America’s Best Ideas: The Voyager Missions and National Parks

By Michael W. Harris

The Golden Record

A little over three years ago, I wrote a post on why I believed (and still do) that the Voyager Missions and accompanying Golden Record is one of the best things that America has ever done. Part of my fervent belief of this is that the Record presents an aspirational view of humanity and our future. The Record as a goal for us to work towards. And part of why I wrote that, in 2016, as the world was starting to spiral into Trumpian Oblivion, was that it provided a counter to that negative outlook.

You see, I am a cynical person by nature. I have a deep repository of cynicism that I thinly veil with a healthy schmeer of sarcasm. I have, outwardly, lost all belief that humanity can dig itself out of the mess that we have created for ourselves. If a Cylon asked me if I believed that humanity was “worthy of survival,” I would probably (in my cynical view) answer “no” without skipping a beat. I would probably follow up with “Burn the motherfucker down. Honestly I am surprised we haven’t done it already ourselves. Sorry to make you go to the trouble.” And before I could take it back, the missiles would be launched to the strains of “All Along the Watchtower” and “bye, Felicia.” Continue reading “America’s Best Ideas: The Voyager Missions and National Parks”

Reflections on Voyager and the Golden Record: America’s Greatest Achievement

By Michael W. Harris

The Voyager Golden Record seems to float into and out of my life and consciousness at the most random of times. Recently, I encountered it when I was finally reading a New York Times article by Chuck Klosterman from May about who will be the one rock and roller remembered when all of us are but “dust in the wind.”

Klosterman mentions Berry at the end of his article and frames it in the context of Berry’s inclusion on the Golden Record affixed to the Voyager probes now traversing the dark of interstellar space. Like Klosterman, I feel like there is no better distillation of what rock and roll is and was than Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode.” Ask any former rock history student of mine and they can (hopefully) tell you that I share most of Klosterman’s reasons for his selection of Berry. Continue reading “Reflections on Voyager and the Golden Record: America’s Greatest Achievement”