actually operates, and this comic could become somewhat coherent as a jab at them (durr hurr the medias are so dumb hurr), but he doesn't really take it that way.

It's like he's criticizing the interface of a website that doesn't exist, and if it did, that he would never, ever see, and probably wouldn't look anything like how he portrays it. And even if this weren't atrociously implausible, one would assume that the soldier would have to provide some kind of login information to get on there, and logins are always tied to an email.

So maybe he's trying to mock a more general trend in account creation? You'd think he'd pick a more accessible example, like a bank site I guess? I suppose he's annoyed that they expect you to repeat your email twice? Well that's just stupid. The email is the only part of an account that you often can't change once you've created it, because that's how they send you your reset password, so it's the most important not to fuck up. I've lost newly-minted accounts to that accident on numerous occasions.

The alt text is stupid too, and doesn't make any sense in relation to the comic. "DURR HURR PEOPLE SOMETIMES CARE MORE ABOUT MONEY THAT THE SAFETY OF OTHERS!" Well no fucking shit, Albert McSherlock Picasso.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Comic 969: Check-Up And Physical

[Mysterious emailer "Elly" sent me this review, which has physics in it. -Ed.]


[Comic title: Delta-P; alt text: If you fire a Portal gun through the door of the wardrobe, space and time knot together, which leads to a frustrated Aslan trying to impart Christian morality to the Space sphere.]

There's nothing I can say of XKCD's various artistic failures which hasn't been said millions of times already. So, let's criticize Randy's most valued thing in the world: his precious science, his physics, or more precisely his grasp of fluid mechanics(breast milk not included- let's leave that one to Rob). [Nice. -Ed.]

Now, I'm an undergraduate of physics. I took a course of fluid mechanics with one of the world's premier physicists. I only mention this to stress that when I say I had no idea how the fuck Randall got the formula he uses in this one, I know what I'm talking about. But, eventually, I found out the horrible truth:

Randall begins with Q=A*v, which says that the flow equals the area of opening times the speed of the water relative to the wardrobe. This is wrong, but compared with his future follies this is actually still pretty acceptable. Only now Randy needs to calculate that speed, and here he fails tremendously.

Randy assumes conservation of energy, which is usually a fine thing to assume when doing physics. He takes the initial, purely potential energy of the wardrobe as Ei=mgd .He takes the final, purely kinetic energy as Ef=1/2 mv^2 .Because he assumes conservation of energy, both quantities are equal and so he extracts v from that and finally gets Q=A*√(2gd).

Now, his whole process is rife with errors(the Q=A*v thing assumes both laminar flow and and an opening that is two-dimensional, none of which occur here,) but let's narrow it down to just two of the most obscene ones:

  1. There is no conservation of energy here, you dumb fuck. Friction with water is a substantial, non-conservative force which does not allow you to use even actual fluid mechanics stuff such as Bernoulli's principle, let alone the high-school-level conservation-of-energy calculations shown above which Randy tries to pass off as science. If this was true, it could lead to all sorts of shit: a cylinder that is moving in such a liquid as Randall suggests would never come to a stop or even slow down, which is obviously a nonsensical result. This is what was known historically as Stokes' Paradox, this is why the concept of viscosity was introduced, and to top it off, this was all well known for 150 years or so. Do try and keep up, Randy. This would be okay, though, had Randy tried to find the speed of the wardrobe as it hit the water, but
  2. Randy doesn't know how to use the concept of potential energy. This is some really elementary stuff. This is high-school level stuff, and Randy fails at it miserably. Randy tries to calculate the wardrobe's speed on the moment of impact with the water. He takes the potential energy as mgd, when d is the ocean depth. . To find the speed of impact he should take the height of the wardrobe relative to the sea level, and what he takes is the height of the wardrobe relative to the ocean floor. Therefore, the speed he would extract using the method shown above is not the speed of the wardrobe upon impact. What he gets is the speed of the wardrobe when it reaches depth d under the sea level, and even that is assuming friction with water is just as negligible as friction with air. This gives him a nonsensical result: Randy says that the deeper the ocean is, the more water would flow into the wardrobe- as d grows, so does the root of d. At the limit where the ocean depth approaches infinity, an infinite amount of water would flow into the wardrobe as soon as it hits the water. This is hideously, preposterously wrong. I really cannot stress out just how asinine this error is. No wonder this guy was kicked out of NASA.

Now, a real physicist would've said 'gee, this result is ridiculous, I'd better check out where I've gone wrong.' What Randy said was 'gee, this result is ridiculous, I'd better publish it.'

Monday, October 24, 2011

Comics 967 and 968: Both A Comic AND Terrible

Comic 967. This one mostly made me think that I do not want to experience what it is like to be Randy. It sounds awful.

Comic 968. Holy shit, this is fucking awful. I don't think I've ever seen a punchline telegraphed from so far away. He starts out with panel 1 saying "hey this comic is going to have a punchline which humorously* subverts the notion that I am in love with you! Here are a couple of ways in which I don't love you." Panel 2 then goes on to say "in case you weren't reading the first panel, or maybe you're just into thoroughness, here's another way I don't love you! And an explicit statement that I have many things besides you I'd rather pay attention to. But I mean, you're interesting, so remember, the punchline is going to be a humorous subversion of things like the ones I just listed. Be prepared to have your mind blown! I am pretty sure I have given you adequate time for preparation." Panel 3: "Wait for it, wait for it... here's a humorous subversion of various 'I love you' cliches! BET YOU WEREN'T EXPECTING THAT!"

It's not inherently a bad punchline, but the setup for it is utterly appalling. Much humor, and in particular this punchline, relies on subverting your expectations. The only way this could possibly fall under that category is if Randy somehow hoped that you were expecting a subversion and then the utter lack of one was funny. Even in that case it has failed, however, since it seems so clear he's trying to be clever here and just failing.

The setup for this is so distractingly bad that I can't bring myself to say anything else about it. I can envision a world in which that punchline is used in a comic that doesn't suck, but this comic is so far from that world, describing it probably qualifies as science fiction. I guess, if there is anything good to say about this comic, it would be useful as a writing exercise for students of the comic arts: "find a way to make this not suck." The resulting comics would probably not remotely resemble the original, but there might be a gem or two in there.

*please note that I in no way feel that this is actually humorous in any way, this is the result of a recent thought exercise in trying to experience what it is like to be Randy. I have avoided writing out all the milky thoughts I have had, though I may eventually scan the grocery receipts cataloging my milk purchases this week.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Comic 966: xkcd sucks Was An Inside Job

jet fuel

[Comic title: Jet Fuel; alt text: The 'controlled demolition' theory was concocted by the government to distract us. '9/11 was an inside job' was an inside job!]

Normally I'm all about making fun of conspiracy theorists, because they are almost as dumb and predictable as internet atheists or jokes about how Randy has just thought of the best use for Megan's milk ever (OREOS!!!!!!). But Randy is incapable of making fun of someone he disagrees with without throwing in a strawman character who inevitably says "that is very clever of you to notice, Randy, you are as intelligent as milk is delicious and sensual."

Part of this is just the urge for post-punchline dialog, of course. I think he's afraid of telling a joke without showing someone responding to it, for fear that people might not realize how they are supposed to respond. But when he does his strawman comics, it always feels more like he's trying to cue to his audience: "See? I've thought up a clever way to fuck with conspiracy theorists that TOTALLY WORKS."

I admit I'm not given to hanging out with conspiracy theorists--I only like factually supported theories, like the fact that our president was smuggled into the US from Kenya by Bill Ayers as part of a communist plot to destroy democracy and capitalism after we thought the Cold War was over. But I get the distinct impression this would not hold water with actual 9/11 truthers, or chemtrail theorists. Which would be fine, if Randy weren't trying to give the impression that your typical conspiracy theorist would say "whoa, good point" when presented with this argument. That's just annoying. You can do better, Randy.

Well, no, you can't, obviously, or you would have done by now. But that's a thing that you say, you know?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Comic 965: Periodic Table of Terrible


[Comic title: Elements; alt text: Of all the nations, the armies of the ununoctium-benders are probably the least intimidating. The xenon-benders come close, but their flickery signs are at least effective for propoganda. [sic]]

Before we begin, I'd like to point out that Randy somehow has still not fixed the really obvious spelling error in the alt text. This is weird. Usually by now he fixes it without comment. I'm left to conclude he just hasn't noticed it yet, somehow.

Moving on. Apparently Randy has been cut off from Megan's bountiful flow of milky sustenance lately, for surely his pandering has reached peaks not unlike the twin peaks of her breasts as she lies on her bed asleep he watches her, breathing heavily.

The pandering has taken over every part of his being--but no mortal is meant to be a creature of pure pandering. It has filled him with an untold self-hate--he liked children's fantasy cartoons, but he also liked science, and in terms of science this cartoon was dumb. It put forward unscientific theories, worse even than Creationism--it was denying the existence of the periodic table of elements! It still thought there were only four of them!

"Okay, think, Randall Munroe, creator of the webcomic XKCD," said he to himself, calming his fragile nerves. "You can still pander in this comic, you just have to come up with something else. How about, uh. Who invented the Periodic Table? Archimedes or some shit? Wikipedia, don't fail me now . . . ." And so, after being distracted by the articles on lactation and chloroform, he discovered Mendeleev. He had successfully accomplished a double-pander in the space of a single text-filled panel! THE DAY WAS SAVED!

Seriously, Randy? Let's start with how completely unoriginal this joke is. Those are both from 2007, and the joke was already boring back then. With the exception of the double-pander, this isn't bringing anything new to the field. Why are you wasting our time with this? Do you seriously think that 'LOL THE CLASSIC FOUR ELEMENTS ARE WRONG BUT WE STILL USE THEM IN FANTASY EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE DUMB AND WRONG' is funny? Do you think pointing out that there is a difference between the classical elements and the periodic table is useful commentary, or anything apart from expected?

Often in XKCD, the concept is solid but it's ruined by some pretty awful execution. This is not the case here. The concept is pretty awful--the best the joke could aspire to is mediocrity in the hands of a gifted writer--and he basically gives it the worst possible execution, the perfect storm of bad comic-making. Which, well done, Randy, you got me to describe something you did as perfect.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Comics 963-964: If Comic Then Forgettable

963. lol having to open xorg.conf is frustrating LET'S MAKE A CHART

964. I think Randy is constitutionally incapable of making a comic with the correct number of panels. This one could just as easily have been a one-panel with just the poster image, but instead he created an entire worthless narrative of how Author Insert entered the dormroom and had a brilliant idea to fix the poster. That way there would only be one completely useless panel, instead of six.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Comics 961-962: So Boring I Forgot To Post

Hahaha, just kidding, I'm just a lazy fuck and was playing computer games.

961. Rumor has it Randy planned on posting another Friday comic in addition to this specific Steve Jobs-related comic. It's a tribute, it doesn't really do much for me. I found the forums on this one kind of amusing in a sad way, but it's very possible that's just me.

962. This one's also pretty boring. I'm just going to comment on the alt text, which seems to imply that 'flight' and 'math' are mutually exclusive. I wonder if Randy knows that flight instruction is actually a pretty math-intensive field? I mean, yes, joke blah blah not intended to be taken seriously etc etc but really. This is a comic where the fanboys constantly praise its creator for his attention to detail (and conveniently forget about his attention to detail every time he completely fails to pay attention to detail).

This also seems weirdly anti-nerd, which is weird since Randy loves pandering almost as much as he loves Megan's delicious milky nipples. "It's impossible to focus on nerdy things when you could be out doing something exciting," says the alt text. I've no doubt Randy's fanboys are eating it up, but still. I don't think I've ever seen such blatantly anti-nerd content on XKCD. This seems telling.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Comic 960: Shipping and Mishandling

[Comic title: Subliminal; alt text: Once you see it, you can't help seeing it every time. Until your body finishes metabolizing the mushrooms.]

Randy would like you all to know that he tried mushrooms for the first time the other day, and it was a very strange experience. He saw all these things he doesn't know how to describe! It was very odd, because Randy is a genius with the written word and artistic expression both. He tried very hard to make a comic that was very funny and that encapsulated the "gist" of his experience, but, well, no one is perfect. Instead he drew a Dalek with two big round holes in it, and a guy catching a baseball, and a guy wearing a Guy Fawkes mask (who is apparently Guy Fawkes himself--it is a little known fact that the Guy Fawkes mask actually originates from the mask that Mr. Fawkes wore when he tried to blow up parliament) who apparently has had two great slashes carved from his skull. The result, if you squint, could read 'FedEx.' To make sure you got the joke, he even used the same colors.

Being on mushrooms, Randy decided, was basically the same thing as lolrandom humor. But how would people know that he had done mushrooms, since he did a lot of lolrandom humor BEFORE he became a more enlightened human being???

Oh wait, he can just tell you, several times, that this is a joke about drugs (lol!!!!) because there is nothing like unnecessary text to beat you over the head with a point.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Comic 959: Christmas Time Is Here

[Noted copyright criminal "The Pirate King" sent me this review for the one about King Wenceslas. So, you're welcome. -Ed.]


So, we've got a christmas carol comic in early october. That's cool I guess, I mean all the stores are gearing up for the holidays so why shouldn't xkcd? Or I don't know, maybe Randall's been working on this one for the better part of a year and finally found the courage to publish it. That would make more sense given this comic's track record with timeliness.

So it's another black hat guy comic. As much as I agree that randall has totally forgotten how to do these, I find them a relief from the usual crap, ie, some horrible pun, nerd reference, or emotional bullcrap. I mean who doesn't like some good ol' fashioned trolling?

That being said, this is a pretty tired joke. It's the setup where one character is trying to tell a joke or be enthusiastic about something, and another character kills it with tragedy, and then the first character feels guilty. "How dare you say that, my father was killed by a _____!" Randall is just putting it in a different context, and one that doesn't make any sense. According to Wikipedia, an infallible source of information on all things everywhere, King Wenceslaus didn't massacre anybody. So check your fucking facts, RANDALL.

I did find a tidbit in the alt text amusing, although not in the dark-humor way that randall intended it. To my knowledge, the phrase "a thousand generations" can come from only two sources; the Bible, or Star Wars. Since Randall has made it clear he is an atheist, I can only assume this is a Star Wars reference; possibly an unintentional one.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Comic 958: Evil Contains The Seeds Of Its Own Destruction

[Comic title: Hotels; alt text: 'Rating: 1/5. Room filled to brim with semen, and when front desk clerk opened mouth to talk, bedbugs poured out.']

This is probably the closest we've gotten to Black Hat Guy behaving in what one would call the "classic" manner if one were completely insufferable. Antisocial self-interest! Randy finally remembered!

Of course, this being a day of the week, Randy's comic is full of problems. Some astute (ha ha ha) commenter pointed out in the previous thread that the inclusion of a script to post negative reviews seems counterintuitive at best. First, it somehow knows when he's staying at hotels, and it automatically assumes he'll like it. But then, since he dislikes hotels sometimes, he often has to go and manually change it. The conclusion that the aforementioned commenter came to is inescapable: the only reason the word "script" is included is so XKCD fanboys could nerdgasm over it.

Then we have panel 3. In this panel, Randy does this thing he often does where he points out the flaws in his plan, but doesn't quite seem to realize it. A single negative review won't drive anyone away from a place. It's pretty hard to find an establishment on Yelp that doesn't have at least one one-star review. Most frequently-reviewed places will have several. This doesn't have a noticeable effect on said establishment's popularity.

As Randy himself observes: "the odds of my review putting a hotel out of business are negligible." He doesn't seem to grasp that the odds of his review having any impact at all, let alone an impact significant enough that BHG is getting noticeably cheaper prices and having a noticeably easier time getting rooms, is also negligible. Perhaps if he were to employ a botnet to make hotels he likes suddenly look like roach-havens? But even then, the loss in revenues would cause a considerable hit in service quality. (Here is the part where people protest that it's just a comic and it's not supposed to make sense and where they probably suggest that I must not like (insert fantasy story here) because it has wizards in it or something. Can we just take that as said and move on?)

The rest of the comic after panel 2 is basically post-punchline dialog--not sure if he's ever done two whole panels of it before. You've got a name-drop of the tragedy of the commons to set up what I guess must be intended as a humorous exchange, and a line that you can tell Randy thought was very clever.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Comic 957: Preoperational Stage of Humor

[Blah blah Ravenzomg guest post and etc -Ed.]

Hello masses, this is Ravenzomg of Ravenzomg fame here to review the latest XKCD for you all before the latest one comes out! So, as usual, this thread will get to be filled with comments on the NEXT comic, and everyone can act confused/stupid! Hurray.

The excitement is palpable, people.

Title: Development. Tooltip: Funding was quickly restored to the NHC and the APA was taken back off hurricane duty.


Wait. No, that was back in August.

GOOMH, Randall, I've been watching Hurricanes for the past month, too!

Now, as Wikipedia will tell you, sterile void-creatures in sterile void-rooms do not allow us the sterile void-sympathy needed to sterile void-enjoy 'random' 'humour'.

The Onion Makes Me Cry

Well, not really, but it was too good a headline to pass up.

I've been reading The Onion for at least twelve years, and in all that time, I've never once had to say this, but: I think the onion made a mistake.

I should state that I think the Onion routinely has some of the funniest commentary there is on all topics in the news, with, obviously, their issue just after 9/11 as a prime example. I mean, people at the time were literally wondering if anything would ever be funny again. Like, if you saw a dude trip on a banana peel and fall into an open manhole, would you laugh, as you would have in the pre-9/11 world? Or would his paid simply remind you of the suffering of the 3000 dead, countless wounded, and the families who lost loved ones on 9/11, just as this man's family nearly lost him due to lax manhole safety rules?

Obviously our deep evolutionary desire to see others fail meant that this was total poppycock and we continue to laugh at such shenanigans. Because, obviously. Anyway, my point is, that was the context they were in and what did they do? They didn't just give up and skip the issue, or only do articles about other stuff. No, they churned out a brilliant issue full of 9/11 content and it was hilarious then and it is hilarious now. I truly believe that in 50 years this will still be recognized as as the best example of fighting tragedy with laughter that our culture has ever produced.

But that's not my point. My point is they usually have a good sense of these things, and today, I think they - to use a delicate term - fucked up. They fucked up pretty bad.

The chronology is a little complicated but I think I understand the gist of it. It started with this article, Congress Takes Group Of Schoolchildren Hostage. If it seems random, the joke is that people have been using "hostage" metaphors to describe congress's behavior in the last year or so, and so the Onion is taking it literally. The joke is also that Congress is full of horrible criminals. Anyway, they wrote the article, and then, as they have been doing a fair amount recently, they wrote a short follow-up soon afterwards.

Neither article is very funny (especially since the follow-up has a completely different tone from the original article, almost as though the author of the second wrote it without seeing the original), mostly because the majority of the article is about threatening to kill children. Which is sort of funny, but not...ha ha funny. In theory, replacing actual hostage-takers with members of congress (with funny names like "Boehner" and "Roskam") should lead to humor, but the article just has an incredibly violent tone that to me, sucks away any possible humor.

Ordinarily, that wouldn't be enough for a blog post. They Onion has run less-than-stellar articles before. So what they decided to do was to act like the story was real, and "report" it in quasi-real time on twitter. And they try to do it the way an actual news organization would - first with rumors and speculation. So their first tweet is: "
BREAKING: Witnesses reporting screams and gunfire heard inside Capitol building." Obviously, there's no joke here. There's also no link. Of course, most people know that anything preceded by "The Onion" is not going to be true. But what if someone doesn't know that? What if I retweet this and then my doddering old aunt sees it and doesn't know where it came from? A reasonable person wouldn't read that tweet at a joke, because it's not a joke. It's just setting up a later joke.

The next tweet was: "
BREAKING: Capitol building being evacuated. 12 children held hostage by group of armed congressmen. " Here there's a joke - the armed congressmen - but it's, shall we say...subtle. The third tweet in the series links to the article. They ended up sending out 18 tweets on the story, basically narrating in real(ish) time the same story as written in the article.

The whole thing was in particularly bad taste given that a few weeks ago, on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, some folks hacked into the NBC News twitter feed and posted: "
Breaking News! Ground Zero has just been attacked. Flight 5736 has crashed into the site, suspected hijacking. more as the story develops". This was followed by several more posts attempting to make people think that multiple planes had been hijacked and flown into buildings in New York City. In fact, the hacked NBC tweets feel a lot like the Onion ones, though they were actually intended to make people believe an attack had occurred. I only read about the NBC posts a few days later, but I got a very sick feeling imagining what people must have thought who read them when they were posted. Reading the Onion twitter brought the same feeling back.

The reaction to the Onion's shenanigans today was...not kind. For example, the Capitol Police had to issue a statement because too many people thought there was an actual attack on the Capitol. They were not pleased to have to spend their time doing this. Lots of people on Twitter thought the Onion account may have been hacked (not a bad guess, actually) and others hoped it had been, as that would have been better than the Onion actually thinking this was a good idea (I fall into that category). But no, they were not hacked, and in fact, the posts are all still up, and probably will stay that way.

There are a lot of questions here - was this story funny, or over the line, or both? Was the story ok but the twitter too much? Or were they all ok and people are overreacting? I think I've made it pretty clear what I think. But just in case: it was a mistake, a big one. I think they'll catch a lot of flack for it, and people will demand they apologize and take it down. I think I agree. I'm as big a free speech advocate as you'll find, so of course I think they have a right to do what they did and a right to keep it. I have the right to go up to an old lady at a bus stop and call her a d-bag. But that doesn't mean I should.

If I had to guess, I'd say lots of people are going to tell them to take it down, and they won't do it. They'll double down on it and maybe even get self-righteous and talk about how this is the purpose of satire, the voice of the comedian is often the only one telling the truth, people should know this is a joke because the onion is a joke, and we won't admit we made a mistake. So that will, of course, also be a mistake.

What's the harm in taking it down? They'll still be a hilarious publication. I'll still read it every week (what a lie - I read it every day). They aren't politicians, they won't get in trouble if they fuck up. It'll be all out of the way and forgotten within a few weeks at most.

I'm writing this because I think a lot of people will come to defend the Onion on this and accuse those of us who disagree with them of being humorless and crazy and dumb. That's silly. I love the onion, but it's possible for them to fuck up! Sure, they haven't done it before (that I know of) but they did it now. So tell those people they are wrong. The onion is amazing, but it's not perfect.

Sense of Humor Discovered in Blog Posts

Hey Kids, rich uncle carl here, making his once-per-decade trip out to a place with the internet to shout some opinions at you all. So take a minute, get used to the fact that it is I, Carl, not Richard or Robin or Robbo or whatever that guys name is.

Actually, there are two different things I want to write about so I am going to just do two short posts. Why? Why, because I am lovably eccentric that way.

The first is about xkcd! and surprise of the week, it's positive! No, the comic isn't getting better - though it hasn't been gut-wrenchingly horrible, either, it's really just been an incredibly long string of blaaaaah - but I noticed that there were two sorta recent blog posts that were, in fact, funny.

Now they are each about a month old - clearly, I've gotten less vigilant in keeping up with Randall Munroe's public life - and they are each about the pair of natural disasters that hit the east coast around that time. Number one, on earthquakes, and number two, on hurricanes. Now, the earthquake one is mostly self-congratulatory about a comic he made a few years ago regarding the twitters and earthquakes and such. But at the end, there's a great story! It's not a story about Randall or one that he made up, but it's still a great story.

The second link is entirely unoriginal material, and it is hilarious.

My point is this: Long ago, when I was a young idealistic webcomic critic, I always liked to stress the fact that I thought Randall had a pretty good sense of humor. I just don't think that means he can churn out 3 good comics a week (as an aside, I still would love to see if the quality of the comic went up if it became a once a week thing...). "having a good sense of humor" doesn't always mean "being funny." These posts are a good example of that - he's clearly got a good eye for humor. I say: good work.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Comics 955-956: The Giving Randy

955: neutrinos

This comic marks the first time in history Randy has ever released a comic which was relevant to a news item that happened less than 24 hours before its release. This probably explains why he was about three hours late with it. But don't worry, it's still boring! The joke is wishful-thinking "I wish I could find a way to monetarily exploit people who I think are dumb" (since he's already found a way to monetarily exploit people he thinks are brilliant), and self-deceptive "but if it turns out that current thinking is wrong I'll definitely not be one of the people desperately defending the old ways over these new incursions." Lame.

956: sharing

It's been a while since Randy's gone all freetard on us. Thank God he hasn't changed at all and is still incredibly boring about it. I never read the Giving Tree (cue angry cuddlefish telling me that not reading a children's book makes me unqualified to have an opinion on anything, especially XKCD), so can't really comment on that aspect. It makes me wonder if I'm missing something, though: is the point of this comic really nothing more than "if you have DRM which won't enable you to share a file with people, you won't be able to share the file with people?" Nothing that I know about the story seems to suggest that it would be enlightening to have read it

On the plus side, I checked out the Giving Tree Wikipedia article and saw that it had already been Randallized, but by the time I went to edit it to remove the Randallism it had already been removed and protected against further Randallism. We're winning that war, at least.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Comic 954: A Steady Decline

Chin-Up Bar
[Comic title: Chin-up Bar; alt text: Those few who escaped found the emergency cutoff box disabled. The stampede lasted two hours and reached the bottom three times.]

I'm going to break this one down by panel.

Panel 1:Oh man, it's Black Hat Guy!
Panel 2: And oh man he's on an ESCALATOR! Oh man this is going to be so fucking wacky I'm going to SHIT BALLS AND TRIP BRICKS.
Panel 4: Oh that's a chin-up bar! WHAT IS HE DOING WITH IT I MUST KNOW
Panel 5: Ha ha ha, ZING! Not-a-hat-person gets taken down a peg! Or maybe a step, because he's on an escalator? Eh? Eh?
Panel 7: Oh he's still on the escalator but man DOUBLE ZING. Ha ha ha "I'm not a psychologist." Too true, Randy! Who knows why we do anything???
Panel 8: oh man this has been the most epic build-up ever what is he doing is he

UPDATE: btw this is the 666th xkcd sucks post! I know I'm excited.

Comic 953: 10 Things I Hate About Randy

1 to 10

[Comic title: 1 to 10; alt text: If you get an 11/100 on a CS test, but you claim it should be counted as a 'C', they'll probably decide you deserve the upgrade.]
I guess Randy got the memo that on the "stud finder finder" comic, his fanboys were complaining that it wasn't nearly meta enough (though they had faith that there was something super deep that they weren't nearly brilliant enough to comprehend), so he sat down and thought really, really hard about how to make a comic self-referential. He sat down for hours and hours, posting the comic so late that I was pretty sure he was making another poster comic. It could have been something interesting, or at least something that shows that he's willing to put a lot of time into things.

But no. Instead he gives us this. He gives us the same joke as this damn comic, which has been around for ages, but with the added drawback that Megan is for some reason confused about the number four. Despite being a human who speaks English and has learned to count in base ten, she doesn't understand what a four is. Perhaps we are meant to assume she's joking (because she is as quirky as her tits are milky, and will often pretend to do quirky things like be a binary-robot, for laffs (and sexiness))?

The best worst part of this comic, though, is the alt text, which has been full of winners lately. "If you understand binary, you are probably good at computers! They will give you a better grade! lolololololol!" Jesus Christ, Randy, make a goddamn effort, won't you?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Comic 952: The Trouble With Punchlines

stud finder

[Comic title: Stud Finder; alt text: According to every stud finder I've tried to use, my walls contain a rapidly shifting network of hundreds and hundreds of studs.]

Randy has this problem with punchlines. Usually he writes what we have started calling post-punchline dialog, wherein his characters comment on the punchline after it's happened, really stealing the thunder from the moment by letting it drag on too long. Perhaps in response to this, we get this comic.

So, rather than ending the comic one sentence before the punchline, Randy actually prevents Black Hat Guy from actually delivering the punchline--we are left to assume he was about to offer a Stud Finder Finder (I have been unable to find any cuddlefish who disagree on this premise, unfortunately). But he cuts himself off before he actually delivers the joke.

And then--AND THEN!--he still adds the post-punchline dialog. "Your joke is bad and I want you to shut up," he says to himself, which, I mean. That's what we've been saying to you for years, Randy. It's okay to stop.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Comics 950 and 951: Around The World Of Terrible Comics

mystery solved
950. Alt text: The Roanoke Lost Colonists founded Roanoke, the Franklin Expedition reached the Pacific in 2009 when the Northwest Passage opened, and Jimmy Hoffa currently heads the Teamsters Union--he just started going by 'James'.

Every now and then Randy thinks that he is capable of producing humor of the absurd variety: wouldn't it just be WACKY if Amelia Erhart didn't get lost but was actually just flying around the world REALLY SLOWLY? Imagine how funny that would be! And then she'd come back and she'd be all "sup guys I made it" and people would be like "BUT YOU DISAPPEARED" and then because she's a woman she'd be like "lol you are male and therefore too dumb to even appear in the same panel as me! Maybe you should fetch a woman because women are way smarter than guys, whose primary purpose should be protecting ladies on the internet, AMIRITE?"

...I think that one got away from me a bit. The point is: lolrandumb humor is not funny, and it is even less so when Randy does it, because you can tell he's really trying to make it smart, even though it's still nothing more than lolrandumb. I hope this isn't a new trend, because these are extra annoying.

Also, special shout out to "what's that airplane?" as one of the dumbest things any human has ever written, ever.

951. Alt text: And if you drive a typical car more than a mile out of your way for each penny you save on the per-gallon price, it doesn't matter how worthless your time is to you--the gas to get you there and back costs more than you save.

Yet another comic in which Randy uses maths to prove that you're really dumb! How dumb are you? You're so dumb you think that saving money is worthwhile! Don't you know that spending less money is only worthwhile if it pays better than minimum wage? What, you mean you don't have a limitless supply of income from doing no work three times a week? What kind of chump are you?

Apparently in Randy's world, spending NINE WHOLE MINUTES going out of your way to save money is the dumbest thing you can do, because apparently every goddamned second of this life is precious and to spend it doing something like pumping gas is utterly demeaning! You could be out there writing about breast milk on Google + and making shitty chart comics about cancer for your webcomic! Life is too short to waste any time on saving money when you don't have to worry about saving money!

Listen, Randy, you worthless little condescending shit. Some people don't have the luxury of sitting on their ass all day to make a tidy income selling awful t-shirts and posters to awful people who want to identify themselves as fans of your awful comic so they can have awful conversations about your awful comic with your other awful fanboys. Some people "work for less than minimum wage" to save money because otherwise they would not be able to afford what they are buying in the first place--or buying it would make them unable to afford something else they want or need. Some people have to make tough financial decisions. (This to say nothing of the fact that a lot of individual savings--a dollar here, a dollar there--can really add up over time.)

And what kind of a stupid measure of worth-your-timeness is that, anyway? When you spend ten minutes to buy twenty dollars of groceries, you are paying sixty 120 [ha ha ha my bad -Ed.] dollars an hour for the privilege of eating!!! When you tip a dollar for the drink it took you a minute to get you are paying the bartender sixty dollars an hour!!! This is a fundamentally dishonest way of thinking about money, spending, and saving.

And just look at that fucking alt text. "No matter how worthless your time is to you"--as if that's the only reason for someone to spend a little extra time in order to save money. Because your time is worthless to you.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that Randy is using dubious math and dishonest statistics to prove that some useless aspect of his personality is actually desirable, but there you are.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Comics 948 and 949: Burning Randy

948. Alt text: And they both react poorly to showers.
Randy is jealous of his loser tech friends who have the money and free time to go down to Burning Man, a festival (?) which is populated mostly by sad tech people desperately trying to prove to themselves and others that they are wacky and fun.

file transfer
949. Alt text: Every time you email a file to yourself so you can pull it up on your friend's laptop, Tim Berners-Lee sheds a single tear.
This one has all of Randy's favorite vices in it. Dialog that in no way resembles how a human talks--let's imagine the conversation if we could actually hear what the other person was saying.

Randy: He can email it to--
Fred: It's 25 MB.
Randy: Oh, it's 25 MB? Do either of you have an FTP server?
Fred: No.
Randy: No, right. Well, we could use dropbox--
Fred: Actually he just drove over to my house with a USB drive.
Randy: Oh, he just drove over to your house with a USB drive?

Brilliant! We've also got a wall of text accompanying a completely useless illustration. Thanks for drawing a dude on a phone, Randy! There's NO WAY we could have figured out what was going for otherwise, you paragon of sophistication, you.

Next, Randy seems to think that a 25MB attachment should be a problem for most email services--gmail, at least, has a 25MB limit. Maybe it's slightly above that limit in size, but it would be a lot more compelling if the file size was something that was somehow difficult to deal with. Similarly, his reason for avoiding MegaUpload-style sites is that they're full of porn popups. Randy has consistently demonstrated that he doesn't seem to know that adblock exists--making multiple comics whose original filenames get blocked by adblock, and now acting like porn popups are insurmountable. This is especially odd since Randy brought us this comic. Perhaps he's stopped using it since then? But speaking as someone who has sent and received a lot of files using such services: they work fine, especially if you're only sending one file. AIM file transfers are sometimes flaky but are hardly worth dismissing out of hand.

And of course we have the captioning-something-that-doesn't-need-a-caption, Randy's old trademark. "In case you didn't get it, this was an incredibly nuanced depiction of the problems with sending large files over the internet. I know you were wondering what it was about."

Oh, and I almost forgot the meaningless name-dropping in the alt text! The inventor of the World Wide Web definitely cries when you . . . use web-based email to store a file for easy access on other computers, I guess? Because it wasn't an explicitly intended purpose of the web, even though "storing something for easy access on other computers" seems like it's more or less the entire point of the web? And using something in a way which wasn't explicitly intended is a bad thing which makes its creators weep instead of a clever way to get around some of the problems technology presents?

You're supposed to like these workarounds, Randy.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Comic 947: Randy's School of Investment


[Comic title: Investing; alt text: But Einstein said it was the most powerful force in the universe, and I take all my investment advice from flippant remarks by theoretical physicists making small talk at parties.]

Before we go into this comic, I'd like to point out that this is not the original comic that Randall posted. The number in the original comic was $1279, a number which is apparently in error (I obviously am far too lazy to check this sort of shit). I guess $1219 is the correct number, though. Good thing Randy takes the time to proofread and then inform everyone of his mysterious edits!

Now, the comic itself. It looks like Randy's really upping the sneering disdain for concepts he doesn't understand lately--this is two of the past three comics where he sets up a smugness strawman! This time it's investing. "Investing is dumb," he says. "If instead of investing $1000 you got a job writing a shitty stick figure comic thrice-weekly, you'd have way more money in ten years. I mean, I get a thousand dollars every time I sneeze, and I don't even have to try!"

Those of you who aren't some form of shelf fungus might have noticed that this is a false dichotomy. In Randy Land you can either invest, or you can try to make more money. It's impossible to do both! And since the return on a relatively tiny amount of money over time is also pretty tiny, it's better to just make more money, instead of relying on that whole investing stuff.

I'm not here to advise you on your investing future, of course, but the premise here (investment is dumb) seems rather flawed. Indeed, there is an entire segment of the population which makes its living entirely on investment. It's kind of a thing. Now, far be it from me to question the financial wisdom of Randall Munroe, who was totally a NASA PHYSICIST before he was a t-shirt salesmen, but I think it is worth observing that the ultra-rich, who are ultra-rich and have lots of money, invest.

This comic has, predictably, started plenty of nerd arguments about economics and maths, but none of it is interesting, except for the nerds who seem to think that you can get a guaranteed eight percent return on investments somewhere, which, where do I sign?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Comic 946: Bump My Sticker

family decals

[Comic title: Family Decals; alt text: My decal set has no adults, just a sea of hundreds of the little girl figures closing in around a single cat.]

This comic is so incredibly boring I'm not even going to comment on it, except to make this observation about the art:

It looks as if Randy has spent a great deal of time to make these cars, no doubt working from a photo he himself took. And yet there is something fundamentally off about them. They look acceptable, sure, but it is immediately apparent even at a glance that this is not the work of a talented artist; this is the work of a man who, given ample time, is capable of making something which looks acceptable.

Normally I'd say his gifts lie elsewhere, but unfortunately he hasn't yet demonstrated that he has any gifts to speak of, and like Marlow before me, I hate lies. They smell funny.

[Update: hahaha I linked the comic URL instead of the comic image, MY BAD]
[Further update: IT'S ALL FIXED NOW HAPPY?]

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Comic 945: We Didn't Start The Fire

[Demon hell-bird "Ravenzomg" sent me this review, and I, obviously, posted it without question. All errors are naturally not mine. -Ed.]

Title: I'm Sorry. Tooltip: You know I've always hated her

Hello, this is Ravenzomg of Ravenzomg fame here to give you a special post-it note review of comic 945. But really, it's less of a review and more of "Why the fuck am I awake at 2 in the morning".

Monday, August 29, 2011

Comic 944: Goodnight, Irene

hurricane names

[Comic title: Hurricane Names; Alt text: "After exhausting the OED, we started numbering them. When overlapping hurricanes formed at all points on the Earth's surface, and our scheme was foiled by Cantor diagonalization, we just decided to name them all "Steve". Your local forecast tomorrow is "Steve". Good luck."]

Since your friend and mine Irene recently visited the east coast, Randy spent some time reading about hurricane naming on Wikipedia. Being the sort of person who probably thinks of himself as a "hacker" because he knows what a programming language is, when Randy is presented with a new system, he tries to find the flaws in it, with all the grace and finesse of a three year old pouring his own milk. "WHAT IF THERE'S SO MANY HURRICANES THEY RUN OUT OF THE SECOND LIST" he found himself screaming at the monitor.

It was at this moment that inspiration struck. "I know! I can write a whole comic about how silly it would be! There could be a hurricane, um . . . EGGBEATER!!!" But there was the same flaw in his system: there are only so many words in the English language. (Three, at last count.) But Randy was already on the genius train bound for XKCD, and just decided to write that into the alt text. Because lulz, hurricanes cover the face of the earth!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Comics, Uh, 941-943, Maybe: TRIPLE FEATURE!!!

I'd have gotten these reviews up earlier but I got a new computer so I've been playing video games and having fun rather than paying attention to you fat slobs, but the time for that is over! Except it's not. Anyway:

941. On the whole this one was reasonably solid, though I felt it could have done without the whole pseudo-scientific explanation for his improved-perspective-goggles. He has yet to learn that when he's trying to rip off ASW he needs to be brief. But I'm sure I would have liked it before I devoted all of my waking hours to hating XKCD.

It's even started haunting my dreams.

942. Wouldn't it be wacky if when you threw juggling balls up in the air they just hung there instead of gravity working???

As much as I love absurdist fiction, Randy is terrible at it. The absurd isn't presented as any sort of commentary on life or reality, but instead as the point of the joke: "ha ha ha the balls don't fall down" (I know, I know). And then "well this book is dumb it doesn't tell me what to do when I can't reach my balls." Do something interesting with the absurd, Randy, and your comics about it might not be shitty.

943. Randy likes us to think that he is so scientifically-minded that when he is presented with a request, he interprets it as a scientific question. He does this because he is quirky and wacky and nerdy! I guess he's just going along with this marriage experiment because he is curious as to whether it will actually happen. It has nothing to do with the milky bounty that awaits him when he finally implants his hot porn star daughter in Megan's womb.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Comic 940: XKCancerD, Now With More Sex!


[Comic title: Oversight; alt text: "I felt so clever when I found a way to game the Fitocracy system by incorporating a set of easy but high-scoring activities into my regular schedule. Took me a bit to realize I'd been tricked into setting up a daily exercise routine."]

I guess Randy was reading through the ol' XKCD Sucks archives and remembered that SexKCD was a meme before XKCancerD was even a twinkling in his eye, so he went ahead and wrote about that, and Fitocracy, which I guess is one of those stupid "game your life" things that give you points for doing things.

The alt text is great because it highlights how dumb he is, and nerds in general: he's trying to game a meaningless system that doesn't have any accountability mechanism, and felt, his words, "so clever" when he figured out a way to get a high score in this system. Like he's outwitted it: "Ha, joke's on YOU, fitocracy, I can get a lot of exercise points and it's not even HARD!"

Nothing much to say here. This isn't a joke. This is stick figures having sex coupled with "what is the deal with internet fitness websites? They don't let me log my sex!!!"

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Comic 939: Randy Remembers The Old Times

[Hated hell bird "Ravenzomg" wrote this review. -Ed.]

Hai hai everyone, this is Ravenzomg of Ravenzomg fame to review XKCD #939 for you all! Or maybe I'm just some imposter, who even knows anymore.

Title: Arrow. Tooltip: 'The Return of the Boomerang' would make a great movie title.

So let's cut to the chase. This is just an awful brick joke. The joke is that there is a thing here from another xkcd comic why is that here that belongs in the other comic how can it be here oh my god oh my god so random wat.

Look guys at this other comic I did! And how awesome things used to be. Do you remember that???

So anyways, it's basically a non-sequitur that doesn't go anywhere interesting. "And suddenly boomerang!" for no reason at all.

This is my edit, which I think is more entertaining. TELL ME I'M WRONG AND ACTUALLY MEAN IT.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Comics 937 and 938: Cancer Comics!

So sorry for the delay, I was out of town.

937. Randy recently discovered that average user ratings are not always reliable. Shocking development, I know.

938. Cancer Comics returns! This time he's trying to make a funny, I guess? It's pretty bad, and not at all informative. It becomes increasingly clear the only reason he let everyone know about the cancer is not so he could Express His Pain but because his usual Wikipedia routine had suddenly become exclusively cancer-oriented, and he wanted to make sure people understood why he had a sudden fixation on cancer.

Also, what the fuck is with the art here? Every head in this comic is hideously misshapen, way more than normal. This is on top of the usual floating heads, heads that have been impaled on the neck, etc. And we have a guy who is standing there with a laptop and asking a dude without a laptop what the deal is with . . . the thing he's reading on the laptop?