Senator Rogers was not technologically indicated, but he was a man of vast experience in the public domain. He was able to address and mollify the fads in opinion, which year after year in wave after wave of fashionable concern swept over the legislature. He was able to address in a lumbering way issues which really were important to his immediate constituents, national welfare, general human welfare, and his own re election - in that order, except for the last item. Rodgers was a politician with a sense of humor, and basically rather intelligent.
Senator Rodgers was on a tour of what was called Galactic Central. The United States, ever alert to technological systems, was the host to Galactic Central, even as it was host to United Nations Headquarters. Galactic Central was situated in the center of North America, east of the Rocky Mountains, and with a view of them. The buildings situated about the airports and spaceports of Galactic Central commanded a magnificent view, toward the west - the Rockies, toward the East the vast wheat lands, Southward the high plains, and Northward toward Old Fort Collins ranges, massifs, and beautiful basins between. The views were most impressive seen from the air, and yet beautiful from the ground. There is a freshness in the air of that part of the continent. On clear days after spring rains the Spanish Peaks are visible at distances of over 100 miles.
Senator Rodgers was not unkind, was forever alert to the possibilities of appearing in a favorable light both on a humanistic level and as an intelligent skeptic, nevertheless devoted to real progress. On the way to the aerospace called Galactic Central, he stopped at the Ladybug farm. The environmentalists were delighted, so were the mass of nature lovers in the nation.
Ladybug Farm was what its title suggested; a place where ladybugs were raised. The Senator posed with experts at the farm, who demonstrated to the public great masses of ladybugs gathered together in a sphere about the size of a basketball. These harmless, helpful, and attractive little creatures winter that way. It was a five minute visit on film, but the public was enthralled.
In earlier years he had studied, and legislatively protected, the migrating routes of useful and beautiful butterflies. He had addressed the plight of solitary bees - bees which live alone rather than in swarms, and which have much to do with the colorful plants and flowers that sweep across the North American prairies. He also played a major part in stopping the invasion of the fire ants; this alone would, after decades, save billions of dollars.
An Old Veteran of an Unpopular Cause
Yes, that is what Grandpa was. He had fought in a cause that was unpopular. He was stubborn, old, not as strong as he used to be, and at odds with most of the medias' artfully contrived and endlessly harped-upon news about the wickedness of "The Cause." In truth, most of the public was more or less sympathetic to the likes of Grandpa, in spite of the media. Senator Rodgers knew this. Senator Rodgers was a big enough man to enter such situations, and an enormous segment of his public loved him for it.
Grandpa and Sandy sat daily at a booth within the vast complex of Galactic Central. It was a small enterprise offering a few maps, pamphlets, and a few magazines and souvenirs. It was no accident that Security had not removed them when the Senator came through; nor was it an accident that the Senator took the secondary road into the base to the booth where Grandpa eked out a living of sorts.
Senator Rodgers stopped at the booth. He bought a souvenir, looked at a guide map prepared by a friend of Grandpa's - pronouncing it clear, informative, and attractive. He spoke for a moment with Sandy, the old veteran's granddaughter, and for a moment - only a moment - she looked cute on the media. The moment ended when the Senator said to Grandpa:
"A magnificent effort, America and the World will never forget…"
The rest was never heard. The wonders of media electronics swung into action. Fish-eye lenses expanded Grandpa's face into a grotesque "mug," with his mass of brown-stained, stumped, decaying teeth all too visible. Tilting lenses twisted the lines of the Emporium from the vertical - Gramps swayed backwards then settled forwards. Those wonderful electronic devices modulated Grandpa's voice such that it was crooked, brayed, and rasped like a drunkards; not a sentence could be understood.
"You know, one of those little accidents in transmission."
A flash view of nine year old Sandy was foreshortened. This thickened her knees, fattened her legs, and expanded a view up her miniskirt.
"These things happen all the time - transmission difficulties."
Nevertheless, Senator Rodgers had scored. Old veterans, their sons, admiring grandsons, and everyone close to them were delighted with Grandpa. They saw with their hearts, not with the eyes of the media. They loved the Senator, to be sure he did suspicious things, but his heart had to be in the right place if he stopped with an old vet like that and talked knowingly with him. The detractors were, on their part, irritated with the Senator; but not overly, they were pleased with the revolting view.
"One could see what such people were really like."
The cavalcade of Honorable Senator Rodger's rolled on toward the Master Control room of Galactic Central. The media was in a technological paradise. Faces were electronically shaped as watermelons that stood on end or sideways, features were blacked out, whitened out, or distorted. The - well - Azure fields of grain boiled brown and seasick green. Majestic purple mountains looked brownish yellow, clouds pulsed vermilion above them, white buildings, twisted from the vertical and contorted by multiple vanishing points, throbbed visibly under pulsating pea-soup skies.
The life of a politician is hazardous. Many of his very shrill constituents were totally opposed to anything technological. Many more of them were totally enamored with technology. It is hard to please everyone. Imagine a drive into an aerospace center fraught with political involvement, with demolition derby and sports fans on one hand, and on the other the appreciators of avant-garde art and theater. Senator Rodgers was not hostile. He had, just some months ago, visited a Museum of Modern Art and commented in all honesty while looking at an interesting painting:
"Some of that way out stuff . . "
"You know something, these over here kinda get me. I like them, the really are pretty good."
He meant it too, you could tell by his voice. The Senator was of that rare breed; really open minded and always willing to at least take a look, or listen, to see what was going on.
A Tour of Galactic Central
"Oh! Come on!" exploded the Senator,good naturedly. "I'm no scientist, but I know like all school kids that the Sun is only on the edge of the Milky Way."
"Say," asked the Senator, "the Milky Way is a galaxy, isn't it?"
This was more for his public than for himself. He wanted them to understand. The engineers of Galactic Central, forewarned, immediately brought out a display of the Milky Way, and the position of the Sun and the Earth in it.
"So, right here?" said Senator Rodgers questioningly, then continued, "But, we are so small. The galaxy is so large. Does that line say it is 100,000 light years across the Milky Way? Hey, you expanded that picture. You really expanded that picture of where our space probes and ships have gone. On this big map it looks to me that at 100 light years we are only one part in a thousand of the way across the Galaxy."
The Senator was truly interested in the vastness of what he was observing. He turned again to the great image.
"Now, why do you call this place Galactic Central?"