Destination: Earth

By Mark Skoultchi

September 24, 2008

Without getting into a debate about the merits of Anthropic principles, lets just assume for a second that we’re not the only intelligent life in this or other universes. Let’s also assume that we’re being watched, evaluated if you will, by a group of much smarter, hopefully more compassionate, possibly brand-savvy beings. For the fun of it, lets also say they’re fleshier, like Tim Allen at his fleshiest, and that they speak through a hole in their chest instead of their mouths, which they prefer to use only to chew space gum.

There. Now we have our aliens. Why did we create aliens? Like I said, because they’re watching us. And why are they watching us? Well, because our solar system is very interesting to them. It’s the perfect addition to their product portfolio. These aliens have been buying up planets for years and turning them into resort destinations for all their 12-toed customers. But they’ve never come across a solar system with such an interesting mix of planets, with so many different climates, day lengths and gravitational properties. It could easily become the crown jewel in their resort portfolio. Or so says Kyle in business development.

So, of course, they’re planning a hostile takeover of our solar system (in the, um, non-hostile, more corporate sense of the words, not with melt-your-face ray guns or anything). And chances are they’ll be successful. They’re very persuasive. Something to do with bigger brains and thought control. Anyhoo, the only question really is how they’ll organize their new resort brands, and whether they’ll rename any of the planets. I can imagine the conversation going something like this:

Saturn’s great! I love it. Cool name for a cool looking planet. And the reference to the god of agriculture could provide really interesting marketing tie-ins – you know, a natural resort destination, healthy-living, fresh food, all organic, etc. Mercury? Also cool. Slick name. Wasn’t he one of the gods of abundance? – we could definitely work with that. Jupiter? King of the gods. C’mon guys, that’s a no-brainer – we’re not changing Jupiter – you can’t find available intergalactic trademarks that good anymore. Venus, Mars, Neptune…fine, fine, fine. Like the others, named for Greek or Roman gods or goddesses. Gotta love the brand consistency, the systemization, the thematic cohesiveness. Christ – how did we miss this solar system before?! And Uranus? Another god? Amazing. Can’t you just see the tagline: Uranus. When you’re really pooped out. I love it.

Wait. Earth? What the hell does that mean?? I’m pretty sure that’s not a god. Someone look that up. Bob – check it out. Yes, you Bob! Waiting….waiting….waiting. What’s that, Bob? It’s an English/German name that just means “ground”?? What?? Comes from the Old English words ‘eor(th)e’ and ‘ertha’?? Oh, that’s exciting. Very sexy. Visit Earth, the ground planet. Great. Well, I think we found our weak link, fellas. Gonna need to call in the naming folks at Catchword Branding and get them workin’ on a new “god” name……..what’s that Bob? Oh, you think the name has merit? That we don’t need to develop a new name?? Oh really? Guys, get a load of this. Bob thinks the name “Earth” ain’t so bad. And why’s that Bob? Please, enlighten us. Yeah, yeah, I get the association with things natural and organic. Right, I know, it’s one syllable, and yes, I get that it references the terrestrial nature of the planet, that it’s not a gas giant like Jupiter. And true, it’s distinctive among the other planet names, but we’ve got the opportunity to create a naming system here, Bob. It’s not a system if only 7 out of the 8 planets are named for gods. Don’t you get that?? If there were something particularly unique about Earth, about our plans for that brand, sure, maybe we’d want to give it a special name. But I’m not seeing it. Look, I’m not gonna sit here an debate this with you all day, Bob. Let’s call in a naming expert to provide an opinion on this. Like I said, give the guys at Catchword Branding a call. For Pete’s sake, Bob, I don’t know the number off the top of my head! Get it off their website. And be quick about it. We’re already 4 weeks behind in our planning and I wanna explore alternative name options for Earth concurrent with the solar system negotiation. Which reminds me, if the guys at Catchword Branding ask, we need this name like yesterday, assuming they agree it makes sense to change Earth’s name. No, Bob, don’t tell them why we’re inquiring, just get a quote. Man, why did I ever go into management?

Of course no real point to this post other than to raise awareness about the Earth name, where it came from, and that, of the major planets, it’s the only non-god name in the solar system. Astronomy’s cool.

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