Letters, we get letters

From the Toasted Mail Bag: somewhere in the Northeast, a “Pete M.” writes:

“A thought came to my head that you may concur on. In 1976 the US launched Voyager, the first craft from earth that was to leave the solar system. On the outside of the craft they had a picture of a man and a woman sans clothes, a picture of DNA, and a gold phonograph record of the sounds of earth. As in 2007 here on earth there is a diminishing stockpile of equipment and phonograph records, it is likely that in a few years if Voyager appeared here anybody would know what a phonograph record was let alone figure out how to play it at 33 rpm. A minute is earth time no less. I wonder if the aliens will use the RIAA equalization to get the proper playback. They should have included a sound system and turntable for the aliens out there. Perhaps a universal power supply would have been in order. Perhaps they jumped to lasers from mechanical/electrical phono systems, and the phonograph record from earth would be the great alien mystery. Just a thought.”

Pete, you raise some interesting and thought-provoking questions, and the first thought that provoked me when I read your letter was, “is this guy on drugs? If not, then perhaps he should be.” You have clearly put a lot of time and effort into researching these issues, and in response I would have to say that I think you really need to get out more. Seriously, man.

But I also must admit that you’re right: the heck with aliens, already on our very own planet there is an entire generation of Young People who, if you were to tell them that their parents used to listen to music by rotating a slab of colored vinyl on a platter while simultaneously dragging a sharp needle across it, will look at you like you are crazy, mainly because they will be listening to their iPods and won’t have heard a word you said. If you’re lucky, however, you may be able to get their attention for roughly two seconds, after which time they will shake their heads sadly and return to playing their Nintendo or X-Box.

This is exactly why the current generation of Young People is going to hell in a handbasket. These young whippersnappers do not appreciate the sacrifices their elders had to make in the name of aural gratification! We couldn’t just “point and click” to hear our music, oh no, Young People. We had to work for it, dammit, and without phonograph records, there would never have been that wonderful 80′s phenomenon known as “disco”, and … hmmm, come to think of it, maybe these Young People have a good point after all.

But the Voyager space probe was a noble effort to help distant civilizations understand the human race, and it should not be overlooked that we are fortunate in one very important regard: if Voyager had been sent into space using today’s technology and music, it is hypothetically possible that NASA technicians might have included a Celine Dion CD on board the craft. Were aliens to discover and hear this, it would very likely guarantee the complete and total annihilation of our planet.

Keep those letters coming!

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