Man loses job after searching too hard for aliens

An employee of an Arizona school district is asked to resign after school officials allege he had downloaded alien-seeking software to all the district's computers.

I can understand why people are so keen to find alien life. It isn't so much a scientific fascination with what might be out there. It's more a pained hope that what is out there might be more enjoyable than what is down here.

So I am wrestled to the ground by a certain sympathy for Brad Niesluchowski.

According to the Arizona Republic, Niesluchowski was asked to resign after allegedly using his position at the Higley Unified School District to exercise his own (and our) need for an alien encounter.

This was not a case of uploading pictures of potential lady friends from Eastern Europe. No, this was a rather more imaginative downloading of software that searches for extra-terrestrial life.

The Republic's sleuths got their hands on documents that suggest Niesluchowski was encouraged to resign after he downloaded free University of California (the terribly forward-thinking Berkeley branch) software that uses idle computers to examine information collected by radio telescopes.

This would be information that might indicate that ET is, indeed, flying around in a bike basket somewhere out there.

Might someone out there try to correct this situation? Cc Joka2000/Flickr

Niesluchowski, you see, enjoyed the authority to purchase all sorts of technology for his district. And his alleged downloading of alien-hunting software might well have used additional energy resources and caused other related damage or accelerated depreciation to the hardware. The school district estimates these losses at between $1.2 million and $1.6 million.

Specifically, Niesluchowski stands accused of downloading a program called SETI@home to every computer in the school district.

You might rather enjoy perusing the SETI Web site. One of its recent small steps for man was to launch a site for Iran so that Iranians might also co-operate in accelerating the incidence of Klingon contact.

However, SETI might not have been the only software Niesluchowski donated to Higley. The school district also claimed it had found another program, with the heavenly name of BOINC, that also emanated from Berkeley.

Perhaps Niesluchowski's alleged behavior was not entirely thought through. Perhaps he simply hoped no one would ever notice. But, using the moniker "NEZ" he had reportedly become one of the most active and admired alien hunters. The Republic suggests that he earned 575 million "credits,", representing the enormous hours he spent in the search for the next world.

I would, however, like to offer an alternative theory as to why he might have behaved in the way he allegedly did.

The Polish roots of the name "Niesluchowski" are the words "not" and "listening". It seems perfectly possible to me that Niesluchowski merely wanted to prove that, despite his name, he was doing more future-focused listening that anyone in the world.