I had the idea last night to put my radio SHARK 2 and Radioshift to good use: recording Obama’s inauguration. My audio started from 11:30 a.m. Eastern and goes through 1:00 p.m., so if there’s any audio in that timespan you’d like [Rick Warren’s invocation, Joseph Lowery’s benediction, Joe Biden’s oath, etc.], I’ll splice it out for you. But I thought that these three cuts symbolized the day.
These recordings were made legally, from my understanding of the law, but if this is not your understanding—especially if you work for National Public Radio, or WLRH here in Huntsville [where I am a member], please let me know.
All photos used for album art were Creative Commons-licensed on Flickr. URLs for the originals are below.
Click any cover image to download that MP3, or use the audio player below them to stream the audio. I want people to download the audio, and I don’t mind if you share this with your friends. However, please use the links provided so I can track how many downloads I have; right-click to save the full URL, please. [Most times, Web hosts would be cringing at such an offering, but I host myself on a dedicated server I lease. That said, “Do you hear me baby? Hold together.”
My fellow Americans: whether you voted or not, whether you voted for him or someone else, Barack Obama is our President. This is our country. Let’s work, together, to make it the best America it can be.
So I’m sitting on the couch, post present-opening, when the lady who stays with my grandmother brought me the Obama memorial coins she’d bought. I looked at them, handed them back, and told her, “Unlike the rest of my family, I actually voted for the guy.”. I then proceeded to turn to my mom, sitting next to me on the couch and say, “We won! Y’all lost!” while shaking her arm. She just laughed.
This is the only time I’ve gloated. But it was worth it. 😉
I found myself at dinner on Thursday night with a table full of libertarians, all friends of mine from college who were shocked that I am an Obama supporter. But let me tell you what I think could happen, weaving all those threads together …
President-elect Obama suggested that his public works project would be the largest effort since the Interestate system. When you think of the Interstate, what do you think of? Me, I think of this nation’s very arteries, a circulatory system to help move people and cargo around our beautiful country. Yes, the Interstate system cost around $130B to produce, but … compare that to the financial bailout. You’re nodding your head, right? “We got a lot out of the Interstate system, over decades, and what have we gotten out of this bailout?” Well, we’ll never really know the answer to that question, will we? It’s not a natural experiment by any means—no man is an island, etc.
When I think about the Interstate system, I not only think of arteries, but how we’re wasting space. What about those medians, the rights of way, the easements? If you needed to develop a national infrastructure—say, the laying of fiber optic cables to transmit data over the Internet—wouldn’t that be a perfect place to lay them? Known good land, well-surveyed, easily reachable.
The best spending choices that a government can make are infrastructure that benefits the greatest good. Roads, bridges, et al are great choices for this—so, too, would be developing suitable interstate routes into high-speed rail paths. Kill Amtrak—monocultures are bad!—and provide the opportunities for business to come in. Some folks will choose to develop the high-speed rail business; others will work on the endpoint infrastructure [rental cars, etc.] to allow people last-mile access when they get there.
I’m thinking about going to see UAH play at the Badger Showdown after Christmas. I’d love to drive an electric car, but man, those things don’t get good mileage at all. Now, we could have an infrastructure with rest stops every 25 miles to allow you to swap batteries and keep going, so you could just keep going and not stop to swap, but that’s not a very efficient system for me as an end-user. But if I could drive an electric car from my house to a high-speed railway along I-65, which would carry me all the way to Chicago … well, then, I just have to change trains to get to Madison, then drive another electric car on the far end around town [unless I head to State Street, in which case I should be taking a taxi]. Rather than the crazy amount of gas I’d spend, I could do that trip pretty easily without burning a single bit of fossil fuel [presuming that we weren’t generating electricity in conventional ways].
The way government can pull some crazy dream like this off is in a two-part system: building it out, and then letting people and businesses use it. If you build it, the ecosystem will form around it—just look how commerce in this country flocks to our nation’s highways. Mass transit is the way to go, but it’s so dependent on population density to be fully worthwhile. The highway system, though, already has plowed the ground for these pathways.
Obviously, a system like this takes transition. I’ll tie the Detroit thread in like so: the only way that it makes sense for Washington to give Detroit money is as a consumer. You say to the Big Three, “Hey … we’ll replace the entire government fleet of vehicles, but only with hybrid electric vehicles that meet these specifications.” That would create enough of a marketplace that Detroit could economically retool their factories and retrain their workforces with a guaranteed customer base, driving down costs where these vehicles would be similarly cost-effective for consumers. Hybrids stop being so much about green as they are red, white, and blue.
That said, I don’t expect much of this to happen, but I welcome any investments in infrastructure, as long as it’s done in such a way that you don’t create monolithic producers. That’s another matter entirely…
Initial cut is promising, as he mentions Kennedy. Whatever else his other failings, NASA nerds love JFK.
The Challenge states the problem pretty well, but it tries to argue that this is a Bush problem; yes, and no. How this Administration has funded NASA hasn’t exactly made me happy, but hey, it’s better than the Dan Goldin years. Obama’s campaign is right, though, that cuts in NASA’s non-exploration tasks have been far too drastic—and I say that as someone who firmly believes that manned exploration is very important and hates the robots über alles attitude of JPL.
I like the idea of pushing NASA science to help us understand things here. That’s honestly the truth, and the cuts made were too drastic. Plus, it fits into Obama’s larger mindset of where this country needs to go.
Reviving the NASC can’t hurt, and will probably help.
Re: Closing the Gap: You can call this a flip-flop, but I just don’t care—recognizing that you were wrong and that there are better ideas is something we haven’t seen out of the White House in far, far too long. [And I’m not just talking about Bush 43.] Also, the words about “foreign space capabilities” means “Russia”, for those not playing at home. Since, oh, that tiff with Georgia, we’ve all wondered about that around here. [And not just because some rednecks in Lower Alabama were polishing their guns, thinking the Red Bastards were about to invade Dothan.]
Obama’s ISS stance is, “Hey! We built a big lab! Let’s use it for science!” Well, yes. ISS has always been about engineering, on-orbit construction, and international cooperation [except with those pesky Chinese, who won’t be allowed to dock], but when you’re done with it … dammit, it better be about more than providing The Big Picture with pretty photos of hurricanes. But after saying all that stuff about “foreign space capabilities” before, Obama notes that ISS was also a jobs program for Russian rocket scientists in the 1990s. And that, folks, is probably why the Iranians can’t nuke us today.
Human space exploration: he wants ESA or JAXA to make a manned push so it’s not just us, the Russians, and the Chinese. Makes sense. I prefer JAXA—the Japanese make better aerospace decisions. [Note: my company and my group specifically work with JAXA contractors.]
Robotic exploration: let’s make California happy. [Okay, so it’s also a very good idea.]
Studying the Earth: let’s not lie anymore about global warming not being legit. But I also hope that “no political interference” means Dr. John Christy still has a voice at the national table.
Aeronautics research: This has three benefits: the stated one, giving Ohio and California NASA centers something to do, and gets Glenn way the hell out of manned spacecraft design. I would comment more, but … that would be imprudent. Anyhow, NASA has centers of excellence, and Ames and Glenn should do their jobs instead of being forced into realms with which they are unfamiliar just because Bush only funds VSE.
International Cooperation: Be nice to ESA, keep space de-weaponized, and be wary of the Chinese. All worthy goals. Also, seems ideal towards keeping the Russians involved and engaged, which is a good thing for overall relations.
New Technologies: Yawn. NASA’s PR machine sucks about noting the benefits, and it’s cliché to say “derived from NASA technology!” I don’t think anyone gives a damn anymore because we don’t do anything exciting.
That said, the bits about ITAR restriction relieving are good [and not just because it makes my task as an Export Control monitor easier; hell, it’ll probably get harder as the rules change], and pushing the skill-base expansion is my main point from my screed back in March: “Raiding NASA’s budget to fund education is like sponsoring the US Olympic Team but then not sending them to Beijing this summer.”
Education: always important. I ended up in this field because I was excited about it as a child and focused my entire academic career towards it. I find far too many of my peers these days to not have that same … drive. That scares me some.
So, reading this policy document makes me think that Obama has it right. If anyone has access to McCain’s space platform, I’ll go through it the same way. I think it’s safe to say that I’m wholeheartedly behind Obama at this point, and this makes it easier for me.