1362: Morse Code

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Morse Code
Oh, because Facebook has worked out SO WELL for everyone.
Title text: Oh, because Facebook has worked out SO WELL for everyone.


Cueball recounts the last message sent in morse code by the French maritime radio station Le Conquet radio upon retiring its 500 kHz channel.

The poetic, and potentially angsty-sounding nature of the message reminds him of the on-line journal website LiveJournal, which was popular until the late 2000s (it was launched in 1999), and stereotypically used by angst-ridden teenagers to post song lyrics, poems, or cryptic messages to express their emotions and possibly fish for attention. Since Cueball never uses his LiveJournal account any more, he wonders if he can find the password again. He might be considering posting the final Morse Code message as his own last and final message on his LiveJournal.

The popularity of the site died down considerably with the arrival of social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, Google Plus and the advent of microblogging platforms like Twitter and Tumblr. LiveJournal has also lost a lot of users since a Russian company bought them out; Russian dissidents used LiveJournal to present their opinions, and the Russian government used to retaliate by creating "denial of service" attacks which make LiveJournal unusable for all its users, sometimes for days. Nowadays (May 2014) LiveJournal is still quite popular among Russian-speaking people, including dissenters, but its administration was forced to show HTTP 451 error in some cases (e. g., when a user with a Russian IP is trying to read Alexei Navalny blog) with new laws. Thus when Megan is upset with his desire to let LiveJournal die out like the Morse Code, Cueball describes it as "a nice place to go for some peace and quiet".

The title text is Megan's (or Randall's) sarcastic remark indicating that Facebook is no less filled with angst-ridden thoughts than LiveJournal was, nor is it free from problems or controversies around other issues such as security or privacy.


[Cueball and Megan are lying in a grassy, lonely plain.]
Cueball: When the French navy retired morse code in 1997, they broadcast a final message: "Calling all. This is our last cry before our eternal silence."
Cueball: I wonder if I can find my Livejournal login.
Megan: Hey, I like Livejournal.
Cueball: It's a nice place to go for some peace and quiet, I suppose.


Randall is no stranger to LiveJournal. xkcd started on LiveJournal [1] before xkcd.com was created and is no longer live today. The blog was updated parallel to the website up to 2006 whereupon the introduction of a new RSS feed and automated update tools for the website allowed Randall to shut it down.

The Morse code for the final message "this is our final cry on 500 khz before eternal silence" is:

- .... .. ...   .. ...   --- ..- .-.   ..-. .. -. .- .-..   -.-. .-. -.--   --- -.   ..... ----- -----   -.- .... --..   -... . ..-. --- .-. .   . - . .-. -. .- .-..   ... .. .-.. . -. -.-. .

A period is a very short tone while the hyphen represents a slightly longer one. Between each character there is a small pause. This message was typically sent within less than half a minute.

External links[edit]

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Does the way the panels of the comic go 0101 mean anything, being more code and all? Cheeselord99 (talk) 06:58, 30 April 2014 (UTC)

The Morse sequence · – · – (dot dash dot dash) corresponds to letter Ä (A umlaut), also æ and ą, outside US-ASCII. – · – · is C. --JakubNarebski (talk) 07:52, 30 April 2014 (UTC)
I think it just indicates a long pause. They're in a quiet, peaceful place. Not sure there's anything more to be read into it173.245.53.148 16:03, 30 April 2014 (UTC)

It seems to translate in the question mark. --07:11, 30 April 2014 (UTC)

Randall mentioned in one of the "what ifs" that when he sees 1010 he involuntarily thinks "ten." So I guess it's "five?" Or an extended-Morse "a-umlaut" or "a-ogonek" or "ae digraph." Or a wild goose chase, maybe...Taibhse (talk) 07:25, 30 April 2014 (UTC)

Can someone explain the livejournal? -- Hkmaly (talk) 09:59, 30 April 2014 (UTC)

And it is still a nice and a quiet place for people devoted to their interests,like urban exploration,etc.Contrasted with Tumblr or Facebook,which are often drama-filled.Guru-45 (talk) 11:03, 30 April 2014 (UTC)

livejournal is a website that was popular with the "goth" subculture way back in the day where people would post similar things to the last morse message.

It's commonly used by Russians nowadays.Guru-45 (talk) 11:05, 30 April 2014 (UTC)

"Cueball and Megan are 'lying' in a grassy, lonely plain." "Laying" has quite a different connotation. Ahem. -- Pmiller000 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Nope. cf. http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Laying & http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Lying 23:55, 30 April 2014 (UTC)
Actually, he's right. "Laying" is from the transitive verb "to lay", but they are clearly not laying any objects down. Their action is intransitive (or perhaps reflexive, if you like), which calls for a form of "to lie", namely "lying". 14:23, 1 May 2014 (UTC)

I was looking at one of my livejournal entries just yesterday. I left it for Posterous. Then Twitter bought that and shut it down. I thik Wordpress will be around for a while. http://purl.net/net/tbc/blog/about

To the subject at hand. 'I Googled and found a 1999 article about Morse code in The Economist that is fascinating. I Instapapered http://www.economist.com/node/183572 tbc (talk) 13:03, 30 April 2014 (UTC)

Perhaps Cueball was simply inspired by the quote and wanted to close his LiveJournal account in a similar manner. He did not necessarily intend to use those exact words.-- 14:31, 30 April 2014 (UTC)

The landscape keeps changing from panel to panel: the lines in the horizon, the lines in the front big rock, the bunches of grass, etc. Also, grassy plains are usually thought of as peaceful and quiet, while the internet is not. I think the point (at least, one of the points) in the last panel is that Cueball turns this upside down by wanting to visit livejournal for peace and quietness, (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

LiveJournal is responding to this comic. http://xkcd-rss.livejournal.com/344879.html 0100011101100001011011010110010101011010011011110110111001100101 (talk page) 17:15, 30 April 2014 (UTC)

As well as other comics, it seems. 18:05, 30 April 2014 (UTC)

Is the "Angst ridden" part not simply one of explain XKCDs users take on live journal. I think it gets way too much focus in the explain as it now also comes into explaining the title text. I would drop it completely - but as I do not know LiveJournal this may be so common knowledge that it is given that Randall reefers to this Angst... And thus I will leave a reasonable change to others... Kynde (talk) 18:08, 30 April 2014 (UTC)

I thought this comic was a callback to http://xkcd.com/77/ 18:42, 30 April 2014 (UTC)

Wouldn't the French have sent the message in French? The Morse Code in the explanation is English. Hax (talk) 20:46, 30 April 2014 (UTC)

International conversation in modern times is always in English. I don't know the translation for "SOS" (Save our Souls) to French. Google tells me: "Sauvez nos âmes". But there is not "â" in the morse alphabet. They did morse in English. --Dgbrt (talk) 20:57, 30 April 2014 (UTC)

"Sauvez nos âmes" looks to me like a too-literal translation. "SOS" is "M'aidez" in French. 06:57, 1 May 2014 (UTC)

Per Wikipedia's article on SOS, "These may be regarded as mnemonics, but SOS does not actually stand for anything and is not an abbreviation, acronym or initialism."Diszy (talk) 17:25, 1 May 2014 (UTC)
Also, apparently "mayday" came from "m'aidez". Learn something new every day. Diszy (talk) 17:35, 1 May 2014 (UTC)
There is a second, less important, level of emergency call, "pan pan". This means that something is broken but that immediate assistance is not required. This is also derived from French, in this case from "En panne". JerryMcC (talk) 09:02, 4 May 2014 (UTC)

I wonder if Randall can find his LiveJournal login and post a final message - http://xkcd-drawings.livejournal.com/ (the page where he started his webcomics) is still up and waiting for a more poetic ending ... Cornelius (talk) 22:02, 30 April 2014 (UTC)

I doubt that the French Navy used English in its final Morse Code message... 03:29, 1 May 2014 (UTC)Brett

http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-53668116.html -- 07:15, 1 May 2014 (UTC)

If you're interested in commercial/maritime Morse, and those who are trying to keep it alive, check out the Maritime Radio Historical Society, especially the Night of Nights: http://www.radiomarine.org/gallery/show?keyword=kphnon&panel=pab1_1 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

The silence, speak, silence, speak pattern of this comic - if we interpret each frame as a Morse code mark - may give us .-.- which represents the question mark symbol '?'. This would further add to the angst of the comic. However this means that we interpret the frames containing silence as the short dot mark, and the frames containing conversation as the long, dash mark, thus if we use the duration of each frame as a basis for conversion to Morse code, then we have relatively short silences compared with relatively long durations of speech. This may reflect the speed at which modern social media operates, giving less time for reflection and serious thought and discussion, as eluded to by Cueball offering a quick and curt remark about Livejournal, which Megan takes offence to. The level of coded cryptic messages within the comic further adds to the angst as described earlier. The other alternative -.-. merely denotes the letter "c", whilst a homophone for "sea", and thus relates to the current setting (and the navy), this seems too simple and coarse as an explanation. Done by User:Jack --Dgbrt (talk) 19:28, 3 May 2014 (UTC)

The last messages: Night form 31st January to 1rst February (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I find it ironic that the service hosting the morse code obituary is itself retired, as of December 21, 2020. --Wielder of the Staple Gun (talk) 19:01, 3 June 2021 (UTC)