898: Chain of Command

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Chain of Command
Themistocles said his infant son ruled all Greece -- "Athens rules all Greece; I control Athens; my wife controls me; and my infant son controls her." Thus, nowadays the world is controlled by whoever buys advertising time on Dora the Explorer.
Title text: Themistocles said his infant son ruled all Greece -- "Athens rules all Greece; I control Athens; my wife controls me; and my infant son controls her." Thus, nowadays the world is controlled by whoever buys advertising time on Dora the Explorer.

[edit] Explanation

The President of the United States is at the top of the US Nuclear Chain of Command, but the engineer is de facto above him because the engineer is in charge of configuring how the button works, and thus could have installed an override so that he could block the President's use of the button and/or use it himself. The "Red Button" is a simplification denoting procedures for the worst-case scenario, i.e. launching all strategic nuclear capabilities.

This paradoxical situation applies in many other fields. In a major corporation commercially sensitive information is generally hidden from employees at lower levels but available to management, but the systems administrator (who usually sits low on the hierarchy and doesn't manage any other employees) can access not only the sensitive information but the raw data that it's calculated from. Not only that, but the systems administrator is usually responsible for controlling who has access to the information - making him/her the most powerful person in the company (as far as the IT infrastructure is concerned). Many managers think of themselves as being "above" engineers and have trouble coming to grips with this concept.

Themistocles, mentioned at the title text, was an Ancient Greek politician. In the title text is a similar joke placed at the top of the chain of command, this time in Ancient Greece. It refers to Plutarch's Life of Themistocles:

Of his son, who lorded it over his mother, and through her over himself, he said, jestingly, that the boy was the most powerful of all the Hellenes; for the Hellenes were commanded by the Athenians, the Athenians by himself, himself by the boy's mother, and the mother by her boy.

The part about television advertisements is a proposal that, by controlling the "infant son" of the aforementioned Red Button engineer, one could control the engineer, and thus the President, and so on and so forth. Dora the Explorer is an educational show for young children, something a busy man like the President might turn on for his son.

[edit] Transcript

[A flowchart shows the President at the top, with an arrow to the Secretary of Defense, and then fourteen arrows leading to a series of boxes labeled Unified Combat Commanders. On the side, a box with a dotted outline has a dotted arrow leading to the president. It's labeled "Engineer Who Installed the Red Button."]
US NUCLEAR CHAIN OF COMMAND
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Discussion

I highly doubt Obama just has a red button at his desk that launches missiles. Seems like a pretty useless thing to have on your desk. I'd much rather use that space to install a button that opens a trapdoor in your room: it's reusable, cheaper and has a more directly positive effect on your well-being. Davidy²²[talk] 02:04, 17 April 2013 (UTC)

It is true, here is proof: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zU9lv_WqK6k 184.66.160.91 03:19, 26 August 2013 (UTC)
I'm pretty sure the button is actually INSIDE the football-shaped briefcase. -- Hkmaly (talk) 11:09, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

The red button activates a flashing red sign that says "PRESS GREEN BUTTON"... which turns off the flashing red sign. 74.140.141.101 19:49, 7 October 2013 (UTC)

"incomplete|The Nuclear football should be mentioned, the button doesn't launch all nuclear capabilities."

The explanation seems to be complete for me. I don't see any reason to mention the "Nuclear football": there is no reference to it in the comic and what the real "red button" actually looks like is irrelevant. 173.245.49.209 12:26, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
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