Friday, January 29, 2010

Really? Is that the best you can do?

Perhaps the title should more appropriately be "Is this really what you think we want to hear?" but I am afraid the answer might actually be yes.

So, I was watching the state of the Union address, and hoping that something new or productive would be said. I'm not going to get into specific political ideas here, because that involves politicians actually making concrete statements, and the purpose of this post is to address the lack thereof. Whatever your political views, I think we can all agree that we want our politicians to at least have the balls to clearly state what they think our nation's problems are, and what they think will be good ways of dealing with those problems. Then even if we disagree with those ideas, at least we have a clear viewpoint with which to argue, and we also have the opportunity (and for some people, the motivation!) to formulate our own ideas of what we think would be better. If our elected leaders are so afraid of saying anything that might find disagreement from voters and potentially cost them re-election that they only spew out an endless stream of platitudes that no one in their right mind would actually disagree with, then they are essentially NOT SAYING ANYTHING. I am not criticizing the president's speech in this respect anywhere nearly as much as the rebuttal speech of the Republicans. Of course we want our economy to improve. Of course we want a health care system that does not sacrifice the quality of medical practice. Of course we want our people in the armed forces to be treated with respect and support. Is this really how little you think of us? Maybe in some cases you're right, but I would like to believe that most people listening to these speeches can recognize when they are being spoon-fed a bunch of trite, empty words designed to waste our time by trying to convince us that we've actually just heard something meaningful. People already know everything you're saying. No one is arguing that our economy is fine. They want to know what you want to DO about it. If you disagree with something Obama says, fine, but you are not saying anything useful to anyone unless you propose some kind of alternative. I don't see how you can honestly say that you think someone's ideas are wrong or not the best way if you can't present something you think is better. Are you afraid that voters will not like your idea, or that another politician will come up with something better? Good! Isn't your priority supposed to be the welfare of your constituents? Then shouldn't you be happy if anyone comes up with a good idea that might help them? And if you still think your idea will help them more, you can give some concrete reasons why. Otherwise, I have to suspect that your motives are more for selfish gains than for wanting to find the best solution and implement it as quickly as possible. Is it too much to ask that you put aside your personal interests for once, forget about which party should be on which side of an issue, and look at the problems objectively? If you could do that, it would restore a lot of the seriously wavering faith that many Americans have in their own political system. Can we pleeeease just see an honest, open discussion in Washington that consists of solid, clearly-stated viewpoints? This post is equally aimed not only at speeches but at the legislative process in general. Both parties.

Do you, actually disagree with Obama's plans? Do you have a better idea that you can logically back up? Or are you just trying to hold to your party's traditional views and hoping to maintain your die-hard loyalty votes?

Whatever your honest answer to these questions is fine. You are entitled to it. But we as voters deserve to know which is the case. And if you never actually say anything, we can't tell the difference.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Something harder to keep up with than Jackson's EM book?

Blogging... man, it is hard. Where do people get the time to do it? Granted, I don't know many grad students who blog, so this is possibly one experiment that failed before it started (I am the one with the most posts, Squashed has one and Savage has ZERO!). Hopefully not though, and with the start of this new year and semester lots of things could be topics for posts.

As a preview of what's to come in the future, I am really getting interested in science education. As a TA I have been exposed to many different teaching styles and methodologies and it's becoming clear what works best and what really is a waste of time. I will participate as a judge in a science fair plus I have a project in mind of revamping a science curriculum in collaboration with a high school. Nothing concrete yet but we'll see what comes up.

Anyways, happy new year!!! Good luck this semester.