Saturday, May 15, 2004

Star search

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This week, the Mexican Air Force released a video documenting the appearance of UFOs. Eleven blobs of light were seen whizzing around a plane that was conducting drug trafficking surveillance, according to Reuters news service--only the latest instance in a long, proud tradition linking drugs and alien visits.

The whole story positively reeked of cockamamitude to me, so I did some research and verified the story. It's actually true, friends. Mexico really does have an air force.

The UFO part I don't know about, but it's possible.

Don't call the gentlemen with the white coats and the butterfly nets just yet. I just had a thought, and I have to spit it out before it runs away.

Most scientists believe that the size of the universe is infinite. And it's filled with an infinite amount of stuff. So that means there is an infinite number of galaxies, stars, moons, asteroids and planets. Logically, therefore there must be an infinite number of planets that could possibly support aliens. Even if it's one out of a trillion planets--in an infinite universe, that's still an infinite number.

On one hand, it's nice to know that we're probably not alone in the universe. However, that all those beings could someday contact our planet and make themselves available for high-tech job outsourcing is a strain on our economy too terrible to imagine.

I'm willing to allow that there might be life on other planets, but I haven't seen evidence of intelligence yet. In fact, aliens are probably pretty scrawny in the brains department--given what we've seen so far, I bet the human race could beat aliens at an intergalactic game of checkers.

Consider that aliens are always spotted flying miles above Earth, circling aimlessly and then leaving without so much as a howdy-doo. Or, the aliens land somewhere that's far away from everything civilized--our Earth hotels, our famous landmarks and public squares, our places of worship and commerce. Aliens are never found lurking where the real action is, like, let's say, a crowded restaurant or your local post office.

Take this example with Mexico. The aliens were flying above Mexico--they didn't actually visit Mexico. No boots on the ground, as it were. Why wouldn't they park the flying saucer somewhere and sample the local culture--or if they're hostile, sample the locals?

If they're anything like us, aliens get cranky and suffer from charleyhorses in their legs on long car rides, and need to stop to go potty once in a while. Why not in Mexico? The people are friendly, the liquor cheap, the bathing suits tantalizingly immodest, the currency exchange rate quite favorable.

Aliens flying hundreds of light-years to hover around in the sky over Earth is like a rural Czech family riding their donkey to the airport, taking a passenger plane to Germany, switching flights to Lisbon, boarding a barge to the Azores, flying on another passenger plane back to Dublin, getting an Aer Lingus jet across the Atlantic to New York, hanging around the JFK terminal for a seven-hour layover, boarding a late-night plane to Dallas-Fort Worth and a red-eye to Phoenix, shuffling over to the Avis desk, renting a Toyota, and driving out to the Grand Canyon just in time for sunrise ... but taking pictures from inside the car before turning around and driving home.

Because there's got to be something to this UFO business, I went to the one source of trustworthy information available on this subject: a suspicious-looking Web site.

Out of the infinite number of sites about UFOs, I found the National UFO Reporting Center, or NUFORC, at Based in Seattle, the hilariously acronymic NUFORC has a handy online form you can fill out to report sightings. There's a list of prefab UFO shapes to choose from when describing your spaceship, including saucer, cigar, egg, fireball, rectangle or chevron.

A UFO spotter also can choose from several "Characteristics of Object (Check all that apply)." These range from the mundane ("There was an aura or haze around the object") to the impressive ("The object emitted beams") to the puzzling ("The object emitted other objects") to the dramatic ("The object landed").

Mischievous wags beware! The people who run the site are sick to death of reading phony claims, so make jokes at your own risk. "Although these hoaxed reports may be amusing to those who submit them," a warning seethes with barely contained severity, "they have become a real nuisance to us, and we feel compelled to do everything in our power to try to stop them." That penalty may include the emitting of beams and/or other objects in the hoaxer's direction.

The NUFORC Web site also includes a feature that allows users to search sightings by state. I figured I'd see if anybody in Fall River had posted a UFO sighting.

This next part was wicked creepy: When I clicked on the link to read all the Massachusetts sightings, all that came up was a photo. It was a large, blurry picture that looked like somebody's back yard as seen through a screen door. Arrows pointed at what looked like a rock--although it could have been a form of clever alien camouflage. One arrow was labeled, "Path of 1st motion," pointing toward another rock. Another note read, "40 [feet] in blink of eye." By this time, I was chewing my knuckles with a cold compress on my forehead, and calculating how much tinfoil I'd need to cover the roof.

But then I saw another note written on the photo, one that gave me hope about possible alien visitors:

"Did not damage flowers."

So, judging from the way they left the pictured posies and the Mexican air force unmolested, take comfort that any aliens you may encounter are probably nice and/or on vacation. In case of unfriendly aliens, however, either try speaking Spanish to them or keep a giant begonia costume handy.

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