Thursday, September 27, 2007

Why 42?


Why did I choose 42 as the title of this pdfcast? For those who get the reference, it’s cute, but a bit chintzy and overused. For those that don’t, it’s just confusing and arcane. Either way, it doesn’t really fit the tone I was trying to go for, of serious consideration of serious subjects. So why? Well, in fact, I was trying to think of something erudite, possibly archaic, and appropriate (something like the title for another blog of mine, Egregorasoi (sorry, it’s invitation-only), which, if also confusing until explained, at least sounds erudite and academic). I couldn’t think of anything, so I went to ask the advice of my fiancée. “I’ve got a question,” I said. “42,” she replied. As the question I was intending to ask was “What should I name my pdfcast?”, I accepted her answer, and headed back to my computer. I had originally planned to use 42 as a working title until I thought of something more appropriate, but it’s grown on me, and I’ve decided to stick with it, barring coming across another title so compelling I can’t resist adopting it. Besides, 42 does fit both me and the subject matter, and it provides a lighthearted face to what are usually going to be serious, scholarly papers.

So, for those not in the know, what the heck does 42 mean? It’s a reference to Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, in which it is revealed that the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything is…42. The problem is that no one knows what exactly the question is. (Sorry if that’s a spoiler for somebody, but seriously, it’s kind of like going around not knowing who Luke’s father is. You’re gonna run across it eventually. My daughter managed to see Return of the Jedi before Star Wars, so that’s ruined that.)

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