Life Imitates xkcd, Part II: Richard Stallman

As if Cory Doctorow getting dressed in a red cape and goggles after I drew this comic wasn’t crazy enough, in response to this comic, two xkcd fans — Rafael Roquetto and Mauro Persano — have bought Richard Stallman a katana:

Richard Stallman with katana

The had it shipped to him at the FSF offices (more pictures here).

He really didn’t know what to make of it. I’m told he sent them back an email thanking them, adding, “I am not sure what to do with it, other then keep it near my bed.”

150 replies on “Life Imitates xkcd, Part II: Richard Stallman”

  1. Looks exactly like the cheap mass-produced China-made Katana my brother bought me for my birthday, in which case nobody should fear RMS (any more than they previously did at least) since it’s as blunt as a butter knife except at the tip, which I find quite useful in opening that nasty plastic packaging that surrounds 6 packs of coke.


  2. No!

    Can’t you guys see that you’re only encouraging him? If xkcd keeps portraying prop gags with celebrities, and if people keep imitating them in real life, the result can only be an arms race that no one wins except the reading public.

    What’s next? Linus Torvalds with a rubber chicken? Bill Gates with a pie on his face? Steve Wozniak confronting a veciloraptor?


  3. You know, if you wanted to make a strip about a recently-defended theoretical chemist named Matt Thompson at JILA who uses, say, a new Sony Reader…or an Xbox 360…or something like that, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind.


  4. Denise, in the arms race, there’s always fear that things will degenerate to the yet weirder.

    F2, I think you caught my sly reference. 🙂


  5. So… Would you mind publishing a comic depicting me holding a large bag of money?


  6. After showing several of your comics to a cute chick in whom I was interested, and after she really didn’t get the ones at which I lafft the most, I think it might be important to find someone who gets your strips as often as I do (about an 80% success rate).

    Perhaps you should start a dating service based on “personality tests” i.e. showing comics ranging from Garfield to Bloom County to xkcd along with “How funny did you find this strip on a scale from 1 to 5?”

    Anyway, the ones of yours I’ve comprehended have blown oxygen into what pathetic embers of faith in humanity I had.

    I found your translated George Washington address before I found the comic, as I recall it was linked on, and I’ve had the compulsion to spread it around like the sweet jelly of liberty on the stale, crusty toast of my fellow citizens. What I’m trying to say is that I thank you.


  7. Check out how far from the hilt the balance point is. Are Katanas supposed to be like that?


  8. Now all we need is for RMS to show up wielding his katana in a random park in Cambridge on September 23, along with a few hundred other xkcd-ers.


  9. This is unrelated to your blog post, but i think that you should check out some of Jonathan Coulton’s work – he has a rather similiar sense of humor to yours , and is doing for music what you’re doing for web comics. i’d go for “Mandelbrot Set” or “Skullcrusher Mountain” first, i have a feeling you’ll really appreciate his art 🙂

    /love to see you guys collaborate on something… i’m a huge fan of both, keep it up 🙂


  10. re: Bithead

    Nope. Generally, the balance point should be closer to the hilt, especially since Katanas are meant for slicing, rather than thrusting. It’s probably a cheap replica inteaded more for show than use. Not that that’s a horrible thing… the real ones can be somewhat pricey ( )… plus, we wouldn’t want those lovable pranksters to get too seriously hurt, now would we?


  11. This is easily the awesomest thing ever. Let’s give Bill Gates a bat with nails sticking out of it and have a rumble.


  12. I wonder how long it takes before the term “xkcd-ed” gets coined and into common parlance. And I wonder if just mentioning it gets me in history for having coined it…

    Could set up a whole set of terms, in fact:

    xkcd (ex-kay-see-dee)
    intransitive verb: To make reality conform to an xkcd comic. (ex. “It’s time to xkcd!”)
    transitive verb: (to xkcd someone) To do something to someone that causes them to imitate an xkcd comic. (Rafael and and Mauro xkcded Richard Stallman by giving him a katana)
    noun: Webcomic extraordinaire. ( Enough said)


  13. Of course the verb is to be pronounced “to ex-kay-ceed” and the proper pronounciation of the example sentence would be “Rafael and Mauro ex-kay-ceed-ed Richard Stallman by giving him a katana.”

    I wonder how “to xkcd” would translate into other languages? I will try. I don’t know the grammatical terms for different verb forms in english so I will use an English example.

    English: to exkayceed, I exkayceed, you exkayceeded, you have exkayceeded.
    Swedish: att exkåsedera, jag exkåsederar, du exkåsederade, ni har exkåsederat
    French: (standard -er verb form) exkeceder, j’exkecede, tu exkecedais, vous avez exkecedé

    Now I don’t know any more languages.


  14. @Nirion:

    I bow to your altered pronunciation. I also admire your translation effort. If I remembered my Spanish well enough, I’d contribute, but I have objections to knowingly butchering languages past a reasonable limit.


  15. Regarding comic #252, my new goal in life is to find the perfect sized slinky that will walk in place on an up escalator. I’m sure one of you physicist-types can work out the relevant equations for me?


  16. Regarding the translation of the verb ‘to xkcd’, here it is in Japanese:
    Present/Future: (I/you/he/she/it/we/y’all/they) xkcdをする
    Past: (I/you/he/she/it/we/y’all/they) xkcdをした

    Man, I don’t know who got the bright idea of conjugating verbs based on gender or plurality. I really think the Japanese got the right idea.


  17. Regarding your famous sudo comic, I tried using sudo to get my fiance to get something for me. It had the opposite effect of what I was trying to achieve in that he HAD been reaching for it, but stopped just because I used “sudo” after his initial “no.” :-/ Perhaps I need to recompile his kernel.


  18. But by conugating verbs based on plurality (I’m not aware of any languages that change verbs based on gender, though there are about 15,000 languages that I don’t know) all those pronouns are rendered needless and can be dropped.


  19. JuggLer:

    You forgot one more

    (noun) 2. (math) The result of calling the Ackermann function with Graham’s number as the arguments.




  20. “What’s next”? Donald Knuth signing the Knuth comic with “Wait, who are you? What are you doing in my house?” — that would be the ideal followup.

    At least that’s what I’d ask for if I ever met Knuth. 🙂

    /* Steinar */


  21. Clark wrote:

    “I’m not aware of any languages that change verbs based on gender”

    Arabic does, in singular and plural of both 2nd and 3rd person. (*And*, as if things weren’t complicated enough, there are two types of plural – ‘two people’, and ‘more than two people’). But then, yes, you really don’t need pronounds. 🙂


  22. I got a Katana like that for $20 at a “asian” store (at the mall). It was made of cheap aluminum and when it battled with my other $30 (steel, Iberian) sword the Katana came away with big dents and chunks taken out of it.
    But I’d send one to him. I wonder what the post office thought….


  23. This… is just awesome. My friends and I have sword tournaments every month (using bamboo swords, of course), and so when this comic came out, everyone loved it. The guys who sent the sword are just awesome!!



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  25. Considering how gun-shy Massachusetts is, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it were illegal for RMS to own that katana, at least without a ton of paperwork. OTOH it seems unlikely that anyone involved with the MA criminal justice system reads this blog, so…


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