2016-12-03

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!