On my experiences at the Big Summer Classic at Camp Zoe in the Ozarks of Missouri—part deux…
I left off mentioning the lack of access to substantive and reliable information sources (either through limited technological means or simply unknown to them), as expressed by the attendees of the Big Summer Classic (BSC). Heaven forbid that some of these folks (kids) would read blogs or review source materials on the internets. I could only imagine that for many of the parents of the attendees watchingamerica must be perceived as the most evil and communist (Stalin and Mao rolled into one) of sites, daring to present anti-US propaganda from furren gummints.
Among those willing to challenge and acquire the best sources, the keys to a larger world-filled library, I particularly remember a couple of students from Ole Miss in Oxford, MS, and a half dozen from the University of Kansas in Lawrence, all of whom stopped me over the course of the weekend to get more references.
I will not mention their names, but I will offer some anecdotal referents. The couple from Ole Miss approached me late (early in the morning) after the show on Sunday to discuss their needs. Approached may not be the correct word, more like cornered my old tour buddy (also our tour bus chauffeur) and myself in the back of a vending booth, and pulled out paper and pens and had us try to write down URLs and other site resources for them.
They had also agreed to visit one of our Otter Clan projects (a massive rebuilding program of homes on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi) and needed that contact information. They really wanted to do something powerful, creative, active, and good, and when they made their requests in the most beautiful Southern drawl eva, I could not even begin to say “later.”
The University of Kansas contingent was led by a young woman graduate student, who had grown up in the Midwest, but had been able to attend a prestigious East Coast university.
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I spent Memorial Day weekend at the International Space Development Conference in the Dallas area held by the National Space Society. I’ve never been to one of these space exploration advocate conferences before, but I get notifications of them - a hold over I think from subscribing to something or other in the dim past. I’ve contemplated attending before, but that’s spendy. So why did I go this year? Why clean out the savings account, accost the parents for funds and go to the flattest spot on the continent? My 15 year old son wants to be a space rocket/vehicle engineer, and recent events dictated that it was time to ease him into the realities of conferences and dressing up for dinner and all that grown up stuff. Not to mention opening his eyes to all the options out there in the field so that if he doesn’t end up as an engineer in the end, he won’t feel he’s failed so much as changed directions.
But never mind about him for now. Here’s what I learned:
1. The demographics of the National Space Society as represented at this conference was rather eye opening and could be summed up in the statement, “It’s been a rough 30 years for the hard space enthusiasts.” I counted 4 African Americans - one of whom, Edward McCullough, actually did a presentation I attended which was probably the most impressive of those I witnessed. Otherwise, looking around the huge main presentation room, I eyeballed the crowd as 99.9 percent Caucasian, with men outnumbering women by about 20 to 1. Grey and white hair by far predominated, and one younger member that I’d put in his 20’s actually came up to the mic and put the whole demographics issue on the table - in terms of ethnicity if not concerning the age issue. He said he’d been coming to the conferences for several years and they were always attended by a bunch of middle class white people and what was the NSS doing to attract a wider demographic? The answer was interesting in it’s phrasing. “We’ve seen when we do outreach that a certain demographic grabs their kids and drags them over to our table/display while members of other demographic groups walk by without a glance. We’re working on that.” He didn’t sound too convincing. It might be appropriate at this point to mention that the convention was in a large hotel in the rich suburb of Addison, TX north of Dallas….
2. There are a lot of people in the National Space Society irritated by NASA policy.
3. One of the best ways to get NASA’s attention is to get one of their very expensive Mars rovers stuck in a sand dune…on Mars.
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Who has it worse: The poor sap who has to go through Astaroth-only-knows-how-many levels of Dante’s hell trying to reach a real live useful human being at the Help Desk, or the Tech Support person who has to answer the calls?
This Open Thread is dedicated to Loyal Party Patriot “Seattle.” I’m sure she’ll be happy to tell you why!
Video from Bore Me.