Fireside Chat

Jan 21, 2009, 7:55 am by Paul Stiverson

Exciting times in America, we have ourselves a new president: a liberal fellow who will surely restore some international (and intranational) trust in America, who will push us forward into the future with the only thing that can possibly push a people forward: forward thinking. Honestly, I will be happy if he just pushes for higher research funding, scientific research is the only thing that can make the future better than the present.

As part of his presidency Barack Obama is bringing back the fireside chat, although it will not be called the fireside chat, but instead a “Weekly Video Address”. Every Saturday President Obama (it is really nice to finally say “President Obama”) will record and post a video aimed at the American public, hopefully to keep us apprised of situations and keep people engaged in civic participation.

If you click on the above link you will be taken to the freshly re-designed WhiteHouse.gov which is done in the same style as Obama’s campaign website and the now-removed transition website, change.gov. Of course, WhiteHouse.gov will not feature any of the user-created content like BarackObama.com, and WhiteHouse.gov will have graphics set in a presidential Times New Roman rather than the sleek and hip Gotham which was used on all campaign materials.

The new president will also, apparently, be keeping a blog, it is a brave new world.

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13 Comments

faith Says:

Jan 21, 2009

hell yes. i was so excited to hear him talk about science in his speech. i would be thrilled to have the white house supporting actual science, rather than taking its scientific advice from the anti-stem cell religious right.

also, what i found so noteworthy in the comparison between the white house site after obama's & bush's inauguration wasn't how great obama's is (hello, he's the president. i kind of expect a professional-looking website), but how awful bush's was. good grief, did some 7th grader make that in their computer class, or what?

Paul Stiverson Says:

Jan 21, 2009

you need to remember that Bush’s inauguration was 8 years ago and web design practices have advanced quite a bit in that time. Doesn’t excuse the shoddiness of it, but hey.

John Says:

Jan 21, 2009

Just a couple of things: I'm excited about more money being spent on research...as long as it doesn't effect my taxes. Take it out of the oil companies' budgets, they have enough money already. This "weekly video address" is going to turn out just like the president's weekly radio address. People will watch it for a month and then forget that he even does it. I was not aware that there even was a website for the president and once i found out, i realized that i didn't care about it in the first place. i don't think it matters who's website is better if most people are never going to go there anyway.

mark Says:

Jan 21, 2009

"Take it out of the oil companies' budgets, they have enough money already." Won’t work, with any major company, they'll just increase costs on the consumer and make us pay the difference.

Just cut government spending, the economy is hurting, everyone is slowing down with spending and by cutting jobs; the government shouldn't be spending more or increasing headcount, bureaucracy wastes so much money.

Cutting earmark and pork spending is a perfect starting point and is conveniently outlined on the Whitehouse site. It’ll just take a miracle to convince the very people guilty of it to willingly stop.

Paul Stiverson Says:

Jan 21, 2009

By the way, John, it is “whose”.

To Mark: If the goal is to reduce our dependence on oil then high gas prices are good, so taking money from oil companies would be good, right?

I don’t think it is a good idea to simply take money from oil companies though, that is markedly un-capitalistic. Instead offer real-dollar tax benefits for funding independent research in green technology; in this way oil companies (the ones that can afford it) will be able to contribute money for research they want to see done, the benefit of the research stays in the public domain (the papers will be published at large to benefit everybody), and they will get a tax break.

It’s true, bureaucracy is expensive, but having several layers is important. Let’s take the military as an example: you wouldn’t want generals to be directly in charge of training recruits would you? No, Sergeants and Lieutenants serve a purpose (and are spelled funny), and the chain of command exists for a reason. Don’t mistake my argument as condoning bloated bureaucracy, if a system isn’t working then it should be revised, but to cast all bureaucracy as bad is a horrible oversight.

Pork spending makes up such a small amount of government spending that it is laughable to even talk about it. I’m not in favor of completely cutting pork spending, we need new planetarium projectors.

lew Says:

Jan 21, 2009

Reform entitlements and military spending, that will free up a lot more money. I am not saying cut military stuff, just be a bit more efficient. Entitlements and the military are the biggest chunk of the budger. Pork talk is silly, I agree. I am a bit discouraged that the goal is only to double research spending. Considering how much it shrank the last 8 years, doubling wouldn't be great. I wish research spending were as high as military spending. They are equally important to our national security and standing in the world.

i will watch the presidential videos. i followed the election for 2 years, it is habit now. i need to know what is going on.

mark Says:

Jan 21, 2009

The 'u.s. federal bureaucracy' was my intended target for that statement; when you cut right to the chase though, all bureaucracy suffers inefficiency. I'm not saying abolish them, just cut the fat.

"If the goal is to reduce our dependence on oil then high gas prices are good, so taking money from oil companies would be good, right?" Right now oil is the life blood of the American economy, so no. Making you pay more for something you need won't help your situation; it will only lower your available liquid assets, making life harder for you. It really is about time to start using more of our own oil. 200 years ago we used whale blubber for light; 100 years ago we were using coal for major industry. A new energy source is just around the bend, we should ease into it by cutting our dependence on non-American oil, then ultimately eliminating it as a major fuel source once the new one is more economically viable than American produced oil. Right now (thanks to technology) we're drilling oil that experts claimed was impossible to harvest a decade ago.

Pork spending helps specific areas of the country, not the country as a whole; the exact opposite of what the federal government should be doing. Why should the taxes I pay fund a pet project in Kentucky when the benefit will never reach the average American? Let states focus more on small/special projects. (They proposed to cut it to a quarter of what it was for 2008: From 29 down to 7.9 Billion)

mark Says:

Jan 21, 2009

"i followed the election for 2 years, it is habit now. i need to know what is going on."

just think, in 2 years they could start that whole annoying process all over again, what a waste of time.

lew Says:

Jan 21, 2009

mark, i take it the environmental angle of the effort to quickly move away from oil is not up your alley? we have enough fossil fuel to last hundreds of years. but we would cook ourselves. we do need to spend on infrastructure. it is an investment. we are living on our grandparents investments in infrastructure and it is starting to show. the usa should be leading the way on infrastructure, including energy infrastructure.

mark Says:

Jan 21, 2009

we'll be moving away (if not completely off) from oil in 30 years, we might as well use our own oil (boosting american jobs), instead of paying other countries for theirs, between then and now.

And to answer your question I think climate change, global warming, whatever you want to call it has little (if anything) to do with man-made influence.

John Says:

Jan 21, 2009

sorry...next time i'll be sure to note sarcasm. i didn't know mentioning oil was like swatting at a hornets nest.

ps. whose

LEW Says:

Jan 22, 2009

What do y'all think about Picken's Plan? I wish we had pushed for a new energy source rather then wait until there weren't enough plump whales left.

mark Says:

Jan 22, 2009

I think it's on the right path, definitely has good intentions.

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