We have headed into southern Louisiana on our Louisiana Gumbo Tour. (We, again, pride ourselves on originality.) We stopped in New Orleans where I gave a talk to an in-home gathering in the heart of the city on Constance St. The day before, President Obama had outlined his plans for prioritizing going to Mars. He said we would now do space travel in a “smart” way. During my talk, I questioned the use of the word “smart.” I mean, all the best minds at MIT, Harvard, Stanford… have come up with these ultra-sophisticated, ultra-expensive spacecraft… to take us to places like Mars — where there’s no gravity, no oxygen and no food. Duh! Wouldn’t the billions we’re spending on NASA be better spent on things like, oh I don’t know, MAYBE ENDING WORLD HUNGER! Maybe ‘smart,’ the way we currently construe ‘smart’ to be, should be trumped by common sense… The neighborhood where I gave the talk in New Orleans is a hardscrabble one, fraught with a lot of violence. In fact, the weekend before in New Orleans there were eight shooting deaths throughout the city. Our cities (LA, Chicago, Cleveland…) are turning into absolute war zones.