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Updated: 10/16/02

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Wednesday, 16 October, 2002

Yuck.What a miserable day. We are having a "Nor'easter", the first of the season and it is just gross outside. Cold - only in the 40's - windy and raining. Blorg.

Luckily, James Lileks was kind enough to write a column about the discovery of a new planet in our solar system which gave me a good chuckle today. Highlights are included here, for your reading pleasure and amusement.

We have discovered a new planet. It's tiny, and I like that; it puts a period at the end of the solar system's run-on sentence. (If we find the planet is red, you can imagine it as the Powerball.) This new planet isn't really a planet, scientists are quick to note. More like an asteroid, a mere loose rock that wandered past like a hobo, stayed for supper, and now has taken up permanent residence in the backyard. Pluto isn't really a planet either; it snuck into the club when the membership rules were lax, and they're not going to make that mistake again. You must be this tall to get on this ride.

Well, I say it's a planet. But I have a problem with the name they've given it: Quaoar. This is not a name. This is an entry from the Scrabble dictionary. Surely we can do better. What to call it? If you polled residents at a nursing home, they'd call it Mykids, because it only comes around once every 268 years. (Rimshot! Thank you!) It needs a good mythological sound to it. And it has to sound cold, too. Yes, it's another Name the Planet contest; send it in, please.

While we're at it, perhaps we should name this planet. Earth? As in, Dirt? That'll work well the first time we visit another solar system. Hello, we come from the Planet Dirt. What? Stop laughing! We tried Planet Rock but everyone thought we came from a theme restaurant.

Lileks' readers sent in a variety of names, but here's the winner:

Remember our discussion of that meat-substitute made from fungus? Scott does:

Regarding a suitable cognomen for the latest sub-planetary poor relation that's turned up on the solar system's doorstep, I think the answer is obvious: Quorn. Not quite a planet, not quite an asteroid, it evokes the same reaction as its namesake: What IS it??

Additionally, it follows the recognized rules of alien nomenclature (i.e., the relentless abuse of Qs, Zs, and Vs), and since it will be the first local body any visiting extraterrestrials will encounter as they arrive at our system, we can't help but make a good impression on them. So calling it Quorn may actually prove to be the difference between a shot in the Weekly World News of Bush shaking hands with a naked, bulb-headed humanoid on the South Lawn, and global extinction via death ray.

There you have it: Planet Quorn.

[Quorn. The OTHER white planet.]

~ ~ ~

Quote du jour:

"After one look at this planet any visitor from outer space would say "I want to see the manager." "

-- William S. Burroughs (1914 - ____) US writer

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