XKCD Isn't Funny - #1745 - Record Scratch & #1746 - Making Friends

Do people actually wonder what a record scratch sound was? I don't even mean "Do people not know what records are?", I mean that by now a record scratch doesn't really mean 'the needle slipped on the record player', it's just the sound effect for a freeze frame. It's like when someone falls off a cliff in a cartoon and a slide whistle plays. It is, as TV Tropes would say, a Stock Sound Effect

This comic doesn't indicate it, but it was directly inspired by a twitter meme. That's why the comic is set up so weird: it's set up like a tweet: caption then image. 

What the comic SHOULD have done is have at least one panel of the guy being approached by the mob, and then a record scratch (with the sound effect in between the panels). Imagine it in your head, isn't that so much better? The way Randy did it, it feels out of order, it's a little bit confusing. 

Also, nitpick: music is still recorded on vinyl discs by hipsters some people, and vinyl sales are still a sizable part of the market. It's not a completely archaic technology as the caption kinda implies. 

So if they're having this conversation, they're friends, right? It doesn't seem to me like a conversation that two people would have as just acquaintances. So wouldn't that mean that Ponytail has already experienced Bald's attempts at friend-making? I don't think this is me being pedantic, I think this is a logical question to ask given the series of events we're presented with.

The fix for the weird paradox isn't even hard, just call attention to it and make that part of the joke. Cyanide & Happiness's "Sad Ending" short gives a good example of how to do it. If a work points out one of its flaws, that flaw is not a flaw that can be held against that work. (The way that the work points out the flaw can be, but let's not get into that now) It's like how you can't criticize Harry Potter for having magic, since that's the premise. They say "In a world where magic is real..." I don't say "Ha! Magic isn't real, your series sucks!", I have to say "Several scenes lose tension due to the lack of clearly defined rules for how magic works, etc."

THAT SAID, I do actually kinda enjoy the described scenario here, even if it is a little silly. It's cute! Just think about people slowly creeping towards a guy with a broken leg, when suddenly - "No one is sure why Uranus has a sideways rotation!" And all the predators halt for a second, and go "Hmm. This guy isn't so bad after all."

If only we had that visually presented to us. Oh well.

[page break]

Yo I'm writing this after watching Love Actually so forgive me if this is a bit sappy, but I wanted to say Happy Holidays to everyone reading this. Your comments honestly do perk me up and I sincerely hope that my Christmas gift to all of you will be a balancing out of my work and my college and my podcast and my music and this blog so I can give you regular updates across the board. 

Also, to the first reader of this post - your present is an iTunes gift card! The code is XVHV685WN9KV7JXP. (Hopefully this time it'll be usable in all countries)

I love you all.

- Greg


XKCD Isn't Funny #1742 - Will It Work? & #1743 - Coffee

I'm gonna have to trust this chart since the farthest I've ever gone down it is the package manager. I am a simple man, and I stick to what I know.

Yo, by the way (real quick) I don't know if this is a well known thing, but I remembered myself figuring it out in fifth grade and being really proud of myself and then my teacher fuckin SHIT on it! So like, the difference between 2^2 and 1^2 is three, (3^2)-(2^2)=5, and 4²-3²=7, and the difference between a square and the next highest square keeps increasing by two. And people get a lot of money when they discover new primes, right? Therefore I can use my thing to keep discovering new squares and become crazy rich, right? Someone hook me up with the email of whoever's in charge of giving out money to maths peoples.

Speaking of math! Back in my science class, I learned how to do graphs and this ain't no good. You gotta have little dashes that show where you are on the scale, even if you're not doing number specific things.

It also feels pretentious to say "code" instead of "program". (It is possible that I am just misunderstanding a difference in terminology) It's like those pretentious guys I've been told exist that say "film" instead of "movie" or "lobster" instead of "instant ramen". Some of us weren't born with a silver screensaver in our mouth, Randy!

There's probably a good joke somewhere in the idea of this comic, but a narrative structure would probably bring it out best. Maybe a guy's scrolling through snapchat or whatever the young kids are into these days, and he sees a code that only needs minimal tweaks, and then he's frustrated when those minimal tweaks turn out to take up years of his life. And that would even be kinda relatable; plenty of people have spent way too long working on something meaningless. The way this comic is presented, it's only relatable to coder people.

I haven't yet experienced this phenomenon, but I've been told (read: heard on a podcast) that there are these people you run into that really make a big deal out of not being able to cook. Like "Oh yeah, I burn water, I can't make cereal", like it's something to be proud of. The "I don't know how to adult" joke has kinda worn thin by this point. I'm all for understanding that we're all fallible humans and we're all just trying our best and all that, I'm less for celebrating not knowing stuff and wallowing in ignorance.

That's me reading too much into the context and whatnot, though. How does the joke stand up outside me whining about what the kids are doing these days? As it turns out, not too bad! Total is usually worth a chuckle,  and it is kinda neat in a gross-out way to see the chick horribly misinterpret the concepts involved in making coffee.

However, there are two huge Missed Opportunities in this comic. For one, it'd be way better if we saw them reading from a wikihow article or a cookbook or something. "Step 1: Poor the coffee grounds" and they just poor it out on to the floor. Ha!

The second M.O. (Mike Oldfield) is that we don't see the guests. This whole comic gains an extra dimension of sitcom hilarity if we have their guests are just in the other room, hearing these not-coffee-making sounds. Extra bonus points if we get to see the coffee actually being served, which makes the concept that people are going to drink this stuff more real and therefore more horrible and therefore more funny.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1740 - Rosetta & #1741 - Work

So the chick is all incredulous right in front of him, and he still believes her when she goes with it? It's also not clear that the other chick is whispering to her in the last panel, so it looks like he's just being willfully delusional.

Also, I am 100% not sold on this being a space center. I've never been in one, but I've been in a government type place once, and that shit had three television screens, on top of twenty-something computers. This isn't a dorm room, with a pair of laptops and a pair of desks, it's like NASA or some shit.

I like this comic, but I think it's kinda funny that the scene from his life he chose to show was just "plain drawer-less table with single lamp and cup of water". It might have come off a bit better if there had just been close-ups on individual objects. Or he could have gone the other way, and had a more zoomed-out shot of a room, with one caption per item.

This comic does retread #277 a bit, but it's okay because 1) it's been like eight years c'mon and 2) it's a notable improvement, no preachy author-inserts to be found. And it's just a cool thing to note, y'know? Isn't that the beauty of humanity, our ability to put passion into the corporate, to create meaning from meaninglessness, to argue emotionally about tiny, insignificant things?

I'd also like to point out that this comic also reflects the process that brings you this blog. Every individual word must be agreed upon and triple-proofread by me and all five of my consultnats.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1738 - Moon Shapes & #1739 - Fixing Problems

I'd like to point out that #4 depends on the viewing angle. Imagine you're laying down in a field, looking up. You see the moon like it's #3, but if you rotate your body around, you can see it like it's #4.

Also, #5 is still possible, right? It's just improbable, it should at least get a half checkmark.

It kinda annoys me that Randy decided to caption this "Interpreting the shape of the moon in art". Art doesn't have to be realistic, man! The fact that The Starry Night isn't astronomically accurate doesn't devalue it, it enhances it. The comic should have been captioned "A guide to drawing the moon realistically" or something like that.

#8 brings up an interesting thought: How much human habitation would it take for the light they generate to become visible from Earth? 'Cause the light we generate in cities is visible from near space, right? So it's like vica versa. Also how bright are nuclear explosions from space, realistically?

Anyway this comic isn't a joke, but it isn't really informational either. Like, doesn't everyone pretty much already know this? 90% of the time someone draws moon #6, it's just stylization. This comic really just comes off like Randy complaining that other people don't have the same standards that he does. NEXT!

This is just like that other comic, except without everything that made it good. With that comic, we saw the development of those problems, we felt his exasperation at the exponential disaster that was his computers, and then we got some decent art stuff at the end. This is just a tweet with art slapped on to call it a comic. The recursive phrase suddenly ending out midway is even a regular twitter joke thing (although I'm unable to find any examples at the moment). 


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1736 - Manhatten Project & #1737 - Datacenter Scale

Work's been pretty busy for me, it being December and all, so when my shift ended I headed over to McDonald's. And for whatever reason it took FOREVER to go through the drive-thru. After like, five minutes, I started singing "99 Bottles Of Beer On The Wall" and I got to forty-something before I finally got to the window to get my order. But here's the thing: when he handed me my bag, the guy was like "Careful, the fries are hot", which means that all the food was cooked fresh Just For Me. And when I got home it was the best McDonald's I've had since I was a kid. Anyway that's my excuse for being so slow with my updates lately.

This comic is pretty decent! I will openly admit that I chuckled the first time I read it. It has a really good flow; starting with the second panel, the non-dialogue 'montage' panels keep moving things forward (even if they are a little bit silly if you look at them), and then the last panel just brings things STOP, so we get shaken up through the pacing as well as through the narrative. It gives the joke a little extra 'ommph'. Missed opportunity, though: Having all the panels lead the reader's eye rightward through leading lines and such, and then we get a THIRD kind of upset in the flat end of the final panel.

I'm not really sure if the first panel is meant to be just XKCD's typical minimalist no-context starting panels (see the second comic reviewed in this review for example) or if it - and by extension the rest of the comic - are supposed to be making fun of people who say this. Are there people that say we need a Manhattan project to stop cancer? I wish XKCDs didn't have to be interpreted as much as they do, although I am totally bringing it on myself by looking this deep into the abyss.

Also, it's kinda funny that Randy would use such a generic 'TV science' type scene in panel when he's made fun of it in the past.

To quote Hamlet: "Words, words, words". The 'show don't tell' rule probably does get thrown around too much, but it has a point. A guy getting hit in the face with a pie is funnier than reading the sentence "A guy got hit in the face with a pie". This comic is acceptable, but if it was put in a more 'comic' format, it would actually be funny-funny, instead of just conceptually funny. 

That said, I like that there's a quasi- satirical point being made here. (That's a satirical point that's quasi, not a point that's quasi satirical.) Randy is, in his own way, sticking it to the corporations, who are so high up in their ivory towers that human workers are mere pawns to discard, and long-term stability is sacrificed for tiny immediate power grabs. 

Side nitpick thing, but where is this happening? Is this a datacenter CEO conference of some kind? Why is Longhair explaining her business to them if they're all in the business? It doesn't make any sense!