1729: Migrating Geese

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 15:19, 5 September 2016 by (talk) (Added definition for shock front and comptroller, also changed "curvyness" in transcript to "curvature")
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Migrating Geese
"Hey guys! I have a great idea for a migration!" "Dammit, Kevin."
Title text: "Hey guys! I have a great idea for a migration!" "Dammit, Kevin."


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Only a rough draft.
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

Migrating refers the changing a habitat, like it happens every year with geese travelling long distances as to not experience cold seasons. When geese fly to their new habitat they tend to fly in a very clear shape or formation which resembles a flipped V. This formation is shown and explained here like a military formation with different roles:

Name Explanation
Head Goose

(4th in line to the British throne)

This goose may become the newest monarch of the UK, assuming the three who are further in line die. The current fourth in line to the British throne is HRH Princess Charlotte of Cambridge.
Quarterback A quarterback is a position in American Football.
Comptroller A comptroller is a position in a company. A comptroller oversees and manages all financial operations.
Migration abort goose This might be a reference to launch abort capsules used in rockets to safely land astronauts in the case of a critical stage failure
Twin-Engine Model This goose has two tails, which makes it look like a Twin-Engine aircraft which has two motors on either wing instead of one in the nose.
Kevin Might be a reference to the Kevin of reddit fame: https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/219w2o/whos_the_dumbest_person_youve_ever_met/cgbhkwp
CIA Informant A person, usually a criminal, that surreptitiously provides information to the Central Intelligence Agency.
Backups These are geese that are not used in the formation so they can replace other geese in their positions in case they have problems performing their task.
Missing Valence Geese In Chemistry, valence electrons are the electrons in the outermost "layer" which change places when chemical reactions happen. As there is an optimal number of electrons in a layer, if there are missing valence electrons, elements which can fill in these gaps tend to react with the elements having the missing electrons.
Shock Front A shock front is the front boundary of a shock wave created by either a sonic boom or another explosion in a fluid. It can also refer to the shock wave itself.
Stealth cargo being escorted The formation is forming a protective surrounding around an empty space in the middle which in a military formation could contain protected cargo. As there is no cargo visible in the goose formation, it is titled "stealth".


[Caption above the panel:]
Understanding Migration of Geese
[20 geese are shown flying in a typical migratory V-formation. As they are shown in silhouette it is not possible to determine if they are seen from above or from below. They are flying toward the top of the image with the first goose close to the top in the middle of the image. There is one head goose, and then there are 7 geese in the left arms and 9 geese in the right arm. Behind the left arm there are two stragglers that are not in line with the others, but closer to the middle than those above and not as close to each other as the rest but still flying in the same direction. Finally there is one goose at the bottom right corner flying at a 45 degree angle away from the other to the right. The first goose is flapping its wing, which is also the case with six other geese, no. 4 and 6 in the left and 3, 5 and 6 in the right arm as well as the middle of the two in the rear towards the middle. The rest are soaring with straight wings and all of these look the same except no. 7 in the right arm which has two tails, which both goes ahead of the wings, making it look like a plane with two engines. The head goose and 5 of the 9 geese in the right arm as well as the one bottom right are labelled with and arrow pointing to them from the label. The front goose has the label in front to the left, the other have it in front to the right, except the second last in the arm which has the label inside the V and one flying away which has the label right above it. The two behind and right of the left arm have one label behind them with two arrows from the label pointing at both geese. There is a thick curvy line in front of geese no. 3 to 5 in the left arm. In front of that line is a thinner broken line. In front of this is a label written with the same curvature. There are two areas surrounded by dotted lines. The first one is behind the last of the left arms geese, extending in the same direction for a distance of about two geese. It has a label above and left with and arrow pointing to it. The other area is in the middle of the V forming a loose triangular structure with a label inside.]
Head goose: Head goose (4th in line to the British throne)
Right no. 1: Quarterback
Right no. 3: Comptroller
Right no. 5: Migration abort goose
Right no. 7: Twin-engine model
Right no. 8: CIA informant
Bottom right corner: Kevin
Behind center: Backups
In front of left no. 3-5: Shock front
Empty area behind left arm: Missing valence geese
Empty area in center: Stealth cargo being escorted

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Kevin sounds familiar, has he been in a previous xkcd? Mikemk (talk) 13:51, 5 September 2016 (UTC)

I think Kevin is a reference to Home Alone. 14:19, 5 September 2016 (UTC)
1719: Superzoom also includes Kevin. Iggyvolz (talk) 14:22, 5 September 2016 (UTC)
See Kevin trivia from when it was used for a third time --Kynde (talk) 21:43, 6 February 2017 (UTC)
Is it a reference to the famous Reddit Kevin? https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/219w2o/whos_the_dumbest_person_youve_ever_met/cgbhkwp -- Mcroft (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
I thought it might be Kevin the Minion. Paddles (talk) 14:36, 5 September 2016 (UTC)
Perhaps it's just a generic name for the butt of a joke, like poor Steve. Papayaman1000 (talk) 15:02, 5 September 2016 (UTC)
At least in Germany there is something called kevinism which assumes that kevin is a name which is only given to children of poorer social groups(https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin#.E2.80.9EKevinismus.E2.80.9C). This is similar to what was mentioned as the reddit kevin. We'll probably have to wait for someone understanding the title text to be sure. Treed (talk) 15:04, 5 September 2016 (UTC)
A quick Google search found this Facebook post from Kevin Hart; no idea if this is the reference, or the comic and Kevin Hart are both referencing an older joke. Paddles (talk) 15:17, 5 September 2016 (UTC)
Probably a long shot, but "Dammit, Kevin" line sounds like a reference to Poorly Drawn Lines character Kevin (he's a bird, but I'm not sure that he's a goose). Check out this comic, for example: http://poorlydrawnlines.com/comic/south/ --DefaultLocale (talk) 16:41, 5 September 2016 (UTC)
I immediately thought of Kevin as the bird from Up. 16:55, 5 September 2016 (UTC)
Same here. http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/Kevin. Iggynelix (talk) 11:54, 6 September 2016 (UTC)
I assumed that 'Kevin' was a reference to the novel 'We Need to Talk About Kevin' (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
I think a bunch of people have hit the nail on the head - the "reddit kevin", the "butt of a joke", the "kevinism" thing.. aside from the link to the original "reddit Kevin", there's also a subreddit based on other "Kevin"s. https://www.reddit.com/r/storiesaboutkevin 22:34, 5 September 2016 (UTC)
I think it's more likely that 'Kevin' is a South Park reference. https://youtu.be/OyqdoxTEmdg Calion (talk) 01:14, 6 September 2016 (UTC)
I'm 90% sure that Kevin is a reference to an Eddie Izzard skit about migrating birds. He's talking about how migrating birds find their way, but Kevin gets lost and all the other birds just follow him, assuming that he knows where he is going. But it's years since I last watched it and I can't even remember which show it's in. 07:23, 6 September 2016 (UTC)
No, I'm pretty sure the butt of the joke in the Izzard skit is "Steve the Bird". Unless he used different names at different times for the same skit, or unless my memory's totally wrong, both perfectly possible. 08:22, 6 September 2016 (UTC)
Apparently Kevin is also the codename for a new Chromebook. 11:54, 6 September 2016 (UTC)
I know of two fictional Kevins and both of them are jerks. Maybe this is a wider social thing.

I think "Missing valence geese" refers to electron configuration, where they would give/take electrons to become "stable". 14:34, 5 September 2016 (UTC)

I thought so too and added it in the table during my edit. It's not a very good explanation though as I'm not a native English speaker. Treed (talk) 15:04, 5 September 2016 (UTC)

This is my first contribution here so I hope I didn't do too many things wrong, I thought if there's nothing there yet I can't break too much. Thanks for fixing the table, it looks much better now :) I don't know why you removed the part about programming though, because while it's maybe normal that geese migrate it is definitely not normal to have a guide ("Migrating") on doing so. Treed (talk) 14:57, 5 September 2016 (UTC) Edit: Goose also is a network protocol (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generic_Substation_Events#Generic_Object_Oriented_Substation_Events_.28GOOSE.29) which would further support that it plays on the technical kind of migration. Treed (talk) 15:17, 5 September 2016 (UTC)

Maybe it is ALSO about programming, but I do not think it is first and foremost about programming. I'm not sure what you mean about the having a guide? There is no goose designated guide? If there is some goose whose label refers directly to programming then maybe that could be explained in the table. Or later down the line after explaining goose migration. Apart from Kevin this looks very much like real geese migrating, with one arm often longer than the other and often a few birds flying inside the V. And no problem to fix the table, just found another table and copy pasted from that ;-) And hope you will add more to this wiki. --Kynde (talk) 16:00, 5 September 2016 (UTC)
I understand what you mean now, it's obviously showing the animals described as "migrating geese". I for some reason thought it's meant like "Installing Internet Explorer on Linux", not as a description but as a guide title/process (stress on migrating, not on geese). Like that you're obviously right, I just had the wrong approach and couldn't think around it. Good that there's explainXKCD. It's cause I'm dumb. :) Treed (talk) 17:20, 5 September 2016 (UTC)

The quarterback is usually in the second row of an American football formation like the associated goose. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

You would think Randal would have made a reference to Ramanujan, since this is the 1729th comic, yet he doesn't. --Jessep13 (talk) 22:52, 5 September 2016 (UTC)

Because of Taxicab number's... Well it's a very small audience and has he referenced him before? There may be an obscure reference to him in 599: Apocalypse, but not directly. So I think it's not strange, but funny reading so thanks ;-) --Kynde (talk) 13:36, 6 September 2016 (UTC)

Any idea what the 'comptroller' is doing in the formation?

crewing the comptrols, clearly. 20:25, 2 August 2020 (UTC)

In Europe, Kevin is a name, but it also became an insult in gaming community as someone who's is like an arrogant child, or a noob that don't understand what he's doing. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

'Damnit Kevin' is a meme. It is used when something goes wrong or someone is really dump. There is also a youth word/name "Alpha Kevin" meant as an insult (like King of idiots). See: http://9gag.com/gag/aqZn9yp/god-f-king-damnit-kevin, http://de.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Dammit%20Kevin!, https://www.reddit.com/r/Wellthatsucks/comments/40gzbl/damnit_kevin/ and more (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Am I the only one that was hoping for a taxicab number comic? Anyways, I don't see any special meaning to "forth in line for the throne" (as in, who is 1st, 2nd, 3rd). 01:52, 7 September 2016 (UTC)

I am almost certain that Kevin is a reference to the character from the comic Poorly drawn lines, that is the first thing that popped into my head and Randall lists it under "comics I enjoy" http://poorlydrawnlines.com/comic/kevins-ideas/ He is a bird that often does silly things to kick off the plot of the comic, and Kevin split off from the group of migrating birds sounds just like the start of a Poorly Drawn lines comic. 11:13, 10 September 2016 (UTC)

It might bee that Randall stumbled over this paparazzi photo of Princess Charlotte Bmuenzer (talk) 08:38, 13 September 2016 (UTC)

The incomplete notification mentioned the possibility of slang related to royalty and the phrase "Head Goose." I Googled the phrase in tandem with the word "Britain;" no relevant results came up. --OriginalName (talk) 04:53, 16 May 2017 (UTC)