2190: Serena Versus the Drones

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Serena Versus the Drones
After the test, she said that if she had a choice, she wouldn’t defend herself against drones using a tennis ball and racket, though she would absolutely pick them over other sports equipment. But, she added, "Drones don't bother me."
Title text: After the test, she said that if she had a choice, she wouldn’t defend herself against drones using a tennis ball and racket, though she would absolutely pick them over other sports equipment. But, she added, "Drones don't bother me."


Another comic which is a promotion of Randall's upcoming book How To, to be released less than 3 weeks after this comic's release, on September 3, 2019. And this time permanent - as opposed to Disappearing Sunday Update from about two weeks before. It stars Serena Williams, an American professional tennis player and former world No. 1.

Most book advertisements feature laudatory quotes from famous people or reviewers, but here, Serena Williams is quoted as saying "It's a pretty bad idea" about Randall's idea of her attacking drones as given by the title of the comic. That idea is one of the chapters in the book and Serena Williams actually agreed to go and shoot tennis balls after an old drone with a broken camera. This can be read in the Blag post that is linked at the bottom of the comic: Serena Versus the Drones. Unlike other books, "It's a pretty bad idea" is a pretty good quote for his "How To" book given that many of Randall's humorous explorations of scientific methods of doing usual and unusual things are pretty bad ideas.

As usual with Randall there is no need to click on the link, as the entire image is a link to the blog post. This was mentioned in 1572: xkcd Survey, and even earlier in the banner for his book tour for the What If? book.

The title text says that Serena Williams said that if she wanted to defend herself against drones and if she had to use sports equipment, she would use a tennis racket and ball. Notably, according to the Blag post, this would be ineffective compared to throwing.


[A panel at the top of the comic has a quote and to the right of the quote is a picture of Randall's new book. It is black with large blue text and smaller white text. On the book cover, in white drawings, are seen Megan with a ladder and either Black or White Hat (hard to say on black background). Both are looking up on Cueball who is floating in the air with a quadcopter drone beneath either leg, trying to plug in an electric light bulb in a naked lamp hanging down near him. It seems he has already removed the broken light bulb, as he has one in both hands. And now he tries to put in the new one. The blue text stating title and author can be read.]
"It's a pretty bad idea."
—Serena Williams
on my idea
Book: How To
Book: Randall Munroe
[Caption below this panel above another set of panel:]
Which types of sports equipment would be most effective at bringing down a rogue photography drone? My new book features a real-world test by Serena Williams.
[A large panel shows Serena Williams, with curly hair and a very large ponytail, swinging her tennis racket to smash a tennis ball towards, and hitting, a quadcopter drone flying towards her. As the ball hits a small explosion seems to happen with the drone which is stopped in mid air. Above the drone are two other drones flying towards her, with one more below. There is a broken drone on the ground in front of her. Three tennis balls lie behind her.]
[Three smaller panels are beneath the large panel. The first panel is smaller than the other two and a bit higher up than they are and is overlaying the second panel. It shows Serena jumping with the racket held high. No drones are shown, but her shadow can be seen beneath her.]
[In the next panel she is seen smashing her racket into one of the drones, breaking a rotor off, she is still hanging in the air, her shadow beneath her and her legs partly behind the previous panel, which is covering most of the left part of this panel. Another drone is flying above her.]
[In the final panel she is seen standing again, turning around facing the other way, taking another swing at two drones that try to evade her. The ground is now filled with debris from several smashed drones.]
[Caption beneath the panels, with the "here" in link blue color... The entire image is a link, so no need to click on the here though.]
To read an excerpt about Serena's drone battle, click here or go to blog.xkcd.com

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He should have added a chapter on how to make html imagemaps --Lupo (talk) 12:03, 16 August 2019 (UTC)

I've done imagemaps ages ago, and Randall is much smarter than me. It's clearly a matter of priorities. -boB (talk) 14:08, 16 August 2019 (UTC)
At this point, I think it might be a running gag. 15:33, 16 August 2019 (UTC)
Oh, most definitely. He could clearly learn it, and likely already knows how or at least the basics. -boB (talk) 19:29, 16 August 2019 (UTC)
I'm pretty sure there were previous XKCD comics where he did use an imagemap. — Kazvorpal (talk) 21:26, 16 August 2019 (UTC)
Actually, every single xkcd page has an image map -- the pictures of other comics at the top of the lower section (the playpen balls and heart, the circuit diagram, Meghan spinning, etc.) is an image map. Look at the source code. <map> and <area> are image map tags. -boB (talk) 19:19, 19 August 2019 (UTC)

I wonder if he knows that there is a video of the football player Patrick Mahomes throwing a football at a drone. He did really well. Robert911 (talk) 14:18, 16 August 2019 (UTC)Robert

Found the killshot on facebook. Seebert (talk) 14:58, 16 August 2019 (UTC)

Collapsed the URL. Herobrine (talk) 09:59, 17 August 2019 (UTC)

My favorite phrase from the book excerpt: "how effective the world’s best tennis player would be at fending off a robot invasion." Who needs an army when you have the Williams sisters? Barmar (talk) 17:45, 16 August 2019 (UTC)

The blag post describes an experiment in which 3 tennis serves are performed and the target is hit 1 time. These results are significant at a p > 0.05 level. -- 19:07, 16 August 2019 (UTC)

It is just one excerpt from the book. I hope he does explain it somewhere. Because even without of using maths, 3 tries for the first hit seems pretty average when someone get 1 out of 5-7. --Lupo (talk) 11:55, 18 August 2019 (UTC)

How come Serena has a white face when the rest of her body is black? For legal reasons, that's a joke.

Thanks for sharing that disclaimer, but I don't think this is a situation where you want to have to face the comedians instead of the law. 05:08, 17 August 2019 (UTC)
Wait, maybe the entire xkcd cast is actually black? 09:30, 18 August 2019 (UTC)
That is, save for appearances of real-life non-black people in comics as characters, but hey, what do I know?

Roger Federer (Randall, you know that there are tennis layers outside America? That are even better.) has already done that https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttoXVwmuX1I - with higher precision it seems.

You know that video is fake, right?