Make that call today

There is intriguing news out there for deep spacers, CloseEncounter—ites,  and really, really lonely people.  For $3.99 a minute the folks at will beam your phone call into space so you can communicate with...whoever might be out there. 

Did I hear some snickers, snorts and guffaws of skepticism out there?  Well listen to this disclaimer from the website:

'We are experienced business leaders and technical professionals with a track record of taking on extraordinary challenges.  We are temporarily keeping our identities confidential... when we do reveal (them) you'll see that we have spearheaded other amazing endeavors... and will recognize who we are from past news on CNN, BBC, etc...'

So what if these Long Distance phone call enablers don't tell us who they are? I mean, does it matter that they might be ex—AlGore or Kerry staffers? It's the service they provide that counts.

Presuming that some ET is monitoring incoming calls, will it understand any of Earth's languages?  Will it have a Cosmic Intergalactic Omni—lingual Translator plugged into the console?  And what if their area code has just been changed?

And if the call goes through, how will the ET react?  What if their thoughts and feelings, if they have any, are the reverse of ours?    

If the ET answers, will whoever is at the other end understand?  For instance, if the message '55tt88MIE——**cDe>s#aaaPP—<?a' does indeed mean 'We're attacking in 4 hours,' and the guy at the other end hasn't a clue, then what?

Or what if the caller and the ET do understand one another?  Will the conversation go something like:

'What is your name?'

'My name is ....'

'Please repeat, I didn't quite get that.'

'I said, my name is ...'

'You mean your name is 'ellipsis?'

'What did you call me?'

'I asked if your name was 'ellipsis.'

'That's what I thought you said.  Take that!'

'Ouch, what the...?

' He, he, he, that'll teach that arrogant earthling.'

You see what I mean?  A little misunderstanding could be fatal. 

But, hey, for only $3.99 a minute, go ahead, take a shot at having your message beamed Out There.  Just remember, though, that this is being done from a dish in Connecticut and we all know who lives there.  And when you make that call, you'd better hope ET doesn't reverse the charges.

John B. Dwyer is a military historian.