1435: Presidential Alert

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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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


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 systems like this having existed for over 60 years, no president has ever used it, even during major incidents like 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[citation needed] message.

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, out of habit, has a hard time stopping at goodnight when saying that to his children. It might also be implying that the president that sent the message might actually be Barack Obama.


[Television beeping.]
Screen reads: "E.A.S Incoming Presidential Alert"
[President of the United States of America in his 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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Do you think this has to do with the Floss joke on Reddit at all? Kllrshrk (talk) 04:11, 17 October 2014 (UTC) Kllrshrk

I don't know about floss joke on reddit, tell me more 04:32, 17 October 2014 (UTC)
http://www.reddit.com/r/OutOfTheLoop/comments/2j6pxs/whats_the_joke_with_then_floss/ Cheeselover724 (talk) 04:38, 17 October 2014 (UTC)
Randall knows reddit; this is most likely a reference.Cheeselover724 (talk) 04:34, 17 October 2014 (UTC)
I was thinking that it had something to do with the broadcast he did yesterday (Thursday Oct 16) on the subject of Ebola -- where he really said nothing, other than pamper a bit to the Fox News people, promising an Ebola-czar if he felt it would help Spongebog (talk) 08:01, 17 October 2014 (UTC)

I'm going to suggest that the hover text is based on a faked misunderstanding of First Amendment law... the President, as part of the government, can't suggest a preference for one religion over others, including when he's talking to his own children. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Disagree: Mentioning "God" does not signal any preference of any particular religion -- there is (at least one) god in them all, albeit in religions with more than one god they have individual names where in religions with only one god they may not have a name at all Spongebog (talk) 08:01, 17 October 2014 (UTC)
First off, I said it was a FAKED misunderstanding. Second, no, not all religions have a god in them, capitalized or not. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
For a religion to exist there must be a belief in a superior being outside of the normal perception -- whether they are spirits or other forms of non-directly-observable the naming should entities should remain irrelevant as to whether they are gods or not -- it would help if you could mention one religion who has not gods or supernatural-god-like beings in it :-) Spongebog (talk) 17:05, 18 October 2014 (UTC)
Tell that to the Buddhists. 14:04, 19 October 2014 (UTC)
And the Shinto. 15:06, 19 October 2014 (UTC)
Ummm.... Shinto literally means "way of the gods". Followers of Shinto have lots of gods. We would just normally think of them as guardian spirits or something like that. Also, buddhas are essentially gods in the Shinto sense. That said, there are a lot of very different schools of Buddhism, and I am most familiar with the ones that were influenced by Shinto in Japan. ETA: Oh, the comment that you responded to is about supernatural beings, not necessarily gods. In that case, Shinto definitely applies with no disclaimer, and every branch of Buddhism that I am familiar with applies as well. 04:43, 20 October 2014 (UTC)
Kami aren't really gods in the traditional Western sense; most of them are more akin to classical daemons or nature spirits. But yeah, Shinto is a bad example. Taoism, on the other hand? (Plus, there's the fact that a singular, capital-G God is, at most inclusive, an explicitly monotheistic construct.) GreatWyrmGold (talk) 04:25, 29 January 2021 (UTC)
Don't forget the atheists. Despite all their peceived superiority and claimed belief exclusively in science, atheism is a religion. Mulan15262 (talk) 15:12, 19 October 2014 (UTC)Mulan15262
Atheism to religion as bald to a hair style. Valid, but flawed reasoning. Taking the hair out of hairstyling doesn't constitute a new hairstyle. Atheists form something close to a cult, but not a blind one. We see organized religion, but not organized atheism. Science is provable and logically sound. It has repeatability. It doesn't condemn you to hell if you don't believe. It is the same whether or not you believe or care about it. 22:36, 19 October 2014 (UTC)BK
Dictionary.com defines religion as being "a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects:" This seems like it would fit atheism as it has a fundamental set of beliefs (Believing that there is no God or gods) and practices (Claiming one's belief in the absence of deities to be true). This sounds like it fits the definition to me.Mulan15262 (talk) 14:11, 4 June 2015 (UTC)
Not believing in god is a religious belief the same way not collecting stamps is a hobby. Stating your metaphysical beliefs is a religious practice the same way writing a paper is performing an experiment. GreatWyrmGold (talk) 04:25, 29 January 2021 (UTC)
There are arguments regarding talking about your capital-G God ((one) proper name of the generic christian god) as opposed to talking about your small-g god (who might have a specific name, whether Jehova, Allah, Osiris, Odin, Quetzovercoatl or, indeed, God). But that's for etymologists to discuss, probably. Or entomologists, when they're fed up talking about whether Bugs are bugs and are trying to relax by not talking shop. HTH, HAND. 10:19, 17 October 2014 (UTC)
While continuing talking shop -- I beleive that both all christian religions as well as Jews are referring to God with a capital 'G' -- and Muslims are referring to Allah as "the one God", and hence capital G-God is not necessarily the christian God -- however if you ask "which God is he referring to" you may be mistaken for an atheist Spongebog (talk) 17:05, 18 October 2014 (UTC)

I read the comic a bit differently: supposing the President accidentally pressed "The Button" (started nuclear war), he would appear on television to tell the country about the impending catastrophe. However, once on TV he can't bring himself to tell everyone that he started a nuclear war by mistake, so he opts for something rather lame and exits -- it will all be over soon anyway. 07:53, 17 October 2014 (UTC)

Feeling a bit down today? --RenniePet (talk) 08:05, 17 October 2014 (UTC)
I had the exact same idea - that he meant to tell them: "you're all gonna die soon" or something similar but decided not to and was desperately trying to find something else to say. 18:33, 17 October 2014 (UTC)
Exactly - this also explains why the president open with an official sentence like: My fellow Americans. And then he changes his mind and continues I, uhhh. Wow. Frankly, I didn't realize what this button did. I...' I have included this alternative version in the explain but think the first can be deleted... Kynde (talk) 20:41, 20 October 2014 (UTC)

Where does the "President Cueball" come from? I assumed it was Obama. --RenniePet (talk) 08:07, 17 October 2014 (UTC)

Also the fact that the title text is definitely about Obama implies that the comic features Obama. --RenniePet (talk) 12:03, 17 October 2014 (UTC)

The alt-text seems like an unnecessary swipe at President Obama. 09:03, 17 October 2014 (UTC)

Everything that occurs here is necessary. Robert (talk) 09:35, 17 October 2014 (UTC)

An phone app called Pushbullet recently began pushing xkcds to my phone, and Dashclock places the titles of pushes to my lock screen. Where I'm going with this, if you haven't guessed, is that I found my phone in my bed after 3 AM and blearily woke it to be greeted with a red lock screen reading Presidential Alert

A big thank-you to everyone to made my 4 AM wakefulness possible. – Robert (talk) 09:35, 17 October 2014 (UTC)

Anybody else old enough to remember this Spitting Image/Genesis video (http://youtu.be/1pkVLqSaahk)? Seebert (talk) 14:09, 17 October 2014 (UTC)

Regarding the title text, I don't think the joke is that the president would confuse "good night" and "God bless America." It is very common for the United States President to conclude evening speeches with something like "Good night. May God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America." For a similar example, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqMzidfyxrI (which I just found as a random example). S (talk) 22:25, 17 October 2014 (UTC)

Does anybody know what happened? 2 am on Monday and no new strip? --Troy0 (talk) 06:16, 20 October 2014 (UTC)

So this happened for real just a week later? http://www.infowars.com/white-house-emergency-alert-interrupts-tv-viewers-across-america/ -- Geoffhazel (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Can you imagine how certain Internet people would have reacted if this was posted post-2016? "Oh, you're just insulting the president, blah blah blah!" GreatWyrmGold (talk) 04:25, 29 January 2021 (UTC)

Do we really need the image of the EAS logo? 17:11, 16 November 2021 (UTC)BUmpf