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?