0881: "Probability"

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livthemdns
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby livthemdns » Mon Apr 04, 2011 5:56 am UTC

gooley wrote:Seriously, Randall. Nobody cares about your personal life, we just want entertaining comics. Please keep it professional.


Can someone please just call him a Nazi so that we can stop discussing this?

LinB
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby LinB » Mon Apr 04, 2011 6:07 am UTC

It sounds to me like a tough place to be. I was somewhere very similar 6 years ago, looking at numbers like that. It gets easier, year by year.

The comic didn't bother me, except that I wish nobody else had to go through this . . . stuff.

phantomwhale
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby phantomwhale » Mon Apr 04, 2011 6:12 am UTC

syko_lozz wrote:Poor Randall.
Those numbers look a lot like the C-word (the 6 letter one!).
When your world revolves around a sample of n=1, stats mean very little.
Sending my prayers too


It's Cancer. I think one of the hardest things about having cancer can be not being able to say the word cancer without causing... awkwardness :?

Your other point though is, both mathematically and spiritually, perfectly expressed. When n=1, sample stats mean so little. They can be crushing, especially to a maths nerd - I may tell myself that "30% survival chance" means little, but I've played Runequest / Call of Cthulhu, or even 1st level DnD too often to say I'm ever going to RELY on my 30% skill check...

"Probability of survival verse time" is a slowly descending graph for all of us - cancer sufferers just have to confront this fact much sooner. I occasionally got the impression Randall knew someone who had cancer though, rather than suffering himself, and there I can't comment. Sure, it would suck if cancer killed me, but oddly I'm more upset about how that would affect those I leave behind and love - my wife, my mother, my nieces. (in my mind, the men-folk can suck it up and look after themselves, clearly...) Cancer can be just as hard on those closest to the patient - after all, if they complain or call out for help, it can look a little bit vain given they are not the one with cancer - but I think carer's need as much support and need to express themselves as anyone.

And if this comic is Randal's way of expressing anything like this, sufferer or carer, then I tell you it's a bl**dy good one. The first one - http://www.xkcd.com/828/ - captured most of my frustrations during recovery. And for everyone who waves a "this is defintely what causes / cures / is why you have cancer" article in my face, expecting me to thank them for "opening my mind" and immediately cancel my treatment and go eat flippin' overpriced New Zealand bee honey instead for a few months, the next cartoon - http://www.xkcd.com/836/ - was perfect. Science is open-mindedness, dammit !

irishnut
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby irishnut » Mon Apr 04, 2011 6:12 am UTC

I know mostly nerd crowd here with shy not anti-social tendencies, but anyone else want to just give Randal a big hug?

As much as it reminds you of sad things and (clearly) incites trolling instincts, can't help but feel for the guy.

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lemmings
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby lemmings » Mon Apr 04, 2011 6:15 am UTC

For people who don't know what the dashed line means:

The dashed line is more or less the derivative of the solid line which for diseases basically means the lethality at a given point in time. If you want me to put in mathematical terms, given the solid line is f(t), the dashed line is -C*f'(t)+B where -C and B are used to make the graph easier to read.

Martinab
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby Martinab » Mon Apr 04, 2011 6:16 am UTC

This comic is breaking my heart. To Randall and the person who this comic is about, I wish you lots of strength and best of luck.

To some of the posters above: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empathy

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legopelle
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby legopelle » Mon Apr 04, 2011 6:21 am UTC

lemmings wrote:Wow, um, I know that we as random, anonymous, Internet citizens have absolutely no right to be involved in your personal life, but if this has anything to do with real events, like what happened 5 months ago...

My mind did also chose that connection. The comic was really eerie.
Dammit, I did not expect my day to begin with this.

Kinda glad mod madness isn't around any more.
The Reaper wrote:I'm still fine with people having reactors, and still against them weaponizing the leftovers.

Walter Bishop wrote:Why would anyone kill a scientist? What have we ever done?

livthemdns
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby livthemdns » Mon Apr 04, 2011 6:26 am UTC

The solid line looks like a survival curve for some disease (Cancer is a likely suspect). The dashed line might be showing the distribution of deaths following diagnosis (assuming that there is a second Y-axis off the frame), since it looks to peak over an inflection point. This doesn't look like a graph of pregnancy likelihoods, since the X-axis would be age and not years and also it should be more of a bell curve shape (since an infant should be at 0%).

This comic is sadness in black and white.

commandr2
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby commandr2 » Mon Apr 04, 2011 6:37 am UTC

phantomwhale wrote:"Probability of survival verse time" is a slowly descending graph for all of us - cancer sufferers just have to confront this fact much sooner. I occasionally got the impression Randall knew someone who had cancer though, rather than suffering himself, and there I can't comment. Sure, it would suck if cancer killed me, but oddly I'm more upset about how that would affect those I leave behind and love - my wife, my mother, my nieces. (in my mind, the men-folk can suck it up and look after themselves, clearly...) Cancer can be just as hard on those closest to the patient - after all, if they complain or call out for help, it can look a little bit vain given they are not the one with cancer - but I think carer's need as much support and need to express themselves as anyone.


I don't normally post... Normally because either I don't feel that I have anything to add, or you all have said it already.

But (and I'll keep this short because it does feel like whining), I'm glad that Randall did this when he did, and glad that there are people like you to say this.

As the child of a cancer patient, it is difficult. You want to tell people, to talk to someone other than your family, but at the same time you don't want to get those "I'm so sorry about your mom, are you alright" speeches when they do find out, because damnit what do you really have to complain about- you aren't the patient.

I'm not sure what what I said has to do with the comic. I liked it though, both as a departure from normal Randall comics, and personally.

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mewshi
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby mewshi » Mon Apr 04, 2011 6:44 am UTC

Depressing strips need to have a warning or something, so I don't spend 15 minutes during my meal break crying in the bathroom because I am taken by surprise.

That aside, this is still a great strip. One of the things that I love about xkcd is that it seems to be so close to how I think. That sounds like the sort of thing I would say in a similar situation, partially because I make strange observations at occasionally inopportune times.

Tl;dr: being a nerd isn't always funny or entertaining. You see death through the same eyes you see life with.

Hope everything gets better.

krasno
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby krasno » Mon Apr 04, 2011 6:45 am UTC

I too hope it's not based on a bad experience Randall had, but chances are, it is.

I really empathize with people that have to live through that, seeing someone, a loved one, shrink and die is very painful.

:cry:

molliechristine
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby molliechristine » Mon Apr 04, 2011 6:47 am UTC

Well, if there's ever an occasion to give Randall Monroe (Mr. XKCD) a big hug, now is it.

For those who don't know, for the last few months there's been a serious illness in his family - he's kept it private about who exactly is sick, or what exactly is the illness. Speaking as someone who has lost immediate family members to cancer, I sympathize deeply with Randall and the roller coaster of emotions he must be going through :( :( He and his family are in my thoughts.

For the newer and/or curious XKCD readers, you can view Randall's announcement and musings about the illnesses in comics #818, #828, #836 - and now #881.

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FoolOfATook39
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby FoolOfATook39 » Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:01 am UTC

Surely I'm not the only one who read this and thought, "Never tell me the odds!"

Phoonzang
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby Phoonzang » Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:03 am UTC

Vertigo wrote:I had to think about how I felt about this one for a minute.
Beyond the fact that frankly, I come here for a smile and not a reminder of my own mortality, there's the fact that my family comes here for the same reason. And I really don't like the reminder that they just got instead.


Sorry that you did not like the comic. But (and this might sound harsh) you have no right that everyone and everthing tiptoes around your fears and concerns. Let me clear that up with an example:

I've got a kid on the way, [...]


Has it ever crossed your mind that something YOU do or YOU say makes other people uncomfortable or reminds them of the most terrible, devastiting things ever happend to them? Your short sentence "I've got a kid on the way..." makes my heart cringe, makes me just want to crawl to bed again and shut the outside world out, because it reminds me of the worst, most terrible thing ever happening to me and my wife. And the finality of it.
BUT: I have NO right whatsoever to blame people for our thing. And I also have NO right to expect everyone to tiptoe around us, especially not the people who do not know about the circumstances. And especially not _strangers_ (and, even if we all might feel otherwise, Randall IS a stranger, to most of us anyway)!

So, you can either shut everything out that reminds you of your own "shortcomings" (and this is much harder for people with "not so widely accepted" conditions or things that are around us everyday) or learn to live with it. But you can never blame people for "reminding you" unintentionally of something that is a part of how the world works. And, as hard as it sounds, you are n=1 in a _very_ huge statistic.

justme1
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby justme1 » Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:07 am UTC

This is the first time I've cried from a web comic. It's honest and vulnerable. I'm going to go find someone to hug.

DrCron
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby DrCron » Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:09 am UTC

The solid line is the survival/non relapse percentage by time. The dashed line is likely a histogram of relapses/deaths by time since being considered "clear" of the initial cancer.

realbart
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby realbart » Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:10 am UTC

What... no 3d?

http://3d.xkcd.com/881

Microbru
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby Microbru » Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:11 am UTC

That was one of the saddest comics I've seen. :cry:

It's amazing the amount of emotion you can get with stick figures.

Technical Ben
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby Technical Ben » Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:16 am UTC

<3

:(
It's all physics and stamp collecting.
It's not a particle or a wave. It's just an exchange.

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player_03
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby player_03 » Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:27 am UTC

Quoting from Randall's "EFF Geek Read" interview:

Randall wrote:The comics tend not to be autobiographical, they're either about something that happened to me and they're will be a two year time lag so if I was in one situation now I'll be writing about what things were like two years ago, and now I'm in a completely different situation, but now it's long enough ago that I can be sarcastic about it.

[...]

But, it does make it weird for people who I'm hanging out with, friends or people I'm dating, if there starts to be this general feeling that I'm writing about them, or writing about my real life. They start to get letters from their friends every time there's a comic about them getting in a fight with someone, or a breakup, or being friends with someone and wanting to date them and they'll say "Oh, is this about you?" "It's okay, he wronged you, I can tell from the comic."


In short, the comic probably isn't based on anyone in Randall's life, and assuming it is will most likely lead to awkward situations.

Still, my condolences to all the actual cancer patients out there.

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vodka.cobra
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby vodka.cobra » Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:37 am UTC

Shay Guy wrote:Meaning of both solid line and dashed line unclear.

gooley wrote:Nobody cares about your personal life, we just want entertaining comics.


Speak for yourself.

He speaks for me about us not caring about his personal life too.

lasercannon wrote:
gooley wrote:Seriously, Randall. Nobody cares about your personal life, we just want entertaining comics. Please keep it professional.

Image


Because romance means tragedy.
If the above comment has anything to do with hacking or cryptography, note that I work for a PHP security company and might know what I'm talking about.

slaxor
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby slaxor » Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:56 am UTC

You know, I feel like I should have seen this coming. It's horrible, and an obvious joke to make when you think about it.

halplm
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby halplm » Mon Apr 04, 2011 8:00 am UTC

Everyone dies.

If you're too worried about the probability of when you're going to die, you'll forget what to do while you're alive.

but then again, I've probably outlived my usefulness.

illissius
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby illissius » Mon Apr 04, 2011 8:02 am UTC

Martinab wrote:This comic is breaking my heart. To Randall and the person who this comic is about, I wish you lots of strength and best of luck.

To some of the posters above: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empathy


Nothing to add to this. Brought considerable somberness to my mood on an early Monday morning. Thanks.

Thibaw
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby Thibaw » Mon Apr 04, 2011 8:16 am UTC

Is no one else scared a little? I mean such a sad comic, out of the blue.

The good news is: There is a high probability, that he or she(its not really clear from the comic) will be alright.

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libra
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby libra » Mon Apr 04, 2011 8:22 am UTC

gooley wrote:
brinhe wrote:gooley's a clear troll.


This.

Don't brag about being a troll, gooley.
Trolls are lower than paedophiles in any online community hierarchy. Trolling's akin to pissing into a headwind. You're the only one who receives the warm feeling that ensues, but afterwards you're the only one who smells of piss, and everybody else has their turn to laugh at you.

Oh, and trying to troll Randall on his forum? Dumb move. Really, really dumb.

On topic? I am hoping against all hope that this is not one of those autobiographical strips - and if it is, 95% chance of survival sounds like pretty good odds, so I'd tell Randall to bet on life. がんばれ!

Ignitus
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby Ignitus » Mon Apr 04, 2011 8:50 am UTC

Darke wrote:
gooley wrote:Seriously, Randall. Nobody cares about your personal life, we just want entertaining comics. Please keep it professional.
See the problem is you're being too blunt. This forum is filled with a lot of geeks and nerds, so nobody here is unfamiliar with the concept of trolling. On a normal website, the obvious lack of basic human empathy would have stirred a violent reaction of people accusing you of possessing all kinds of vile character traits and being a souless, heartless bastard, but here nobody is going to bite, not if you're going to be as subtle as a baseball bat to the head. I would have suggested a simpler "Is anyone else kind of growing tired of Randall's comics about his personal life? I mean, I understand he's going through tough times but this comic is really supposed to be funny, I'm not here to read A Softer World." Granted, such a post would not likely not stir the same vitriolic reaction you're attempting to cause with your first post, but I think you'd be far more likely to at least get a serious reaction other than "lol troll."

That being said, I guess I can consider myself trolled now. (In my defense, it's 1:30 AM, I'd rather not go to sleep, and I feel like flexing my writing muscles)


Wow, man your a trolling master. Your improved version is so elegant it would have likely spawned a very in-depth discussion.

jaklumen
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby jaklumen » Mon Apr 04, 2011 8:50 am UTC

I am human. My life has some grit in it. Don't mind a little grit with my humor, either.

I don't get his humor every entry, but I enjoy the ones i do get-- even the sad ones. Doesn't matter to me if the subject is happening right now or was in the past. Some of my hurts were long ago, too.

Eh. I mean, I figure it's just a sharing of the humanity-- there is some laughs, there is some crying. 'Tis fine by me.

oh, and by the way-- troll bragging rights is more the province of 4Chan, IMO. /b/tard and all that.

Red_Green_Blue
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby Red_Green_Blue » Mon Apr 04, 2011 8:58 am UTC

Wow.

That's a seriously sad comic. Talk about starting the week with a fistful of sobering mortality.

I do appreciate a serious comic every now and then. http://www.xkcd.com/828/ Hit home because I was feeling quite depressed a while back, and seeing that helped me to sort of get it all in perspective.

Keep up the good work, and best wishes if there's any truth to today's comic.

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Fixblor
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby Fixblor » Mon Apr 04, 2011 9:03 am UTC

How will we know who is who if she gets balded?

If that's the scenario, this is all very vague ...

And I have no idea if this ongoing romance is either based-on-a-true-story or some form of reality-webcomic.
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby Jyrki » Mon Apr 04, 2011 9:13 am UTC

DrCron wrote:The solid line is the survival/non relapse percentage by time. The dashed line is likely a histogram of relapses/deaths by time since being considered "clear" of the initial cancer.


This is probably right. My first thought was that the dashed line is a bell curve drawn on top (as in "the normal approach").

My prayers with all the affected folks.

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mewshi
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby mewshi » Mon Apr 04, 2011 9:19 am UTC

Someone above sarcastically said that romance = tragedy. Any romance has rough patches, its own mini-tragedies. Don't get all bent out of shape just because someone might need to vent about something; it isn't your comic, correct?

I think this was handled very well - the strip is funny, in its own way, without being insensitive about the situation pictured. Don't get pissy just because the author uses his work as he sees fit. Xkcd is popular more or less because it is just random musings.

And, as I said above: we all see death through the same eyes with which we see life. This is just a different perception about mortality. Get over it.

tuxedobob
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby tuxedobob » Mon Apr 04, 2011 9:33 am UTC

Normally I don't really like it when comics author have a blog about their personal life. It usually seems unprofessional and detracts and distracts from their work/comic. Then again, normally I don't care.

I feel like I'm not getting something, as if the comic isn't meant for me. Other posters have already pointed out that on some level, this is true. It seems like a negative version of an inside joke. An inside tragedy, if you will. It's a particularly odd feeling.

KeithM
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby KeithM » Mon Apr 04, 2011 9:56 am UTC

syko_lozz wrote:When your world revolves around a sample of n=1, stats mean very little.


Nice.
"It is nothing short of a miracle that modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry." - A.E.

Arathald
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby Arathald » Mon Apr 04, 2011 10:05 am UTC

mewshi wrote:Tl;dr: being a nerd isn't always funny or entertaining. You see death through the same eyes you see life with.


I love the sentiment, as well as how you phrased it. May I use this?

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mewshi
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby mewshi » Mon Apr 04, 2011 10:08 am UTC

Arathald wrote:
mewshi wrote:Tl;dr: being a nerd isn't always funny or entertaining. You see death through the same eyes you see life with.


I love the sentiment, as well as how you phrased it. May I use this?


Uh, yeah, sure.

Thanks for the affirmation, by the way. Makes me feel a little less scared of what I am doing in a few months times.

Tsuna
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby Tsuna » Mon Apr 04, 2011 10:25 am UTC

I never felt like posting here before, but this is just unbearable.

Alright, so there are about 8 million people every year dying from cancer, that's one death every four seconds. If you live in the US, one out of every 200 people you see in the streets every day suffers from cancer. Do you care? I must confess I don't; otherwise I'd long ago died myself from caring every four seconds.

Now there's a comic about one cancer case with possible death implication and possible real life equivalent, and practically everyone except the trolls goes crazy with empathy and My Prayers Are With You. Really? One death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic, one unlikely and possibly fictional death is...

Sorry, but despite the morbid theme I quite like this comic, in a comical way. It does a good job showing the value of maths even and especially in emotionally disturbing situations, while this thread does an equally good job demonstrating how quick people tend to discard maths in these situations in order to take shelter in the world of Never Tell Me The Odds. Fascinating.

Oh and stick figure hugs do look freaky.

Coyote42
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby Coyote42 » Mon Apr 04, 2011 10:44 am UTC

Tsuma-

I realize the point you're making but still, I respectfully say screw you. A lot. This comic sucked the very life out of me, because I went through that very same feeling over the last two years with my mother and it's still with me after the inevitable happened last August. To see people show good will and empathy towards the author even if all he was doing was creating a situation is heartening, to see that there are human beings left on this earth. It may be fictional but it's still a heart-breaking thing to read and have to go through, and with the author's recent problems it's not that far to wonder if maybe he's trying to vent some pent up problems through the comic.

I hope you never have to personally deal with it yourself.

Potatoswatter
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby Potatoswatter » Mon Apr 04, 2011 11:00 am UTC

The solid line is probability of survival. It can't be probability of death because it starts at 100 and goes down.

The dashed line, best I can tell, is instantaneous probability of death per some unit time. It seems proportional to the rate of change of the solid line. There might be a scale on the right-hand side of the graph that we can't see. Either the time unit is very large (e.g. your chance of death this year is 80% per 40 years times 1 year, or 2%), or the probability is keyed to a different scale than the left-hand side. Either way, that is not how I would present such a graph.

Which is probably evidence that this is not taken from real life.

akf2000
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Re: 0881: "Probability"

Postby akf2000 » Mon Apr 04, 2011 11:08 am UTC

Long time viewer, first time caller. I created an account just to comment on this comic.

I find it quite strange how you all discuss the artist's life as though you know him, has he ever written in this forum or discussed them with you? Genuine question.

I've browsed here a few time when I wanted an explanation of a particular comic, and it's very good for that, but why this idolatry of him? If someone doesn't like a comic you are all so quick to call them trolls.


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