1251: Anti-Glass

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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'Why don't you just point it at their eye directly?' 'What is this, 2007?'
Title text: 'Why don't you just point it at their eye directly?' 'What is this, 2007?'


Black Hat makes an attachment for eyeglasses which shines a laser light at people using Google Glass. The quote "The best defense is an indiscriminate offense" plays off the adage "The best defense is a good offense". Black Hat's goal seems to be to interfere with the Google Glass user potentially recording the person with the laser, and possibly blinding Google Glass users, undermining the project. By mailing one to the children of every Google executive, who are likely to be Google Glass users, he's clearly aiming to disrupt the entire Google Glass project. "Silicon Valley" is a term for the southern San Francisco Bay Area where many technologically up-to-date people live who are more than likely to work in the computer industry and use Google Glass.

The "viral marketing campaign" excuse seems to play off how battery-powered LED placards were mistaken for terrorism in the 2007 Boston bomb scare. He pretends that his terrorism is actually a viral marketing campaign, but seems to have not thought this excuse through. He then tries to get them to look into a laser light.

The title text shows the irony between Black Hat's needlessly complicated technical solution, and his apparent hate of Google Glass, a relatively new technology. In addition, he remarks that he wouldn't do something as old-fashioned as shining a laser in peoples' eyes, as this does not live up to his technical expertise.

However, he could shine a laser through the peephole, which would have the same effect on the police officers.

It seems generally that Randall is no fan of Google Glass, which was also shown later in 1304: Glass Trolling. It was the second time they are mentioned in xkcd after 1215: Insight, but this was the first direct mocking of people wearing these glasses. Google Glass has become a recurring theme in xkcd.


[Two police officers stand outside an apartment door. The male officer is bald (and half cut of by the left frame of this thin panel), and the other is Ponytail, both are wearing peaked caps with white emblem. Ponytail is holding a pair of glasses down in one hand. The glasses have a small white box with a smaller tip in the front attached to one of the frames. A person (turns out to be Black Hat) answers through the door which has a peephole.]
Ponytail: Police. Open up.
Ponytail: Did you make this glasses attachment?
Black Hat (off-panel through door): Oh, yeah.
[Black Hat is sitting in an office chair at his laptop with his back to the door. The door is not visible but the officers voices come through it off-panel from the left.]
Ponytail (off-panel): What's it do?
Black Hat: It detects when someone near you is wearing Google Glass and shines a laser pointer at their eyepiece.
Ponytail (off-panel): Why??
Black Hat: The best defense is an indiscriminate offense.
[Cut back a frame-less panel with a wider view of the two officers outside the apartment so the male officer is not cut off.]
Male officer: It seems you've mailed these devices to people across Silicon Valley, including the children of every Google executive.
Black Hat (off-panel through door): Yeah. It's a viral marketing campaign for an upcoming movie.
[Same scene but with frame around the panel.]
Male officer: What movie?
Black Hat: Haven't decided yet. Anything good coming out this fall?
Male officer: Sir, open the door.
Black Hat: First stare at the peephole for a sec.

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Could someone explain the title text, please? I'm afraid I don't understand the irony mentioned. 11:37, 14 August 2013 (UTC)

Yes. And also why 2007? Not like him to pick a random year. Was it something to do with the new laser classification and warning/labeling regulations that went into place that year? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laser_safety) -- Drjoe047 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

It should be the iPhone, the first generation was released on June 29, 2007. It was a similar technical revolution as Google Glass will be.--Dgbrt (talk) 13:12, 14 August 2013 (UTC)

I don't think that the explanation needs to include the description of Black Hat. He has his own page. Regarding his desire not to blind people, he's about to shine a laser in the police officers' eyes. He has no problem blinding people. In addition, I don't think the title text is ironic. Black Hat is a hacker. He's always embraced technology. He just embraces it his way. -- Theo (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Wouldn't Google Glass be a nuisance for Black Hat? If everyone goes around always recording everything, it gets much harder to pull off nefarious plans in secret... 17:11, 15 September 2013 (UTC)

"The best defense is an discriminate offense." Might this be a play on the idiom "The best defense is a good offense"? The "indiscriminate" part strongly reminds me of NSA's justification that their massive surveillance program was not warrantless search & seizure because it's indiscriminate, i.e. no one person is targeted. Kind of like in this comic, where the device automatically targets any nearby Glass user but no one user(s) in particular. 08:46, 15 August 2013 (UTC)

  • Dunno about the NSA reference, but it is an obvious play on that adage. I've added a one-sentence explanation of the reference and a link to the Wikipedia page. --V2Blast (talk) 06:08, 27 August 2013 (UTC)

Could Black Hat's attachment be for Google Glasses? Somehow the attachment has to see the targets and process this information ... The Kids will be running around and shooting each other. Sebastian -- 10:12, 15 August 2013 (UTC)

The explanation should be changed in order to remove a number of errors, inaccuracies and grammatical faults.

1. The laser is aimed at the eyepiece of the device, not at the eye of the wearer

2. Therefore it could not blind the wearer

3. No explanation of why mailing them to the children of google executives would disrupt the project.

5. Clumsy double use of the nothing phrase "plays off".

6. Unsubstantiated and extremely unlikely link to a real news event.

7. Starting the final paragraph with the word 'However'.

8. No explanation of the reference to the year 2007.

9. Use of the word "hate" seems misplaced. Black Hat is unemotionally evil.

Go for it. 02:39, 4 February 2014 (UTC)

The reason I left that incomplete template there, with only "Incomplete?", is because it was there earlier, and I didn't know what was incomplete about it. 0100011101100001011011010110010101011010011011110110111001100101 (talk page) 23:24, 4 February 2014 (UTC)

Regarding #3 above: Children likes toys. Glasses with a laser pointer attached looks like a toy. Children would run around using and playing with these glasses/toys. They would eventually meet their parents. Their parents being Google executives, there's a high probability they would be wearing Google Glasses. They would be aware of the annoyance created by Black Hat. Without being able to fight back this annoyance, they would feel best to shut down the Google Glass project. 04:25, 30 March 2014 (UTC)

The last-panel peephole request can be intended to blind cops' filming gear rather the cops' eyes? And the phrasing could be an hint to the MIB movie/cartoon/comics franchise said pre-neuralyzering / pre-neurolysering someone?

Have a nice day! Nickh ²+, 14:34, 6 March 2020 (UTC).