Best Literary/Geeky Cartoon I've Ever Seen

xkcd today cracked me up. It only took me a second to get the punchline, and the alt text is hilarious. It’s worth checking out the archives in this one, too!

I don’t get it.

I know it’s a reference to Ender’s Game but I don’t get why the punchline is funny.

Smirk-worthy, at least.

Reminds me of an old computer joke - “nice servers don’t go down.”

How is this funny?

Is it because “gate is down” has a computor meaning as well as the meaning that Ender used it as a kind of battle-cry in the story?

In the book, one of the “revelations” that Ender has is in relation to the game they play.

The older players all think of the game as a level fight, Ender discovers that it makes more sense to think of yourself as “falling” toward the other end of the battlefield (the enemy’s gate). In the book, he’s always reminding his troops that “the enemy’s gate is down”.


It’s the same usage as “the server is down” or “the network is down”, as in “the service is not in an operational condition”. However, this idiom has usage beyond the scope of computer-speak (and the computer-speak likely derives from the wider scope) - e.g. “the phones are down”.

…If you want sublimely funny computer humor, this one is a classic.

The website isn’t lacking for math or physics gags, either.

Lastly, his map of the internet was so brilliant and useful I duplicated it in HTML and a hardcopy is taped to the wall next to my servers. (I find it very handy when dissecting spam headers.)

That is a brilliantly bad pun. I love xkcd.

I feel stoopid.

It’s been too long since I’ve read Ender’s Game… I didn’t get it until Zakalwe explained it. Unusually for jokes, it was still funny even after being explained. And in my defense, the stress would go on different words in the two readings of that phrase.

Well, I get the Lavoisier gag:

I understood the Kim Possible part, but the panel with Kim Possible kinda went over my head. You know, I can’t concentrate on anything but Kim Possible right now. I think I just need to go watch a few eps.

Thanks, I’d not noticed the word “gate” applied to computor stuff before.

Can you tell I’m not very computor savvy?