1898: October 2017

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October 2017
And yet I have no trouble believing that the start of the 2016 election was several decades ago.
Title text: And yet I have no trouble believing that the start of the 2016 election was several decades ago.


Randall once again makes us feel old by referencing an old movie that our memory puts as recent. The movie in question is The Social Network, written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by David Fincher, which was released seven years and three days prior to this comic, on October 1, 2010. Seven years is also how long some people believe bad luck will follow you after breaking a mirror.

Megan has often tried to make Cueball feel old and he thus claims he doesn't want to hear another of her factoids that will make him feel older, as he already feels old. Megan actually complies, but in the end Cueball gets too curious and ask her to hit him with the fact, which he immediately regrets.

A mirror was previously broken by Black Hat in 1136: Broken Mirror. However, as of October 2017, there are still 2 years left of bad luck.

The title text refers to the the 2016 US presidential election which took place on November 8, 2016, almost 11 months before this comic, and Randall/Cueball cannot understand that this is not longer ago. Donald Trump won in a surprise victory over Hillary Clinton (Randall's preferred of the two, see 1756: I'm With Her). A common refrain, especially among comedians, is that Donald Trump's tumultuous presidency so far has been so stressful and eventful that the election feels like it took place far longer than 11 months ago. Backward telescoping is a psychological effect that causes people to overestimate the elapsed time since an event.

Interestingly, the title of this comic is patterned on the previous "this will make you feel old" comic "November 2016," which was published in the early hours of November 9th, while the presidential election's ballots were still being counted. Some people (including explain xkcd editors, writing in that explanation's trivia section, see that for more details, also on this special title name) felt that Randall could have published something more timely, and commented that the election had made them feel old enough as it was. By using the same sort of title and making this joke, Randall brings the whole thing full circle.


[Megan and Cueball are walking.]
Megan: Want to feel old?
Cueball: Why do you always start your factoids that way? Of course I don't want to feel old. I already feel old.
[Slim beat panel where they keep walking.]
[In a frame-less panel only Cueball is shown walking.]
Cueball: ...Fine, hit me.
[Megan holds her hand up as they again are shown walking together. Cueball balls his hands up into fists in response to her comment.]
Megan: If you broke a mirror back when the Aaron Sorkin Facebook movie came out, your seven years of bad luck would be over this week.
Cueball: Dammit.

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I'm so (too) old I don't even know that movie :-/ 09:59, 4 October 2017 (UTC)

Aren't factoids "fake facts"? Maybe there's an inside joke that the fact is incorrect? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Factoid 17:29, 4 October 2017 (UTC)

"...or a true, but brief or trivial, item of news or information." 21:40, 4 October 2017 (UTC)
Its USE has been to mean "tiny, usually insignificant, fact", but I've seen it pointed out many times that the "-oid" suffix means fake or not quite. Like a humanoid is something that appears human-like without being human. Thus "factoid" would mean "seems like a fact but isn't one". "A tomato is certainly a vegetable" would thus be a factoid. Or a statement that seems like fact but is actually debatable. However, while using "factoid" the way Randall is here would be inaccurate, I've never seen this word used any other way. It's used this way so often, I could see crowd-edited sources like Wikipedia and Urban Dictionary including this definition. NiceGuy1 (talk) 03:59, 6 October 2017 (UTC)
The -oid suffix means 'having the form of'. By definition, a fact has the form of a fact, so must be factoid. However, non-facts could also be factoids if they have the form of a fact (for example, if they are commonly repeated as if true). When Odo complains (as he often does) that he will never understand humanoids, he doesn't mean to exclude humans - they too are humanoid. Of course, it's slightly odd that he uses this term at all - having 'grown up' on Bajor, you might expect him to be more inclined to consider them 'Bajoranoid'. One might argue that he is in fact saying 'Bajoranoid', and the universal translator is translating it as 'humanoid', but that would seem to suggest that it is playing fast and loose with the translation, since the accurate translation into English would be, er, 'Bajoranoid'. I may have spent too much time thinking about this. 12:49, 6 October 2017 (UTC)
I'll say a tomatoid would almost certainly be a vegetable with some striking similarities to a tomato, but whose grandparents include perhaps a potato, some brussel's sprouts. -- 10:47, 8 October 2017 (UTC)
Hmmm, your link seems to stop at the underscore, and doesn't show your link text. Way to go wiki! LOL! Until seeing the link in full while typing this, I had assumed you were talking about Data and I was confused about your talking about Bajor. :) (I fixed it, it wants a space between the address and the link text, not a pipe. It might have included the pipe and link text as part of the link and the other site threw it out as invalid?).
True, "humanoid" and "planetoid" (the only other words of this form I can think of right now) can include humans and planets respectively, but the way I've heard it they shouldn't, that -oid means "like but isn't". At the very least I've read this in reference to "factoid", that the form of the word SHOULD mean "Seems like a fact but isn't one". Also it seems like the tendency is to include "humans" within the term "humanoid" mostly when the word is used by someone who isn't human, like Odo. It's also quite possible the writers of the show were misusing the word all the time. LOL! And I understand the overanalysis. Welcome home, Overanalyst, we call this mecca of overanalysis "ExplainXKCD". :) NiceGuy1 (talk) 04:55, 13 October 2017 (UTC)
Dictionary.com describes -oid as "a suffix meaning "resembling," "like," used in the formation of adjectives and nouns (and often implying an incomplete or imperfect resemblance to what is indicated by the preceding element)"
Wiktionary says the -oid suffix means "Of similar form to, but not the same as. Having the likeness.", "suffix meaning similar but not the same". So, a factoid would be "of similar form to a fact, but not the same as", "similar but not the same as a fact.". Both ways suggest something that isn't actually a fact, but just looks like one. NiceGuy1 (talk) 05:38, 13 October 2017 (UTC)

The explanation is referring to 11 months ago for the election. However, the wording of the title text, "the start of the election", seems different. 11 months ago was one day long, seems weird to describe the election as "starting" then as the election ended that same day. I think Randall is referring to the start of campaigning. As an outsider I don't know specifically, but the time I'm thinking of would have been January, February, March 2016, something like that. Actually I feel like I've heard something about "primaries" and "April". NiceGuy1 (talk) 03:59, 6 October 2017 (UTC)

I agree that it could refer longer back, but it is interesting that he made a similar titles comic when the election was complete... So maybe it is that day he refers to? --Kynde (talk) 12:25, 6 October 2017 (UTC)
That makes a lot of sense, pairing "November 2016" with "October 2017", BUT saying "start" doesn't make any sense unless it's a period of time, many days, even months. The election didn't start on that day, the entire thing began and ended that day. Unless he's including the campaign. THAT took months. THAT indeed had a "start"? Basically, if he meant that day specifically he would have more simply said "...believing that the 2016 election was several decades ago." NiceGuy1 (talk) 04:41, 13 October 2017 (UTC)

A comment on the explanation

In paragraph two of the explanation, there is the phrase "Cueball gets to curious". I was going to correct 'to' to 'too', as in a large quantity of something. But then I began to wonder if 'getting to' something was a new English usage that means the same as 'reaching the condition of' something. As in,"Donald got to understanding French" or "Timmy got to bitterness". When I did a search on the phrase I found lots of examples, most of which could still be simple misspellings. These Are Not The Comments You Are Looking For (talk) 00:17, 9 October 2017 (UTC)

"gets to" isn't usually proper English when the next word is an emotion, and I haven't heard it used as new usage. This terminology only works if it's followed by a destination. With emotions like this, only if the emotion is expected. Such as the well known 5 Stages Of Grief, the last of which is Acceptance, you could say "he finally got to Acceptance", or "We're waiting for the day he gets to Acceptance". For curiosity, it COULD work here, if you expect someone to be curious but they aren't at first, then he "gets there", but it's awkward. And there's a saying that fits perfectly which would therefore work better: "His curiosity gets the better of him" NiceGuy1 (talk) 04:41, 13 October 2017 (UTC)