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Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Eventual Consistency
Later I'm going to get a head start on the heat bath.
Title text: Later I'm going to get a head start on the heat bath.

Explanation

Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by an EVENTUALLY CONSISTENT BOT. First revision. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.

Cueball's employer wants him to continue his work in the COVID-19 pandemic. The stated task is to "test the database" and "guarantee eventual consistency". Trying to avoid work, Cueball points out that the second law of thermodynamics itself "guarantees eventual consistency", as the universe is guaranteed to eventually die a heat death, at maximum entropy and perfect consistency. His boss retorts that in a heat death, nobody can work; Cueball claims that he's simply getting a head start on this.

Eventual consistency has a double meaning here. In computing, many systems are distributed (spread out) across multiple servers, sometimes in very different parts of the world. When data changes -- like the number of views on a video or the likes on a social media post -- updating it across every server can be a challenge, and it's often not practical to keep the data perfectly in synch everywhere. So the system will use eventual consistency instead. Each individual server will record changes, and after a certain amount of time or a certain amount of change, the results will be synched across the whole network. At any given moment, an individual server's data will be a little off -- but eventually everything will get recorded correctly.

The title text constitutes another play on the words "heat bath", which can refer to the thermally uniform state of the universe at heat death. However, in this context, we can assume Cueball instead plans to prepare a literal warm bath for his own relaxation and enjoyment after or during his work.

Transcript

Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.
[Cueball sits at a home desk.]
Laptop: I know it's hard to focus right now, but we should try to finish testing the DB.
Cueball: Ughhhh.
Cueball: Okay.
Laptop: The system needs to guarantee eventual consistency.
Cueball: I mean, it does.
[Closeup of Cueball.]
Cueball: Eventual consistency is guaranteed by the 2nd law of thermodynamics.
Cueball: Sooner or later this will all be a uniform heat bath.
Cueball: Maximum entropy.
[Back to Cueball and desk.]
Laptop: Maximum entropy means no useful work can be done!
Cueball: I'm getting a head start by doing no useful work now.


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