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X Stink: What ya gonna do when Planet X comes for you? Well, don't sweat it.


Planet X Redux

Every week or so, it seems, another conspiracy theory rolls across Nüz's desk like tumbleweed in need of some serious straightening out. This week was no exception. The challenge? Debunk Planet x.

It began when Boulder Creek resident Richard Shaw dropped off a copy of Blindsided, a book he said he'd had to order, thereby fueling his suspicions of a "government cover-up."

Well, duh, there are plenty of those. Except the government cover-up Shaw was tripping out over wasn't Iraq's missing weapons of mass destruction--the mustard gas, the botulin, the anthrax and VX, not to mention the nuclear weapons that have supposedly gone missing from Iraq--but Planet X, a 10th planet that has supposedly gone missing from the solar system, only to return every 3,600 years, and that is supposed to be coming back this week to put the kibosh on Earth for good.

It's said that a grain of truth lies hidden in most conspiracy theories. In Planet X's case, that grain was the 1982 discovery of a gravitational force causing irregularities in the orbits of Uranus and Neptune. But instead of scrutinizing this discovery in the harsh light of physics, Blindsided merely rehashes wild theories, including the notion that a planet the size of Uranus will pass Earth 14 million miles away and screw things up royally, starting May 15.

But just because 1on websites say Planet X exists doesn't mean it does, just as Bush saying Saddam had WMDs doesn't mean he did, but we digress.

"When it arrives, the Earth will stand still for three days, and then, in one hour, rotate a full 90 degrees (the pole shift), during which time winds will average 200 miles per hour," states a Blindsided excerpt, and that's just the beginning,

To get some perspective on this apocalyptic scenario, Nüz turned to UCSC astronomy major Akbar Whizin, who just happened to be hanging around the Metro Santa Cruz office, because his mom is publisher Debra Whizin. Yeah, OK, that's all the effort Nüz was willing to put into it, but on the other hand, this is just further proof that you don't have to go far to debunk this kind of crap.

"I'm willing to bet my life the world won't end mid-May," declared Whizin with that sassafras confidence of youth, adding that "it is entirely possible that a random planet could fly into our solar system without warning, but the chances are slim."

You mean, the Earth could stop spinning if some rogue planet randomly hurtled out of deep space?

"Consider that the Earth has stopped the moon's rotations, which is why the moon always has the same face to us. So, it would take Earth orbiting another planet before we'd stand still. As it is, the solar system has fallen into 'synchronous equilibrium,' in which everything is in its place," Whizin explained.

So, what about the "East Cliff becomes West Cliff" pole-shift theory? "Earth's poles flip every 27,000 years, because of Earth's shifting magnetic fields, not because of Planet X. Besides, Jupiter pretty much acts as the solar system's security guard, sucking up any stray comets, and so would screw with the orbit of any incoming planet. If Planet X, which is supposedly a repeat offender, returns every so many thousand years, wiped out the dinosaurs on an earlier trip, then Mars and Earth would not have the orbits they have today."

Just in case some mystery planet does show up next week, Whizin has one last wish. "I hope to God I see Matrix 2 before the world ends."

Grade Report

Nüz got some good news about Sam Farr last week. California Peace Action, which grades members of Congress on nuclear nonproliferation, human rights and international cooperation each year, upgraded our local Congress member from C+ to A for having "one of the most improved voting records on foreign policy that creates genuine lasting security for the U.S."

Says CPA's Nathan Britton, "There's a growing number of people who reject the Dr. Strangelove vision that funding a new generation of nuclear weapons and discarding international security agreements will make our country safer. Rep. Farr's grade shows that he has been responsive to constituent concerns about these issues."

Farr also joined local Reps Anna Eshoo, Mike Honda, Zoe Lofgren and Pete Stark in voting against the Bush admin's $550 billion tax giveaway last week, which disproportionately assists the rich and denies direct assistance for states.

Said Farr, "Across the state of California, both statewide government agencies and local municipalities are feeling the crush of the approximately $35 billion budget shortfall. The state is looking for help. We are asking, much like New York City did in 1975, for help from our national leaders. And, much like Ford did in that day, the president and Republican leaders here in Congress are sending a message to California: 'GOP TO CALIFORNIA: DROP DEAD.'"

Apparently, the Republicans only allowed a one-hour debate on this huge issue and blocked the Democrats from offering their economic plan for a vote in the House. Instead, they passed this bill, which will cut about $850 million out of the California state budget, thereby affecting every school district, city, county, hospital, police force and fire department.

Just Peachy

Chocolate owner David Jackman says his Impeachment Pie is peachy, thanks to a "flaky crust, peach filling (no baloney) and extra-crumby topping."

What makes this pie especially killer is that Jackman is donating 45 cents (or 10 percent) per slice to DemocracyNow.org.

As Jackson explains, "What's happening now with journalism on a national level is grave. DemocracyNow.org goes against that tide to bring more honest and accurate information about how things occur."

Jackman isn't the only one in town with democracy on the menu.

Saturn Cafe is selling Impeach Bush French Fries, says waitress Stacie Willoughby, with 10 percent going to the Impeach Bush Fund.

But Mayor Emily Reilly warns against trying to impeach Bush.

"It sounds a lot like 'Let's get Saddam.' The energy feels the same. More importantly, the crafters of the project for the New American Century would like nothing better than for us to focus our energies on impeachment, because it won't happen and will distract us from the Patriot Act, from the McCarthyesque atmosphere that's taken hold and from voting Bush out of office."

Find out what the Republicans have in store for you at www.newamericancentury.org.

Nüz just loves juicy tips: Drop a line to 115 Cooper St, Santa Cruz, 95060, email us at , or call our hotline at 457.9000, ext 214.

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From the May 14-21, 2003 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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