Nov. 1st, 2011

"I think," Doctor Coronami said, "we have finally gotten it decrypted."

"Well it's about damned time," grumbled the President. "I thought you said it was just a simple video signal."

"Oh, it is," said the head of the Science Directorate. "But its origin is very far away from Earth, and the interstellar medium, although relatively diffuse, still has an effect over such a long distance. Strong signals such as visible light are barely detuned by the medium, but for weak signals, such as the primitive first attempts of an alien civilization at short-range visual broadcast, fluctuations in the medium have a strong impact on frequency. It's been difficult picking the signal out of the noise, sir."

"Well, let's see what we have," said the POTUS. "Put it up on the big screen where we can all see it."

There were four other men and one woman in the room. Three of them were generals. One of them was a sociologist. The last one was Dournier. The others found him annoying.

"I want to know," said General Braga, "what the hell kind of contribution we can expect from an art historian."

"Well, this signal is like TV, right?" said the President. "Like movies, like radio? That's all art, I guess. Besides, he was useful when all those statues suddenly came to life."

"They did not come to life," objected Dournier. "They were never dead." He puffed on his pipe, causing General Rutherfurd to cough and fan the air.

"With all due respect, sir," said Doctor Coronami, "that situation involved art. What we need, at this particular moment, is the assistance of science."

"It takes science to understand a problem," Dournier replied amiably.

"Thank you," replied the Doctor.

"But it takes art," continued Dournier obstinately, "to appreciate a problem."

There was nothing to say to that.
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