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Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Cast Iron Pan
If you want to evenly space them, it's easiest to alternate between the Arctic and Antarctic. Some people just go to the Arctic twice, near the equinoxes so the visits are almost 6 months apart, but it's not the same.
Title text: If you want to evenly space them, it's easiest to alternate between the Arctic and Antarctic. Some people just go to the Arctic twice, near the equinoxes so the visits are almost 6 months apart, but it's not the same.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Each of the advices should be explained/discussed individually - Please change this comment when editing this page. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.

White Hat tells the old myth (debunking articles: Lifehacker, The Kitchn, Serious Eats), that "you shouldn't wash your cast iron pan with soap since it destroys the seasoning", to Cueball. Seasoning is the process of treating the surface of a pan with a stick-resistant coating formed from polymerized fat and oil on the surface. Although it may not be a problem to use soap on your seasoned cast iron pan, you should still proceed with care with how you treat it.

After giving Cueball this somewhat exaggerated piece of advice, he tells him that if he ever as much as let soap touch the pan he should just throw it away, as that fact alone would prove that he would not be up to taking care of such a precious possession. This is a kind of scare tactic that might make Cueball believe this and anything else he tells him.

White Hat continues to give dubious advice to the point of absurdity, and Cueball becomes more and more wary of it.

His second word of advice is to apply moisturizer to the pan daily to keep it fresh. Cueball asks why and is told that it is avoid the pan getting wrinkles. This implies that the pan would age like a human and get wrinkles. This is of course nonsense[citation needed], but Cueball is not yet ready to dismiss White Hat's advice.

The final piece of advice is that twice a year Cueball should fill the pan with iron filings and leave it in direct sunlight for 24 hours. Both details are intended to be absurd. For one, the iron filings appear to serve no actual purpose. Second, White Hat proclaims that you should be willing to go to a place where the Sun shines 24 hours in a day twice a year. North of the Arctic Circle (often shortened to simply "the Arctic") there will be at least one day a year where the Sun does not set. So what White Hat implies is that it is not enough to leave the pan with the iron fillings in sunlight for a combined 24 hours (over a couple of days); no, it has to be 24 continuous hours of sun. And if you are not prepared to make such a trip you simply don't deserve a cast iron pan.

White Hat's exact words, "If you're not willing to travel to the Arctic, you don't deserve cast iron" might also suggest that cast iron is a special almost-legendary metal similar to Damascus steel or its fictional counterpart Valyrian steel and requires distant travel to obtain/maintain. This might have historically been true as few people had access to cast iron in the West before the 15th century, unless they were willing to travel to China (a civilization that had been casting iron for two millennia or more) to get it.

In the title text White Hat mentions that if you wish to evenly space the two 24 hours of sun each year, it is easiest to alternate between the Arctic and the Antarctic regions. But this will mean that you have to travel a long distance at least once a year, even if you already lived inside one of the Polar Circles, you would have to travel to the other at least once a year.

It is though implied that you do not have to space them evenly. As he mentions some people just go to Arctic twice a year near the equinoxes. However, according to White Hat, this is not the same, probably because it doesn't lead to an exact six month spacing and the Sun would stay very low on the horizon and the sunlight would not be as intense.

In order to accomplish this other scheme it also means that they would actually have to go very close to the North Pole (or South Pole) as this is the only place with midnight sun around the equinoxes. So in principle this would be much more cumbersome than just going inside the southern most part of the Arctic region at the summer solstice, and similarly the northern most part of the Antarctic region at the northern hemisphere's winter solstice (which will be the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere).

When looking at it like this, it may seem that White Hat actually means that you should always go to the poles, rather than just to a place with 24 hours of sunlight, in order to have the sun high in the sky as well.

The title is a pun on 'cast iron plan', a plan which has no apparent way of going wrong.


[White Hat is holding a pan by the handle pointing to the frying surface as he shows it to Cueball.]
White Hat: Never clean a cast-iron pan with soap. It destroys the seasoning.
Cueball: Got it.
[White Hat shift the pan to his right hand and lowers it to his side holding a finger up in front of Cueball.]
White Hat: If you ever let soap touch the pan, throw it away. You're clearly not up to taking care of it.
Cueball: Wow, okay.
[In a frame-less panel White Hat has taken the pan back to the first hand holding on the the edge while he holds his other hand close to the frying surface.]
White Hat: Apply moisturizer to the pan daily to keep it fresh.
Cueball: ...Moisturizer?
White Hat: Do you want it to get all wrinkly?
Cueball: ...I...guess not.
[White Hat has shifted the pan to the second hand again holding it by the handle away from Cueball, while pointing at Cueball with the other hand.]
White Hat: Twice a year, fill the pan with iron filings and leave it in direct sunlight for 24 hours.
Cueball: Wait. 24 hours of sun?
White Hat: If you're not willing to travel to the Arctic, you don't deserve cast iron.



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