xkcd raises the bar for comics

February 17, 2014 • 6:12 am

Today’s xkcd raises the bar for what is already a superb “comic” (or should I call it graphic art?). I’ve put a screenshot below, but you really need to go to the original site, for the words flash lighter or darker at the frequency with which the event they depict takes place.

Check out the ninth one down in the fourth column—amazing.

Screen shot 2014-02-17 at 4.44.06 AM

h/t: Grania

40 thoughts on “xkcd raises the bar for comics

  1. A beautifully random selection of metrics. “A member of the UK parliament flushes a toilet” is my favourite.

    1. There are some interesting juxtapositions.
      Compare the rates in the first two columns in row seven about production and recycling of plastic bottles.

      The differences in columns two and three in the first row is also ominous.

  2. The difference between row 1 column 2 and row 1 column 3 is not sustainable.
    Likewise (row,type) 7,1 vs 7,2 ; 7,5.
    And quite why 5,5 compared with 10,3 ?
    Randall Monroe, if I recall his name correctly, has a history of doing weird stuff with his images. But this time he’s KISS-ed it : just a table filled with GIFs (a “jraphics interchange format”, to keep Matthews pants un-twisted, like a Moebius strip). And they have “issues” with decades-long loops.

  3. I liked “Someone in Denver orders a pizza “. I wonder how that frequency has changed since the legalization of marijuana.

    1. Hmm, contemplating existence on the stream beds of the Rookies with a tummy full of pizza and ganja eyes. There has to be a correlation.

  4. Please post a warning at the top of this post – “Make sure you are not eating or drinking anything while reading this.”

    I just got done cleaning my breakfast off the computer.

  5. It would have been nice to have seen, “Someone becomes an atheist.” And is that really the average heartbeat…wow I beat that by a lot, of course I just woke up and coffee is not in my blood.

    My favorite xkcd, passwords: http://xkcd.com/936/. It will serve people well.

      1. Careful…trusting somebody else to generate your passwords for you is generally not such a bright idea.

        This should work on any reasonably Unix-like system.

        for i in `jot 4`; do perl -e 'srand; rand($.) < 1 && ($line = $_) while <>; print $line;' < /usr/share/dict/words; done

        Change the first integer to the number of words you want.



            1. Yeah, but I just heard that the guy who wrote that book now controls the planet because he knows everyone’s passwords.

    1. When I hear or read about crap such as ghosts or homeopathy or any other nonsense I get solace from thinking about millisecond pulsars. In the spirit of Tim Minchim I think, ‘Isn’t THIS enough? Just.. this.. world? Just this.. beautiful, complex. Wonderfully unfathomable.. natural.. world?’.
      Alright, I couldn’t remember the exact quote so I looked it up but you get the idea.

  6. Wow amazing. My heart beats twice as fast as that one though, especially now that I’m having coffee. 🙂

    1. Oh.

      For a second there, I thought you were saying your heart beats twice as fast as the pulsar mentioned in Torbjörn’s comment above yours. I expect that 716 Hz X 2 X 60 sec/min = 85,920 bpm would be too fast to be diagnosed as fibrillation.

      Someone has already updated the wiki page for PSR J1748-2446ad to include the xkcd reference.

      From Ben’s link below, we see that the viscosity of pitch is estimated as 100 billion times more viscous than water. More than 83 years for 9 drops to form.

      There is something very special about the mind of Randall Munroe.

    1. How many cats can one own before being classed as a crazy cat person? I would love to have more than the two I have already adopted but as I travel for work occasionally it costs me $110 per week each for boarding and there is also the strain on them from not being at home.

  7. It would have been funny if next to “A DOG BITES SOMEONE IN THE US” he had shown “A DOG BITES SOMEONE IN THE ASS”

    But maybe that’s just me.

  8. I was pretty sure that the ninth one down in the fourth column was going to be the adopt a cat one. But i was wrong. 🙂


  9. So each piece of text is a separate GIF with its own repeat frequency. Obvious when you know how. BUT – it takes some really cool thinking to come up with the idea.

    1. Really cool thinking is something Munroe has shown himself capable of, over and over again, including a facility for using coding in his images.

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