2280: 2010 and 2020

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Jump to: navigation, search
2010 and 2020
2030: "I just bought a house for one bitcoin. No, it's the equivalent of a dollar. Houses are often transferred for a nominal fee because the buyer is taking responsibility for containing the holo-banshees in the attic."
Title text: 2030: "I just bought a house for one bitcoin. No, it's the equivalent of a dollar. Houses are often transferred for a nominal fee because the buyer is taking responsibility for containing the holo-banshees in the attic."


This comic is the sixth comic in a row in a series of comics about the pandemic of the coronavirus disease 2019, COVID-19 for short.

White Hat, who lives in 2010, and Cueball, who lives in 2020, are in contact with each other via some kind of time travel. White Hat wants to learn about life in 2020 and is particularly interested in bitcoin, a decentralized cryptocurrency which was released in 2009, and whether it had become an acceptable currency. Cueball answers that bitcoin still exists, and that he just bought a bottle of hand sanitizer for the price of one bitcoin. White Hat probably assumes that bitcoin is a widely accepted currency worth a few dollars, and thinks that the situation is "normal". (In April 2010, one bitcoin was worth about 14 cents.)

At the time of this comic, the COVID-19 is spreading around the world, causing thousands of people to die (although relatively few compared to the number of people that have gotten better) and billions to panic. This increased the demand for hygiene products, including hand sanitizers, and therefore their price has increased. It also triggered a panic on financial markets, including severe devaluation of the infamously volatile bitcoin. Despite the crash, one bitcoin was still worth about $5,400 on the day this strip was published, not a few dollars. Therefore, buying a hand sanitizer for one bitcoin is not as normal as White Hat assumes.

The price of hand sanitizer has not reached the price of a bitcoin (yet), although some people on sites such as Amazon.com are attempting to sell it for ludicrous amounts and there are attempts by Amazon, eBay, and other selling platforms, as well as potential legislation, aimed at curtailing such price gouging.

The title text claims that, in 2030, bitcoin will again be worth about one dollar, but many houses will also be worth only one dollar due to the difficulty inherent in containing "holo-banshees" in the attic. What a holo-banshee is is not explained, but one can guess as to what it might mean. "Holo" is generally short for hologram and typically denotes some kind of 3D looking digital visual form, and a "banshee" is a mythological wailing creature or spirit. So even if not a physical object, constant shrieking would be undesirable [citation needed].

The "nominal fee" mentioned by the 2030 time traveler is known in legal parlance as a "peppercorn". In reality, such a practice has been quite common for several decades (though not for something on the scale of a house); legal processes state that both sides must give something in order for a contract to exist, and a minimal peppercorn payment to secure a contract is preferable to the legal hoops that must be jumped through in order to lawfully give something away for nothing.


[White Hat and Cueball are walking to the right of the panel. There is a gray outline around Cueball, indicating he is from the future]
White Hat: What are things like ten years from now in 2020?
White Hat: We have this new "bitcoin" thing — does it ever catch on and become normal?
[A frameless panel, with White Hat and Cueball still walking to the right.]
Cueball: It's still around. I just bought a bottle of hand sanitizer for one bitcoin.
[A regular panel, with them continuing to walk]
White Hat: Cool, that sounds pretty normal.
Cueball: Well, here's the thing...


  • Cueball has previously traveled back in time twenty years to converse with his past self in 2220: Imagine Going Back in Time. Like this conversation, his past self has a completely different set of concerns and expectations about the future compared to his present self like White Hat has compared to Cueball in this comic.

comment.png add a comment! ⋅ comment.png add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!


Please maintain your distance in these comments. No comments within 6 vertical inches of other comments, please. And any in-comment sneezing or coughing will result in your account being banned for a period of 3 weeks. -boB Achoo! Bischoff (talk) 21:09, 13 March 2020 (UTC)

I used a large projection screen & zoomed in to post this comment, so my comment appears 8" separated from yours. (Your argument is invalid.)
ProphetZarquon (talk) 12:08, 16 March 2020 (UTC)

What is this "inch" of which you speak? I, for one, actually stay 2 meters away from any time-travel-caused disturbance in the space-time continuum.Cellocgw (talk) 15:24, 16 March 2020 (UTC)

My relatives and I live about 3000 miles apart, so it's not unusual not to see each other in person for long periods of time. Today, I got an e-mail with a photograph of a child's first hug from a grandparent in a year. Here's the thing. They live in the same city as each other (even though I don't), just a few blocks apart. 04:56, 16 March 2021 (UTC)

If the above information was new to you, please take this concise pamphlet. 23:17, 13 March 2020 (UTC)

Maybe we should add a section on what holo-banshees are? That could be useful. 01:51, 14 March 2020 (UTC)

Since Holo-banshees are something Randall made up, that could be difficult. LOL! All we have is the name, and that's already explained. Though since the explanation talks about how this wouldn't make sense if they're present in EVERY household I'm somewhat inclined to add "therefore this is probably only a common problem, like rats, ants or cockroaches today." :) NiceGuy1 (talk) 05:09, 14 March 2020 (UTC)
Well, it says " often " there are holo-banshees. Not always or nearly. Banshees are female Irish vocalists who predict a death in the household, so I will assume that The Corrs joined the current mini-trend for touring your music act as a " hologram " and it got out of hand in some way. Robert Carnegie [email protected] 11:00, 14 March 2020 (UTC)
I think they're like asbestos. Perhaps at one time considered a good idea (insulating/advanced indications of life-threatening household situations) but later on discovered to have unwanted properties forcing complicated handling procedures to make them safe. In the one case, the shedding of fine carcinogenic dust, in the other perhaps the 'holo' emits excessive intensities of certain wavelengths of light that are directly or indirectly an environmental biohazard. Sealing in situ may be the optimal situation. If, say, the non-corporeal (i.e. unmovable) holo-banshee must be sealed within an asbestos container, which must itself be safely coated then that would easily provoke the scenario hinted at. 15:32, 14 March 2020 (UTC)
Fun fact: Fiberglass & other silica-based fiber insulation materials do not dissolve in the lungs & continue inflicting severe tissue damage even longer than asbestos does, the scar tissue from which is a major cause of emphysema & risk factor in lung cancer. (Not that asbestos is OK, mind you...) We've replaced an evil we knew with one we knew (at the time) much less about. Much like "PBA-free" plastic... So really unless your home\school\workplace\brake-pad is insulated with wool, try real hard to avoid breathing those fibers no matter what they are.
ProphetZarquon (talk) 12:26, 16 March 2020 (UTC)
I find the entire section about Holo-banshees ridiculously off-topic. It doesn't add anything to understanding the comic and should probably be removed. umläute 21:43, 15 March 2020 (UTC)
You say that now. But what about in a few comics time, when there may arise a clear and urgent need for an entire Category:Holo-banshees, eh? (Srsly, it's a potential "what's that about, then?" question by those who think they are missing a reference. Even if the answer we have to give is "apparently nothing".) 22:50, 15 March 2020 (UTC)

Re: houses being sold for a dollar, wasn't that the going price for some houses in Detroit? -- 19:46, 16 March 2020 (UTC)

Shouldn't it be COVID-19 syndrome caused by SARS-CoV-2 infection instead of the other way around?

The whole houses and holo-banshee thing seems relevant to how the price for oil recently went negative for a bit: as the buyer assumes responsibility for storing all that oil, and no financial traders want to have to physically do that (especially when trading thousands of barrels of the stuff!) PotatoGod (talk) 02:24, 5 May 2020 (UTC)