A nice surprise today. I ran into my friend and co-worker John in the teachers' lounge. John is an amazing bass player and teacher - years ago we played together in a TV-show band; now I teach at the school he has been teaching at for a long time, and we run into each other occasionally between classes. John has a razor-sharp and relentlessly curious mind and is very well-informed about things most people have never even heard of. When we were gigging together, he was always telling me about something interesting he had read about or heard on public radio (which I was not especially clued into at the time, and not the least bit politically active.)
I remember one short conversation we had in passing a while back - he had read Tom "Porn-Stache" Friedman's book The World is Flat and was (understandably) a little bummed about the seeming inevitability of the race to the bottom that the powers-that-be have forced us into. It's hard not to get discouraged when the "serious" people assure us that outsourcing, low-wage living and serfdom is the only future we have to look forward to, so we might as well get used to it, quit kicking, and face reality. I was in the middle of writing The Price of Right and wished we had time to talk about it, since I was in the middle of chewing through the sixty-five political/sociological/historical/psychology books I read in the process of researching my own book. But we were both on our way to class, so there wasn't an opportunity to get into it.
When the book came out, I gave John a copy, and today I see him in the break room. He said that he liked the book, which of course I was glad to hear. But what really made me feel like I've done something worth doing is that he's mad again! He told me that he had given me a shout-out on his blog User-Is-Content - which, by the way, is a very cool and eclectic blog, and I highly recommend that you check it out. If you're interested in science, the environment, government, alternative technology and the politics of possibility - it has a Wired magazine feel to it without the forced graphical hipness - you will dig it for sure.
AM New York called me a "rabble-rouser" as if were some sort of criticism instead of a badge of honor to me. That's my real aim with this book - I want to rile up as many people as possible. Anger and outrage are exactly what is called for. And anger and outrage are constructive and lead to action, whereas apathy and withdrawal lead to paralysis. As I've said ad nauseum, I think it doesn't matter whether we can 'win' this thing or not - only that we stand up for what we believe, what we know is right. To not take action against what is wrong because it seems too difficult is the pussy way out, and if we sit on the sidelines, we deserve whatever we get, and have no right to complain.
And it's good to see someone as smart and ethical as John back in the game.