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This is not so

Now astronomers want to erase this celestial distinction. They say that Magellan, the16th century Portuguese sailor, was a murderer who enslaved and burned down the homes of Indigenous peoples during his leadership of the first expedition to circumnavigate the globe. They insist his name should no longer be honoured by being associated with the clouds.

“Magellan committed horrific acts. In what became Guam and the Philippines, he and his men burned villages and killed their inhabitants,” says the astronomer Mia de los Reyes, of Amherst College in Massachusetts. Magellan led the 1519 Spanish expedition that achieved the first European navigation to Asia via the Pacific, but died in a battle, in 1521, with Indigenous people in present-day Philippines.

“Astronomers” are not making the demand. Some tinpot pisser at Amherst (of course) is hoping to make a name for herself by so demanding. Lots of invites to conferences on decolonialisation beckon if she can just get her name and that demand out there.

32 thoughts on “This is not so”

  1. Perhaps she’d like to try to change the name of Arabic to Indian numerals. After all, look at how horrid Hamas has been slaughtering babies.

    No???

  2. I think the professionally offended should form an organised body to represent them. I suggest the Global Institute for Professionally Offended. GIPO has a nice ring to it…

  3. This archetypal intersectional publicity whore, just google her name if you don’t believe me, is a proud Filipina American (she/her/hers). Not everyone is impressed though:-

    “This girl looks Filipino. You know what the Filipinos were doing when Magellan cruised into town? They were chopping off heads, ritually sacrificing people, and Cannibalism. So you might want to consider your own history before you go criticizing Magellan”

  4. Contrived and pretentious fretting is, however, terribly fashionable. See, for instance, the item below, in which we’re expected to believe that would-be botanists and biologists are in some way being injured by the fact that much of the “flora of New Caledonia” is “named after a man.” And that the average person in, say, Zimbabwe or Botswana is rendered trembling and distraught by the Latin textbook name of a lizard or beetle.

    https://thompsonblog.co.uk/2023/03/statusful-worries.html

  5. Magellan, the16th century Portuguese sailor, was a murderer who enslaved and burned down the homes of Indigenous peoples during his leadership of the first expedition to circumnavigate the globe.

    Based.

    They insist his name should no longer be honoured by being associated with the clouds.

    I agree, they should be called the George Floyd Ooga Booga Space Bananas.

    I’m sure that won’t offend any retards.

  6. Note too the carefully unfinished line of thought.

    We’re clearly supposed to think it a bad thing that so much exploration and science, and so many discoveries, are the work of pale males from Europe, not all of whom observed the multicultural niceties of later centuries. And yet, equally clearly, we’re not supposed to ponder why it was that the scientific enquiry of other, supposedly more noble beings often left something to be desired, insofar as it existed at all. As if the vast and thriving research projects of pre-colonial chieftains had been cruelly suppressed and just pipped at the post by The White Devil Interloper.

  7. Probably a teacher to avoid if you want a decent course:

    “Finally, I believe that how we do science is just as important as the science itself. I am interested in connecting “traditional” physics and astronomy courses with other disciplines—history, ethics, racial and gender studies”

  8. David – And yet, equally clearly, we’re not supposed to ponder why it was that the scientific enquiry of other, supposedly more noble beings often left something to be desired

    It it because they’re retarded savages?

  9. What is particularly dire about the Guardian‘s article is that the writer has not even bothered to do the basic research which would reveal that there are well-established alternative names: Nubecula Major and Nubecula Minor.

    Alternatively, it may not simply have been laziness, but the fear that the acknowledgement of Latin names might stir in the reader the subversive thought that people might be able to better live together though such a model neutral compromise between extant Indo-European languages as opposed to igniting a struggle between various indigeneous cultures as to whose name should win for the sheer devilment of it.

  10. Use latin names? Sirrah, you surely jest! Latin was spoken by the Romans – notorious slave-traders and users!! I demand that The Colosseum in Rome and its numerous surviving copies be torn down immediately!

  11. “Historians of mathematics already call them Arabic-Hindi numerals.”

    I calls ’em Hindu numerals but then my career doesn’t demand that I behave like a cowardly creep.

    P.S. Our extremely boring Latin classes would have been enlivened had the teacher had a go at showing us how yer Romans did arithmetic. If he even knew.

  12. “I am interested in connecting “traditional” physics and astronomy courses with other disciplines—history, ethics, racial and gender studies”

    Hard subjects are haaaaarrrdddd!!!!! wah!!!!! Let me do some soft wandwaving thing and still call it a physics degree.

  13. I have a booklet somewhere about Maori astronomy. Apparently it was relatively sophisticated for a stone age people. They measured the year by the appearence of the star Vega in the Southern sky.

    This sort of thing prompts jokes about “Exploring Drake’s Passage” fnar fnar

  14. And speaking of astronomy and pretentious hand-wringing, there’s this:

    ‘While Galileo Galilei was calculating the heights of lunar mountains and discovering the moons of Jupiter, our aboriginal “astronomers” had little to say on the subject. And while Angelo Secchi was pioneering astronomical spectroscopy – and proving that the blinding disc in the midday sky must be the same kind of object as those twinkling specks seen at night, only much, much closer – and pondering what follows from that realisation – our aboriginal “astronomers” were still banging on about sky emus.

    What’s notable about aboriginal “astronomy,” and aboriginal culture more generally, is that it stayed primitive, all but prehistoric, for such an incredibly long time.’

    https://thompsonblog.co.uk/2020/11/those-aboriginal-telescopes.html

  15. This reminds me of a pleasant evening I spent recently, when a professional astronomer delivered an update on discoveries by the newly commissioned James Webb Space Telescope.

    There had been a confected media kerfuffle in the last few days over the naming of the thing. It was named after the guy who was the boss of NASA in the lead-up to the Apollo moon landings. The supposed problem was that while working for the US government, before he became boss of NASA, he had supposedly found out that some employees were homosexual, and sacked them. In those days that was normal, because someone who was liable to blackmail couldn’t work on stuff requiring security clearances.

    Where Webb went wrong was that he approached events in 1949 to 1952 with the attitudes of the late 1940s/early 1950s The logical implication of the kerfuffle was that he should have time travelled to 2021, found out what the attitudes of that era were, and then gone back to 1949 and handled the matter accordingly.

    I did wonder what the 2023 professional astronomer would make of this. I was delighted to note that every time he referred to the telescope, he used the full four-word name, and emphasised the words James Webb just a tiny little bit. Not enough to dignify the kerfuffle by calling attention to it, but just enough to make it clear that he wasn’t putting up with that shit.

  16. In the States the American Ornithological Society is renaming scores of birds that are named for people today deemed to be (to use an English term) wankers. A lot of important stuff going on.

  17. I and many other astronomers believe that astronomical objects and facilities should not be named after Magellan…

    Name one.

  18. On the other side of the coin the historians quite happily deny any ancient astronomical knowledge that doesn’t align with their timeline for development of civilisation.
    Was wondering when the mob would turn up for Magellan, by contrast Columbus was a pussy cat, though to be fair given the technology of the time I doubt nice guys could have achieved the feats of endurance and navigation required. He was also apparently not very nice to his crew

  19. Of course Columbus was a bit of an idiot by not researching more fully the size of the Earth. The Greeks already knew it was a sphere and Eratosthenes actually measured it and was only a few percent out from the modern value. Was that information lost or buried in some remote library by Columbus’s time? However if he had known he would never have set out.

  20. The record holder for stuff named after him was a Prussian, son of a tobacconist, etc. Everything from a penguin to an ocean current to a municipal park in Chicago. No doubt they’ll be after von Humbolt in due course.

  21. TG

    The tale I heard was that Columbus was a bit of a ratbag, so he took the farthest eastern estimate of Asia and the shortest circumference of the earth and said, ‘Yes!!! I can do it.’

    The Portuguese had already tried sailing west to see what they could find, but only hit the Azores. Columbus had lived in the Canaries for a bit and noticed that the wind always blew to the west there. He’d already noticed that the wind on the Portuguese coast regularly blew from the west, so he felt there was a good chance of sailing west and then going a bit to the north and sailing back again. He really was a good sailor, despite being a ratbag.

  22. “The record holder for stuff named after him was a Prussian, …”

    I used to think Humboldt was triff then I learnt there were two of them.

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