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Doomsday clock has lost its punch

January 20, 2010

On January 14, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists organization moved back the minute hand of its famous “Doomsday Clock” back one minute. Rather than five minutes to midnight, we can all breathe a little easier at six minutes to midnight. The Doomsday Clock was first wound up, of course, in 1947 and has been within a few minutes of midnight (midnight signifying “el blammo!,” or more properly, the end of civilization as we know it) ever since.

Seriously now, a bunch of clever atomic scientists should be able to make a more accurate timepiece than that — a clock that’s been stuck for 63 years?

And hasn’t the clock become a little creaky? Hasn’t it lost its punch? Back when the Soviet Union and the United States were eyeball to eyeball, their sweaty fingers on the triggers, the clock could produce a frisson in the average viewer of Dr. Strangelove or Fail Safe. Even a casual channel flipper who caught a few minutes of Colossus – The Forbin Project between getting a beer and emptying the trash could shudder at the prospect of that hanging minute hand clicking toward el blammo!

Now, it’s all Bourne Identity and Bourne Supremacy. No offense to Matt Damon, but Bourne kick-punching the crap out of rogue CIA dudes is just not same as Slim a-hoopin’ and a-hollerin’ toward energetic disassembly at Lapuda.

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