On robots, raptors and cake

16 February, 2009

On Saturday I went to Skycon at the University of Limerick to see Randall Munroe’s talk.

This time I saw a bit more of Limerick. It is a scary place, made of scary concrete and scary boarded-up buildings and populated by scary-looking people with scary scars (and that’s just the town centre). On arrival, though, I found the campus pleasant and the geeks friendly.

Randall discussed the difficulties of understanding the physical and political geography of the area:

"So I'm in the British Isles then?"

"So I'm in the British Isles then?"

The lecture theatre met with approval for its raptor-defensive properties. Other than drawing xkcd and worrying about raptors, it seems that Randall has been evolving robot software, puzzling over where the alt-text should go in an xkcd book, and watching a lot of telly.

There was cake. It was decorated with a cartoon and a heart. Skynet presented it to Randall and invited him to cut it.

“In honor of Valentine’s Day” he said, neatly cutting the heart in two.

Nobody could resist the Post-it-note comment board. There was considerably more geekery and fun than actual comment, including an epic ten-note-long content-free comment ending with “also, more biscuits for Eoin”. Eoin, whoever you are, I salute you.

I make that three inadvisable things I have now done in honour of xkcd:

  • gone to a pseudorandom field to meet People From The Internet who could have been axe-murderers (but actually it was good fun and we got rickrolled in the pub afterwards)
  • nearly been run over by articulated lorries (for which I am very sorry and hope my friends have forgiven me)
  • wandered around Limerick by myself after dark (survived)

But then, it’s all in the spirit of the thing.



  1. The rush of comments defending Limerick’s proud reputation is bound to start any minute now … 😉

    Ok, ok. We have:
    A wobbly bridge like London’s Millennium Bridge, except they got it right first time
    Fake plastic trees? We have an entire fake plastic golf course
    One of Ireland’s finest medieval cathedrals
    An Antony Gormley sculpture that wants to be your friend

    And yes, the locals are scary, but we mean well 😀

  2. Loughborough’s best sculpture is the Sock Man

  3. […] attentive amongst you will notice that this was not my first visit to Limerick, but for Project purposes it doesn’t count without a […]

  4. […] the one about Skycon […]

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