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Monday, September 21, 2009

127. Attention People Of Earth by Paul Simms

From the New Yorker

We are on our way to your planet. We will be there shortly. But in
this, our first contact with you, our “headline” is: We do not want
your gravel.
We are coming to Earth, first of all, just to see if we can actually
do it. Second, we hope to learn about you and your culture(s).
Third—if we end up having some free time—we wouldn’t mind
taking a firsthand look at your almost ridiculously bountiful stores
of gravel. But all we want to do is look.
You’re probably wondering if we mean you harm. Good
question! So you’re going to like the answer, which is: We mean
you no harm. Truth be told, there is a faction of us who want to
completely annihilate you. But they’re not in power right now.
And a significant majority of us find their views abhorrent and
almost even barbaric.
But, thanks to the fact that our government operates on a
system very similar to your Earth democracy, we have to tolerate
the views of this “loyal opposition,” even while we hope that they
never regain power, which they probably won’t (if the current poll
tracking numbers hold up).
By the way, if we do take any of your gravel, it’s going to be such
a small percentage of your massive gravel supply that you probably
won’t even notice it’s gone.
You may be wondering how we know your language. We are
aware that there’s a theory on your planet that we (or other alien
species from the far reaches of the galaxy) have been able to learn
your language from your television transmissions. This is not the
case, because most of us don’t really watch TV. Most of our
knowledge about your Earth TV comes from reading Zeitgeisty
think pieces by our resident intellectuals, who watch it not for fun
but for ideas for their print articles about how Earth TV holds a
mirror up to Earth society, and so on. We mean, we’ll watch
Earth TV sometimes—if it happens to be on already—but,
generally, we prefer to read a good book or revive the lost art
of conversation.
Sadly, Earth TV is like a vast wasteland, as the Earthling
Newton Minow once said. But, for those of you who can
understand things only in TV terms, just think of us as being
very similar to Mork from Ork, in that he was a friendly,
non-gravel-wanting alien who visited Earth just to find out
what was there, and not to harvest gravel.
Speaking of a vast wasteland, you might want to start
picking out and clearing off a place for our spacecraft to land.
Our spacecraft, as you will see shortly, is huge. Do not be
alarmed; this does not mean that each one of us is that much
bigger than each one of you. It’s just that there were so many
of us who wanted to come that we had to build a really huge
spacecraft.
So, again, no cause for alarm.
(Full disclosure: each of us actually is much bigger than
each of you, and there’s nothing we can do about it. So please
don’t use any of your Earth-style discrimination against us.
This is just how we are, and it’s not our fault.) Anyway, re our
spacecraft: it’s kind of gigantic. The deceleration thrusters alone
are sort of, like . . . well, imagine four of your Vesuvius volcanoes
(but bigger), turned upside down.
We don’t want to hurt anyone, so, if you could just clear off one
continent, we think we can keep unintended fatalities to a
minimum. Australia would probably work. (But don’t say
Antarctica. Because we’d just melt it, and then you’d all end up
underwater. Which would make it virtually impossible for us to
learn about your hopes and your dreams, and your culture, and
to harvest relatively small, sample-size amounts of your gravel,
just for scientific study.)
A little bit about us: our males have two penises, while our
females have only one. So, gender-wise, if you use simple math,
we’re pretty much identical to you.
And, as far as protocol goes, we’re a pretty informal species.
If you want to put together a welcoming ceremony with all your
kings and queens and Presidents and Prime Ministers and
leading gravel-owners, that’s fine. But please don’t feel like you
have to.
Technically, it would be possible for us to share our space-travel
technology with you, so that you could build a spacecraft and
travel to our planet also. But, for right now, it just feels like it
would be better if we came to your place.
Speaking of gravel, one thing we can’t tell from our monitoring
of Earth is how your gravel tastes. It’s just something we’re
curious about, for no real reason. Is it salty? It looks salty.
Maybe you could form a commission of scientists/gravel-tasters
to look into this and let us know. Just have them collect all the
gravel you have and put it in one big pile. (There are some pretty
big empty parts of Utah, New Mexico, and Russia that might be
good spots for such a large gravel pile, but that’s just an F.Y.I.)
Then, if you could have your top scientists/gravel-tasters go
through this gravel pile, tasting each and every piece, that would
be great. Also, if it’s not too much of a hassle, have them put all
the saltier-tasting pieces in a separate pile.
Anyway, that about wraps up this transmission! Looking
forward to seeing you very soon. (Sorry we couldn’t have given
you more notice, but we didn’t want you Earth people going crazy
and looting stuff and having sex in the streets out of panic about
losing all your delicious gravel, which is something that is
definitely not going to happen, because, when it comes down to
it, what is gravel really but just a bunch of baby rocks?)
Our E.T.A. on Earth is sometime in the next four hundred and
fifty to five hundred years, which we know is a blink of an eye in
your Earth time, so start getting ready! Let’s have fun with this.
Yours,
A Species from a Galaxy You Haven’t Even Noticed Yet
P.S.—We saw that you sent some people to your moon recently.
Good job! But, just to let you know, don’t waste your time with
the moon. There’s no gravel there. We already checked.

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