Friday, September 15, 2006

Planet X in Washington

Before Pluto was given a name it was called "Planet X". Historically,

Because a slight perturbation remained in the orbits of the known planets in 1846, it was surmised that another planet might exist beyond Neptune.  Percival Lowell made a rough calculation of the likely location of the speculated planet. He used a telescope located in Arizona to search for the unknown planet. But by the time of Lowell's death, in the year 1916, he had not found his Planet "X." In the year 1929, astronomers at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona decided to once more initiate Lowell's search for Planet "X." Using an involved approach which considered star-field's, Clyde Tombaugh, an amateur astronomer who used the new telescope at the Lowell Observatory was able to photograph Pluto in the year 1930. The planet Tombaugh found was named Pluto.

The idea of deducing the existence of an object by its effect is the stuff of mystery. Ultimately in the case of Pluto, its discovery turned out to hinge on pure dumb luck. Wikipedia notes: "Ironically, Pluto is far too small to have the effect on Neptune's orbit that initiated the search. The discrepancies in Neptune's orbit observed by 19th century astronomers were due instead to inaccurate estimates of Neptune's mass. Once found, Pluto's faintness and lack of a visible disk cast doubt on the idea that it could be Percival Lowell's Planet X. Lowell had made a prediction of Pluto's position in 1915 which was fairly close to its actual position at that time; however, Ernest W. Brown concluded almost immediately that this was a coincidence, and this view is still held today."

But inferring the unseen from its tides is the only method left us to understand the Plame-Wilson affair. Ron Rosenbaum at Pajamas says that just when he had it figured out, the whole collapsed into a drama almost "Joycean in its complexity". The man whose obsession it has seemingly become, Tom Maguire in Just One Minute, takes us through the testimonies of all concerned in "Armitage: I Don't Remember What I Said, But Novak Is Wrong" and Novak "Would Hope" Bush Would Pardon Libby. Question: is there any unseen planet producing these strange effects or are we just watching cracked rocks careening through the cosmic billiard table of space?


Blogger Charles said...

Its Joe Stalin by way of communist synchphants by way of Joe McCarthy By way of Richard Nixon.

9/15/2006 07:04:00 PM  
Blogger Kinuachdrach said...

If there are tidal forces, it is Generational Experience which is causing those tides -- What You Are Now Depends On Where You Were When, as someone once said.

The real legacy of Watergate was that a whole generation of Lefties learned -- Don't compete on the field of ideas; instead, cut your opponents legs off through scandal.

And so there has to be scandal. With a President like Bush 43 who sowed his wild oats as a young man and then reformed, it is hard to find a real scandal. Hence Armitage's Abortion of Plame.

Eventually, the old lefties will die out (notice how old guys like Ted Kennedy seem these days?). And a new paradigm will appear.

9/15/2006 07:08:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

Ahh, but what bittersweet words reach our ears, to hear that the IS NO Pluto, just a down-graded 'non-planet' with a number, not a name.

We've turned our beloved Pluto into an inmate: "#344526! NO WOBBLE! Get in line! Shame on you, you miserable planetoid..."

9/15/2006 07:14:00 PM  
Blogger Quig said...

Question: is there any unseen planet producing these strange effects or are we just watching cracked rocks careening through the cosmic billiard table of space?

You are just watching “cracked rocks”, the persons involved, “careening through the cosmic billiard table of space”, reacting as they are directed, from moment to moment, by their egoes and ammorality.

9/15/2006 07:20:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

I was wondering what strange tidal effects are behind Wilson-Plame. It has all the hallmarks of a conspiracy, save that it has no obvious point. As the old shamuses would say, "nothing adds up".

Sometimes I wonder whether it wasn't all coincidence. Things that just happened which we are now constructing a narrative around. But after the fact. Suppose there was no conspiracy? Just Washington gossip #344526.

9/15/2006 07:23:00 PM  
Blogger Pyrthroes said...

Let us define a Planet ("wanderer") as an object of meaningful size (say, Mercury's) formed from the original nebular-planetesimal cloud that coalesced about the Sun some 4.5 billion years ago.

Then even large chunks of localized mass like Tombaugh's Pluto are not "planets" but captured detritus from the Oort Cloud, or from wide-ranging cometary orbits. These visitants are not original to Sol, and like illegal immigrants need not be granted citizenship in our Solar System.

By now, we might even suspect that "planets" of Pluto's type may well be discovered in even farther outer-reaches. The issue then becomes, at what point do we distinguish the Solar System from interstellar space, that is, the volume between us and the
gravitational regime of (say) Alpha Centaurus or Barnard's Star?

By this definition, Pluto never was a planet-- merely a captive outer-orbiter sufficiently massive to masquerade as one. Recall King Lear with his Court Jester (quoted by Bronowski?):

Jester: "The reason why the Seven Planets are no mo' than seven is a pretty reason."

Lear: "Because they are not eight."

Jester: "Yes indeed, Sire. Thou wouldst make a good Fool."

9/15/2006 08:55:00 PM  
Blogger Woman Catholic said...

wretchard wrote:

I was wondering what strange tidal effects are behind Wilson-Plame. It has all the hallmarks of a conspiracy, save that it has no obvious point. As the old shamuses would say, "nothing adds up".

It fit the "Evil Karl Rove" meme and fed the fantasies of the Left that either Rove or Cheney or both would be frogmarched out of the White House and do a perp walk on national TV. The coming Fitzmas was greatly anticipated by Err America and must have filled in weeks of air time speculating on the Plame Name Blame Game before it all fizzled like OJ's search for the real killer. The Starr Report was issued as an abridged paperback. This would have been a single sheet of mimeographed gossip.

9/15/2006 10:42:00 PM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

Armitage and Powell both served at the pleasure of the President.

That's not to say either of them may not also have served a private master as well.

9/16/2006 07:40:00 AM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

The newest dwarf planet on the scene is Eris the goddess of discord and strife and her daughter is Dysnomia the moon.

9/16/2006 08:28:00 AM  
Blogger Boghie said...

That wobble the Libs noted with glee and excitement turned out to be a flaw in the optics.

Has anyone out there noticed that the ‘W’ Administration never seems to panic? They seem to know what is going on regarding the big things and the potential scandals. They don’t fight everything.

Instead, they seem to have a TQM (Total Quality Management) style. Improve things every day. Small, incremental improvements. So, there is a ‘scandal’ that wobbles the system a bit. You know what you said. You know what the intelligence is. You know (now or soon thereafter) the motivations of the wobble. And, you know you were acting properly.

Let the wobble right itself as information becomes clear. Plame-Neptune has a known mass (unknown and unknowable to its own center of mass) and will react in a known way. At some point the optics clear. Then use that information.

My problem with the way the Libs have played the political game is that they only play long ball. And, they don’t read the defense. And, they have many folks sending in the plays. At some point, when the optics clear, they find themselves chasing a cornerback down the field – after an easy pick-off. Look at gas prices. The Iranian Bozo yells and screams and sets scary dates of imminent destruction and the price of oil skyrockets. Anyone who looked at the situation asks why. Speculation and fear. That will subside. Just in time for the election!!! And, the Democratic Party just starts running ads about gas being 135% higher than last year – just when it falls to last years levels.

The Ignorant are still looking through cracked optics. And they are increasingly viewed as cracked themselves when they refuse free replacement of faulty equipment. They are not setting themselves for long term success. A TQM style of success. Oooo, ah, did you see that wobble in Afghanistan?

9/16/2006 08:37:00 AM  
Blogger ForNow said...

I've wondered about this. We've seen such a parade of vanity during the past five years, it almost makes you wonder whether there's a virus or bacterium behind it.

I remember wandering onto an Indymedia site years ago and reading Joe Wilson's NYT op-ed, not even clearly realizing what it was. It merely struck me as strident, tendentious, overreaching, and, even by an undemanding standard, not particularly credible. I've been shocked that so many have taken him so seriously. His rise and partial fall haven't seemed like the America that I grew up in.

One piece of the puzzle for me has been something that Dem pollster Pat Caddell back in Sept. 2004 said -- that the Dem party has been taken over by a bunch of crypto-gangsters. Scroll down to Linda Vester section to see (60 words) "we have some what I would call, as a Democrat, we have some what I would call political crypto-gangsters who have taken over the heart and soul of the Democratic party in Washington. And their job is to hold on to power and hold on to money. And these are the people advising a good man like John Kerry."

Caddell is too trusting of Kerry. The Dem party's allies in the media and the government are going right along with it. Yet why would such intelligent and seemingly serious-minded people as Armitage, Powell, and Fitzgerald allow themselves to go along with this? Too many years of overwrought political dramas in movies and television? A bunch of Madame Bovaries whose sensibilities had been corrupted by popular "dramatic" fiction? Once again, their going along with it doesn't seem like the America that I grew up in.

9/16/2006 09:03:00 PM  
Blogger Bob Smith said...

Yet why would such intelligent and seemingly serious-minded people as Armitage, Powell, and Fitzgerald allow themselves to go along with this?

The Democratic Party is in transition. Only a clear vision will keep them from this permanent purgatory. They had pinned their hopes on Kerry - a 'good man' - relative to whom and the point being what - not sufficient job qualification. Mrs. Clinton is now on deck - undoubtedly a 'good woman'. Will that be enough, as per the necessary and sufficient criteria in mathematics? I don't even know if it is necessary anymore, but I do know it is far from sufficient.

9/17/2006 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger JB said...


Eris (Greek Ἔρις, "Strife") is the goddess of chaos, her name being translated into Latin as Discordia. Her Greek opposite is Harmonia, whose Latin counterpart is Concordia.

136199 Eris is named after the goddess Eris (Greek Ἔρις"), a personification of strife and discord.[5] This name was assigned on September 13, 2006 following an unusually long period in which it was best known by the provisional designation 2003 UB313.

There's your answer. OK, it's only a dwarf planet, but nevertheless...;)

9/17/2006 05:34:00 PM  
Blogger ForNow said...

’Έρις or ’΄Ερις

9/19/2006 05:43:00 PM  

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