Thursday, August 31, 2006


We are, of course, sad for Pluto. It is always difficult to discover that something you took for granted as Immutable Fact is in fact nothing but a human construct, liable to be pulled from under your feet at any moment. Of course, the lump of rock is still there, it is still known as “Pluto”, but apparently it no longer justifies the title of “planet”. The given reasons for the change are entirely understandable (although I did like the idea of having a planet called “Xena”, but that’s another story), but it is going to take some getting used to.

What concerns me most is, how are today’s children going to learn the names of the planets and their order from the sun?

When I was at school, it was this easy:

My (Mercury)
Very (Venus)
Easy (Earth)
Method (Mars)
Says (Saturn)
Just (Jupiter)
Use (Uranus)
Nine (Neptune)
Planets (Pluto)

But now we find ourselves in a galaxy that is mnemonically challenged. You can’t just omit the “P” because the “Nine” makes no sense now there are only eight. Unless they change Neptune to a name beginning with “E”, which ain’t gonna happen, I fear we are doomed.

I suppose you could change it to, say, “My Very Evil Mother Says Jump Up Now”, but the beauty of the one I knew was that the mnemonic itself, in a kind of pre-post-modern way, contained the answer to the problem; I think it would be a struggle to come up with something that isn’t just completely random nonsense.

Oh the times we live in.