Died in a Blogging Accident has lived up to its name and died... in a blogging accident. That is to say it has concluded. You can still re-live the magic by clicking here to start at chapter 1. For genuine criticism of XKCD, please click the top link to the right (XKCD Isn't Funny).

Monday, October 10, 2011

Comic 962: Randall Discovers Wingsuits

Title: The Corliss Resolution; alt-text: And no avian society ever develops space travel because it's impossible to focus on calculus when you could be outside flying.

I get what Randall is trying to say here. Problem is, it's wrong. I'm not trying to nitpick here; I'm really not. I know that sometimes you have to make some allowances for the sake of humor. But I can't do that in this case. It's just so blatantly false that I can't even consider the attempted joke.

To begin with, wingsuits are not new. Decent ones have been around for about a decade. Randall acts like he's just discovered the answer to Fermi's paradox, when in reality, if this was the answer, we would have had it for at least ten years.

Of course, this isn't the answer. High-adrenaline activities have been around forever (it's worth noting at this point that wingsuit fliers still have parachutes, so it's no more dangerous than basic skydiving). However, that rush and that sense of achievement will never be more "fun" than survival (except in very rare cases). Besides, thrill-seekers and scientists are rarely the same people.

The alt-text takes Randall's fallacy even further. To avian societies, flying would be commonplace. It's only special to us because WE CAN'T DO IT. You don't get a thrill from driving your car, do you? Of course not. Most people do it every day. But to someone who's never done it, it might be very exciting (just ask your dog).

The main problem with this strip (or really, most of xkcd), is that there's no self-awareness. There's no feel of "this is being said tongue-in-cheek." Obviously it IS (I really hope), but even if I give Randall that, it still seems like he thinks he's the first to ever come up with that idea. It would be like if Wednesday's strip talks about how McDonald's is going to have some booming business now that so many cats "can haz cheezburger." It's a half-kidding response to an old thing as though it were new, and that's just not funny.


P.S. I've stopped doing "xkcd sucks less" because it just didn't get enough attention. A couple of weeks were really good, but lately I've just been getting submissions from SinbadEV and no one else. Maybe I'll try again once the blog gets bigger.


  1. You aren't trying hard enough to not nitpick. Very little (if anything) in any literature is brand new, and the concept that certain societies don't achieve some sort of scientific breakthrough due to distractions is a common one in scifi literature, but it's well done in any sense.

  2. You got so caught up in nitpicking the pretext that you forgot to address the actual comic!

  3. You're never going to start "xkcd sucks less" again, because this blog will never get any bigger.

    Suck it.

  4. Why all the hate?

  5. Not to defend an XKCD that sucks... but I believe that the "thing" being referenced here is not wing-suits but the video of the guy who is flying dangerously to the ground that recently popped up on YouTube and was shared on Google+ and many of the commenters indicated they were interested in trying out despite the obviously dangerous stupidity.

  6. To fill the void I made my own blog for my xkcd edits:

    I consider it to be complementary to this blog rather then competing with it.

  7. I thought he was trying to draw a very muscly (that's apparently a word?) stick figure in the first two panels.

  8. It's weird that Randall would cast a decidedly nerdy but rewarding activity—exploring uranium-235 and all its application to killing the shit out of everyone living—as an activity that isn't fun or thrilling. And he didn't troll his readers on Friday with a Mr. Hat gag about Steve Jobs. I wonder why he's not of his right mind of late.

  9. Or try not being such a dick.

  10. > You don't get a thrill from driving your car, do you? Of course not. Most people do it every day.

    Seriously? Do you live under a rock?
    Just because you drive a soulless econobox doesn't mean that there aren't enjoyable cars, enjoyed by their drivers, despite having to do commutes every single day.

    1. I agree, If you don't enjoy driving your car, maybe yours is boring to drive.