xkcd and नवरस

March 23, 2008

While Wired magazine has commented on the huge popularity of xkcd, it has not been able to provide a reason for this:

This mix of brains and fun, as well as underlying sweetness helped propel xkcd from a hobby to a full-time job for the 23-year-old former NASA roboticist. Since its 2005 launch, xkcd has grown from doodles in the margins of a graphing notebook to T-shirts, radio talks and lectures on humor at MIT, where students batted inflatable raptors around the auditorium. The website drew between 60 million and 70 million pageviews in October, Munroe says, and xkcd’s growing fan base has taken to re-enacting events that take place in the comic.

However, even I don’t have a clue just why it is that xkcd seems to appeal to people so much. So I asked my good friend Neha Natalya Pandey to put fundaes on this. Since she’s majoring in Algorithm Analysis and Design (and minoring in Sanskrit Poetics) at U. Mich., and she has an amazing intellectual pedigree (her parents are Dr. Acharya Somuchidononanda Pandey and Dr. Valentina Dimitrieva Pandey), she’s ideally suited to explain this. I reproduce her correspondence on this subject below, with her permission.

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xkcd Marches On

February 29, 2008

The Wikipedian form of protest first proposed by this xkcd strip has now caught on in the real world. (via)


December 18, 2007

My flatmate has moved out and I now have the entire flat to myself. This means that I now have an empty bedroom to play with. What exactly to do with this is an interesting problem. A number of alternatives have emerged:

  1. My father has suggested supplementing my salary by going into the flesh love hotel trade, and renting the spare room out by the hour to young and amorous couples. This would incur investment on a new bed, and some manner of decoration, but would eventually pay for itself.
    The question is how long the payback period would actually be. When I was in Shanghai in spring 2006, my utter lack of Mandarin meant I ended up checking in at the Motel 186 on Zhoujiazui Road instead of the one on Dalian Road. The Zhoujiazui Road Motel 186 was very much in the love hotel category. The biggest customer segment was university students who would take a room for an afternoon.
    The problem is that university students pinch their pennies. So two or three couples would take a single room. If Bangalore customers are as bottom-of-pyramid as Shanghai customers, the internal rate of return would be far too low. Better to put the money into a fixed deposit instead of buying the bed.
  2. More practically, I could just shift furniture so that one room becomes a bedroom and the other becomes a study. This sounds good, but it would make carrying the laptop to bed more difficult. Right now all I have to do is remove the USB cables for the printer, the hard disk, and the mouse, and pull it two feet to the bed. So this must be considered carefully.
  3. I could convert it into a storeroom, except that I don’t have anything to store.
  4. Religion. Old time religion. Construct an altar in the empty room in which I can sacrifice small furry animals and infants. I would have to give my maid a salary hike to deal with the extra mess, though.
  5. Or, I could go with the nuclear option. If I sell all my mutual funds, and take on an insane level of debt through personal loans, I could generate enough cash to fill the room with playpen balls.