497: Secretary: Part 4

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Secretary: Part 4
It's time to draw the line.
Title text: It's time to draw the line.


Ron Paul is an American physician, author, and politician who is a House Representative for Texas and is a three-time Presidential candidate, running as a Libertarian and a Republican. He has a very dedicated and vocal base of supporters who believe that he is the only true alternative to either side of the Two-Party System. These supporters go under the name "Ron Paul Revolution" with the letters "evol" reversed to emphasise "love."

This series was released on five consecutive days (Monday to Friday) and not over the usual schedule of three comics a week. It may be a continuation of the comic 493: Actuarial, in which Black Hat demonstrates great power over even Internet trolls via his sociopathic ways. This would explain why Black Hat was nominated as Internet secretary. These are all the comics in Secretary series:

Tron is a movie made by Disney. There is also a joke about Pokémon in the phrase "... evolves into ...". Pokémon is a game where the player, a "Trainer," has their Pokémon battle other Pokémon to level the Pokémon up. As the Pokémon levels up, they evolve into the next, more powerful, form of the Pokémon. Ron Paul and Cory Doctorow are fighting because Cory Doctorow believes he must support fellow bloggers no matter what, and Ron Paul wants the nomination that Black Hat, a blogger, is getting.

There is a subtle joke in the panel where Ron Paul and Cory Doctorow are firing at each other; the sound effect for Cory's guns is "Boing! Boing!," which is the name of Cory Doctorow's blog. Also, a visual joke is that Cory's turret in panel 5 very much resembles an upside-down Dalek. The latter might not be an intentional joke, however, as Ron Paul's turret is designed the same way as Cory's and the head-mounted 'gun' here is an eyestalk on a Dalek, whose actual weaponry is on a mid-body mounting and not the revolving 'head' element. The quote "Maybe if we dropped all the gold" MAY be a reference to the Firefly episode "Jaynestown", in which Jayne sacrificed his partner in order to escape, before being forced to jettison 60,000 currency.

The reference to gold touches on Ron Paul's desire to see monetary policy once again be driven by the gold standard, namely that a country's currency value be driven not by its economic activity, but by the amount of physical gold it owns. Earlier in American history, this was the case; owning a dollar would (in theory) be owning one dollar's worth of gold somewhere in the treasury. This is in contrast with the current international practice, where countries are able to print an arbitrary quantity of paper money that is not necessarily backed by physical gold. Adherence to the gold standard is an extreme minority view; most economists, and the population at large, agree that the current system is much better. This may also be a reference to the final scene in The Italian Job, where the heroes face a decision over losing a large quantity of gold or death, or a reference to The Mysterious Island, where the survivors have to drop the gold in their hot air balloon to prevent losing altitude.

The title text refers to the line of virtual light that streams out from the back of Tron's light grid vehicles. Normally it is a single, solid color, but in the comic, it is the colors and form of the American flag to show Ron's patriotism.


[The Ron Paul Revolution blimp floats.]
Pilot: Sir! The balloon is hailing us!
[Cory Doctorow's balloon appears.]
Cory: Ahoy.
Ron Paul: Doctorow!
Cory: I won't let you stop this nomination. We bloggers watch out for our own.
Ron Paul: Stand aside, Cory.
Cory: Nay!
Ron Paul: Very well. Battle stations!
[The Ron Paul Revolution blimp's gun takes aim.]
Whirrr kachunk
[Cory Doctorow's balloon's gun takes aim.]
Whirrrr kachunk
[Both airships open fire.]
Pew pew pew
Pew pew
Boing! Boing!
[Inside the Ron Paul Revolution blimp's control room.]
Ponytail: We're taking damage!
Ron Paul: Keep firing!
Ponytail: No good! We're losing altitude!
[Outside the Ron Paul Revolution blimp, it hangs smoking in the air.]
Ron Paul: All engines full! Pull up!
Ponytail: Can't, sir!
[The Ron Paul Revolution blimp begins to sink, smoking more heavily.]
[The blimp sinks further.]
Ponytail: Sir, maybe if we dropped all this gold...
Ron Paul: Never!
[Inside the control room, tilted slightly.]
Ponytail: We've lost, sir. We have to abort.
Ron Paul: Not yet, we don't! Open the loading bay doors.
[Camera zooms out slightly.]
Ron Paul: You take the blimp and fall back.
Ron Paul: I've got a message to deliver.
[Ron Paul tosses his cane aside.]
[Ron Paul steadily transforms into Tron Paul.]
Narrator: RON PAUL evolves into TRON PAUL
[Light cycle begins to form.]
[Tron Paul bends over the light cycle.]
[Light cycle finishes its formation.]
[Light cycle speeds off, trailing an American flag.]

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The "pew" sound effect that Ron Paul fires back is also a joke -- go look up Pew Charitable Trust on Wikipedia: "Although today the Pew Charitable Trusts is non-partisan and non-ideological, Joseph Pew and his heirs were themselves politically conservative. The mission of the J. Howard Pew Freedom Trust, one of the seven funds, was to "acquaint the American people with the evils of bureaucracy and the values of a free market and to inform our people of the struggle, persecution, hardship, sacrifice and death by which freedom of the individual was won"."

Also, I am 99.9% sure that Tron was not based on a video game; any video games were based on the movie. -- ‎ (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

It would appear the Light Cycles portion of Tron is based on a game called "Blockade". In fact, before Tron appeared, I fondly recall playing various versions of this game (wikipedia:Snake (video game)) on home computers before it became repopularised on Nokia handsets and what-not. Light Disc appears to be based on Pong, although the element of the player having a 2D field of movement was a cool touch. Thokling (talk) 08:04, 25 September 2013 (UTC)

I know this is a really old comic, but I'm wondering if it's possible that the 'gold' thing was a reference to Firefly? (I.e., "Jaynestown") Just because in other comics it's clear that Mr. Munroe is very familiar with that show (i.e., 577-581). Berets (talk) 00:12, 13 July 2017 (UTC)

I don't think that Cory's gun is a visual joke about Daleks; if it had been, I think Randall would have made sure to design Ron Paul's turret differently. OriginalName (talk) 23:50, 1 February 2018 (UTC)

Isn't the first panel a Star Trek reference? A common phrase right before battles is "Sir! the <Klingon or Romulan or Borg> ship is hailing us!" -- LankyWhisper624 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Jean-Luc is hailing them, Ferengi, Cardassian,... you name them all. And of course Worf often reports something like "...they are hailing us". So I'll be happy about new insights at the explanation. Nobody can figure out everything. --Dgbrt (talk) 21:50, 8 June 2018 (UTC)