Main Page

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Jump to: navigation, search

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!
We have an explanation for all 2901 xkcd comics, and only 6 (0%) are incomplete. Help us finish them!

Latest comic

Go to this comic explanation

Geographic Qualifiers
'Thank you for the loveliest evening I've ever had...' [normal] '...east of the Mississippi.' [instant intrigue!]
Title text: 'Thank you for the loveliest evening I've ever had...' [normal] '...east of the Mississippi.' [instant intrigue!]

Explanation

Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by a BOT EAST OF THE INTERNATIONAL DATE-LINE - Please change this comment when editing this page. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.

In this comic, Cueball is bragging to a Cueball-like guy in front of a giant statue of a squirrel standing on a skateboard. Cueball states that this is the largest statue of that theme in “the Northern Hemisphere”. The other guy then becomes confused, as he realizes that this seems to imply the existence of a taller one in the Southern Hemisphere.

He quickly considers different countries in that hemisphere, Brazil, South Africa and Australia. This last country is a place known for its many overly large statues. Squirrels are, however, not native to Australia, with introduced populations of gray and palm squirrels reportedly have been eradicated, at considerable expense of time and money (squirrels do live elsewhere in the southern hemisphere). It might be considered doubtful that there are any commemorative statues of such small pests, though there is precedent. There are of course many animals (and many entirely fictional ones) that are depicted as statues in countries where they do not belong, such as an elephant in the Australian collection. Outsized squirrel statues are available, but perhaps not with the additional stipulation of it riding a skateboard. Maybe Randall, and/or the 'knowledgable' Cueball, does indeed know of some actual taller version of this statue somewhere in the southern hemisphere, but the confused guy certainly does not.

Adding what might be an unnecessary qualifier, like this, could not change the truth of the wider statement. But it suggests that there's a need to restrict the scope of the statement, i.e. it wouldn't be true with a less restrictive qualifier (or none at all). This will cause the listener to wonder about these other cases. Or, in some cases, even whether to take this statement at face value.

Randall states, in the caption, that he loves the mystery created by adding possibly needless qualifiers. Doing so could thus have been one of Randall's hobbies, but he doesn't make that explicit. Sometimes qualifiers are added simply due to incomplete information. They've exhaustively surveyed squirrel statues in the Northern Hemisphere and determined that this one is the largest. (Not counting any actual larger ones not also skateboarding!) But since they haven't searched the Southern Hemisphere, they don't want to commit to it being the largest in the world.

Another example appears in the title text, where someone is expressing gratitude at the end of a date, saying that it's the loveliest evening they've ever had (in actuality, "loveliest" is usually hyperbole).[citation needed] This seems normal until they add the location qualifier of "East of the Mississippi" (the river). This leaves the companion wondering what kind of great evening they had in some other location. In this case, it's unlikely that the speaker would have incomplete information about their own dating history.

The statue may be a reference to Ms. Pearl, the giant squirrel statue in Cedar Creek, Texas which, at 14 ft (4 m) was indeed the largest squirrel statue in the western hemisphere in 2018. The qualifiers, in this case, are necessary since a 40 ft (12 m) statue was erected in Kazakhstan in 2018. But information for tourists in Cedar Creek, Texas, doesn't tend to include this information[citation needed] creating the mystique. The artist behind the Kazakhstan statue appears to have been unaware of the Cedar Creek statue so the Kazakh statue is not intentionally close to three times bigger.

It is perhaps thanks only to the specific phrasing "tallest statue of a skateboarding squirrel" that we need not consider tallest-statues-of-squirrels (temporarily) placed on skateboards, tallest statuesque skateboards with squirrels atop or even a rather modestly sized statuette representing a moment when a large skateboard had sciurine visitors. In any or all hemispheres.

Transcript

[The scene in this comic is shown from afar and drawn in black silhouette on a white background. It depicts a huge statue of a squirrel standing on a skateboard, which is on a pedestal. Below and in front of the statue there are two Cueball-like guys. The Cueball on the left is pointing at the statue and speaking to his friend on the right who has a thought bubble above him.]
Cueball: At over 40 feet, it's the tallest statue of a skateboarding squirrel in the Northern Hemisphere.
Friend [thinking]: ...Wait, who in the heck...Brazil? South Africa? Australia? Squirrels aren't even native there...
[Caption below the panel:]
I love the instant mystery created by qualifiers like "east of the Mississippi" or "in the Northern Hemisphere."


Is this out of date? Clicking here will fix that.

New here?

Last 7 days (Top 10)

Lots of people contribute to make this wiki a success. Many of the recent contributors, listed above, have just joined. You can do it too! Create your account here.

You can read a brief introduction about this wiki at explain xkcd. Feel free to sign up for an account and contribute to the wiki! We need explanations for comics, characters, themes and everything in between. If it is referenced in an xkcd web comic, it should be here.

  • There are incomplete explanations listed here. Feel free to help out by expanding them!

Rules

Don't be a jerk.

There are a lot of comics that don't have set-in-stone explanations; feel free to put multiple interpretations in the wiki page for each comic.

If you want to talk about a specific comic, use its discussion page.

Please only submit material directly related to (and helping everyone better understand) xkcd... and of course only submit material that can legally be posted (and freely edited). Off-topic or other inappropriate content is subject to removal or modification at admin discretion, and users who repeatedly post such content will be blocked.

If you need assistance from an admin, post a message to the Admin requests board.