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Feel free to sign up for an account and contribute to the explain xkcd wiki!  We need explanations for comics, characters, themes, memes and everything in between.  If it is referenced in an [http://www.xkcd.com xkcd] web comic, it should be here.
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* [[List of all comics]] contains a complete table of all xkcd comics so far and the corresponding explanations. The red links ([[like this]]) are missing explanations. Feel free to help out by creating them! '''[[Help:How to add a new comic explanation|Here's how]]'''.
  
 
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Don't be a jerk. There are a lot of comics that don't have set in stone explanations; feel free to put multiple interpretations in the wiki page for each comic.
  
 
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Revision as of 21:16, 24 March 2013

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!

We have collaboratively explained Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ",". xkcd comics, and only Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ",". (Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ",".%) remain. Add yours while there's a chance!

Latest comic

Go to this comic explanation

Presidential Alert
When putting his kids to bed, after saying 'Goodnight', Obama has to stop himself from saying 'God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.'
Title text: When putting his kids to bed, after saying 'Goodnight', Obama has to stop himself from saying 'God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.'
Current EAS logo. (from Wikimedia Commons)

Explanation

The Emergency Alert System allows the U.S. President to address the country in the event of a national emergency, by broadcasting a message over all television and radio channels. Despite the system's having existed in various forms for over 60 years, no president has ever used it, even during the September 11 attacks.

In this comic, the US President accidentally activates the system by pressing a button, apparently located on the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office. Surprised by being on television, he tries to think of something important to say on the spot, but cannot think of anything other than a piece of generic dental-hygiene advice—a rather non-urgent message.

An alternative explanation is that he is actually supposed to tell everyone some really bad news - like a total nuclear attack or an asteroid is about to destroy the US (or that Ebola has become airborne in the US...) And then he chickens out (or decides there is no need to know a few minutes in advance) and try to explain that the alert was a mistake - finishing quite lame on the dental flush advice.

The concept of the President mistakenly hitting an important button has long been a source for jokes, often somewhat morbidly involving the nuclear football.

The title text references the typical conclusion to presidential speeches: "Goodnight, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America," or some variation thereof. As "goodnight" is the typical conclusion to a day, the title text jokes that President Obama has a hard time stopping at goodnight when saying that to his children.

Transcript

[Television beeping.]
Screen reads: "E.A.S Incoming Presidential Alert"
[Person in an office is on the television.]
My fellow Americans. I, uhhh. Wow.
Frankly, I didn't realize what this button did. I was just... I mean... I appear before you tonight to, um.
Look, uhh...
Remember to floss regularly. Oral hygiene is important. Thank you.



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Last 7 days (Top 10)

Lots of people contribute to make this wiki a success. Many of the recent contributors, listed above, have just joined. You can do it too! Create your account here.

You can read a brief introduction about this wiki at explain xkcd. Feel free to sign up for an account and contribute to the wiki! We need explanations for comics, characters, themes, memes and everything in between. If it is referenced in an xkcd web comic, it should be here.

  • List of all comics contains a complete table of all xkcd comics so far and the corresponding explanations. The red links (like this) are missing explanations. Feel free to help out by creating them! Here's how.

Rules

Don't be a jerk. There are a lot of comics that don't have set in stone explanations; feel free to put multiple interpretations in the wiki page for each comic.

If you want to talk about a specific comic, use its discussion page.

Please only submit material directly related to —and helping everyone better understand— xkcd... and of course only submit material that can legally be posted (and freely edited.) Off-topic or other inappropriate content is subject to removal or modification at admin discretion, and users who repeatedly post such content will be blocked.

If you need assistance from an admin, feel free to leave a message on their personal discussion page. The list of admins is here.

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