Pluto is no longer a planet in our solar system, and the Angry Czeck cries “bullshit.” I’ve grown up with Pluto. It’s the ninth planet. The planet farthest from the sun. (Except sometimes it’s Neptune, but Neptune can eat it. Pluto, fool! Pluto!) Pluto is the cold planet. Pluto is the planet that’s really hard to see. When you make a model solar system out of clay for science fair, you use what little bit of clay you have left for Pluto.
Every grade school science textbook circulating in the Arkansas public school system declares Pluto the Ninth Planet. So what if these textbooks were printed in 1971? Much in the same way the Berlin Wall will never crumble and that Quantum Physics is a science known only to Scott Backula, the fraternity of planets (in my book) still counts Pluto on its roster. Pluto!
Much like our indifferent surrender of civil liberties, the American People have sacrificed Pluto with hardly a shrug. Where are the protests? Where is the rage? What, no Pluto Coalition or Friends of Planet 9 to stage a demonstration? Whoopi Goldberg, where are you?
It’s taken 76 years for the astronomical powers to finally decide that Pluto is not a planet after all, but just a really big rock floating in space. It makes you wonder what else the egg heads got wrong. More than we think, the Angry Czeck wagers.
For example, for decades I knew that the only manmade structure on Earth visible from outer space was the Great Wall of China. I read that in at least one book, and probably related the fact to several people over bottles of Zima and plastic jugs of Purple Passion. This was a tidbit I carefully catalogued in my brief but penetrating stable of trivia, which includes “Did you know Oliver Stone wrote Conan the Barbarian?” and “Napoleon only had one testicle.” Because I am the Angry Czeck, the validity of my facts were never in question.
But a couple years ago, I learned that the Great Wall statement originated from a Russian cosmonaut who, being among the first to be launched into space, made his Great Wall declaration as a kind of joke / Communism Fuck-You to the West. “Let’s make those lazy American astronauts waste their time looking for the Great Wall, those capitalist sucker-skis!”
The world got punked. Of course, NASA knew that nobody this side of a Kyrptonian could see the Great Wall of China from space with the naked eye, but for some reason this made-up “fact” became a fixture not only in the public lexicon, but firmly entrenched in the Angry Czeck’s powerful brain. And now that Pluto – after a lifetime of planetary status – has been demoted to “dwarf planet,” I wonder what other “fuck-yous” are masquerading as facts on our own planet.
Some are obvious of course. Like, Iraqis really won’t greet a foreign army as liberators. Or, Healthcare isn’t an important political issue after elections. Some aren’t so glaring. I know a woman who doesn’t just question reality. She doubts it. She says we walk into walls because our brains manufacture the walls for us. She believes this despite my ridicule, and I quickly dismissed her as a hippie, but now I’m not so sure. If Pluto is not really a planet, maybe reality doesn’t consist of the familiar order of molecules science promises us really exists. Hey, I’m just placing my faith in a PhD. Have you ever seen a molecule with your own eyes?
For that matter, I’ve never seen the Arctic. I’m willing to bet that there is no Arctic. Now I don’t have to worry about melting polar ice caps. Come to think of it, there are dozens (hundreds) of things I’ve accepted as fact but have actually never never seen or experienced first hand. And because I have no tactile input to quantify these beliefs, why bother believing in them at all?
I know people who don’t believe in God, but they do believe wholeheartedly in Madagascar. They’ve personally seen as much God as Madagascar, but because they’ve read a couple books written and published by people they’ve never met, the concept of Madagascar is completely plausible. You’ll never hear these people approach a tornado victim and scream, “Where is your Madagascar now, you geographic fool!”
The Angry Czeck used to believe in many things, but now I’m culling the list. The ozone layer is out. (Never saw it.) California is off the list, too. All those countries in the Middle East supposedly causing all the trouble? Gone. The AIDs virus? Just an urban legend. George Bush? Never met the man. Kidney pie? Doubt anybody really ever ate it. Cat Stevens? Don’t think so. The Asian Bird Flu? Please. Electricity? My light is on, true, but who knows if it’s really the result of electricity? Prove it. For that matter, explain to me how a TV works and then I’ll believe in technology over witchcraft. Isn’t it more exciting to believe in witchcraft anyway?
Believing in nothing is better than believing in anything – or at least anything that is told to you, that you’ve read, or that you’ve seen broadcast in the media. Personal experience is the only true barometer of reality. Looking for God? Put aside your Bible and try a pilgrimage. Want to count the planets? Buy a telescope my friend. Think it might be messy in Iraq? Perhaps you should visit. At least you’ll confirm that Iraq actually exists, and it isn’t just some Communist Fuck-You from a bored Cuban bureaucrat.
If, that is, bored Cuban bureaucrats actually exist.