1165: Amazon

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 04:22, 27 September 2023 by (talk) (Revised undo. The subject connection is obvious, though perhaps we don't need to explicitly invoke the competitive factor.)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to: navigation, search
Amazon.com took a surprise early lead with 'Time required to transport a package from Iquitos, Peru to Manaus, Brazil' but then lost it at 'Minutes to skeletonize a cow'.
Title text: Amazon.com took a surprise early lead with 'Time required to transport a package from Iquitos, Peru to Manaus, Brazil' but then lost it at 'Minutes to skeletonize a cow'.


The Amazon River in South America is the second longest river in the world and by far the largest by waterflow. Amazon.com is a website that specializes in commerce and selling goods over the internet. The "round 14" suggest they are being compared in different criteria in a sort of competition. With such different systems, we can assume that most of those comparisons were similarly funny. The title text mentions two other criteria of comparison.

The measure of flow for the Amazon river (cubic meters per second) indicates the volume of water that passes a given area in the river at any second. To illustrate how much 220,000 cubic meters is, the comic shows a car parked next to 220,000 cubic meters of water. 220,000 cubic meters equals a cube with an edge span of 60.4 meters. By comparison the 0.9 cubic meters (900 L) of goods that are shipped by Amazon.com seems very small (note that 900 liters of goods per second is still a lot). To illustrate this size, the comic shows an Amazonian fish (or possibly an Amazon river dolphin) investigating the packages.

Iquitos and Manaus are cities near the source and middle respectively of the river; the title text suggests that it is shorter to have a package shipped between the two than let it drift downstream. "Minutes to skeletonize a cow" refers to piranha, an Amazonian predatory fish with a popular reputation of being capable of the mentioned act when hunting in groups. (It should be noted that, while not fictional per se, the legendary cow-killing piranhas had been starved beforehand by local humans.)

In 1599: Water Delivery Amazon.com delivers water, as a direct reflection of what the Amazon river actually achieves by default.


Round 14
Estimated outflow volume
in cubic meters per second
[A cube of water representing the outflow of the Amazon, with various marine life in it and people standing around it.]
Amazon 220,000
[A pile of boxes representing the outflow of Amazon.com, dwarfed by the large cube of water next to it.]
Amazon.com 0.9
Advantage: Amazon

comment.png add a comment! ⋅ comment.png add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!


I believe it is not about Amazon Forest, but about Amazon River. -- ‎ (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

That'd be a ridiculous amount of rain! 06:42, 30 May 2014 (UTC)

Skeletonize a cow

Isn't there an urban myth that pirahnas can skeletonize a cow in under 2 minutes? 10:32, 25 January 2013 (UTC)

According to [1], it's not myth - you only need few nets and few hundreds of piranhas. It was not mentioned how far they needed to go to get that number of piranhas, but I would suppose setting up that kind of practical joke can't take more that few days. -- Hkmaly (talk) 11:55, 25 January 2013 (UTC)
If the cow were a calf, why not? But a grown cow, I don't think a few hundred piranhas can fit and reach the whole cow within 2 minutes. Lysdexia (talk) 02:19, 5 January 2019 (UTC)

Does Amazon sell beef by any chance? I mean: while amazon.com can probably ship a package from Iquitos to Manaus, the Amazon can only nearly, because Manaus is situated a few kilometers upstream of a river branch where the package from Iquitos would float by. Makes me think whether there is a similiar comparison with skeltonized cows. Hence beef. 15:25, 25 January 2013 (UTC) madd

There was a TV programme of the Michael Palin type that took a boat trip up or down the Amazon. One of the fish mentioned in the river could strip the meat off a cow in seconds. It was a deep water dweller, not the common piranha and "IIGC" a bottom feeder so its normal cuisine was "probably" already done to falling off the bone. I saw this programme once long long ago.

If the package was being delivered by dugout on the river its speed could well exceed the 4 to 6 or more knots likely experienced in mid channel. (I seem to recall figures in the region of 8 to 12 knots.)

"lost it at 'Minutes to skeletonize a cow'." sounds like food for thought being off-putting. The stripping would not have been done by an Amazon courier as slaughtering a cow takes a lot longer by human than the minutes suggested here. The time that it would have had to lose would be considerably more than minutes considering the likely gain that a canoe piloted at mid channel as constantly as possible would make Amazon.com a lot faster even if the canoe was just drifting and not under power.

A package drifting in the Amazon would quickly get entangled in the growth along the banks and might even, on occasion, drift up-stream I used Google News BEFORE it was clickbait (talk) 17:48, 11 January 2015 (UTC)

Reason for comparison

I think the main reason for this comparison is the dispute over the .amazon TLD between Amazon.com on one side and Brazil and Peru on the other. -- 11:38, 25 January 2013 (UTC)

I assume you mean this article (or alike): http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2242994/Brazil-Peru-web-giant-Amazon-battle-amazon-domain-name.html 09:40, 28 January 2013 (UTC)

Indeed, they are comparing who is “more worth” the domain name and this comic shows how to compare them -- 19:12, 30 January 2013 (UTC)

Just want to say that I always thought it was a mistake to add to the (generally) three-character traditional non-geographic TLDs that they used to have. This despite buying myself a .info when that first came out, mostly as a novelty similar to the acre of Moon. (But .aero? .museum? Really?) Still, can't begrudge them the drift to non-Western characters (just wish it'd been direct non-Western equivalents to .com, .org, .mil, .gov, etc... Anyway, what's wrong with just letting each national TLD logically and self-consistently expand upon their own existing standards (.co.uk, .com.au, etc) in a manner the locals would understand, and let significant metanational organisations (UN) do the same for their own subset of responsibilities in their own pseudo-national TLD. (You see, I over-think these things.) 16:20, 28 March 2013 (UTC)

I was a'waiting the question mark but found none. Thus you said your own predicate is wrong. Lysdexia (talk) 02:19, 5 January 2019 (UTC)
Is anyone else thinking what I am?

Its been a while since Munroe has given something seriously good/thoughtful.... I am getting the inner feeling that he is planning something big. Like BIG . Anyone here concurs with me? 14:18, 25 January 2013 (UTC)

I will second that. It has been a while since he has had any labour intentive jokes. 16:57, 25 January 2013 (UTC)

Rounds 1-13

Am I the only one who wants to know what the other 11 criteria might be? 19:10, 25 January 2013 (UTC)

No. But we know 3 of them, right? So we just need 10 more. 18:52, 28 January 2013 (UTC)

We need 11 more. This is criterion 14, and we know 3 of them including this one. 22:46, 29 January 2013 (UTC)


"Of course, it would take slightly longer for Amazon.com to skeletonize a cow because the death ray takes time to heat up." I don't like being more confused after reading the explain than before. What death ray? Mumiemonstret (talk) 14:54, 16 March 2015 (UTC)

I thought it was just a joke that doesn't really have any deeper meaning? Hmm... Now I'm curious too ._. Just some random derp 21:28, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
I am pretty sure it's just a joke. But who writes these explanations? (Now that I posted this, will you amazon people let me go?) 22:23, 7 May 2015 (UTC)

Edit comment (→‎Explanation: The SI symbol for litres is a capital L, I corrected this from a lowercase l.) ...actually, in case that editor is reading (an IP, like me), it's either "L" or "l". And I'd handwrite a loopy-l, which also is acceptable. But at least we both agree on the spelling. ;) 19:21, 17 April 2023 (UTC)