Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Comic 879: OMG I JIZZED

[ugh. here's your fucking guest post -Ed.]

Hello, this is Ravenzomg of Ravenzomg fame!

I was going to dress up this post, make it all pretty and formal, but I find that I'm just not up for it -- so we'll make this quick.

Title: Lamp. Tooltip: 'That was definitely not in my top three wishes.' 'Who said anything about YOUR wishes?'

So Randall shot this out, and while it's not the prettiest it still goes down alright. I could even be convinced to like it, if I were into this sort of thing.

I'm not going to spew warm lies everywhere, because I like it classy, candles burning and dim lights and crap. This? This was quick and dirty, but at the very least it gets down to business without hesitation. It doesn't leave a sour taste in my mouth, just something... cheap, like those salted snacks you buy at convenience stores for twice what they're worth. They're all show, and they're done before you even realize you'd opened up the bag. But that's how life is, isn't it?

Four panels:
(1) Enter scene, a man and the mystery!
(2) As we all do, he rubs the mystery hoping for a pleasant ending
(3) In a moment of surprising ecstasy, the mystery produces something foul
(4) The man is filled with doubt, anguish, or disgust.

Simple formula, familiar concept of the man-and-lamp, with a gross subversion. Did I expect that? No. I did not expect Randall's finish so yes, my expectations? Subverted.

Randall got lucky tonight, in that his conscience forbade him from using words. There's the onomatopoeic "Splort", but his splort can be forgiven him. Just picture this comic with something like "Oh look, a lamp!" or a second character that says, "If you rub it, maybe a genie will come out!" or in the last panel an "ew!" or something. Randall did NOT do this -- he SHOWED and did not TELL. So give him points, gentleman and lady! Randall used his medium, communicated everything correctly, and did not include Post-Punchline Dialogue!

Before you let off a load of complaints, I will preemptively unclothe the matter at hand: panel four. Now, Randall uses these Void-Creatures for his Creations, and they are faceless -- this is a rule. So the "reaction" lands in our eyes and we're left blinking in minor confusion. We know what just happened, but we're still left wanting... is it anguish here? Disgust? Confusion? Who knows? We never will. We'll always be left wanting, because that is just the medium we've chosen to observe here.

I'd also like to point out the spectacular imagery of the lamp: Panels 1 through 3 it rises logarithmically into climax, until the 4th panel where it is suddenly left flaccid and dangling, spent: The joke has been forced out of the comic.

Oh, and the tooltip: not awful. It seems dangerously close to explaining a joke that didn't need explaining, but it adds the more entertaining idea that not only does the lamp extrude fluid, but that it WANTS to do so. Because, you know, otherwise wanting would have nothing to do with this.
So, final mark of 8/10: Creative, lacking finesse.

Also notable: I think this has created the greatest potential for goatkcd ever. Seriously, Randall can never one-up himself in that regard. Ever.

Oh, and Rob wanted me to include a Megan joke so:

Inb4 That's what she said.

Squeeze hard, hold that pose
You know I like it -- do it!
Sweetheart, I'm the boss
And when you get close to it
I'm gonna make tonight a show (oh, oh)
I'll make your love grenade explode (nanana!)


Monday, March 28, 2011

Comic 878: Randall Makes a Strong Case Yet Again for a Picto-Blog

[Look at all these guest posts. It's like it's goddamn Christmas or some shit. -Ed.]

Hey all, it's Gamer_2k4 again. I didn't think I'd be making another guest post so soon, but I had to say something after seeing Comic 878. Not only does it have potential, but it's clear that Randall spent more than his usual five minutes on it. The comic could have been great, but it was destroyed by none other than Randall himself. Because of that, this review won't be bile and snark, but rather a lamentation for what could have been.

If you haven't seen the strip itself, don't go to xkcd.com just yet. Let's start from the other side, by looking at the good parts before they were ruined. That means stripping out the ugly stick figure panels at the top and bottom and focusing on the middle.

Look at that! It's not bad! It's remarkably well-drawn for being in a minimalistic comic like xkcd. It conveys visually the concepts that Randall is trying to explore. It's showing, not telling. And honestly, I think it's interesting stuff. Sure, any mathemetician could tell you that recursively scaling something down will shrink it quickly. Honestly, any of us could probably figure it out in no time at all. But it's the sort of thing that never really occurs to you until you're confronted with it. Randall's confronting us with it, and he's doing it in a very compelling manner.

Let's throw out the fact that Randall was inspired by Wikipedia yet again. Don't worry that he expressed the concept simply, rather than in an excessively geeky manner like the guys at xkcd sucks reboot offered. Instead, realize that he only used seventeen words with the six detailed pictures and succeeded admirably in conveying this idea to his audience.

Carl often spoke of a picto-blog that Randall should make, where he explores his interesting ideas with illustrations and descriptions, but WITHOUT trying to force in humor where it doesn't belong. I fully agree. Want proof? Take a look at the comic again, this time with Randall's attempts to be funny included.

Okay, right away this is stupid. The basement is ugly, the stick figures add very little (especially note panel 2), and perhaps most importantly, NO ONE gets that excited about making 1/87 replicas of furniture and the like. So, in this top row, we have several staples of xkcd that give us a reason to continue this blog: poor (not minimalistic, but poor) art, unrealistic dialogue, unnecessary elaboration (the parenthesized "1/87"), and a rather notable lack of humor. And yet, these three panels could still be a strip by themselves! A joke, or at least an attempt at a joke, exists (the implied "you didn't think this through because making a true scale model would recurse indefinitely"), there's no post-punchline dialogue, and and the joke itself is implied, rather than directly stated. It's not Randall's best work, but it's certainly not his worst. For a moment I had thought those three panels WERE the comic strip today. As it turns out, they were just an unnecessary lead-in to the actual content.

The final bookend is far worse. The notion that you even have to have a rule like "no nesting" is retarded (though perhaps not necessarily unwarranted, given the characters that populate xkcd), and the
Fight Club reference is the worst sort of humor: the type that expects you to laugh in recognition rather than because it was particularly witty. (I do give him credit for subverting it to say "yeah we suck and our families are sick of it," though.) Randall is trying to salvage two things that don't need to be salvaged: a standalone comic and a standalone picto-blog entry. The three components together form an unfortunate amalgamation where the sum is less than the parts, and it's further ruined by title text that doesn't really add much and is little more that an admittance of "I'm pedantic, opinionated, and I get my ideas from Wikipedia."

RANDALL. We've been over this before. Get an editor so that someone can tell you when you're destroying something good. Don't force yourself to work and rework your comics to death, and don't try to inject humor where it's not needed. You have plenty of comics that are supposed to be interesting, not funny, so why not just go with that?

It's strips like this one that remind me that sometimes, you're a pretty bright guy. You have interesting things to say from time to time, and you're occasionally more than a creepy, unfunny stalker. Work with that!

Make the picto-blog, Randall. Please.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Comic 877: Sciencegasm

[Hated hell-bird "Ravenzomg" wrote the entirety of this review, including this editor's note. -Ed.]

This comic is not entirely fallacious, but if you think about it as an allegory it is phallacious
Title: Beauty. Tooltip: The best hugs are probably from hagfish, which can extrude microscopic filaments that convert a huge volume of water around them to slime in seconds. Instant cozy blanket!

Hey ya, this is Ravenzomg of Ravenzomg fame, because Robyn apparently cannot find his keyboard amongst the cavern that houses his large mass. This "guest week" turns out to be a Gamer_2k4 sandwich with slices of Ravenzomg for bread, apparently.

So, let's get to business!

For ease of reference, we have three characters: Strawman, Anti-Scientist, and Biologist. If you don't know who is who, I cannot help you.

I'll try to go back and forth between good and bad things to make this seem "balanced". Or, keeping with the "theme", making this a review sandwich. As opposed to a sandwich review. Although, if you really are curious, Ham + White Bread + Marble Cheese -->toaster oven --> Delicious. Anyways, enough about my day.

Let's start with the art.

Pro: There's colour, and the art is serviceable. The slime mold is a bright yellow, instantly allowing us to seperate it as something that is not just her "hands". More than that, "research" tells me that some slime molds are indeed yellow sometimes. This is good -- we can follow along, and XKCD's minimalist style doesn't ruin the "joke".

If you're reading this you won't be able to eat omelettes for a month

Con: Look at the Anti-Scientist in panel four. What is she doing? She's looking towards Strawman's knee, and her posture indicates relaxation, despite her apparently yelling, "oh god, it's moving!" It's not as if the meaning is lost here, since the dialogue makes it pretty clear. But this is just bizarre, and the more I think about it the more I wonder WHY is she like this? As evidenced in panel 3, he knows how to show shock with these Void Creatures, so why not replicate it in panel 4?

The closest I get is that he's trying to show "cringing", but if so... well, wrong medium/wrong implementation.

But all in all, Randall's succeeded in (a) picking a comic appropriate for his style and (b) not messing up the art in his style to the point of confusion. So points!

Now then, my real problem... Strawman. He says nothing, and basically never moves. All he does is lean in closer to Anti-Scientist, as if he were going to kiss her, or smell her hair. It's weirding me out. So let's take him out of the first panel, storing him in the last panel, and we see why he's there. Anti-Scientist needs someone to talk to. And I mean, really, from what we can gleam from this character she's RIGHT in his case. This man doesn't seem to appreciate beauty or anything on account of his being a weird, silent, staring thing that may or may not actually be alive.

That or the mold is intimidating him, making him lose turgidity
Look at that! All he's done is SAGGED DOWN a little bit.

No, this third character isn't WRONG but again, it's awkward and I feel that he could've worked this around without Strawman.

Alternate interpretation: Anti-Scientist is conversing with a literal dummy, and Biologist in her excitement over molds doesn't notice this. Done.

Okay, and the actual message: The view that scientists rob the world of beauty through calculation and analysis is pretty antiquated, and honestly I haven't seen anyone communicate this in years. If anything, Randall's presentation of scientists through Biologist is (a) more accurate and (b)more fitting with society's general view of scientists: eclectic and overly excited over trite stuff in their fields of study, a sort of genius disconnected from the scheme of reality to better focus on their topic of choice.

Most of my friends went into science, and people who actually are passionate about it (as opposed to "well, it's supposed to pay well") generally find some obscure niche and love it to death. But seeing as this comic is intended towards science-steering people, I hardly see what the point of confirming the "oh we are all so quirky in a delightful way!" trope beyond tautologically, except as a sort of back-patting group hug, a validation for eccentric obsessions that 95% of the audience has in quantities rivaling the number of times they've read the XKCD archives completely. I haven't checked the forums and don't plan on it, but I'm sure it's full of "Goomh, my friends totally look at me funny when I talk about [Subject 13]!"

And as someone who calls Zerglings cute, I can sympathize with her on the last matter.
I<3The_SwarmHonestly, these things are adorable, just like every other Hive creature.

And I appreciate his sentiment, that he's already said before: the World is full of some fucking awesome stuff if you look for it. But he's already said this, and #877 doesn't add much.

The "joke" is as trite as the material: Biologist-A surprises Anti-Scientist by being excited over her ugly subject of study. It's not original, and it's not particularly funny -- it's just GOOMH bait.

The "punchline" is, structurally, the realization/exposition that "Scientists [...] DO see wonder and beauty in everything". But really, the subversion occurred in panel 2 where we find out, "oh, it turns out that scientists actually do see beauty everywhere", and this "punchline" feels like a cheap tooltip explaining the joke to us.

But conversely, this is all "set up" and the actual joke is that Biologist thinks (a) the mold wants to hug Anti-Scientist and (b) this is cute. At the best it may make you half-smile, so that is alright I suppose.

But, to end this angry sandwich with a sweet slice of positivity, he took a concept related to the XKCD mission statement of Romance, Hilarity, Science, and... crap, can't remember. Crap? Crap. Yeah. And he made a comic that is clear and sciencey. Functionally this comic is pretty okay, but that's the heartless student of economics in me speaking so you can make your own Judgement.

7/10. Followed the instructions, lacking exceptional effort or innovation.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Comic 876: Randall Tries To Reference Liberal Arts Concepts (And Fails)

[The two thousand and fourth gamer ever to live sent me this, a guest review for 876. -Ed.]

Socrates could've saved himself a lot of trouble if he'd just brought a flashlight, tranquilizer gun, and a bunch of rescue harnesses.
Hi, Gamer_2k4 here. Normally I'm content to simply comment on bad xkcds, but I felt that this one deserved its own post. Since it's clear that this comic is simply just a failed attempt to write a setup to a bad punchline, let's start by examining the "joke" and go from there.

First of all, it's clear that Randall doesn't understand the Allegory of the Cave, or, if he does, he assumes that we don't. Plato's Cave is about how true reality is unwelcome at first, but once you understand it, you see how foolish your earlier delusions were. It's NOT about the nature of existence and the mind's relationship to the outside world. The notion of a "search and rescue" team is redundant, since that's the whole point of the allegory (bringing people into the light).

On that note, the alt-text is downright retarded. The issue was never getting the people out of the cave. That's a foregone conclusion. Even if you tranquilize them, experiencing the light is still going to be unpleasant once they wake up. Any removal from the cave is going to be unwelcome, and tranquilizers won't change that.

And look! I haven't even gotten to the rest of the comic! It's taken two full paragraphs to properly trash the idiotic idea that Randall tried to form a trainwreck of a comic around. The major point of failure is the operator herself. Her dialogue is unnaturally constructed purely to move the comic along. There's no way she could discern the guy's incoherent babbling that quickly, and the fact that she does proves that the setup is poorly thought out and just awful in general.

Then there's the caller. In just four short panels, he goes from not being able to see or comprehend the outside world (a feat strangely at odds with his ability to call and communicate with other people) to simply being unsure that it represents a reality and not a simulation. This seems odd for someone who's self-aware to the point that not only does he recognize he's a brain, but he also knows that even that is simply an organ in a larger body.

There is not a single redeeming quality in this comic. The characters, the dialogue, the supposed punchline, and the alt-text are all downright awful. I get the feeling that Randall, in a rare trip to a "soft science" like philosophy, got a half-formed idea for a "joke" but just couldn't pull a comic together around it. You know, for all the flak he gives the liberal arts, Randall sure tries to use and reference them a lot. Perhaps if he bothered to study them, his comic wouldn't be such a constant pile of garbage.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Comic 875: Self-Awareness Is Not His Strong Point

[Satanic hell-bird "Ravenzomg" has sent me this review. Maybe it's good. -Ed.]

Title: 2009 Called./// Tooltip: 2017 called, but I couldn't understand what they were saying over all the screams.

Hello everyone, this is Ravenzomg of Ravenzomg fame.

Now this comic is made by Randall Munroe which makes it intrinsically sweet and worth 5 stars by itself, but once I actually read it, that's when the magic happened. After checking to ensure that I was in fact still in this reality, and not in some Randall Munroe fanfic fantasy again, I looked around to make sure that no one would be upset by my raucous laughter. Satisfied that I was indeed in isolation, I let my laughter erupt like a volcanic explosion, threatening the shoddy construction jobs of my bookcases, bookshelves, and bookholes. So awesome was this comic, I decided I simply had to print it out and put it on a shirt this instant! And so, after recovering from the laughter, I did just that with the assistance of an iron (which I call "Randall") and my printer (which is called "Randall") and a white shirt (which I call "Randall").

I proceeded to dare the sunlight (after recovering from the second round of laughter originating from a glimpse of the comic, now on the shirt), understanding that I had to share this joy with more people than the internet could reach. So walking outside, I ran into a girl with glasses on, and our eyes happened to meet. The woman (for she certainly was not just a girl) looked at my shirt and knew from the stick-figures on my shirt that I, like the stick-figures, must be a witty, intelligent romantic who knows how to 'Have a good time' from time to time (if you catch my drift!). The women that approached me wanted to know if I would be her soul-mate and/or give them money for something they called "septuple integration". I told them no, because they didn't have near enough acne, and frankly someone with an XKCD shirt shouldn't settle for the first thing that comes forward.

I arrived at the comic book store, and instantly darted straight for the D&D section (The trading card geeks are such drags!) purposely standing away from those divine books of wisdom so that my stick-figures would show. While I was browsing through used dice (they were all D12s), I could hear aroused asthmatic breathing behind me. I turned around to see a slightly sweaty dream in sweatpants standing there. The geek told me that XKCD was the greatest and how I was, by association of my shirt, also the greatest (but less so than Randall, I corrected), and I was told that the geek wanted to "stick" my "figure". I was offered a swig of mountain dew, and I shuffled with the geek waddling alongside out the door and into the rest of our lives. Thank you XKCD.

Pros: Features witty retorts and cultural references barely seen in today's modern age.
Cons: My shirt will no longer be timely as of Wednesday the 23rd, as it will be supplanted by another diamond of hilarity.
Randall Munroe is too hilarious -- my shirt may cause someone to suffocate with laughter.
My shirt makes me sexually attractive to all humans -- too many options.

In conclusion, pretty sure we were all waiting for this. Mmmm yeah....


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Comics 873 and 874: A Journey Into The Past

873. As is Randy's wont, he was enjoying some of the fine art of "video games" one fine evening, "fragging" the various "avatars" of his opponents. He did not feel that he was particularly good at it, but his opponents kept calling him a "nub" whenever he killed them, which he assumed was a good thing. But the mind of a genius can never turn off, and neither can the mind of Randall Munroe. As someone using the built-in voice chat protocol logged in and sounded disturbingly feminine, he had a breakdown.

Any one of these people could be a woman, and I've been KILLING them. And--oh God--what if one of them was MEGAN???????

Thinking about the possibility that he might be doing violence to women sapped all joy from the game. But of course, the popular internet blog "xkcd is frequently less than ideal and we would like it to be better" often calls him out for his white knighting. Of course! If you were forced to remember that people are human, and have real stories and quirks, you would hate playing FPS games! Mindless violence is terrible! Especially against women!!! I'M SORRY, MEGAN!!!!!!

874. I admit I have a seething disdain for people who obsess over "life hacks" like this. Far too many people I've known focus on these things. I used to hang out with people who name-dropped things like "inbox zero" and talked about how they managed their productivity all the time, and it was utterly loathsome.

So on some level I can get behind the sentiment here--these people are terrible and need to be mocked. But, as with most of Randall's satires, it doesn't mock, it merely presents something he thinks is ridiculous. "What if those productivity people just fuck around all day? LOLOLOLOL"

Not funny, Randy. I realize you're incapable of developing characters or offering insightful commentary, but could you at least make an effort?

EDIT: Oh yeah, here is a fellow who is posting webcites of new XKCDs as they come up, so we can preserve his errors forever: http://xkcdwebcited.blogspot.com/

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Comic 872: Grimm's Calculus

fairy tales

[Comic title: Fairy Tales; alt text: Goldilocks' discovery of Newton's method for approximation required surprisingly few changes.]

As you all know, Randy is particularly fond of correcting errors in his comics without so much as a comment noting his previous error. This extends to adding a "Zing!" to the end of alt texts which are widely seen as being unnecessarily elitist, though not, apparently, to adding Hey Jude to his shitty chart comics about Hey Jude.

I've always roundly mocked Randy for this tendency before, because it's funny, and other webcomics people who occasionally upload errors usually acknowledge them somewhere, even if it's just on their Twitter streams. But I've never felt that it was really that significant before. It's just a minor, stupid thing.

Then came today's comic.

The image above is a copy of the original comic. Reproduced below is the corrected version.

corrected comic

What the fuck, Randy? I mean, I know you don't bother proofreading, but do you not even fucking look at your comics before uploading them? Just a fleeting glance should have told you something was hideously wrong here. But you don't even have time to do that?

But notice that the blocking of the text is different. It almost looks like this was a deliberate stylistic decision--it's hard to imagine how he could make an error of something so colossally stupid. See how the "Dammit" moves, for instance. Was this deliberate?

Not much to say about the comic itself. No doubt in response to assertions that Megan of the Bountiful Milk is always used as an insert to be the voice of truth and perfection, here she is doing something which is moderately unreasonable, but in a way that is delightfully quirky (and, no doubt, utterly arousing to one such as Randy, Math Enthusiast).

This comic might have had merit if the joke weren't merely Randy taking random words from fairy tales and replacing them with random terms from mathematics, and then providing a narrative for why this is happening. Wasn't there a time when there was intelligence to your jokes, Randy? Not just LOLRANDOM juxtapositions that have no reason to be juxtaposed?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Comic 871: Strong Anti-Social Tendencies


[Comic title: Charity; alt text: "I usually respond to someone else doing something good by figuring out a reason that they're not really as good as they seem. But I've been realizing lately that there's an easier way to handle these situations, and it involves zero internet arguments."]

In the previous post, I touched on the fact that Randall appears to have some deep psychological hangups with regard to altruism and his own cynicism. Indeed, much of the idiocy of yesterday's comic, as today's comic (specifically the alt text) proves, came mostly from the fact that Randy is unwilling to accept that people are altruistic. Or even remotely well-meaning. As he says in today's alt text, he tries to think of a way that, when someone does something good, they aren't actually being good. This is severely disordered behavior. Randall is actively looking for ways to think less of people around him. And people accuse me of being too harsh when I say that he is a disingenuous asshole who tries to make people not-him look bad in order to make himself appear smarter.

Randy's disordered interpersonal interactions aside, I'm not seeing a joke here. The format is basically Randy justifying his misanthropy.

Panel 1 has Generic Guy #1 saying "I'm going to buy a ten dollar game, and then donate ten dollars to charity!" This is completely normal behavior for a human who likes entertainment but also likes charitable causes.

Panel 2 has Megan Of The Milky Nipples, Who Can Do No Wrong, making a false dichotomy: "if you really cared, you'd just donate all your money to charity. It is impossible to simultaneously care about a cause and want to play video games, so state your true loyalties, you dishonest fiend."

Panel 3 has Generic Guy #1 telling Generic Guy #2 that he's just buying two video games. He has made his choice: that choice is video games. He has followed the dictates of Megan Of The Milky Nipples (who, incidentally, is completely naked in this comic) and found himself lacking, but at least now he can play two games!

This isn't funny. If it weren't for the alt text, it would be one of those comics one quickly dismisses as boring and ultimately forgettable. But with the alt text, it takes on these really ugly notes of cynical misanthropy. I don't have much else to say but: you need help, Randy. You don't have to live this way.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Comic 870: False Advertising

mathematically annoying

[Comic title: "Advertising"; alt text: "I remember the exact moment in my childhood when I realized, while reading a flyer, that nobody would ever spend money solely to tell me they wanted to give me something for nothing. It's a much more vivid memory than the (related) parental Santa talk."]

You'd better be fucking happy, Randy. You've finally produced a comic with so many blatant flaws I'm writing an actual goddamn review of it. Are you content now? Are you at ease, now that you have a few days where you can attempt to replicate what Megan's milk must taste like without being pestered about how creepy it is? Fuck you, Randy. Fuck you.

Let's start with the first panel, shall we? This one is annoying for the same reason 169 was annoying. Most notably: nobody actually uses that phrase. He's combined "up to 15% off all items!" and "save 15% or more!" into one utterly retarded phrase. Randy, you see, is a disingenuous fuck. He desperately wants to seem like someone who is smart, so he creates situations in which people do things which bother him, because he is smart and they are not.

The second panel is what really pisses me off, though. It's dumb on so very many levels. First, this isn't a mathematical complaint. Randy is trying to leverage game theory here to prove some trait about human behavior. This is about as stupid as it sounds. The biggest problem, apart from the fact that game theory is not, in fact, a hard-coded law of human behavior, is that the game Randy has constructed is flawed. It seems to assume that the only form of expected value possible is monetary.

The basic assertion he's making is that people don't pay money for advertising unless they expect to recoup that money somehow. He feels that this is somehow disingenuous of advertisers to call it "free." And he thinks he has proven this mathematically. This is phenomenally stupid, given that Randy is a webcartoonist. While perhaps he is ignorant of this fact by virtue of spending about 95 percent of his brainpower imagining what Megan's nipples look like, webcartoonists are (a) offering a free service (b) pretty keen on buying advertising for that free service. Most of them, no doubt, are hoping to make money off their webcomic eventually, but I imagine a large sum of them are just interested in getting viewers. They are buying advertising because they expect that it will net them more readers--even if these readers do not make them any money whatsoever. I know I've considered buying advertising for my personal projects, which have no advertising and which will almost certainly not make me any money. I would only do this because I like having readers, not out of any desire to have money.

I'm not going to list all the various and sundry things that people spend money on advertising that are free. There's lots, though. This second panel is just another disingenuous attempt at Randy to pass off his incredibly poor understanding of human nature as some piercing insight into how the world works, or some savage denunciation of the treachery of the advertising industry. "How dare you claim that the things you aren't charging any money for are free, when you expect to recoup your losses through other means!"

The last panel--well, I wasted all my rage on the second panel, so it's hard to get that annoyed at it. I mean, sure, Randy's statement is incorrect: while there is a sale on, the more you spend at that time will save you more in the future, provided you were going to purchase those items anyway and provided you don't alter your rate of consumption because of buying in bulk. But he is right in suggesting that the principle is misleading, though, again, it's not because of any sort of mathematical property. It's just because sales are meant to exploit various bits of human psychology that mean you'll buy things you otherwise wouldn't. But if I'm saving $20 on an item that I just purchased, if I buy six of them I just saved $120 on those items. The more I spend on them, the more I save, as a flat rate. (Percentage-wise, of course, it remains the same, and as it applies to the money I personally have, the more I spend the less I'm able to put into savings, but that's not what "save" means here.)

And of course he has to point out that the slope is negative. Good one, Randy! COULDN'T SPOT THAT ON MY OWN.

I feel a momentary twinge of pity for Randy when I read the alt-text. Maybe he just remembers it because of one of those weird quirks of memory, but he makes it sound like he remembers it because it was a life-altering experience. "That's the moment I became a cynic," he seems to be saying. (Though he's probably the sort of dick that uses the word "realist" instead, the useless fuck.) "That's the moment I came to understand the world."

I can understand a child finding that an interesting revelation. I'm sure I thought that companies gave away free things just because they were really cool, and not because they thought it would improve customer loyalty or make money. But to look back on that moment as something profound is kind of sad.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Comic 869: You Can't Always Get What You Want

attention span

[Comic title: Server Attention Span; not reproducing the alt text because it's long and I'm lazy]

Randall is a man of simple desires. He wants to touch the hem of the Cheetos-stained garment of a genuine programmer. He wants to spend all day reading Wikipedia and Reddit. He wants someone to tell him that he is beautiful. He wants to slurp the delicious fluid secreted by Megan's delicate pink milk buttons all the live-long day. As simple desires, Randall expects that the universe will have no difficulty accommodating him.

But, as he is too often reminded, such as when Megan inexplicably starts running as he approaches with a cry of "MILK" on his lips, sometimes a man is desired even these desires so fundamental to his being that one might even call them "needs." And it is brought home to him too often for even his damaged mind to ignore: Megan, the object of his infinite desire, is too often the agent of his rejection as well. She denies him what he wants! She denies him what he needs! There is only one way to describe her treachery.

She is like a poorly designed server that misinterprets his requests and sends him to the wrong webpage!

Having finally built up the courage (or milk-lust) to shout these words at her (through the internet, of course--Randy no longer leaves his warren, not even on a milk quest), Randy entered a swoon, and on coming to, the clock flashed at him ominously. Only an hour left before he had to post a new comic!

But all he could think about was the amazing zinger he had hurled at Megan just now. That was pretty clever, wasn't it? He should write about how annoying it is when stupid Megan doesn't understand his milk requests and instead sends him to the main page of his despair. That would show her!

This took him about ten seconds. The rest of the hour was spent painstakingly drawing wiggly geometric shapes that were meant to be computers and smartphones.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Comic 868: No Diamond, Just Rough

[Self-proclaimed heroic troll "The_Autodidact" has sent me this guest review. I haven't actually read it so whatever. -Ed.]

nolan chart

THE PLACE: the bedroom of a one-man apartment, somewhere in Massachusetts.

THE TIME: Thursday, March 3, 2011, between the hours of 11 PM and 12 AM

A young man sits alone at a desk, watching his favorite video series: an internet atheist who makes video responses to Youtube comments written by creationists. He chuckles as the video comes to a close. “Looks like science once again has triumphed!” he says aloud. He closes the tab, opening the one for Facebook. It is, of course, on her page. The one who denied him. The only one who didn’t appreciate his genius (Besides that one fatass). The one who never laughed at his sex jokes, even when they were about her. The one who, for reasons he could never fathom, seemed offended by his constant requests to drink her breastmilk. That ungrateful bitch. Doesn’t she know how great a compliment that is? He is of course not her “friend”, and can unfortunately not see her pictures, but the very sight of her name makes his penis turgid. He can’t help himself. His hand, seemingly of its own accord, slowly works its way into his stained briefs.

“OK, no more mister sadsack,” he says as his tearful masturbation sessions comes to a close. “Time to remind the world that you are Randall Motherfucking Munroe: Internet Comedian”. He pulls up Weechat and reads through the last few pages of his favorite chatroom. He cracks his knuckles (taking a moment to laugh at all the gullible fools who have never read Wikipedia’s “list of common misconceptions” and believe this causes arthritis) and delivers a barrage of witty one-liners, one after the other. Chortling at his own wit, he copies the brilliant zingers and posts them on his favorite fora, for posterity’s sake. He then opens up TV Tropes Wiki, his second-favorite wiki ever. He reads through trope after trope, guffawing at his fellow tropers’ wit, or at least what is left of it after the fascist admins decided the wiki should be a Wikipedia clone. He comes across a familiar article, and notices something missing. “The page image”, he shouts. “They changed it, those damn bastards! I had uploaded that image myself, as it was my favorite comic! Wait a minute. Oh no, the comic!”

He suddenly remembers the comic, that thing that makes it so he doesn’t have to go to (or goto, as the case might be. He snickers as he writes that one down for later) work like some kind of common pleb. He pulls a sheet of white paper out of his printer and gets to work on the latest t-shirt ad. “OK Randall, you can do this alright,” (he stops to laugh at the thought of all the pedantic English majors squirming at his misuse of the word, if only they could hear it) “Just put something down and I’m certain something will come to you”. He haphazardly scrawls the first shape that comes to mind: a diamond. (Being a scientist, of course, he knows it’s just a square rotated 45 degrees, not a carbon crystal. Silly plebs.) “I always can fall back on a chart,” he says, and draws an “x” to denote it as such. “My audience, being geeks, of course loves chart humor. It takes a sophisticated mind to appreciate. Now what could this be? A Punnett square? No, I of course already made fun of biology yesterday. But who else does use this kind of chart? Wait, libertarians! That’s it!” He scrawls the word in his semi-legible print in the top quadrant. “I am sure many of my compatriots have encountered libertarians who care about charts! So obviously that makes the first axis ‘politics’. The next one can be…meta humor! Yes! Something that only sophisticated geeks like myself can understand! The other axis is ‘people who like diamond-shaped diagrams’! So that puts libertarians at top, other politicians on the left, but who else cares about diamond-shaped charts? Wait! What’s that thing that jocks like, that is on a diamond-shaped thing? Base…ball? Yes! ‘Baseball’! Now for the last quadrant. Um…people who don’t care about politics or diamonds….screw it, I’ll just put ‘other’! There! Now all that I need is a title. What are those charts called again?” He browses Wikipedia until he finds the article in question. “Yes, Nolan charts! That’s perfect! Surely no lowly sheeple will be getting THIS reference!” He scans the comic, cleans it up in Photoshop, and uploads it onto his site. “Oh Randall” he says, shaking his head in disbelief at his own brilliance. “You are definitely a genius!”

PS: Ayn Rand was an incompetent hack and all libertarians are BASICALLY sociopaths. Discuss.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Comic 867: Herp Derp

[Hated hell-bird "Ravenzomg" just sent me this review that someone wrote on a blog claiming to belong to noted doppelganger-haver "Capn" but also pretending to be the blog of the aforementioned hated hell-bird "Ravenzomg." Pretty boring as far as elaborate frauds go, but whatever. -Ed.]

[Obvious doppleganger troll made a post and now I'm submitting this to Rob because because, look! I apparently wrote it without even noticing! If it's not entertaining, I had nothing to do with this, unless this was particularly awful then the doppleganger was probably channeling its inner Ravenzomg. -Ravenzomg]

Alt text: Birds are Aves, which is part of the clade Theropoda, which is in Saurischia, which is in Dinosauria. Those birds outside our windows are dinosaurs. We can clear out the rest of our brains because we now have the best fact.

It's clear from this comic that Randy has discovered phylogenetics and evolutionary biology. Good for him! It's about time he widened his knowledge base beyond maths, physics and out-of-date pop culture.

Unfortunately for Randy, he only found out about phylogenetics and failed to research it to any depth. There are a number of rather telling clues to this:

1) He says that lizards should be folded up into ornithology. Why not any other reptiles? Because Randy believes that lizards and reptiles are entirely interchangeable words, that's why.

2) He is making a reference to the contention between paraphyletic and monophyletic classifications, but he has picked 'herpotology' as the battleground, a discipline that has obvious reasons for studying the groups they do.

3) Notice how you need little to no knowledge of evolutionary biology to understand this comic? The geek references are spoonfed to us this time.

4) He acts like the whole 'birds used to be dinosaurs' is new, groundbreaking knowledge, rather than something first proposed in 1868 and known to any fucking child who took more than a passing interest in Jurassic Park. You know, geeks. How has this little tidbit of info passed by someone so goddamn obsessed with raptors?

Kudos to him for passing up the opportunity to draw a close-up diagram of genital herpes, but he again frustrates us by taking a fairly funny idea (cladistic insults) and giving it a terrible, half-baked execution. Why two conferences? Why not one with an audience member supplying one side of the debate? 'Assholes' and 'douchebags'? Why not science it up a bit, give the Latin names or use something more creative?

Because he's a lazy motherfucker, that's why. Like Rob.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Comic 866: Randy's Life

[I was unable to chase away noted Satanic carrion fowl "Ravenzomg", so instead I forced it to write a review. -Ed.]

Tooltip: The Greeks long suspected this, but it wasn't until April 12th of 1882 that Ferdinand von Lindemann conclusively proved it when he constructed himself the most awesome birthday party possible and nobody showed up.

Good morning my precious pets! This is Ravenzomg-58 with your latest fix of magnificent Randallian secretion!

This, my dears, is efficiently magnifiglorious. Don't let the simple style fool you, Randall truly understands how to show mood and tone [and sometimes both!] in his comics.

First, look at the posture of this faceless Void-Creature. Despite being expressionless and utterly featureless beyond his accessories-du-jour [as my Viking ancestors said], we can tell the dejected and completely vacuous hole that is formed within his soul! This creature, my friends, is crushed not by great mass [as would have occurred were our own Robyn to attend the Geometer's party], but by the great emptiness that is his friendless existence!

Now before you rush to the "GOOMH, Randall, I too am a friendless machination!" that I know you frail-but-well-read creatures must be thinking, let us continue on this journey into Randall's tangible brilliance!

Look at the off-centre* stickman, and the white Void left in the Creature's absence --- not only does Randall tell us of the Creature's loneliness ["tell"] he also demonstrates [or "shows"] it to us; he both shows AND tells! Brilliant. Just brilliant.

Now then, before you rate this a 9/10 for brilliant-but-lacking-secret-codes, beware you foolish children! For secret codes do prance amongst the Great Randall's words like fauns in the forest, waiting to surprise you at a moment's notice with a joyous reunion between the dreamer and the dream!

Unlike the common avian specimen, your delightfully brilliant Raven[zomg!] had noticed a trick in Randall's otherwise functionally florid prose. There were altogether too many Es in this note, which I recognized as statistically too many even [for Mathematics are also among my trades, besides Language, Sarcasm, and that other thing] for that luscious letter which we use with relish every time we mention our beloved Void-Creatures.

So, having discovered this quirk, the message was dissasembled, the letters scattered and reörganized into their proper meaning, the musings of our Genius Man-God!

Behold, my children, the wisdom and questing queries of the troubled wise man we have come to worship at our alters!

Is damp disco still free, my Lord? Only those who have left this existence truly know; only they will know.

*Fuck you, America!

Love and stuff,