1268: Alternate Universe

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Alternate Universe
As best as I can tell, I was transported here from Earth Prime sometime in the late 1990s. Your universe is identical in every way, except for the lobster thing and the thing where some of you occasionally change your clocks for some reason.
Title text: As best as I can tell, I was transported here from Earth Prime sometime in the late 1990s. Your universe is identical in every way, except for the lobster thing and the thing where some of you occasionally change your clocks for some reason.


Randall is trying to make the point that eating lobsters is as weird as eating spiders. Crustaceans and arachnids are both arthropods, members of the same phylum, so his comparison isn't too far off. Then again, humans are in the same phylum (chordates) as sea squirts, so any perceived similarities are not exactly rooted in a close biological relationship. In addition, lobsters were once considered the "cockroaches of the sea", and a captain trying to feed his crew with lobster would often be seen as cruel; although there is some justification for that mindset as lobsters were served by being crushed into mush, shell and all, and boiled into a bland gruel. On the other hand, cooked tarantula spiders are considered a delicacy in Cambodia.

One common objection to eating spiders, crickets, roaches, and ants is that they are sometimes eaten whole, with guts, feces, and chitin devoured indiscriminately. However, many people eat only the actual muscles of the lobster, the same as one would any vertebrate.

In the title text, Randall suggests a fantastical reason for why he is so repulsed by eating lobster; he was actually born on a world almost completely identical to Earth, and was unknowingly relocated to our Earth when he was a teenager. The sentiment expressed here is that the act of eating lobster feels outright alien to him. This might be a reference to the Mandela Effect, which is a suggestion by various peoples - some jokingly, some seriously - that groups of people occasionally get transported into alternate realities as an explanation for why so many people were certain that Nelson Mandela died in the 1980s despite him actually dying in 2013. (Contrary to popular belief, the Mandela Effect is not rationalising those false memories but rather why so many people have the same false memory.)

To feel that strongly about shellfish-based cuisine, he would have to have not been exposed to it until his adolescent years; this seems unlikely, as the real Randall Munroe was born about 60 miles inland from the United States' northern east coast, where said cuisine is particularly prevalent. In reality, he is probably merely grossed out by the idea of eating lobster, and is probably exaggerating his feelings for comic effect. The title text also references changing clocks to and from Daylight Saving Time (DST), a practice which Randall has previously shown disdain for, mocking its irrational premise in several comics. Again, he is likely comically exaggerating his feelings, unless he literally doesn't recall a time before his teenage years when his parents ever changed the clocks in accordance with DST.

The term "Earth Prime" is typically used in fictional multiverse settings, as a way to conveniently distinguish the Earth in which the narrative is rooted from any other Earths featured in the story.

The idea of a alternative universe where Brussels sprouts taste good was the subject in 2241: Brussels Sprouts Mandela Effect.


[Captions above the panel:]
Imagine you were transported to an alternate universe just like your own, except people occasionally ate spiders.
You can't convince anyone this is weird.
[Megan is holding a very large spider, with another similar spider before her on the ground, and Cueball is standing behind her, leaning away with his hands out to each side shocked, as shown with three small lines going out from his head.]
Megan: Mmm...
Cueball: No! What are you doing!?
[Caption below the panel:]
This is how I feel about lobster.

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I don't care about anything but how could we go to Randall's Earth Prime? Sounds *amazing*! That's right, Jacky720 just signed this (talk | contribs) 23:53, 8 April 2017 (UTC)

This reminds me of that conspiracy theorist thing where a bunch of people thought that New Zealand was, like, to the west or north of Australia (I can't quite remember), only to check on a map and see it was definitely to the east... And as such convinced themselves that they somehow travelled to an alternate version of Earth were everything was basically the same except NZ was in a new place. Anyone else remember/know about those guys? EDIT: Found one of 'em, so hopefully I sound less crazy (than them): NZ conspiracy nut in action 01:29, 24 September 2013 (UTC)

I haven't heard of the NZ thing (I live in Australia and am a geologist, so it just sounds like the normal sorts of jokes we make about American's geographical ignorance...), but there is a bit of internet folklore/urban myth that many of us originate from a parallel universe in which The Berenstain Bears are called The Berenstein Bears. I know I am from this particular universe because IT WAS TOTALLY BERENSTEIN WHEN I WAS LITTLE. YOU'RE ALL LIVING A LIE!!! I CAN'T GET HOME!!!! *breaks down in tears* 02:20, 2 March 2016 (UTC)
Honestly never heard/seen it spelled -stain. Has the pronunciation changed in this universe as well? 06:46, 11 April 2016 (UTC)
Pronunciation is not as simple as you believe. Do you pronounce "-stein" to rhyme with "mine", "Maine", or "mean"? Do you pronounce the "s" as "sch" or just a soft english s? Which accent do you use when you pronounce it one of those ways? How much emphasis do you put on the final syllable - is it more like it rhymes with "men"? Of course we're talking about a series of books, so remembered pronunciation, as a child, is in line with how you read it. Of course the bigger lesson here is that you are simply a native of the current universe. 01:04, 11 May 2016 (UTC)

I thought Earth Prime was a reference to Sliders... but Wikipedia says it's been used much more widely. Saibot84 (talk) 04:40, 23 September 2013 (UTC)

Wait, wait ... only "some of you" change your clocks? In the universe I just came from, MOST of them changed their clocks at unsynchronized times for no good reason anyone has ever been able to demonstrate. Only the Third World along with Hawaii and Saskatchewan were holdouts where I came from. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Neither India nor China are having this obscure idea of occasionally changing their clocks for no obvious reasons. So even "most" might be a bit of a stretch. Pmakholm (talk)

Sure they do -- they're just more occasional about it than others! China last did it in '91, and India in '45. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Neither does Indonesia. Apparently, according to this map, neither does a good deal of the world (particularly those near equator) as well. Goldstein-Izayoi (talk) 13:57, 23 September 2013 (UTC)

Iceland (definitely NOT Third World) does not changes its clocks. It remains on GMT throughout the year, despite being way west of the Greenwich Meridian 09:53, 23 September 2013 (UTC)

In my universe, Iceland was a small, inbred fishing community -- prone to collapsing the world's economies with banking phishing scams (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Yeah I think it's a Sliders reference. Randall says he was transported in the late 1990s and Sliders aired from 1995-2000. 06:02, 23 September 2013 (UTC)

Didn't we already had discussion about Earth Prime on 1184:_Circumference_Formula? Hmmm ... should we prepare category for comics mentioning Earth Prime? :-) -- Hkmaly (talk) 10:02, 23 September 2013 (UTC)

They eat spiders in some parts of this world, e.g. Cambodia. Geevade (talk) 06:54, 23 September 2013 (UTC)

Reminds me a little bit of this Married to the Sea strip: http://www.marriedtothesea.com/index.php?date=111008 10:38, 23 September 2013 (UTC)

Reminds me of this bit from a Dave Barry column: "I personally see no significant difference between a lobster and, say, a giant Madagascar hissing cockroach, which is a type of cockroach that grows to approximately the size of William Howard Taft (1857-1930). If a group of diners were sitting in a nice restaurant, and the waiter were to bring them each a freshly killed, steaming-hot Madagascar hissing cockroach, they would not put on silly bibs and eat it with butter. No, they would run, retching, directly from the restaurant to the All-Nite Drive-Thru Lawsuit Center." SteveMB (talk) 10:46, 23 September 2013 (UTC)

Has this guy never heard of Bear Grylls? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WVcSufp3Fw http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJRpXYs1pQA (Just occasionally!) 11:01, 23 September 2013 (UTC)

I wonder how amount of meat compares, and meat-to-shell ration, and taste of meat. BTW Wikipedia says that Cooked tarantula spiders are considered a delicacy in Cambodia. --JakubNarebski (talk) 11:56, 23 September 2013 (UTC)

Personally, I don't think spiders to lobsters is a good comparison. Spiders are carnivores, while lobsters are carrion eaters. Personally, I would never want to eat a carrion eater. (Of course, I would never want to eat a spider either, but that's different...) --Divad27182 (talk) 13:53, 23 September 2013 (UTC)

I always compared Lobster to cockroaches. But, maybe calling them "The cockroaches of the sea" was just me. --Jeff (talk) 16:22, 23 September 2013 (UTC)

So, this alternate universe has a restaurant chain called "Red Spider"? SteveMB (talk) 21:28, 23 September 2013 (UTC)

Brilliant. 02:45, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
eek! http://xkcd.com/8/ Orazor (talk) 13:48, 30 September 2014 (UTC)

On this one episode of Game Grumps on of the guys on that show mentioned some comedian or something making a comment along the lines of "Realizing you really are getting old is like seeing a teenager eat a spider like it's nothing. You can't explain to him why it's wrong, you just know it is, but his generation doesn't get why it isn't okay." That was the first thing I thought of when I saw read this, does anyone know who said this? 21:42, 23 September 2013 (UTC)

I read: "where people occasionally ARE spiders"! ...and though Megan was about to kiss her spider boyfriend. 00:41, 24 September 2013 (UTC)

Can someone explain why occasionally eating spiders is weird? The universe that I come from has people eating on average 8 spiders a year while sleeping, though I can't seem to find a source of that information on this universe's Internet. Spiders being not okay to eat occasionally and the Internet failing me must surely be signs I'm in a parallel universe. -- 03:32, 24 September 2013 (UTC)

Somewhere I saw that the 8 spiders a year is probably low estimate :-). (Other sites insists its urban legend, but seriously, how would you prove this?) But no matter what you think about spiders opinion on mouth as possible home, I would say it only counts when you eat spider deliberately. -- Hkmaly (talk) 09:28, 25 September 2013 (UTC)
CP Grey tackles the spider myth in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCzXZfNIu3A -- Rael (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

The 8 spiders a year is false. Here's a link: http://www.snopes.com/science/stats/spiders.asp

Note that this only proves that the statistics is urban legend and doesn't say anything about how high the actual consumption is. -- Hkmaly (talk) 09:06, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
Sure it does. It says the actual consumption is zero, and explains why. 15:10, 22 September 2015 (UTC)

Indeed "8 spiders" is probably a very low estimate of annual consumption. In the universe where I originally came from, insect parts (and presumably spiders) provide a nutritional boost to many industrially-processed foods. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Food_Defect_Action_Levels 17:23, 30 September 2013 (UTC)

HaHaHa i'm from Israel and this comic is about us! according to jewish diatery rules, spiders and lobsters are both forbidden (only one Arthropod is allowd - Locust). We also had a mix-up with our clock because we changed the date without telling Apple and Google, so the smartphones had to be switched manually. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Really? I'm not sure it's about Israel. I think it's about the ridiculousness of eating lobsters, as they are similar to spiders, and eating spiders is "disgusting", while eating lobsters is "normal". I'm a vegetarian, so I don't eat any arthropods. 17:53, 15 January 2015 (UTC)

(CTU) 3102 rebmevoN 1 ,92:30 711.642.261.801 ?sdrawkcab gnitirw lla uoy era yhW (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I get why people might dislike eating lobster (and/or spiders) but I don't get why it would seem rational to consider it the same thing when they are quite physically distinct. -Pennpenn 00:55, 20 January 2015 (UTC)

I don't really get this comic... I get that eating lobster is weird, but spiders are delicious. It's hard to convice people that it isn't weird to eat spiders... (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Howard Nemerov offers this take on lobsters awaiting purchase in a supermarket: "...the beauty of strangeness marks/These creatures, who move (when they do)/With a slow, vague wavering of claws... We inlanders, buying our needful food,/Pause over these slow, gigantic spiders/ That spin not. We pause and are bemused..." From the poem "Lobsters" in "The Collected Poems of Howard Nemerov."Npsych (talk)

Shouldn't Megan be wearing a bib, or isn't that universe alternate-enough?