by TONY FYLER
edited by ANDREW J HICKS
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Tony Fyler presents the following definitions with respectful acknowledgement to the great journalist Ambrose Bierce, who wrote the original Devil's Dictionary in 1911. Click here to read Fyler's previous Devil's Guides. -AJH]
Agnosticism: Theological bet-hedging.
Airplane: The dream of gods and heroes, an airplane is a magical conveyance that allows man finally to achieve the goal of flight. So magnificent is it, in fact, that it requires the invention of a special device – the airline – to turn it into a soul-sucking cavalcade of human misery. 21st century airlines are very good at their job.
Alcohol: Evolution’s accelerator pedal.
Bank: A legalised consortium of thieves, scoundrels and extortionists which, against all the laws of mathematics, collectively manages to achieve a moral standard somehow lower than any of its parts.
Baseball: The least imaginative use ever made of a baseball bat.
BFF (Best Friends Forever): A promise made by people too shallow to understand that “forever” extends beyond next week.
Capitalism: Economic system that gives the rights of personhood to corporations and the rights of deities to currencies, in the belief that money, if sufficiently worshipped, will reproduce.
Catholicism: Pyramid scheme with pointy hats and promises.
Celebrity: Egomaniac with entertainment value.
Chocolate: Throughout the whole of recorded history, mystics, alchemists and other assorted hippies have searched and toiled and sweated to discover the distilled elixir of life. Now available at Walmart.
Cocaine: Sugar for those with more money than sense.
Coalition: System of government specifically designed to ensure nobody gets what they want. A finely-tuned misery engine, in essence.
Communism: Economic and political system based on the idea that many idiots are better than one.
Compromise: A 21st century notion by which everybody loses. Originally the invention of desperate parents of multiple siblings, it was never meant to be taken seriously by anyone over the age of 8.
Credit Card: A plastic lie which guarantees not only its own discovery but also its own punishment.
Debt Ceiling: The economic value of exactly how much sincerity can be forced into this statement: “The check is in the mail.”
Ecology: The idea that extinction should be avoided at all costs. Currently unsupported by large groups of people who appear to believe that, so long as everyone else dies first, they win.
Fashion: A subtle co-mixture of style and stupidity.
Fast Food: If you watch chimpanzees eat, several facts become apparent. They eat with their hands, grunt and squeal unintelligibly and will, if the occasion demands it, happily ingest a mouthful of feces. The theory of evolution claims mankind diverged from his chimpanzee cousins some 5-7 million years ago. Fast food restaurants prove that the theory of evolution may not be all it’s cracked up to be.
Gym: A voluntary torture chamber.
Gymnastics: Sadomasochism with a scoring system.
Homeland Security: The notion that the nation can only be truly safe once everyone’s under suspicion.
iMac: The supermodel of computers – very pretty to look at but functionally illiterate.
Infomercial: An extended commercial. Strict linguists are now demanding these be referred to more accurately as “bullshimercials.”
Islam: A relatively immature religion, currently going through its teenage phase of slamming doors, yelling “I never asked to be manifested!” and killing thousands of people for no readily identifiable reason. Many Christians look down on Islam for this kind of behaviour, almost as if the 15th century never happened. Or the 16th century. Or the 17th, come to that.
Journalism: An alternative to earning an honest living.
Looting: Revolution for personal gain.
Microsoft: The ultimate profanity. Known euphemistically as “the M Bomb,” it is generally only used when all other linguistic ordinances have been exhausted. Sadly, the nature of 21st century work means the M Bomb can be heard in every office in the world on a daily basis. Usually around two minutes before an important deadline or meeting.
NASCAR: A popular motorsport, the chief attraction of which appears to be the opportunity to watch hillbillies explode into greasy balls of flame.
Nouvelle Cuisine: The Emperor’s new dinner.
Novelist: A professional liar.
Olympics: The celebration of a collection of sports that no one gave a flying 50-yard fuck about for the past three years and 50 weeks.
O’Reilly, Bill: Proof that 3.5 million people can be wrong after all.
Philosophy: The contemplation of the universe’s navel, and the investment of serious time and effort in trying to describe the fluff found therein.
Ready Meals: Food that should come with a handful of barbiturates or a shotgun to take the taste away.
Resumé: A structured lie.
Romance: Man’s most effective sexual lubricant. Also, in the long run, his most expensive. It is possible there is some sort of mystical connection between these two facts.
Search Engine: Device that makes actual searching entirely obsolete. Should more accurately be described as a command engine. Or a genie.
Sobriety: State of being which allows one to see things as they actually are. The history of mankind has been one long flight from such a ghastly prospect.
Staycation: The fashionable name for sitting your poor ass on the couch.
TiVo: Device that allows you to record television programmes you didn’t care enough about to watch and store them so you can not watch them over and over and over again.
Twitter: Website where those who can only be interesting or funny for 140 characters or fewer are the most successful.
Walmart: Ultimate 21st century practitioner of the Find The Lady trick, the “lady” in this case being sweatshop production labor, de-unionised store labor, minimum-wage exploitation and shoddy product quality. But ooh, look, sneakers for a dollar ninety-five. How do they do that?
WMDs: Weapons of mass destruction. In the 21st century, these were discovered to be not only invisible but actually nonexistent.