Wednesday, February 11, 2009

All Glory Be to C-SPAN

First off, it's great to be back at the Train of Thought. I've missed posting tremendously and apologize, again, for my absence. But my move went well, and I now live in a fantastic neighborhood of a completely different state, in a city where the population outstrips that of many countries within a couple of subway stops.

My only two substantive complaints, here, concern internet access. Even in such a populous place, there is only one available high speed internet service provider for the region. Though it seems fast and reliable so far, I've been warned that they do things like jack up the monthly price by $20 after a year of service because there isn't anywhere else to turn. And since Starbucks thinks it acceptable to charge $4 for 2 hours of internet access, there really is no other place to turn. Though I am assured that commenter helen is on both problems, it was a sobering experience: if these problems are prevalent and insoluble with the resources of a large city, imagine the state of the rest of the country.

Those remarks aside, though, I'd like to take a moment to salute the glory that is C-SPAN. After watching the February 6th senate debate on the stimulus package, I wanted to track down the text of something that one of the senators said about funding the National Science Foundation. Despite three separate detailed searches, there appeared to be no complete transcript of the debate anywhere on the internet. Granted, many of our senators are a little dim, but the things they think and say have a direct impact on our country's future, particularly at a time like this. You'd think their statements would be easily accessible somewhere.

Finally, I gave up and decided to rewatch the whole debate on the C-SPAN website. Well, god knows why I didn't just have more faith in them in the first place. In less than a minute on the site, I'd found a page that documents every speaker of the debate in brilliantly designed chronological format, with pop-up windows that preview their comments and links to complete written transcripts and video cued up to that moment.

Needless to say, I not only found the quote but can formally reference it. Here it is:

I also think it is not just hiring welders and carpenters and construction managers that is important, but some of our Members have said we should invest in the National Science Foundation because hiring a scientist is a good thing to build a new experiment or to build a new way. It is not just building brick and mortar. So the National Science Foundation, in my view, is very much part of the new infrastructure of America because it is not just about steel and concrete and shipbuilding and fabrication. The new infrastructure is also about intellectual property, and it is also about strengthening our scientific investments.

Our group feels that a broader infrastructure piece that would not only be about highways but about waterways, about high-speed rail, about investing in the scientific base of our country would be an important investment to make.

Whatever else you feel about Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and there's a lot not to like, she does demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of the current and future progress of the United States economy. As wary as I am of such an easy pairing of intellectual property and scientific advancement, she's dead on about the overall point: today, scientific research is infrastructure.


  1. Great to have you back. And remember, next time you take a break from posting to "finish graduating college" or "move", you will get nothing but all caps ranting and raving Nader mailing list style emails from JN and I until you return.

    Mary Landrieu doing good? Who knew?

    At least Lousisiana politics returned to normal insanity shorty after this speech when
    a porn star decided to run against David Vitter for senate.

  2. At least Lousisiana politics returned to normal insanity shorty after this speech when
    a porn star decided to run against David Vitter for senate.


  3. @JJ haha either way the headline will read "Newly elected Senator of Louisiana payed for sex". I love this so much I want to take it behind a middle school and get it pregnant.

  4. Ah, welcome back. Don't ever let 'real life' interfere with trainpostin ever again, just unacceptable!

    Gotta love dealing with internet providers in the States, its good our country just can't move beyond hellish ISP companies.