1542: Scheduling Conflict

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Scheduling Conflict
Neither a spokesperson for the organization nor the current world champion could be reached for comment.
Title text: Neither a spokesperson for the organization nor the current world champion could be reached for comment.


There are two humorous features in this comic:

a pun formed by syntactic ambiguity; and
the farce of a major national event that is by nature self-defeating (also an example of situational irony).

The comic shows a newspaper with a large headline:

National Scheduling Conflict
Championships canceled

Many readers naturally see a phrase break between the two lines, so that it means "there has been a scheduling conflict on a national scale, which has caused championships to be cancelled" (what the conflicts are, and which championships have been cancelled, is not made clear).

However, the correct interpretation is implied by the picture of an empty lectern under a banner with the text NSCC 2015. The headline should be read like this:

National Scheduling Conflict Championships (NSCC)

This comic thus envisions a "National Scheduling Conflict Championship" (NSCC), presumably as the culmination of some larger scheduling-conflict competition. It is unclear if the goal of the event is to have a scheduling conflict and miss it, or if there are actual challenges at the event, but this year's event has been canceled, most likely due to scheduling conflicts. Whether it is the contestants that miss the event, as it's their nature to always have a scheduling conflict, or if it is the organizers that have an issue is untold. The question is whether the event's cancellation is a success in itself or just a predictable failure of such an event.

The comic could also refer to the very common political ploy of using a "scheduling conflict" as an excuse to miss an event where the politician expects to be challenged or questioned on an issue he wishes to avoid. This is so frequent that it has become a cliché in American politics.

The abbreviation NSCC is related to many other national sports organizations like NFL and NBA. (The most common use of it online seems to be for Nova Scotia Community College).

The title text mentions that is was impossible to reach either a spokesperson for the organization (NSCC) or last year's world-champ (winner of the WSCC) for a comment. Thus continuing the problem with schedules for people involved in this type of championship. The world-champion could be assumed to be able to comment in this national championship (probably the American championship given that Randall is American), since the paper is looking for a comment on the national championship. But this proves that at least a world champion was crowned last year, so this type of competition is not always canceled.

It is not a necessity for a spokesperson for a sports organization to be good at the sport in question. However it will often be former competitors within the sport or at least people with interest in this kind of activity that takes an interest in such an organization, thus making it likely that they would also be good (or like to think they are good) at achieving scheduling conflicts.

A similar type of competition was mentioned earlier in 1466: Phone Checking in which it was difficult to load the web page with the result of the competition because it was overloaded by all those compulsive phone-checkers that have an interest in such a contest. They continually try to reload the home page of the CPCC (i.e. compulsive phone-checking championship) making the web page go down.


[Picture showing a newspaper with a big headline over a picture. In the picture there is a banner over an empty lectern with a microphone. Only the headline and the text on the banner in the picture is readable. All other text in the newspaper is just lines.]
National Scheduling Conflict
Championships canceled
Banner text: NSCC 2015

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What happened to my transcript? I came here, found no page created, put the template up with a transcript and now it's all been overwritten. :P Jarod997 (talk) 13:19, 24 June 2015 (UTC)

What happened is that you created the page 1542, but that is only mean to be a redirect page that leads to this page: 1542: Scheduling Conflict. The bot that creates this automatically deleted your transcript when it did it's magic. You can still find you transcript on the 1542 page in the history. (You will have to press the 1542 in the (Redirected from 1542) at the top of the page to go that page). --Kynde (talk) 14:34, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
@Jarod997 -- I think there might have been a scheduling conflict. Ahem (talk) 16:41, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
@Kynde Ah ha! Tyvm for the explanation. I was wondering though why I wasn't seeing any page up - was the bot a little slow yesterday? Jarod997 (talk) 13:26, 25 June 2015 (UTC)

In the explanation, I thought it was more a play on an oxymoron of a bunch of people who are good at fixing scheduling conflicts, only to have a contest in which they're entered be cancelled because of a scheduling conflict. I was going to put this in the explanation (which was blank at the time), but then someone overwrote me - and quite ironically a conflict arose. Jarod997 (talk) 13:26, 24 June 2015 (UTC)

Certainly these were my first thoughts. (Championships must take place after (often regional) qualifying Heats, and those that ascend to the final level then need to make themselves available for the ultimate play-offs.) It's possibly the inverse (conflict-creation!), but getting through the preliminaries might be like the old joke of losing out on the competition to become Village Idiot to the competitor who didn't turn up! With neither of the two sought-after contacts available, either they've not resolved to ensure that at least one of them is contactable at all times, or else they've managed to put aside all other commitments (including the Championships?) to finally get some time together with each other... 16:39, 24 June 2015 (UTC)

My original take was similar to that of Jarod997- the cancellation wasn't due to anything the participants did/didn't do, but that the competition itself had a scheduling conflict (like the venue was double-booked or something). AnInsideJoke (talk) 18:23, 24 June 2015 (UTC)AnInsideJoke

Sure but that is just not funny, and it does not explain why nobody could be reached for comment Spongebog (talk) 20:02, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
Because they were too embarrassed over their inability to fix the scheduling conflict over the scheduling conflict championships. ExternalMonolog (talk) 22:50, 24 June 2015 (UTC)

Perhaps it's somethin about the US elections or any debate (we didn't recieve any news here at south, im at Brazil hehehehhehe), but a debate is a national event with conflicts chanpionships and it is scheduled. I recon that is something with the schedule of US elections debate, perhaps it was cancled or just changed. perhaps i was seeing the light reflect on mars and was flashed with the M.I.B. memory flash hehehehehehhehehehehehhe. gabrielpenalber (talk)

A few remarks, but I'll leave it to someone better versed in the English language to work it into the explanation if he/she wishes to:

- Is this an American thing, to assume the current world champion must be last year's national champion?

- there is a play on words in the title(s), they would be read as "National Scheduling Conflict: Championships canceled" which begs the question "Which championships?". It is only when reading the NSCC banner that you could assume something like the "National Scheduling Conflict Championships" exists.

- How did they get a world champion if the championships are presumably always cancelled? Does that mean the prize is claimed anyway or that the champion is actualy not as good at scheduling conflicts as all those people cancelling because of scheduling conflicts.

- Now I'm overthinking, but there is no reason for a spokesperson to be a good at the activity of the organisation he/she is spokesperson for, or is there? (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

This reminds me a lot of comic #1466: Phone checking. Both are about an obscure championship, and both are interrupted by the nature of said championship. --Quantanaut (talk) 17:08, 24 June 2015 (UTC)

So (as commented on briefly by an earlier person) I initially read the newspaper headline as National Scheduling Conflict: Championships Cancelled, which is the most obvious reading the way it's stylized, although obviously the picture doesn't make sense in this context. But I think this is intended, that you first read it that way then you look at the picture and go "oh".-- 19:36, 24 June 2015 (UTC)

Yeah, I also thought that's what it said. Maybe a mention of syntactic ambiguity in the explanation would be worthwhile? 02:25, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
Honestly the idea that it was two separate sentences never actually occurred to me at all, since while having it as one sentence makes sense as a joke (especially considering other things in XKCD, like the Tautology Society), whereas the way you're suggesting it isn't a joke. -Pennpenn 00:27, 26 June 2015 (UTC)

Is there any significant scheduling conflict going on Randall's life right now or his recent past that served as impetus for this comic? 02:20, 25 June 2015 (UTC)

That'd explain why the last few weeks/month of comics seemed to have been delayed until later in the day. 08:14, 26 June 2015 (UTC)

I think there could be a reference to the very common political ploy of using a "scheduling conflict" as an excuse to miss an event where the politician expects to be challenged or questioned on an issue he wishes to avoid. This is so frequent that it has become a cliché in American politics. Taibhse (talk) 06:58, 25 June 2015 (UTC)

Seems like a remarkably convoluted explanation rather than the simpler one that it is the National Scheduling Conflict Championships (NSCC) which have been cancelled, the joke being the obvious one Stumpy

I agree, the current first couple paragraphs are ridiculous. If this silly way of reading the two newspaper headlines as separate lines has to be mentioned, it should be at the end, as a kind of dubious and totally unlikely alternative interpretation. --RenniePet (talk) 10:22, 26 June 2015 (UTC)
constraint programming

I think the championship is referring to computer programs that solve scheduling conflicts (a NP hard problem) google "constraint programming scheduling problems"

Basically scheduling is an example of a real world problem that can be expressed in a set of NP-complete constraints that can be solved by a computer given enough time. Even tho the problem is NP, the real world data and symmetries of problem means that certain algorithms (or constraint solver) can find the answer faster than others. The championship would be a completion to advance the state of art in constraint solvers to speed the computation of real world NP hard problems (such completions exist/existed). -- 08:31, 26 June 2015 (UTC)

Psychics convention

Canceled due to unforeseen circumstance. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)