By David Anderson
It may be easier to contact “intelligent life in the universe” than your elected representatives just down the road.
For just a penny-less-than-a-dollar, reports Miriam Kramer for Fox News this June 16, you can send four text messages to somewhere out there in outer space and that’s after the first one which is free.
Thinking outside the box, as in 17.6 light-years outside, “a group of scientists, businessmen and entrepreneurs are tired of waiting around for E.T. to get in touch.”
Not unlike the noble lobbying efforts that witness marches on city hall, jamming switchboards at capital central, or blitzing your representatives with calls, texts, twitters and emails, “the Lone Signal project is asking everyone with an Internet connection to help beam messages into outer space in an attempt to make our presence in the universe known.”
The tiny town of Tillicum once attempted to make its presence in the universe known to prevent Camp Murray traffic from traveling through the community’s inner-spaces but met with about as much success in communicating with intelligent life in city hall as is likely expected from “humanity’s first-ever attempt to send continuous messaging to extraterrestrial intelligence when Lone Signal goes live.”
Lone Signal chief marketing officer Ernesto Qualizza said “As soon as I can remember, I looked up at the stars and I thought, ‘Is there anybody looking back at me?’
Maybe you’ve had the same question of your government.
It wasn’t long ago that Oregon for example received bad grades from the U.S. and Oregon Public Interest research groups for the state’s somewhat distant and impenetrable fortress behind which lay the public’s information. Following the creation of what they called a transparency website however the state got a B+. And with the Oregon House having just this June 18 unanimously voting to improve what’s found there – like minutes of meetings – they’re hoping to get an ‘A’, and not as in ‘alien’ which had described previous attempts to know the goings-on in government.
While scientists working with Lone Signal admit it’s a long shot – after all, star system Gliese 526 is a long ways off, 17.6 light-years from Earth to be exact – still, the researchers think there’s a glimmer of hope, albeit faint, to have someone actually listen, maybe even respond, given Gliese 526 has been identified in the “Catalog of Nearby Habitable Systems” and is thus “a good candidate for harboring life,” said Lone Signal chief science officer Jacob Haqq-Misra.
Lakewood City Hall probably deserves an entry into the Catalog of Nearby Habitable Systems since I actually visited there the other day and there were humans happy to take my questions, perhaps since it involved money.
Being listed in the catalog is one thing, but actually listening and responding is quite another. There’s a rather necessary set of criteria that must be met if in fact the hoped-for two-way communication actually takes place.
In the Gliese 526 effort, “a group of aliens on a planet orbiting Gliese 526 must have an instrument equivalent to California’s Allen Telescope Array (CATA), which is used by the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute here on Earth whereby they would be able to detect, record and possibly decode the message.”
Bit of a glitch there possibly.
Kind of the expectations though one might have of a candidate or current council person in which ideally listening and responding should go without saying. Required equipment however, though hopefully it’s not as rare or complex as the CATA used by the SETI, would of necessity mean at minimum that the terrestrial intelligence orbiting your community would possess transparency, respect, honesty and, among others, integrity this last of which, by the way, has three key components none of which can be missing and the person still claim the quality according to Stephen L. Carter in his book entitled “Integrity”: individual research, a stand then announced with conviction, and the ability in turn to articulate and defend the position taken.
In other words, a human treating others not as extraterrestrial aliens or orbiting entities, but like-human-beings.
You would think this is not rocket science.
But, in an article entitled “The City Council Wants Us to Pay the Tab,” John Florez describes a launch gone bad.
“All three council members came in vowing they knew what residents wanted since they walked their neighborhoods and heard their priorities. All three wanted bottom-up planning so citizens could have a say in the direction of their city. However, like many newly elected politicians, they quickly became intoxicated with their new sense of power. They forgot the promises they made, how residents would have a voice in directing their future and quickly got dazzled by the professional planners and the mayor.”
Florez writes of his Salt Lake City councilmembers as taking trips out of town for example, maybe to other planets not unlike the space-travelers in our allegory, signals from Earth no longer received, politicians once personal now plotting a parallel planetary path of their own – visible but no longer in contact with life existing elsewhere, having become themselves “alien life-forms on exoplanets circling distant stars.”
We’re not on different planets.
So why should it be so complicated communicating with communities?
A cup of coffee should do.