Total Drek

Or, the thoughts of several frustrated intellectuals on Sociology, Gaming, Science, Politics, Science Fiction, Religion, and whatever the hell else strikes their fancy. There is absolutely no reason why you should read this blog. None. Seriously. Go hit your back button. It's up in the upper left-hand corner of your browser... it says "Back." Don't say we didn't warn you.

Monday, August 01, 2005

I don't even know if I'm joking anymore.

Los Angeles, Monday, August 1st-
by Drek the Uninteresting

The controversy generated by astronomers at the Palomar observatory in California continues to heat up despite urgings by President Bush for order. Scientists working at Palomar announced Friday that they had discovered an additional planetary body within the confines of the solar system.

The as-yet unnamed body, presently 9 billion miles from the sun, is believed to be larger than the planet Pluto, making it, in the words of California Institute of Technology planetary scientist Michael Brown, "...the first object to be confirmed to be larger than Pluto in the outer solar system." While we here at Total Drek didn't interview Dr. Brown ourselves, we like to think that the above quote omitted the critical additional phrase, "You know... aside from Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, all of which are in the outer solar system and are goddamn enormous."

This discovery is unlikely to be an entirely unmixed blessing, however, as it will require scientists to revisit the question of whether or not Pluto is, itself, even a planet. Recently moves have been made within the astronomical community to redefine Pluto not as a planet, but as a Trans-Neptunian or Kuiper Belt object. Previously this controversy had been relatively quiet- with most astronomers content to let sleeping dogs, and planets, lie. However, the discovery of an object larger than Pluto, on an even more eccentric orbit, may require scientists to revisit this issue. Thus, ironically, the discovery of a tenth planet may ultimately result in a downgrading of the number of planets in the solar system to eight.

Astronomers, however, are not the only parties interested in this question. Numerous groups of Astrologers have been protesting this discovery since Friday.

"Our entire livelihood is based on the highly systematic prediction of your love life based on the precise locations of huge objects millions and billions of miles away," said noted astrologer Moonbeam F.R. Braenz, "How are we supposed to determine your lucky numbers if you keep changing the number of planets?!"

Indeed, many astrologers are campaigning to have the new discovery invalidated, and law suits can only be a matter of days away. Some astrologers claim financial damages would result from having the number of planets altered again, in either direction, and that such damages are legally actionable. NASA authorities, when cornered like rats in a trap and jabbed with sharp sticks, have argued that it shouldn't matter if Pluto and this new object are planets or not since the original astrological tables never included either body. Many astrologers, however, contest this:

"Oh, come on!" exclaimed Braenz, "That only makes sense if astrology is a bullshit practice that has no basis in physical law! And we all know that's not true!"

A potential suit against the Palomar team would not be the first time that astrologers have brought suit against scientists. The Russian astrologist Marina Bai recently sued the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration over their Deep Impact mission, intended to intercept comet Tempel 1. Bai claimed, among other things, that, “The actions of NASA infringe upon my system of spiritual and life values, in particular on the values of every element of creation, upon the unacceptability of barbarically interfering with the natural life of the universe, and the violation of the natural balance of the Universe.” Fortunately, Bai claimed her moral outrage could be assauged if NASA cancelled the mission, and paid her damages in the amount of 8.7 billion rubles- or the ruble equivalent of the mission's total cost ($311 million).

Lest you think that astrology is the only thing at risk here, Russian news sources additionally claim:

Indeed, the consequences of destroying a comet may include anything from an asteroid shower to disruption to radio waves.

“I am not a scientist,” Molokhov [Bai's lawyer] says, “but experts say the impact could disrupt the comet’s plasma trail, which could have an effect on satellite communications.”

Sadly, however, speaking as someone with a strong amateur interest in space, he can only be referring to a couple of experts that he found pulling old chicken legs out of a dumpster in Gorky Park. And if anyone can explain that whole "disruption" thing to me, I'd appreciate it.

As the probe has already completed its mission it is unlikely that Bai will succeed in getting the mission cancelled, but the ultimate outcome of the lawsuit remains in question. Some sources believe that a legal victory for Bai might open the floodgates for similar civil actions, including moves by the Religious Right to sue those conducting research into evolution on the grounds that it is demeaning to their beliefs, and action against globe makers by the Flat Earth Society.

Finally, on an unrelated note, noted philosophers (who shall remain unnamed because I'm making them up) have proposed a new solution to the so-called Fermi Paradox. That solution: We fucking frighten them.

I know how they feel.


Blogger Brayden said...

This sounds like a subject matter fit for investigation within the thriving subdiscipline of asstrosociology.

Monday, August 01, 2005 1:11:00 PM  
Blogger Drek said...

Wow, yeah, because I want to open up that can of worms again...

Monday, August 01, 2005 3:44:00 PM  

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