Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sticks and Stones...

Reality check… A couple of days ago I heard the strangest thing on NPR. It was a report on a public vote in Israel to establish new Hebrew language names for the planets Neptune and Uranus. It seems that while the other planets have official Hebrew language names, these two had all along just been known as Planet One and Planet Other One. Okay, maybe not, but it’s hard not to get all cynical sometimes. Stay with me…


So a discussion ensued about how science teachers in Israel spearheaded the effort to involve the public in naming these planets, in part because of their dismay at the small percentage of students who could name all the planets. Fine. I get that, and I’m okay with that. Of course, my grandson, who just turned three, has known all the planets’ names for many months, because his Montessori daycare teaches the kids a song about the planets. Can’t they do that in Israel? I’m just saying…

So. The top vote-getting entries were revealed and meanings were explained, and so on and so forth.


Then. At the end. The host, Renee Montagne asks the reporter, Steve Estrin, if they can’t do something about the English name for the planet Uranus. (What? We’re all still 9-year olds on the playground and can’t say Uranus without a giggle or a titter??) He commiserates, and together they lament the name of the seventh rock from the sun, to coin a phrase. He signs off: Steve Estrin. HELLO?????? Estrin???? And you’re mocking the name of a planet named for the Greek god of the sky? You, my friend, should ask yourself why your grandfather, father, or you have not modified the name Estrin to make you sound a little less like Steve Ovarian-Output. Again—I’m just sayin’…


   ˈɛs troʊnShow Spelled Pronunciation [es-trohn] Show IPA


1. Biochemistry. an estrogenic hormone, C18H22O2, produced by the ovarian follicles and found during pregnancy in urine and placental tissue.

2. Pharmacology. a commercial form of this compound, obtained from the urine of pregnant women or synthesized from ergosterol, used in the treatment of estrogen deficiency and certain menopausal and postmenopausal conditions.

Also, estrin.

Attention, Steve:  Cast not the first stone!


  1. Thanks for the laugh. Every time I come here, I have a good one. Seriously, though, my kids don't even laugh about Uranus anymore.

  2. What, nobody laughs at "rings around Uranus" and "probing Uranus" any more? Ah spit, my schoolboy humour has just lost a string to its bow.

  3. You tell, 'em! Steve probably, despite being an NPR reporter, is not aware of the whole ovarian output resemblance thing. Ignorance is not an excuse, right? :)

    P.S. Urbleep?!

  4. I wouldn't want them to change Uranus because I actually DO enjoy snickering about it on occasion. {Yes, I'm immature.}

  5. I enjoy snickering about it too, because I am 13 at heart. Maybe we should change the pronounciation of it to Er-ahn-us so we can deprive ourselves of tittering.

    I just dropped by via SITS Sharefest.