Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
This comic refers to the concept of fandom, which is basically the collective noun for fans of a given thing. Usually, this is used in the context of people who like a certain work of fiction, like Star Trek or Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Here, Cueball digs through a box and discovers his old collection of Star Wars books, referring to authors Timothy Zahn and Michael A. Stackpole (who wrote several Star Wars novels), and The Corellian Trilogy. These books are part of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, which is used to refer to media that is Star Wars canon, but not the films.
Cueball apparently loved these books as a kid, which prompts Megan to remark if he started becoming a fan of other science fiction series like Firefly or Battlestar Galactica, to which he clarifies that he simply grew out of the fandom mindset. Megan, perhaps sarcastically, asks him about how politician Ron Paul (who has appeared in the comic several times) is doing, and Cueball excitedly runs off to check, ironically disproving his earlier remark - people don't outgrow a fandom state of mind, but rather shift their point of interest.
The title refers to the New Republic, the main government in Star Wars after the final film, and Corusca gems, which are extremely rare and valuable gems from the aforementioned expanded universe. The text says that Ron Paul wants the New Republic to adopt the Corusca gem as standard currency. This entire joke is an allegory for the Gold Standard, which Ron Paul is a personal advocate of even though it is no longer in use by the United States.
- [Cueball is looking through a box.]
- Cueball: Hey, my old Star Wars books!
- [Cueball is holding a pair of books and showing them to Megan.]
- Cueball: Man. Timothy Zahn, Michael A. Stackpole, The Corellian Trilogy...
- Cueball: This was my world.
- Megan: What'd you leave it for? Firefly? BSG?
- Cueball: Nah.
- Cueball: I guess I've just grown out of the whole obsessive fan mindset.
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- Megan: Really.
- Megan: So how's Ron Paul doing?
- Cueball: Ooh! Lemme recheck today's blogs.
- [Cueball heads off to do so.]
"The text says that Ron Paul wants the New Republic to adopt the Corusca gem as standard currency." Not quite. This is a riff on the term Gold Standard, which is where the actual currency unit (whatever the local version is, e.g. various national versions of dollars, pounds, franc, mark, etc...) is directly linked to an actual physical bit of gold (or rather, en mass, the total currency corresponds to the entire gold reserve). It's like the government saying "I'll pay you in gold, but we can keep it safer than you, so we'll keep hold of the gold and give you a note/token to say that you own a share of it". Tokens/notes get passed around as indirect ownership of the gold is transfered in exchange for goods and services. The total money in the economy is tied directly to the gold possessed. This rather has the effect of making gold worth "as much as gold is worth" (transaction fees excepted) if it's a fairly constant commodity. (Although you can still mine gold, and gold is also useful as a resource, e.g. in electrical and electronic connections. And creating works of art in gold create items that are worth more than just the material costs, while melting them down returns only the material costs and the added difference is lost once more.) In times of old this was reflected in gold coinage (and subserviant coinage), but we'd long since transitioned to the 'gold by proxy' situation.
Anyway, without unilaterally revaluing the proxy currency (giving them a different, usually lesser, share of the gold reserves) or significantly expanding the reserves this rather constrains the growth of the economy, for whatever reason that might be desired or required. This may limit international trade, as well as the ability to 'virtualise' money for non-physical transfers, government bonds, etc. For this reason every single (last I heard) currency in the world, that is not still made of gold itself (probably none of them, BICBW), is 'off the Gold Standard', and there's effectively as much money in a country as a government says there is, with the physical (and non-physical?) money being a Fiat Currency (Fiat=="Let it be.."). This can make everyone 'richer' (see also Quantative Easing), or at least have higher values, whether or not their actual purchasing power increases accordingly, and is very easy to integrate with the manipulation of 'virtual money'. But as seen over recent times there are problems.
Even before these problems, there have been some hard-nosed economists (or politicians, either with a considered point of view, or just looking for a distinct personal platform to impress various sectors of the electorate with) trying to get one or other national currency back to the Gold Standard. The arguments for and against such a reattachment (as with the arguments for and against the original disconnection) are many and varied, and I wouldn't personally care to suggest the best course of action. (Or whether a different limited resource, along the same lines, should be adopted as Gold Equivalent, where not already applicable.)
I'm not entirely sure if Ron Paul is calling for a return to the Gold Standard, IRL, although it's the kind of thing that politicians like him do like to say (whether or not they actually mean it). However, it seems as if the Extended Universe version of Ron Paul is calling for the Star Wars equivalent, tying the equivalent currency of the Republic (Galactic Standard Credit?) to reserves of an equivalent limited resource of value (the Corusca Gem). I have no idea if the gem can be used for anything practical, but sounds like it is probably mainly valuable for its appearance (and the fact that it is already used in trading), rather like Latinum in the Star Trek universe which apparently cannot be produced (or duplicated) by replicators. Unlike gold itself, which is relegated to a convenient substrate within which the naturally liquide latinum itself is more handily encased and handled.
...er, yes. Much too much information (and possible errors in explanation) there. But just saying. 126.96.36.199
16:46, 18 June 2013 (UTC)