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The start of today's SMBC:

The punchline:

The aftercomic:

The mouseover title: "Honestly, I'm not sure this hasn't been done already."



  1. Philip Taylor said,

    December 7, 2019 @ 5:06 am

    For me, as a native <Br.E> speaker, the second frame made no sense. In the first frame, the dark-skinned female protagonist says "Whenever … [,] I just want to …", whilst in the second frame she continues "It's a waste of time. …". To me, her first statement reads as positive ("I just want to …") while the second frame is clearly negative, yet is not introduced with a qualifier such as "even though", or "despite". Is this lack of a qualifier also a barrier to understanding for speakers of <Am.E> or other topolects ?

  2. John Swindle said,

    December 7, 2019 @ 5:33 am

    @Phillip Taylor: AmEng speaker here. I did have to read it twice. The "want" in the first frame sounds positive, but the second frame reveals that she was talking about an unhealthy craving. I'm not sure changing the second frame would be the way to make it clearer.

  3. John Swindle said,

    December 7, 2019 @ 6:09 am

    The post is, however, a wonderful follow-up to HLT and Boris Johnson.

  4. Philip Taylor said,

    December 7, 2019 @ 6:29 am

    Well, if I may discussion British politics for just a second, what has really surprised me is the lack of emphasis on Brexit (or otherwise) in the current election campaigns. Each party seems (as always) to be trying to out-do the others as to how much they will commit to spend on various worthy causes (the NHS, policing, etc), and at least one leaflet which came through my door this week (on behalf of Mebyon Kernow, I think), made no mention of Brexit whatsoever. Since, for me at least (and I think for many Britons), avoiding Brexit and revoking Article50 is virtually the sole criterion by which I will make my selection on 12th, this focus on "other matters" came as something of a surprise.

  5. Bathrobe said,

    December 7, 2019 @ 7:04 am

    I think "I just want to" means "I find myself just wanting to".

  6. Ellen K. said,

    December 7, 2019 @ 9:42 am

    I'm American and had no problem with it as is. I see no conflict in wanting to do something that's a waste of time. And I agree with what Bathrobe says and wonder if how "I just want to" comes across makes a difference in how it comes across.

  7. Rose Eneri said,

    December 7, 2019 @ 10:46 am

    I think the first frame does indicate that the speaker views her desire as a negative when she says, "even when there's basically no news that matters."

    My problem is with the aftercomic and the mouseover, neither of which I get.

  8. Rodger C said,

    December 7, 2019 @ 11:35 am

    @Rose Eneri: I think they're meant to imply that most political news (especially podcasts) is nonsense already.

  9. Gav said,

    December 7, 2019 @ 5:21 pm

    The "just" in the first frame seems to this UK English speaker to intensify the negative sentiment. As we're getting political, I might, for example, say "Whenever I hear Mr J*****n speak I just want to throw up".

  10. KevinM said,

    December 7, 2019 @ 5:30 pm

    To my (AmE, NYC metro area) ears, I "just" want to carries, first, the connotation that she doesn't want to do anything else (i.e., she watches it all day to the exclusion of other activities). Second, however, it implies that she can't explain or justify her desire. A: "I want to watch political coverage on TV." B: "Why?" A: "I don't know, I just want to."

  11. John Swindle said,

    December 7, 2019 @ 8:35 pm

    Regarding the meaning of the first panel: Sure.

    @Rose Eneri: At a finer level, "this" in the aftercomic and mouseover refers to the podcast the woman in the comic has invented: someone should make one in real life; no, maybe they've already done it. Given the state of current political reporting, as Rodger C notes.

  12. Keith said,

    December 9, 2019 @ 10:01 am

    The only message I get from this is that SMBC has jumped the shark.

  13. R. said,

    December 10, 2019 @ 10:22 pm

    I wanted to know what this would sound like, so I implemented it.

    I think this is in the spirit of the SMBC strip:

    If the link is broken please comment, and I'll go struggle with Google Drive more.

    I'll probably try to contact Zach Weinersmith eventually, but I saw the link here first. :)

    Background: I already had a gibberish generator I like, left over from teaching myself Python. It attempts to follow English phonotactics while being otherwise mostly random.

    I added a bunch of names and keywords to it. The audio was generated by the built-in MacOs text to speech feature, via the 'say' command, which can output to a file. The text is spoken by a voice called "Tom".

    To convince you that you really don't want to look at the Python code, here's a sample text (not part of the audio file, but just a ten-line example, because it's funny):

    Vic Narrative know meime stiarmow Democratic Party Town Hall. Zaciede, ree, ul spau, sord, Presidential Campaign nieme knungint skiskee Mayor Pete soupse jeence broneape qua. Gloode Minnesota voong keule kace, dooth brengeize pir whune Polling Numbers speack frowrt Senator Klobuchar Kim Jong Un. Pua, strio Vice President Mike Pence ruam weest test rooc raumaeng friane. Jupse, wyde ier a clewre muate skeelou kaire omu bapse da cuap! Konce, slaech roc — Pete Buttigieg spliurze Narrative gloin coth naecoome skyrb. E arm fean ie fier fream snuach spuifrour trubliend gloote, smirtiopu. Mel kiunth fionce? Dru, hy aiff viame, pleirt fiace quaurmuth zouspaeck! Doich yate deel Cyber Endorsements Left Wing wi e chol blei.

  14. R. said,

    December 11, 2019 @ 1:23 am

    Actually, Google Drive would probably throttle that if lots of people downloaded it. I'm anticipating approximately three people downloading it and then regretting it, but these things are unpredictable.

    If I could find free hosting for lengthy but really stupid content, I'd totally make a podcast out of it, though, just to do it.

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