This file from Adra, http://www.mhada.info.

About: Political Action


Martha Adams

Return to Adra's Top topics list. ----------------------------------

To write today about America's world leading future in space, if it has any, is difficult. I answer that challenge by writing the following topical pieces around real, doable political action for individual people such as yourself (and by extension, for groups). My text here is background, suggestions, and information. I don't try to write a rigid single political advocacy plan that I imagine fits everyone's need.

You cannot whiz thru the following, run off, and Do Something. Political action is a game for grownups with an appetite for work and without need for immediate gratification. When you undertake political action, you're going up against pre-existing institutions and well-seated people who think different from you. Your successful advocacy may only provoke heavy retaliation against you.

This reality means that your creating noise and nuisance, and childish acting-out may get you some newspaper space, but it will almost certainly fail to accomplish your good objective. You must take the time it takes for good preparation, followed by on-the-job learning experience. See short-lived news stories about those who won't do the necessary preliminary work. The informed political activist has some chance to accomplish something, but as you undertake advocacy, remember that politics is about force not matters of "right" and "wrong." What is the central force in politics? It's this:

          We are right, for we have got
          the Gatling Gun, and they have not.

Where in its practical application, the process is usually lubricated by large cash flows. This little verse illustrates that politics is basically power in action. It's brutal. No reason for "what's good" to prevail appears in it. That's because none is there: Politics is about power.

When you begin in politics, you have practically no power at all. But you have an option to study what people have done; to know what your environment is; to find out who the people are there; to develop realistic observations about how things work in your political environment. It takes time, but doing your preparation and homework before you do action is a winning move because so many people ...don't.

And do remind yourself, frequently, the experience and practice of your real social life, does nothing to prepare you for this business. So grab up one of those postit things and write on it, "Who has the Gatling Gun?" Then stick it up front and center in your political advocacy worktable. This whole world may change, but that won't.

This Adra node can help you start your own political advocacy. To some effect. Here are summarized resources I think you'll find useful to get off zero. There's a lot of myself in it: use with discretion. Use it to think about what your reality is; what your resources are; and what is a longterm personal program you can carry on. Toward your thoughtful perception of some appropriate space objective.

I think that from Washington's point of view, we don't amount to much, you and I. A vote or two, maybe, among millions of votes. We don't control much money by Washington standards ("A billion here, a billion there; after a while it adds up to real money"), nor can we individually exert noticeable political power and news ...adjustment. In politics as among dogs, size counts. Any political action by us "small people" amounts to writing into a storm.

However, getting heard is doable, since after all, we vote, and here in America, a vote has some value. (Less than ought to be, but some.) If you have thought, "We need some things to be different around here," see the following text for some activist ideas. And in a nearby file (Fume and Rant) I outline some of my personal perceptions of today's distraction and glossed-over failure in America to accomplish needed objectives.

* * *

The central fact about political action -- I'm talking to you now -- is you can do it. Politicans will hear you (or seem to; that's a topic here). And when you do your advocacy, you may have some effect upon local, American, and world affairs. I say "may" because when you undertake political action you find yourself competing with, for instance, the American Military. Which has, to understate, powerful apparatuses to winnow out of Washington huge flows of cash which they ...squander. If you imagine there's no hope in that reality, it's not so. Where the hope is, is in fact-based not faith-based reality. Where the hope is, is in what you do.

See below, materials you will find useful if you choose to move on with your political action. As (I think I'm not exaggerating here) America and this world need you to do. I'm not writing a how-to-do-it piece here, a single-minded and rigid action plan for you to follow. I offer ideas and resources here. You must develop for yourself what is right for yourself, with an eye to what works. Your task begins with yourself.

Namely, as you begin to move into this political gladiator's ring, Why are you there? To my thinking, two central options stand out among very many: 1) You want to leave, after your time, a stepping-stone, not a stumbling block. Or, 2) thoughts of smashing things and people give you a warm sense of power and you want more of that. You have a choice here: to see consequences of such choice, read news and history.

Upon completing this exercise, reduce your thoughts to a few key words and put up another postit, handy to your Gatling Gun note. And that completes your preliminary setup.

To start, search around to see what the pros, those already out there, are up to now. Probably at one time or another, something very political has turned up in your mailbox, and you may have noticed, it wasn't a very complicated construction. "Mail the enclosed like a letter to your Congressman, using the pre-addressed envelope provided," and etc. (I've a feeling a flood coming in one day of many such pre-printed form letters, gets very little attention down in Washington).

(If you have nothing at hand, scouting the daily, weekly, and monthly periodicals will serve.)

If you inspect such a political form letter with an eye to how it is made, you may observe that if you do a little reading and thinking on your own, then you can write something better than that. And as a one-off from a particular person, when it gets down to Washington it could get a little attention. Especially if many other people do like you: think, then write from the self.

You can do this on a personal scale: find a few Washington addresses and begin writing emails and letters into them. On another scale, writing into blogs and usenet is useful if limited [1]. You can participate in something larger, as in social and business groups around space topics (I mention a few below). Here is the longterm plan I propose for your personal political activism into Washington:

Start small. Then grow.

Which, if you undertake it, will require a certain energy and adhesive tenacity over the long run. (Well, that sorts out the adults from the kiddies.)

I've written the following from a point of view that you the reader, are going to go down to Washington DC and walk in to the Senate Office Building or some other center of political control and influence. As you indeed can do! And once there, make your case for space to someone you meet there. However, the principles that I outline here are relevant, I mean probably central, to any other advocacy you might do.

Maybe you can find a shortcut. Your Congress person spends time back in his home territory and may keep an office local to your home. If you can find a local office, start there and visit Washington later.

When you go in to that office, what does your Congressperson see in you standing there? In fact, he's unlikely to see you. Rather, you can expect to meet an intern. See my comments about interns below. Whoever is looking at you sees an exceptional person: exceptional, because you're there and a hundred or a thousand others who might, aren't. Which, if you have done your setup and homework (see following materials) may put you into serious politics immediately.

If Washington is hard for you to reach thru personal realities of time, distance, and money, then use resources of hardcopy mail and cyberspace. You can locate these easily [2] and save your information into a farleyfile [3].

* * *

When you start your advocacy work, there is an easy way to do it, and there is a hard way that is not accessible to all who might think of political change. The easy way goes something like: "I believe [Some Large Picture]. I believe it strongly. Therefore, it's true and you must believe it, too. If you won't, awful consequences will certainly follow."

I'm sure you've heard that line. It's bad. This entirely faith-based logic might work for small children, for weak-minded adults, and for True Believers of religious or other conservative character. But in this real world, your [Large Picture] that you bring in, competes with all the noise and previously arrived [Other Large Pictures] already stewing around any political office. It must survive political and ideological challenges and also pass tests of common sense, readability, usefulness, consequences, and winning over the competition. To advocate space and settlements, in Washington especially or anywhere else, calls for foresight, study, and preparation. All with an eye to what works.

Which brings us to the most central Don't Do This suggestions that I can provide for you. These are about meetings.

Meetings are opportunities; meetings of people who think different from you are big opportunities. You will probably be in the meeting as an observer, not as a participant. It's real good to not get confused about your status there. Don't expect anyone there wants to hear what you want to say. Do Not wear a nutty costume, dump rubbish around, try to shout down the speaker, and etc. Do Not create a chaotic scene people would rather forget, along with your message (which you have now contaminated with bad vibes). Until you have moved socially far up in this business you're in, the value of a meeting is what you carry out from it, not what you carry in to it.

Here is another view of this PR business. Wherever news is published, its producers throw in something to make you feel you must read it. A strongly implied prioritizing: a This First. Something exciting or somehow important to catch your eye. Commonly used for this: pointers to conflict and war. Well, since exciting news sells better, they will make it exciting. But if you look around at reality, that's off the point. Hear the vibes; scout between the lines; look for the quiet and deadly chess game that must underlie the visible events.)

Beware the open mouth that closes the mind. That speaker whose thinking runs contrary to yours, believes different from you for some reason. If you are working to any serious purpose, you can hardly do better for your objectives than to quietly hear your opposition's thinking.

(Then mine it for the useful riches there.)

Here are some get-off-zero basics as I see them. Be reminded advocacy is something you do. Read wisely and a lot, but learn by doing.

========= [ Startup ] =========

"Startup" is also known as the challenge to get off zero -- in a productive direction.

To learn about politics, it's all out there in the news media when you read deeply between the lines. Nothing in normal life readies you for this topic. What do politicians do? Set aside a whole lot of stuff you've heard since you want to get realistic now. The business of a political office is social management and making connection between various people of various needs. In return for money (find discussion of "Nothing for nothing" in Winter-Berger [4]).

Further, a political office is the home workplace of a person who goes to big meetings where they make big choices by some consensus or vote process. (Congress, for instance.) The politician comes to his office as a representative for a region ("district") and his core objective is to benefit his region (often at a cost to competing regions).

Now you come along and you want this politician to make some things happen. Which you believe you can't do but maybe the politician can. If what you want to happen does nothing for him, nothing for his region, you can expect a polite audience with a "Move along, please" subtext. When you talk with this politician, what's on his mind? Likely options are: money; useful political connection; money; re-election; money; some goodness for the region he represents. And, of course, ...money.

(Look at the news seen near election times. For example. Why does someone spend $20 - 30 million to win an election [5]? Suggestion: it's not altruism.)

Now, don't start feeling offended or hostile about this reality. It's there, it's a central part of how this world works, so let's move on now. ...So while you're promoting space settlement or research, your materials support how this politician and his region can a) do something for you; and b) get something out of it for the politician and his region. See, Robert Winter-Berger, The Washington Payoff [4].

If you haven't guessed it already, my topic here is often called lobbying. If you find social openings and unusual success, and you start handling some money, find time immediately to read up on lobbyists and the law. I.e., registration and etc.; but that's far outside my topic.

So welcome to politics. It could be a whole new kind of activity for you. Here is a little relevant reading. For best return from it, read closely to seek out the ideas the text is built around (the two Heinlein works are fiction -- Heinlein was an engineer and a political advocate, and his writing shows it). Later, as you move along with your advocacy work, come back sometimes to what is here. You are likely to find much new meaning in these:

Some science fiction is strong on political process. See Robert Heinlein, Double Star [3] and John W. Campbell, The Moon Is Hell [6]. See also, Allen Steele, Lunar Descent (1991) [7].

Be reminded, as you read, that good science fiction is usually good speculation. The writer writes to get paid for it, not to accomplish prediction; but science fiction writings are often rich and useful resources for thinking about the future. There seem to be many people confused about this small and significant difference. Science fiction is speculation not prediction. (Much of today's mathematics developed by a like process, leading to unending discussion among mathematicians about "abstract" vs "applied" mathematics.)

For more practical detail and a first introduction to our American political reality, see Winter-Berger's The Washington Payoff (1972) [4]. Be warned that upon reading this book you may feel some hostility toward any participation in politics. Be reminded, if you choose that, your political influence goes to zero.

========= [ About ] =========

When you advocate, speak for short-term objectives in a perspective of the longer future. Here in Adra, my long term picture is us humans enlarge our domain from Terra's surface, to (for now) this Solar System where Terra orbits Sol. But my short-term objective is that's all very good but first we need to mobilize local resources and get off Terra. You want to think about that. Yes, the far future is a challenging and seductive topic, but first we have to get there. Within that reality, your short-term objective must fit the needs of the politician you are advocating to -- as you begin to understand your political environment you will be thinking in great detail about this. But at this point I propose a few starting points.

[] Getting Off Terra. This calls for large hardware and for a large industrial base to build and operate it. The Saturn 5 booster from the Apollo era was such a machine. Human expansion into our Solar System needs the Saturn 5 again (Resurrect that from the 1960's? A very good idea!) or a space elevator system somewhere on our Terran equator.

(As I write, current news has SpaceX talking about building new boosters of Saturn 5 and larger size. That's good, but it's the third time the idea has been started. Namely: the Saturn 5; then Constellation; now SpaceX's Falcon X machines. The Shuttle that was sold as an incremental step (and failed) is in there somewhere. An engineer would observe, we need a stable industrial base with incremental progress, not a series of restarts from zero, previous base discarded. After the next election, do we return to zero and start yet again?)

[] How to live in space. Robert Zubrin's analog Mars stations illustrate how we can cross the gap from living on Terra to living far off Terra. This technology is not getting the attention it needs for appropriate progress. I've seen some gosh-wow news about the 520-day analog mission simulation under way now in Russia. I think these two points about it are central to any progressive course of events:

1) That's not in America. This fact complements my observation elsewhere in Adra, that America is not a space-going nation.

2) The research topic -- humans living off-Terra -- is technically difficult. It wants known good technology and social psychology. Is someone going to just ship out a mission and look at what happens? No. Robert Zubrin has the key to it: analog missions. Just a guess: about twenty of those to achieve the knowhow and certainty needed to start in space. Unless we have several of those going at once, we are talking a half to a full century of time to accomplish a good research base.

Which means, political advocacy for analog space work in your politician's territory, is likely to pay off later. If you can sell it now.

[] Space suits. If you've been reading around, you may have noticed very little being said (and done) about space suits. Something is wrong here. How often do you go out from your home? Each day? Off Terra, people will often work outside whatever Lifespace Habs they build to live in. Space suits must become about as common and accessible as denim jeans are here, and for much the same reason. How do our future humans do that? Out there? It will be hard to do, see Gary Harris [8]. You might get some ideas by reading Robert Heinlein, Have Spacesuit Will Travel [9]. What can you find now to do about that need?

This is a beginning for topics you can think about and then later on, advance them politically as some of your work.

========= [ Objective ] =========

Shipping your advocacy out broadcast to an already noisy world, is not going to be very effective. Your advocacy must be well made and directed to a place, to an objective. (Where 'objective' is both its direction to a particular office or person, and its goal to accomplish something.) Choosing where to direct your space advocacy is as easy as picking up your daily paper and seeking out its Letters from the Reader. Try also: magazines; Web sites and blogs; usenet; local political offices of local politics; local political offices linked to Washington; political offices in Washington. For openers. But as you learn the work and environment, you may find yourself directing your advocacy to your choice of strategically located people.

Of all people everywhere, who are these? These will be people you can find, somehow, who will listen to you and who can advance affairs in the directions you want. Do not seek, expect nor attempt any magical conversions to your [Big Picture]. Get an ear, then reach for the mind.

Since you will be one of many different people promoting their many [Big Picture] ideas, study how you can do your advocacy better than they do theirs. As you gain experience you will see that surprisingly often, your competition's work is defective somehow. (Common failures are spelling and readability.) To begin well, study whatever you can find about the character and environment of those you want to hear your advocacy. What are work materials like in that office? What are their styles for basic presentation and literacy? How much of your stuff do they have time for? From these beginnings, review your resources and then tune your advocacy to the ear you want to hear it.

For example, think about environment and local culture out there where your advocacy goes. What's it like over there? Be reminded high-school civics does not prepare you for this business (but it's a place to start). For a good introduction to American political environment, read Winter-Berger [4]. The Washington social and political environment is difficult: "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog." It probably moves faster than anywhere else you have experienced. I'll come back later to coping with this: the basic principle is you need to learn a thick skin.

Wherever you choose to start your advocacy, I know one thing for sure about it: someone else got there before you did. Don't be discouraged by that. What may look like a wall, isn't. Whoever got there ahead of you, probably didn't trouble to do as good a job as you can do. If you can think and read and open your eyes to it, the wall is full of holes. This reality creates the opening you are looking for. I suggest these parameters for success:

1) Quality! What is not literate is probably not going to be heard. For good effect, speak well.

2) To be heard once, speak up many times. "Victory is down nine times, up ten times" (Japanese saying). And,

3) If your advocacy succeeds, you'll make history. Work from a sense of what that history might be (but don't overdo it).

========= [ Slush Pile ] =========

Across recent decades, culture drift and digital tech evolution have changed the world, but I believe the following stays true. With adaptation to what today's world is. How do editors (and by parallel analogy, politicians) cope with the flood of traffic and paperwork that comes in to their offices? Imagine a back-room table with incoming mail piled a foot or more deep on it. Then:

[] Non First Class materials may be discarded immediately. Materials from Known People are sorted from the incoming stream and forwarded quickly to their destinations in the office system. The rest goes into a Slush Pile to be reviewed by a junior editor or by an intern. Who works something like: open it, pull out the content halfway, and how does it look? If it looks amateurish, crankish, or far off topic, discard it and move on to the next. If it looks workmanlike and the topic is good, read more. Which leads to the following suggestions for whatever you want to send or distribute anywhere:

[] Tired eyes. Make it for tired eyes to read it easily. Like a well done academic thesis or term paper, not like the front page of the New York Times. "Fancy" is bad. I get disagreed with a lot about this by people with no editorial experience: I recommend a New Courier font, dark not thready as you may see on computer screens. Test your production by stepping back four feet: how does it look? Like it's expert work and it's good to read? If not, then redo and get it right.

[] Usefulness to the reader. How does your reader gain by doing what you propose? This is a central part of your message, for the reader who sees nothing to gain from your [Big Picture] will move on directly to something offering better prospects.

[] Structure. Top, middle, end. The first quality signal is some indication the writer has made a well structured work. The slush reader looks for this to quickly evaluate a thing and to see what it's about. The middle matter does the work, and not too much of it. A reading list and links at the end offer access to additional information. Through all of your work, what you say is tuned to your careful estimate of what the reader needs.

[] Long enough, and no longer. Your reader who is worth your effort, has much else to do. But also, human memory being time limited and imperfect, concise and focussed wins over extended and rambling.

[] Avoid Microsoft software. Microsoft files are made incompatible across hardwares, and sometimes, even to other Microsoft versions of same-name software. Go to OpenOffice.org, download their entire Office Suite (current at this writing is 3.2.1), and use that to make your files for distribution. Your files will be portable to Linux and Mac among others.

(Because text content and format are wholly different matters, I write thru an emacs editor. I find this very much easier and faster than klutzing with a wordprocessor. Then, once I have the text right, I apply formatting. If that's needed. All Adra is made this way with your browser doing the formatting.)

[] Try pdf files. Adobe's *.pdf is patent encumbered, but it's around a lot so where I can't use plain ascii, it's an option. The OpenOffice.org wordprocessor makes *.pdf files nicely.

[] The Postal System. I've heard hardcopy mail into Washington may be delayed up to two weeks before delivery to a political office. In today's world, it needs testing for cranks work -- powders and the like, as you have read of. Email with hardcopy followup is good practice for your advocacy work.

========= [ Preparation ] =========

Today's news is tomorrow's history. As soon as that. When you do advocacy, you're making history. To make constructive history, then, you must know something of that history you're trying to extend.

History begins ...when history begins. That's far back in time, and researchers are continually filling in detail and pushing back limits to history. For present purpose, however, history may be said to begin with the first paper, useful to workers in the field, about a future human expansion into our Solar System. It was written in 1893.

That's the year Frederick Jackson Turner published his American frontier paper [10]. Turner's paper opened frontier development as an academic topic. He outlines a staged progression for settlement evolution from first arrival to settled community. Turner's thinking translates remarkably well into planning for tomorrow's settlements in space. And Turner seems to be Zubrin's starting point for his book, The Case for Mars [11].

(I pass quickly by Konstantin Tsiolkovski [12], who was thinking and writing in Turner's time, because my topic here is social and cultural, not math and engineering. But if engineering is your thing, then read Tsiolkovski, and be surprised to see the foresight a good mind can achieve using imagination and mathematics.)

There is no "one size fits all" in this business. Your message must be tailored to your chosen target, and before you send it out again to another target, tailored again.

========= [ Message ] =========

A good message for advocacy and Public Relations is as long as necessary, and no longer. Your message in writing is your visible face in writing: people looking at that text will see you in it long after you have yourself come and gone. Beware long and windy. Seek short and concise. For example. See:

Mars or Bust!

which is a pin I picked up at a recent Mars Society annual conference. In three words it connects our American history and hopes, to a particular possible future among many. It is a lot for three words to do, and they do it. Nicely. I have not seen a better piece of such work anywhere. As a brief useful exercise, what could you do with three words?

Wherever you go to do your advocacy, carry hardcopies of it with you to pass on when you visit. Your handout and summary hardcopy wants to meet certain requirements: it is short and to the point; it is made for tired and busy eyes to read it. It is not very dense on the page. Lines are best spaced more wide than singlespace but not as far apart as doublespace. (The Openoffice.org wordprocessor provides a 1 1/2 lineskip, this works well.)

Beware wordprocessors like Microsoft sells. These mix up message format with message content. Which makes the work harder that may already be coming up to cognitive overload. As you write, first get the content right: brief and concise. Then format it. (Adra is made this way. Your browser is doing the formatting as you read here.) Recycle until you have what you want. For tired eyes to read it.

You can expect that when your message arrives into some Political Hot Spot, it will be read by an intern.

========= [Interns] =========

I begin this block of text by saying again a thing I say elsewhere. Repetition is appropriate here, because few readers of this text will have any practical experience with advocacy by text. Advocacy is communication: first, make your written materials for tired eyes to read them. Then, attend to where your text goes. And when you enter a political office with some of your text, or you send it there, the person who sees it first, the person you find yourself talking with, will probably be an intern in the office.

This intern is for you at this moment, the most important person in that office. You are the central item in a choice the intern is making. Namely: do you evaluate good? The intern will prove wonderfully helpful. Do you evaluate bad? The intern will become a wall blocking your access and success in that office. You don't get to re-do "first time." Thus, if you incline to rate the intern as ambiguously a shade below or above a secretary sitting there, that will amount to at least two mistakes. The secretary may well be the politicians eyes and ears in that office; the intern, the politician's ears and hands.

Further, an intern is likely to be a very selected person. The political office needs front-line people who can act for the politician in some matters; who can choose which of incoming business is best passed in to the Top. Thus an intern is probably the first person (and maybe the only person) to see your advocacy materials.

The intern's knowledgeable and experienced eye sees and calibrates you personally almost instantly; and then passes on to your advocacy materials. What have you got?

A newspaper, a business periodical, or a fancy two-column layout by some wordprocessor, are not the model for what you need in hand then. The appropriate model is a good academic term paper, or a work to be sent to an editor the old fashioned way: black text on white paper; wide linespacing; plain monospace font (Courier = best; Artisan = very good) about typewriter size; underscore not italics; and no-hyphenation ragged-right. The best book on this topic that I have seen is Sheridan Baker [13]. If you have no other model to hand, try Adra here. Too "nice" is only distraction to the reader: that will cost you.

If you feel that I'm recommending an very plain model for your work, you're right. Think about this, it's important. You are sending a message and anything you do that interferes with its arrival and perception there, hurts your work. The reason for plain is you want to carry a message not deliver ornamentation. If your reader is overworked with tired eyes you want your reader to see the message not curlicues, ornate text, pink perfumed paper. (People do these things and much more, seek examples in cyberspace.) If you want surprises and small fireworks to sharpen your message, those belong in the text content, not in the text format.

That is because, the message that you deliver will (hopefully) remain in the office long after your visit. If it's very good it will be reproduced and distributed. The layout and format I recommend, will better survive this process than will any other. Double benefit.

For which reasons, all the preparation you do for this visit into a political office, is no more than enough. Which winds up what I want to say about interns. And their environments you meet them in.

========= [Endurance -- and Time] =========

To fetch out success from this troubled and noisy world, you must try a lot. Work from your heart's choice, because however right you are about your topic, success and social recognition do not necessarily return to you from what you do. Even for the very best outcomes, "luck" and "immediate" rarely happen near to each other.

My leading example for persistence is Robert Zubrin, head today of the Mars Society. He has been advocating for Mars settlement since the 1990's or earlier. See his The Case For Mars [11], first published in 1996. He's right, you can see he's right (if your religious blinders aren't in effect) and I sincerely hope the universe isn't going to bang in here one of these days and then nobody will know he's right because there won't be anybody. Anywhere. If we haven't settled Mars and some asteroids.

(I recognize my above extreme argument, neglects the immense social and business riches that will come to some of us humans who colonize our Solar System. Think back a few hundred years to that remote territory which became known as "America.")

(Find Zubrin bio information in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Zubrin.)

========= [A Thick Skin] =========

When your advocacy provokes opposition, that signals progress. Somebody hears you, they bite back. Or perhaps something you try to do, goes wrong. Sooner or later, your advocacy, your ego, even yourself and your friends, will take a hit. Perhaps you do a lot of work, deliver your message to the place you chose for it, and ...nothing happens. Nothing comes back. Or perhaps, something you do proves to be a large mistake that stirs up the news media to publish it all over the place.

These rough spots will happen. Stop, think, then go ahead. Names can hurt you, but given a thick skin you can review your experience to harvest out some good from it. The experience prepares you for more experience. The best of plans may go wrong. Things happen. To do political advocacy, you'll need a thick skin. Which you learn thru experience. Here are some political experiences that made the news:

Howard Dean's death scream. At a speech on 2004 Jan 19, Presidental candidate Howard Dean, for some reason, gave a scream of enthusiasm lasting less than one second. I'm sure he did this on impulse. It was (by my information) re-broadcast 633 times over the next 4 days. That was the end of his Presidential candidacy.

Brown vs Duffy (in England). After a public exchange with Gillian Duffy on 2010 April 28, Gordon Brown remarked privately about her, "...just a sort of bigoted woman." He was, unfortunately, next to a live microphone when he said that and his remark immediately went very public. A small thing, large consequences for Brown. (It turned out, he survived the election.)

Helen Thomas, a well known and outspoken reporter at Presidential press conferences over several decades, disappeared suddenly from the scene in 2010 early June. Because at this writing it's nearly current, you can read from cyberspace and periodicals about what happened.

General Stanley McChrystal abruptly disappeared from his post in Afghanistan and from the public news shortly after some of his remarks were published in Rolling Stone Magazine. Commentary about this event mentions alcohol. Loose lips sink ships!

Yourself? It's out there. Perhaps you make a mistake. Perhaps someone picks something out of your context and distributes it labelled as your mistake. There is a lot of unreality in this PR business.

You want to think about these examples. If one of the above happened to you, how would you move on from it? What might someone do who opposes your objectives? After the fact, you may think, "I could have seen that coming." Well, first you have to look out there with an eye to what might happen. (Experience helps.) Try writing brief plans for what you might do to recover your advocacy career.

Where something goes wrong, you may want to vanish off the face of this world. Don't do that: you can live with it. Howard Dean is still in politics, if not Presidential politics. Gordon Brown was re-elected after all. Helen Thomas can point to a long life of useful accomplishment. For ideas about McChrystal's options, read Bamford [14]. These people did not just vanish. If you commit a major goof (or you seem to):

Stop. Think. Then go ahead.

You get better at your work thru study and experience. Experience with pain and crash is experienced emphasized, not moral judgement from On High. The discipline and work of study prepares you for best use of experience. Read Francis Bacon's essays [15]. In form and content, they offer strong resources never seen in TV or in today's periodicals. And Ben Franklin says, "Experience keeps a hard school, but a fool will learn in no other," as a reminder that experience alone is not sufficient preparation for serious work. So see to your preparatory reading and study.

=============== Four National Organizations ===============

I might have said, "Four American National Organizations," because that is what I chose here. In fact, active space organizations exist all around Terra and it's worth your time to follow what people outside America's borders are up to. Watch especially: news from India, Russia, and China.

However, that starts to drift off my topic here. See that other line of thought developed over in my Fume and Rant. Where some of my comments about American organizations and space work could be viewed as hostile (but 'frustrated' is more near the mark). Don't let my personal vibes expressed here in Adra, upset your work and throw you off researching the following suggested sites -- and beyond.

If you want to do something about us humans getting Out There, and you're not part of an organization working directly at it, you can do much from home. You need a computer with cyberspace/internet access, but if you're reading Adra here, you must have something of that sort now. I propose the following four resources for a start. Do not pass lightly over these. Study and re-read; re-study and review; keep notes and think about them like you are readying for your Career Final Exam. (Which you may discover one day, you've been doing.) Start now, start here:

* * *

The Mars Society. Tabs there include: Political Action; Forums; Mars Society News; MarsPapers. Note: Political Action. Under that, find resources only hinted at here in Adra.

* * *

The National Space Society (often abbreviated to 'NSS') publishes a large Web site. See the side columns in its 3-across top page. Its 'About Space' tab leads to space work resources -- you will need some time to study all that is there. Under the 'Activities' tab find 'Legislative Action' and 'Social Networking'.

* * *

The Planetary Society. This organization prominently features some very good names, and hardware projects such as a light-sail experiment. See tabs in their Web page: 'Participate' and 'Take Action'.

* * *

Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (often abbreviated to 'SEDS'). Where SEDS is young people, today's hope for a tomorrow without the corruptions, wars, and religious ideologies that restrict today's American possibility. Today's realities being a direct path to tomorrow's social collapse.

=============================================================== Notes, Resources, and Pointers ===============================================================

[1] Movable type printing comes into our European history in the early 1600's. (From China!) For the times, it was a paradigm-changing technology (and today, that history makes a good topic for your evening reading). More recently, cyberspace arrived as the internet, and shortly became a cultural resource and irritant even larger than movable type printing in its time.

Today's internet has developed (I question how appropriate 'evolved' is) immensely, but if you dig in to it you can still find the original internet and cyberspace resources. However, as Citizens Band did in the 1960's, today's cyberspace is become polluted by huge amounts of useless noisy rubbish.

(Some people today ask if all that nuisance and rubbish there may be made to order: to hamper and discourage serious thinkers and researchers from using cyberspace resources for fresh and divergent thinking. Certainly a greater part of all I see in cyberspace today, could be manufactured and placed by just one or two mindless automatic machines running elaborated Eliza based software.)

Today's cyberspace is worth your attention, but you will need to devote a disproportionate part of your time there to coping with that rubbish. Just because someone says, "You want this!" probably has no connection at all with what you actually need from there. Note the slippery slope in cyberspace, sharply down thru porn, gambling, and etc.

[2] Anybody who is doing anything these days about space, recognizes the principal progress obstacles and the principal progress promotors, all feature major political elements. It makes for a complex and difficult topic to work at. To begin developing your knowledge base for such work, see the Web sites by the four American public space organizations listed immediately above the Notes and Pointers section at the end of this node.

[3] See the brief Wiki entry. See Robert Heinlein, Double Star (1956). Some years before he wrote this story, Heinlein was politically active. (He's written a book about that.) Some of Heinlein's experience appears here: read it and find some practical suggestions for how to do politics. An especially good one of these is the "Farleyfile."

A Farleyfile is an organized collection of politically valuable names and contacts, sorted by name. It includes individualization notes so that if you meet the person, you can greet him (her) as a VIP in your life (having just now refreshed your information). It is doubly useful if your mind is weak about names thru nature or aging.

(Be advised: you will soon meet people with surprisingly good recall for such information. They are, basically, all politicians and people in the PR business. This ability is said to improve with use; and you may want to search out information about how to develop it.)

[4] See Robert Winter-Berger, The Washington Payoff (1972). This world is as it is, not as we wish nor imagine nor read in materials copied out of remote pre-science history. Your introduction in school to politics was nice; the introduction to politics you will gain from this book is reality. The book is out of print, but yourself and your library need it if you have any serious ideas about space.

[5] Linda McMahon, 2010 Republican candidate in Connecticut for the U.S. Senate, comes from being CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment. In 2010 August, she is reported to to have spent $21 million, so far, toward that seat in the Senate. Does she expect this money back, somehow? Do look deeply into this story, for you will find in it a lot to think about. (A very similar story -- another Republican -- seems to be developing in Florida.)

[6] John W. Campbell, The Moon is Hell (collected, 1951). Seen as a literary work, this book upsets critics. From my reading of it, I think parts of it must date back to the 1930's, far earlier than its publication date. However, Campbell's engineering based perceptions are valuable to anyone thinking how to live in space.

A detail about Campbell's book troubles me. After meteoric bombardment for several hundred-millions of years, does any space exposed rock solid enough to mine into, yet exist anywhere? I think this question is basic to space work, for I expect us humans going out to space, will live there by placing our lifespaces in mines, below surfaces of asteroids and of planetary moons.

[7] Allen Steele, Lunar Descent (1991). This book is rich, complex, and reality oriented. Steele's preparation to write it included designing a lunar mining base. Social, criminal, political, and business process make up central parts of the story. Where much study and preparation need doing before anyone builds Out There, works such as this support social and political perspective for the work.

[8] Gary L. Harris, The Origins and Technology of the Advanced Extravehicular Space Suit (2001). This is the same book that supplies a quote placed at Adra's top. It's available from Univelt in CA. Rated on priority and centrality to building space settlements, space suits are right up there close to money and politics. They stand squarely on the critical path to success.

[9] Robert A. Heinlein, Have Spacesuit, Will Travel (1958). This first appeared as a juvenile (directed to boys near age of adolescence). It's an enjoyable story featuring a story variety space suit, significantly different from today's actual (and very expensive) space suits.

For observations concerning real space suits, see Harris (above), and Mike Mullane, Riding Rockets (2006). Re those analog "neutral buoyancy" tanks and tests. Your zero-g simulation works for the space suit you're inside of; but you yourself are in one standard g -- upside-down, maybe. Thus these simulations are not complete simulations.

[10] Frederik Jackson Turner's paper "The significance of the frontier in American history" (1893) first presented his 'frontier thesis' which soon roiled-up the academic world. Turner's settlements evolutionary model translates easily into an outline of how someone (Americans, hopefully) could settle local space and the surrounding Solar System. See the F.J. Turner Wikipedia entry.

[11] Robert Zubrin, The Case For Mars (1996). Zubrin started his Mars advocacy long before he published this book. Its merits are considerable. (He's right.) For one thing, Zubrin's 'Case' brought me to F.J. Turner ([9] above), whose thinking about America's frontier and America's character is, I believe, central to a good American future (if we can reverse this nationwide decline our politicians have brought us to).

[12] Konstantin Tsiolkovsky published "The exploration of cosmic space by means of reaction devices" in 1903. He proposed a multistage, liquid oxygen / liquid hydrogen vehicle for earth orbit. See the Wiki entry about him. And about what he had in his time to work with.

[13] Sheridan Baker, The Complete Stylist (1966). Baker has published a few books around text and writing, and I believe this is the best one of them. It is out of print but thru cyberspace, you can find a copy. Your library wants this book.

[14] James Bamford, The Shadow Factory (2008). Whoever is thinking about how America turned "right" and became so different from the hopes and aspirations of many of us, needs to know this book's content. Bamford here complements Winter-Berger for anyone who needs some depth to their perception of today's America. Which is, anyone who wants to push beyond today's wars and other failures to begin placing settlements Out There.

[15] Francis Bacon's essays seem to have appeared from the late 1500's to the early 1600's. They make fascinating and useful reading. Fascinating, because they reflect Bacon's time and the start of today's publically testable science and engineering knowledge. Useful, thru Bacon's use and examples of fact based rational thinking, which as our religious institutions illustrate, is even today too scarce a necessary resource. If you are serious about advocating space, look first at Bacon's essays and how he builds them.

Look first at Bacon, but be warned. It's a basic truism about writing on a topic that is naturally or artificially controversial, that good writing provokes heavy criticism from those working against the message. Bacon, writing in a time when rational thinking and reality testing were new to people then, must have been aware of this larger picture of what he was doing. So he did it very well, but of course his thinking and words reflect his times. So anyone familiar with some of today's epistemology, history, and philosophy of science, can find small things in Bacon to disagree with.

So also, will exponents of faith-based thinking and of pastoral utopias that never happened, oppose fact and science based rational thinking about futures that are possible or likely for us. If particular people rail against you as against Bacon, that may sound bad but it makes a case your work serves good purpose. Go back and read again, how Bacon does what he does. Note especially, his essay opening sentences, often so effective you find them fetched out and displayed independently as quotes.

Mars or Bust!

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