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July 11th, 2009
03:04 am
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Meme llama approves
Tonight's piece of weekend frivolity: kinkyturtle gave me a W, so here's 10 things I like that start with W, plus a brief explanation for each one. If you respond to this message, I will give you a letter to do this -- in your own LJ, not in the comment section.

Meme mutation bonus: You are encouraged (but not required) to give your explanations in some form of constrained writing -- haiku; rhyming couplets; no words of two syllables; no use of the letter "e"; the first letter of each sentence has to spell MARBLECAKE; or just make some interesting rule up.


Writing -- What can I say? Language is exciting. Stories are powerful. I am a mere servant to my muse. I'm going to assume that by now you've all seen my fiction LJ and I have no need to plug it.

Worldbuilding -- I've been building up an urban-fantasy alternate Earth, piece by piece, for about ten years now. Above and beyond the dozens of short stories and multiple novels set there, I'm still slowly working on the setting's wiki and getting an overview of the whole thing in place. Why, did I just slip another W word in there? Yes, yes I did.

Wings -- I get vertigo on bridges and at the top of cliffs and buildings. It's not because I hate heights, it's because I'm at the mercy of gravity. My reflexive urge for flight doesn't mesh well with the knowledge that should I find myself in midair I'm only going to go in one direction.

Wolpertingers -- The Wolpertinger (Crisensus bavaricus) is a fictional animal said to inhabit the alpine forests of Bavaria in Germany. A horned rabbit similar to the American "jackalope", it is often also depicted with wings and fangs. Stuffed Wolpertingers, composed of parts of actual stuffed animals, are often displayed in inns or sold to aJ@K#$%RfgAFK#%n

[Graphical browser required to appreciate today's entry.]






-- We interrupt this post to bring you breaking news: The world's most irregularly updated webcomic has just updated. Confirmation has been obtained. We repeat: MAAD HAS UPDATED.

Authorities are urging the public to remain calm.

This brings "My Afternoon: A Dramatization"s mean lifetime frequency to 0.0025 updates/day (MTBU = 484 days). Experts at the Center for Male Bovine Excretory Statistics believe that this may signal a resurgence in MAAD activity, but caution that it is still too early to draw conclusions.

Current Location: ~/Brainstorm
Current Mood: sillysilly
Current Music: Janis Joplin, "Me And Bobby McGee"
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(11 comments | Leave a comment)

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From:elynne
Date:July 11th, 2009 05:57 pm (UTC)
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Your secret superhero power: bizarre and hilarious sense of humour. XD
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From:baxil
Date:July 11th, 2009 09:02 pm (UTC)
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Wackiness -- One benefit of being entertaining is that you get to leave a good legacy behind you, whether or not people like your ideas. It also makes it easier to be subversive; people are more receptive to the serious things you have to say if you've touched them in other ways.

I mean -- uhh ... GLORBLE FLEEPY WARGLE DINKUM!

If you want a letter, by the by, have an "S" for Secret Superhero Powers.
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From:elynne
Date:July 12th, 2009 01:20 pm (UTC)
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*snerk* I'll see what I can do with that. ;)
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From:krinndnz
Date:July 11th, 2009 06:04 pm (UTC)
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Who was the world's most irregularly update webcomic before you picked up again?

Also, do frequency and regularity get lumped together there? How do you measure consistency of time between updates, at what granularity?

Citizens demand updates.
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From:baxil
Date:July 11th, 2009 10:07 pm (UTC)
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Weighting, statistical -- The gold standard for "irregularity" would probably be a measure of the update interval's standard deviation (low standard deviation means the update interval is more predictable), and a small weighting factor to compensate for low-frequency comics having an easier time of generating large SDs (perhaps multiply by the square root of the number of updates, or divide by the MTBU, or some such).

Performing that statistical calculation on every webcomic would be a non-trivial task (though I've done it on my own, and the standard deviation is ~518 days), but MTBU is fairly simple ( (enddate - startdate) / (updates - 1) ) and a good first approximation -- since the standard deviation's upper bound is proportional to the MTBU.

Even before the latest update I'm almost certain MAAD was the record-setter (the 2007 update came after 1,329 days, which by itself is probably some sort of record for active webcomics).

Who's second place? I couldn't possibly tell you. But to get a sense of the magnitude here, let's compare MAAD to VGCats, which is almost legendary for its erraticness among top-tier webcomics. It's currently on strip #270 and began on Sept. 1, 2001, which means the MTBU is (2870/269) = 10.7 days! My shortest update interval, 33 days, is broadly comparable to his longest delay.

If you'd like a letter, have an "F," short for Fact-checking.
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From:krinndnz
Date:July 11th, 2009 10:50 pm (UTC)
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But Baron, one must consider that there are patterns of updating that do not yield identical intervals, but could reasonably be described as "regular" because there is a rule governing them. For instance, updating according to the Fibonacci sequence would make a comic seem to quickly grind to a halt, but it would be updating according to a strict rule. Likewise updating according to the expansion of pi would yield an MTBU between 4 and 5 and would sprinkle updates all around the calendar.

Further complicating the situation, I argue that after a year without updates, it is reasonable to consider an episodic publication dead. The caveat, of course, is that since they aren't people, they can be brought back (indeed, there are cases where such a consummation is devoutly to be wished), but as long as they sleep, they are dead. And if they're dead it's not reasonable to count them in a comparison between active publications. This, in turn, leads to scenarios like the one you've just created, of publications that stir only slightly more often than the notorious resident of R'lyeh.
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From:baxil
Date:July 12th, 2009 04:11 am (UTC)
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Your second paragraph makes a good point, but a cutoff time of "one year" seems awfully arbitrary. I could argue that point, but:

I think in the span of two paragraphs there you've managed to construct a Cantorian diagonalization argument to show "irregular" is necessarily an incomplete metric. Your hypothetical Fibonacci-updating comic would be "dead" by your second assumption within the span of 14 strips. Even relaxing the cutoff time (to, say, 100 years, on the assumption that the creator would then be dead) only buys the Fibonacci-updating webcomic a small number of additional strips, and surely the cutoff time is somewhere bounded above, otherwise no webcomic could ever be said to fall silent.

At any rate: Any irregularity measure robust enough to take it into account would necessarily measure "dead" strips. So the real question is to do the best job with the measuring tools available, and accept that some strips will be incorrectly measured under any devisable system.

That having been said, I'm not above designing my metric so that I am both eligible for competition, and also the winner. ];=8}
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From:krinndnz
Date:July 12th, 2009 05:28 am (UTC)
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Foolish human, hope in one hand and decompose a finite Abelian function in the other and see which one fills up first!

Ahem.

Part of why I set the cutoff point at a year is that any update bumps the comic back to "alive" status and buys it another 364 days of life, so I don't feel like it's harsh. It definitely is arbitrary, though. That's why I tried to generalize it. If a monthly comic book or a weekly TV show went for a year with no new material and no announcements about its future, it'd be quite reasonable to consider it dead-for-now - resting/pining-for-the-fjõrds/stunned, maybe, some media properties stun easily - so I'm just trying to port that to webcomics.

That having been said, I'm not above designing my metric so that I am both eligible for competition, and also the winner. ];=8}
Just one of the qualities that make you such an enjoyable dinner companion, Baron.
(Deleted comment)
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From:baxil
Date:July 12th, 2009 04:01 am (UTC)
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"Why not?" -- They say that the most exciting phrase in science is not "Eureka!" but "That's interesting." Similarly, memes are most rewarding when they're done not out of a sense of sheepage but out of conscious choice.

I will also give you an "S", for Jon Stewart and the aforementioned Shot.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:July 12th, 2009 05:08 am (UTC)
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According to http://www.schlockmercenary.com/d/20020528.html it's "Huh, that's funny."
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