Saturday, July 11, 2009

Pluto Speaks Out: Scorned Planet Defiant about Status

As a writer and actress, I blatantly reject the so-called “celebrity culture,” which was especially over the top by the media during this past week. As a rebel and stickler for fairness, I believe that talent is talent, and should be valued on its own merit, not because it is attached to a “name.” An actor the industry refuses to recognize can be just as talented as a "name actor," and worship of people almost as gods is just plain unhealthy. In that context, I was inspired to write about the similar phenomenon taking place in our solar system.

Pluto Speaks Out: Scorned Planet Defiant about Status

Recently demoted by Earth’s International Astronomical Union, Pluto has endured three tough years, not just among Earth’s humans but in the solar system as a whole, facing ridicule and discrimination from other solar system bodies for defiantly clinging to its planet status. In an exclusive interview for this web site, Pluto speaks out about planetary discrimination, and solar system hierarchies, revealing the inner workings of a system riddled with patronage, favoritism, and jockeying for position.

Interviewer: Pluto, I’m going to start out being blunt. After all, facts are facts. The solar system has seven moons larger than you. Another Kuiper Belt Object, Eris, is bigger than you are, and at least two others are pretty much your size. How then can you justify putting yourself in the same category as the eight Big Guys?

Pluto: The problem here is that you’re arbitrarily choosing size as somehow being of more value than a whole host of other criteria. Size isn’t everything. I say, look at shape. I’ve achieved hydrostatic equilibrium. I’m shaped by my own gravity. That’s what puts me in the same category as your so-called “Big Guys.”

Interviewer: Honestly, Pluto, how many moons of other solar system planets are also in hydrostatic equilibrium? They don’t insist on being called planets. They accept that they’re not in the inner circle. They understand that they’re just not in the big leagues.

Pluto: We’ve got a couple of misconceptions here. First of all, I never denied them the status of planet. In fact, in my view, if they’re in hydrostatic equilibrium, they’re planets too. For some reason, maybe their own low self-esteem, they feel the need to center their lives around other planets instead of maintaining their own orbits.

Interviewer: So you have no problem with calling these moons planets.

Pluto: Of course not. I just feel bad that they don’t think enough of themselves to recognize that they can orbit the Sun directly. They don’t have to attach themselves to the so-called giants to be important. Unfortunately, they’re buying into the propaganda that they’re somehow inferior and will get nowhere unless they faun all over the giants.

Interviewer: And Eris and those other round Kuiper Belt Objects? They’re planets too?

Pluto: Of course. And they’ll tell you that themselves. It’s only these so-called Big Guys who are spreading the lie that if you’re not one of their “Big Eight,” you’re not a planet, and that the best you can do is hang onto their coattails. Here in the Kuiper Belt, we laugh at their self-importance.

Interviewer: But realistically, you can’t say you have the same degree of influence as the giants. Jupiter regularly intercepts comets, stopping them from impacting other planets, including Earth. What do you do that is comparable?

Pluto: First of all, you’re assuming Earth is somehow more deserving of protection than any of the rest of us. Not to mention, what’s wrong with comets? They hang out with me here in the ‘hood all the time. If they want to take a trip into the inner solar system and see what it’s like near the Sun, why should they be prohibited from doing that? We don’t tell Mercury, Venus, Earth, or Mars not to get near the Sun. This is just the same old size discrimination again. That or special favoritism to Earth because it’s directly related to humans.

And you know what? Most comets who take that trip, once they get close to the Sun, they realize it’s hot as hell over there, and they come racing back into the outer solar system very happy to get home. Some of them come back broken and damaged from all that heat, and once they’re back, they choose to live here in the ‘hood, what those Big Guys ridicule as the boondocks.

Interviewer: So comets should be allowed to roam freely all over the solar system.

Pluto: Of course. Why should there be one set of rules for the Big Guys and another set of rules for the little guys? That’s a blatant double standard.

Interviewer: Yet every day comets leave your ‘hood trying to get closer to the Sun. Thousands of asteroids compete just get closest to Jupiter or Saturn. For every one that makes it, thousands don’t. You don’t have asteroids clamoring to orbit you. The overwhelming majority want to be part of the Big Guys’ kingdoms, even if it means just being a speck in their ring systems.

Pluto: You see; that’s where their value systems are all screwed up. Why make your whole life revolve around another planet when you can be one yourself, when you can have your own orbit? Okay, I’m small, but I orbit the Sun directly. They only live vicariously through attaching themselves to the giant planets. Why would I want to orbit another planet when I can have an orbit of my own? Yes, it’s kind of different, but you know, I like it, and I have complete freedom to do what I want.

And you know, having moons isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. And I say this as someone who has three moons myself. The whole planet-moon thing is part of the hierarchical mentality that is the root of most problems here in the solar system. Why can’t we all be planets? In fact, Charon and I are unique in that we co-orbit one another. Ours is an orbit of equals. I love Charon, and I don’t feel the need to make myself superior.

Interviewer: You do have Nix and Hydra orbiting you though.

Pluto: Because they choose to. They happen to like our different way of doing things. And Charon and I are fine with that. If they ever want to go off on their own and be their own planets, we’ll wish them well. We won’t try to keep them in our shadows.

And, you’ve actually made another good point. Charon and I have a system of four. Mercury and Venus have no moons at all. Mars has two little asteroid moons who were rejected by Jupiter. Why should they be planets and Charon and I be some sort of second-class citizens?

Interviewer: You don’t clear your orbit of other Kuiper Belt Objects, and those planets do have clear orbits.

Pluto: Only because they were born in an advantaged location. Put them out here in the Kuiper Belt, and they wouldn’t clear anything.

Interviewer: Many astronomers consider you most like Triton, a moon of Neptune. Why should you be given the coveted title of planet, yet the larger Triton just be a moon?

Pluto: Again with this size issue. We keep coming back to that. Look, I know Triton, and once upon a time, he was a planet just like me, with his own orbit—until Neptune lured him in with all this rhetoric about how popular he’d be if he were associated with a giant planet. Unfortunately, Triton bought into this propaganda, against my advice by the way. And you know what? It’s all going to end in tragedy. His orbit around Neptune is unstable. One day, he’s going to crash into his big blue idol and completely self-destruct. Of course, Neptune never told him that in advance. All because Triton chose to give up his individuality and worship one of the so-called Big Guys. I, on the other hand, will still be here when he’s long gone.

Interviewer: So you really believe you’re as important to the solar system as giants like Jupiter and Saturn?

Pluto: Yes I do. And I’ll tell you something else they don’t want you to know. Those two, especially Jupiter, really wanted to be suns, but they just couldn’t do it. Hell, Jupiter tried and tried but couldn’t even fuse deuterium, much less hydrogen. These guys are wanna bes. That’s why they’ve got their own little solar systems going. And Uranus and Neptune just copied them. They’ve collected all those moons because they want to act like suns, but deep down, they know they’re not. And so they’re compensating. It’s the same thing with the rings. Saturn started the whole thing as one big show of ostentation. Then the other three gas giants copied him. Oh, they love to brag about how objects all over the solar system would kill just to be a tiny moonlet in their rings. So egotistic, so self-important. And they don’t even have surfaces. You can’t stand on them or land a rover on them, but you can do both of those with me.

Interviewer: Then what about Ceres and Vesta? They’re round, but they don’t mind being considered asteroids.

Pluto: Really? Did you ever ask them what they think? Or did you just take Jupiter’s word for it? Nobody even bothered to consult Ceres, Vesta, and a couple of others in that area who happen to be round. No, it’s just, you’re in the asteroid belt, so you’re automatically no better than any little rock floating around out there. Don’t you humans have words for that kind of discrimination on your planet?

Interviewer: I think we’ve pretty much covered everything. It’s clear you’re sticking to your guns on this one.

Pluto: You bet I am. We’re talking about my identity, who I am. And not just my identity, but the identity of every small object in the solar system, especially those of us who have worked hard to attain hydrostatic equilibrium. If it’s good enough for Jupiter, it’s good enough for all of us. I’m not just going to sit here in the Kuiper Belt and let these Big Guys call their reality the only reality. No, I’ve already started mobilizing the little guys here in the Kuiper Belt who are in the same spherical shape as Jupiter. And the asteroid belt is next. Then the Oort Cloud. Some of those over-inflated gas giant egos may start to see their moons suddenly floating away and establishing their own orbits as planets. There is a revolution underway in the solar system, and it starts here.

You know, if they hadn’t messed with me, I might have just left things the way they are and been content to do my own thing. But the humans and these big planets that follow their every dictate made a huge mistake. They picked a fight with me, so now they’re getting what they deserve. The new rallying cry among the solar system’s underdogs is, “let a thousand planets bloom!” And mark my words, they will.

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