Discovery: Bad Things Could Happen

To me, the idea that there aren't aliens on distant planets somewhere is ridiculous. The universe is too vast for us to be alone. I think it's downright arrogant to even think we're alone. Yeah, years ago people believed the sun revolved around a flat Earth - but we've come a long way since then, right?

I assume there are aliens far more primitive than us. I assume there are other aliens far more advanced than us. I picture a bell-curve with "made fire" at one end and "communicate with inhabitants from distant galaxies" on the other. We're somewhere in the middle. Probably closer to "made fire," but hey, fire's pretty sweet to have at a barbecue. Aliens, not so much.

I also assume some of the more advanced aliens are watching us, and they've got to be wondering what the hell we're doing. A phone call from their probe back to the mother ship probably goes a little something like this:

"These silly Earthlings are really making real progress this time!"
"No, not really."
"Oh. Well, what're they up to now?"
"They're out in their cute little winged rocket again."
"Don't tell me they're just circling their own planet again!"
"Think they'll ever 'GO' anywhere?"
"Well, they made it all the way to their own moon back in 1969 - their time."
"...but that was thirty six of their years ago..."
"Are they still drinking that Tang stuff?"
"It comes in five flavors now, plus sugar-free individual serving size packets!"
"Ohhh geez..."

It amazes me that we made it all the way to the moon in 1969, but thirty six years later we can barely make it to space at all. Are we going backwards or what?

Do you realize that, as I type this, there's a guy aboard Discovery preparing for a spacewalk, during which he'll be out there in a marshmallow-man looking spacesuit, attached by a rope, floating along the underside of the shuttle looking for stuff that's flapping off? NASA refers to it as a pair of "protrusions." And what's he supposed to do when he finds the crap that's hanging off the bottom of the shuttle?

Yank it off.

A reporter asked the million dollar question: "What would happen if he can't remove the protrusions? ...if the shuttle had to come back to Earth as-is?"

"Given that large degree of uncertainty, life could be normal during entry, or some bad things could happen"

- Wayne Hale, NASA's deputy shuttle program manager

Bad Things? You mean like a poof, some sparks and a bang? No more shuttle? No more people? No More TANG?!?

I'm not trying to deny the gravity of the situation. People's lives are at stake here. I just happen to think these people - these astronauts - deserve a vehicle that isn't decades out of date. I can't believe that in the year 2005, we're still flying these shuttles. I can't believe we haven't got anything better.

I wonder what the aliens are saying about all of this?

"What are the crazy Earthlings doing NOW?"
"Well, they've got a guy in a marshmallow suit floating around out there again."
"What's he doing?"
"I think he's trying to remove a bumper sticker."
"Who's an alien gotta fuck to get a gig observing intelligent life forms?"
"Dude I got no idea."

Please NASA, bring home Discovery's crew safe and sound. If not for their own sake, do it for the poor bastard aliens that have to watch us do this dumb shit.

::::: | Wednesday, Aug 03 2005 at 12:11 AM
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bonnie said:

That was hillarious. Thanks for cheering me up a bit.

::::: | August 3, 2005 2:28 PM

(won't be published)


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