0722: "Computer Problems"

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coolguy5678
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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby coolguy5678 » Fri Apr 02, 2010 11:08 am UTC

The number of years it takes for the Internet to move past anything is way, way over 9000.
This is going in my signature.

suzi
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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby suzi » Fri Apr 02, 2010 12:22 pm UTC

mattme wrote:
CAGE wrote:Didn't find it all that funny.

The pioneers of computer science were almost all women (eg. Shannon) and the field continues to female-dominated - more girls than boys study it at university and household names like Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Twitter invariably elect female CEOs. In Hollywood witty and intelligent female geeks fix the problems of their ignorant (but sexually attractive) male friends who are pathetically useless with computers. Insultingly, when consumer electronics are marketed to men, they condescendingly appeal to stereotypes - adverts show men using the devices to repair cars, plan fitness regimes and watch porn. Shamefully, all-female design departments occasionally produce 'male' models of the devices - no different in functionality but appearing in metallic colours and phallic in shape.

In the comic, a guy patronises a girl to talk about his computer, the converse of the cultural stereotype.


I love you.

Also, girl = cat.

Lounge
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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby Lounge » Fri Apr 02, 2010 12:24 pm UTC

This got a huge smile out of me, and I'm not quite sure why. It's pretty simple, but it reminds me a lot of everyone I've ever helped with a computer problem.

Thumbs up.
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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby Pen_Bird » Fri Apr 02, 2010 12:35 pm UTC

This is how I explain computer problems to my wife!

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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby obzabor » Fri Apr 02, 2010 12:36 pm UTC

"You know this combination of lights, sounds, smells, tastes and sensations we get all the time?"
"Yeah."
"I spend all of my life providing motor and voice outputs to make the pattern of sensations change however I want"
"Sounds good."
"But today, the pattern of sensations is ALL WRONG!"
"Oh God! Try moving around more or saying something!"
"It's not helping!"

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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby Seventh Child » Fri Apr 02, 2010 12:49 pm UTC

This comic hit the nail on the head so hard that I signed up to the forums just to say DAMNIT!

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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby aghagh » Fri Apr 02, 2010 1:07 pm UTC

Based on the alt-text, I assume the characters in this strip are Gary Seven and Isis.

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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby uncivlengr » Fri Apr 02, 2010 1:23 pm UTC

Compare this to comic 676, in which he intentionally makes computers sound complex and serious... now they're just "rectangles" with blinking lights.

What's the point of this? That it's not the purpose that computers serve that's important, but the means by which they serve that purpose? That because a high order process can be broken down into simpler, mundane processes, that high order process is somehow less important?
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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby woktiny » Fri Apr 02, 2010 1:30 pm UTC

guyy wrote:The number of years it takes for the Internet to move past anything is way, way over 9000.

Fixed that for you.

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hotaru
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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby hotaru » Fri Apr 02, 2010 2:42 pm UTC

richdun wrote:
The Scyphozoa wrote:"my friend Catherine usually seems happier than I," Randall.


You can use either "than I" or "than me," depending on your preference. Some find "than I" to be more correct because the omitted verb "am" completes the thought, while others stick to "rules" about prepositions and objective case pronouns. As with most "rules" concerning grammar, neither are wrong, and both are right. Ugh.

there is no preposition in that sentence.

Code: Select all

factorial product enumFromTo 1
isPrime n 
factorial (1) `mod== 1

cparker15
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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby cparker15 » Fri Apr 02, 2010 3:02 pm UTC

uncivlengr wrote:Compare this to comic 676, in which he intentionally makes computers sound complex and serious... now they're just "rectangles" with blinking lights.

What's the point of this? That it's not the purpose that computers serve that's important, but the means by which they serve that purpose? That because a high order process can be broken down into simpler, mundane processes, that high order process is somehow less important?

It's even crazier than that... Prepare yourself, because it's a doozy. The point was to be funny.

(By the way, IT WORKED.)
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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby Malina » Fri Apr 02, 2010 3:11 pm UTC

Surely your cat would be delighted to help you press more buttons?

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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby CobaltMouse » Fri Apr 02, 2010 3:12 pm UTC

obzabor wrote:"You know this combination of lights, sounds, smells, tastes and sensations we get all the time?"
"Yeah."
"I spend all of my life providing motor and voice outputs to make the pattern of sensations change however I want"
"Sounds good."
"But today, the pattern of sensations is ALL WRONG!"
"Oh God! Try moving around more or saying something!"
"It's not helping!"


YES!

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uncivlengr
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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby uncivlengr » Fri Apr 02, 2010 3:27 pm UTC

cparker15 wrote:It's even crazier than that... Prepare yourself, because it's a doozy. The point was to be funny.
What's funny about it, though, pointing out that people are so concerned with a trivial series of blinking lights? Nobody's concerned with the elementary mechanics of a computer's function, they're concerned with whatever task they're trying to perform with it.

If someone's car broke down on the side of the highway on their way to some important engagement, you don't say, "who cares, it's just a bunch of metal," and if you do, it's not particularly funny.
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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby kernelpanic » Fri Apr 02, 2010 3:32 pm UTC

So bashing my keyboard may actually work? It's still just pressing buttons...
uncivlengr wrote:
cparker15 wrote:It's even crazier than that... Prepare yourself, because it's a doozy. The point was to be funny.
pointing out that people are so concerned with a series of blinking lights? Nobody's concerned with the elementary mechanics of a computer's function,

The blinking lights are the point of a computer. What use is it if there is no output, after all?
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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby uncivlengr » Fri Apr 02, 2010 3:54 pm UTC

kernelpanic wrote:The blinking lights are the point of a computer. What use is it if there is no output, after all?
The "point" is the operations performed through the input/output - I don't use a computer to observe blinking lights, or maniuplate electrons, I use it to do things. I'm not using my keyboard here for the sake of pressing keys, I'm doing so to communicate ideas in this forum. The manipulation of these plastic keys is trivial, but the higher order function it serves isn't (necessarily).

The comic reminds me of a comedy sketch in which a person denigrates the notion of being a fan of sports teams - the notion that wearing a sports jersey and shouting at your television serves any actual purpose outside of itself is silly, despite how seriously people take it, and there's humour in pointing that out.

On the other hand, observing lights coming from a computer monitor does serve the purpose people expect it to - I'm not deluded in thinking that the light represents ideas that you've communicated by pressing plastic keys on your computer, and you're not deluded in thinking that pushing those buttons communicates your ideas to me.
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hatten
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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby hatten » Fri Apr 02, 2010 4:50 pm UTC

I registered 10 minutes ago, this is my first post, this comic is awesome, but I mainly registered for the sake of finding hidden stuff in the cli :D

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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby Rat » Fri Apr 02, 2010 5:18 pm UTC

uncivlengr wrote:Compare this to comic 676, in which he intentionally makes computers sound complex and serious... now they're just "rectangles" with blinking lights.

What's the point of this? That it's not the purpose that computers serve that's important, but the means by which they serve that purpose? That because a high order process can be broken down into simpler, mundane processes, that high order process is somehow less important?


you feel bad for this computer.
that is because you crazy!
it has no feelings.
or are you the liberal arts major?

ghotiful
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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby ghotiful » Fri Apr 02, 2010 7:53 pm UTC

phillipsjk wrote:Ok, now we need a "Liberal-Arts major" to give their impression.

There's a book in this. When she addresses him as God, it's two volumes. Seriously, don't get me started.

(Definitely one of my top favourite xkcd comics.)

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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby cowsarenotevil » Fri Apr 02, 2010 8:18 pm UTC

hotaru wrote:
richdun wrote:
The Scyphozoa wrote:"my friend Catherine usually seems happier than I," Randall.


You can use either "than I" or "than me," depending on your preference. Some find "than I" to be more correct because the omitted verb "am" completes the thought, while others stick to "rules" about prepositions and objective case pronouns. As with most "rules" concerning grammar, neither are wrong, and both are right. Ugh.

there is no preposition in that sentence.


"Than" is often considered a preposition, and there's no reason for it not to be a preposition. It doesn't matter, though; either way, it's not at all clear whether it takes a nominative object or not. I see absolutely no reason to say that "than me" is wrong.

aaroncampbell
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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby aaroncampbell » Fri Apr 02, 2010 8:57 pm UTC

mattme wrote:The pioneers of computer science were almost all women (eg. Shannon) and the field continues to female-dominated - more girls than boys study it at university and household names like Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Twitter invariably elect female CEOs.


I don't meant to detract from your point, but if are referring to Claude Shannon, the founder of Information Theory, he was a man. He is one of my intellectual heroes.

There certainly have been many female CS pioneers. Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper, Eva Tardos, and Adele Goldberg are on my list of genius geeks, and there are many more. But there have been quite a few men as well that you would disserve by leaving out, so saying that the pioneers were almost all women is not really accurate. Also, the companies you mentioned have never had women CEOs. Their current CEOs:

Apple: Steve Jobs
Microsoft: Steve Balmer
Google: Eric Schmidt
Twitter: Evan Williams

Perhaps you are thinking of HP? Carly Fiorina was the CEO there from 1999-2005, the first female CEO of a DJIA (Down Jones Industrial Average) company. I hope there are more, and applaud any women who are going for such jobs. Corporations are definitely male-dominated, and I believe the prevalent business models and mindsets are likely to be suboptimal because of that.

Personally, I'm not sure the CEO role is a great fit for most true CS pioneers, regardless of gender. I know I wouldn't want it! The focus on profit, publicity, and business management would be exhausting, and a distraction from more interesting intellectual pursuits, research, and invention.

Anyway, loved today's comic. The lights are mostly doing what I want them to today. :-)

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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby Czhorat » Fri Apr 02, 2010 11:06 pm UTC

aaroncampbell wrote:
mattme wrote:The pioneers of computer science were almost all women (eg. Shannon) and the field continues to female-dominated - more girls than boys study it at university and household names like Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Twitter invariably elect female CEOs.


I don't meant to detract from your point, but if are referring to Claude Shannon, the founder of Information Theory, he was a man. He is one of my intellectual heroes.


I think Mattme's post came from an alternate reality in which gender roles were reversed.

So far as the comic is concerned, it didn't really work for me. Computer use isn't about "patterns of lights" but the information symbolically represented by said patterns. It would be like comparing a book to squiggles of dark ink on white paper. The comedy sketch to which uncivilengr referred does something different by addressing the content. I see pretending not to understand the function of communication to be too trite to be very funny.

Oh, and I vote for "happier than I" - as in "happier than I am". "To be" is a "linking verb" that takes two nouns. If you say, for instance, "my friend Catherine is happier than your cat", it becomes very clear that the pronoun should be the subjective sense because we're obviously replacing a noun.

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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby Imposter » Fri Apr 02, 2010 11:27 pm UTC

rawli wrote:I think there's a stylistic reference to HHG2G in there aswell.
http://www.clivebanks.co.uk/THHGTTG/THHGTTGradio12.htm
The man who lives in the shack, rules the universe and talks to his friend Catherine...


I'd just popped in to comment that that Cat must be called "The Lord". Great minds... fools...

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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby The Scyphozoa » Fri Apr 02, 2010 11:42 pm UTC

richdun wrote:Of course I create an account to post on a grammar bug report.

The Scyphozoa wrote:"my friend Catherine usually seems happier than I," Randall.


You can use either "than I" or "than me," depending on your preference. Some find "than I" to be more correct because the omitted verb "am" completes the thought, while others stick to "rules" about prepositions and objective case pronouns. As with most "rules" concerning grammar, neither are wrong, and both are right. Ugh.

The implied verbs are in parentheses:
You like computers more than I (do).
You like computers more than (you like) me.
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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby GRLCowan » Fri Apr 02, 2010 11:59 pm UTC

Once, watching Star Trek on a grey-scale TV, I saw an antimatter bomb destroy a planet. The screen got 30 percent brighter. If a cat had been watching, he might not have been able to ignore the fast-moving bright dot that, unnoticeably to me, was all that was actually shining at any instant.

But that has changed with LCDs, where each part of the picture is continuously lit and the dynamic range is more than 1.3. my friend Catherine made this very plain when he happened to see a dog we both knew on one. Later, when he saw himself, his nostrils flared. When he saw the view out the window of our old apartment, he immediately looked at the window of our new one.

So most of it's senseless light patterns to cats, but not all.

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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby boring bore » Sat Apr 03, 2010 12:40 am UTC

Malina wrote:Surely your cat would be delighted to help you press more buttons?

Not according to this thread.
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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby calico » Sat Apr 03, 2010 1:14 am UTC

I actually felt the sudden burst of perspective hit me in the face :shock:
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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby BioTube » Sat Apr 03, 2010 2:44 am UTC

Czhorat wrote:Oh, and I vote for "happier than I" - as in "happier than I am". "To be" is a "linking verb" that takes two nouns. If you say, for instance, "my friend Catherine is happier than your cat", it becomes very clear that the pronoun should be the subjective sense because we're obviously replacing a noun.
Not most of the time, in my experience - "it's me", "is it him?", etc; what Randall wrote sounds right while your "correction" sounds wrong(or at least antiquated) to my ears. Language does march on.
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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby SirMustapha » Sat Apr 03, 2010 2:51 am UTC

cparker15 wrote:It's even crazier than that... Prepare yourself, because it's a doozy. The point was to be funny.


Ah, yeah, SURE, because it makes you really funny and COOL when you make everything else look dumb.

Yes, I have considered the fact that most of the time I'm merely watching tiny lights on a screen. I have also considered that most of the time I'm just responding to little vibrations of molecules against my tympani caused by things moving around. I have also considered that all my life I have been doing everything just to change the photons that hit my eye from a particular position. And all the time, the conclusion I have arrived at was "Thank goodness I have a brain".

Oh, look, across the street there is a big construction made of blocks of stone and clay organised in a way to make cubic spaces in which living people dwell, but right now those blocks are falling out of their position and the spaces are losing their shape, lol, I'm a comedic genius.

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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby myfaceaccount » Sat Apr 03, 2010 3:49 am UTC

I present the following model to assist the grammatical analysis of the alt-text.
analysis.png
alt-text analysis

Born2killx
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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby Born2killx » Sat Apr 03, 2010 5:12 am UTC

I love how this comic was put up on the same day I became A+ Certified.

Thank you, Randall! :D

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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby wigglyworm91 » Sat Apr 03, 2010 5:58 am UTC

Randall, you may stay inside my head, just make sure to sign the log-sheet when you come in next time.

I was just thinking a while ago that with all of our talk about "objects" or any other buzzword you care to name, our job still boils down to making sure that the right pattern of lights appears on the box at the right time. Sort of demeaning, really.
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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby Quaternia » Sat Apr 03, 2010 6:47 am UTC

Just dropping a line to say how awesome this comic was. The last 10ish comics hadn't made me laugh, and I was afraid my sense of humour had changed (I can see why the others liked them, mind you; just not my type of joke). This one was thus very reassuring :mrgreen:
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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby kernelpanic » Sat Apr 03, 2010 3:25 pm UTC

uncivlengr wrote:
kernelpanic wrote:The blinking lights are the point of a computer. What use is it if there is no output, after all?
The "point" is the operations performed through the input/output - I don't use a computer to observe blinking lights, or maniuplate electrons, I use it to do things. I'm not using my keyboard here for the sake of pressing keys, I'm doing so to communicate ideas in this forum. The manipulation of these plastic keys is trivial, but the higher order function it serves isn't (necessarily).

On the other hand, observing lights coming from a computer monitor does serve the purpose people expect it to - I'm not deluded in thinking that the light represents ideas that you've communicated by pressing plastic keys on your computer, and you're not deluded in thinking that pushing those buttons communicates your ideas to me.

But you're pressing buttons in order to change the blinking lights, and so that other people can press buttons to see how you made them change. The "things" you want to do are shown by those lights. What purpose is a computer that can, for example, simulate a universe, if it can't output the simulation? That simulation exists, on a subatomic level, in the pattern of electrons inside the computer; but if it's going to be of any use there must be some output, and that output is most likely a pattern of little lights.
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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby Woopate » Sat Apr 03, 2010 3:47 pm UTC

kernelpanic wrote:But you're pressing buttons in order to change the blinking lights, and so that other people can press buttons to see how you made them change. The "things" you want to do are shown by those lights. What purpose is a computer that can, for example, simulate a universe, if it can't output the simulation? That simulation exists, on a subatomic level, in the pattern of electrons inside the computer; but if it's going to be of any use there must be some output, and that output is most likely a pattern of little lights.


"The wheel keeps turning" "That only matters to the people on the rim"

Only the dev of a universe simulator needs to see blinky lights.

I must be tired....

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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby blurrymadness » Sat Apr 03, 2010 4:44 pm UTC

I couldn't help but thinking of gaming when reading this one. When that pattern is a little bit off, I'm raging! When I'm 3:1 ratios n such, I'm back to being content. I often don't simplify it down to that, but I do think of it in coding terms sometimes. It's downright odd when you think every pixel is being calculated X-times per second and all that.

Well, off to game, wish me good patterns.
Burning Cheese.

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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby dookiecheese » Sat Apr 03, 2010 6:43 pm UTC

merseyless wrote:the situation for your average windows user :D :

"You know this metal rectangle full of little lights running windows?"
"Yeah."
"I spend most of my life pressing buttons to make the pattern of lights change however it feels like changing"
"Sounds good."
"But today, the pattern of lights is more wrong than usual!"
"Oh God! Try pressing more buttons!"
"It's not helping!"


and then for macs it would be (?):

"You know this metal rectangle full of little lights running Macintosh?"
"Yeah."
"I spend most of my life pressing buttons to make the pattern of lights change however it feels like changing, well except for a very long list of fun things such as games."
"Oh God! Try pressing more buttons!"
"It's not helping!"

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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby pscottdv » Sat Apr 03, 2010 10:12 pm UTC

Persona wrote:
CAGE wrote:Didn't find it all that funny.


Try pressing more buttons.


This thread makes the whole comic 10 times funnier!

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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby SirMustapha » Sun Apr 04, 2010 12:53 am UTC

kernelpanic wrote:But you're pressing buttons in order to change the blinking lights, and so that other people can press buttons to see how you made them change. The "things" you want to do are shown by those lights. What purpose is a computer that can, for example, simulate a universe, if it can't output the simulation? That simulation exists, on a subatomic level, in the pattern of electrons inside the computer; but if it's going to be of any use there must be some output, and that output is most likely a pattern of little lights.


I don't know about everyone else, but in the place where I come from, computers are used also to print lists of students in a college class, to move money around bank accounts, to control the operation of factories, amongst many other things. Lots of blinking lights there!

What bugs me about this comic is that, well, the fact that anything can look dumb when viewed in a certain way is nothing new, it has been done many times before with many things before. The comic merely reapplies that concept to computers, without any context, any meaning, any purpose or anything. Where is the humour in that?

It's particularly stupid to see this comic coming from xkcd, a webcomic that treats computing and technology like a religion. It looks forced and insincere coming from Randall.

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Re: "Computer Problems" Discussion

Postby SomeRandomPyro » Sun Apr 04, 2010 2:33 am UTC

SirMustapha wrote:
kernelpanic wrote:It's particularly stupid to see this comic coming from xkcd, a webcomic that treats computing and technology like a religion. It looks forced and insincere coming from Randall.


This is the same general culture that turned out "Zombie Jesus Day" (which, incidentally, starts in 2 1/2 hours here). When you don't treat religion like a religion, how does treating computing and technology like a religion amount to anything?

Anyway, the joke seems to be in the disparity between his utter lack of pretension, while still freaking out that it's not doing what it should.
I'm dedicated to binary because it makes all my numbers happy.


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