49 Comments

  1. A burlycue dancer, a pip
    Named Virginia could peel in a zip;
    But she read science fiction
    And died of constriction
    Attempting a Möbius strip.
    – Cyril Kornbluth

  2. @ Bill – Perhaps, but even so, it still doesn’t count as a strike: “If the pitcher should commit an act confusing to the batter with nobody on, or if he stops his delivery … time is called and the play restarted without penalty (whether or not runners are on base). If a pitcher repeatedly commits illegal actions without runners on base, he may be subject to ejection for persistently violating the rules.

  3. They would be only half as edgy, and the audience would always see the same side of the performer.

  4. Even if the dog isn’t getting strikes for the balk, it’s probably messing with him psychologically. And while the pitcher COULD be warned or ejected for it, you could probably mess with the batter a bit before getting censured. Depending how the umpires want to deal with it.

  5. The title of the last one is MÖBIUS STRIPPER, which I missed at first reading. Makes sense now.
    I once met an au pair from the eastern part of Germany whose last name was Möbius. Au pairs are usually from small towns seeking more in life btw.
    Amazing to me, she had no idea what a Möbius strip was! After all, it’s in the dictionary.
    There are some interesting results from cuttiing one completely down the center. Or cutting it completely at one-third of the width across.

  6. Baldo’s logic seems technically correct, but feels sort of backwards — like putting the effect before the cause.

    (I really wanted to say something about putting Descartes before … but it would mess up the point I genuinely meant.)

  7. I wish that Baldo had said, “If you knew who she was, she wouldn’t be the biggest singer on the internet anymore.”

  8. When I sent this one (Donner Party) to CIDU Bill, I’d just finished reading ‘Old Bones’, by Preston/Childs, in which the Donner Party and research thereinto [I know, it’s a made-up word] are featured. More detail than any non-fiction book I’ve read about this disaster, altho how much is authentic and how much they made up for shock value.

  9. “Tragedy + Time = Comedy” is the formula.
    So, to Mark, it’s a definite Ewww, while to Bill, it’s a lol.

  10. I once showed one of my students, a third-grader, about the mobius strip. First I asked her what a one-sided piece of paper would look like. After some showing and telling, I asked her how many edges it had. Then still later, I asked her what she would get if she cut it along the center.

    She was so happy with the whole thing, she eventually put it on her head like a crown and danced around with it.

    Made my day.

  11. At first, I was trying to find a joke somehow involving doner kebab and ketchup; then I looked it up.

  12. I’ve had this discussion before about which parts of the country is the Donner Party common knowledge and which parts it is obscure. Here on the west coast I’d say it’s as well-known a reference as Annie Oakley or Typhoid Mary or Johnny Appleseed and stuff like that, more well recognized than Iwo Jima but less well recognized than Abraham Lincoln. But on the east coast it’s mostly unknown except…. that it is among certain spots.

    In 1980 a friend of the family, who ran a recording studio, did a piece that was a satire of it. East of the Rockies it played with a big blank. The audience consensus seemed to be the song “Oh, no! This is the Donner Party” was some play on donor as it the party was donating themselves to be eaten???

  13. It’s a bit late to be bringing this up now, but I wonder whether a joke about a dog playing baseball might have been even better if the dog had been drawn to resemble Snoopy.

  14. Andréa said, “research thereinto [I know, it’s a made-up word]”

    Thereinto is in my dictionary, and points to “Let not them . . . enter thereinto” from Luke 21 21.

  15. @ Andréa – As much as we all like to unload on the multifarious deficiencies in WordPress, in this case the blame probably lies with the lightweight dictionary used by your browser (Firefox, Chrome, etc.), or possibly your tablet or telephone.

  16. No, that’s your browser doing the spellcheck. WP really has no knowledge of what you’re doing until the text is submitted to its form handler. As an example, I entered “thereinto” into a GoComics comment box, then selected the word and used the context menu “add to dictionary”. Now when I enter that word thereinto it no longer is flagged as misspelled.

  17. @ Andréa – You are visiting the address of the CIDU site, but the program doing the visiting (and setting up the data entry boxes) is the web browser. If you want to get rid of those annoying red zigzag lines, the key is a setting in the browser setup, not in WordPress (which doesn’t care in the slightest about misspelled words).

  18. I don’t know… I’ve lived on the East Coast all my life, pretty much since the Donner Party went out looking for a White Castle and ended up eating Settler Sliders instead, and I don’t think I’ve come across anybody who didn’t recognize the name.

    Granted, it doesn’t come up in conversation very often, but still…

  19. Thanks, Arthur.
    And how odd when an XKCD hover text is simply providing a bit of info that may be helpful to explication!

  20. >I don’t know… I’ve lived on the East Coast all my life, … I don’t think I’ve come across anybody who didn’t recognize the name.

    I know… but we got three people here who hadn’t.

    New York always throws whatever hypothesis I have about East vs. West Coast off. I think it could just be here in California (in the shadow of Donner Pass) it’s things everyone knows like… I don’t, Typhoid Mary … but elsewhere it’s something all well-read people know like the Waistcoat Fire. (Or I’m finding, 3 mile Island).

  21. Seems common knowledge here in New England as well. TV comedians and late night talk hosts have also made references over the years.

  22. The hover text for xkcd adds appreciably to the fun sometimes. My browser and tablet cuts it short half the time. I could find no convenient way to get to https://www.explainxkcd.com/ to see the whole “title text” as its called other than typing in “explain” to the original url. Finally I decided to make a bookmark to that page itself (doh!) instead of using somebody else’s bookmark to xkcd.com itself.

  23. A lot of smart and/or knowledgeable people hang out here. Among us, we know a lot. But I expect that each of us has, over the years, learned something new from the others. I am occasionally surprised at knowledge holes smart people have, but I don’t want to ever make a big thing of them; maybe then people won’t make a big thing when they’re surprised at my own knowledge holes.

  24. @Arthur: Good point. To fess up, for starters, I didn’t know about the “verbatim” option in Google searching until someone here described it a week or so ago. (And I was glad to learn of it.)

    As one of my favorite quotes has it:

    “No one who cannot rejoice in the discovery of his own mistakes deserves to be called a scholar.” —
    Donald Foster

    and the same applies to ignorance as to mistakes. So thanks to everyone here (and elsewhere) who correct and/or enlighten me.

  25. W00zy, I guess what you mention as the Waistcoat Fire would be the same terrible event I think of as the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Neither garment term is one I think many people use today, so it makes no difference, but probably one or the other was in the name of the actual company and their factory.

    Didn’t we get into this recently, in a thread with a similar theme? I think someone mentioned conflating it with the Flatiron Building or another similar sharp-edged triangular building.

  26. It was a discussion about it being mentioned in Barney & Clyde a few weeks (months? Who knows, the way time passes, or doesn’t, these days).

    The cook mentioned it to Cynthia.

  27. Fun Fact: The Flatiron Building is not named after the shape of the building, but rather on the shape of the piece of land it was built on.

    (Which makes sense if you think about it)

  28. There are a lot of flatiron buildings around, in old cities where the streets were added ad hoc over the years. I worked in one in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was at the corner of Bow Street and Arrow Street, two streets named after their shapes and spatial relationship. Most flatiron buildings are not as tall as the one in New York City.

  29. I have known of the Donner party since I was young (much longer than I have known of doner as a Greek food.

    Typhoid Mary was from NY of course.

    Triangle Shirtwaist Fire is on TV in assorted shows. I wear a shirtwaist when I do late 19th century reenacting (though mine is a “farby” (modern) one of polyester as is the long black skirt I wear with it – but for the event we used to do (and may do again) – The Long Island Fair – it is good enough by appearance. Robert wears a waistcoat (pronounced weskit) for 18th century reenacting – he owns 3 of them, all made by my little hands (and my sewing machine, I am not that crazy or that good a seamstress to sew it all by hand). Waistcoat is called a vest today for those who do not know.

  30. FWIW, I hadn’t heard of the Donner Party (or had lost it in the mists of long-ago factoids) until it came up here. Quite a few years ago now that was…

    Mark: Bow St and Arrow St meet at a right angle (as one would expect) — are you thinking of the Lampoon building where Bow St. meets Mt. Auburn?

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