1521: “Sword in the Stone”

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1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby Qaanol » Wed May 06, 2015 4:40 am UTC

http://xkcd.com/1521/

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Title: “That seems like an awful lot of hassle when all I wanted was a cool sword.”

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby higgs-boson » Wed May 06, 2015 5:35 am UTC

Driven by (somewhat rudimentary) education I'd like to correct "England" to "Britain".
If that's being the case, it would imply that...

  • ... the voices you are hearing might be wrong.
  • ... now there's whisky included. Keep the damn sword!
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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby eBusiness » Wed May 06, 2015 5:43 am UTC

Citation needed.

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby musashi1600 » Wed May 06, 2015 6:37 am UTC

If you get England, does Queen Elizabeth II get to keep Scotland/Wales/Northern Ireland/Canada/Australia/New Zealand/the-rest-of-the-Commonwealth-realms?
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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby time burglar » Wed May 06, 2015 6:45 am UTC

higgs-boson wrote:Driven by (somewhat rudimentary) education I'd like to correct "England" to "Britain".


Well, even if your only education was the Monty Python film, you might remember "Arthur, King of the Britons".

My understanding is that the British (or Celtic) peoples were an assortment of tribes who inhabited all of Britain and Ireland. The Angle/Saxon/Jute/Frisian/Whatever invaders started settling from the end of the Roman occupation in the early 5th century, eventually forming England. Arthur was the legendary leader of the Britons in the fight against them (but he only has a few brief mentions in the historical record and may not have existed at all - most of his story was almost certainly invented much later).

That said, I don't think "Britain" ever historically had a throne, and Arthur's legend is the only instance I know of where the British are seen as a unified people. Not really my area though :)

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby Diadem » Wed May 06, 2015 6:50 am UTC

higgs-boson wrote:Driven by (somewhat rudimentary) education I'd like to correct "England" to "Britain".

Not in this case. This is a reference to the stories of Arthur, which are set long before the formation of the United Kingdom.

If you are referring to the modern state "Britain" isn't quite right either. It's the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland". Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, but it is not part of Great Britain, which is the name of the island. The island where Northern Ireland is on (together with the Republic of Ireland, generally just called Ireland) is called Ireland. These islands together are the British Islands. To complicate things further, there used to be a Kingdom of Great Britain, which was the United Kingdom before they got Northern Ireland.

Anyway, the Arthurian stories are set in a time when England was still divided in many different, often warring, kingdoms. But they were mostly written, I think, in a time when England was a single kingdom. Arthur is kind of like a mythological founding figure, forming the kingdom, or at least the idea that there ought to be a single kingdom.

[edit]The above is not correct. See Yomar's post below.
Last edited by Diadem on Wed May 06, 2015 12:08 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby Brett Dunbar » Wed May 06, 2015 7:12 am UTC

time burglar wrote:
higgs-boson wrote:Driven by (somewhat rudimentary) education I'd like to correct "England" to "Britain".


Well, even if your only education was the Monty Python film, you might remember "Arthur, King of the Britons".

My understanding is that the British (or Celtic) peoples were an assortment of tribes who inhabited all of Britain and Ireland. The Angle/Saxon/Jute/Frisian/Whatever invaders started settling from the end of the Roman occupation in the early 5th century, eventually forming England. Arthur was the legendary leader of the Britons in the fight against them (but he only has a few brief mentions in the historical record and may not have existed at all - most of his story was almost certainly invented much later).

That said, I don't think "Britain" ever historically had a throne, and Arthur's legend is the only instance I know of where the British are seen as a unified people. Not really my area though :)


The term king of the Britons is used to describe a few historical British rulers https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_of_the_Britons the most recent was Gruffudd ap Llywelyn who from 1058 to 1063 was the only Welshman to unite Wales. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gruffydd_ap_Llywelyn.

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby higgs-boson » Wed May 06, 2015 7:36 am UTC

Diadem wrote:Arthur is kind of like a mythological founding figure, [...]

... which makes fact-lapidation a bit difficult, indeed. More fun!

If someone finds that stone with that Sword still stuck into it, it would imply that Arthur, son of Uther, missed his entry.
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I am no master of Magick Theory and don't have my magic residue fading lookup tables* at hand, so for the sake of convenience I assume the Sword's magic powers (divine, arcane... whatever) do not fade over time, meaning the Sword is aligned to the borders of ~6th century's Britannia, today's Great Britain (Scotland, Wales, England; without (any flavour of) Ireland).

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby Yomar » Wed May 06, 2015 7:55 am UTC

Diadem wrote:
higgs-boson wrote:Driven by (somewhat rudimentary) education I'd like to correct "England" to "Britain".

Not in this case. This is a reference to the stories of Arthur, which are set long before the formation of the United Kingdom.

If you are referring to the modern state "Britain" isn't quite right either. It's the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland". Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, but it is not part of Great Britain, which is the name of the island. The island where Northern Ireland is on (together with the Republic of Ireland, generally just called Ireland) is called Ireland. These islands together are the British Islands. To complicate things further, there used to be a Kingdom of Great Britain, which was the United Kingdom before they got Northern Ireland.

Anyway, the Arthurian stories are set in a time when England was still divided in many different, often warring, kingdoms. But they were mostly written, I think, in a time when England was a single kingdom. Arthur is kind of like a mythological founding figure, forming the kingdom, or at least the idea that there ought to be a single kingdom.


higgs-boson is correct. Arthur is mythical king of Britain, not king of the Angles. If you're familiar at all with the stories, you'll recall that the coalition of petty kings who swear fealty to Arthur after he defeats them includes Scottish territories (both Lothian and the Orkneys - that is, from the southernmost to the northernmost extent of Scotland) and that Arthur has Scottish and Welsh knights, most prominently Sir Gawaine. He also conquers Ireland, I believe, and parts of Norway and France, but he's always identified as a "King of Britain", as is his father Uther whose sword it was. You might be getting confused with Alfred, the actual historical first king of England.

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby CharlieP » Wed May 06, 2015 8:45 am UTC

There is some argument over who was the first "proper" King of England, but the job seems to have been around from at least Alfred the Great in 871 to Queen Anne in 1707, when she became the first queen of the newly-created Great Britain (her predecessor James was simultaneously King James VI of Scotland and King James I of England, but didn't last to see the Union passed into law).

So presumably the automated message was updated some time after 871, but didn't get the necessary patch after 1707.
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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby niauropsaka » Wed May 06, 2015 9:38 am UTC

As I understand it, in Roman times, Britannia was the populated and civilised (well, Romanised anyway) southern end. The painted savages in the north were Caledonia. :wink:

Also, there were several monarchs between James I & VI and Queen Anne.
Last edited by niauropsaka on Wed May 06, 2015 9:40 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby sfmans » Wed May 06, 2015 9:39 am UTC

Let's not bury the lead here - why wouldn't Megan want to be Queen of England?

BHG would probably be marginally more destructive and evil than the current administration we shall hopefully overthrow with fire and retribution vote out in tomorrow's election, but Megan as Queen would be OK, surely?

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby niauropsaka » Wed May 06, 2015 9:41 am UTC

Was that Megan, or a modern Arthur?

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby JTL » Wed May 06, 2015 9:50 am UTC

Is this a covert UK election comic?

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby speising » Wed May 06, 2015 10:15 am UTC

Why would she have to wikipedia England?

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby cellocgw » Wed May 06, 2015 11:19 am UTC

sfmans wrote:Let's not bury the lead here - why wouldn't Megan want to be Queen of England?


That should be "bury the lede" . Happy Grammar Nitpick Day! :P
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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby armandoalvarez » Wed May 06, 2015 11:22 am UTC

Yomar wrote:
Diadem wrote:
higgs-boson wrote:Driven by (somewhat rudimentary) education I'd like to correct "England" to "Britain".

Not in this case. This is a reference to the stories of Arthur, which are set long before the formation of the United Kingdom.


higgs-boson is correct. Arthur is mythical king of Britain, not king of the Angles.


Higgs-Boson is correct. See the actual works that make up The Matter of Britain, or as others have noted, "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."

However, Higgs-Boson may not be correct in that this may not be a mistake by Randall. He may be citing the Disney movie "The Sword in the Stone," which constantly refers to "England" rather than "Britain."

sfmans wrote:Let's not bury the lead here - why wouldn't Megan want to be Queen of England?

My guess is just like the alt-text says, she's thinking, "No thanks, that's way too much work," (like going on a game show and saying no to the prize of a trip to Hawaii because you have to take off work and pay taxes on the prize). But it may also be a UK election joke.

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby Yomar » Wed May 06, 2015 11:29 am UTC

armandoalvarez wrote:However, Higgs-Boson may not be correct in that this may not be a mistake by Randall. He may be citing the Disney movie "The Sword in the Stone," which constantly refers to "England" rather than "Britain."

You're right, and thinking about it, the modern idea of the myth probably derives a lot more from TH White and his derivatives than directly from Geoffrey or Malory.

cellocgw wrote:
sfmans wrote:Let's not bury the lead here - why wouldn't Megan want to be Queen of England?


That should be "bury the lede" . Happy Grammar Nitpick Day! :P

That has to be the weirdest Americanism I've ever heard. Do you use the "lede" spelling anywhere else, or just in that specific phrase?

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby Diadem » Wed May 06, 2015 12:13 pm UTC

Yomar wrote:higgs-boson is correct. Arthur is mythical king of Britain, not king of the Angles. If you're familiar at all with the stories, you'll recall that the coalition of petty kings who swear fealty to Arthur after he defeats them includes Scottish territories (both Lothian and the Orkneys - that is, from the southernmost to the northernmost extent of Scotland) and that Arthur has Scottish and Welsh knights, most prominently Sir Gawaine. He also conquers Ireland, I believe, and parts of Norway and France, but he's always identified as a "King of Britain", as is his father Uther whose sword it was. You might be getting confused with Alfred, the actual historical first king of England.

I stand corrected. It's a long time since I read the Arthur legends. Probably like 3/4ths of my life ago. Plus I probably read them in Dutch. My apologies for the confusion.
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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby rmsgrey » Wed May 06, 2015 12:26 pm UTC

The music and light is certainly in T H White - I don't know whether he got that from an earlier source or not.

Since I have my copy of The Once And Future King handy, here's the inscription of the sword from that: "Whoso Pulleth Out This Sword of this Stone and Anvil is Rightwise King Born of All England".

It's not conclusive evidence that Randall is drawing on the T H White and/or Disney version, but it is consistent with it.

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby cellocgw » Wed May 06, 2015 12:34 pm UTC

Yomar wrote:
cellocgw wrote:
sfmans wrote:Let's not bury the lead here - why wouldn't Megan want to be Queen of England?


That should be "bury the lede" . Happy Grammar Nitpick Day! :P

That has to be the weirdest Americanism I've ever heard. Do you use the "lede" spelling anywhere else, or just in that specific phrase?


Not an USAianism: it's the word used in newspaper journalism to describe the key point of a story.
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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby Yomar » Wed May 06, 2015 12:53 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:I stand corrected. It's a long time since I read the Arthur legends. Probably like 3/4ths of my life ago. Plus I probably read them in Dutch. My apologies for the confusion.

I ought to have written "if you're familiar at all with the stories, you [might] recall" etc - it's a perfectly reasonable mistake to make.

cellocgw wrote:Not an USAianism: it's the word used in newspaper journalism to describe the key point of a story.

I've haven't seen it used before, and some cursory Googling suggested "lede" is a US spelling. Where I'm from the opening lines of a news article would be spelt "lead" in common use. Unless it's journalist jargon? It's not in my gigantic Random House dictionary, anyway.

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby OP Tipping » Wed May 06, 2015 1:06 pm UTC

The name "England" comes from Angeln in northern Germany. King Arthur (at best a semi-legendary and probably a fully legendary figure) was a Celtic king who was fighting _against_ the Anglo-Saxon Germanic invaders so the use of the term England here does jar a bit.

BTW this cartoon is a bit mean on England which is a lovely place that anyone should be glad to be king of.
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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby Eoink » Wed May 06, 2015 1:06 pm UTC

Yomar wrote:
Diadem wrote:I stand corrected. It's a long time since I read the Arthur legends. Probably like 3/4ths of my life ago. Plus I probably read them in Dutch. My apologies for the confusion.

I ought to have written "if you're familiar at all with the stories, you [might] recall" etc - it's a perfectly reasonable mistake to make.

cellocgw wrote:Not an USAianism: it's the word used in newspaper journalism to describe the key point of a story.

I've haven't seen it used before, and some cursory Googling suggested "lede" is a US spelling. Where I'm from the opening lines of a news article would be spelt "lead" in common use. Unless it's journalist jargon? It's not in my gigantic Random House dictionary, anyway.


It seems it's a fairly recent neologism, from the late 1970s or early 1980s. At least according to this US journalist based on his reading of journalism history texts:
http://howardowens.com/2011/09/18/lede-vs-lead/

I've not noticed it used in British journalism, but I'm a consumer (newspaper reader), so it might just be a phrase used in the profession, but not in the UK paper(s) I read.

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby hermitian » Wed May 06, 2015 1:07 pm UTC

yomar wrote:I've haven't seen it used before, and some cursory Googling suggested "lede" is a US spelling. Where I'm from the opening lines of a news article would be spelt "lead" in common use. Unless it's journalist jargon? It's not in my gigantic Random House dictionary, anyway.


According to Wikipedia, it sounds like they deliberately misspelled it to "lede" to differentiate it from the metal "lead" which was used in typesetting.

The bonus is that they get to yell at other people who logically spelled it "lead" and tell them that they are spelling it wrong.

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby Xenomortis » Wed May 06, 2015 1:18 pm UTC

OP Tipping wrote:The name "England" comes from Angeln in northern Germany. King Arthur (at best a semi-legendary and probably a fully legendary figure) was a Celtic king who was fighting _against_ the Anglo-Saxon Germanic invaders so the use of the term England here does jar a bit.

Well, a Romanised Celt. I think they became the Welsh, and maybe the Cornish too, when some Germans decided to become English.
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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby Polixenes » Wed May 06, 2015 1:36 pm UTC

The magical voice is proclaiming the throne of England to be hers.

I read that the throne cost 100 shillings to commission, which is 5 pounds in old money, assuming there were 20 to the pound in those days. But it would be worth a lot more than that now at Sothebys or on Ebay, so if I was her I wouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth.

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby elliptic » Wed May 06, 2015 1:52 pm UTC

hermitian wrote:According to Wikipedia, it sounds like they deliberately misspelled it to "lede" to differentiate it from the metal "lead" which was used in typesetting.


And in a curiously second-order sub-textual reference, I give you a 70s rock group with a penchant for pseudo-medieval mythology who also deliberately misspelled the word "lead" to make the same distinction (noun:metal vs. adj:first) but the opposite way around.

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby kelvinc » Wed May 06, 2015 2:26 pm UTC

JTL wrote:Is this a covert UK election comic?


I'm almost certainly overreading it but it definitely feels like a dig at the White Van Man stereotype.
The Wikipedia England article is unambiguously not Scotland/Wales/Ireland nor Great Britain nor UK, so I don't think Randall's actually confused on this.

If the disembodied voice said "Appalachia" or "Texas," I'd say the political subtext would be blatant.

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby mathmannix » Wed May 06, 2015 2:44 pm UTC

hermitian wrote:
yomar wrote:I've haven't seen it used before, and some cursory Googling suggested "lede" is a US spelling. Where I'm from the opening lines of a news article would be spelt "lead" in common use. Unless it's journalist jargon? It's not in my gigantic Random House dictionary, anyway.


According to Wikipedia, it sounds like they deliberately misspelled it to "lede" to differentiate it from the metal "lead" which was used in typesetting.

The bonus is that they get to yell at other people who logically spelled it "lead" and tell them that they are spelling it wrong.


According to wiktionary, lede (and the related words leod and leed) has a different origin than lead (the verb and its related noun forms pronounced the same way) (which is also unrelated to the differently-pronounced lead, the metal.)
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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby Scott Auld » Wed May 06, 2015 2:54 pm UTC

TIL Randal hates England.

Weird... and a little disappointing. And not entirely uninsulting. If I were a bit less English I'd be offended.

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby Whizbang » Wed May 06, 2015 2:59 pm UTC

Scott Auld wrote:TIL Randal hates England.

Weird... and a little disappointing.


[Citation Needed]

All I see is Megan looking up England on Wikipedia and deciding not to become queen, because after reading the article decided that it was too much hassle. Are you saying that "hassle" = "hate"? It seems to me that someone could completely love a country, and everything in it, and still not want to be queen/king.

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby mikrit » Wed May 06, 2015 3:55 pm UTC

Yeah, probably the hassle is the problem. I think Megan will go looking for a knife stuck in a rock that would give her the right to be the Count of Luxembourg.

Or a needle stuck in a pebble, giving her the right to be a Capitano Reggente of San Marino.
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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby HES » Wed May 06, 2015 4:34 pm UTC

Hey, who wouldn't want the right to drive around without a number plate?
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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby mathmannix » Wed May 06, 2015 5:27 pm UTC

BURN! Take that, England! (Just like the Take That to physicists on Monday!)
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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby Diadem » Wed May 06, 2015 5:38 pm UTC

HES wrote:Hey, who wouldn't want the right to drive around without a number plate?

It's England, so they get the left to drive.
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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed May 06, 2015 5:48 pm UTC

In Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail, Arthur repeatedly announces himself as "Arthur, son of Uther Pendragon, King of the Britons, defeater of the Saxons, and sovereign of all England!"
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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby Copper Bezel » Wed May 06, 2015 6:30 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:According to wiktionary, lede (and the related words leod and leed) has a different origin than lead (the verb and its related noun forms pronounced the same way) (which is also unrelated to the differently-pronounced lead, the metal.)


...

No, it doesn't?

Etymology 2
Mid-20th century neologism from a deliberate misspelling of lead, intended to avoid confusion with its homograph meaning a strip of type metal used for positioning type in the frame.


The other word lede is totally unrelated.

Separately, "bury the lead" is an entirely acceptable usage because "lede" and "lead" in this context are the same word,* and in this context, we're very unlikely to confuse it for references to the leading (read like the metal) of the text, which we'd generally call line spacing.

* An arguably statement in any context, but "bury the lede" was an alternative to "bury the lead," which was an entirely natural utterance before the innovation. Lead has not lost any meanings since, and the same utterance is still equally parsable.
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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby Steve the Pocket » Wed May 06, 2015 6:36 pm UTC

Whizbang wrote:
Scott Auld wrote:TIL Randal hates England.

Weird... and a little disappointing.


[Citation Needed]

All I see is Megan looking up England on Wikipedia and deciding not to become queen, because after reading the article decided that it was too much hassle. Are you saying that "hassle" = "hate"? It seems to me that someone could completely love a country, and everything in it, and still not want to be queen/king.

Why does one have to look up a country to know that running it is a lot of work? Isn't that kind of a given? That's why I assumed it had something to do with either current events or the country itself in general.
cephalopod9 wrote:Only on Xkcd can you start a topic involving Hitler and people spend the better part of half a dozen pages arguing about the quality of Operating Systems.

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orthogon
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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby orthogon » Wed May 06, 2015 6:42 pm UTC

Steve the Pocket wrote:
Whizbang wrote:
Scott Auld wrote:TIL Randal hates England.

Weird... and a little disappointing.


[Citation Needed]

All I see is Megan looking up England on Wikipedia and deciding not to become queen, because after reading the article decided that it was too much hassle. Are you saying that "hassle" = "hate"? It seems to me that someone could completely love a country, and everything in it, and still not want to be queen/king.

Why does one have to look up a country to know that running it is a lot of work? Isn't that kind of a given? That's why I assumed it had something to do with either current events or the country itself in general.

Running a country, sure, but you might need to look up what the exact role of the monarch is in a particular country. In the case of England, or the UK, or whatever, you might not end up any the wiser...
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.


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