15 Comments

  1. There is (or at least was) a Windows-DLL by that name, but it seems a little too obscure even for Dilbert. One source I found claimed that “Most antivirus programs classify VSAdd-in.dll as a harmful extension to Internet Explorer…“, but none of the links I found seemed authoritative or reliable enough to warrant posting them here.

    P.S. The reference to MS-IE would be sufficient grounds for considering the term woefully outdated.

  2. So we’ve skipped straight to the kvetching of obscure detail without even giving lip service to the IDU? How is this comic funny? “The boss is an idiot”, but that’s not enough, especially as this bit of idiocy is a) incoherent, and b) expected as character trait for the boss in Dilbert. So on it’s own, this is the equivalent of Charlie Brown saying, “My stomach hurts” without a particularly convoluted setup from Lucy. Ah, but the boss’ idiocy on its own was not meant to carry the gag, there is the final punchline panel: only, huh? How is, “I pretend I didn’t hear it” funny? At best it’s a sign of Stockholm Syndrome or the like, but that’s not really funny, even if it’s true…

  3. larK: It’s apropos in Dilbert-land because of Wally’s response. He’s continuing the theme of “The boss is an idiot, just ignore him” which is indeed not exactly funny but is a bit wry. I mean, we’ve all been in that situation: management says something that makes no sense and everyone just goes “Yeah, right” and keeps on truckin’.

    I’m reminded (as I am about once a week) of this classic:

    Now, is that funny per se? No, but it’s surprising and wry and relatable (at least if you’ve worked for a company where such announcements are made).

  4. Asok is asking “What was I supposed to do in that situation (when I don’t understand his gibberish)”. Obviously asking PHB to clarify was a mistake.

    Wally is interpreting the “situation” as being called a fool and asked to leave his office. The humor is a combination of that being a regular occurrence for Wally (I usually…) and his interpretation of that being the primary concern.

  5. Adams has written that he tries to do a double punch in the punchline, the first being the expected follow through to the situation, offering a mild humorous punch (“I think you’re reading a little too much into that announcement”), and then a secondary punch, that often takes the expected punchline, and punches it into the absurd (“No, I’m reading the footnote”, ie: it literally says that). So the humor is in deciphering politeness forms, saying out loud what you’re not allowed to say out loud, and then adding the absurdity that it is not this guy who is breaking the norms, it is the corporation itself, and possibly insinuating that he is not smart enough to be that snarky. So yes, it is funny per se, and yes, it even builds on the character of the boss, he is not smart enough to be snarky on his own.

    The comic for this thread, though, lacks a double-punch punchline, leaving us only with abuse in the second panel, and a serious question with a lame response, that after all these years of these characters, doesn’t even build on their characteristics. Wally is a master gas lighter and shirker; his answer in this case is pedestrian and boring, and fails to resolve the abuse of the second panel — pretend you didn’t hear what? The stupidity or the abuse? Or both? Maybe pretending not to hear the stupidity might be humorous, but pretending not to hear the abuse is not funny, nor is advising someone else to pretend not to hear the abuse funny, either, unless you are going for very, very dark humor, which, sorry, is a vibe I don’t get from Dilbert. And if you are going for very dark, go for the gusto, go over the top — just lamely accepting the abuse does nothing for anyone.

  6. In The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity, Graeber and Wengrow argue that the Enlightenment arose from the Native American critique of the invading Western society, central to which was that it lacked the three basic freedoms which Native Americans took for granted: 1) The right to refuse, to say no; 2) The right to walk away; and 3) The right to reconceive, reimagine, and rebuild your society.
    What has always bothered me about Dilbert (even if I couldn’t quite articulate what it was prior to reading this book) was that it seemed to attract the kind of person who not only was ignorant of these freedoms, but indeed was hell bent on denying the very possibility of the existence of these freedoms, taking the cynicism of the humor from Dilbert as an affirming religion to their world view (and this despite the fact that Adams himself made liberal use of the freedoms in refusing to abide by the stupidity of the Baby Bell he was working for by quitting his Dilbertesque job and reconceiving his existence, using his bad experiences to become a best selling cartoonist!)
    Back in the day, I worked at an ESL school that was part of but apart from a University, and it was a great experience: it was small enough that you could know everyone, and everyone there, not only the teachers, but also the office staff I was part of, were truly interested and cared about the students who came from all around the world to learn English at our school. I rose to the position of interim administrative coordinator (I wasn’t going to be around after my wife finished her Masters), and I was tasked with training my permanent replacement, who was being hired from outside after a months-long search. It was a miserable experience, because she came to the job, it seemed, genuinely hoping for a Dilbertesque experience (her little plush Dilbert doll was an ominous hint, but it was clear from overheard phone conversations that she was literally looking for the Dilbert parallels in her new organization) — and we truly were not a Dilbert outfit! Her attitude to anything I was trying to teach her about her duties was eyerolls and sighs along the lines of “if only we didn’t have these damn students, everything would be so much easier”; what had been amazing heretofore was how literally everyone just intuitively got that the reason that we did anything at this school was for the students; that’s why we existed, to help these students learn not only English, but the culture surrounding it, everyone could and did pitch in, and it was an immensely rewarding experience. She flat out refused to even consider the possibility. She wanted a Dilbert experience, and by God, she was going to get one, if she had to manufacture it herself!
    Sadly, I did not rise to the occasion, and made the mistake not only of gossiping my frustrations to my colleagues, but also of not double checking the address headers of one of my complaints, and delivering it to her instead of the intended recipient (they shared a first name), so that blew up even more than it already was doing…
    Not surprisingly, she didn’t last long at the job, unwittingly exercising her fundamental freedoms: after denying and refusing to go along with a company that wasn’t a Dilbertesque nightmare, she got to leave; I suppose you could say she was denied the freedom of reshaping our organization to her preconceived Dilbert notions, but for the good of the many I think the ELC came out of her miserable tenure more or less intact…

  7. “The Dawn of Everything” is biased disingenuous account of human history (www.persuasion.community/p/a-flawed-history-of-humanity ) that spreads fake hope (the authors of “The Dawn” claim human history has not “progressed” in stages, or linearly, and must not end in inequality and hierarchy as with our current system… so there’s hope for us now that it could get different/better again). As a result of this fake hope porn it has been widely praised. It conveniently serves the profoundly sick industrialized world of fakes and criminals. The book’s dishonest fake grandiose title shows already that this work is a FOR-PROFIT, instead a FOR-TRUTH, endeavor geared at the (ignorant gullible) masses.

    Fact is human history has “progressed” by and large in linear stages, especially since the dawn of agriculture (www.focaalblog.com/2021/12/22/chris-knight-wrong-about-almost-everything ). This “progress” has been fundamentally destructive and is driven and dominated by “The 2 Married Pink Elephants In The Historical Room” (www.rolf-hefti.com/covid-19-coronavirus.html ) which the fake hope-giving authors of “The Dawn” entirely ignore naturally (no one can write a legitimate human history without understanding the nature of humans). And these two married pink elephants are the reason why we’ve been “stuck” in a destructive hierarchy and unequal class system (the “stuck” question is the major question in “The Dawn” its authors never answer, predictably), and will be far into the foreseeable future.

    A good example that one of the authors, Graeber, has no real idea what world we’ve been living in and about the nature of humans is his last brief article on Covid where his ignorance shines bright already at the title of his article, “After the Pandemic, We Can’t Go Back to Sleep.” Apparently he doesn’t know that most people WANT to be asleep, and that they’ve been wanting that for thousands of years (and that’s not the only ignorant notion in the title). Yet he (and his partner) is the sort of person who thinks he can teach you something authentically truthful about human history and whom you should be trusting along those terms. Ridiculous!

    “The Dawn” is just another fantasy, or ideology, cloaked in a hue of cherry-picked “science,” served lucratively to the gullible ignorant underclasses who crave myths and fairy tales.

  8. This one is a “cow tools” level blunder.

    Cow tools
    -The joke is that it would be silly if a cow had crude tools
    -This is not funny
    -Readers think their only hope of understanding the joke is figuring out what the tools are
    This
    -The joke is that Wally is frequently yelled at by his boss for not knowing what things are
    -This is not funny
    -Readers believe their only hope of understanding the joke is figuring out what a VSADD is, or what numbers being upside down means

  9. Thanks to William and MSJR for two excellent analyses. I knew there was a reason that I quit reading Dilbert.

  10. @ Mike P – I didn’t say that Dilbert wasn’t funny: it very often was (at least somewhat) amusing, and I did read it for quite a while. I quit mostly because of the increasing repetitiveness(*), and only partly for external reasons that cannot be discussed here at CIDU.

    P.S. (*) I also enjoyed Garfield before it became an eternal re-run of itself.

  11. I saw an episode of Robot Chicken featuring characters from Dilbert in a “Die Hard” spoof, In the end

    SPOILER SPACE

    The “Hans Gruber” role was Scott Adams stealing back reader goodwill because of recent statements.

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