A Smarter Planet
A Smarter Planet (Conservation)
A Smarter Planet (Prescriptions)
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These comics were created as a special request for the blog A Smarter Planet, rather than the regular three-a-week schedule for xkcd's home site.
The first of these two strips references a commonly-cited statistic usually used to draw attention to deforestation, but Cueball misunderstands its true importance, (possibly deliberately) announcing his development of the Aerial Squirrel Transit Pod: An aircraft, presumably unmanned, designed to allow the modern squirrel the same range of not having to touch the ground. This is yet another instance of people announcing odd things or elaborately setting up a pun at conferences, a recurring theme in xkcd.
The second strip is a reference to the stereotype of doctors' handwriting being illegible, which is a very bad thing when you need a very specific medication and your pharmacy clerk can't read the numbers. Cueball is eager for his doctor to start signing his prescription digitally, as it means less paperwork and faster response time, but his enthusiasm fades when the doctor somehow manages to type in illegible handwriting. This could theoretically be done with a bad handwriting font, though most computerized forms don't allow you to change their font. The prescription number is given as "THX1138", the first film directed by George Lucas.
- They say that 400 years ago a squirrel could go from the Atlantic to the Mississippi without touching the ground.
- [Cueball speaking to an audience, under a banner labeled "Conservation Society".]
- Cueball [pointing to a diagram of a helicopter-like device carrying a squirrel]: Which is why I've developed the aerial squirrel transit pod.
- Audience member: Okay, back up.
- Good news: Doctors are finally learning to use modern security tools.
- Doctor: No need for phone verification. I've digitally signed it.
- Bad news: They've somehow learned to type with terrible handwriting.
- [The document given to the patient by the doctor]: Prescription THX1138 RSA fingerprint: [unintelligible characters]