Hey, when you do a comic like this on a day that a webcomic blogger who’s also a sports fan needs to continue The Streak, this is what results.

(From xkcd. Click for full-sized sports calendar.)

I’m sorry, I’m gonna have to call bullcrap on this.

People are talking about basketball deep into April, yet switch to baseball all the way until the Finals roll around? Also, I’m afraid American football is likely to be nearly as if not more prominent than baseball in October.

And what about those countries that aren’t as into soccer? Where’s baseball in Japan, hockey in Canada, or Aussie football in Australia? And is this specific to team sports? Where’s auto racing, golf, or tennis?

Judging by the bonus text, I suspect that what Randall really needs is a cheat sheet for the names of teams in each sport, but I can see how that’d be an unwieldy reference with 30+ teams in each American sport, to say nothing of college sports… and even in soccer most leagues have 20 teams in them…

And now, time for this week’s GOOMHR moment.

(From xkcd. Click for full-sized shrinkage.)

I know xkcd is one of my go-to crutches for continuing The Streak, but this comic really struck a chord with me.

My own laundry habits for a long time have been basically as depicted in the “Third Week” diagram, but reversed. After I do laundry, I keep all my clothes in my hamper until I need them, then at the end of the day I leave them on the floor. When it’s time to do laundry again, I empty whatever’s still in the hamper into my dresser, scoop all the clothes up off the floor, and dump them into the washer.

Mom doesn’t like this state of affairs, but as I have a number of old socks and pairs of underwear, taking my clothes for each day directly out of the hamper ensures that I find something high-quality enough that I wore it since the time before last I did laundry. (Assuming I’m correctly interpreting its meaning in the comic, I’m not sure I’d want to wear something directly off the floor. Seems kind of unclean and dirty.)

Naturally, of course, since the comic is so tall I now have to stall to ensure the comic image doesn’t screw up anything below… should I say something about the Norman conquest?

Um… Banana-fana-fo-fana-bo-nana-fana-fo-fhtagn.

I… should really be getting back to work on my schoolwork? So that I can get to a summer of doing what I want, including various blog posts?

Um… the latest SMBC is kind of funny too.

I… should have a webcomic blog review sometime next week?

I’m… wasting a lot of time visiting random webcomic sites looking for an idea for what to put here.

Okay, that’s enough. I’m just going to post it and hope it doesn’t screw things up too much. (I have got to come up with a better solution for this kind of thing…)

I don’t think this post was a great idea in the first place, and it doesn’t help that I had to work on it on school computers where I couldn’t concentrate.

(From xkcd. Click for full-sized synchronization.)

xkcd has never been one to shy away from introducing new, out-there concepts, or cause you to rethink the way you look at the world – concepts its sizable fanbase is never slow to leap on.

At first glance, this comic would seem to fall into the same category… but then it begins to go off the rails, effectively pulling the rug out from under the audience.

It’s hard to tell what this comic is trying to do. Is there a particular geekly phenomenon it’s making fun of? Is it trying to trick its fanbase, or just having fun, or is it even making fun of itself?

The funny thing about this comic is, it’s entirely possible to actually do something like this, without the nonsense rules that come up towards the end, and indeed self-consciously to avoid those nonsense rules. But any actual attempt to do so would be so geeky that even considering how geeky Randall Munroe’s audience is, the reference would undoubtedly go completely over most of their heads.

In short, I’m not entirely sure I get this comic. Is there supposed to be a joke? Does the joke rely on some sort of knowledge I’m not privy to, or am I just supposed to have a vague sense of uncomfortableness as I increasingly wonder what’s going on as the elements of the plan become increasingly nonsensical? If, as some of the “rules” imply, the comic is making fun of the sort of real-life nonsensical rules it initially claims to discard, what exactly is the point? Because if that’s the case, I get the sense it changes what it’s trying to do as it goes along. Or is it just a rehash of the joke from this comic?

And of course, it doesn’t help that it’s so long and narrow that I have to pad out this post to make sure the image doesn’t interfere with everything below it…

Catching up with the state of Kickstarter

(From xkcd. Click for full-sized recursive fundraising.)

You know Kickstarter is catching on when Penny Arcade and xkcd are talking about it.

How big has it gotten in the time since I stopped keeping track? According to Wikipedia’s top-ten list, there are now five million-dollar Kickstarters, two of them finishing after I stopped, plus two more top-ten projects that finished earlier this month (which apparently had PA‘s help towards the end), plus another ongoing project that’s cracked the ten-million-dollar barrier. Wikipedia isn’t even keeping track of ongoing projects that would make the top ten like they did when the OOTS drive was ongoing, only the highest-grossing ongoing drive (though that may just be the only project slated to cross the threshold). The #10 project when I was tracking drives was a little over $350,000; now it’s more than twice that.

Before, the main categories that contributed the highest-grossing projects tended to be Design and Technology, and to a lesser extent Film and Video. Now Games seems to be fast becoming another big-money category, maybe more than any of the others. Much as I’d hate to say it, I’d say this is definitely the Double Fine effect, not the OOTS Effect, at work; even the benefits to the Comics category aren’t really webcomic-specific any longer. OOTS may have raised more money than anyone thought possible, but Double Fine is completely reorganizing the economics of independent video-game production, and I suspect you’ll see, if you haven’t already, a bunch of people with nothing but a dream and a vague concept start Kickstarters they have no business of doing, possibly with the sole aim of “getting rich quick”.

Which brings us to the concern both of these comics seem to have. Kickstarter does not enforce the completion of any project promised; several people have noted that it’s a mechanism based on trust. The beauty of it is that, so far, people have trusted each other and delivered on that trust, and paranoia about the worst of human nature hasn’t borne fruit. But it’s easy to wonder whether people might read stories about the Double Fine crew or Rich Burlew becoming millionaires on Kickstarter and getting the wrong idea, that they can just beg for money and rake in the dough, or even whether that’s already started. I’d like to remain cautiously optimistic, and I’ll check in in a few months to verify my suspicions, but it’s hard not to wonder whether Kickstarter might not be submarined by its own success.

The real reason I wanted to post this? The site layout is back to normal! Also, apparently Randall went so far as to create special comics for browsers with Javascript not working right for the Umwelt comic.

(From xkcd. Click for full-sized emotion chart.)

Randall Munroe is somewhat of a recluse. Oh, he has a “blag” that he posts on from time to time, but he almost never posts on specific strips there. It can be downright maddening to come across a comic and see it just sitting there, with nothing from the author beyond what’s there on the page, leaving it up to his sizeable fanbase to interpret the comic. Randall definitely belongs to the school that “my work speaks for itself”.

A year and a half ago, Randall’s fiance/wife was diagnosed with cancer. In the time since then, many an xkcd comic has reflected their ongoing struggles with the disease, especially since Randall posted some of the details in June of last year. Although the fanbase has been largely and rightly supportive, it’s been, well… interesting seeing Randall’s somewhat random, contemplative comic become affected by Randall’s having other things on his mind.

I think a large part of the fanbase’s support owes itself to the cancer comics not being any inferior in quality (or informativeness) to any other xkcd comic, and not completely taking over the comic at the expense of everything else they came for either. It’s not like xkcd has been turned into this. On the flip side, in fact, an interesting side effect of the whole ordeal has been to humanize Randall in the eyes of the comic’s fanbase, someone with actual feelings that actual things happen to, rather than some sort of comic-generating machine from outer space like the rest of the comic can seem like (even more so than David Morgan-Mar).

(Hey, I started writing this half an hour before the end of the day when it became apparent I’d have to wait another day to put up the next part of the College Football Playoff Systems series. Cut me some slack.)

They changed it, now it sucks.

(From xkcd. Click for full-sized Mary Poppins act.)

I continue not to read xkcd, but when it changed the look of its front page this past weekend, I was willing to accept it as part of the April Fool’s joke of the early version of the “Umwelt” comic that day.

When the actual comic (which I’m sure Scott McCloud would have a lot to say about) came out the following Monday, I was willing to accept it as a continuation of the joke and as a way to get the coding needed for the comic to work to work… even if the look had now spread to the archive pages.

Now another comic has been posted. And the new look is still there.

The same cramming of the upper-left links into the corner (making it look less rationalized and formal), the same spacing out of the news space below the title (and cramming of the title itself), the same airy look on the navigation buttons, and worst of all, the same large type on the buttons and permalinks and simplifcation of the formatting on the latter. In short, the same ugly new look that seems to be designed more for your grandparents than anyone else.

Look, my philosophy is, saying “it’s not that big a deal” is a double-edged sword: if it’s not that big a deal, why are you being so stubborn about it? It’s times like these I really don’t like Randall’s propensity never to say much about his comic…

Don’t worry, I’ll have a less lame excuse to continue the streak tomorrow. Look for an MSPA post, god willin’ and the creek don’t rise.

(From Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. Click for full-sized dick facts.)

At some point this year, I fully intend to do a full review of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. Most of the time, I would probably describe it as a modern version of The Far Side, with more off-color humor.

This comic, though, I would probably describe as something more akin to a poor man’s xkcd.

With more off-color humor.

In fact, this comic is one that I would not be remotely surprised to see as an xkcd comic. I don’t know whether that says more about xkcd, SMBC, or this particular comic…

(For the record, and just as another tease, I haven’t changed my stance on xkcd – and I’ve realized that even without the same volume of overly technical jokes it’s often had a reputation for, I still find myself going to the forums to get the joke – and I don’t think I find SMBC a superior product, nor am I likely to start following it… but I don’t want to commit myself to that at this early date, either. How’s that for you?)

Penny Arcade, xkcd, AND Homestuck in just over a week? It’s the uber-popular webcomic trifecta!

(From xkcd. Click for full-sized round number.)

I wanted to take a moment to honor the occasion of xkcd joining the 1000-Update Webcomic Club. I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily difficult to crank out 1000 comics, considering how many comics have done so (after all, it’s hardly 2000), but it still requires a minimum of three years of cranking out a comic on a regular basis (more than I showed with my own abortive webcomic attempt that still lasted over a year). That takes commitment and people who are willing to support you in a thankless project with no monetary guarantees (not that xkcd is lacking in money).

Of course, this milestone does come with a dirty little secret, but MS Paint Adventures didn’t let its own dirty little secrets keep it from honoring when its URLs hit 6,000… (Yeah, xkcd, you’ve got a while to go to match that!)

Get out of my head, Randall.

(From xkcd. Click for full-sized ghost in the machine.)

I’m sick, it’s very late and I’m probably not very coherent right now, but it’s not as late as it was Tuesday night.

First a clarification: I stand by most of what I said in my original xkcd review yea so many years ago. I don’t think xkcd is compelling enough for me to come back to it three times a week. It’s more disorganized even than most gag-a-day comics; each strip exists in its own right, but even if Randall Munroe were to write the greatest comic in the history of history, it still wouldn’t keep me interested enough to check out any other strips. No matter how much consistent quality xkcd puts out, it’s still more of an editorial cartoon for geeks than anything else.

Recently, if I have nothing else to do and/or don’t feel like doing anything too “thinky”, I’ll mosey on over to xkcd. It’s good for a quick laugh to pick up the day, and I’ll also trawl the recent archives for other recent, quick-hit strips. xkcd consists of a bunch of isolated incidents that can occasionally rise to the level of being quite funny, and often thought-provoking. But I’m just not sure it’s enough to keep me coming back for a single isolated incident three times a week, and unlike, say, The Order of the Stick, I can certainly go long stretches without knowing what the latest xkcd happenings are. Since I’m not as well connected in the social web as most people on the Internet, I suspect much of what’s keeping xkcd going is its reputation as a meme factory.

But I just had to mention that on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, I was in the middle of a semi-unplanned 12-hour all-nighter to compose a paper for a philosophy class. Working on something I don’t necessarily enjoy for 12 hours straight isn’t really my forte, and I occasionally drifted over to other mindless activities.

One of which was checking xkcd and seeing a joke about the Allegory of the Cave.

I am convinced Randall Munroe is somehow connected to the essential life force of the universe.

What I Did On My Spring Vacation

I went into Spring Break intending to get a lot of stuff done. I’d been building a backlog of things I wanted to do and I wanted to clear as much of it out as possible.

And I did get a lot done. Not as much as I intended, but I intended to do a LOT.

But I also left the spring break thinking about maybe trying out xkcd‘s 28-Hour Day at some point over the summer.

With my tendency to stay up later at night than I ever thought I would, it might turn out to synch up with my internal body clock better than following the earth’s rotational cycle.

(For just one week, of course. Not for a long period of time.)