Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Cueball is fascinated about that engines can burn organic matter. But in fact biofuel is a big industry today. It is criticized now and then because it can affect food prices and is believed to exacerbate world hunger.
Next comes a reference to the famous quote, "Mussolini made the trains run on time", an oft-quoted piece of propaganda from Italy under Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. The pun is made on the fact that thyme (an herb, or as in this comic, a spice) and time (the physical phenomenon, as in the original quote) are homophones. But the organic matter thyme could technically be used as fuel.
The title text may be interpreted in one of two ways. It may be attributed to the pun-maker, in which case he makes no apology for his corny joke, or it may be attributed to Cueball, in which case he makes no apology for the termination of friendship, since the pun was too terrible.
Randall later made another joke on the fact that thyme and time are homophones: 1123: The Universal Label.
- [Cueball at computer and a friend standing nearby.]
- Cueball: Wow – Engines can burn vegetable oil.
- Friend: Well, sure. You can burn most any organic matter. Corns, leaves, spices...
- Cueball: Spices? Really?
- Friend: Sure – Mussolini made the trains run on thyme.
- Cueball: ...
- Cueball: We are no longer friends.
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Hilarious joke but Thyme isn't actually a spice, it's a herb.126.96.36.199 18:51, 17 July 2013 (UTC)
And Mussolini didn't make the trains run on time either (There were improvements in the railway system, but most were before he came to power). 188.8.131.52 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
How do we know that the guy at the PC is Cueball - it could just as well be Cueball that makes the terrible pun? He is just as often the one delivering terrible Your Mom joke, as the one telling people off for such behavior (since he is not the same character in Randall's XKCD but many different). Kynde (talk) 11:28, 7 March 2014 (UTC)
- Yeah, the official transcript only defines them as 'Standing man' and 'Man at computer'. --Alex (talk) 16:28, 3 May 2014 (UTC)
I have never understood the hate for puns. I like puns, they are great. 184.108.40.206 21:51, 17 July 2014 (UTC)
--I agree with you, but to others, they grate. 220.127.116.11 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
In what way are time and thyme near homophones? In what dialect are they not complete homophones? RyanofTinellb (talk) 23:50, 4 January 2015 (UTC)
I am sure there are at least some people who pronounce "th" in thyme the same way as "th" in "thing" making the two words sound slightly distinct... 18.104.22.168 00:15, 18 September 2015 (UTC)
I would wager that the apology could also be Randall breaking the 4th wall, as he is the one to actually use the pun. Flewk (talk) 10:57, 26 December 2015 (UTC)