One Small Consensus at MFA; One Great Consensus for Personkind

I’ve always loved space travel. I devoured science fiction as my default genre through high school. In my early teens I borrowed books from the branch library that catered to Robert Heinlein when he was my age. My favorite first book had been the 1949 Conquest of Space, realistic paintings by Chesley Bonestell of Willy Ley’s conception of the space travel everyone knew would be routine by the third millennium. Three buddies of mine in USAF Pilot Training became astronauts and later gave me an insider’s tour of Johnson Space Center. One of them, Roy D. Bridges, Major Gen., (Rtd.) saved my life with a radio call, and, last I heard, was the Director of Kennedy Space Center.

Further, I’m enough of a trekkie to know that Gene Roddenberry’s widow, Majel Barrett, is the voice of the computer on the Next Generation series and played Deanna Troi’s mother, the fabulously outrageous Lwaxana Troi (a daughter of Betazed’s Fifth House, holder of the sacred Chalice of Rixx and heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed) and was nearly cast in the Captain Kirk role in the original series.

Yep, I’m in the cross hairs of the old fart population of space exploration fanatics.

But I don’t see how going to Mars relates to developing our Global Brain. Global Brain is the book by my favorite sociobiologist, Howard Bloom, describing how we are wiring ourselves together to form a superorganism linking us as tightly as bees in their hive. Bloom thinks every life form is a superorganism comprised of simpler life forms that link up so avidly they take on the appearance of unity. In our case, it’s useful to remember that all our biological energy is generated by the mitochondria at the core of every cell, which is literally a separate, symbiotic life form. Our mitochondria are with us but not of us.

Howard Bloom says we’re connecting so fast that major projects will need a broad cultural buy-in rather than by presidential decree. Imagine how different the federal budget would look if it were designed the way they develop budgets in Vermont.

Last week, armed with that question, I read a skeptic who declared that there’s no market for Mars exploration, except for the military-industrial complex. How does he know that? If people hankered for Mars, he said, there’d be settlers queuing up to live in the Gobi Desert, which is a million times more hospitable than Mars and a billion times cheaper to get to. Besides, there are far more interesting challenges waiting for us here on earth, like getting democracy right and building The Economy, Rev. 3.0, which I call Xpertweb.

Harmonizing with the Enemy

On Saturday, Tamara and I visited with Franz Hartl, Dan Droller and Kevin Collinsworth at Music For America’s east coast headquarters. Franz is the spiritual head of MFA, and dropped in on our mini-summit last July to say hi to Zephyr and Zack. Franz loves the idea of the Great Centrist Party, but wants to call it the Great Consensus. He says that the labels Democratic, Republican, liberal and conservative have lost their meaning and that we need a new way of describing the animating force behind American politics.

As Franz and Dan’s interview by Chris Lydon reveals, MFA will sponsor a series of concerts across the country to inspire a new generation of political activists. This initiative, combined with the energy that the Dean youngsters have introduced into the race, is a tsunami sweeping over American politics.

I’m in Burlington for my monthly stint at the capacious corner office in the volunteer bull pen, and I’ll witness this force again, firsthand. Most of the volunteers and staff have never been involved in politics and often have never voted. I certainly have never been involved in politics and swore I never would be.

What does Tom Harkin Know that We Don’t?

Tom Harkin is the senior senator from Iowa and one of the most beloved politicians in Iowa’s history (I’m surprised I can even type “beloved politician”). Last week he joined Al Gore and Bill Bradley to campaign for the Gov in Iowa. Why would he do this when pundits are saying that the race is getting closer? Does this mean Harkin’s casting caution to the winds and throwing in with Dr. Dean to rescue him from the teapot tempest inspired by his 1999 observation that only committed professionals will spend several hours at an Iowa caucus?

Actually, no. I’ll bet Tom Harkin likes Howard Dean as much as anyone else, but he’s not likely to turn his back on Gephardt or Kerry unless he’s quite confident about Dean’s victory in Iowa. But where is he getting his confidence? The difference is that he’s an Iowan and the pundits aren’t. The polls are tilted to the old politics and not to the new, as Franz Hartl explained yesterday.

Franz pointed out that pollsters mostly poll people who voted in the last caucus, discounting the likelihood that a newcomer will show up next Tuesday night. But Franz reminded me of an important point. As we heard again on Meet the Press this morning, Iowa expects twice the turnout as the 2000 caucus. And what kind of people are those new 60,000 voters? People who now have a reason to caucus and did not before.

MidWiving the Revolution

As we left Music For America, Tamara and I thanked our new friends for sharing their time and enthusiasm. And Franz gave us one of the nicest compliments I’ve heard: “It’s great to get better acquainted: You guys midwived the revolution!”

10:30:33 PM    

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