Friday, September 6, 2013

A thought to go home on this weekend: What ever happened to Pluto

English: This artist's impression shows the di...
English: This artist's impression shows the distant dwarf planet Eris. New observations have shown that Eris is smaller than previously thought and almost exactly the same size as Pluto. Eris is extremely reflective and its surface is probably covered in frost formed from the frozen remains of its atmosphere. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
No, not the cartoon dog.  The Planet... er, non-planet... that was demoted half a dozen years ago, when I wrote this:

Word To The Wise: Don't Mess With Pluto

Posted: August 29, 2006
SHAKESPEARE pronounced that "A rose by any name would smell as sweet."
Try telling that to Pluto. That celestial body, by any name, will still be as big, or small, and cold as it was when discovered in 1930. But the difference, 76 years later, is that the International Astronomical Union voted last week to demote Pluto to a "dwarf planet." Go ahead - you try telling Pluto that names don't really matter.
The same thing goes for you prospective parents out there who are thumbing through books of names - be advised that you may be cursing your future kids. Try telling me it's a coincidence that both Nixon and Cheney were named Richard. (Just think about it.)
And sometimes a person's last name seems to set that soul's fate. I've known a veterinarian named Aaron Leash and a librarian named Rita Book. Both were likely doomed to their occupations before they were even born. Naming Ms. Book "Rita" didn't help. (Just think about it.)
Sometimes, though, a person's name doesn't become a curse until late in life. Consider the case of Edward Alexander Garmatz, who represented the 3rd Congressional District of Maryland from 1947 to 1973. Around the time he retired from Congress, his colleagues voted to name a new courthouse in Baltimore in his honor. In 1977, a federal grand jury, convened in the Garmatz Courthouse, indicted the ex-congressman for conspiracy and bribery, concluding that he used his post on a House committee to influence legislation on behalf of a corporate constituent.
Personally, I would no more demote Pluto to a "dwarf planet" than I would have named my son "Sue," never mind what Johnny Cash sang about hanging that name on a boy. Pluto has some scary stuff connected with it. Astrologers tell us that Hillary Clinton was born under its influence. Is that scary enough for Republicans out there?
An 11-year-old English girl named Venetia Phair named Pluto after the Greek god of the underworld. In several Asian languages, the name translates to "Star of the King of the Dead." Hillary and the King of the Dead - there's a combo that would definitely keep me from messing with Pluto.
Astrologers reportedly are retaining Pluto's planet status. The smart money is with them.
In the Greek yarn, Pluto abducted a maiden named Persephone. She eventually was released from Hades, but only on condition that she come back for six months every year. During that half-year, "the land lay barren." And that's why winter rules for almost half the year.
Says astrologer Jonathan Keyes on his Web site, "This story says a lot about how the nature and character of the planet . . . can affect our health and well-being." He goes on to talk about "the loss of a friend or loved one," "financial difficulties," and fatigue, depression and anxiety. No, I'm not jumping on the "dwarf planet" bandwagon anytime soon.
But those who are had better keep their heads down. Have you seen those "Final Destination" movies? They're a trilogy now, I think. Each one opens with a bunch of people cheating death because one of them has a premonition of impending doom and saves them all. The King of the Dead, however, won't be denied. The remainder of each movie is all about how the Grim Reaper sends them off gruesomely, one by one, to their final destination. The last wish of every one is to have actually died in that averted plane crash or car wreck.
Well, hey, I'm not wishing that fate on any of the folks who held up the "Yes" cards at the international astronomers' meeting last week. But just try telling me that names don't really matter - or that Pluto somehow wasn't the wrong PLANET to get on the wrong side of. *

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