Don’t eat a black tomato, it probably is a raccoon

Pluto is no longer a planet. Those in charge of planet status, I don’t know who, has declared it a large asteroid instead of a stand-alone planet.

I’m not so sure Pluto cares.

Lots of people here on earth care, however. We etched Pluto’s planetary status into our collective minds in grade school. Having to remove Pluto after decades of it sitting in our brains as the ninth planet from the sun could cause some serious damage to our memories. In my case, it could totally cause me to forget where I put my car keys. Dang you Pluto! At least now I have something to blame.

This reminds me of another classification controversy I became aware of years ago. There are people out there who claim black is not a color. Black is, scientifically, the absence of color, and so it is not a color, they say.

I guess everything that’s black is actually invisible. I never knew! This explains why I keep bumping into things. “Dang black furniture,” I’ll say after stubbing me toe. “It’s bright orange,” my wife will comment. That’s it, I’m going to have to figure out how to make orange a non-existent color as well.

And just ask any 15 people whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable, and you will get 15 different answers. Scientists will say that it is a fruit, because it bears seeds (which also makes pumpkins and eggplants and cucumbers fruits). But the U.S. government decided in 1893 that tomatoes were a vegetable. Guess what! Vegetables netted a higher tax back then. Now if I could just get my house declared a fruit.

I guess there’s a lot in a name. Panda Bears started out being bears because they look exactly like every bear anyone could imagine, only with distinctive black and white fur. But somewhere a scientist thought it had some traits more like the Red Panda, which is a big, red raccoon. So for a while it was classified with the bears, then with the raccoons and then back with the bears again. What it really is, nobody knows.

“When giving a lecture, I am often asked at the end whether the giant panda is a bear or raccoon. To keep my reply brief, I usually answer, the panda is a panda,” wrote George P. Schaller, panda conservationist.

Maybe tomatoes and Pluto are the same: they just defy classification. What funny creatures we are, trying to classify everything, that we are annoyed and fascinated by the stuff that just doesn’t fit.

What really doesn’t fit is all my clothes into my closet space. I guess I can throw out all the black ones, since they aren’t real anyway.

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