Thursday, 30 July, 2009

Bird-watching: Phd Comics

(WARNING: The following blog posts are heavy on visual images. Those who are visually impaired, or have weak ciliary muscles are advised to proceed with caution. The blog and her better half take no responsibility of any permanent damage caused to your eyes by these images. Or for that matter, the brain cells you're frying reading this)

You may not be aware, but bird-watching is the technical term for the activity involving observation of the qualities of a "chick" in its natural environment and the study of its responses to stimuli. A "chick" is defined as, for lack of a better term, a visually-appealing member of the opposite sex(provided, of course that you yourself are male). How does that translate to my blog post? Well, seeing as members of the-opposite-end-of-entertainment serve pretty much the same purpose as those of the opposite sex, this "column" I guess is supposed to be reviewing visually-appealing members of internet past-times. Namely, webcomics.

So the first webcomic I'm reviewing is Phd comics. Created by Jorge Cham, a grad student at that point, it is one of the oldest webcomics on the net, being around since 1997. The story revolves around the life of grad students in a college campus, originally meant to be Stanford, now just a generic campus, trying to get their phd thesis finished while dealing with the anxiety, and eating the free food. Well, to put it in one word: awesome. Its actually funnier than xkcd is when you get down to jokes on science or studies. While xkcd goes all esoteric on you, Phd remains grounded, and even as a high school student I can totally empathise with the troubles of their lives. At some level, it makes me realise that doing a phd is not as cool as I make it out to be in my head, but at the same time, it only makes me more interested than before. 

The characters of the comic are as awesome as they are varied. There's the lead, who doesn't have a name, and has survived nameless for nearly 11 years now. There's Mike Slackerney, professional procrastinator(cool alliteration na?), Cecilia the geek engineer and Tajel, the "social scientist". Each character has their own variety of weirdness, whether it's Cecilia's chocolate addiction, or Tajel's political activities, and even the nameless lead's penchant for ramen noodles. The comic is filled in every way with advisor drama, sarcasm, ramen noodles, science stuff, pop culture references, phd comedy, and all sorts of fun. In short, it's the perfect recipe to how a webcomic should be made.

Now a little background: I opened a link in my cousin's gtalk status, which led me to this fount of knowledge and humor. Now, to say I'm addicted to it is an understatement. I have like 20 tabs of this opened on my browser, and my blog is totally freaking out that I see so little of her and so much of that "phd woman". So, to appease my blog, I'm removing most of said tabs by posting them here:

One of the first strips of the webcomic, totally nailing the subject matter.

The surprising accuracy with which this describes my sense of humour, despite my, you know, not even reaching college is just disturbing.

Heh. This comic totally nails the description of facebook eh?

So, you see, xkcd is not the only webcomic capable of awesome math. And really, that's totally awesome.

Graphs that look like an upside-down gaussian distribution can only ever improve a comic.

Look at that comic and tell me this isn't like, one of the coolest things ever. I mean he uses the inverse square law.

The coolest part about this one is that it's a real-life letter. Or so he says.

I don't know how programmers really act, but I'll be damned if that doesn't seem accurate.

And now for the best of the lot:

So what do you say? Ready to jump into the awesomeness that is Piled Higher and Deeper? PS-Cecilia is totally hot. Just don't tell my blog. She gets totally jealous of girls, even the fictional kind.


  1. they're pretty funny. (oh yeah, they're opening!) i really dunno how though. yesterday night the internet wasn't working for over 2 hours and then after i replugged the cable for the 100th time, it somehow started working. so did the blogs. :P but yeah it's still not working properly.

    about the comics, do u realize they're cropped? didn't u check the "shrink to fit" option? and sure, these are probably better than xkcd. i understand _all_ of them! ;P

  2. Hmmm... I dunno why they're cropped, I didn't notice it at first. Well, it's normal when I edit it, and opening the link totally shows the whole pic, so I don't know what I did wrong...

  3. i was going to say that, i can't read the punchline for most of them.
    anyway, i like xkcd better. it has 'romance, math, sarcasm and language'. i understand 3/4th of that and can laugh at all of it. this is purely geeky.
    well, ok, so i understand why you and sakshi like it.
    and you like cartoon characters? i'm surprised i'm still surprised.
    and the only reason i'm commenting at all is because you asked me to. which is why this is weird and fragmented. maybe also because i'm in a bizarre mood. and i have no idea why you like being insulted in comments.
    well, ok, now i'm stopping. happy?

    (sorry, ms blog. this is all his fault. i wouldn't voluntarily inflict this on you.)