Monday, August 28, 2006

Going Plutonic

I love SF, which is a Good Thing, since I work in high tech (the science part) and my salary is fiction.
But even for Trekkies, the downgrading of Pluto is weird, really weird.
Poor Pluto was discovered in 1930 by 24-year-old American astronomer at Lowell Observatory in Arizona, Clyde Tombaugh.
The Naming Game soon started.
It was 11-year-old Venetia Burney, from Oxford, England, who suggested the name.
It was chosen from a long list that included Atlas, Apollo, Zeus, Minerva and even Bacchus. Needless to say, reporters of the New York Times pitched Bacchus, the Roman god of wine and intoxication.
I blame the International Astronomical Union, which had nothing better to do than shaking up our solar system.
They redefined “planet” as:
"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".
It seems that poor Pluto wobbles a bit and was therefore stripped of its planet status and demoted to a wannebee or “dwarf” planet.
I haven’t got a clue what that means – can Pluto grow up and become a proper planet?
I am also not sure what will happen to Pluto’s moon Charon. Will it become Ice Cube?
So our Pluto is out of the cosmic planet club, and globetrotting Luciano Pavarotti is in.
Good thing his family name starts with a P as well – makes us all less p-d off.

After 76 years, Pluto stepped down as a planet. Let’s hope that British Bess gets the hint and does the same for her son Charles.

Needless to say, people (I am referring to us Terrans, since I have no clue how the Martians are taking it. If the movie “Mars Attacks!” is anything to go by, not kindly, methinks) are not happy.

But the stripping of Pluto of its planet status launched a merchandise wave that would do credit to any presidential campaign.
Scores of Web-savvy entrepreneurs went on the Internet, selling Pluto memorabilia from T-shirts and mugs to bumper stickers and mouse pads.
Within 24 hours of the “bad” news, a wave of Pluto items appeared on, (a San Francisco-area Internet company that prints T-shirts and other merchandise), including 200 designs on more than 1,500 products.
Many items and slogans related to Pluto's demotion and advocated its return with T-shirts proclaiming "Save Pluto" and "Stop Planetary Discrimination."

What the eggheads of the IAU didn’t understand, is that we ordinary people were quite happy with the nine planets we knew.
Let’s face it – does the downgrade bring us any benefits? Tax cuts, world peace, cure for AIDS? I don’t think so!
Au contraire, we now have to memorize one planet less and a few candidate planets more (including one called Xena, that unfortunately doesn’t have anything to do with the Warrior Princess).

To quote Dr. Hiroshi Kyosuke of the University of Tokyo:
"It seems counterintuitive to me that we should say Pluto is no longer a planet, yet Donald Rumsfeld is still Secretary of Defense. After all, Pluto has done no harm."

Hear, hear!
Pluto the dog, who made his debut in 1930, couldn’t agree more.
According to Disney insiders, he worries about the fate of this namesake and all the textbooks that must be rewritten.

Personally, I think that we can do a better job of classifying and naming planets than those spaced-out cosmos cowboys.

MercuryMini-me, since it’s small and fairly close to Earth.

VenusViagra, and let the pharmaceutical industry sponsor this hard rock.

Earth – Ego, since that’s what we have, in abundance.

Mars – Mars, since too many Mars movies have been made and we don’t want to upset our green neighbors, so we?

JupiterJuniper, since this berry gave us far more pleasure in the form of gin than this huge planet ever did.

Saturnus Ringtone, if you wonder why, just have a look at its shape – Nokia can be a sponsor (“connecting aliens”)

Uranus U2, for the mispronunciation by English speaking pubertal adolescents alone.
Great sponsoring opportunity for Bono as well.

Neptune – Loonytune, since only a loony could have named a gas ball after the god of oceans and seas.

Pluto – Exepluto, since it’s exit for the poor thing and it sounds like a really cool computer program (that is, as long as it’s not a Microsoft product).

For know, Pluto did one thing, that many of its fellow planets were not able to do – to get more coverage than the Klingon planets!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Gibson Disaster

Last Friday, Mel Gibson was arrested in the early hours for speeding along the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, the famous beach town North of Los Angeles.
Well, happens to best of us, you might think.
(Although most of us don’t drive around in a Lexus).

The arresting officer told the drunken actor that he was supposed to cuff him but would not, as long as Gibson cooperated.
Fair enough, I would think. But what does our thespian do?
He informed the deputy: “I'm not going to get in your car," and promptly bolted.
Our law enforcement officer quickly subdued Gibson, cuffed him and put him inside the patrol car.
Up till now, nothing special.
Instead of keeping his mouth shut, Australia’s import starting acting out once he was inside the police car.
"You mother f****r. I'm going to f*** you," he informed the astounded policeman.
After these crude words, Gibson then launched into a barrage of anti-Semitic statements: "F*****g Jews... The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world." Gibson then asked the deputy, "Are you a Jew?"
(The police officer wisely didn't respond).

When this Gibson Monologue escalated, the arresting officer called ahead for a sergeant to meet them as soon as they would arrive at the station.
Upon arrival, a sergeant began videotaping Gibson, who noticed the camera and then said, "What the f*** do you think you're doing?"
Gibson then noticed a female sergeant and yelled, "What do you think you're looking at, sugar tits?"
(If you are interested, you can download the report from the entertainment website

The next day, after spending the night in a detox cell and posting a $5,000 bail, Mel G. apologized o for driving while drunk and for his "belligerent behavior" towards the deputy sheriffs who arrested him.
Mmmm, doesn’t sound like a sincere apology to me.
I also miss the reference to his anti-Semitic remarks.
Not that I am surprised, mind you.
For one, Gibson is a staunch Catholic (nothing wrong there), who shares many beliefs of the Traditionalist Catholic movement.
This sect rejects some or all reforms started by the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.
It’s quite funny that he became so successful in hedonist Hollywood.
That must explain the private chapel Mel built.
The Holy Family Catholic Church is run out of Gibson's Icon Production company offices, with an Icon employee responsible for keeping the church's books and Gibson and his wife Robyn as director. The Gibsons donate money (tax free, of course!) of via the AP Reilly Foundation, a charity they established for the sole purpose of creating the church.
Pennywise, but definitely not Pound-foolish!

Mel’s father, Hutton Gibson, has repeated claimed that the Holocaust was exaggerated. According to Gibson Père, Jews are out to create "one world religion and one world government" and outlined a conspiracy theory involving Jewish bankers, the US Federal Reserve and the Vatican, among others.
Oy vey!

To come back to the current peccadilloes of M.G., the media (including the New York Times and Fox) jumped on the story, not in the least due to the current wars raging in the Middle East.
Thanks to the worldwide web, the story spread like wildfire.
As the New York Times correctly pointed out, in a little over 24 hours, Mr. Gibson’s arrest and subsequent behavior in Malibu had already prompted talk of a claimed cover-up, an exposé, worldwide news coverage, an apology and then a full-blown push for alcohol rehabilitation, even as his representatives and executives at the Walt Disney Company rushed to catch up with the event’s effect on the filmmaker’s movie and television projects with the company.

The fallout was instantly: on Monday, Hope Hartman, a spokeswoman for Disney’s ABC television network, said the company was dropping its plans to produce a Holocaust-themed miniseries in collaboration with Mr. Gibson.

Needless to say, this is a huge relief - I think all of us can do without this "treat".
To quote Rabbi Marvin Hier, head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center:
I don’t think he should be doing a film on the Holocaust. It would be like asking someone associated with the K.K.K. to do a movie on the African-American experience.”

There is an expression: “in vino veritas” – therefore, one remark our Mel (who promptly checked into rehab) made, hits home: “My life is f****d.”

And if you look at his photo, you see an uncanny resemblance to another notorious anti-Semite…