Saturday, May 05, 2007

Doom, Destiny, and the Dangers of Being Easily Amused

Doom is a funny word. It has a very negative meaning, but its meaning is also so over the top (a horrible fate from which there is no escape) that it circles back around to being absurd. You rarely hear the word being used in a serious context. It is often used in epic stories (particularly fantasy stories) in which the fate of the world or the universe is at stake, so “doom” may actually be appropriate to the situation. Reporters sometimes employ the word to be extra dramatic, but all reporters sell these days is doom and gloom, so they have little credibility on the matter. The 24-hour news stations could save everyone a bunch of time by stating at the top of each hour “We’re all doomed. The world is doomed. Humanity is doomed. Society is doomed. You are doomed. To find out why and what you can’t do about it, stay tuned. Otherwise, go about your lives, blissfully ignorant of your horrible fate.”

In every day life, however, “doom” is filled with comedic possibility (see above satirical snippet). It can be added to any phrase to make it both frightening and hilarious. For example, a rainbow is not particularly threatening nor is it necessarily humorous. But a “rainbow of doom”, or better yet “Rainbow of Doom” confuses the brain and can result in spontaneous convulsions resembling laughter (unless you are Noah, in which case you might think of this). When amusing yourself or your easily amused friends, any mundane item can be given this treatment (see Invader Zim for liberal application of this idea).

In fact, the phrase “of doom” should be implied every time something mundane is mentioned in the news, in a television show, or in a movie. Obviously, if it’s being brought up, it’s actually something very important. Why is shampoo being mentioned on the nightly news? Because it’s Shampoo of Doom! Why were so many people on Battlestar Galactica obsessing over a song only a few of them could hear? Because it was a Song of Doom! (Not to be confused with the “Doom Song”) The stapler in Office Space? That’s right! Stapler of Doom!

But not everything fits the “doom” label. Sometimes, adding “of doom” can negatively change how an event or object is perceived. For instance, when the media reports on a routine space shuttle launch, adding “of doom” can be… well, bad. In these situations, adding “of destiny” can be more appropriate. Max’s bar code? Bar Code of Destiny! The stethoscope in Batman Begins? Stethoscope of Destiny!

(For the record, it’s the Red Pill of Destiny and the Blue Pill of Doom.)

So the next time you find yourself wondering why something random has received such prominent attention, just remember: if people are talking about it, it MUST be important. The “of doom” and/or “of destiny” are implied. You just have to figure out which one applies. Things will make more sense after that. Or you’ll be momentarily amused. That works too.

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Quote of the Day - May 5, 2007

It is known that there are an infinite number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all planets in the Universe can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the population of the whole Universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely products of a deranged imagination.

- Douglas Adams

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