Making America's Children Dumberer

Ah, the Smithsonian. One of Washington's greatest treasures. I haven't been since I was in 5th grade, but I remember really digging the Air and Space Museum. The Spirit of St. Louis! The Enola Gay! And space! What kind of fifth grader didn't love outer space!?

Of course, the museum has fallen under some hard times. And no, I don't mean the scandalous tenure of Secretary Lawrence M. Small. I mean the Air and Space Museum clearly doesn't give a shit about accuracy. Which is kind of disappointing from something that is meant to educate.

My beef? They are still referring to Pluto as a planet. (Hat tip to frequent commenter and lady friend "Terri" for catching this.) Pluto's planet designation was stripped 16 months ago. This isn't a small detail. The Smithsonian is disseminating wrong information. Just because something was accurate two years ago doesn't make that the case in the present. And 16 months should be more than enough time to fix this.

Does the National Museum of Natural History still have a brontosaurus display?


  1. I must beg to differ; the National Air and Space Museum removed Pluto from its planetary icon-list outside the "Exploring the Planets" exhibit as soon as the IAU announcement was made, and promptly set up a 'Pluto In Memoriam' board on an easel to explain the change.

    They may not have changed the National Mall planet-walk exhibit yet, but at least give NASM some credit for acting out of character and actually updating something.

    More info:
    NASM Demotes Pluto, Update

  2. Hhaha -- congrats to them for changing one exhibit. All of the "dynamic" exhibits (the ones with videos and computer screens) still called Pluto a planet.

  3. yes, but did she mention that the video referred to pluto as a planet in a sexy, quasi-ethnic accent that still haunts my dreams? i think i was actually more offended by the 'claymation einstein talking about star wars' video, which was wildly inaccurate in its depiction of wookies.

  4. Did it not occur to you that some things require a longer lead time to change than others -- video and interactive computer stuff being high on the list of such things?

    And it's government, and thus has to play by the rules because you can bet they're probably not doing this multimedia stuff completely in house. You gotta propose, then plan, then fund, then find someone to do, then approve....

  5. Rusty, let me get this straight:

    - You don’t go to free outdoor concerts, even when they’re metro accessible and less than a mile from your home

    - You don’t go to free museums

    - You’ve never stepped foot in SW DC, and as such, have never visited the FDR Memorial, Hains Point, the Awakening, Fort McNair, the Titanic Survivors Memorial, or the fish market on Water Street.

    It’s not that I’d expect that you’d magically start liking the city if you managed to take advantage of anything that it has to offer. I know better than that; once a person decides to be miserable, they tend to set a course to prolong that state of being.

    But I sure would think that you were less of a jackass for running a blog about how much you hate a city that you can’t be bothered to explore.

    By avoiding the fish market, you are missing out on an opportunity to remind us yet again of how much better Boston is. By avoiding the Titanic Memorial, you’re missing out on riling up that good old self-righteous, whitebread indignation that you're so good at over how politically incorrect it is. You could even riff on Buzzard’s Point’s storied place in D.C. politics’ sordid history if you were so inclined.

    But hey, keep blogging about Tenleytown, Friendship Heights and Georgetown if that’s where your comfort level with the city ends.

    Just remember: being a lazy, ignorant resident is one thing. The city is full of them.

    But being a lazy, ignorant blogger...that's so weak.

  6. Jim, 16 months should be more than enough time. And if it isn't, anything referring to Pluto as a planet should be removed from the museum. It's inaccurate and is only serving to misinform.

    And, t-o-n, explore the city? Please. You aren't going to impress me with a fish market. I've spent five years of my life working in seafood departments and they've lost their novelty. And memorials? Please. I couldn't care less. I saw the important ones back in 5th grade and walked to the WWII memorial on one of my lunch breaks. They're all just a waste of marble and granite to me.

    Free concerts, museums, and monuments don't impress me. They aren't going to fix the broken politics in this city. And they aren't going to substantially improve my day-to-day life.