Mnemonics, poor Pluto

Personally I was extremely annoyed that Pluto was recently demoted to the status of a dwarf planet. It’s really not fair to poor old Pluto, a planet that has steadfastly guarded the currently accepted outer reaches of our solar system since its discovery in 1930. It may yet be reclassified again as a new type of trans-Neptunian object, or TNO. I read all sorts of reasoning behind the demotion of Pluto, but as far as I’m concerned it’s been a planet since its discovery, it has its own moon (Charon) and should therefore stay a planet. Mind you, I’m no astronomer. Just a guy with opinions.

But of course, the more pressing issue now is that all the mnemonics that people have used to remember the planets in the solar system are wrong. We no longer need to remember Pluto as a planet, therefore the mnemonic doesn’t require the P at the end. The most common mnemonic, as far as I can tell, is “My very elegant mother just served us nine pizzas”. There’s also the less politically correct (perhaps Lewinsky inspired) “My very easy mother just sucked up nine politicians”. There are variations on the theme, obviously.

So, a mnemonic for the solar system without a P at the end? The obvious one would be the original without pizzas on the end, with the N for Neptune signified by something else. For example, “My very elegant mother just served us noodles” or “My very elegant mother just served us needles” if you prefer your mnemonic mothers to have a macabre and sadistic streak.

On doing a little research on the subject, however, I discovered that all the work had already been done. Those fine folks over at kottke.org already held a competition for a new mnemonic and got some cracking results. Read all about it here and choose your own favourite for future use. I get the feeling that the Michael Jackson one might stick.

And for those of you that read mnemonic and think only of really bad Keanu Reeves movies, this link is for you.

And as there might be some people out there that wonder what all the fuss is about, you don’t need me to tell you how important using the right words can be. Check this out, for example. Astronomers have opened a can of worms with this one.

Sidebar below

It has come to my attention that some of you out there are still using Internet Explorer for your browsing. I have no idea why, but that’s not really an issue for me. What is an issue, however, is that when you view The Word in IE you don’t get the sidebar of links and info on the righthand side – it appears right at the bottom of the page below all the current posts.

I’ve been unable to correct this, so if anyone has any tips to fix it, please let me know. As far as I’m concerned the best fix would be to start using Mozilla Firefox, but that’s just my opinion.

EDIT 29/8/06: My heartfelt thanks to James Frost, who stepped up and fixed my blog template so that it looks just as good in IE as it does in Firefox. Don’t think that this is any reason for people to continue using IE, however; my feelings on that piece of software are already quite clear, I’m sure.

Incidentally, James keeps his own blog detailing his move with his family from Scotland to New Zealand. It makes some interesting reading. You can check it out here and James has earned himself a place in my links section for his sterling work on my blog template.

The Word via email

I’ve recently discovered a great service offered by Feedburner. They now supply an option for people to subscribe to a blog via email rather than just the traditional RSS feeds. You can read all about it at the Feedburner site and their Terms of Service and Privacy Policy are on their homepage. I’ve added the option here on The Word (in the sidebar on the right), so if you’d rather not have to check regularly, but would simply like to receive an email whenever The Word is updated, put your address in the box and click the button.

Osama’s lust

You sometimes can’t help laughing at things that are really quite serious. For example, the thought of Osama Bin Laden arranging the murder of a man in order to have that man’s wife as his own. You think I’m making this up? Not at all.

According to the autobiography of Kola Boof, a Sudanese poet and novelist, old Osama was courting just such an idea. And not just any husband and wife. He was planning to take out Bobby Brown in order to have Whitney Houston. Has truth ever been stranger than fiction?


The perfect couple?

In actions that keep Osama’s integrity as a hardline and devout Muslim completely untainted, he apparently kept Kola Boof against her will as his mistress and would tell her repeatedly about his lust for Whitney. Kola writes, “He said that he had a paramount desire for Whitney Houston and although he claimed music was evil, he spoke of some day spending vast amounts of money to go to America and try to arrange a meeting with the superstar.

“He said he wanted to give Whitney Houston a mansion that he owned in a suburb of Khartoum.

“He explained to me that to possess Whitney, he would be willing to break his colour rule and make her one of his wives.”

Well, isn’t it good to know that even someone as strict and disciplined as Osama Bin Laden is prepared to break their colour rule for the right girl. Boof also talks in her book about how Bin Laden would “ramble on” about his favourite TV shows, which included The Wonder Years, Miami Vice and MacGuyver, and how, “In his briefcase, I would come across photographs of the star [Whitney Houston], as well as copies of Playboy … It would soon come to the point where I was sick of hearing Whitney Houston’s name.”

Boof reports that Osama would constantly espouse, “How beautiful she was, what a nice smile she has, how truly Islamic she is but is just brainwashed by American culture and by her husband Bobby Brown, whom Osama talked about having killed, as if it were normal to have women’s husbands killed.”

You have to wonder if Osama still lusts after her which such fervour now.

Perhaps he’ll try to suppress Kola Boof’s book. The Word asks the question: Is Kola Boof the new Salman Rushdie?

Improved SF and Fantasy forums

For those of you that enjoy chatting in cyberspace about things that excite you, there’s recently been a merger of a couple of Speculative Fiction forums. The result is one of the largest discussion forums on the web, with over 12,000 members. Of course, as with most forums, I expect that only about 4 people post regularly. Anyway, interesting if you’re into that sort of thing. Check it out at:

http://www.chronicles-network.com/forum/