Professor Edvard Ng,
BOA Executive Chairman and Director of the Ng Institute for Micro-Astro Science (NIMAS), dryly addresses the most recent class of graduates from
the Smallonaut Space Academy (SSA).
text of address provided by EG: Yak-Trak 6000
"New cadets, distinguished toys, celebrity dolls, specialty premiums, ladies and gentlemen..."
"It is with great honor that I address you all on this, the anniversary of my improbable discovery of space, for it is the exploration of that space that brings us all here tonight, and indeed, here we are.
It is also notable that another new era is dawning; the Information Age. As I look out on the brave faces of the capable playthings assembled here, I can not help but think back to the early days of space exploration, when we didn't much know how to build space vehicles, didn't understand the Plushoid Menace, didn't know what was dangerous or edible, didn't know where we were ...nothing. It was a lot of bumbling around in the dark for our lives, if you want to know the honest truth, and today, just like those early days, the key to survival remains sweet, succulent Information."
"Today, the word on everyone's lips is Information. Information Age, Information Super-Mall, Information Junkies, we have all heard those words a million times or more. Some of these new toys even come with "information chips" and what have you; makes me hungry every time I hear about that... But what do they mean? One asks one's self, 'Is all this Information for me?' Why is it important to know things at all?
My fellow Smallonauts, I am pleased to announce that the answers to those compelling questions and many more are near at hand, for as I ramble here tonight the researchers of the Ng Institute are hard at work on the final stages of a massive data base designed to educate toys of all kinds. Among other things, I'm talking about a directory of the stars and planets, a field guide of alien toy species, reams of compelling historical conjecture, and a data base of today's Smallonauts organized by crew and mission.
So many times I have looked out on the tranquil vastness of a strange new star field, gazing at the exquisite beauty of space and the rich, creamy mystery in every corner of its tantalizing void, and I have marveled at my own incongruity in this context, and stood in awe of my own profound inability to understanding even the simplest aspects of the massive forces at work before my very eyes. And let's face it, I'm a pretty smart guy, right?
But you brave Smallonauts of today, you will not have to suffer in the shadows of ignorance as we did way back in the crazy, young, spacey 1970's. Did you know that in the early days of space walks there was serious research done to determine the best material for umbilical tether lines, the thing that is supposed to keep you from drifting off on your own into the abyss of space, and that one of the leading contenders for that critical safety device was yarn? Believe me, we were all but lost in the 1970's, and from what I can recall it is truly amazing that we survived those days at all."
"Yes, you sharp and ready Smallonauts will never have to face the chaotic unknown as we did, because now all is rendered knowable in the form of the largest step forward for our kind since the discovery of space itself; The Encyclopedia Galactica.
Cadets, I will not lie to you. There will be challenges immeasurable, long hours and longer odds, and there will be moments when you'll want to pop your bubble helmet off and take a deep breath of space. But at least you'll be able to look stuff up now, and sometimes that can make all the difference.
In closing I'd like to relate a parable that I learned during the last visit of my Insectian friend, Black Hive Elder Ovhmyr. I wish I could tell this in its original tongue because the hiss and click of Insectian verse is lovely, but alas, I will have to paraphrase in our language for the benefit of those who do not speak Insectian, and with my sloppy dialect it will be for the benefit of those who do speak it, as well...
So the story goes that there is this young Insectian who is full of questions, wants to know about everything and is driving his hive nuts with, "why this" and, "what's that all about." This was back in the days before the Insectians conquered the known universe, and this little Gurbling is merciless about knowing if Insectians were the only form of intelligent life in the cosmos. So to get a little peace and quiet the Hive Elders send the inquisitive little guy out into the desert in search of those mysterious intellectual vapor beings called Fahg, that some of you may already know about. Well, after a long time searching, the young Insectian finds the Fahg in a deep cave and he asks the question that has possessed him;
"Tell me," say this kid, "some say it is possible that we are an island alone among the stars, and that intelligent life is strictly located here, and only in the form we know... and others say it is possible that the universe is utterly brimming with life and intelligence, and we are but tiny struggling particles in a vast and throbbing cosmic sea of life. How am I to know which is the truth?"
After a very long while the Fahg whispered back, "Either way, it is a very sobering thought."
Thank you all for coming tonight! Newly graduated cadets of this fine Academy, congratulations; space awaits you with cold, empty arms. And I salute you.
The Galaxy, Ad Infinitum!"