- An archived version of the original A Smarter Planet blog post called "Building a Smarter Planet… for Squirrels" can be found here.
This comic was created by Randall after a special request from IBM's A Smarter Planet blog (now defunct, archive). The website now redirects to IBM's Think blog's homepage. This and the other A Smarter Planet comic, Prescriptions, are not part of the regular numbered series of comics, but both of them used to be featured on xkcd.com/asmarterplanet (now defunct, archive). Each comic on that page linked to their respective blog posts on IBM's site.
It was once said that America's forests were so dense and continuous that "a squirrel could go from the Atlantic to the Mississippi without touching the ground." As this is no longer true, anyone mentioning this today would use the phrase to highlight the fact that deforestation is such a problem that this once common aphorism is anachronistic. Cueball, however, interprets this literally to mean that squirrels not being able to travel without touching the ground is a problem - rather than the more general problem the aphorism was meant to illustrate. As a result of his misinterpretation, he invents the Aerial Squirrel Transit Pod, which technically solves the problem of squirrel transportation, but does nothing to solve the problem of deforestation. Obviously, the people at the conference are surprised by this, and ask Cueball to back up. This is yet another instance of people announcing odd things at conferences, a recurring theme in xkcd.
- [A forest consisting of (at least 13) Spruce trees. In the middle of the panel a squirrel can be seen hanging in the air as it jumps in-between two tall trees from right to left. Above the trees are narrating, that turns out to be from Cueball as seen in the second panel.]
- Cueball (narrating off-panel): They say that 400 years ago a squirrel could go from the Atlantic to the Mississippi without touching the ground.
- [Cueball, holding a microphone to his mouth and a pointing stick down in his other hand, is speaking from a podium to a large audience (consisting of lots of Cueball-like heads, with a two fully drawn Cueball-like guys sitting in the front row. Above him and across the audience hangs a banner with a large text in two lines:]
- Cueball: I dream of bringing back those days.
- [Cueball is seen from the front of the podium as the audience would see him. He is using the pointing stick to indicate a large poster to the left with a drawing of a very small helicopter-like device which is shown flying over the rooftops of tall buildings in a city while carrying a squirrel beneath it. The helicopter is about as long as the squirrel (from tail to nose). The helicopter has the normal rotor on top, but then also has another similar rotor pointing straight back, not like the small tail rotor usually found on the tails of real helicopters. A member in the audience interrupts Cueball.]
- Cueball: Which is why I've developed the aerial squirrel transit pod.
- Audience member (Off-panel): Okay, back up.
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