1087: "Cirith Ungol"

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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby Eternal Density » Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:18 pm UTC

I don't like this comic as much as most of you.
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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby ElWanderer » Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:21 pm UTC

Qaanol wrote:One of my favorite Wiki-wordings is from the article Mast (botany), which contains the sentence, “It has been traditional to turn pigs into forests to fatten on this form of mast.” In this case the ambiguity is semantic rather than syntactic, but nonetheless it gives rise to a strange mental image.

Reminds me of the magic tractor joke, which I find far funnier than I probably should. To my wife and I, all tractors could do something magical at any moment.

We actually saw a magic tractor last week, whilst on holiday - it turned into a field, right in front of us. I kid you not, we thought it was hilarious.
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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby Dave » Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:28 pm UTC

Wlerin wrote:*Yes.

"Some pig" is from Charlotte's Web,
Spoiler:
one of the phrases she wrote on her web to generate publicity for Wilbur, which in turn made him too famous to slaughter.
The comic combines the two, presumably on the inspiration of the ambiguity in the alt-text.

Also, it's a phial.


Sweet, thanks LordHorst. 8-)

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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby BrianB » Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:53 pm UTC

Bartimaeus wrote:Technically it isn't where Shelob lurks(it's the nearby watchtower), but close enough I suppose. I'm just happy for a LoTR reference! At first, I actually thought that the comic was the drawing, rather than a joke(I didn't see the writing on the web). Funny punchline as well, though, when I saw the alt-text. A+


Incorrect. Cirith Ungol is the name of the pass, the watchtower is "The Tower of Cirith Ungol"

Cirith Ungol is Sindarin for "Pass of the Spider"

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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby cellocgw » Fri Jul 27, 2012 1:54 pm UTC

Quicksilver wrote:A panda eats, shoots and leaves?


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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby Dr. Diaphanous » Fri Jul 27, 2012 2:01 pm UTC

This is, of course, the same White as in Strunk and White.
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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby leifbk » Fri Jul 27, 2012 2:07 pm UTC

Eternal Density wrote:I don't like this comic as much as most of you.


«I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve. This was unexpected and rather difficult. There was some scattered clapping, but most of them were trying to work it out and see if it came to a compliment.»
Last edited by leifbk on Fri Jul 27, 2012 2:10 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby J Thomas » Fri Jul 27, 2012 2:09 pm UTC

LordHorst wrote:
Wlerin wrote:
LordHorst wrote:
Dave wrote:Am I failing to 'get' the drawing because I've not read Charlotte's web?


No.

The drawing pictures Frodo (or was ist Sam?) inside Cirith Ungol. Complete with the one Ring and the veil he got from the elves.

*Yes.

"Some pig" is from Charlotte's Web,


Thanks for enlightening me.

Also, it's a phial.


Oh boy. Better I quickly add that meaning to Veil to cover up my horrendous mistake... :|


It's no big deal. You probably meant to spell vial. <insert a goodnatured comment about spelling it phail, if I did it myself just now it might accidentally come out mean.>
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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby alanbbent » Fri Jul 27, 2012 2:48 pm UTC

blowfishhootie wrote:
scottgoblue314 wrote:
Jorpho wrote:Seven comments in, and I see no one cares to explain what Cirith Ungol is.

Yes, the alt-text is funny, and the art is kinda nice, I guess, but otherwise this is flying way over my head.


I was going to give you a hard time about not having the nerd-cred to know a LotR reference, but then I remembered this comic: http://xkcd.com/1053/

So go read your Tolkien! It's wonderful.


You should mock Jorpho not for not knowing what Cirith Ungol is, but for taking the time to type the question here but not putting it into Google where (s)he could have answered the question pretty easily.

Situations like this are why the Web site Let Me Google That For You exist.


No. Situations like this are why forums exist. People like you are what make people NOT post to forums, for fear of others' hidden standards of prior research. http://xkcd.com/1053/ After all, what's the purpose of this forum? Why didn't we all just Google what people think about this comic?

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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby peewee_RotA » Fri Jul 27, 2012 2:51 pm UTC

sotanaht wrote:That's not ambiguous at all in text form since we can see the comma or lack thereof.



I've posted hundreds of jokes based on wordplay. "Read aloud" puns are like sarcasm. It always works perfectly on the web.
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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby blowfishhootie » Fri Jul 27, 2012 3:23 pm UTC

alanbbent wrote:
blowfishhootie wrote:
scottgoblue314 wrote:
Jorpho wrote:Seven comments in, and I see no one cares to explain what Cirith Ungol is.

Yes, the alt-text is funny, and the art is kinda nice, I guess, but otherwise this is flying way over my head.


I was going to give you a hard time about not having the nerd-cred to know a LotR reference, but then I remembered this comic: http://xkcd.com/1053/

So go read your Tolkien! It's wonderful.


You should mock Jorpho not for not knowing what Cirith Ungol is, but for taking the time to type the question here but not putting it into Google where (s)he could have answered the question pretty easily.

Situations like this are why the Web site Let Me Google That For You exist.


No. Situations like this are why forums exist. People like you are what make people NOT post to forums, for fear of others' hidden standards of prior research. http://xkcd.com/1053/


No, see, if we are sitting in your living room and someone asks what Cirith Ungol is, that is different. Or, if you would prefer, walking down the street and posing a question, like what happens in that comic, is different. Sitting at a computer discussing it in an online forum means the person asking the question literally has at their fingertips a huge database for answering their question that would require exactly the same amount of effort from them to find the answer. Actually, less. Typing "Cirith Ungol" into Google brings up plenty of resources just on the first page of results to answer the question conclusively. Not knowing something because you don't have the means at a precise moment in time to look it up is forgivable. Not knowing something because you can't be bothered to look it up even when you DO have the means is not. If this person can't be bothered to take five seconds to type two words into Google, what are the odds they are going to take the x-number of hours it will take to read the LOTR trilogy at the other person's recommendation?

After all, what's the purpose of this forum? Why didn't we all just Google what people think about this comic?


Because Google wouldn't be able to answer that question, duh. I wouldn't say, "just Google it" if Google couldn't answer the question. It's pretty obvious that the nature of this question and the nature of the question "what is Cirith Ungol" are totally, incomparably different. Google isn't a replacement for conversation, but it can be a replacement for simple, mindless research on short, concrete questions. EDIT: Er, not a "replacement" for research, but a means of actually conducting it.
Last edited by blowfishhootie on Fri Jul 27, 2012 3:35 pm UTC, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby hg00000 » Fri Jul 27, 2012 3:25 pm UTC

This comic really put's EB White's words in context:

Charlotte stopped. A moment later a tear came to Wilbur’s eye. “Oh, Charlotte,” he said. “To think that when I first met you I thought you were cruel and bloodthirsty!”

...

“Charlotte,” said Wilbur. “We’re all going home today. The Fair is almost over. Won’t it be wonderful to be back home in the barn cellar again with the sheep and the geese? Aren’t you anxious to get home?”

For a moment Charlotte said nothing. Then she spoke in a voice so low Wilbur could hardly hear the words.

“I will not be going back to the barn,” she said.


And is it coincidence that "Charlotte" sounds a lot like "Shelob"?

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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby TheoGB » Fri Jul 27, 2012 3:43 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:
TheoGB wrote:
Eutychus wrote:I'm not convinced that Shelob would be writing on her web in English.

Still less convinced that Frodo would be able to read it.

(Major bad moment in LOTR movies: the party notice on Bilbo's gate being written in English).


To be poindexter-like in accuracy, that would be Sam not Frodo. And there's even less chance he could read it.


It would be Frodo who bore the ring and Galadriel's Phial through Shelob's Lair - the events that led to Sam taking the ring took place after they'd emerged from the tunnel on the far side.

I loosely translate Cirith Ungol as "Spider Pass" (Cirith is a cleft, crack or chasm, and Ungol, I assume, is related to Ungoliant, the spider-demon who spawned the race of which Shelob was the last known survivor, and who helped Morgoth steal the Silmarils and blighted the Trees of Valinor in the days before the dawning of the First Age of the Sun)


But then why isn't Sam there and why is the character holding the ring up rather than wearing it around his neck? I guess maybe the last is to make the LOTR point but clearly if you know that you'd have got it from Cirith Ungol.

Spoiler:
I assumed this was Sam after he takes the ring and the phial and goes on alone after Frodo has been bitten.

(That's for if you've not read LOTR.)

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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby TheoGB » Fri Jul 27, 2012 3:45 pm UTC

Hmm, actually
Spoiler:
Sam did put the ring round his neck after, didn't he? It's been so long since I read it. It was mainly that he was on his own that made me assume it must be Sam.

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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby paulrowe » Fri Jul 27, 2012 4:14 pm UTC

RJFerret wrote:
Eutychus wrote:(Major bad moment in LOTR movies: the party notice on Bilbo's gate being written in English).

Why wouldn't it be, since the books are presented as "translated" from common speech. It certainly wouldn't have been in Sindarin or Quenya or the Black Speech. Tolkien didn't even develop Westron (common speech) as a language like he did the others (and didn't publish some works of it during his life apparently).

It makes more sense to me to present the translation, rather than fabricate something false.

There appears to be enough information for the people who scripted the movie to have written out the sign using the Westron tongue with the Angerthas Moria, but they probably opted not to do that for comprehensibility. Sure, there are people who enjoy watching foreign films in subtitles, but most of your audience is interested in something that requires less effort. Imagine "The Ten Commandments" filmed in Hebrew and Egyptian with the requisite translations and trying to convey to speakers of English only that there are two different languages being spoken.

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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby john.m.law » Fri Jul 27, 2012 4:17 pm UTC

No one protects you from mayhem like Allstate.
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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby J Thomas » Fri Jul 27, 2012 4:43 pm UTC

blowfishhootie wrote:
alanbbent wrote:
blowfishhootie wrote:You should mock Jorpho not for not knowing what Cirith Ungol is, but for taking the time to type the question here but not putting it into Google where (s)he could have answered the question pretty easily.

Situations like this are why the Web site Let Me Google That For You exist.


No. Situations like this are why forums exist. People like you are what make people NOT post to forums, for fear of others' hidden standards of prior research. http://xkcd.com/1053/


No, see, if we are sitting in your living room and someone asks what Cirith Ungol is, that is different. Or, if you would prefer, walking down the street and posing a question, like what happens in that comic, is different. Sitting at a computer discussing it in an online forum means the person asking the question literally has at their fingertips a huge database for answering their question that would require exactly the same amount of effort from them to find the answer. Actually, less. Typing "Cirith Ungol" into Google brings up plenty of resources just on the first page of results to answer the question conclusively. Not knowing something because you don't have the means at a precise moment in time to look it up is forgivable. Not knowing something because you can't be bothered to look it up even when you DO have the means is not. If this person can't be bothered to take five seconds to type two words into Google, what are the odds they are going to take the x-number of hours it will take to read the LOTR trilogy at the other person's recommendation?

After all, what's the purpose of this forum? Why didn't we all just Google what people think about this comic?


Because Google wouldn't be able to answer that question, duh. I wouldn't say, "just Google it" if Google couldn't answer the question. It's pretty obvious that the nature of this question and the nature of the question "what is Cirith Ungol" are totally, incomparably different. Google isn't a replacement for conversation, but it can be a replacement for simple, mindless research on short, concrete questions. EDIT: Er, not a "replacement" for research, but a means of actually conducting it.


You might consider the possibility of just ignoring people who ask questions you don't want to answer. it's more trouble to mock them than to ignore them. On the other hand the mocking might be more fun.

This forum has gotten around 8000 views so far. I'll make up numbers that could easily be off by 50% or more -- suppose that 1/8 of the people did not catch those references. If the answers get posted here, that's 1000 people who didn't have to look them up for themselves, and 7000 people who already knew that who have to pass over the messages that repeat stuff they already knew. Is that a good trade? How would we decide what the break-even point is? How would we decide in each individual case? Somebody would have to decide how many people knew about Cirith Ungol, and Nietzsche, and Heraclitus, and Will Smith, and Skynet, etc etc etc. And they would have to persuade the rest of us not to post when enough people already knew....

We could do that! Somebody could post all the information they think is relevant and nothing else, and then a moderator would decide whether to delete the post! That works! Or if the moderator decides before that gets posted, he could make an announcement telling people not to repeat the information because it's widely known and people who don't know it can look it up. That way instead of having to scroll past a post repeating stuff you already know, you'd only have to scroll past the moderator's post.

Of course, asking for info and getting it is part of the social small talk. It helps establish the tone of friendly camaraderie that most of us enjoy.

But hey, I don't want to criticize you for criticizing people. Where would that end? I've enjoyed asking you to consider and now you do whatever you want. Everybody else does.
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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby blowfishhootie » Fri Jul 27, 2012 5:05 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:
blowfishhootie wrote:
alanbbent wrote:
blowfishhootie wrote:You should mock Jorpho not for not knowing what Cirith Ungol is, but for taking the time to type the question here but not putting it into Google where (s)he could have answered the question pretty easily.

Situations like this are why the Web site Let Me Google That For You exist.


No. Situations like this are why forums exist. People like you are what make people NOT post to forums, for fear of others' hidden standards of prior research. http://xkcd.com/1053/


No, see, if we are sitting in your living room and someone asks what Cirith Ungol is, that is different. Or, if you would prefer, walking down the street and posing a question, like what happens in that comic, is different. Sitting at a computer discussing it in an online forum means the person asking the question literally has at their fingertips a huge database for answering their question that would require exactly the same amount of effort from them to find the answer. Actually, less. Typing "Cirith Ungol" into Google brings up plenty of resources just on the first page of results to answer the question conclusively. Not knowing something because you don't have the means at a precise moment in time to look it up is forgivable. Not knowing something because you can't be bothered to look it up even when you DO have the means is not. If this person can't be bothered to take five seconds to type two words into Google, what are the odds they are going to take the x-number of hours it will take to read the LOTR trilogy at the other person's recommendation?

After all, what's the purpose of this forum? Why didn't we all just Google what people think about this comic?


Because Google wouldn't be able to answer that question, duh. I wouldn't say, "just Google it" if Google couldn't answer the question. It's pretty obvious that the nature of this question and the nature of the question "what is Cirith Ungol" are totally, incomparably different. Google isn't a replacement for conversation, but it can be a replacement for simple, mindless research on short, concrete questions. EDIT: Er, not a "replacement" for research, but a means of actually conducting it.


You might consider the possibility of just ignoring people who ask questions you don't want to answer. it's more trouble to mock them than to ignore them. On the other hand the mocking might be more fun.

This forum has gotten around 8000 views so far. I'll make up numbers that could easily be off by 50% or more -- suppose that 1/8 of the people did not catch those references. If the answers get posted here, that's 1000 people who didn't have to look them up for themselves, and 7000 people who already knew that who have to pass over the messages that repeat stuff they already knew. Is that a good trade? How would we decide what the break-even point is? How would we decide in each individual case? Somebody would have to decide how many people knew about Cirith Ungol, and Nietzsche, and Heraclitus, and Will Smith, and Skynet, etc etc etc. And they would have to persuade the rest of us not to post when enough people already knew....

We could do that! Somebody could post all the information they think is relevant and nothing else, and then a moderator would decide whether to delete the post! That works! Or if the moderator decides before that gets posted, he could make an announcement telling people not to repeat the information because it's widely known and people who don't know it can look it up. That way instead of having to scroll past a post repeating stuff you already know, you'd only have to scroll past the moderator's post.

Of course, asking for info and getting it is part of the social small talk. It helps establish the tone of friendly camaraderie that most of us enjoy.

But hey, I don't want to criticize you for criticizing people. Where would that end? I've enjoyed asking you to consider and now you do whatever you want. Everybody else does.


Given two possibilities:

1) Type in the url of some forum and type in a question, waiting for other people to decide for themselves what part of the answer needs to be shared to respond to my question

or

2) Type in www.google.com and type in a question, then see what comes up and decide for myself which info I find is relevant and enough to answer my question

... I just cannot relate at all to the mentality that chooses option No. 1. And I don't think it is a mentality that is admirable or to be encouraged. Nobody can know everything, of course, and I'm not criticizing anybody for not knowing something just because I do. I'm criticizing being too lazy or ambivalent to put any effort into finding out the answer. Plus, if you choose option No. 2, you might *gasp* even learn something MORE than you sought to find out. But that's totally up to how much time a person wants to invest. I anticipate the response to this criticism being, "maybe the person doesn't have time to wade through the search results," but in this and many instances that is not valid. I type "Cirith Ungol" into Google and a host of LOTR stuff comes up, plus the second search result, right there on the search result page, has this as a summary: "The Tower of Cirith Ungol: A watchtower on the border of Mordor. The Tower of Cirith Ungol was located high in the Mountains of Shadow overlooking the pass ..." Another search result summary mentions a secret entrance into Mordor. Bam, question answered, and it took no more time than it does to come to this forum and pose the question.

Yeah, sure, camaraderie is great, I guess. But I personally am not all that interested in being comrades with people who want to know something, but can't be bothered to actually find it out. Especially when finding it out is so incredibly easy. I'm not asking anyone to read scientific articles, conduct first-hand research, or delve into some deep philosophical theory. It's typing two freaking words into Google. And if it were an isolated instance, I wouldn't say anything, but it happens all the time, and it amazes me.

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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby Aiwendil » Fri Jul 27, 2012 5:18 pm UTC

Technically it isn't where Shelob lurks(it's the nearby watchtower), but close enough I suppose.


No, Cirith Ungol is the pass through the mountains, where Shelob lurks (Cirith Ungol means 'Pass of the Spider' in Sindarin). The tower is actually called Torech Ungol ('Tower of the Spider').

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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby Jorpho » Fri Jul 27, 2012 5:20 pm UTC

blowfishhootie wrote:I type "Cirith Ungol" into Google and a host of LOTR stuff comes up, plus the second search result, right there on the search result page, has this as a summary
Sigh. And the first, fourth, fifth, seventh, and ninth results, plus all the video results, plus at least one of the image results, relate to a metal band that could just as easily be relevant to the comic in question to the uninitiated, given the association of heavy metal with spiders and darkness and skulls and bones and stuff.

I don't know much about heavy metal. How about you?

"The Tower of Cirith Ungol: A watchtower on the border of Mordor. The Tower of Cirith Ungol was located high in the Mountains of Shadow overlooking the pass ..."
Also, given that the comic in question depicts no watchtower, border, tower, mountains, or passes, said summary's relevance to the comic in question is also unclear.

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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby Eutychus » Fri Jul 27, 2012 5:41 pm UTC

paulrowe wrote:
RJFerret wrote:
Eutychus wrote:(Major bad moment in LOTR movies: the party notice on Bilbo's gate being written in English).

Why wouldn't it be, since the books are presented as "translated" from common speech. It certainly wouldn't have been in Sindarin or Quenya or the Black Speech. Tolkien didn't even develop Westron (common speech) as a language like he did the others (and didn't publish some works of it during his life apparently).

It makes more sense to me to present the translation, rather than fabricate something false.

There appears to be enough information for the people who scripted the movie to have written out the sign using the Westron tongue with the Angerthas Moria, but they probably opted not to do that for comprehensibility. Sure, there are people who enjoy watching foreign films in subtitles, but most of your audience is interested in something that requires less effort. Imagine "The Ten Commandments" filmed in Hebrew and Egyptian with the requisite translations and trying to convey to speakers of English only that there are two different languages being spoken.


I probably noticed the sign because I first saw the film in France and am a native English speaker. That makes it doubly wrong for most of the audience.

I think we have enough voluntary suspension of disbelief to forget having the whole thing in Middle-Earth languages, but having signs written in English is a step too far in my view. The sign over the way into Moria, for instance, is not written in English characters (even if it is in English once transcribed from the Elvish, as is the wording on Balin's tomb in the book, as I recall).

(As someone who translates for a living, I admit I love Tolkien's convuluted explanations of his "translations" in the appendices).
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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby Wnderer » Fri Jul 27, 2012 6:08 pm UTC

Aiwendil wrote:
Technically it isn't where Shelob lurks(it's the nearby watchtower), but close enough I suppose.


No, Cirith Ungol is the pass through the mountains, where Shelob lurks (Cirith Ungol means 'Pass of the Spider' in Sindarin). The tower is actually called Torech Ungol ('Tower of the Spider').


So Ungol Benn is spiderman and Spiderman had an Uncle Ben ...

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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby flicky1991 » Fri Jul 27, 2012 6:14 pm UTC

Schiffy wrote:Randall must be pretty popular if the text on the actual Charlotte's Web article was changed the same day the comic was posted.

http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?tit ... on=history

That happens every time he mentions Wikipedia. Often several times in succession if it's something that would be reverted.

Eutychus wrote:1) Type in the url of some forum and type in a question, waiting for other people to decide for themselves what part of the answer needs to be shared to respond to my question

or

2) Type in http://www.google.com and type in a question, then see what comes up and decide for myself which info I find is relevant and enough to answer my question

... I just cannot relate at all to the mentality that chooses option No. 1.

People are more intelligent than machines. I had no idea what question to put into Google because it can't just "explain the joke", and searching for "Cirith Ungol" didn't help.
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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby LordHorst » Fri Jul 27, 2012 6:26 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:
LordHorst wrote:Oh boy. Better I quickly add that meaning to Veil to cover up my horrendous mistake... :|


It's no big deal. You probably meant to spell vial. <insert a goodnatured comment about spelling it phail, if I did it myself just now it might accidentally come out mean.>


Actually, that is the word I had in mind. :)

Don't know why I spelled it "veil", though. Probably I was just too tired.

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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby blowfishhootie » Fri Jul 27, 2012 6:40 pm UTC

flicky1991 wrote:
Schiffy wrote:Randall must be pretty popular if the text on the actual Charlotte's Web article was changed the same day the comic was posted.

http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?tit ... on=history

That happens every time he mentions Wikipedia. Often several times in succession if it's something that would be reverted.

Eutychus wrote:1) Type in the url of some forum and type in a question, waiting for other people to decide for themselves what part of the answer needs to be shared to respond to my question

or

2) Type in http://www.google.com and type in a question, then see what comes up and decide for myself which info I find is relevant and enough to answer my question

... I just cannot relate at all to the mentality that chooses option No. 1.

People are more intelligent than machines.


Google search results are the result of human input, just like this forum. The means of getting there is different, but it is no more the product of a machine than this post is. The Web pages Google directs you to are created by humans, the bots that crawl the web searching for content are created by humans, and the formulas that determine your search results are created by humans.

I had no idea what question to put into Google because it can't just "explain the joke", and searching for "Cirith Ungol" didn't help.


Explaining the joke is different from asking what Cirith Ungol is. I agree that if knowing what Cirith Ungol is doesn't make the joke clear, Google is not necessarily the best tool to use. Personally, I think the problem may be that this individual comic isn't particularly enjoyable, funny or insightful.

Google is a great tool for answering "what is ____" or "who is ____" or "when was ____" and so on. It's not so great for searching for meaning or answering any sort of question that is widely open to individual interpretation. "What is Cirith Ungol" is not open to individual interpretation to any degree meaningful enough to make Google unable to answer the question. All of the same is true of Wikipedia.

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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby LtNOWIS » Fri Jul 27, 2012 6:56 pm UTC

alanbbent wrote:
No. Situations like this are why forums exist. People like you are what make people NOT post to forums, for fear of others' hidden standards of prior research. http://xkcd.com/1053/ After all, what's the purpose of this forum? Why didn't we all just Google what people think about this comic?

I think there already is a forum where the purpose is to ask easy-to-look up questions and receive responses. It's called Yahoo! Answers.

With regards to the actual comic, I found it quite amusing, because it took me awhile to spot "Some Pig" in the corner there. I think it works even without the alt-text, simply by combining two incongruous elements. It's not a home run but it's a solid hit.

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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby Draco18s » Fri Jul 27, 2012 7:46 pm UTC

Wlerin wrote:Apparently the google results are less than informative.


Then try Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cirith_Ungol

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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby GreenNile » Fri Jul 27, 2012 8:03 pm UTC

Although it is possible to interpret his question as a simple request for "what is cirith ungol" it's pretty obvious that he's actually asking why is the fact that it's cirith ungol funny in the context of this comic. In the same way that it makes no sense for me to ask you what is the semi major axis in a given math problem, and for you to tell me just google semi major axis. No, that's stupid, it's not the answer to my question.

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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby bmonk » Fri Jul 27, 2012 9:09 pm UTC

Jorpho wrote:Seven comments in, and I see no one cares to explain what Cirith Ungol is.


The nerds didn't think that was necessary to explain.

sotanaht wrote:
Quicksilver wrote:A panda eats, shoots and leaves?


That's not ambiguous at all in text form since we can see the comma or lack thereof.


It should have been "Eats shoots and leaves."
Having become a Wizard on n.p. 2183, the Yellow Piggy retroactively appointed his honorable self a Temporal Wizardly Piggy on n.p.1488, not to be effective until n.p. 2183, thereby avoiding a partial temporal paradox. Since he couldn't afford two philosophical PhDs to rule on the title.

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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby rylon » Fri Jul 27, 2012 9:30 pm UTC

blowfishhootie wrote:... I just cannot relate at all to the mentality that chooses option No. 1. And I don't think it is a mentality that is admirable or to be encouraged. Nobody can know everything, of course, and I'm not criticizing anybody for not knowing something just because I do. I'm criticizing being too lazy or ambivalent to put any effort into finding out the answer. Plus, if you choose option No. 2, you might *gasp* even learn something MORE than you sought to find out. But that's totally up to how much time a person wants to invest. I anticipate the response to this criticism being, "maybe the person doesn't have time to wade through the search results," but in this and many instances that is not valid. I type "Cirith Ungol" into Google and a host of LOTR stuff comes up, plus the second search result, right there on the search result page, has this as a summary: "The Tower of Cirith Ungol: A watchtower on the border of Mordor. The Tower of Cirith Ungol was located high in the Mountains of Shadow overlooking the pass ..." Another search result summary mentions a secret entrance into Mordor. Bam, question answered, and it took no more time than it does to come to this forum and pose the question.
There is something that, I think, you haven't considered:

Google search results are ranked, partly, buy people linking things. The more often something is linked, the higher it goes. So, people answering questions on forums by linking to helpful webpages helps google better rank what web pages are most relevant to a specific search. You deride the practice of asking on forums first, but people doing that help the people who reach for Google first.

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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby blowfishhootie » Fri Jul 27, 2012 10:08 pm UTC

rylon wrote:
blowfishhootie wrote:... I just cannot relate at all to the mentality that chooses option No. 1. And I don't think it is a mentality that is admirable or to be encouraged. Nobody can know everything, of course, and I'm not criticizing anybody for not knowing something just because I do. I'm criticizing being too lazy or ambivalent to put any effort into finding out the answer. Plus, if you choose option No. 2, you might *gasp* even learn something MORE than you sought to find out. But that's totally up to how much time a person wants to invest. I anticipate the response to this criticism being, "maybe the person doesn't have time to wade through the search results," but in this and many instances that is not valid. I type "Cirith Ungol" into Google and a host of LOTR stuff comes up, plus the second search result, right there on the search result page, has this as a summary: "The Tower of Cirith Ungol: A watchtower on the border of Mordor. The Tower of Cirith Ungol was located high in the Mountains of Shadow overlooking the pass ..." Another search result summary mentions a secret entrance into Mordor. Bam, question answered, and it took no more time than it does to come to this forum and pose the question.
There is something that, I think, you haven't considered:

Google search results are ranked, partly, buy people linking things. The more often something is linked, the higher it goes. So, people answering questions on forums by linking to helpful webpages helps google better rank what web pages are most relevant to a specific search. You deride the practice of asking on forums first, but people doing that help the people who reach for Google first.


I'm pretty sure linking today is a much smaller part of Google's formula than you seem to think, because putting too much weight into that stat opens the door to heavy manipulation by users. I remember back in the days before the 2004 U.S. presidential election, if you were to type (I think) "idiot" into Google, the first result was Bush's profile on the White House's Web site. I might have some of the specifics wrong - hell, it might have even been Kerry who was the target, I don't remember. I've tried to find the specifics but none of the searches I can think to try are turning anything up. The point is, it was achieved by people spreading links all over the Web using the word idiot and linking to whatever page it was. And so Google's response was to twerk their formula.

And regardless of all that, it still doesn't make it any less lame to not type your question into Google first. There are no doubt some specific searches that would be lacking in informative results, but that is a very small minority. The fact is, in this and damn near any case where the question being asked involves a concrete, minimally interpretative concept, Google's results are already about as solid as they're going to get - and I highly doubt lazy people asking easy-to-lookup questions factor as heavily in the display of search results as you seem to think. There is no reason not to try Google first unless you are new to the Internet and don't know how powerful Google is.

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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby rmsgrey » Fri Jul 27, 2012 10:15 pm UTC

The whole Google/Forum debate is, so far, missing a vital point. If everyone used Google to answer their questions, then people who enjoy showing off their command of useless trivia would miss out on an excellent opportunity to do so.

What I want to know is whose idea it was to build Minas Ithil (the tower of the Moon, twin to Minas Anor, the tower of the Sun) at the foot of Spider Pass?

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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby bmonk » Fri Jul 27, 2012 10:18 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:The whole Google/Forum debate is, so far, missing a vital point. If everyone used Google to answer their questions, then people who enjoy showing off their command of useless trivia would miss out on an excellent opportunity to do so.

What I want to know is whose idea it was to build Minas Ithil (the tower of the Moon, twin to Minas Anor, the tower of the Sun) at the foot of Spider Pass?


At the time, they thought Sauron defeated and Morder would never rise again. Fools.
Having become a Wizard on n.p. 2183, the Yellow Piggy retroactively appointed his honorable self a Temporal Wizardly Piggy on n.p.1488, not to be effective until n.p. 2183, thereby avoiding a partial temporal paradox. Since he couldn't afford two philosophical PhDs to rule on the title.

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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby Eutychus » Fri Jul 27, 2012 10:21 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:What I want to know is whose idea it was to build Minas Ithil (the tower of the Moon, twin to Minas Anor, the tower of the Sun) at the foot of Spider Pass?
If I recall correctly, it was built by Gondor to keep watch on Mordor before the former's power faded. I don't remember when Shelob moved in.
Be very careful about rectilinear assumptions. Raptors could be hiding there - ucim

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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby Coderjoe » Fri Jul 27, 2012 11:40 pm UTC

Eutychus wrote:(Major bad moment in LOTR movies: the party notice on Bilbo's gate being written in English).


It is being auto-translated by movie magic into a language the viewer understands. A similar thing happens at the start of the movie "The Hunt for Red October".

But seriously, that's a "major bad moment"? Not the fact that they go off following Aragorn wondering why they should trust him? (Since the letter left by Gandalf with the innkeeper, which said they can trust him, never shows up in the movie. Nevermind that, in the book, getting the letter was a happy accident.)

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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby blowfishhootie » Fri Jul 27, 2012 11:55 pm UTC

Coderjoe wrote:
Eutychus wrote:(Major bad moment in LOTR movies: the party notice on Bilbo's gate being written in English).


It is being auto-translated by movie magic into a language the viewer understands. A similar thing happens at the start of the movie "The Hunt for Red October".

But seriously, that's a "major bad moment"? Not the fact that they go off following Aragorn wondering why they should trust him? (Since the letter left by Gandalf with the innkeeper, which said they can trust him, never shows up in the movie. Nevermind that, in the book, getting the letter was a happy accident.)


Well Aragorn does prove his trustworthiness in the movie by protecting them from the Black Riders that invade Bree that night. Doesn't Frodo say something to the effect of, "we have no choice but to trust him" to demonstrate that they, well, have no real choice?

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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby W3ird_N3rd » Sat Jul 28, 2012 12:53 am UTC

Djehutynakht wrote:Most of this is lost on me this time (I'm not even quite getting the syntactic ambiguity despite the explanation), but I do like the artwork.

So there you go.

It took me a while to "see" it too.

"about a pig named Wilbur who is saved from being slaughtered by an intelligent spider named Charlotte."

Can be interpreted in the sense that there is an intelligent spider who saves the pig.

Or, that there's an intelligent spider who wants to slaughter the pig.

The problem is in the word "by": pig Wilbur is either being saved by or being slaughtered by. If you read it as "saved by", it's unknown who wants to slaughter the pig. If you read it as "slaughtered by" it's unknown who saves the pig.

While reading the comic (not having heard of the book), my interpretation was that the spider was going to do the slaughtering.

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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby Arben » Sat Jul 28, 2012 2:00 am UTC

rmsgrey wrote:The whole Google/Forum debate is, so far, missing a vital point. If everyone used Google to answer their questions, then people who enjoy showing off their command of useless trivia would miss out on an excellent opportunity to do so.


Yes. Like this:


TheoGB wrote:I *still* want to know what Gaiman is referring to here: http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2010/05/one-book-one-twitter-one-wondering.html

By now, the internet has caught up. He's referring to inventing one of the Zorya sisters because it suited him in American Gods ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zorya ). Apparently it went through the cycle of being referred to online and citing his book, and then someone wrote a book about myths and gods and included his creation, and then the wikipedia article was able to cite that 'non-fiction' text on the subject. This process is, probably, the subject of an XKCD strip somewhere and probably has a proper name that I don't recall.

I'd search for it, but I'm sure someone on this forum knows the one I mean.

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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby Oberoth » Sat Jul 28, 2012 2:37 am UTC

Aiwendil wrote:
Technically it isn't where Shelob lurks(it's the nearby watchtower), but close enough I suppose.


No, Cirith Ungol is the pass through the mountains, where Shelob lurks (Cirith Ungol means 'Pass of the Spider' in Sindarin). The tower is actually called Torech Ungol ('Tower of the Spider').


Barad is sindarin for tower. Torech means lair, so it related to the system of caves that Shelob inhabited.

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Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Postby RebeccaRGB » Sat Jul 28, 2012 2:55 am UTC

Wnderer wrote:So Ungol Benn is spiderman and Spiderman had an Uncle Ben ...

Mind blown.
Stephen Hawking: Great. The entire universe was destroyed.
Fry: Destroyed? Then where are we now?
Al Gore: I don't know. But I can darn well tell you where we're not—the universe!


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