1834: Lunch Order
Title text: GO FOR LUNCH, REPEAT, GO FOR LUNCH.
The comic plays on the similarity of the words "launch" and "lunch," and the fact that both "Lunch order" and "Launch order" are common phrases in their respective environments. A "lunch order" is common in many work places, where a person may be asked to go pick up lunches for multiple coworkers so they don't all need to leave to get their lunches -- they would typically give their lunch order to the person making the run so they would know what to order. A "launch order" would only apply to a place capable of launching missiles, such as military installation housing launch-able missiles. So while a "lunch order" is pretty benign and could certainly apply to such a place, a "launch order" of a nuclear warhead is a much more drastic command, meaning that the principle of deterrence has failed and mutually assured destruction is imminent. By receiving an order for "Lunch" instead of to "Launch," nuclear war was avoided.
Autocorrect is a feature in many software text-entry applications (such as smartphone "keyboards") that will make changes to entered text that it identifies as misspelled in order to quickly increase legibility of the final text. While this process typically makes text entry quicker and easier for users, sometimes the automatically corrected text will not match what the user intended to send, which can lead to miscommunication.
In most circumstances, military units charged with the maintenance of active nuclear weapons will receive their orders to employ those weapons based on direct communication from a commanding authority, these forces in the United States are commanded by the United States Strategic Command. The majority of modern nuclear weapons are prepared to be deployed by rocket launch.
The joke does not depict an actual historic event. To our knowledge, the last time the United States almost launched nuclear missiles at a hostile power was June 1980, while the function we know today as Autocorrect would not enter development until the 1990's. That said, the country still maintains a large nuclear arsenal ready to launch on short notice. The comic might be playing off recent fears involving hostilities between the United States and North Korea; if any l(a)unch preparations have been taken in 2017, they were not declassified by the time this comic was published.
The title text plays on the similarity between two phrases: "GO FOR LAUNCH" is the standard way to express the Launch status check for a rocket (and means that all checks have passed and launch can proceed), whereas "GO FOR LUNCH" expresses the more mundane act of simply beginning one's lunch break. Despite the repetition (which is intended to reduce the chance of a miscommunication), the autocorrect still managed to distort the message a further two times.
A previous comic also explain the 898: Chain of Command and who's responsible of the red button. Missile launch systems and inaccurate alteration of text also figure in the later comic 2099: Missal of Silos.
- [Three Hairy's are between two control panels, one is sitting at the panel on the right, the two others are standing and talking in the middle.]
- Hairy 1: Sir - Strategic command has sent us a lunch order.
- Hairy 2: Don't they have anything better to do?
- [Caption below the panel:]
- Everyone complains about autocorrect, but we forget about the time it prevented a nuclear war.
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