96: Mail

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 07:38, 10 December 2013 by (talk) (Explanation)
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I'm on the USPS no fly list
Title text: I'm on the USPS no fly list


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: phone and mail spam is missing here, should reference TSC no fly list instead of no fly zone
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

We see Cueball on a phone with someone who sends various strange things through postal mail. The third panel is a pun on the usage of the phrase 'a lot of time.' Normally, this means that something will take a while to finish; in this case, however, it means it is literally a large quantity of time that is being sent.

Quantizing time ("discrete packets of time") is a theory that time is not continuous like as particles in the quantum mechanics. It could be one of the big mistakes in modern science, but feels as if there's more to it, in the world of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.

The title text states that due to his habit of mailing strange things, he has been barred from sending mail through the United States Postal Service (USPS).

A no fly list is a list of people that are not allowed to use commercial airlines for travel in the United States. It is maintained by the Terrorist Screening Center. Here the person sending strange objects through mail is on the USPS no-fly-list for people. The joke here is that USPS does not have such list for people. There is a list of items banned from being shipped by usps, which includes most consumer electronics with lithium batteries.


Phone: Do you think I could mail a running chainsaw to someone?
Cueball: I doubt it.
Phone: What about a baby's first word?
Cueball: Look, your obsession with sending strange things through the mail is getting out of hand.
Phone: Can you mail a blank stare?
Phone: A dizzying height?
Phone: Pi?
Cueball: ...
Phone: Well, did you at least get that package of time I sent you?
Cueball: I ... you ... no, I didn't.
Phone: Well, there was a lot of it, so it will probably take a while.

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How about a bobcat? 05:57, 30 December 2013 (UTC)

No, but live scorpions are: http://pe.usps.com/text/pub52/pub52c5_007.htm -- 15:36, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

I think it's black hat guy on the other end of the phone line. 20:47, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

If it were the black hat guy, he'd have something more snarky to say. This cueball's character is more in line with beret guy. 07:08, 26 February 2015 (UTC)BK201
Black hat does have an obsession about these things. see 325. This seems to be likely that it's him. But ill leave the desicion to someone else. 05:23, 7 June 2016 (UTC)

Did anyone else read it as him not being allowed to mail himself via USPS? --Pudder (talk) 17:12, 27 November 2014 (UTC)

A package of time, if it even made sense, would not require time not to be continuous. However I won't remove that paragraph from the explanation. 19:18, 5 September 2017 (UTC)

The second paragraph here is rather unclear and could use some rewriting. Unfortunately, I can't get a good enough grasp of what it's trying to say to do it.

  • The first sentence I think is trying to say something like "...time is not continuous - similar to particles in quantum mechanics", but I don't know enough about the subject to know if this makes sense.
  • The first part of the second sentence looks like it's trying to say "This is not a widely accepted theory..."
  • I don't know what the second part of the second sentence is getting at at all

Can anyone else have a go at it? 12:09, 17 January 2018 (UTC)

isn't pi either close to a number with a fixed number of decimals (as before the revision by M), or equal to a number with indefinite decimals (as indicated by the "...")? So that the combination of close to and the "..." makes it at least inaccurate? As I am not 100% familiar with English mathematical writing: Can someone please verify or contradict my statement? --Lupo (talk) 15:00, 12 March 2019 (UTC)

You can define a rational number that is arbitrarily close to pi (example: off by no more than 1 in 10 to the tenth power). You can never write down (or digitally store) the exact value of pi. Nitpicking (talk) 03:22, 16 August 2021 (UTC)

It could also be a literal no fly list, as in the insect fly. 12:12, 12 May 2022 (UTC)