A few takeaways from the most ballyhooed mid-term election since 1994:
- Funny, I almost feel as though I’ll miss those daily emails from the Joe Donnelly campaign telling me the race between him and Mike Braun was dead even.
- Who’s doing the polling for Indiana Dems? In 2016 Dem polls said Shelli Yoder and Trey Hollingsworth were running neck and neck. This year, those pollsters told us Donnelly/Braun was a tossup.
- Polling places in Monroe County ran out of ballots? After all signs pointed to the turnout being historically high? I’m not naming names but somebody screwed up.
- Wait, what?! An openly gay man, JD Ford, won Indiana’s 29th District State Senate seat? Beating longtime incumbent Mike Delph in a district that is dependably Red? What’s going on around here?
- The above observation does not at all mean our state isn’t a dead-lock Republican one-party monolith. Both state chambers retain Republican supermajorities, every single statewide elective office is now held by a Republican, and seven of nine Indiana US House members are Republicans. Hell, in our own 9th District, home of the Bloomington SSR, for chrissakes, the Republican beat the Dem by 19 percentage points! Indiana is a GOP empire — and you can’t blame gerrymandering for it.
- Finally, white suburban women across the nation to a large extent yesterday atoned for their 2016 sin.
For years, novelists, filmmakers and cranks have been trying to envision the day we get visited by beings from a world other than this mad, mad, mad, mad one.
Extraterrestrials would, in the collective imagination, either be gangly, bellicose, creepy-crawlies as in The War of the Worlds or the cute merchandise tie-ins from ET or peace-seeking envoys like Klaatu.
Whatever form they’d take, our first encounter with Visitors From Another Planet would cause panic, hysterical reactions, the taking up of arms, and headlines as big as your head. Remember the guy running through the streets of Washington, DC after the saucer landed in The Day the Earth Stood Still? “They’re here! They’ve landed! They’re on the mall! They’re here!”
It always seemed to me our first brush with the caravan from, say, the planetary system of Proxima Centauri b would be the mother of all anticlimaxes. Why? Because a civilization so advanced it could send emissaries from one solar system to another would be virtually unrecognizable to us. Hell, we still think burning decayed dinosaur corpses and sludgy bacteria is the latest thing in propelling ourselves around this little globe. How in the hell are we going to see a deep space probe designed by a group of beings perhaps thousands of years ahead of us, technologically, for what it is?
That’s why this little item is making such a tiny splash. Or, more accurately, no splash at all:
The odds are against this cross between a desiccated turd and a Cheroot being a Spacebus from the planet Gblxcks. I say that only because there are several hundred billion stars in the Milky Way Galaxy (nobody can say for sure how many there are). Even if all those stars were surrounded by one or more planets, home to advanced civilizations, the chances that one of those civilizations would target this unremarkable blue ball for exploration are…, well, astronomical.
This dried up bean pod’ll probably turn out to be some easily explainable chunk of comet or asteroid or some such comparatively pedestrian thing.
But my guess is this is precisely what an alien probe might look like. Something so foreign that when it at last does come near this orb, we’ll all go, Hey, didja see Frances take over on House of Cards last night?