HOME IMPROVEMENT TIP: Selecting the paint for a room and then choosing a carpet to match the paint colour is a lot like selecting a wedding dress and then choosing a bride who will look good in it.
Category Archives: The issues
For millennia, Venus was known as the Morning Star and the Evening Star. It’s the brightest object in the night sky other than the Moon, and it can even be seen during the daytime if you know just where to look for it. Second from the Sun, Venus was named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty. It became a symbol of femininity. In early science fiction, Venus was depicted as a warm and lush planet, a paradise of sorts. After all, it was the same size as Earth, but closer to the Sun while still remaining in the habitable zone of the star. Its apparent cloud cover must conceal a tropical climate, a world of wonders—that was the thinking. Surely Venus must be the best planet.
Wrong. Venus is the worst planet.
In 1967, the Soviet probe Venera 4 entered the atmosphere of Venus. It didn’t even reach the surface because the atmosphere was so dense that the probe’s descent was slowed down and its batteries died. But even 26 km above the surface, the venerable Soviet robot measured an atmospheric pressure 22 times that of the sea-level pressure on Earth. Even at that altitude, the temperature had already soared to over 260° C, and the atmosphere consisted of over 90% carbon dioxide. Subsequent Venera probes would land on the surface only to be crushed by a pressure of 92 Earth atmospheres (and eventually melted into bubbling blobs by the infernal heat).
It turns out that our paradise sister planet is actually a ghastly hellscape.
What went wrong? How could Earth’s twin sister, more coddled by the Sun than even the Earth itself, end up a horrid mess? The answer is a runaway greenhouse effect. The carbon dioxide content in Venus’ atmosphere has led the planet to cook itself alive. Heck, you can’t even float a cloud city on top of the dense atmosphere because the upper clouds of sulfuric acid would batter your city and eat holes in it, holes which you would fall through and then be crushed and cooked and corroded to death before your body could be dashed to pieces against the volcanic rocks.
And that’s why Venus is the worst planet. There was so much potential here, so much Earth-likeness, so much romance. And Venus squandered it all. Heck, it can’t even rotate in the right direction (it rotates clockwise instead of counter-clockwise like a good planet would do). Venus is a failure of a planet and we should all be ashamed of it, like that creepy uncle in the old family photo that your parents refuse to discuss.
But hey, feel free to vote for another planet as the worst. You’re among friends here; it’s okay to be wrong. And vote for the best planet too, while you’re at it.
Sibling rivalries are the best. They consist of irrational conflict, which is the best sort of conflict there is. And the most enormous and irrational sibling rivalry is the rivalry among the eight planets in our solar system family. Which is the best planet, and which is the worst? There are a lot of delightful astronomy facts to consider, but I’ll do all the considering for you and tell you the correct answers. You will learn the truth, and I will have justified paying another year of rent for this blog’s domain name.
Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Everyone’s got a favourite. For some of you, your favourite is Pluto, and I’ve already offended you because I completely agree with the IAU that Pluto is not a planet. Well, tough beans. The fact is that we have to come up with some sort of definition for a planet. You can’t just say something is a planet just because it’s got the same name as your favourite Disney character. After all, our stellar neighbours have scads of planets of their own, so naturally we need to determine the standards for planethood. And if that means we kick a yelping Pluto to the curb, so be it. At some point, you gotta clean up the neighbourhood.
Besides, if Pluto were a planet, it would be the worst planet. It’s a dinky ball that Clyde Tombaugh discovered by chance even though it’s smaller than our Moon. What we didn’t know until recently was that Pluto is just another pebble in the Kuiper Belt of pebbles lying beyond the orbit of Neptune. And it’s not even the largest pebble. So it’s a dwarf planet now, and your grandkids are going to laugh at you for thinking anything different.
But enough about Pluto. Let’s get down to the real planets. You’re probably dying to know what the best planet is, right? Well, I’m going to string you along for a while, David Letterman style, by counting down the eight planets from worst to first. In the meantime, in honour of the recent American election, vote on which planet is the best and which is the worst! Your vote will have about as much influence on the outcome of my analysis as it did on the outcome of the Presidential election, but that didn’t stop you then, did it?
[Analyst Bob Whitelaw] says the riot would’ve likely happened whether the Canucks won or lost.
“With the loss, that seemed to give people the right to set police cars on fire, turn vehicles over, but the excitement of winning would’ve spilled over,” Whitelaw said, adding that it appears some of the instigators were not hockey fans.
—Tracy Sherlock, Vancouver Sun article
There was a pear tree near our vineyard, heavy with fruit, but fruit that was not particularly tempting either to look at or to taste. A group of young blackguards, and I among them, went out to knock down the pears and carry them off late one night, for it was our bad habit to carry on our games in the streets till very late. We carried off an immense load of pears, not to eat—for we barely tasted them before throwing them to the hogs. Our only pleasure in doing it was that it was forbidden.…
What did I enjoy in that theft of mine? Of what excellence of my Lord was I making perverse and vicious imitation? Perhaps it was the thrill of acting against Your law—at least in appearance, since I had no power to do so in fact, the delight a prisoner might have in making some small gesture of liberty—getting a deceptive sense of omnipotence from doing something forbidden without immediate punishment.
—Augustine of Hippo, Confessions II.iv.9, II.vi.14
[Augustine's] thought went like this. “Everyone knows there is a divine law which forbids theft, so if I can steal and get away with it this will show that I am not subject to God or to any divine law. And if I am not subject to any law which defines what is good, then the good will simply be what I say it is. Hence I will be free and omnipotent. I can do what I want and what I want is the good.”
—Colin Starnes, Augustine’s Conversion, p. 42
Did God actually say, “You shall not eat of any tree in the garden”?…You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.
—Satan, Genesis 3:1, 4–5
Now that Christmas is over, it’s time for me to revisit one of our sacred holiday traditions and smother it in a healthy dose of Grinch powder. Yes, it’s time that we do away with one of the most worthless goodies ever created—the candy cane.
First, a little history (thanks Wikipedia!). Candy canes were invented back in the 17th century as little sugar sticks meant to appease whiny children. Of course, it worked, because the standards for candy were lower back then (anyone who has tried Turkish Delight knows what I mean). Thus, the bland white sugar sticks caught on. Of course, somebody decided to Christmatize them by bending them into the shape of a shepherd’s crook, and then some enterprising barber coated them in red stripes to subtly influence kids to get a haircut. (One of those statements is probably not true.)
Unfortunately, candy canes are still around, and worse yet, they are terrible. Here are seven reasons why candy canes are the worst candy ever.
1. The shrink wrap.
Apparently, international law requires that every candy cane come wrapped in a tight plastic sheath that is impossible to unravel. It must be slowly and painfully peeled away, gradually bunching up at the crook of the cane in a sticky mash.
2. The awkward shape.
I know it’s supposed to be shaped like a shepherd’s staff and all. That’s real cute. But how are you supposed to fit one of the dang things in your mouth? Even the little candy canes barely fit. You’re left sucking interminably on one end while the other end pokes out of your mouth, ready to gouge your kid brother in the eye.
3. The hard peppermint candy.
“Hard candy” is an oxymoron. The whole point of candy is instant gratification; candy is meant to spike the blood sugar levels of small children until they reach a near-catatonic state. Hard “candy,” though, takes a long time to break down in the mouth, producing a controlled release of sucrose. Lame! Also, peppermint is a really boring flavor. (At least it’s not artificial-banana flavored; such a candy cane would truly be the worst candy imaginable.)
4. The sharp stabby tips.
As your saliva corrodes the peppermint stick, the end of the stick narrows into a hard, sharp point. What kind of sicko offers kids a little spear to stab themselves in the cheek? What if a little girl falls on her face and the candy spear stabs her in the uvula? Who pays the bills for that?
5. The shiny red lipstick.
As you patiently suck away on a boring barbershop-striped peppermint stick, you happen to glance into a mirror—and recoil in horror. The red stripes have peeled off the candy cane and slathered themselves in a bright cherry smear across your lips. Also, you are a man, and this is totally embarrassing.
6. The fragile crook.
If the candy cane hasn’t broken before you shove it in your mouth, it certainly will in the eating process. In fact, some candy canes are totally impractical to eat unless broken. Which is stupid.
7. The ability to reproduce.
Candy canes multiply like rabbits. By the time Christmas has passed, they are found everywhere, from drug store clearance aisles to dining room candy jars. No one wants to finish them off. You can’t even give them away as gifts. They are like the candy version of zucchini. So they lie dormant, getting old and stale until next Christmas, when they are trotted out once again, to the everlasting shame of Western society.