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Space is the place, says Esther Dyson

Fly her to the moon. Please.

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In a remarkable case of life imitating satire, Esther Dyson has decided to host a space conference.

No, we're not making this up - and no, we can't think of anyone more appropriate.

"It's not that there aren't space conferences, but nothing as tacky and commercial as we want to be," Silicon Valley's space cadet tells the New York Times.

How far Esther's own shooting star may have fallen from her heyday in the 1980s (or even the dot.com bubble of five years ago when she could command fees of $10,000 a day) is evident from the newspaper's acidic tone.

"Critics might say Ms. Dyson has herself left orbit in an effort to capitalize on a hot trend," notes Matt Richtel.

Um, yes. We had noticed. More than once, in fact.

"What's next," wonders the Times, "a conference on some other fad? How about two days on low-fat soy cheese?"

"I don't think soy-based cheese is undergoing radical transformation," Esther replies. "If so, wait 'til next year."

It seems like only yesterday when reporters hung on her every utterance about the transforming power of capitalism and technology. Now they make up questions about cheese. We shall have be having words with the cheeky pup, Mr Richtel, as soon as we can.

But once again we're staggered by the utopians' urgency to strike out for new frontiers. In the 1970s, after much lobbying from Boeing, United States' airlines shunned supersonic air travel that would have cut the journey time from New York to Los Angeles to a couple of hours. Rail links that put San Francisco and LA only a couple of hours apart remain a distant dream, too. And now they're talking about space taxis!

Perhaps a clue lies in Esther's own venerable signature file: "Always make new mistakes!" Which roughly translated from the Californian idiom, means "Always make a new mess when you can't be bothered to fix the old one."

It's as good an epitaph for this era as we've heard. ®

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