24 August 2010


GENDER ROLE REVERSAL. What started out as an appreciation of good guys at the blog The Angry Black Woman, morphed into a lively discussion of gender, dress and the demeaning treatment of women by men, especially on the street. It is well worth checking out.

One device for shedding light on the assumptions of both sides whan talking about something controversial, is to switch roles and see what happens. With regard to men's treatment of women, that is precisely what Laurie Penney does in her essay What if the World Were Different for a Day? She turns all our gender assumptions on their heads by applying to men the social and behavioral expectations which many women endure. Her description is graphic, layered, and quite exceptional.

PLANETS. It was two years ago today that the International Astronomical Union formally announced a revised definition of the term "planet." For a celestial body to qualify, it must:

~ Be in orbit around a star (in our case, the Sun).
~ Have sufficient mass to assume hydrostatic equilibrium (a nearly round shape).
~ Have cleared the neighborhood around its orbit.

To the surprise of some, the new definition meant that Pluto (or any other body which met only two of the three criteria) was reduced from planetary status to being a dwarf planet. Yes, boys and girls, we all grew up being told that our solar system has nine planets -- but it only has eight. Can you name them, in order from the Sun outward? Can you place the asteroid belt, the Kuiper Belt, the Oort Cloud? Do you know the distance from the Earth to the Sun? The Earth to our moon? Do you know what an Astronomical Unit is? A light year? It's a fascinating and sometimes dangerous place, our universe. The more you know, the more you want to know. How delicious. (Click on any image to enlarge.)

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