635: Locke and Demosthenes

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Locke and Demosthenes
Dear Peter Wiggin: This letter is to inform you that you have received enough up votes on your reddit comments to become president of the world. Please be at the UN tomorrow at 8:00 sharp.
Title text: Dear Peter Wiggin: This letter is to inform you that you have received enough up votes on your reddit comments to become president of the world. Please be at the UN tomorrow at 8:00 sharp.


This comic reimagines a scene from Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card. In the book, Ender is an above-average-intelligence boy who is selected to become a potential leader of Earth's "Defense" Forces in the event of another Bugger (For those wondering about the Wikipedia link, in future books the Buggers are renamed to the Formics to avoid having a slur referring to gay men/English swear word as the name of a race) invasion. Meanwhile, Ender's two older siblings, Peter and Valentine decide to save the world from itself. They do this by asserting themselves as wise demagogues who comment on political events on what are known as the "free nets" which are nets open to comment by anyone in the world. They choose pseudonyms to write under, as no one would take the words of children seriously, they choose Locke (Peter's pseudonym), and Demosthenes (Valentine's) and begin work. Eventually they gain enough respect to be invited to participate in moderated political debates in the higher class nets. By the end of the book, Peter has become the leader of the world, as Valentine runs away to the former Bugger homeworld with Ender to live out their lives in peace.

The whole thing is eerily reminiscent of what blogging has become, without the becoming-the-head-of-government outcome, obviously. Randall is suggesting that if the book was set with today's technology, Locke and Demosthenes would be getting extremely low exposure with their wordpress blogs as evidenced by the 0 comments on each post; the title text sarcastically invites Peter to be head of the UN. Also note that the sarcastic note is addressed to "Peter" rather than "Locke"; Peter's attempt to remain anonymous has failed miserably.

If you happen to be wondering about the squirrel, Peter Wiggin is portrayed as a sadistic sociopath. There is a scene in the book where Valentine stumbles across a skinned squirrel still twitching in pain.


[Valentine is laying on her back on the ground. Peter is feeding a squirrel.]
Valentine: Ender's up there saving the world, but down here it's falling apart politically. What can we do?
Peter: I know — we get on the nets and anonymously post political opinions. People reading our articles will see our intelligence, recognize how clear and logical our arguments are, and insist that we be put in charge, so we can fix everything!
Valentine: Brilliant!
[The squirrel is vomiting.]
[A blog.]
Powered by Wordpress
[Articles, partly scrolled down.]
[...] which is why we must reach out to the Russian leadership.
Posted at 3:15AM by Locke
Comments (0)
[In a larger font]
The Problem with China
In recent months much has been made of [...]
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Recent posts:
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[A list of links to other websites.]
>> Demosthenes
>> FiveThirtyEight

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...may someone explain FiveThirtyEight? Greyson (talk) 15:34, 19 November 2012 (UTC)

FiveThirtyEight AFAIK is the Twitter handle (and the name of his blog, which is now a part of the NY Times) of statistician Nate Silver. He may have chosen to use that handle as it is the number of votes in the Electoral College. And now that I've done all that research, I might copy this into the explanation. lcarsos_a (talk) 17:13, 19 November 2012 (UTC)
This is important and should be part of the explanation. I might add it, if I can find a way to work it into the current explanation. --Kynde (talk) 20:21, 8 March 2016 (UTC)

I didn't add this because it might be wrong, but I'm fairly sure that Ender and Valentine aren't going to the formic homeworld, since that was destroyed by the M. D. Device, and I think that in Ender in Exile, Ender is shown to have gone to a mere colony of the formics. Athang (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I agree with your interpretation, but the book does not come out and say such. For this reason, I changed the wording from "the former Bugger homeworld" to "a planet formerly inhabitted by Buggers". Smperron (talk) 04:55, 14 November 2014 (UTC)

Someone may want to change the transcript about the squirrel vomiting. It's far more likely Peter is holding food in panel 1 and has dropped it on the ground for the squirrel to eat in panel 2... 05:02, 17 December 2014 (UTC)

The official transcript states the former, so that was most likely Randall's intention when drawing it. Zowayix (talk) 18:55, 18 April 2015 (UTC)
True to both. I have added that it doesn't look like it is vomiting, but added the link to the official transcript and noted both that it does vomit, and that it looks like it eats from the ground. The transcript here should describe the comic. Not copy the transcript from xkcd. But use it for clarifications. For instance the names are also not given in the comic, at least not for Valentine, whereas they are given in the official transcript. --Kynde (talk) 20:21, 8 March 2016 (UTC)