Downsized! ALERT: 2014 UPDATE!
In 2006, Pluto got 'downsized' and demoted as a 'planet' in our Solar System.
Someone at NASA was having a bad day of piles or something.
Well...Pluto filed an appeal...and thankfully NOT with the Ninth Short Circuit Court of Appeals of Laughter.
BECAUSE PLUTO WON! It's a planet again!
In honor of Pluto's victory, I bring you my take on the cosmic injustice done back in '06, with the relieved observation that we now won't have to learn the meaning of "rack ack RACK ACK ACK!":
(originally run 8-25-06).
Downsizing: it ain't just for people anymore.
Personally, I've been downsized twice in my working career; it sucks.
Lots of folks know the drill. Some take it as an opportunity; the rest look at it like I did.
Downsizing usually takes place when economic conditions in a business or industry go in a direction not necessarily associated with good. The business or industry does it to make itself leaner, more competitive, more cost-effective (in theory).
So what happens when the Solar System downsizes? Well, everyone remembers how one solar system downsized when the Death Star smoked the planet Alderon in Star Wars (I, though it was technically IV).
Alderon didn't just get fired; it got the cosmic version of 86ed from the galaxy.
Well, Pluto didn't get destroyed by an alien race of angry bots; it wasn't destroyed in a cataclysmic collision with a rogue asteroid or comet. No...Pluto just got fired. Pluto's job as the 9th planet in our Solar System -- a job that Pluto has held since 1930 -- has been eliminated. Cut. Canned. Outta there.
Clean out the desk, and don't let the Solar System door hit you in the ass on the way out, Pluto.
So goes one story from August 24, 2006.
Another version holds that Pluto wasn't "fired"; it was merely "demoted". From a "classic" planet, to a "dwarf" planet (somewhere, Weird Al Yankovic is rearranging that Randy Newman song with new lyrics: "dwarf planets got..no reason..dwarf planets got..no reason..dwarf planets got..no reason to orb..").
Even the Cosmos Corporation has no milky way of starry kindness.
Funny, how they didn't demote or downsize Pluto's three moons, Charon, Nix and Hydra. How do they feel, suddenly left orbiting a has-been?
Discrimination, sounds like to me.
And who did this, you ask?
A gathering of so-called "leading astronomers", meeting in Prague, Czech Republic. To wit, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) decided that Pluto was not really a "classical planet", in that it lacks the required rules of the IAU to qualify as such: "a celestial body that is in orbit around the sun, has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a nearly round shape, and has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit" (from an AP report, August 24, 2006).
Pluto is said to not qualify anymore, because it has an orbit that is oblong, causing it to overlap orbitally with Neptune.
I smell celestial bias here. Call Jesse Jackson and the ACLU*.
Actually, one rumor has it that Uranus was involved in a conspiracy with Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld. Moron.org probably has one of their crack(smoking) reporters creating documents on it now, and it is believed that Oliver Stone and Dan Rather will team up with a conspiratorial movie documentary about this in 2008.
Another rumor has it that Neptune -- periodically crossed up by Pluto -- was forever offended by some of the atmospherics in the wake of a Pluto fly-by: it is guesstimated that Pluto has a significant amount of methane both on its surface and in its atmosphere.
Translation: Pluto farts. Neptune was tired of it.
Petty vindictiveness, since Neptune is rumored to have plenty of methane of its own. But as we all know, our own farts don't stink; it's always someone elses'. Lessons from countless elevator rides, but I digress.
All cosmic pranks and Georgeak Carlinoid stand up routines aside, this decision by the 25oo member IAU does pose a rather delicate problem: in January, 2006, the New Horizons spacecraft was launched specifically to get the first true, close-up look at our 9th planet.
A planet that just got fired/demoted. And, quite possibly, farts.
As the spacecraft isn't scheduled to arrive until 2015, what to do? Allow Pluto's ego to be assuaged by going ahead and checking it out, risking further ire from Uranus, Neptune, and their Earth-bound conspiracy freaks? Or send a radio command to the probe, telling it "oh, we're not going there", and re-directing it to something else deemed more worthy of Kodak moments from nine and a half years away?
And what if the New Horizons probe isn't equipped with olfactory protection? Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of space research equipment suddenly goes belly up in zero gravity, as it catches a whiff of what Neptune found so offensive.
And Earth-bound bean counters bitch about $600 Pentagon toilet seats.
I dunno, folks. Should we start a campaign? Write our congresspersons of dubious antecedence and worse campaign ads, and demand that Pluto be restored to its rightful place at the cosmic depth chart? Demand that this IAU collection of Einstein/Carl Sagan wannabes just bite us and go look for some Earth-bound asteroids?
Or do we send a collective 'bird' to Pluto?
Just remember: if that space probe does find something unique about Pluto -- like it's inhabited with life forms similar to those in Mars Attacks! that created the methane, and are really pissed about our demoting/downsizing them -- we'll only have nine and a half years or less to come up with an "we really didn't mean it" line.
Or learn what "ack RACK ack!" means.
*Astronomical Celestial Liberties Union...don't ask me for the mailing address...