Nominative Determinism Runs Amok at the Guardian

Poe’s Law: you’re soaking in it.Before we set up colonies on Mars, we need to discuss renaming its moons

The words [Phobos and Deimos] essentially form the infrastructure for the barbaric violence in the Iliad. And names matter. Is it really possible that we haven’t complained about the names? That no petitions are circulating demanding a softening of the names? We are basically implying, by doing nothing, that panic and terror are perfectly acceptable as appellations for our next-door neighbors in the sky.

If nothing else, we should be thinking of the children who will someday grow up to be Mars colonists. No one currently bats an eye when an adult leads a child out into the backyard to admire a planet orbited by panic and terror. These very children may one day exit from their habitat on yet another bright and balmy Martian morning, their hearts brimming with optimism, and look up at those pale moons. We’re doing nothing less than setting up those future colonists for failure – or interplanetary warfare.

Won’t somebody think of the children?!? It’s like someone wrote a wry little parody of the Grauniad’s penchant for earnest pearl-clutching whingery…and then somehow got it published in the Grauniad itself as a straight story. The tell that it isn’t a serious piece is that it doesn’t immediately suggest a dozen alternative names taken from the mythologies of backward cultures nobody has ever heard of and whose members don’t even know Mars exists. Or from the usual litany of lefty heroes/heroines/herox. Or perhaps, in an appropriately apotheotic vein, names personifying deep leftist sentiments like “Coexistence” and “Tolerance”.