Some Things Just Shouldn't Change

>> Thursday, June 25, 2009

This world is a pretty changeable place. I get that. Kids grow up, friends move away, people die, stock markets rise and fall, even civilizations rise and fall ... nothing lasts forever.

Nonetheless, I think there are some things in this world that just shouldn't change. Or at the very least, they shouldn't change the way they have.

Let's take the solar system, for example. The solar system is a dynamic structure, always moving, and always dealing with the cosmic risks of collision, gravity, decay, and ultimately, old age. Scientists, in turn, are always dealing with the mysteries of how things work, how things came about, and how they will expire. Inevitably, scientists also deal with new discoveries, adding to our knowledge base and forcing us, as humans with limited knowledge, to adapt and learn and expand our thinking.

One thing that should NOT happen to us as residents of the solar system is to lose a planet. I mean, seriously, how does that happen? How did Pluto become an un-planet? I've been thinking about this for a long time now. Did the sun forget to pay the gravity bill? Did the other planets play crack the whip and Pluto let go?

No, no. As it turns out, Pluto is still there. The only thing that happened was a bunch of scientists got together and reclassified Pluto out of a job. Yeesh, and we thought the US economy was in trouble.

Putting aside the psychological impact (on Pluto and on millions of grownups whose elementary school education is now not only obsolete but absolutely wrong -- this is worse than when Canada combined provinces and screwed up my game of Geography trivia), putting aside the emotional impact (waaaaaaahhhhh!!!!!), this is just silly. Imagine all the tax dollars and charitable dollars that had to (and have to) be spent to correct all the museum exhibits in the world. I'm sure many of you remember that grainy video that played in the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum for generations (sing it with me!), "The family of the Sun. The family of the Sun. There are 9 planets in the family of the Sun." So -- what did the Smithsonian do? Did they go out and find a bunch of little children to record a new song? Did they just shut the exhibit down for lack of funds? I mean, was this all really necessary? Actually, knowing the Smithsonian (and no disrespect intended), they probably just put a sign over the booth that says, "Exhibit is being updated." After all, that is what the Museum of Natural History has done to the human evolution exhibit since I moved to DC 10 years ago. (I don't think they have finished yet, have they? It has been about 2 years since I checked....)

I understand that classification systems change. But was this really necessary? Wouldn't a footnote have been a whole lot easier? You know, it could say something like, "Under the current classification system, Pluto would not have qualified to be a planet, because under the new cosmic zoning law, planets are not permitted in the Kuiper belt. However, given Pluto's longstanding good citizenship, we have decided to grandfather it until a new Building Permit is requested, at which time it is subject to reclassification under the existing zoning law."

Like I said, some things just shouldn't change.


jacquie October 20, 2009 at 5:57 PM  

I miss Pluto!

A little education is a dangerous thing, right? lol I felt the same way you do when they called a time out on the Brontosaurus. That was my favourite dinosaur and then one day 'they' announce it no longer exists but is now going to be called something else. Threw me for a loop!
Fun post with a deeper message here : )

Karin January 18, 2010 at 4:07 PM  

Wait, there is no more Brontosaurus? Woah. I missed that. Well, that doesn't make a whole lot of sense either, does it. I mean, you can't really go back and ask the dinosaur what its name was, can you? Thanks for the education ... I think. :-)

Anonymous March 4, 2010 at 9:49 PM  


i loved that. very clever. very funny.

pluto should get in touch w/ the ACLU or whatever entity would handle similar gripes with intergalactic entities.

Karin Kysilka March 9, 2010 at 5:19 PM  

You know, John, that is an excellent idea. I will add that to my suggestions in my crusade to get Pluto its job back.

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