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Thursday, October 4, 2012

What the Aliens Are Watching

We have been broadcasting television shows for the last sixty years.  By my careful calculations and looking it up on the internet, I predict episodes of The Honeymooners and Gilligan's Island are reaching the star H N Pegasi in the constellation of Pegasus right about now.

This thought should give us pause.

What will the Pegasians deduce about life on this planet from picking up our stray television transmissions?  For openers, they will believe that many of our doorways are equipped with devices that create spontaneous cheering and applause whenever opened.  They will believe that our conversation consists almost entirely of snappy comebacks interrupted by more laughter and applause from unseen and never-acknowledged entities.  Periodically life will be interrupted by messages regarding remedies for digestive upset, leaky bladders, and headache.  (Earthling internal anatomy is failure-prone at almost every juncture, the Pegasians will conclude.)

As they continue to view our programming several changes will take place.  Our sun will undergo an inexplicable transformation so that instead of casting monochromatic light, it will illuminate the world in full color.  The change will be sporadic and intermittent, but in time everything on earth will be lit in the full prismatic spectrum.  This astounding phenomenon will go unremarked by the earthlings.  Perhaps, the Pegasians will speculate, we have evolved completely color blind.

On the subject of colors, the Pegasians will note that within the span of a few decades, earthlings of different colors will begin to appear as well.  The sudden existence of "races" among a formerly homogeneous population might be expected to produce certain tensions, as indeed it will, but an even more astounding transformation will be in store.

The earthlings, which thitherto seemed to reproduce asexually, perhaps by spores wafted through the air - so that  Ricky and Lucy who sleep in separate beds and never exchange anything more passionate than a lingering handshake - produce "Little Ricky," presumably a clone or graft of the original "big" version - will suddenly enter into a phase of sexual reproduction, an evolutionary leap without parallel to anything on H N Pegasi.  Whatever the explanation for this abrupt, radical, and fundamental change to their biology, the earthlings show an enormous proclivity and relish for the act of intercourse as if they'd been "saving up" or else secretly practicing in private.  Suddenly the concept of sexual reproduction and its various ramifications will dominate the entire culture.

Secondary sexual characteristics of female earthlings - ie mammary glands - will increase exponentially in size while average sexual attractiveness of men will actually diminish slightly, so that overweight and relatively ungroomed men will mate with women of almost absurdly favorable pheontypes.  (Leading to speculation on H N Pegasi that the males are evolving more slowly than the females.)  This disparity will cause understandable anxiety among the males, and a new category of messages will interrupt daily life on the planet, now offering remedies for "male performance" and depression along with those for toenail fungus and bladder control.

But then will come the day, I calculate it will be in about twenty more years, when a new type of programming will reach them from our planet, and they will say to one another, in relieved and chagrined laughter, "Oh, all of the transmissions we've been watching were fantasies, no wonder!  Ha, ha, and we thought this was representative of life on earth."  How eagerly they will tune in to the first broadcasts they pick up of Reality Television.

By this point, I hope that I am safely dead, my ashes already scattered by hot air balloon across the Himalayas as per my funeral instructions.  Failing that, I must hope the Pegasians do not have advanced weaponry nor space travel, for if they do, they will surely send their Z-Rays on J-Bombs to blast our planet
into smithereens.

Meanwhile, I'm watching my own TV, hoping to catch sight of I Love Uiot!fg and Mentor-Bot Knows Best, to learn what I can about H N Pegasi.

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