17
Jul
15

friday shorts

super marioThe other day, my home health care nurse told me that her 93-year-old mother-in-law (who lives in Kansas) is afraid for our safety because we live so close to the Mexican border. She is concerned Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmàn may surface here.

Altiplano Prison, the facility from which Guzmàn escaped, is in central Mexico, farther from us than the length of Florida. I know that tunneling is a specialty of Guzmàn’s organization, but this great distance defies any sense whatsoever. Anyway, why would Guzmàn want to escape to the US? Mexico is so corrupt and incompetent at keeping him locked up, I should want to stay there forever.

۞

d5a4f0730Now that we can clearly see what some astronomers rejected in 2006, I hope they will reinstate Pluto’s full-fledged status as a planet.

Just because it is small, does this justify Pluto’s designation as a “dwarf planet”?

We don’t deny “little people’s” status as members of the human race just because they’re short. Isn’t the word “dwarf” now politically incorrect? How can “dwarf” be acceptable when you’re talking about planets, but not when you’re talking about people?

pluto_sadJust because Pluto is smaller than the earth’s moon, does it justify such earth-centric thinking?

Just because it takes 248 Earth years for Pluto to orbit the sun, it still orbits the sun, albeit at a cockeyed angle.

Anyway, who gave anyone on Earth the authority to legislate what is and is not a planet? I am so outraged by this. I clearly have too much time on my hands.

۞

cobwebs on the brainThe last time I cleaned up around here was before Christmas, and then it was only when I invited some people over for the Solstice and didn’t want them to see I am a total slob. Since the stroke I just haven’t had the energy.

Two weeks ago I finally became so disgusted, I decided that I had to do something about this and that I would have somebody come in a half-day a week and help me clean.

On Wednesday I went into a local business to fax some papers to a bail bondsman, and there was an attractive young couple in there escaping the midday heat. The woman—her name is Karen—told me she cleans houses for a living. Well, I am a pushover for beautiful women and Karen told me she had an opening on Friday mornings. So today is our first day.

As so often happens out here, any business arrangement usually involves a certain amount of barter. Karen will help me clean my house and I will help keep an eye on her daughter while she is here. I can always take a nap afterwards.

PS: Karen massaged my ego by saying the house “wasn’t that bad.” She said she’d seen much worse. But I know my late wife—who used to keep surfaces white-glove clean—wouldn’t agree. Anyway, in two or three more weeks you probably won’t even be able to recognize the place.


3 Responses to “friday shorts”


  1. 1 Frank Manning
    July 18, 2015 at 2:47 am

    I too was upset by Pluto’s demotion from the family of planets our generation learned about and grew up with. But then I heard about Eris, another Kuiper Belt object further out than Pluto but somewhat bigger. So was Eris to be the tenth planet or would Pluto have to be reclassified as something other than a planet? I understand why the International Astronomical Union (IAU) set up this new class of solar system bodies and why Pluto was relegated to that category. I’m still not sure if I fully agree with that decision. Wikipedia has an excellent article about dwarf planets, and is quite even-handed in dealing with the controversy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dwarf_planet.

    Remember that all of astronomy is of necessity earth-centric. Those constellations we all love–the great Orion, the magnificent Cygnus, the directionally important Dippers–all exist only because we are seeing them from our own solar system. If we were on a planet orbiting some other star we would have a totally different view of the heavens. So this “earth-centric thinking” is totally justified, because our view of the Cosmos is entirely shaped by our being on earth! Imagine if we were orbiting a star in one of those galaxies in the Hubble telescope’s Deep Field survey photos. Our own Milky Way would then be just a tiny smudge 10 billion light years away. Would we even think anyone lived on a little rock revolving around a rather small star in that smudge?

    The ancient Greeks named the planets planētēs (“wanderers”) because they moved around against the fixed stars of the heavens. Their motions were clear to the naked eye, but it was only until the 1600s that we came to recognize them for what they really are. The two outermost “regular” planets, Uranus and Neptune, were not even known until the 18th and 19th centuries, respectively. As a society we have entrusted the orderly categorization of the objects and events in the heavens to the people who professionally study them, the astronomers. Their professional organization, the IAU, through a triennial congress, regulates their work. They may not have been “legislated” to determine what constitutes a planet but they are the group of professional astronomers that made the determination. We of course are entirely free to disagree with them, as they have no power or authority to enforce their decision. But if we want clarity and precision in our view of the natural world we would be well advised to at least consider the reasons for their decisions.

    • July 18, 2015 at 3:07 am

      Logical and reasonable as ever, Frank. You are probably right in your measured views. But some views held since childhood hang on tenaciously. For example, I still refuse to wear a seat belt and am prepared to accept the consequences. I think this reflects the risks inherent in being alive, and the excitement, too. Wouldn’t it have been more exciting if finding Eris had been held as the discovery of the tenth planet in our solar system? I resent the efforts of some “experts” to “keep the lid on” as we learn more. I may be wrong, but I have more fun in life.

      • 3 Frank Manning
        July 18, 2015 at 3:49 am

        As always, Dan, you are my favorite iconoclast! Astronomers are the least likely professionals to want to “keep the lid on”, since observations such as the New Horizons Pluto flyby and the Hubble photos often completely shatter prevailing views of the nature of the Cosmos. Whoever thought they would see a volcano erupting on Jupiter’s moon Io or that inconceivably massive black holes seem to be a prerequisite for the formation and continued existence of galaxies? As New Horizons goes on to explore more of the Kuiper Belt, at the outer limits of our solar system, more amazing discoveries await us and will alter even more of our notions about how our natural world operates. The most unnerving thing I’ve heard about is that our Universe appears to be expanding at an ever increasing rate and will continue to do so until the fundamental building blocks of atoms literally fall apart. I don’t like that scenario but that’s what the latest observations indicate. I still hope that this model is incorrect.

        In an episode of Star Trek Next Generation the crew of the Enterprise encounter a cloud in deep space that is a sentient being. This being spends its existence traveling through the Cosmos, visiting different galaxies and experiencing the wonders of the universe first hand. You have often described your belief in reincarnation, a belief about which I am at best agnostic. If you are correct, just imagine such a being as the culmination of the reincarnation cycles. How fantastic and utterly wonderful it would be to exist on that leve.


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