Proctor : June 2018
55 PROCTOR | June 2018 Angst in space So, where are the aliens? One or two columns ago – I cannot be certain, because as we all know lawyers cannot do maths – I was talking about space, and Elon Musk flinging a car into it. I consider this to be very wasteful of him, not so much because he was adding to all the space junk out there but because the car was largely empty. I can think of any number of politicians who could better serve their constituents from the cold, distant and – most importantly – lifeless depths of space, but I digress. When you think about space, one of the things that comes to mind – or at least it does if you are deep and thoughtful, like me – is that contact from alien races is well and truly overdue. Back in the ’70s (to be clear, the 1970s), we were all led to believe that the nearby bits of our galaxy were heavily populated by very advanced races who nevertheless needed to encounter us to learn about the important things in life, such as morality, friendship and the virtues of shooting any aliens who didn’t agree with your point of view. Apparently, foreign policy in the future will be pretty much the same as it is now. The point is that whether you watched Star Trek, Space: 1999 or Lost in Space (I watched all of them), the message was that space was chock-full of very human- looking aliens, the females of whom were all attractive, given to wearing very revealing outfits and not at all hung up about having a romantic liaison with an earthling. It should go without saying that my male friends and I considered ‘space explorer’ as an exceptionally appealing career. Indeed, space exploration seemed to be great fun to us, especially given what occurred on Lost in Space. Will Robinson – who was about our age – did no homework and was able to wander off and do pretty much what he wanted – we weren’t even allowed to ride our bikes to the shop. In fact, Will’s parents, no doubt influenced by Dr Spock (note to young readers: that isn’t Mr Spock from Star Trek – although I am sure he would have a doctorate or two – but a controversial figure who advocated raising children by letting them do whatever the hell they wanted, apparently because he had never met any; I suspect Mark Zuckerberg’s parents were fans) were perhaps the first free-range parents. For example, not long after landing on an alien planet, Will was either sent to fetch water or allowed to explore, as long as he didn’t go ‘too far’. This would happen even if the crew had just survived an attack from a stunt-man in a cheap rubber alien costume, and continued to happen despite the fact that Will never once failed to encounter a dangerous alien on these trips (nor did he ever bring back any water, for that matter). I suspect the real reason Will’s father never managed to find a way back to Earth was that he knew the child safety authorities would be waiting for him. So by now, we should have encountered aliens by the bucket-load, and be reaping the benefits of their amazing technology (all aliens, going by ’70s TV shows, have superior technology to ours) like flying cars and pop-up toasters that work. We haven’t, of course, unless President Trump proves to be from another planet, which, let’s face it, would explain a lot. I think I know why, though (why we haven’t met aliens, I mean, not why people voted for Trump). You see, since we invented television, we have been pumping shows out into the atmosphere, some of which escape, due to climate change (hey, it’s responsible for everything else, so why not?). These shows propagate through the cosmos at the speed of light, which is really fast – faster than Usain Bolt and nearly as fast as a Bill Shorten backflip. This means that aliens have been watching our TV for years, and I have to say not all of our TV is good, like Star Trek; some it is just the opposite (bad). Think of the aliens sitting out there, receiving our TV – Neighbours, Home and Away, reality shows, Ben Stiller movies – I suspect our solar system has the interspace equivalent of detour signs all around it, and on space maps it simply says ‘Here be morons’ instead of ‘Earth’. So, clearly we will have to go to them, and it would seem that Elon Musk wants to make the very long journey by car, which tells me that he does not have children. As any veteran parent can tell you, any car trip longer than about 20 minutes causes children in the back seat to develop superpowers, such as the ability to calculate the exact middle of the back seat, and then detect if the other child crosses that boundary by distances of as much as a nanometre (or indeed if any molecule of CO2 expelled by the other child crosses into the first child’s airspace). At this point, both children will erupt with a level of fire and fury that would make Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un wet their big boy- pants and hug each other for comfort. It will be at this precise moment that the car will run out of petrol or suffer a puncture. If Elon Musk does attempt to have a crew make the long and dangerous trip to Mars in search of aliens who don’t watch TV, I predict news reports along these lines: “Breaking news: The planned expedition to Mars by Space-X has been a failure, with Commander Jane Smith returning the rocket to Earth today. “‘I told them if they didn’t stop screwing around back there I’d turn the ship around,’ she said. Sources report that trouble started when geophysicist Ben Choo kept looking out engineer Kym Palmer’s window. Co-pilot Aaron Stevens had also threatened to hold his breath until they stopped for McDonalds, but this reportedly had no bearing on Smith’s decision.” Actually, I am beginning to see why Will Robinson’s dad kept sending him out to get water... Suburban cowboy by Shane Budden © Shane Budden 2018. Shane Budden is a Queensland Law Society ethics solicitor.