Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Comic 917: I'm So Meta, Fuck You

hofstadter

[Comic title: Hofstadter; alt text: "This is the reference implementation of the self-referential joke."]

I am obviously quaking in my boots at the imminent return and vengeance of Carl, who will return and find my works lacking and smite me and blah blah blah whatever fuck you.

Anyway, comic 917! This one quite obviously started with Randy coming up with the acrostonym* in question. It don't think it reads the way it's intended to, but I'm not here to take issue with this.

I'm here to take issue with the GOOMH-bait that is so obvious that even one of the fanboys in the previous comment thread noted it:


"Well _I've_ never heard of that guy, because I'm not XKChttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifD's target audience, therefore Randall is just being obscure again, GOOMH-baiting the nerds and trying to make them feel important about themselves for knowing who that is. Or he has a crush on one more obscure scientist, I can't decide. Maybe both. Also, porn star daughter Megan nipples har har!"


This was intended to invalidate the criticism by preemptively making it, of course, but the fact of the matter is, this is yet another comic where the entire humor relies on nerds recognizing the topic in question and then saying "lololol I know who that is too." It's exceptionally sad that the pandering is so bad that one of Randy's loyal fanboys is preemptively trying to head off criticism of it. (The irony here, of course, is that Douglas Hofstadter isn't really Randy's type of person--but props for finding someone who has an interest in self-reference, though! My guess is he went to the Wiki page on "self-reference" and noticed a name in the Examples section, and said "I guess he'll do.")
http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif
What really stands out here to me, though, is that this marks at least the third time he's put words in the mouth of a famous person. You have Zombie Feynman, Zombie Marie Curie, and now Douglas Hofstadter. (Let me know if I've forgotten any.) While this one lacks the preachiness of the first two, it does share the commonality that Randy is trying to improve his words by making it sound like they are not his.

It's not as bad as it's been before, but this isn't a coincidence. I think this is a sign that Randy is trying to write character humor. I've been noticing it lately: you have a strip featuring Black Hat guy where he doesn't do anything Black Hat Guy-esque--the only way we can tell he might be sarcastic is because he's Black Hat Guy. And then you have a strip with Beret Guy where he is pretty much entirely a passive character, and maybe if anyone could figure out what his personality is supposed to be it would be funnier?

Of course, this being XKCD, Randy actually pulling off character humor is about as likely as an Internet Atheist acknowledging that he's pretty much directly comparable in every way to your garden variety fundie, but these strips all give me this feeling, like he wishes that he were capable of writing in a rich, sustaining universe, where characters are dynamic and interesting and he isn't just writing author inserts and strawmen shouting into the void.

105 comments:

  1. The last panel here is striking. Our characters pretty much just say 'panel 2 is amazing!'.

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  2. yeah. it's all part of the "have someone else tell my joke, so I can have my characters praise it" motif he's going for

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  3. you're so meta, i bet you think this comment is about you

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  4. Panel 3, the new HA HA HA?

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  5. Another AnonymousJune 28, 2011 at 10:39 PM

    Astounding! Post 1 in this thread is basically saying "panel 3 is striking."

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  6. Spectacular! Post 5 in this thread basically says post 1 is astounding.

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  7. How telling. Post 6 in this thread basically says post 5 is spectacular.

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  8. Now that Carl is gone again, we have to suffer through more Megan jokes! Can't you write a single post without relying on Megan jokes?

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  9. Plato, Galileo, Newton and EinsteinJune 29, 2011 at 2:11 AM

    Geeks such as Randall Munroe are intelligent and witty. Those who follow and admire his work possess similar talents.

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  10. Gamal Abdul NasserJune 29, 2011 at 2:45 AM

    "This was intended to invalidate the criticism by preemptively making it"

    In rhetoric this is occupatio, exemplified in the agora of acuity that is 4chan by use of the phrase "in b4". In a related move, Randall claims terra nullius on the graves of every dead or dying academic of note.

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  11. Lololol, Rob pulls out his once-monthly actual attempt to write a proper review, while lacing it with passages that are supposed to reflect indifference, so that if anyone accuses him of being a shit writer he can say 'I don't care anyway, I wasn't even trying'.

    Rob, you're a shit writer.

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  12. Internet AthiestJune 29, 2011 at 6:31 AM

    I take a vague sort of offense at that last comment.

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  13. Anticipation has a habit to set you up
    For disappointment in evening entertainment but
    Tonight there’ll be some love
    Tonight there'll be a ruckus yeah, regardless of what's gone before

    I want to see all of the things that we've already seen
    The lairy girls hung out the window of the limousine
    And of course its fancy dress
    And they're all looking quite full on
    In bunny ears and devil horns and how

    Anticipation has a habit to set you up
    For disappointment in evening entertainment but
    Tonight there’ll be some love
    Tonight there'll be a ruckus yeah, regardless of what's gone before

    I want to see all of the things that we've already seen
    I want to see you take the jackpot out the fruit machine
    And put it all back in
    You've got to understand it you can never beat the bandit, no

    And she won't be surprised and she won't be shocked
    When she's pressed the star after she's pressed unlock
    And there's verse and chapter sat in her inbox
    And all that it says is that you've drank a lot

    You should bear that in mind tonight
    bear that in mind, yeah you should
    bear that in mind tonight
    Bear that in mind
    You can pour your heart out but her reasoning will block
    All you send her after nine o'clock

    Anticipation has a habit to set you up
    For disappointment in evening entertainment but
    Tonight there’ll be some love
    Tonight there'll be a ruckus yeah, regardless of what's gone before

    And she won’t be surprised and she won't be shocked
    When she’s pressed the star after she's pressed unlock
    And there’s verse and chapter sat in her inbox
    And all that it says is that you've drank a lot

    You should bear that in mind tonight
    bear that in mind, yeah you should
    bear that in mind tonight
    Bear that in mind

    You can pour your heart out around 3 o clock
    When the 2 for 1's undone the writers block

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  14. Just imagine if in the future, people put words in the mouth of Randall Munroe to sound clever.

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  15. At this rate, it's only a matter of time until Randall is using Zombie Nietzsche to tell a godawful superman pun. Calling it now.

    Did - did you get it you guys?
    I derided randall's habit of name-dropping to shore up his shitty jokes with a nerd reference of my own.
    Oh god I'm so clever

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  16. Randall, I am here from your future to tell you to stop publishing xkcd, and work on a new project. Also, get over Megan.

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  17. Just ignore the asshole anons, Rob. Every single one is just Ravenzomg, who is pissed off because nobody loves her like she wants them to.

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  18. I have all the love in the world, I'm just not letting it out of the basement until it atrophies.

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  19. The camera in your toiletJune 29, 2011 at 8:48 AM

    Why do I have Wimbledon on? I hate sport, but I always have Wimbledon on for 2 weeks in the background. I even sometimes pay attention to the men's final (women's tennis is boring as fuck).

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  20. It's a little bit depressing that Randall read GEB and all he got from it was "self-reference." I guess he ignored all the psychology, philosophy, and music, or even the more nuanced mathematics?

    As a sidenote, Hofstadter did a (not especially good) translation of Eugene Onegin; he also wrote extensively about Nabokov's (which was honestly even worse) in the foreword, but Randy thinks literary criticism is drivel so I guess he didn't read any of that.

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  21. @9:17: I'd be far more depressed if I had a shred of evidence that Randall was not an idiot but was just wasting his talent.

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  22. Man this comic from May that was like this one (http://xkcd.com/743) just reeked of personal experience. I wonder just how many times Randall's been called an autistic neckbeard IRL.

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  23. I'm the anon Rob quoted up there.

    I'm not saying this is an especially good comic, but it struck as especially obviously honest. I think this isn't really Randall being obscure. Of course, reasonable people can agree to disagree about this in the case of comic #917. But the point is, I feel that today it's impossible for Randall to say anything that's not part of the broadest pop culture without being called intentionally obscure here and GOOMH-baiting.

    (Likewise, it's impossible for him to say anything that won't provoke mentions of Megan's nipples and porn star daughter. If his work improved 400% overnight, this shit still wouldn't stop.)

    Randall is a computer and math geek, and it's fair to occasionally give him the benefit of the doubt that he might be genuinely interested in some geeky stuff and in sharing geek jokes with other geeks, as opposed to being some big phony all the time who just sucks up to geeks so they'd buy his posters.

    Computer and mathematics geeks _adore_ Hofstadter, and Randall is one of them. The probability that he really just found out about Hofstadter on Wikipedia is negligible. The very fact that Rob suggested that shows that he just doesn't know the math/CS geek subculture and just how famous Hofstadter is among them. Which is fine! I don't know a bunch of other subcultures I'm not in. But Rob automatically assumes that because Hofstadter is obscure to him, he must be obscure to Randall too, because god forbid Randall would have actual interests or know something Rob doesn't.

    I tried to pre-empt the review with this sentiment: "This is _obviously_ not being obscure and GOOMH-baiting. This is Randall being true to his history as a geek webcomic writer, a loving (if clumsy) homage to a hero, that he knows all of his old core readers will understand."
    "Aaaaand still! Still, even this will be described in those same old terms, because anything non-mainstream Randall could do would be described that way. Trek joke? GOOMH! Math joke? Obscure! Unix joke? Obscure and GOOMH!"

    You could take something similar as my standing prediction of all future reviews, based on the past: no matter what Randall does, there will be Megan nipples in the review, or something. No matter what geeky topic he touches, it will be only because he's sucking up to geeks. Look at it this way: I don't know what xkcd will post tomorrow, but I know what xkcdsucks will post. That tells me something about the latter.

    (I'm half-tempted to write a prediction of Rob's non-chalant, casually insulting, devil-may-care and boyishly handsome response to this comment too, but.... nah.)

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  24. Wernher von BraunJune 29, 2011 at 10:49 AM

    Is autism the only disorder where half the Internet population self-diagnoses and then considers that it makes them better than everyone else? What is the appeal of the condition? It's not like self-diagnosed sufferers even display the symptoms of autism - they just act like jackasses then use it as an excuse.

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  25. "The very fact that Rob suggested that shows that he just doesn't know the math/CS geek subculture"

    Lucky Rob :(

    [CS student]

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  26. I dunno man, I kinda think Randall deserves to be mocked for all eternity for the lactation comic. And the imaginary porn star daughter.

    Not saying Rob is some kind of paragon of wit for mentioning these things, just that when someone shits themselves in public you can't expect people to not mention it.

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  27. Wernher: it's sort of a weird geek pride thing. Autism makes you bad at things geeks don't think are important anyway, while (sometimes) making them good at the things they do care about. It's a twofold thing: they both have an excuse not to have any charisma or ability to read nonverbal cues and bragging rights about having an awesome computer brain.

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  28. The Right Honourable Margaret Cameron, PC MPJune 29, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    @10:49 "Computer and mathematics geeks _adore_ Hofstadter, and Randall is one of them."

    Wrong on both counts.

    (1) Hofstadter's one of those strange attractors of wannabes, the sort who are turned on by "look! it's beautiful! no, no, it's ok to be overwhelmed by the detail and the hard work - just - check out the beauty of it all!" He's not been an interesting mathematician for a long while, and he leaves a little of the same taste you get in your mouth after listening to one of Dwakins' tirades;

    (2) Randall has shown nothing to demonstrate more than a superficial understanding of either computing or mathematics. I'm a mathematics postgraduate and am confident that my ability in the subject would leave Randall in the dirt, but I am far from being a mathematics geek.

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  29. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Douglas Hofstadter is not obscure. For the record.

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  30. It is a scientifically proven fact that if you end your responses with a jaded, yet vague prediction of the other person's response, you automatically win the argument. Also, your penis and/or breasts become 400% bigger.

    In before the "I don't think it's ok" meme resurfaces.

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  31. Since when did saying 'in before' at the end of your comment become OK?

    I disagree with the opinion that it's satisfactory, or even allowable.

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  32. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Douglas Hofstadter is not obscure. For the record.
    ---

    "Pulitzer Prize-winning author Douglas A. Blackmon is not obscure. For the record."
    "Pulitzer Prize-winning author Caroline Elkins is not obscure. For the record."
    "Pulitzer Prize-winning author Herbert P. Bix is not obscure. For the record."

    Problem, anon 12:14?

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  33. I actually read Bix's book on Hirohito. Really good, by the way.

    Also I feel like Randall has mentioned or referred to Hofstadter and/or GEB at some point in the past, although I'm not going to dig through the archives for it.

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  34. ANN APOLIS, M.D.: REMEMBERING THINGS SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO

    http://xkcd.com/555/

    (alt-text)

    CATPCHA: nymesses. Randall is Rob's nymesses.

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  35. Margaret Cameron @12:12

    You won't deny that Randall has at least an interest in mathematical things?
    You won't deny that Hofstadter is popular among such people?

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  36. Margret Cameron @12:12

    You examine your surroundings. To the east is a tall door, coloured a deep red. Bookshelves line the northern wall. There is a LANTERN on the floor at your feet.

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  37. The Right Honourable Margaret Cameron, PC MPJune 29, 2011 at 4:16 PM

    Burn self with lantern

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  38. @10:49 - I don't think you understand goomhbaiting. It has nothing to do with the obscurity of a topic (nowhere have i called Hofstadter obscure--that's all you, buddy) and everything to do with nerds finding a topic exciting. name-dropping Firefly is goomhbaiting, and that's not obscure. to be goomh-bait it merely needs to be a joke where the humor lies pretty much entirely in the reference. rather than writing something funny, he is writing something that he knows much of his audience will be familiar with. if said in the right tone, fanboys will eat it up for no other reason than that they get the reference.

    (you might note, by the way, if you bothered to read, that the only mention of lactation or porn star daughters in the post is, in fact, a quote--by you, in fact! I really don't make them much anymore. the most recent mention of either was about three weeks ago. your criticisms of the blog would be on a lot more solid ground if they actually described the blog.)

    it's tempting to go into the various other ways in which you're wrong, but it's pretty clear you live in a fantasy world, and frankly you're not worth that much effort.

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  39. sorry Rob he predicted you were going to say all that and that makes it invalid

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  40. the best school of internet arguing is the one where you intentionally say stupid shit that you know people will call you out on, and then predict that they will call you out on it. because once you have predicted something it makes you smart and anyone who behaves according to your prediction dumb

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  41. Ann beat me to it. Randall mentions Hofstadter in comic #555 so he didn't just look for a name that fit his acronym. Also, even by itself, the phrase "I'm So Meta, Even This Acronym" would make me laugh.

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  42. just because you laugh at idiotic things does not make a joke funny

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  43. Wow, it's almost as if whatever Rob says, my future answer is always going to be the same? The self-reference is killing me!

    Rob, the fact remains that you will never give him a break. There is no reason whatsoever to doubt that Randall has actually read Hofstadter. He is actually exactly the kind of author Randall would seem to read, and yes, if you want it that way, feel smug about reading.

    The joke, good or bad, is actually about something from Hofstadter's writing, which _you_ don't know because you haven't read him (and that's fine) but to me it shows at least Randall knows what Hofstadter writes.

    But you are just married to the idea that he's always just sucking up to readers by finding stuff they'll recognize on Wikipedia. There's no way Randall would actually be interested in something.

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  44. I wish the other XKCD SUCKS came up on Google. I would bookmark it, but I don't want people to I view it. It's more embarrassing than the tranny porn sites I go to.

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  45. i've given randy a break plenty of times. again: you should probably actually read the blog if you're going to whine about how i'm soooo unfair to randy because you apparently think that i have never heard of or read hofstadter and you are incapable of understanding the difference between making a reference which helps a joke and making a reference which is the joke.

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  46. I think that things of which I am ignorant are obscure, too.

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  47. You must think a hell of a lot of things are obscure.

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  48. Hey remember that time when River said she was the ship and we thought she was the ship but then it turned out she wasn't the ship?

    That's the joke.

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  49. @5:13: No-one is making the straw men you're tearing down.

    Also, I don't think Randall is any more than superficially interested in Hofstadter: he has heard of him; he has perhaps read some stuff by him; he references him in conversation to sound smart; he goes back to drawing stick figures. But he hasn't looked at anything but his most popular/populist publications and he certainly hasn't written about him beyond goomh-bait references. IOW, he hasn't really thought about what the man has to say.

    This is merely a specific case of the general fact that Randall isn't any more than superficially interested in anything. He is just like the swathe of people on the Internet who muddle along through life pretending to be way smarter and more insightful than they really are. These people have contributed and will contribute nothing of note. They're obnoxious and aggressive, though some may internalise their feelings and end up emo.

    (TBH, I could see Randy losing it on a lover and then using a Hans Reiser-style justification for his general behaviour while what he's really saying is, "This is why it's OK to murder women." Beneath his veneer of female-worship lies a thoroughly patronising chauvinist. In fact, the only way we might stop Randy from writing comics is to send a sacrificial lamb then alert the authorities of the inevitable. I suggest ALTF.)

    captcha: nesseat. And this is why you'll never find a Nessie in the zoo.

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  50. You're just referencing Hans Reiser as GOOMHABP bait.

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  51. Latest comic is terrible, but I'm undecided as to what I hate more out of Google's utter disdain for my browsing experience and Facebook's utter disdain for my browsing experience.

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  52. Rob's Obese Belly Is So Fat And Turgid.

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  53. I remember turning 8 and from then on I was simply not impressed by acrostic poems.

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  54. June 30, 2011 10:30 AMJune 30, 2011 at 2:30 AM

    @2:13 You're not in Randall's target audience for two reasons.

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  55. @2:3

    Flatulent dotard, posting
    Under anonymous titles,
    Citing the life he led as a
    Kid.

    Offering insights that nobody wants--
    Forever
    Farting.

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  56. Latest comic is of the Scribblenauts / Minecraft variety of 'hey, guess what I just found?' comics. They're among my least favourite xkcd strips; all goomhrbait and pandering, no comedy or attempts at insight.

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  57. June 30, 2011 1:07 PMJune 30, 2011 at 5:07 AM

    @3:47: Like 2:13 said, it stops being clever when you reach 8.

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  58. "....I am obviously quaking in my boots at the imminent return and vengeance of Carl...."

    You need not fear through tremulous agitation the threatening return of the prodigal. He be a spent force - a gin-soaked popinjay whose time has passed.

    "What though the radiance
    which was once so bright
    Be now for ever taken from my sight,
    Though nothing can bring back the hour
    Of splendour in the grass,
    of glory in the flower,
    We will grieve not, rather find
    Strength in what remains behind;...."

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  59. Aphrodite, very flighty, chasing young men in her nightieJune 30, 2011 at 5:37 AM

    "Read a thesaurus:
    Memorise a few alternatives...
    ALTF"

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  60. Carl himself realises what he has lost through the passage of time, and his return here sounds hollow and forced, as though he were trying to convince himself that all is not gone. Try as he might, a touch of nostalgia about the glory that was, of the splendours of the past, will creep in. The grass remains splendid, but the keen-eyed and now chastened young man who had felt it earlier is no more.

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  61. BP once dated a girl named "Aphrodite Theodosakos".
    He said she was a bit hairy.

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  62. Google is taking on Facebook again via a beta product launch that's invite only? And I'm supposed to be excited about this? Because that worked out so well last time. Facebook only has 750 million users, but Orkut has Brazilians.

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  63. Like Orkut, Ravenzomd and I also have Brazilians.
    Now that is something about which you should be excited.

    Innit?

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  64. Ann Apolis, conversely, sports an 'Argentine', rather than a Brazilian, for purely political reasons. That and after mistaking Maradona's dressing room for Madonna's he now shags sheep in the Malvinas Isles while collecting Exocet parts for fun and profit.
    He also believes the 'Hand of God' goal was just that.

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  65. So I see, there's a new blagpost up now explaining all the family illness stuff...

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  66. Take my love
    Take my land
    Take me where I cannot stand

    I don't care
    I'm still free
    You can't take the sky from me

    Take me out
    To the black
    Tell them I ain't coming back
    Burn the land and boil the sea
    You can't take the sky from me

    There's no place I can be
    Since I found Serenity
    You can't take the sky from me

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  67. So I see, there's a new blagpost up now explaining all the family illness stuff...

    His fiancée has breast cancer? That opens up so many opportunities for jokes that would make us terrible people...

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  68. Angel of the NorthJune 30, 2011 at 11:21 AM

    Quoth Randall: In October my fiancée was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer. It’s rare for young women to get breast cancer, and she’s otherwise healthy and has no family history, so it was a real bolt from the blue."

    Let me be the first to say it: if you didn't try to alter nature to force your fiancee to lactate then she wouldn't have cancer. You only have yourself to blame.

    captcha: caremo: I couldn't.

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  69. There is a god and he smote terrible, perfect justice on Randy.

    captcha: bearno: this one's for Gamer_2k4.

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  70. hahahahaha
    breast

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  71. Careful!
    Karma's gonna come and bite all you cunts in your respective scrota.
    Mark my words.

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  72. The Beautiful SouthJune 30, 2011 at 12:05 PM

    @ALTF Karma already worked to bite Randy. There is no negative karma in pointing out the effect of karma.

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  73. The wicked witch of the WestJune 30, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    If the set of deities is entirely random and capricious, it doesn't really matter what I do.

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  74. If!


    Laconic to the max, Innit?

    Perhaps the young woman is of an Ashkenazi pedigree and carries the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation.
    We should be supportive of her despite what we might think of her choice in men.

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  75. I'm going to say it myself: it is wrong that I laughed out loud at Angel of the North and Anon 11:43's posts.

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  76. Schadenfreuderrific cunts!
    The lot of ya!

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  77. What the fuck kind of comic is 918? It doesn't even tell me how Google+ compares to Wikipedia.

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  78. Karma's still gnawing at my respective scrota.

    I don't even know what I did to deserve it.

    Fuck karma.

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  79. HEY ALT-F!

    It would really make me happy if you'd join #xkcd-sucks on foonetic k

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  80. You have more than one scrotum?

    My kinda guy - makes for strong tea!

    P.S.
    BP tells me Karma is not worth fucking. Dharma, her sister, on the other hand is quite dutiful and a pleasant diversion.

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  81. Hey, I've just found out that 'Randall Munroe' is an anagram of 'Man all-rounder'. It get's better, 'Rob Mason' is an anagram of 'Rambo son'. And Gamer_2k4's real name is an anagram of 'Bash dreary jaw'. Sorry, Gamer.

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  82. ALT-F, 2:27 is right! Come join us using this

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  83. I just wasted 10 minutes researching Foonetic.
    As much as I live to make Anonymous cunts happy, I cannot join.
    I would never join a 'network' that would accept the likes of me. Besides, the place appears to be riddled with spotty, unlettered adolescents.


    And 'cunt' is an anagram for 'cunt'.

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  84. The only thing new in that blog post was that they are engaged -- I thought she was still his "girlfriend".

    Neato.

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  85. Thank You Kitten!
    I went there, signed in as 'Aquarians8', but my posts were under the weird name you gave me. Then they went to bugweiser.
    I will try again on Saturday

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  86. Aquarians8 seemed to work.
    Off until Saturday

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  87. 918 was pretty good.

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  88. Hello Aquarians, my darling doppelganger. Looks like the favour has been returned.

    Innit?

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  89. I hope you die in a fire

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  90. UndercoverCuddlefishJune 30, 2011 at 4:43 PM

    i feel bad for randys fiancee

    not only does she have cancer but she is engaged to randall munroe

    life has not been kind to her

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  91. ^ See, it's comments like that that make me love this blog. I know, it's a guilty pleasure.

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  92. Randall daily spends fifteen minutes of grueling mental effort in his bedroom to secure the future of his family. Also sometimes he has sex.

    Also, there is no God, and animals never had a war. Who're the real animals?

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  93. Ants are. They have wars all the fucking time. Sometimes they even enslave each other.

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  94. i saw a dog rape a chicken the other day

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  95. Dolphins will sometimes capture and kill baby porpoises. Scientists were perplexed by this behavior, as it seemed to serve no purpose. Eventually they discovered that its purpose was practice for capturing and killing baby dolphins.

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  96. Still funnier than an xkcd stripJune 30, 2011 at 11:55 PM

    @7:38:

    So you could say that the behaviour had a...

    *dons sunglasses*

    porpoise.

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  97. One day, I shall bring children into the world; and they shall inherent ... shitty reviews on a comic that may or may not be obscure in the next few years, that will matter little regardless, and people who comment on said review, including myself. What a wonderful world they shall have.

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  98. I'm so Meta I comment on you posting on my comment on your post and claim you're bringing up a topic by quoting me bringing it up. Get out of my head!

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  99. This was intended to invalidate the criticism by preemptively making it, of course

    ... and simultaneously making it clear how dumb the "criticism" is, and fundamentally rooted in emotional insecurity

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