Being a parent, such as I am, I’m always intrigued when my children latch onto a new interest. Of course, I prefer it when they latch onto one of my interests that I tenderly and lovingly shoved down their throats for their cultural consumption. It isn’t easy to keep the fires burning, warding off the fiends of subpar pop culture from my tots. Once, when I wasn’t looking, my kids stumbled, getting sucked into the cloying bottomless vortex of the syrupy socialistic island of Sodor from Thomas and Friends. I only blamed myself. (By the way, that socialism thing’s no joke: Sir Topham Hatt has more in common with Chairman Mao than you’d ever want to think. Be sure to read my latest book: Thomas, Percy, Josef, and Fidel: How to be Really Useful for Dear Leader. Coming soon to a closed bookstore near you!)
Yet again, I digress, but getting back to the topic at hand, for whatever reason, my children discovered that they enjoy learning about outer space. I was curious as to what could have sparked this incredible curiosity. Could it have been that portable planetarium projection light that the children got for Christmas? Perhaps it was because they heard Goodnight Moon at bedtime. Maybe it was me showing impressionable young minds every single battle in the original Star Wars trilogy ad nauseum. (Nah, that can’t be it.) In any case, my brood leapt at the chance to devour more knowledge about the universe’s celestial bodies. (Feel free to make your own Raquel Welch circa-1967 joke there, won’t you? I’ll wait so you don’t pass up this opportunity. Go ahead. Are you back? Good! See, wasn’t that fun? You’re welcome!)
Anyway, this intergalactic attitude was reinforced when we picked up books about individual planets at the local library. (Speaking of socialism…but that’s for another day.) I found books on Venus, Mercury, and Jupiter while my wife found books about Mars, Neptune, Saturn, and Uranus. (Yes, dear reader, I laughed too, and I will continue to be immature about Uranus until the last time I draw breath.) Books about the Earth were not selected because when you think about it, every book in the library has something to do about Earth, so we passed. My wife even found a book on planets from outside our solar system. These planets weren’t blessed with names from Greek and Roman myths. Instead, they have names like Natar-486h or some such Star Trekian nomenclature.
As my children plunged into tomes about Neptune, I asked my wife if she had picked up a book about Pluto, as I did not. She replied, “No.” What?! I was indignant! How could she have forgotten?! After all, I cannot be expected to remember such things because not only I am slightly older than her, but I also don’t have a good reason for forgetting! She quickly told me that she was going online to reserve a book on Pluto while at the same time she lovingly told me to shut up and eat my bowl of cereal. Crunching on my bunches of Honey Bunches of Oats bunches, I felt better. Yes, sir: my children are going to live in a household that will celebrate the nine planets of the solar system.
Yeah, that’s right. The NINE planets. (Yes, the seriousness of this resulted in bold italics!) Science can take an astronomical atmospheric leap up whatever celestial derriere as far as I’m concerned on this topic. Too many years have passed since Pluto was kicked out of the solar system, humiliatingly relegated to “dwarf planet” status. Can you imagine having to be Pluto after that level of disregard, now forced to sit at the kiddie table when the planets get together to have Thanksgiving dinner together? This shall not stand! I grew up with nine planets as did my predecessors on Earth and suddenly *Poof!* Pluto is just gone?
Pluto was discovered in 1930 and for over 75 years, everything was just fine. I’m sure pleasantries such as “Hey there, Pluto! Welcome to the Planet Club! Have you met Jupiter? Can we get you something to drink? No, Claire isn’t here tonight” were uttered at intergalactic cocktail parties and the like. But then the International Astronomical Union got together and chose to kick Pluto out for no real reason other than they haughtily presume to wield imaginary power over rocks in space.
And the “International Astronomical Union”? C’mon, really? This actually exists? Some angry nerds, reeling from being upset by Star Trek: Enterprise getting cancelled, while still smarting over the 9th Doctor leaving, after being blown away that Harrison Ford was being called a replicant, then decided to demote Pluto to “dwarf planet” status. Then they went right back to putting the finishing touches on their D&D avatars for the evening’s activities at the wild and wooly IAU shindig.
“Dwarf planet”? I’m going to guess that most of the members of the IAU have a picture of the intergalactic philosopher Yoda saying, “Size matters not”, taped to their monitor screens. I’m sure this slogan came in handy to sooth the raw wounds when their prospective mates said why they dumped them, but it is also true of the planets. For my money Mercury is a dwarf planet as well, but of course it isn’t, due to the fanciful parameters that the IAU set up for themselves to justify their decisions of whim. So here’s another case of setting up your own house rules to win all the time. That means the IAU is basically a casino or Congress then? The parallel makes sense. Saying that Pluto is a dwarf, but Mercury isn’t, is like saying that Latvia is a country, but Lithuania isn’t. (And to clarify for the comic book nerds out there, Latveria is where Doctor Doom rules, not Latvia. I was confused too.)
By the way, all of a sudden size now matters? If that’s the case, how in the hell did we let Rhode Island or Delaware become full-fledged states, with senators and voting and everything then? Why did we let Hervé Villechaize rule our airwaves for years? Why is a short stack of pancakes so filling? Are Paul Williams’ songs less important because of his lack of physical height? You see, size doesn’t matter in these instances, but it does for Pluto apparently. Let me put this in layman’s terms: if size mattered in the long run, would we need to constantly find apple boxes for Tom Cruise to stand on when he acts with anyone over 5’1”? I say thee nay!
How can I believe anything that science says when it can’t even decide if eggs are bad or good for you? Science cannot convincingly explain how global warming creates cooling temperatures, yet after a drunken bender, it says that Pluto isn’t a planet after all, and we must go along with it? Will the IAU feel unconquerable and decide on other matters than didn’t need deciding? Will they suddenly say that Shemp wasn’t an actual Stooge, even though he was a Stooge before Curly, but who cares? Will they determine that a Smart car has plenty of cargo space? When will they say that platypuses don’t exist because they peskily refuse to fit in a categorical biological definition? Fortunately, these nerds will be easy to spot since their earthbound heads will be so large from coming up with imaginary edicts that can easily kick an entire planet out of the club.
What now of Pluto? Well, I grew up with nine planets, so if you plan on growing up under my roof, my household will have nine planets too. Sure, one can bring up the other dwarf planets such as Makemake, Eris, and Hoth, but those were never part of the science textbook when I was a child. Of course, this is the same science textbook that allowed me to mispronounce the word “organism” multiple times, causing laughter among 5th graders who apparently were far worldlier at that age than I ever was.
Also, let’s bring up the huge elephant in the room: does Pluto even have a say in this? Who in the blazes do those pencil-neck earthlings, arrogantly stating what constitutes a planet or not, think they are? What if the justifiably angry natives of Pluto retaliate by deciding that Earth is no longer a planet too? What then? Will the poindexters of the IAU look past their tapeballed glasses and come crawling to Earth’s defense? Nope. They will be too busy voting the sun out as the star that heats the planet, trying to get Earth a different heating element in yet another exercise in futility. This of course will not be as futile as IAU members trying to successfully procure the phone number of the mildly cute barista that sells them a triple soy decaf waste of time special.
Ultimately, as we’ve discovered in the past few years, science can’t just be science. It requires a vote and apparently whatever Bill Nye says. (After all, he was The Speedwalker on Almost Live!, so I’m sure he’s well-qualified.) Sure, scientific committees and boards have certain agendas because their current and future funding sources influence their decisions, but other than that, I’m sure their research is ironclad. I bet if you look at the IAU’s funding, you’ll probably see a “Saturn Is Awesome” donation source, which calls the entire enterprise into question.
If a committee can be called up to decide the status of such things in an amazing overreach of the limits of the human race, then I can tell such sciencey types at the IAU that my kids will grow up knowing Pluto as one of the nine planets in the solar system. If they don’t like that, they can stick it where the sun doesn’t shine…like their bedrooms in their mothers’ basements.