Talk:2754: Relative Terms

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Does this mean that the steam calliopes which are as loud as an airplane are LARGER than that airplane? I'm not finding any examples of such. Ikidre (talk) 01:31, 25 March 2023 (UTC)

There isn't a meaningful upper limit on the size of a steam calliope (other than the expensive of manufacturing and operating it). Planes have more practical upper limits, given that they're at least nominally supposed to fly. -- 11:31, 27 March 2023 (UTC)

Holy shit what a terrible comic 02:24, 25 March 2023 (UTC)

I've seen many a terrible comic and I personally don't consider this one to be terrible, but relative to other XKCD comics I would consider it one of the least interesting and entertaining, unfortunately. 15:44, 25 March 2023 (UTC)

I'm somewhat terrified that "Statue" isn't considered *maximally* quiet. Trimeta (talk) 02:32, 25 March 2023 (UTC)

I don't think the position in the quadrants is meant to indicate degree of loudness or size. Barmar (talk) 04:07, 25 March 2023 (UTC)
Yes it is, that's how such graphs work. That's why sewing machine is in the middle, Randall is declaring that it's neither small nor big, and neither quiet nor loud, it's medium on both scales. Comics like this are roughly the standard X-Y graph but without numbered scales and having words instead of points. And I too noted that statues aren't maximum quiet, LOL! Maybe he's referring to the Doctor Who Weeping Angels? DO they make any sound? NiceGuy1 (talk) 05:29, 25 March 2023 (UTC)
Well, that may be how such graphs sometimes work, but clearly not this one. The quadrants are positioned relative to the sewing machine, but that appears to be the only significance afforded to positioning in this layout - an item's position within its quadrant does not indicate the degree to which it qualifies as belonging there. Otherwise a firecracker and a blender would be quieter than a cricket. Unless Randall is referring to the crowd at a test match. But that seems pretty unlikely.Yorkshire Pudding (talk) 10:20, 25 March 2023 (UTC)
The fact that xkcd charts usually have arrows on the axes when the position within the quadrant does matter would support this claim. NcPenguin (talk) 16:45, 25 March 2023 (UTC)
Came here to point out that I’ve heard a mouse that somehow got in scritch-scritching n something in my kitchen, and I’ve heard a butterfly that somehow got in battering against a window trying to get out, but I’ve never in my life heard an ant, nor even a hundred ants working together to wreck stuff. But as you pointed out, there are no arrows on the chart, so the positions in the quadrants probably aren’t intended to be meaningful. 21:56, 25 March 2023 (UTC)
To support that further, while buns (pastry) and buns (lagomorph) are probably both quieter than a sewing machine, the latter is generally significantly louder than the former (as well as most everything else in that quadrant), so co-locating them wouldn't work. 08:20, 27 March 2023 (UTC)
I am certain that this is how Randall does such graphs, and intended with this one, but he got sloppy this time. I suspect he WAS doing that, but then would think of something quieter (or louder or bigger or smaller) and have left himself no room to indicate this (like he already put "Volcano" at the biggest before he decided to add the even bigger "Moon", so now they're both at the bottom of the graph). So, yes, gradation IS supposed to be indicated, but very loosely, not vigilantly. NiceGuy1 (talk) 04:22, 26 March 2023 (UTC)
I'm not sure what your certainty is based on, but I don't think you're correct about Randall's intentions with this chart. 20:55, 28 March 2023 (UTC)
2,750+ comics, that's what my certainty is based on. :) He often compares things like this (not long ago was a graph which compared doctors, I think the aspects were how legitimate their degrees were and how much you could trust them to help you with a medical issue). That, and I always get the feeling me and Randall have highly compatible thought patterns, like there are times I know exactly what he was going for, when others express confusion and uncertainty. I just know there's a GENERAL, LOOSE gradation going on here. You can't compare all objects, but for many you can. If you looked at no entries except Volcano, that feels like it would be the biggest thing here. If you look at only the Moon, THAT feels like it'd be the biggest. So they both feel right at the big part of the scale. Compare them to the Northern Lights (slightly higher, therefore smaller) and that's correct. Compare the RIGHT things, and it's graded. That's why the items are scattered instead of just listed, and why sewing machine is dead centre, as the baseline of everything. 04:57, 1 April 2023 (UTC)
Gartner Magic Quadrants include arrows on the axes, e.g. "completeness of vision -->" and "ability to execute-->". This is not that. However it is mostly implied by the contents of each quadrant that the items are arranged smallest to biggest (top-down) and quietest to loudest (left-to-right). I think for those who study the items carefully, this then introduces some situational irony for comedic effect in the way of the unexpected placement of certain items like "statues" (louder than a Giraffe?), "baby" (smaller than a harmonica?), and "cannon" (quieter than a riding mower?). Additionally, having spent time in a quiet room with a cricket, I think the "maximally loud" position of the cricket here feels about right. 16:44, 25 March 2023 (UTC)
It seems that the joke is exactly that the ONLY meaningful distinction between big/small and loud/quiet is how something relates to a sewing machine. There are too many obvious deviations otherwise.

I've always considered a microwave oven to be the central item

I concur that microwave would be excellent in the center, and less ambiguous (I mean, I feel certain that Randall didn't think of industrial sewing machines, but this community loves being uncertain, LOL!) NiceGuy1 (talk) 05:22, 25 March 2023 (UTC)
∃ industrial microwaves. Units of at least 1MW are available, compared to domestic units around 1kW. 04:13, 26 March 2023 (UTC)

AFAIK, only Randall/xkcd uses the term "Bun" to mean bunnies... :) I feel like it should be worded that way. NiceGuy1 (talk) 05:22, 25 March 2023 (UTC)

No, it's very common in the furry community, and I swear I've heard it elsewhere as well. 12:03, 25 March 2023 (UTC)
Well, there's a reason I said this in a comment instead of editing the Explanation. :) NiceGuy1 (talk) 04:25, 26 March 2023 (UTC)

Is the breadbox no longer the standard item for size comparison? Because I still use it that way. Mathmannix (talk) 12:43, 25 March 2023 (UTC)

Ah, but this requires a standard for size AND sound at the same time, and I can't imagine a breadbox being the middle of any sound scale. What's quieter than a breadbox? NiceGuy1 (talk) 04:27, 26 March 2023 (UTC)

Is the moon really bigger than the northern lights? 17:39, 25 March 2023 (UTC)

Hmmmm... I wonder. Well, the Moon is a tad under 3,500km (diameter). Taking just a single pole's Aurora (combined, you could just say they are approx. Earth's diamater, which is bigger than the Moon,[citation needed] going pole-to-pole) the height is the thickness of the (upper) atmosphere, very much of that below the altitude of satellites (e.g. ISS), which is mere hundreds of km at best. Or take its 3-6 degrees of 'band width', that is perhaps a tad over 300-600km thick. But if we go with its extent all the way round off the pole, it seems to get about the size of the Moon (linear distance, not 'over the pole') once it extends by 15-16 degrees of latitude (i.e. to less than 74 degrees N/S). It is generally accepted that it varies between 10 and 20 degrees from each geomagnetic pole (is seen at lower latitudes, but only above the horizon) so... it's a close thing. If I've done my calculations correctly. 18:58, 25 March 2023 (UTC)

Would it be useful to add "size" and "loudness" columns to each of the tables, along with estimates of each for each item? -- Dtgriscom (talk) 01:23, 26 March 2023 (UTC)

I don't think this comic is fully accurate... I've always assumed volcanoes were smaller than the moon. Thexkcdnerd (talk) 04:08, 26 March 2023 (UTC)

The Earth is larger than the Moon. The Earth spews lava from vents, ergo the Earth is a volcano (that is larger than the Moon)...
I actually subscribe to the idea that relationships within the quadrants mean little, I mean whales bigger than trains? Firecracker bigger than a blender? A book is noisier than a newt? ...but if you want an absurdist reason, I'm gonna say I live on a volcano, just because there's a whole lotta magma underneath me, and not as far away as space is above. ;) 12:46, 26 March 2023 (UTC)
I've slammed books closed or on to tables, but never seen/heard anyone slamming a newt, ergo books are louder. SDSpivey (talk) 15:49, 26 March 2023 (UTC)
Books barely make any sound at all in breeding season. In fact, they hardly do anything in breeding season, not matter how long you sit still and watch them. But it's quite difficult to set up a hide in a bookshop, so many objections from the owners... 16:23, 26 March 2023 (UTC)
Book printing, however, is quite loud. -- Hkmaly (talk) 19:37, 26 March 2023 (UTC)

How is a windmill quieter than a sewing machine? Looks like Randall never went up close to one :) Wind turbines make around 100 dB (of course you never stand close enough to experience it at this level), and the old timey windmills or water mills were very loud mechanisms too. -- 15:37, 26 March 2023 (UTC)

I second that comment. Wind turbine farms can be heard as a low humming sound from hundreds of meters away and are indeed quite loud up close (if you go and stand under one, you'll hear the "WHOOOoooM, WHOOOoooM" sound as each arm passes). It is even a major issue with the installation of wind turbines close to homes (at least in France).

Either I haven't been used to his sewing machines and waterfalls, but many waterfalls --very arguably most are about the size of a badly leaky faucet in volume -- much quieter than the sewing machines I'm used to.

I have found that the loudness of a sewing machine is definitely related to how old the machine is. I've got a 70-yr-old electric Singer, and my friend has a very recent model sewing machine, and mine is less than a quarter of the loudness, especially when thoroughly oiled. His sounds like a push-style lawnmower. I had no idea sewing machines were so loud until I met modern sewing machines. Thisfox (talk) 19:38, 26 March 2023 (UTC)

I've never been more compelled to post this in a satire subreddit. This xkcd looks like it was written by someone with dimentia. (talk) 15:22, 28 March 2023 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Well, it is 2-Dimenti(on)al... Well spotted! 02:18, 29 March 2023 (UTC)

As I've seen pointed out elsewhere, on the weboweb by another presumed xkcdophile, the item (sometimes refered to as a "statue") involved in defining the ultimate culmination of Vladlen Tatarsky's activities, in St. Petersburg, was both smaller and (briefly) very much louder than a sewing machine... 00:18, 4 April 2023 (UTC)