Saturday, December 22, 2012

Naturalists from another planet?

I enjoy meeting naturalists from other parts of the USA, and from other countries.  Today I fantasized about meeting a naturalist from another planet  I won't say 'he' because I don't know if there's such a thing as gender on this planet.  So it approached me in my favorite coffee shop and asked me to explain this headline, which I saw on Yahoo News, and evidently it did, too:  "Fiscal cliff spooks shoppers in last lap of holiday race."  The alien had already been studying such earthly phenomena as "Black Friday" and the alleged Mayan forecast that Earth was going to end yesterday, and found us to be a very puzzling species.  It wondered how we've managed to survive as long as we have.  It asked me what sort of race was being referred to in the headline, and I was speechless.  It had correctly figured out that on Earth races have winners and losers, but couldn't figure out what would constitute 'winning' the holiday race.  This wise alien was also puzzled about the recent tragic event in Newtown, Connecticut.   It was particularly puzzled by the suggestion of some 'leading' humans that the best way to prevent such occurrences would be to have armed personnel on every school campus.  I am used to taking for granted my role as naturalist, observing, wondering, and writing about other species, but it was quite an awakening to find myself to be a member of a species that was being studied by naturalists from another planet.  I wonder if the beings on that planet have developed a field of study comparable to what we on Earth call Wildlife Management?

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