Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Standing Still in the Fast Lane [Bye Bye Bushie Update]

It is now 2009.  We have come so far in the past eight years that – even if you pay really close attention – the speed with which we have grown as a species in knowledge and capability is so ferociously fast as to be virtually invisible.

In 2009 you can buy a 1 Terabyte disk drive for your computer for $95 (this much storage would have cost you $4,000 in 2001).

Between 2001 and 2009 – following the old saw about “Human Knowledge doubling ever year” – we as a species had acquired 256 times as much knowledge about the world around us than we did between the dawn of humanity and 2001 (when we already thought we were pretty bright, and we were).

In this period of time, we discovered Small RNA – abundant molecules that drive the transcription of genetic code and mapped the human genome.  We launched the WMAP  satellite which has gone on to produce the most detailed map of the universe ever:

WMAP has produced a convincing consensus on the contents of the universe, erasing lingering doubts about the existence of dark energy, and severely limiting the density of hot dark matter. WMAP has determined the age of the universe, the epochs of the key transitions of the universe, and the geometry of the universe, while providing the most stringent data yet on events in the first fraction of a second of the universe.

We’ve proven where gamma ray bursts come from (super novae), identified the oldest human remains ( Homo sapiens idaltu at 160,000 years old, and yes we’re still from Africa), figured out that the Y chromosome is not a regressive left-over after all.  Stephen Hawking – inarguably one of the brightest humans of any time – in this period proved himself wrong and demonstrated that black holes do not in fact destroy information, but release it back into the universe.

We’ve narrowed down the age of our galaxy (from a six billion year range down to within 0.4B years either side of 13.6B – keep the candles ready), delisted Pluto from planet status (it’s a Kupier Belt Object, and always has been despite our labels) and discovered Sedna – now the furthest spot in the solar system with an orbit around the sun of 10,500 years.

We have increased in size from a population of six billion to 6.75 billion (despite sustained attempts to reduce population through weaponry and starvation) and we have had rovers cruising the surface of Mars for five full years.

In short, the past eight years have been – more than any before – a period of incredibly accelerating growth and learning.  So much has changed that it is hard to believe that at least a century hasn’t passed to fit it all in.

And in the midst of this swirling torrent of change (and, at least in many aspects, Progress) there stands to this day a single stone causing the current to eddy and – in places – seemingly to reverse itself entirely and flow back up the hill of history.


I don’t even mean this in the simple Bush bashing fashion, but it just seems to me that there is a zone of infinite inertia hanging around our soon-to-be-former President.  I almost expect him to vanish from sight if I hold his picture at a certain distance like a demonstration of the laws of physics or biology.  In so many ways it seems that while the world has moved dramatically forward time has stood still in his shadow, and in some cases actually reversed itself.  If only Einstein were here to do a better job than I explaining the absence of entropy that has gathered around this faded statue that we perceive as our commander in chief.  Regardless, I suggest you hang onto your seatbelts as the fabric of space and time rebounds six short days from now.

What other things have you seen occur while time stood still in Washington DC?

[Time Machine Update – Bush’s Farewell]


Thanks all around, and BTW: 9/11.

Most returned to normal life, “but I never did”.

Afghanistan is a success.

Iraq is a success.

“America has gone seven years without another terrorist attack on its soil.”  OK, it was eight years since the one prior to 9/11, so don’t get too cocky.

“Freedom is a gift from Almighty God.”  Thanks for keeping church and state separate…

“America has been providing AIDS medications…”  But not condoms…

“Students are striving to meet higher standards.”  NCLB is a success?

“Addicts are better served by faith-based initiatives…”

“Facing the prospect of financial collapse, we took decisive measures…”  Ummm…

“With determination and hard work we will restore our economy…”  Is that like saying ‘with some effort you can rebuild this to where it was when I showed up’?

“The gravest threat is another terrorist attack.”  Well, I disagree.

Katrina – principal who reopened a school.

“We have faced danger and trial, and there is more ahead.”


I see a defeated man trying to rewrite his own history, but I don’t see a single word about an accomplishment – a goal achieved – in his tenure even in his own best attempt at a retroactive sales pitch.

Chris Matthews: (sic) “He is awarding himself a prize in a contest he designed himself.  One of those where every kid gets a prize.”

In Pat Buchanan’s own words, “This is an unreflective man.”


  1. spacemanspiff

    can’t I?

    Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is arrested and charged with corruption and theft of state funds and war crimes charges


    iPod is a brand of portable media players designed and marketed by Apple Inc. and launched on October 23, 2001.

    The Bush iPod Pictures, Images and Photos

    Great diary blasky. I’ve reread it twice already.

    I’m sure I’ll come up with more stuff.

    Stay tuned …

  2. great diary chris.

    a couple of personal analogies that relate to the diary.  first, i donated blood when i was in high-school for a bone marrow search.  then a couple of years ago (roughly about 10 years later) cdn blood services contacted me let me know that i was a partial match to someone and asked if i could come in for additional testing.  i went in and they basically explained that they had isolated 2 more (of 10!) markers in matching marrow.  2 more!  in ten years.  blows my mind.

    also – i had a meeting a few months back where the discussion centered around youth, technology and marketing.  in a nutshell – it took 25 years for the colour TV to gain 65% market saturation – it took the VCR 10 years and it took DVD player – ready?  2 years.

    as to DC – where to start?

  3. Strummerson

    for other kinds of knowledge now.  Science and technology are key, or more accurately they are keys.  We need more progress in how we apply them and we need a similar kind of adventurous curiosity in addressing economics, political science, sociology, psychology and ethics.  

    The development of the internet enables democratization of politics, but it doesn’t perform the process.  the latter requires people who recognize potential and develop applications.  One of my dearest hopes as we prepare for next week is that Obama’s post-ideological pragmatism and eclectic approach to policy, bound together with his progressive social vision, will also shake us out of old dogmas so that we can envision new paradigms beyond liberalism and conservatism, beyond capitalism and socialism, beyond redundant ideas regarding individualism and communitarianism or tradition and modernity.  

    I want to see the dialectic begin to function again.  It seems to me that in crucial areas of human knowledge theses and anti-theses have come to resemble and endless game of Pong.  It’s time for some aufhebung.  I want new ideas and new applications in the areas of social relations and cultural production.  I want the new administration to foster a post-ideological ethos that is skeptical and creative and able to take a long view, not just pragmatic and moderate in the immediate sense.  We’ve got to revere the old in ways that allow us to dig the new.

  4. So good indeed, that I have precious few memes of my own to add.

    What an eight years it’s been. But I can’t help feeling, that from culture was to the 9/11 attacks, we were reaping the whirlwind of decisions made way back when (perhaps in 1979?)

    Little did we realise that it would take until 20th of January 2009, a bit later than anticipated, to finally enter the 21st Century.  

  5. “I don’t even mean this in the simple Bush bashing fashion, but it just seems to me that there is a zone of infinite inertia hanging around our soon-to-be-former President.”

    The Bush legacy may be at its worst when it comes to the damage it has done to science and the politicization of government bureaucracies. It was most evident in departments that should be focused on science and the latest technologies, like NASA and the FDA. What they’ve done to these departments is criminal, or should be.

    I can only hope there will be a quick turnaround in those policies. The O administration will have to weed out the Liberty U. appointees in order to get anything done.

  6. Jjc2008

    getting my MA in ed tech back in 1986. Can you imagine?   I could not even afford my own computer and was constantly lugging an old Apple II home so I could work on stuff for my programming courses.  At the end of that year I bought my first Mac (no hard drive, black and white, and it cost over $2400.   Later I bought an external hard drive.  I joined the Internet community in 1990.  Sometimes it took SO LONG just to get on line.  

    Before that in 1983 I bought my first VCR…..and then a microwave.  I think now about life before those things.  It makes me giggle. Over half my life those things were dreams and fantasy (I was a geeky little girl who even in the 1950s used to pretend I had a computer and drew all sorts if dials and screens on the side of an old white cabinet in our basement.  I sat in front of it and imagined I was piloting a space craft.)  Now things that were my fantasies are my everyday tools.

    In 1990, I saw a video at an Apple Conference for teachers, showing screens with video on a computer screen. I was so amazed.  Now it’s the norm.

    Today I was substituting in third grade and we read a story about the future.  One piece of the story showed quotes of people and how wrong they were. One guy said in 1977, “…can’t imagine any reason why anyone would need a computer in their home.”  Another quote was from the 1950s stating the world would probably never need more than five computers (of course then, one computer filled a room).

    I had the kids design a classroom of the future…….

    it’s hard to imagine these days what comes next because things change and become useless so fast.

  7. HappyinVT

    Of course, it only took him two minutes to blather on about 9/11.

    For some reason I was glad he didn’t mention Malia and Sasha by name.  They are too young to be so tainted by that hateful name.  (Truth is, I’m not sure he could pronounce them.)


    Bush said.  I’ll have to listen again to find the earlier times but the last time was when he was talking about the economy.  He acted as if he was a spectator to what went wrong rather than a participant.

    Oh yeah, the part about Afghanistan was jaw dropping too.  They are a thriving democracy now instead of a haven for terrorists?

    And if he talked about Katrina I missed it.  A major American city was completely destroyed and his government did virtually nothing until shamed into action and then was ineffective in what it did do.

    Bush’s entire presidency was 8 years of EPIC FAIL.

  9. GrassrootsOrganizer

    I clearly remember during the agonizing last month of 2000 discussing with my sister how to cope with Bush’s blatant theft of the election.  Burned out from it all (and so naive as to think we were in the midst of our greatest national crisis for decades to come) I told her not to worry, that Bush would be gone in four years if the economy went sour after the prosperity of the Clinton years.  I honestly thought the worst the do-nothing ahole could “accomplish” would be a slight downturn from the robust economy.

    Hey, who knew.

    In retrospect, duh, it wasn’t his incompetence, laziness and stupidity we needed to fear — it was the defiant grasping self-aggrandizement and pure evil.  Oh well.  I don’t think anyone could have imagined even half the Bush presidency in advance of it.  He sort of pushed the envelop on awful.  

    Anyway, eight years ago I personally thought war between civilized countries was a thing of the past and we had finally figured out how to lift all boats.   I never in my worst nightmares imagined my sons going off to war.  As a matter of fact, I had just designed a “peace memorial” for a local community and had to make the argument that we should leave a little space for more names, “just in case, you never know” but people still argued with me.  

    I clearly remember “made in China” meant something exotic and precious that you probably bought in Chinatown.  I remember a trip to an international mall in New Jersey in 1999 where I marveled at the range of  items actually “made in China”. heh.

    I had three locally owned drugstores to chose from, five independent bookstores and two locally owned grocery stores.  (all gone now)   There was one Walmart in my state and folks took day trips to go shop there.  Retiring from an auto company meant you were “set for life”.  

    I couldn’t imagine a natural disaster this country couldn’t rapidly address with minimal loss of life.  I encouraged my son (bent on enlisting) to join the National Guard because they only respond to natural disasters and by definition never are sent overseas.  

    In 2000, I knew the country would go through mild readjustments, would have future problems to sort through, would go through economic ups and downs — but overall we were strong, the guardians of peace and the Geneva Convention, world leaders on every front and on an constant upward trajectory.  

    oh well.

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