Denver Bar Association
February 2011
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From the Docket News Desk: Wrong Turn at Roswell

by Greg Rawlings

While the failure of Initiative 300 (which would have established an Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission in Denver) didn’t occasion more than lame jokes at the local water coolers on Nov. 3, the failure has been taken far more seriously elsewhere. In Roswell, N. M., home to the ET Linguistics Division of the U.S. Air Force, strange sounds emanating from UFOs have sent scientists chair-dancing away from their supercomputers.

For years, ETs have been using the plumbing fixtures in the International Space Station to evade the usual laws of time and space and communicate from afar with the Roswell linguists. Staged 300 meters beneath that testament to all that is kitsch—the UFO Museum—linguists, philosophers, hackers, and the occasional stray ET work assiduously to interpret the innumerable outer space languages into Earth languages and vice versa.

What shocked this jaded crew about Initiative 300’s failure was a lengthy (for a planet whose years are the equivalent of 13 Earth days) diatribe emanating from Gliese 581c, an exoplanet located 20.5 million light years away from Earth. One of the few exoplanets capable of supporting human life due to a pleasant atmosphere, water, and, well, gravity, Gliese 581c’s inhabitants have long seemed some of the most peaceful in the known universe. They even have a word for peace in their language, though it is unpronounceable with human vocal cords and not amenable to anything resembling spelling. It’s been a pet project for many of the Roswell gang to translate and interpret this alien "tongue." Imagine, if you will, a language consisting of sounds quite similar to the sawing of crickets constructed atop the vast roar of a Blue Whale spouting seawater.

A sometime-visitor to Roswell, a Glieseian commonly called Allen the Alien (or AtheA), for his remarkable resemblance to longtime "Candid Camera" host Allen Funt, was broadcasting what seemed to be a screed, which included what sounded suspiciously like words that were the polar opposite of his planet’s words for peace.

Chuck Taylor, founder and scientist-in-chief of the subterranean crew, sensed a major tonal change in the cricket sawing and whale spouting even before his supercomputer, PAL, began translating these distinct phrases: Denver, Denver, Initiative 300, Initiative 300, Declaration of not-peace, Declaration of not-peace.

Not good, decided Taylor, who opted for immediate action.

After clearing the usual tangled web of security measures, Taylor called up then-Denver mayor and now Gov. John Hickenlooper, who at first refused to believe that a government bigwig was calling him from 300 meters below the UFO Museum. Finally, Taylor (whose security clearance would be legendary if anyone else was allowed to know about it), with a sinister cast to his voice, whispered "Boo-Boo," which caused Hickenlooper to gasp in despair. That someone calling from 300 meters below the UFO Museum knew the pet name of his first teddy bear was almost too much to fathom.

"So, you’re telling me that a planet—"

"Exoplanet—"

"Twenty million light years away—"

"Twenty point five million light years away—"

"Has declared war on Denver?"

"Yep."

"Well what am I supposed to do about it?"

"Within one Earth week, 128 barrels of Wynkoop St. Charles ESB must be delivered to me, care of the UFO Museum," Taylor said.

"But I don’t own brewpubs anymore. I’m the elected governor of a fine American state. Clean energy, telecom, many a military base…"

"Boo-Boo," responded Taylor, who hung up the phone and awaited his beer.

It is well known in both planetary and exoplanetary circles that the only thing the Glieseians prefer to the poached SLtc from CoRo-T-7b is a good Colorado microbrew. So, as far as this humble reporter can tell, crisis averted. But the word (in clicks, hisses, cricket saws, and whale spoutings) is, if a certain initiative isn’t revived and then passed in 2012, microbrew will not be enough to save our fair city. So vote yes.

Or else. D


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