The Funny Side
By Nury Vittachi
Every so often, people ask if I am like my columns in real life. I reply: “Yes, I’m silent and invisible most of the time, and then I suddenly appear and blurt out 500 words.”
The good news is that the news-writing business is getting easier in some ways, since the world is getting weirder.
For example, thieves recently stole a road in a daring daylight robbery. They broke up an entire 410 metre rural street, weighing an estimated 630 tonnes, loaded it into trucks and vanished, leaving baffled residents uble to drive home.
This bizarre story from the Chi press (it happened recently in ntong, Jiangsu province), was told to me by a reader over lunch at a noodle shop. I said I’d add it to my “Biggest Things Stolen” file, which contains the theft of a bridge in the US, a beach in Jamaica, a church in Russia and the like. She asked what was the biggest thing ever stolen.
Hard to say. In 2012 a Japanese nerd put the planet Earth up for sale on an internet auction website. It was offered “used” and “as is”. (Clearly the seller had no intention of giving it a good clean.)
There were some interesting exchanges with prospective buyers on the site. “Question: ‘Hello. This is a really interesting item! If I buy the Earth will I become a god? Answer: A: ‘Thank you for your question! Sorry, this item cannot make you a god.’” Bidding on planet Earth rose from less than $1 to more than $2,000, but the deal was never completed. One of the lunchers said: “Maybe no one took it because no one capable of actually putting it into a bag and taking it away saw the advertisement.”
Now if you are familiar with Great Literature and High Culture, you will know that he was thinking of people who could grab the Earth, such as Galactus the planet eater from Marvel, the World Devastators from Star Wars, the Doomsday Machine from Star Trek, the Eater of Worlds from Doctor Who and so on.
A scientific type sitting with us astounded us by pointing out that you could actually advertise the Earth for sale to aliens simply by offering it on TV. “The systems that beam broadcasts to our homes also send them out into space,” he said. “And since the data travels at the speed of light, it’s easy to work out where the sigls reach.”
A paper pkin diagram followed. The earth-like planet Kapteyn B is 13 light years away so will this week be receiving TV shows from 2002. That means they are just getting into the first series of “American Idol”. (That should stuff up their productivity for a few years.) The nearest habitable planet was Tau Ceti e, which was 11.9 light years away (and thus currently watching “Friends”).
He said he reckoned the most likely planet was one called HD 40307 d, which is 42 light years away, so will now be receiving stuff from 1973. Any intelligent life there will be evaluating human life by watching The Sweet singing Ballroom Blitz, which is deeply worrying. They’ll probably keep their distance. (IANS)