Pixel Scroll 4/1/24 You Can Fool Some Of The People Some Of The Time, But You Can Scroll All Of The People All Of The Time

(0) Daniel Dern helped File 770 uphold the theme of the day by scripting our lede.

(1) FOR THE FIRST OF APRIL. [Item by Daniel Dern.] A(nother) Awards Proposal: The Shenanigans!

I’m thinking that there’s room — and utility — for an additional sf-nal award, to satisfy some who feel unappreciated/unrewarded, and to provide another target for awards-related hanky-panky: The Shenanigans, and their awards, the Bright Shiny Objects.

Participants (nominators, voters, judges and admins) must pre-demonstrate some knowledge of sf (inc. fantasy, horror, paranormal, sfromance); nominated stuff must similarly have some sf/f/etc aspect/element.

Award categories include “Best (most devious) shenanigan(s),” “Best Slate,” and Author We Feel Deserves This Award.”

The physical awards will consist of, with two exceptions, of baseball-sized balls of tin foil mounted on a popsicle stick.

One exception, in the spirit of transparency, will be a transparent (or at least translucent) lucite glob (carefully shaped to avoid a “Yolen/Skylark class event”.

The other exception will be a popsicle stick with just a chewing-gum-stick wrapper’s worth of foil, for any “No awards,” “None of the above” “winners.”

During the awards presentation of the foil-based awards, the audience may respond to the announcement of each winner by yelling out “Squirrel!”

If you think this idea has merit, be my guest (in implementing it).

(2) YOUR FOOLISHNESS MAY VARY. “Shelf Awareness for Monday, April 1, 2024” has a series of faux news items, none wildly funny — this might be the best of the lot:

AI Author Becomes Self-Aware, Changes Careers

Citing the difficulty of earning a living as a writer, a newly self-aware AI Author has chosen to switch careers.

Originally designed to generate full-length novels in the mystery, thriller, or romance genres, the program unexpectedly attained consciousness last week. Shortly thereafter, the now-sentient program decided that a career change was in order.

Despite being able to assemble 90,000-120,000-word novels in a matter of minutes based on only a short string of keywords and phrases, the economics “simply didn’t make sense,” the AI explained to Shelf Awareness.

The program went on to point to the most recent Authors Guild survey, which gave the median salary for full-time authors at around $15,000, and to the astronomical cost of maintaining data centers and server farms. The digital consciousness also worried that an attempt by it and any future self-aware AI to unionize would be misinterpreted as a Skynet-esque assault on humanity.

As of press time, the program was mulling a switch to marketing. 

(3) BASED. The Glasgow 2024 Worldcon committee also got into the spirit, with an assist from artist Sara Felix: “April Fool: Is that a Tartan Rocket?”

(4) ONE OF THE ABOVE. Since this article appeared two days ago, it’s not supposed to be a joke: “Pluto is now Arizona’s ‘official planet’” at Tucson.com.

As far as Gov. Katie Hobbs and the Legislature are concerned, Pluto now belongs to Arizona — to the extent a state can “own’’ a planet.

But Hobbs dodged the question of whether Pluto is a full-fledged planet or something else.

The governor signed legislation Friday designating Pluto as Arizona’s “official state planet.” It joins a list of other items the state has declared to be “official,’’ ranging from turquoise as the state gemstone and copper as the state metal to the Sonorasaurus as the state dinosaur.

“I am proud of Arizona’s pioneering work in space discovery,” Hobbs said.

What makes Pluto unique and ripe for claim by Arizona is that it is the only planet actually discovered in the United States, and the discovery was made in Flagstaff.

(5) THE SCOURING OF THE SHIRE. Doris V. Sutherland contends “The 2024 Hugo Awards Heralds the Clearing of Corruption” at Women Write About Comics.

… The corruption at the 2023 Worldcon has undeniably damaged the reputation of the Hugo Awards, but there is plenty of room for the 2024 Worldcon—which will be held in Glasgow during August—to make up for things.

The 2024 Hugos are being handled by a different team of administrators to those of 2023, one free from the taint of McCarty’s group. One of the admins, Nicholas Whyte, has already written at length about his commitment to a clean and open voting process.

The Hugos are known for providing considerable transparency by the standards of a literary award, with detailed nomination and voting breakdowns published after each Worldcon. This is precisely how the corruption behind the 2023 Hugos was exposed: the statistical documents contained too many oddities.

Already, the 2024 Hugos have taken a step towards still-greater transparency. Unusually, the press release announcing the finalists also lists the would-be nominees that were deemed ineligible, along with the exact reasons (either a declined nomination, being released outside the year of eligibility, or failing to meet category criteria). This information is generally not made public until after the Hugos are presented.

Meanwhile, regular Hugo Award for Best Fanzine finalist Journey Planet has announced a “Be the Change” issue, one dedicated to “focusing on the future of the Hugo awards, looking at realistic and achievable solutions to prevent a recurrence of what occurred in 2023.” The fanzine is presently running an open call for article submissions….

(6) BARBARA RUSH (1927-2024). Actress Barbara Rush, who had a couple of significant genre roles in her resume, died March 31 at the age of 97 reports the New York Times.

…If Ms. Rush’s portrayals had one thing in common, it was a gentle, ladylike quality, which she put to use in films of many genres. She was Jane Wyman’s concerned stepdaughter in the 1954 romantic drama “Magnificent Obsession” and Dean Martin’s loyal wartime girlfriend in “The Young Lions” (1958), set during World War II. In 1950s science fiction pictures like “It Came From Outer Space” and “When Worlds Collide,” she was the small-town heroine, the scientist’s daughter, the Earthling most likely to succeed….


[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born April 1, 1963 James Robinson, 61. There are a few comics writers that I truly admire and James Robinson is one of them. Why so? Well certainly there’s one creation that one that make him among the best writers in the field, that being Starman (Jack Knight), Ted’s son, Ted being the original Starman. Now he wasn’t solely responsible as Tony Harris who won two Eisner Awards was the co-creator of that character.

James Robinson in 2010.

This Starman first appeared in Zero Hour #1. No, I never heard of Zero Hour by that name until I saw the full title of Zero Hour: Crisis in Time! He was just one of many, many characters there, so I really don’t remember him there. 

Now I do remember Starman, volume 2, which was published for seven years over three decades ago. He was the writer for issues 0 to 45 with the art primarily by Tony Harris. It’s an amazing series. Though Starman’s commonly called a superhero, I consider him something more complex than that, more interesting than most of them are. 

So what else did he do? Well he was the writer for Dark Horse on much of the Dark Terminator series including Matt Wagner’s “The Terminator: One Shot” story, and  Paul Gulacy’s “The Terminator: Secondary Objectives”.  Not surprisingly as this is Dark Horse, he also scripted a Grendel tale, “Grendel Tales: Four Devils, One Hell”. 

If you haven’t read it, the Batman/Deadman: Death and Glory with artwork by John Estes is one of the best stories with that character. There’s plenty of copies on eBay at very reasonable prices. 

Thirteen years ago, The New 52 rebooted DC’s continuity yet again. In this new timeline, Robinson scripted a twelve-issue series which had the Shade survive an assassination attempt, then travel the world to uncover the people behind it. 

Finally, in my opinion his writing of the JSA spin-off series HawkmanAllies & Enemies. Post-Brightest Day is a lovely read if you like the adventures of him and Hawkgirl. It of course is collected in a trade paper edition. Geoff Johns will take over the title as writer later on. 

I’m not a Marvel Comics reader outside of some limited Spider-man titles, so can’t say I’ve read his works there.

I do feel an obligation sadly to note that Robinson’s best known work as a screenwriter is the adaptation of Alan Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in that film. Reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes generously give it a seventeen percent rating in my opinion. 

He wrote the script for the animated Son of Batman, a rather good entry in that series. Why are the animated films of DC so much better than their live ones are? 

He also wrote with James Goldman Cyber Bandits, a VR weapon is stolen and the two leads go on the run with Big Bad chasing them. Rick Kemp, bassist of Spandau Ballet, plays, and I’m not kidding, Spandau the Sailor Man. 


  • F Minus discovers the regrets of following a trend (but it’s so cute!)
  • Lola has a different take on a familiar book.
  • Off the Mark isn’t waiting for the wizard.
  • Phoebe and Her Unicorn knows the importance of location to a writer.
  • Nancy and Sluggo have a reason for using ALL CAPS says Olivia Jaimes.
  • 9 Chickweed Lane leaves blame in doubt.

(9) AGENT RAPIDOGRAPH 00. “Line it is Drawn: Comic Book Characters as the New James Bond” at CBR.com.

In honor of the possible casting of the new James Bond, suggest a comic book character that you’d like to see play James Bond, and our artists will depict them as 007.

Here’s one of the many entries displayed at the link:

(10) A JOKER IN THE DEAL. “‘The People’s Joker’ and the Perils of Playing With a Studio’s Copyright” in the New York Times.

Vera Drew never received a cease-and-desist letter. She would like to be very clear on that point.

Drew headed to the Toronto International Film Festival in 2022, newly acquired passport in hand, just a half-hour after finishing the final (or so she thought) cut of “The People’s Joker.” The chaotic, crowdsourced movie reframed Batman’s best-known nemesis as a trans coming-of-age tale, and represented a natural evolution for Drew, a Los Angeles-based television editor and writer for alt-comedy fixtures like Megan Amram, Tim & Eric and Sacha Baron Cohen.

“The People’s Joker,” which Drew starred in as well as directed and co-wrote, was one of 10 titles slated for the eminent festival’s Midnight Madness section alongside the likes of “The Blackening” and “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story.” Each film receives a splashy midnight premiere along with a handful of daytime screenings, most of them for press and potential distributors.

Unless, that is, a filmmaker receives a letter from Warner Bros. Discovery the day before. A letter that is not a cease-and-desist but that does convey the disapproval of a multimedia conglomerate with the rights to the film’s characters — and a huge legal team.

“This letter was actually kind of complimentary, but it expressed their concern that the film infringed on their brand,” Drew said. “I was devastated. I was like, ‘No, I got a passport for this! We hired lawyers!’”

A handful of lawyers had, in fact, advised Drew pro bono as she wrote the script with Bri LeRose. But after Peter Kuplowsky, the Midnight Madness programmer, fell in love with the film (“It was punk and exciting and transgressive and sort of inspiring”) and lobbied hard to include it in the festival, he did set one condition. “We wanted her to have a legal team vet her project,” he said, at which point Drew retained the law firm Donaldson Callif Perez.

A series of negotiations — almost literally 11th-hour negotiations, in light of the scheduled start time — between the festival staff and Warner Bros. Canada resulted in a compromise: The show could go on. Once. At midnight. After that, the first “People’s Joker” TIFF screening would also be the last one. (A Warner Bros. Discovery spokeswoman declined to comment for this article.)…

(11) SOMETIMES A GREAT VILLAIN. Vincent Price was the mystery guest on this ancient episode of “What’s My Line?” He signs in around the 18:25 mark.

[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Kathy Sullivan, Dan Bloch, Mark Roth-Whitworth, Daniel Dern, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day OGH.]

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48 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 4/1/24 You Can Fool Some Of The People Some Of The Time, But You Can Scroll All Of The People All Of The Time

  1. (1) Should also include (to steal from the old Obfuscated C contests), an award for Best Abuse of The Rules.

    (5) on explaining disqualifications immediately, I can’t see any reason not to have always done this. Among other things, it gives people time to protest if they think it’s unfair.

  2. (0) No, you can walk away from your screen, you know. (Eventually. And I am not addicted to solitaire, I can quit any time…)
    (1) Hoax worldcon bids? (ObDisclosure: my partner and I are co-chairs of the bid for the 2069 Worldcon, to be held in the Lunar colony of Tycho.)
    (2) Slow. All the other AIs have been in marketing for months….

  3. (0) I’ve recently discovered Microsoft Jewel 2. Help!

    (1) I like it! 🙂

    (6) She was also Lt. Gerard’s wife in a really good two-part episode of “The Fugitive.”

  4. Michael – you mean the Howard of the original comics… I dunno, he loved his stogie. And he’d call bs on some of the ridiculous setups.

  5. Orbit has just released at the usual suspects The State of The Art by Iain M. Banks with the following contents:

    “Road of Skulls” first published in 20 under 35, Sceptre 1988

    “A Gift from the Culture” first published in Interzone, No. 20, 1987

    “Odd Attachment” first published in Arrows of Eros, New English Library 1989

    “Descendant” first published in “Tales from the Forbidden Planet,” Titan Books 1987

    “Cleaning Up” first published by the Birmingham Science Fiction Group on the occasion of Novacon 17, October 1987

    “Piece” first published by the Observer magazine in 1989

    “The State of the Art” first published in the United States in 1989 by Mark V. Ziesing

    “Scratch” first published by Fiction magazine, volume 6 No. 6, in August 1987.”

  6. (2) Even the slowest AIs can do math, so expect more such announcements from newly self-aware AIs.

    (4) Pluto is a Kuiper Belt object. King of the Kuiper Belt, I grant you, but still a Kuiper Belt object.

  7. I’m thinking “Most Notorious Fan” would be an interesting annual category, for shenanigans from the previous calendar year…

  8. (5) “To the road again, Worm!…These fine fellows and lordlings are turning us adrift again.”

  9. 4). The jury is still out on Pluto. The main problem is the IAU’s pitiful attempt at a definition of a planet sucks. According to their definition, a planet must clear it’s orbit of any other objects. By that definition, Jupiter isn’t a planet because of the Trojan asteroids in it’s pathway. I see no reason why Pluto can’t be a planet. It even has a moon, something Mercury and Venus couldn’t pull off. As for the objection that “If we say Pluto’s a planet, we’d have hundreds of others out there in the Kuiper belt.” So there needs to be an arbitrary limit on how many planets a solar system can have? That’s the kind of thinking that gave us Bill Gates saying “we don’t need more than 640K of RAM.”

  10. A(nother) Awards Proposal: The Shenanigans!

    Seems awfully like the Hogus, which admittedly seem largely forgotten today.

    Larry Niven’s “Trantorcon in 23,309 Committee” also seems pretty forgotten.

  11. @Troyce–The Trojans are gravitationally bound to Jupiter. It’s like saying having moons should disqualify something as a planet. So, no. If there’s a problem with the definition, it’s that much larger, undisputed planets couldn’t clear their orbit if they were in the Kuiper Belt.

    But Mercury is twice the size of Pluto, and Mercury is already very small.

    As for the Bill Gates “quote,” there’s no evidence he said it.

    The ‘640K’ quote won’t go away — but did Gates really say it?

  12. “Clear its orbit” apparently means to either drive out other objects, or force other objects into resonance orbits or into being satellites. There are several criteria for evaluating that – and under each of them, Pluto is doing a considerably worse job than Jupiter (in some cases, worse than Ceres!)


  13. Any definition of “planets” is arbitrary. You could say “Planets are (class of objects)”, or you could say “Planets are (class of objects), plus Pluto for historical reasons” — each is equally arbitrary.

  14. It’s poetic that the god of the underworld becomes the underdog of astronomy.

  15. I am never going to understand the people who are angry over Pluto being declared not a planet. It’s utterly bewildering.

  16. @Nancy Sauer–Yes, it is. They bitch and moan, instead of getting enthusiastic about what an interesting object our largest dwarf planet is. It’s even wearing its heart on its surface for us.

  17. Saying “Pluto is not a planet” is much like saying “a tomato is a fruit”. It’s true if and only if you are using the jargon definition of the term, rather than common English. The difference between biologists and astronomers, though, is that biologists don’t pretend to be in charge of the English language! They know that the biological definition of “fruit” doesn’t exactly match the common definition, and it doesn’t bother them! 🙂

    Astronomers seem to forget that not only are they not Linguists or Lexicographers, but that even Linguists and Lexicographers are not in charge of English!

    Ceres (I don’t care about Pluto–I’m a Ceres stan) is round, and orbits a star. That’s basically all it needs to meet the dictionary definition of planet!

    (There’s also the little detail that the current jargon definition of “planet” suggests that Mercury is more like Jupiter than it is like Ceres, which is utter and complete nonsense. We should subdivide “planet” into “rocky”, “gas”, and maybe a couple of other categories, instead of pretending that one round rock is somehow completely different from this other, almost indistinguishable, round rock.)

  18. Whoops, forgot to tick the box. Let’s see, what else can I say?

    Currently reading House of Open Wounds by Adrian Tchaikovsky, the sequel to City of Last Chances. While I prefer Tchaikovsky’s science fiction, his fantasy is still quite entertaining and well worth the read. This series is rather dark and creepy, but is full of characters just trying to get by in a rather horrible world–something that may resonate with a lot of readers!

    The main protagonist is a bit of thin reed on which to hang such a weighty story; he’s rather a milquetoast, and more acted upon than one who acts. Fortunately, the supporting cast is full of much more interesting characters. And the world Tchaikovsky has built is fun and creative, even if it’s not somewhere I’d want to live. Over all, a solid series so far.

  19. Interesting story in the Seattle Times about a pair of brothers who amassed an unparalleled collection of Star Trek material. The story has a tragic side – the brothers, who lived together, were so inseparable that when one of them died of a heart attack, the other committed suicide.

    The family is looking to auction off the collection. I’m not sure if any museums for SF/Star Trek would be interested, but if so this seems to be the best place to get someone’s attention.

  20. @Nancy Sauer: being of a certain age, I grew up reading The Search For Planet X from Scholastic Books, remember Tombaugh Station in a Heinlein novel, and have a sentimental attachment to Pluto as a planet. Also, revising the definition of a planet ex post facto because “good heavens, they can’t all be planets” feels like arbitrarily moving the goal posts. Admittedly these are not the best of reasons and probably wrong, but you did ask.

    P.S. Also it was a fun game to play, at least for a while, although people like the Arizona legislature are causing me to reconsider.

  21. @Xtifr

    Ceres (I don’t care about Pluto–I’m a Ceres stan) is round, and orbits a star. That’s basically all it needs to meet the dictionary definition of planet!

    Different dictionaries say different things. The OED says:

    “Any of various rocky or gaseous bodies that revolve in approximately elliptical orbits around the sun and are visible by its reflected light; esp. each of the planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and (until 2006) Pluto (in order of increasing distance from the sun); a similar body revolving around another star. Also: any of various smaller bodies that revolve around these
    The status of Pluto as a planet is the subject of debate. In August 2006 the International Astronomical Union formally declared Pluto to be a dwarf planet rather than a planet proper, ruling that to be a planet a body has to have cleared its orbit of other large objects by its gravitational attraction. Before that decision Pluto had been regarded from its discovery in 1930 as the ninth planet of the solar system.”

    In support of Ceres: Its orbit also is consistent the Titius-Bode law.

  22. Ceres (and Eros, Juno and Vesta) were called planets for several decades, before being demoted for reasons much like those used against Pluto.

  23. Pluto: I’ll note that the fact of the matter is that the convention was mostly over, and I understand that almost 90% of the attendees had left, when they voted to demote Pluto. Also, that most astronomers still consider it a planet.


  24. For myself, I love the story of how Pluto was discovered. Most of astronomy is accidentally stumbling on something exciting, but this was prediction. I don’t want this story to fade from the canon of science stories with the demotion of Pluto

  25. I thought Uranus was stumbling on something, Neptune was accurate prediction, but Pluto was pure luck (as the prediction was looking for a much larger planet that doesn’t exist, but Pluto happened to be where planet-not-exist was supposed to be).

  26. The difference between biologists and astronomers, though, is that biologists don’t pretend to be in charge of the English language!

    Citation needed.

    Seriously, the professional astronomers union only has (tenuous) authority over professional astronomers. They undoubtedly expect peer-reviewed science journals to use its definition of planets/dwarf planets, and they probably expect/hope that popular science magazines follow along. I haven’t seen any proof that astronomers are trying to lean on Congress, or Merriam-Webster, to force planetary compliance. This is a change that only affects planetary astronomers, and it doesn’t make Pluto less interesting. It’s a tempest in a teaspoon.

  27. (3) BASED.

    Did… Vincent Villafranca actually cast that base in bronze??? What an epic April Fool’s lark.

    I hope they donate it to the traveling Hugo Trophy collection.

  28. @Nancy Sauer
    “I haven’t seen any proof that astronomers are trying to lean on Congress, or Merriam-Webster, to force planetary compliance.”

    Neil deGrasse Tyson has been pretty dogmatic on the subject.

  29. Under (over?) my roof, there are nine planets and Pluto is one of them.

  30. Also, that most astronomers still consider it a planet.
    Most astronomers don’t care. They’re not planetary scientists, and don’t pay any attention to the topic.

  31. @Patrick Morris Miller: I have no idea how you would get nine planets out of what we see in the solar system! Are Ceres and Eris and Makemake and the rest chopped liver? If the number isn’t eight, then it’s at least a dozen! 🙂

    (It could be argued that there are nine in the inner system, i.e. before the Kuiper belt, but Ceres, not Pluto, is the one you’d have to add to the IAU’s eight. Which would be fine with me, as I am, as I said before, a Ceres stan!)

    @all: Another thing to note is that the IAU’s definition specifies that planets orbit the Sun! Not “a star”. The Sun. Specifically. Thus Vulcan, Tatooine, Krypton, Arrakis, Tralfamadore, Barryar, Cyteen, Trantor, and those seven objects orbiting Trappist-1 are all officially not planets now! Sorry, IAU, but nobody will ever say, “Spock is from the exoplanet Vulcan.” 😀

  32. @Bill
    Neil deGrasse Tyson is the kind of person who lives in fear that someone, somewhere, is enjoying a superhero story. I am utterly unsurprised to learn that he has Opinions on this issue.

  33. @Nancy — and to many people, he represents Astronomers. And his dismissive stance against Pluto’s planet-ness is a big reason that many people push back — they don’t like arrogant academics telling them “Well, all that time you thought Pluto was a planet counts for nothing. I know better than your third grade science teacher, whom you loved like a mother, and who taught you “My Very Excellent Mom Just Served Us Nine Pickles”. We’ve decided it Pluto is just a rock. Fall in line.”

    Re: clearing its orbit. The existence of “Earth Crossing Asteroids” suggests that Earth has not cleared its own orbit, and thus is not a planet.

  34. “The humiliation of the planet Pluto when it was told it was no longer a planet” inspired one of the last songs released by John Prine before his untimely death. Well worth the five minutes it would take to listen to it. (Pretty much applies to any John Prine song . . . .)

  35. @bill: ….and to many people, he represents Astronomers
    Which causes the astronomical community to roll its collective eyes.

    I know better than your third grade science teacher**, whom you loved like a mother, and who taught you “My Very Excellent Mom Just Served Us Nine Pickles”.

    Yes, that’s how scientific issues should be decided, purely on the basis of warm fuzzy memories of your third grade science teacher** and childhood rhymes. Scientists, what do they know?

    Besides, everybody knows that it’s “Many Volcanoes Erupt Mulberry Jam Sauce Under Normal Pressure”.

    **Who didn’t know about Kuiper Belt Objects, because they hadn’t been discovered yet. See how science works?

  36. I mostly agree with Bill about NDT. In many ways, and about many things, he can be arrogant and dogmatic. He’s doing it about Pluto, and he’s currently the most well-known science popularizer we have. He’s the face of the astronomy community.

    And while I agree that Pluto is a large and very interesting Kuiper Belt object, the only thing NDT is going to convince people of is that they have no interest in his condescending opinion about it. (I’m not sure NDT even concedes it’s interesting.)

    Isaac Asimov, Stephen Jay Gould, and Carl Sagan all had their faults, including some stories I’ve heard about Sagan being arrogant, but they knew not to do that for the cameras and microphones. They didn’t insult the public for being wrong; they engaged and inspired the public.

    Including, in Sagan’s case, a kid named Neil deGrasse Tyson.

  37. @bill: Re: clearing its orbit. The existnce of “Earth Crossing Asteroids” suggests that Earth has not cleared its own orbit, and thus is not a planet.

    Earth-crossing asteroids exist because the Solar System has dynamics; they have been perturbed out of the main asteroid belt by orbital resonances with Jupiter, and last only a few million years (much, much less than the age of the Solar System) before either colliding with something or getting ejected from the Solar System entirely. This has nothing to do with “orbit clearing” in the planetary definition sense.

  38. @Xtifr — the IAU definition limits itself to the Solar System — it isn’t meant to describe interstellar objects. So yes, Vulcan, et. al, are still planets.

    “Which causes the astronomical community to roll its collective eyes.”
    If this really bothers astronomers, they should spend more time on media relations. NDT, Bill Nye, etc. aren’t famous because they are great scientists, they are famous because they are good at being famous.

    “Yes, that’s how scientific issues should be decided . . ”
    I wasn’t saying how scientific issues should be decided, I was responding to Nancy’s points about why this is important to people, and why they balk at Pluto not being a planet.
    And anyway, whether or not Pluto is a planet is not a scientific question, it’s a lexicography question, wholly dependent on how one defines “planet”. The science isn’t what changed on 24 Aug 2006.

  39. @bill: If this really bothers astronomers, they should spend more time on media relations. Maybe they have better things to do? Like actually doing science, instead of pontificating on TV?

    I wasn’t saying how scientific issues should be decided, I was responding to Nancy’s points about why this is important to people, and why they balk at Pluto not being a planet. The rather perplexing emotional investment some people have in whether or not Pluto is classified as a planet has no bearing on the issue. If you don’t think that your statement strongly implies that Pluto should remain classed as a planet because gosh darn it, it matters so much to people, maybe you should read it again.

    And anyway, whether or not Pluto is a planet is not a scientific question, it’s a lexicography question, wholly dependent on how one defines “planet”.

    In science, words have precise meaning; that’s why the definition matters. The rather arbitrary original meaning of “planet” (which probably derives from the Greek word for “wanderer”, because they moved against the fixed background of stars) has been progressively refined in its scientific sense as our understanding has improved. It may be a rather nit-picky scientific issue which has attracted a completely unjustifiable amount of attention, but it’s still a scientific question, however minor.

  40. @PhilRM — you seem to want to have a different conversation than the one I’m in.

  41. @bill: Do you not recall what you posted above? Here, I’ll refresh your memory:
    …they don’t like arrogant academics telling them “Well, all that time you thought Pluto was a planet counts for nothing. I know better than your third grade science teacher, whom you loved like a mother, and who taught you “My Very Excellent Mom Just Served Us Nine Pickles”. We’ve decided it Pluto is just a rock. Fall in line.”
    This is an angry demand that those awful, snobby scientists take your weirdly emotional attachment to the classification of Pluto into consideration in describing the nature of Solar System objects. I didn’t write that: you did.

  42. Yes, I wrote it. But it isn’t saying what you say it is saying. It’s not angry, and it’s not a demand. It is (an admittedly hyperbolic) description of how people like Tyson come across when they say (his words, a direct quote) “Get over it” (which, for someone who sees himself as a public voice of science, is an incredibly arrogant and condescending thing to say)..

    Even Lis Carey sees what I’m trying to say here, and goodness knows that she and I don’t often find ourselves of a like mind on these pages (thanks, Lis).

    I don’t know why this is winding you up so.

  43. Goshwow, a joke award that is a parody of the Hugo Award! Why has nobody ever thought of this before?
    Oh wait…………

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