Attention, People of Earth
The New Yorker brings us an important message from extraterrestrials, translated by writer Paul Simms. I'm just gonna start this dialog by emphasizing that everything's cool. They just want to, you know, check out our planet and hang out. There are some details and stuff to work out, but nobody's gonna get eaten by huge laser-wielding death monsters. The message begins (emphasis added):
We are on our way to your planet. We will be there shortly. But in this, our first contact with you, our "headline" is: We do not want your gravel.
We are coming to Earth, first of all, just to see if we can actually do it. Second, we hope to learn about you and your culture(s). Third--if we end up having some free time--we wouldn't mind taking a firsthand look at your almost ridiculously bountiful stores of gravel. But all we want to do is look.
Personally, I welcome our new gravel-interested (but not TOO interested) overlords. As they continue, "[A]s far as protocol goes, we're a pretty informal species. If you want to put together a welcoming ceremony with all your kings and queens and Presidents and Prime Ministers and leading gravel-owners, that's fine. But please don't feel like you have to." So it's cool. Read the rest and keep close hold of your precious gravel, people.