Why Aliens Won’t Talk To Us – An Update

About five years ago, I wrote a piece titled “Why Aliens Won’t Talk To Us.”  I trotted out the usual suspects – cricket and crop circles – but our world has come a long way in 5 years, so it’s time for an update.

Unless you flunked out of Math, Science, Stats, Probability, Literature, Philosophy, Biology and Logic — all at the same time — you realize that millions of galaxies, billions of stars and trillions of planets equal a damn good chance that there is intelligent life (besides us) somewhere in the Universe.  It just makes sense, right?

So why won’t aliens talk to us?

BTW, Bubba and Bobbi-Sue’s shaky iPhone video of the sun glinting off a Frisbee™ doesn’t constitute alien contact.  And — just for the record — aliens probably have better things to do with their time than probe fat guys, lose their skulls in Central America or leave painfully childish clues to their existence for weirdo TV documentary filmmakers to find.  (Just sayin’!)

So, with no credible evidence, we must assume that aliens simply don’t want to talk to us.  Why?

I think that they think we’re strange.  And not just regular isn’t-that-cute strange, either – more like “Mother of God!  We need to stay away from those weirdos” strange.  Let me give you a few examples:

Our Choice of Beverages – Over 70% of the Earth’s surface is water, an essential ingredient to life, but rather than just drink the stuff and get on, we do things to it.  We add sugar to it, we add caffeine, we add carbon dioxide, we add dyes to give it colour, artificial flavour to give it taste and toxic chemicals that we’ve already proven are going to kill us if we ingest them.  Then, just to insult our own intelligence completely, we take all that crap out, bottle it and call it healthy.  Aliens have to be thinking, “What’s wrong with you people?”

Professional Sports – Games and recreation are an important aspect of intelligent life, but when you’re paying a man more than the GNP of Mali to kick a ball once a week and the guy who scrubs the floor in a hospital minimum wage, something is definitely out of whack.  Aliens can sense this stuff.

Tattoos – It must be very confusing to aliens when the same people who wouldn’t be caught dead wearing last year’s fashions are still sporting the same ink they got when they were dating Joshua — three boyfriends ago.

Kanye West and Taylor Swift – When these two are the result of 3 million years of natural selection, aliens must wonder just how much of the human brain is devoted to ego.

Litter – If you were an alien, you’d have to ask yourself, “What kind of intelligent life would promiscuously throw their garbage all over their own planet?”

Crocs – Why would an intelligent species make an indestructible piece of footwear that everybody hates and that looks hideous?

And finally, the real reason aliens don’t wanna talk to us:

Twitter – If aliens are monitoring our social media (which I’m sure they are) they’ve obviously run across Twitter.  Think about it! Would you want to communicate with a species whose idea of an intelligent conversation is hurling insults and calling each other nasty names?  Seriously, aliens probably take one look at the shitshow on Twitter and say, “Screw it, Zoltran!  Let’s go to Mars.  They might not have any water, but at least Martians are civil to each other.”

A Couple Of Big Mistakes!

Anybody who isn’t prepared to acknowledge that the world is messed up right now is probably still writing their emails with crayons.  Besides all the regular stuff – crime, poverty, injustice, starvation — we’ve got the big bogeyman Covid-19 hiding under the bed.  And that’s kinda supersized our inability to deal with this crap.  Admit it: agrarian reform is Sub-Saharan Africa is not exactly your #1 priority these days, is it?  The fact is, our world is in big trouble and we’re mostly worried about whether our facemasks make us look fat.  So, how did we get on the express bus to Disasterville?  Easy answer!  Back in the day, we made two fundamental mistakes, and ever since then, we’ve been muddling around, trying to fix them — without ever actually admitting we made them in the first place.  So just to clarify: here is where we screwed up.

We got rid of Latin – Anybody who’s ever studied Latin will tell you it’s a completely whacked-out language.  It’s full of things that just don’t make any sense.  For example, there are 3 genders, about 100 verb forms and God only knows how many declensions (whatever they are.)  It takes years of study, an incredible memory and dogged determination to learn Latin.  In fact, teachers used to have to beat little kids with sticks to make them learn the damn thing.  However, Latin had one thing going for it.  Because it’s so godawful difficult, it was the language of serious people.  That’s why all the serious stuff is written in Latin — legal stuff, (like habeas corpus and modus operandi) religious stuff, medical stuff, even sex stuff, plus astronomy, anthropology and all the other ologies.  Even today, everything on Earth that walks, crawls, flies, swims or grows has a real Latin name.  For centuries, anybody who wanted to be taken seriously did it in Latin.  Think about it!  Isaac Newton (totally serious guy) wrote Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica — not An Apple Fell on My Head.  But the very best bit is, Latin kept people who weren’t serious from jumping into the conversation with their 2-bit idiot opinions.  They didn’t know the words, so they had to shut up when serious people were talking.  Thus, the world had a quick and dirty way to distinguish the people who actually wanted to deal with the problems that plague our planet from the other folks who just wanted to flap their jaw.  It wasn’t foolproof, but it worked.

We invented YouTube – In the old days, if you didn’t know something and your friends didn’t know it either, you had two choices.  You could either spend hours in a library, looking at books, or shrug it off and go watch TV.  This separated the serious folks from the rest of us who had a life – even if it was only reruns of Gilligan’s Island.  These days, however, if you don’t know something, all you have to do is click YouTube, and suddenly there are 15 videos that answer your question.  The problem is those answers aren’t necessarily the right ones: they’re just the most popular.  Plus, a 12 minute video on how to make a missile out of a Pringles tube, vinegar and bicarbonate of soda doesn’t make you a rocket scientist.  YouTube has made information available to the masses, but it has also made a bunch of people (who should be watching Gilligan’s Island) into make-believe experts.  And these fugitives from Basic Cable think they can talk the talk with the big people.  But the very worst bit is there’s nothing to make them shut up, and they’re muddying the intellectual water for the serious folks who want to take a drink.  Not to mix too many metaphors, we simply can no longer distinguish the conversation from the noise.

So what do we do? 

Unfortunately, the horrible conclusion is until we bring back Latin and limit the influence of YouTube so we can distinguish the populo gravi from the fatuis, we’re pretty much screwed.

Disclaimer: We live in unsophisticated times, so I have to point out that this is satire.  I do not advocate banning YouTube or beating children with sticks, so please save your emails!  Cheers.

Murphy’s Law: An Update

They’re Their There are a number of variations of Murphy’s Law but for those of you who have never heard of it, stated quite simply, it says; “In any project, anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”  It’s an absolute dictum in any professional world and a Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free for people who are constantly screwing up.  Although I, like everyone else on this planet, have run into Murphy’s Law a lot, I’ve always thought that it was incomplete.  Murphy missed something.

Recently, after years of gathering data, over, what is now amounting to, a lifetime of observation I believe, I’ve discovered what Murphy missed.

Murphy’s explanation of the universe is essentially Existential in nature.  He postulates that there exists; a large number of catastrophes, they appear at random, bugger things up entirely and then happily return to the ethereal.  Although on the surface Murphy seems to have covered all bases he has forgotten the basic tenet of our existence – Mother Nature’s relentless pursuit of balance in the cosmos.  Thus, while Murphy is indeed correct: there are an infinite number of catastrophes just waiting to screw us personally and professionally.  He is incorrect when he suggests they act randomly.  They do not.  They are tied to our own actions and the actions of others as Mother Nature seeks to bring balance into a chaotic world.  Let me illustrate.

Unless you live on the bad streets of Orangutan Junction, Borneo you’ve used an ATM machine.  There’s nothing to it.  You stand in line, wait your time, step up with your plastic and get your money.   It’s a relatively simple operation and, in general, it works smoothly.  However, when you add just one variable to the mix all hell breaks loose.  For example, try going to an ATM when you’re late.  Suddenly, the IQ of every person in front of you drops dramatically.  Ordinary people who grew up catching money from a machine look at the thing likes it’s the Command Module on Babylon 5.  They have no clue which buttons to press and stand there scared skinny that the Cash Back option is going to vaporize their pension.  It’s a matter of checks and balances.  You see, Mother Nature knows that you can skate through being “just a bit” late to Uncle Chester’s funeral but you’re going to look like a jackass walking in after the hymn.  Basically, you didn’t take your mother’s brother’s death seriously in the first place, so Mother Nature had to step in and give you a rap on the snout.

This happens everywhere in our world.

The need to pee is directly proportional to the distance to the next toilet – the further the distance the greater the need.  Consuming liquids has nothing to do with it.  I once drove through the Sonora Desert without so much as a lukewarm Pepsi™ to keep me alive and never thought of a bathroom break — until the sign read “Next Services, 186 miles.”  For the next three hours (a little over two, actually) I drove the busiest highway in history searching for a bush that was more than six inches high.  I didn’t find one.

Likewise, the size of the leafy green vegetable that’s stuck to your front teeth is intimately connected to the person you’re talking to at the time.  If, for example, you’re talking to Rajinder (the guy you’ve known since third grade, who once brought you a new bathing suit during an unfortunate incident in Mexico) the size will be small, almost dainty.  He will point it out and you will both go about your business.  However, if you’ve finally gotten up enough courage to flirt with Alastair (the slightly conceited hunk in Marketing) over lunch, that last sprig of spinach will be the size of Jamaica.  It will be laser beam green and flutter when you talk.  You’ll discover it walking back to the office when you see its neon reflection in a store window.  Alastair will eventually end up with Sophie the slut from Accounting and you will die of humiliation.

The truth is there is no such thing as a random act of disaster.  Cheques do not get lost in the mail unless you’ve already spent the money.  The size of the rain storm depends entirely on the cost of your cashmere jacket.  The number of traffic cops; on the fight you’re having with the boyfriend.  In nature every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

When I was a child my mother used to tell us “Always wear clean underwear, you might get into an accident.”  She never explained things any further but it was a rule in our house.  Years passed and mom’s advice faded until one day I thought, to hell with it and pulled on what I had on the floor.  I never made it to work that day.  I was wiped out by a taxi before I got 500 yards.  It turns out clean underwear is actually some sort of talisman against vehicular misadventure.  Who knew?

Experience shows us that Murphy was right; “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”  However, in practical terms, experience also shows us, these disasters only come calling when you’re out of sync with the universe.  You can do the simplest task a million times without a hitch; but bring discord to the cosmos and you might as well paint a target on your back.  Murphy’s Law is just Mother Nature’s way of telling us all to fly right.