“Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.”
– Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes
Is it just me?
Or are there a whole lot more stupid people than there used to be?
Ever heard of The Fermi Paradox?
Back in the late 1950’s, a brilliant physicist named Enrico Fermi asked a simple question: Where are they?
He was talking about extraterrestrial civilizations. He was talking about life, specifically intelligent life, elsewhere in the universe.
See, there ought to be a lot of them, detectable extraterrestrial civilizations that is.
Except we can’t detect even one.
So where are they?
Another brilliant scientist, this time a radio astronomer named Frank Drake, formulated an equation called appropriately enough The Drake Equation (It’s officially the Green Bank Formula but nobody calls it anything but The Drake Equation) that basically takes the number of detectable stars in the visible universe and calculates the number of those that might have planets. Then takes the number of those planet-forming stars and calculates the number that might have earthlike worlds. Then the equation plugs in an estimate of how many of those earthlike worlds are places where life might have formed, next you guess how many of those life bearing worlds might have evolved intelligent life, and of those, how many might have given rise to civilizations advanced enough to broadcast intelligible signals into space and of those, how many might be close enough for us to detect here on earth (I think Drake missed a step, to wit: and of the signals reaching the earth how many will arrive when there is actually enough public interest in science that the politicians would actually fund the effort to look for them. But I digress).
Now, up until very recently, those numbers were almost all guesswork and so scientists were very conservative with the estimates they plugged in. Nevertheless, no matter how you sliced it, the final estimate of the probable number of intelligent alien civilizations in the observable universe still should have been “many.” And guesswork or not, Drake’s equation provided a place to start when we went looking for evidence of alien intelligence.
Of course we haven’t found any.
And that’s really odd given that recent advances in astronomy indicate that those conservative guesses were way off – turns out that there are a hell of a lot more stars in the universe than Drake thought back in 1961. And I mean a lot, orders of magnitude more, unbelievable bazillions more, whole googolplexes of stars and galaxies and stellar clusters, more than we ever thought – you can thank the Hubble Space Telescope and other advanced instruments for that. Not only that, but one hell of a lot more of those stars have planets – far far more so than even the most conservative astronomers would have guessed. We’ve seen some of them, those alien worlds, circling far distant stars, and we’re finding more of them every single day.
The universe, it would seem, is chock a block with worlds that could very likely harbor life – including intelligent life.
There should be alien civilizations everywhere.
And yet, we have detected not a single one. Not one.
So we return to Fermi’s paradox: Where the hell are they?
I have a theory.
Stupid people ate them.
See, there’s an idea within the study of evolution that goes something along the lines of: when a species achieves intelligence, it stops evolving.
Intelligence may not be a long term survival characteristic.
Yeah, I know. Bummer, Dude.
It’s entirely possible that evolution will discard intelligence right along with T-Rex’s little stubby arms and the Neanderthal’s huge giant, uh, brow ridge.
See, instead of survival of the most fit, instead of weeding out the chowderheads, instead of letting the silly stupid bastards be eaten by sabertoothed tigers as nature intended, civilization keeps them around. And since stupid people aren’t good for much of anything except getting smart people killed, mostly what they do is lay around watching Jersey Shore, eating Pop Tarts, and making more stupid people.
Once the process of evolution stops, sooner or later you’re going to end up ass deep in booger eating morons and sooner or later one of them gets access to the nuclear weapons and it’s curtains for civilization.
Look around, doesn’t it seem like there are a whole lot more stupid people than there used to be?
There you go.
We spent yesterday at the fair.
Now, the annual Alaska State Fair is one of my favorite events.
I look forward to it all year.
I love fairs and always have, all kinds. I like those crappy little carnivals and big top circuses. I enjoy farmer’s markets. I dig small town celebrations and big city fests. But I especially love state fairs – that’s where it all comes together, deep fried sugary deliciousness accompanied by the aroma of livestock and the sound of the monster tractor pull.
But, man, I tell you, every single year it just seems like there are more and more stupid people.
I’m telling you, the goofy bastards are breeding like mayflies!
For example, like the Drake Equation, you can calculate the number of people in the world, and from that you can figure out the percentage who live in Alaska, and from that the number who might come to the State Fair and from that the number that might have small children and from that the number that might be pushing strollers.
And just like the Drake equation, you’d be wrong by a factor of at least a billion.
Math doesn’t lie, folks, but it sure can exaggerate the hell out of things.
There are few irritations in the world I hate as much as I hate stroller pushers. If ever there was a group of idiots that should have been eaten by sabertooth cats long before they were old enough to breed, it’s these mouth breathers. Now when I say stroller pushers I’m talking about people who insist on pushing their kid around a crowded fair (or zoo, or concert, or store, or anywhere other people gather in large numbers) in Jaba The Hut’s Party Barge. As I mentioned on Facebook, what in the hell is the deal with strollers? Everybody is pushing a stroller. People who don’t have kids are pushing strollers. And the modern stroller is not your parents’ simple little rig of wheels, aluminum and cloth that could fold up and fit behind the seat of a Mini Cooper. Oh hell no, this is the SUV generation, this is the Super Size Me generation, this is the Raging Age of Viagra where bigger is better and loves you bang bang long time. I’m talking about those drooling hard-ons who think their worth is determined by the immense size of their vehicles. The modern baby stroller is a massive all-terrain juggernaut of plastic and chrome, a thunderous behemoth of immense earth rattling splendor large enough to transport a fully grown circus elephant. They plow through the crowd like a Russian nuclear powered icebreaker smashing through the North Pole icecap. God help you should you get hit by one, it’s like being run over by a cement mixer driven by Rosanne Barr with Louie Anderson riding shotgun.
Hell, a mere grazing blow is likely to leave you crippled for life.
If you’re really lucky, a herd of these cud chewers will come to the fair together, arriving in a caravan of SUV’s the size of Sarah Palin’s Great American Greyhound Leviathan of Patriotic American Liberty. They move through the crowd in regulation chevron formation like an army of unstoppable lumbering brontosauruses crossing some Jurassic savannah crushing all beneath their monstrous tread. The best part is when they congregate into a large bellowing group (what is a herd of strollers called? A diaper? A drool? A rectum?) and block pedestrian traffic in all directions.
Then there’s the guy I like to call The Camel’s Hump. He’s the clueless miscreant with the backpack. Now I’m not talking about some little sissy fanny pack, or a modest day sling, or one of those small fair bags they hand out for free at the BP Booth. No, I’m talking about the asshole who is lugging a pack that makes you think he’s off to climb Mount Everest. What in the name of the rampant six trunked elephant god does he have in there? A piano? A moving van? He’s off balance and tottering through the crowd like some clockwork drunkard and just about the time he’s right next to you one of his stroller pushing asshole friends shouts across the crowd at him and what happens? He whirls around like a humpbacked mutant Russian ballerina from the Chernobyl Ballet Company and BLAMO! knocks you flying – usually into the stroller that was being pushed up your ass by the impatient brontosaur behind you.
While you’re laying there, on the cotton candy coated pavement, praying to the shiny elephant god not to be crushed beneath the grinding stroller wheels, you can get an excellent view of Redneck Under Belly Tattoo and the winking five fingered Belly Button Ring of Horror. Always a treat. Unfortunately bleach and a power drill are the only way you’re getting that vision out of your brain.
Now, I’m sure you’re all familiar with the Standard Issue Cell Phone Asshole, but the fair brings out the special kind of stupid in these people. I stepped into the restroom to do what you’d normally do after consuming a couple of excellent lattes from the Vagabond Blues booth and just about the time I’m in position, The Camel’s Hump staggers into port next to me. On his back is a screaming little girl of indeterminate age lashed into one of those kid backpack contraptions like some kind of Siamese twin from hell. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time concentrating on my business when there’s a midget demon screaming in my ear. But wait, it gets better – Camel Hump’s phone rings! Understand, Hump is midstream in the river so to speak, but, damn, you know that call might be important. He’s fumbling in one pocket while holding Mr. Slippery with the other and the kid is screaming and kicking and let’s just say that Camel Hump begins to lose target lock. Excuse me, says I, but let’s try to keep it in the urinal, eh? But Hump doesn’t hear me because he’s now shouting Hello? Hello?! into his phone and has completely given up on even a pretense of aiming. With a superhuman effort equal to the energy required to move a Saturn V moonship from the vehicle assembly building to the launch pad, I choke off the flow and step back out of range. If I had been wearing my waterproof hiking boots I would have stayed and damn the flood, but I was wearing clogs. The small red faced parasite on Hump’s back waved to me and smiled a devilish grin as I washed my hands.
I fled the restroom and ran right into Fred Flintstone – you know him, the Neanderthal with the barbequed pterodactyl drumstick. What in the hell is it with the giant fried turkey leg? Seriously? Lips smacking, scraps of skin and globs of grease flying. Hey Conan, here’s a napkin and try chewing with your mouth closed. For the life of me I can’t understand the allure of the giant turkey leg, or plowing through the crowd while eating it. Hell, it’s the whole walking around, dodging strollers, while leaving a trail of soggy elephant ears and melting ice cream that gets me. We were looking at RV’s and a woman came lumbering up the steps and pushed past us into the cramped space without so much as a pardon me – or even a ‘fuck you!’ though that might have been implied. She was eating soup. Soup, from a Styrofoam bowl with a plastic spoon. Soup, which she proceeded to drip all over the inside of the $60,000 vehicle. Soup. I suggested to the vender that maybe somebody should smack her upside the head with a fried turkey drumstick.
Speaking of trailers, ain’t it great when they bring the trailer park to you?
If these people were dogs, they’d be the kind what always stop at the most inopportune time to lick their balls in public.
You know the ones, those astoundingly obnoxious folks who fight in public. The horrifyingly loud women with the Pall Mall and the Twilight tattoo who’s wearing the way, way too small halter top and the over loaded stretch pants. Who spends the entire fair making a scene. The one that had a couple too many in the beer tent. Yeah, her. She screams at her kids and her husband (or the guy who this month the kids are calling “Uncle Bill,” whatever). Sooner or later she’s going to be crying and telling somebody in uniform to fuck right off.
See that’s the answer to Fermi’s question, right there.
Where are they?
Oh, they’re out there all right.
But they’re idiots.
That’s it. The universe is full of morons.
They’re probably pushing strollers and waving fried turkey legs too.
Note: If you thought this post was fun, you might like the complete list of Things That Just Chap My Ass.
If you didn’t think it was funny, please feel free to stick a fried turkey leg in your ear.