Friday, February 21, 2014

Meet Gagarin from Tralfamadore

Translated from the original Tralfamadorian, the language spoken on planet Tralfamadore. 

Greetings. My name is Gagarin. I am a scientist on the planet Tralfamadore. Recently I invented a machine that allows me to pick up radiowaves billions of light years away. At first, it was just noise that my machine received and I had no way to interpret it. I had to tinker with the machine, adding a screen to view the data that I was getting, and what I discovered was nothing more than astounding. I had discovered an entire civilization existed on a distant planet somewhere in the universe.

The noises they made were gibberish to me, but I developed an algorithm that allowed me to translate their language into Tralfamadorian so I could understand what they were talking about. After watching several days worth of their videos, I learned that they spoke not one, but many languages, some of them very similar to each other but others being very different, even using entirely distinct alphabets or symbols to write their languages. I found this interesting, as we speak only Tralfamadorian on our planet despite our population of seven billion people. What communication problems these aliens must have! It's no wonder they try to destroy each other, as I learned from their videos.

Initially, I thought them hostile and vile beings due to their violent nature, but then I began to see their soft side, the one where they love, laugh, and and exhibit tender displays of empathy and compassion, sentiments that are not very common on my planet. I began to enjoy these kinds of videos, and then I began to dream of what their planet must be like. It certainly looks beautiful, though they don't seem to appreciate that.

It was in one of these moments of daydreaming when I first discovered their sports. How fascinating that they spend so much time playing games! By far the most popular sport is the one where they kick around a little ball. I have gathered from many hours of watching such programs, that one of the biggest events on their planet is this "football" tournament in which all of their people are engaged, with the notable exception of one part of their planet, a people who seem to be the bullies and take pride in not cooperating with the rest of the people in their world.

Lest you think these are bad people, they aren't. Perhaps "misguided" may be the appropriate term. These people seem to be among some of the most creative on their planet. Indeed, most of the videos I receive come from this one part of the world. It is in this land where they have perfected a game in which I have become completely enthralled, enamored, even, a game played with a stick and a little white sphere on a verdant field they call a diamond, like the sparkling rock they frequently fight over. There is a man they call a "pitcher" and another called a "batter" and this pitcher tries to throw the sphere past the batter, who, in turn, tries to hit it where men called "fielders" are not standing. There is something beautifully simple about this game, something that reminds you of the innocence of childhood.

A new season of this game is about to begin. On their planet, temperatures become cold during a portion of the year, and they can't play the game until it gets warm again. Because of the way their planet orbits their sun, there are certain parts of the planet that are warmer than others. This is why the players of this game travel to more southern parts of the region to practice and prepare for the season. They will move north to their various cities after the vernal equinox. I look forward to the beginning of this season.

I have won many prestigious awards for my invention, but I feel guilty. Until now, my invention has been held in secret, and only I knew about the existence of this alien civilization. When I discovered this game, I knew I had to share it with our world. I have not shared other videos; I do not want my planet to know how the civilization regularly attempts to destroy itself and its planet. No, I prefer to let them believe this civilization is great, as demonstrated by this beautiful game. We broadcast the games into the homes of our people; there is not one person on our planet who does not tune into our broadcasts.

This is my diary. I will be writing in it throughout the season so that future generations may know about this great game in the event that the civilization finally succeeds in destroying itself. I have a countdown calendar on my wall that I have created based on my calculations for how long their days and nights are. I can hardly contain my excitement for what they call "Opening Day."

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