will Randall Munroe become the new Cecil Adams?

First of all, it’s strange to me that there isn’t an obvious place to discuss the reason this board came into being - Cecil Adams. I know there’s a forum for his columns, but this isn’t quite about that. So I hope this forum is an acceptable option.

I’ve been really enjoying the new weekly feature by Randall Munroe (creator of XKCD) - “What If”. It’s really funny and really smart - something in the past I had only associated with Cecil (for these kinds of questions). And the art - well, sorry Slug, but I actually enjoy it.

What do you all think? Who do you trust more? Who do you enjoy more? And why does only one of them actually have an RSS feed?



Nah insufficent snark.

I think Randall’s stuff is really good, but it’s a different niche.

Can’t I like both?

It looks fairly entertaining on the goofy side. On the more mundane “imponderables” side of The Straight Dope, I like Slate’s Explainer.

From the OP’s XKCD what-if link: “Plumes of hot meat and bubbles of trapped gases like methane—along with the air from the lungs of the deceased moles—periodically rise through the mole crust and erupt volcanically from the surface, a geyser of death blasting mole bodies free of the planet.”

Hey, anybody here got Bruckheimer’s phone number?

I like some humor and debunking, so RM fits at least in the first department.

Explainer, OTOH, is very tame. Plus an amazing fraction of topics are ones Cecil has already covered … better.

As for RM vs. CA: It’s the artwork that makes the difference. RM is no SS.

Why do you hate freedom?

(Just so we’re clear, I’m talking about the mole of moles one if the page changes.)

Unless there’s some joke I’m missing, 1 pound is not 1 kilogram. And that’s not even close to rounding error, like I might allow that 1 quart = 1 liter.

When xkcd is funny, it’s very funny. But sometimes it’s not. This feature looks promising, although I might point out that it’s “Answering your hypothetical questions with physics, every Tuesday.” Whereas Cecil can do more than physics.

If the way Ed Zotti (i.e. Cecil Adams) runs this site is any indication, then I’d be surprised if he actually knew what an RSS feed was.

Plus, Ed has a bunch of minimally paid minions who he outsources a bunch of his work to. Does this XKCD guy understand the value of slave labor?

It’s not a joke - you’re just missing what Randall is doing there. He’s not saying that the two units are equal, just that they’re close enough for his “wild ballpark estimation.” He notes a few sentences later that this estimate could easily be off by several orders of magnitude in either direction, which is why he immediately proceeds to more precisely calculate the likely mass o’ moles using “better numbers.”

It’s now a weekly feature, updating on Tuesdays. A link like this will keep its freshness, though.

Probably just a brain fart. Doesn’t really alter the dynamics. And do keep in mind his disclaimer: … if anyone asks, I did not tell you it was ok to do math like this.

There have only been four so far, but entertainment-wise, they’ve all been knocked out of the park (you should pardon the expression).

I have clicked on links to xkcd probably a hundred times over the years, and it’s made me laugh exactly once. Although it can be interesting, and sometimes informative.

It’s not a brain fart, it’s deliberate. He’s just trying to get some sort of order of magnitude grasp of the problem. A factor of two isn’t worth talking about in that context.

I want a t-shirt with a picture of a turkey in a mortarboard fighting a stick figure in a battle to the death. Someone should definitely make me one of those.

Well, which one was it?

Those were fun articles. I hope he can keep them going.

Remember, he’s a physicist…

I’d ask you how many piano tuners there are in New York City, but Google’s pretty much ruined that for us, so I’ll just come out with it: Math is a language, and it can be as vague as any other language humans have. If you’re saying that a mole is a pound the world around, as opposed to creating a statistical distribution and aiming for really tight little error bars, equating pounds to kilograms is not going to make the result meaningfully worse.

Hey everyone, Cecil is referenced in the latest “What If”!!!