07 December, 2017

i am fire, i am death

This is becoming a regular thing, isn't it, I write about the weather? Like there's nothing else going on. But since my nation's currently a dumpster fire, well... I am not happy that my state is also burning, burning. Again. Especially since the new horror of a tax bill will not allow deductions for fire-disaster expenses because it's a mean-spirited partisan piece of malice.

Anyway, wind, ash, dust, wind, more ash, smoke. I'd rather have an actual dragon burning shit up, with actual gold in a hoard somewhere, so that we could at least pay for the rebuilding afterwards.

And we can't say "climate change" because... because... I guess we don't do science anymore? Man, I don't get that. I don't get the social conservatism, either (oh, let's just call it bigotry), but that's all amygdala. But science?

A process of trying to understand the world's materialist function, from observation and experimentation and extrapolation from principles. A search for the fucking rules, which would seem to be right up some people's alley, and yet--isn't. Rules for society! But not rules for the planet.

But also...facts, I guess. People imagine science is facts, and sometimes it is, but more often it's an evolution of understanding. (Here I fall back on my Kuhn, and The Structure of Scientific Revolution). New data emerges, new theories float, new tests, new knowledge. I think it's kinda awesome.

And yet.

I was flipping through a Signals catalog the other day (paper. I KNOW.) and there's a whole page of astronomy-themed stuff, and there's this solar system bracelet with, yes, Pluto on it. And the ad copy made a big deal of that, like including Pluto was something subversive, a strike against The Man who wants to take away our ninth planet. My first thought was "pretty bracelet" and my second was, FFS, Pluto? Come on.

When I was growing up, I learned that we had nine planets. Then, when I was an adult, I learned that the solar system was more complicated than that, and the ninth planet had been reclassified. And then the fight reignited about planetary classifications, and Pluto might be a planet again...along with 110 other bodies out there, This did not make me sad. Or upset. Or anything, except yay, science! A new thing has been learned about how solar systems form!

But people did get upset, as if Pluto's reclassification, as if this new knowledge, was some kind of personal assault on The Way Things Are.  No need to go relearning new things, why, we had nine planets when I was a kid, and nine planets are good enough now, too. And somehow the debate was evidence that those scientists are just silly, fighting over that stuff...all while insisting that Pluto was a planet because that was what they learned from a book when they were kids (which is, you know, pretty silly too).

I don't get it. I mean, I do--sometimes new data, new information, overturns something we found comforting or comfortable, and it sucks. But that's emotional reflex. Discomfort is part of growth and change, and change and growth are necessary and constant. Or they should be.