Penultimate Day and The Biggest Story of 2017

“Everyone thought the agency was a joke, except the aliens . . . “ – Men in Black


Yes, this is gun camera footage from US Navy fighter planes.  Yes, it shows something no one can explain.  Yes, it’s the real, actual US Navy.  Not pictured – Will Smith.

It’s the end of the year, so it’s the holidays.  By holidays I mean, of course, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Penultimate Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day.

Okay, you’ve heard of most of those days, but Christmas Eve, really?  Whose idea was that . . . ?

I kid.

We actually have a Wilder Family High Holiday, called Penultimate Day.  Penultimate doesn’t mean the last (like many people do), it means . . . next to last.  That’s one of the things I love about the English language – that there’s a word for “next to last” just like there’s a word for “throwing a person out of a window” – defenestrate.

Cool!  But this isn’t a case of “Ask Mr. Language Person.”  I’ll leave that to the MUCH older Dave Berry.  This is just explaining our Wilder High Holiday.

It started (I think) in 2010 or 2011.  The Mrs. had been having problems with her cell phone – at that point an actual Blackberry™ with a real, physical keyboard.  We went shopping for a replacement on December 30.  In order to get a new one from for/from our carrier, we had to drive nearly 100 miles.  We went both to our carrier’s store and the local Best Buy®.  We were frustrated by the deals, which were fairly incomprehensible unless you were fluent in a variety of Klingonese spoken only near Sherman’s Planet.  And none of them were deals we liked.

Frustrated, we gave up and went to the local Olive Garden®, which is the closest one to our house.  Yes.  We live over 100 miles from an Olive Garden©.  But, I promise, we have indoor plumbing and flush toilets and everything.

We had a wide variety of their pasta (I think I had the one that mixed steak and fettuccini Alfredo) and joked about our frustrating search for cell phones.  It was there and then, since it was December 30, the real and actual Penultimate Day that I proposed a new holiday, Penultimate Day.  In order to observe Penultimate Day properly, one must:

  1. Drive South.
  2. Look At, But Not Purchase Cell Phones.
  3. Eat Italian Foods.

I can see how religions schism.  The Boy is adamant that the above list is heresy, and I could hear him conspiring with Pugsley that I should be cast down since the only true way to observe Penultimate Day was to:

  1. Drive Two Hours South.
  2. Look At, But Not Purchase a Sprint® Cell Phone.
  3. Eat At Olive Garden®.

Perhaps one day after the apocalypse there will be a Council of Sheboygan where the Sheboygan Creed will come down that will indicate that to observe Penultimate Day, one must:

  1. Look Southerly.
  2. Have a race where one Sprints® and finishes second (Penultimate Place).
  3. Eat an Italian.

While getting ready for our Penultimate Day celebration (which, for various reasons we had to celebrate late today), I looked at The Boy.

John Wilder:  “So, with all of the crazy things this year, what’s the biggest new story of the year?”

I expected to hear something about Trump.  Russia.  Nuclear North Korea.  Star Wars® being the worst movie of the year.


The Boy:  “Aliens.”

Yup.  He got it in one.

Here’s the story:  There were several United States senators who decided UFOs needed to be investigated.  Since they were senators, they managed to get several million dollars appropriated.  At the rate the Pentagon spends money, several million dollars would be less than they spend on attempting to milk mice with itty-bitty automatic mice milking machines to get enough mice milk to . . . well, its classified why the Pentagon needs mice milk.  Move along, citizen.

Anyhow, they put together a program to monitor UFO sightings.  In charge of this program was one Luis Elizondo.  Here are a few of his recent quotes from Luis’ interview with The Telegraph:

“It was enough where we began to see trends and similarities in incidents. There were very distinct observables. Extreme maneuverability, hypersonic velocity without a sonic boom, speeds of 7,000mph to 8,000mph, no flight surfaces on the objects. A lot of this is backed with radar signal data, gun camera footage from aircraft, multiple witnesses.”

“. . . if this was a court of law, we have reached the point of beyond reasonable doubt.”

So, we have the person in charge of the government program researching UFOs indicating that we are seeing evidence of the amount and magnitude that indicates the phenomena is real.  Not made up.  Not swamp gas.  Not little old ladies dipping too often into the cooking sherry or medical marijuana.  Not even the Canadian Air Force (I hear their plane is working again, though).

This leaves us with several possibilities:

  1. The evidence is faked.
  2. The US (or Russians) have propulsion technology that allows them to do what no other aircraft in the history of aviation can do and no interpretation of our current physics can explain.
  3. We are being visited by entities from off of Earth (in our solar system).
  4. We are being visited by entities from another star.
  5. We are being visited by entities from another dimension.
  6. We are being visited by entities from another time.

That’s it.

That’s the full well of possibilities.  There are no more.  (taps well of possibility) Bone dry.

Let’s hit the possibilities one at a time:

  1. Fakey Fakey UFO Bakey.

So, Luis and all of the Pentagon faked all of the data.  Sadly, this is the most likely case.  There is no reason that this would have happened, and plenty of evidence that past world leaders knew something was up . . .

The following is a quote from Mikael Gorbachev:

“From the fireside house, President Reagan suddenly said to me, ‘What would you do if the United States were suddenly attacked by someone from outer space? Would you help us?’” (source:

Gorbachev agreed to a full truce and full cooperation in the event of an alien attack.  Yes.  This is a thing that happened.

I’m not inclined to believe this is a lie, but still the highest probability merely because it’s easiest to explain – not because it fits any facts.

  1. We have the tech.

Attractive.  It would be nice to think that we have this technology.  But the energy and speed involved dwarf literally all known technology by orders of magnitude . . . .

So, to believe this we’d have to believe that we can create not only speeds outside of our ability, but also control inertia so that any pilots weren’t turned into paste through inertia.  Let’s pretend that’s not the case – the structure of the craft alone would be distorted beyond all ability to fly.  After the first turn.  And if the USSR had this tech?  We would all be studying Russian now, comrade.

This, oddly improbable as it is, is the second highest probability.

  1. We are being visited by entities from within our Solar System.

The Earth is about 4.5 billion year old, and could have created several sets of intelligent species during the last 250 million years.  Mars might have had a similar window, but several hundred million years earlier.

Could they have escaped doom and watch us, even now?

Not really likely.  It would get very boring – more even than watching reruns.  But it does solve one problem of the next possibility:

  1. We are being visited by entities from another star.

Moving between stars is Hard.  Capital H – italicized Hard.

Stars are really far apart.  Not far apart like driving through Texas far.  But far apart like driving through Texas twice with Alaska in the middle Hard.  And there are no gas stations or rest stops and you just drank 20 Big Gulps®.

And the confines of the life spans we are familiar with aren’t compatible with interstellar travel.  Traveling 1/10th the speed of light, (which is fast, almost 19,000 miles per second) it would take you 40 years to get to the nearest star – and we’re not sure there’s even anything interesting there.  And it would take as much energy to get you going that fast as the world’s largest nuclear bomb – ever.  Add in supplies?  At least the annual electricity consumption.  Of the world.  Just for you.

So, if you could freeze yourself (if you could figure out how to do that) and then spend thousands of years getting here.  Just so you could fly around nuclear bases and make US Navy fighter pilots nuts – “I don’t know what it is, but I want to fly one.”

Alternatively, there could be technology that would allow faster than light travel, even though there is no indication, ever, that there is any way to travel faster than light.  But we didn’t think that heavier than air flight is possible for . . . almost all of history.  Is there a physics we don’t understand?  Certainly.  Does it include faster than light travel?  Unknown.

But what doesn’t require suspended animation and won’t die on a long trip?


Here’s a (really short) story I wrote a couple of years ago.  Enjoy.

It didn’t use radio.

No one knew how it communicated, but they couldn’t pick it up on any band that we knew. On the TV, they speculated that maybe it used some sort of “quantum” thing to communicate, but that didn’t tell me much.

It was on the moon.

At school, my teacher Miss Rachel told us that some person using their backyard telescope pointed at this crater on the moon – Aristarchus – had seen something one night. That had happened before, but this time the flashes, the glimmers, they didn’t stop.

It was moving.

It didn’t stop, either. By the time they wheeled Hubble over, they were able to see it in real time. There were clouds of dust, but that didn’t matter much. There isn’t any atmosphere on the moon, so the dust drops out real quick. Something was going on, but we had no idea what.

The rock that it launched hit Stanford.

The professor in the wheelchair used his machine voice to tell us that we were too close. Whatever it was up there was listening to us. It maybe always had been. And it was old, old as the whole solar system, maybe. It was a tiger trap, a wolf snare. Stanford was where the best AI research was, he said. Maybe they were getting too close. Can’t be too close now – Stanford is nothing but a crater, and about two million people died, according to the Internet.

It’s watching.

I guess it always was. I guess it always will be. Wonder if the dinosaurs got too close way back when? Right now, I’m wondering if this was a warning shot or a warm up.

Yeah.  Sleep easy.  Don’t worry about the Terminator under your bed.  Or on your Moon.

This has a low probability.  But . . . it’s at the same time nearly 100% certain.  Aliens could easily create AI that could travel between stars.  That tech is nearly available to us now.  If there’s intelligent life it’s high probability it will develop to our level of technology given enough time.  And if it took thousands of years?  Who cares if your iPhone takes 100 years or 100,000 years to get to a destination?  If designed well enough, it could prep and wait for  . . . whatever it was programmed to wait for.

  1. We are being visited by entities from another dimension.

Well, now I just throw my hands in the air.  We do know that there are other dimensions, or at least are pretty sure that they are necessary to explain much of the physical phenomena we see around us today.  It’s possible, likely even, that there are alternate universes out there.  Maybe an infinite number.  But what if you could go to one that was next door?  That sounds really hard.  But might even be easier to move between alternate Earths than moving between stars.  We simply don’t know.

But if I could move between dimensions?  I could see wanting to keep track of the neighbors . . . .

  1. We are being visited by entities from another time.

This one is way weirder, and I consider much less likely.  Why?  Moving through time is probably way harder than moving through space.  The Earth is moving around the Sun.  So, if I tried to travel back in time?  I’d also have to travel through space to the place the Earth is now, not then.

And the Sun is moving through space.  It takes about 230 million years for it to do a lap – so it’s done over 19 laps around the Milky Way galaxy since it formed.  And the galaxy is moving, too.

Sorry to disillusion you, but if Doc Brown sent Marty back 25 years in time?  He’s die gasping for air in a DeLorean off in interstellar space, since the Sun is moving 30 miles per second in its orbit around the black hole at the center of the Milky Way.  He’d have been 24 billion miles from anyone who had ever heard Johnny B. Goode.

In space no one can hear your guitar solo.

This is the least likely scenario.

Regardless, it is “beyond a reasonable doubt” that something out there, came here.

Those are not my words.  The dude who ran the program to study UFOs said this.  Obviously he’s seen more than we ever will.  I just hope he celebrates Penultimate Day in a non-heretical way.

The Boy is waiting to punish heretics . . .

Author: John

Nobel-Prize Winning, MacArthur Genius Grant Near Recipient writing to you regularly about Fitness, Wealth, and Wisdom – How to be happy and how to be healthy. Oh, and rich.

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