Proctor : November 2018
55 PROCTOR | November 2018 Mylifeasa monkey slave Or why we haven’t met any aliens, yet I grew up in the ’70s (the nineteen- 70s, just in case my photo gives you the wrong idea) and like most kids of that era I fully expected that by now we would be zipping around the galaxy, meeting aliens and hanging out with the cast of Star Wars. It seemed like every other day the United States put someone on the Moon (and fortunately, that someone was never Donald Trump) so a space-age future seemed assured. Even if we didn’t have that confidence in our technology, we were pretty certain that, if we didn’t find the aliens, they would find us. After all, we knew from shows like Star Trek, Space: 1999 and Battlestar Galactica that aliens always had much more advanced technology than ours, albeit coupled with a dim view of our warlike nature (an attitude they managed to hold even when trying to destroy us; evidently many politicians in charge of developing foreign policy also watched these shows). In fact, Battlestar Galactica dangled the tantalising idea that, as Lorne Greene1 used to solemnly intone, “life here...began out there”. The fact that aliens have not yet contacted us is a source of great confusion to my generation, similar to Instagram, except that we are far closer to contacting aliens than we are to being able to use Instagram. Indeed, some misguided people think the fact that we have not yet heard from aliens means that there aren’t any, which is impossible given the vastness of the universe, plus it would really suck. So I think we can happily discount these people. There are of course many good reasons that aliens have not yet contacted us, reasons that are logical, scientifically valid and no less persuasive by virtue of the fact that I can’t think of a single one right now (except for Donald Trump, and he hasn’t been around long enough, although I am happy to have him sent away – just in case – to somewhere nobody ever goes and unjustifiably arrogant and intellectually unremarkable people don’t stand out, such as Collingwood). One possibility which now occurs to me, and is not the result of consuming wine while I write this column, whatever you may have heard, is television. You see – and fair warning, I am about to throw around some heavy scientific concepts here – space is really, really big, and it happens to be where our universe, give or take, is. This means that almost everything in it is inconveniently far away from us; some things, of course, are inconveniently too close to us, and here I am thinking of the Kardashians. The only thing that can really get anywhere in such a big place is light which – now here’s a coincidence – travels at the speed of light. Television shows are basically made of light, as you can see if you conduct the same experiment Einstein conducted back in 1915, that is turning off the light in your lounge room while leaving the TV on. Do this, and you will be impressed to find that lots of light comes from the TV, thus proving our conjecture (literally, ‘spit’) that TV shows are made of light; you will be even more impressed that Einstein conducted this experiment several decades before the invention of television (he was that clever). This means that aliens have been watching our TV shows for years, 2 and given the quality of our early shows this may not have encouraged contact with us. For example, one of the earliest shows was I Love Lucy, which we all understood was a comedy because it said so in the TV guide, but which the aliens – due to the fact that nothing funny happened on the I Love Lucy show, ever – might have thought it was a documentary. Another early show was The Honeymooners, which relied on the ‘hilarity’ generated by the main character threatening to punch his wife. If aliens aren’t trying to contact us, you can see their point. Another explanation could simply be that the aliens have been trying to contact us, but have mistaken the dominant life form on the planet, which is of course smartphones, but before that it was us (by which I mean humans. If you are reading this and you are not sure if you are a human, go look in the mirror; if you are wearing a Brisbane Broncos jersey, the answer is no). From afar, however, it may appear that we are not in charge. For example, when I walk my dog (for those who have read footnote two already, here comes the true bit) he generally dictates where we go, based on where the most disgusting- smelling thing he can find happens to be lying. I walk along behind, saying things like “get out of that” which the dog ignores. Then, when he decides to go to the toilet, I pick up the result and put it in a bag, while the dog looks at me with an expression that basically says, “Dude! Do you know what that is?” When we get home, I give the dog food and water, and then go off to work while the dog sleeps and scratches himself. Based on his 9-to-5 schedule, the only real difference between my dog and Clive Mensnik is that my dog comes back when you call him. In any event, any alien of more than single- figure IQ watching this scene – which every dog owner acts out on a daily basis – will clearly conclude that the dog is the one calling the shots. My hypothesis is that aliens have made regular attempts to contact Earth, but they have mostly been walking up to dogs (after we are all asleep) and saying something like, “Hey, what’s with these talking monkey slaves? Are they hard to train?” Since the aliens have not said anything that sounds like “have some food” the dogs ignore them and go back to sleep. In closing, I know that there are plenty of people out there who are certain that aliens are indeed in regular contact, at least with them. I want to be clear that I fully respect your views, as well as – and I cannot stress how key this is – holding no desire whatsoever to discuss them with you. If you are speaking to the aliens, though, my dog says that the talking monkey slaves are relatively easy to train but given to unnecessarily snide commentary. Suburban cowboy by Shane Budden © Shane Budden 2018. Shane Budden is a Queensland Law Society ethics solicitor. Notes 1 If you don’t know who Lorne Greene was, he was Ben Cartwright on Bonanza. If you never watched Bonanza, shame on you. 2 NB: Yes, I know that they actually couldn’t be doing that, because of the diffusion of signal and the fact that their NBN, like everyone else’s, isn’t working, but if this column was limited to things that were true every instalment would be a paragraph long treatise on the stupidity of my dog, so live with it.