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Obama gives props to "the makers of things" Answered

This isn't a political post - just an observation. I took note of the phrase "makers of things" during Obama's inauguration speech. Go Makers!

"In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted - for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things - some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom."


I don't know who wrote that speech, but it's roughly correct.
Exploiting slaves and displacing / killing the native inhabitants of North |America, isn't something I'd expect the US president to mention. Ditto moving steelworks to Mexico. Getting "Chinamen" to toil and die building a railroad isn't something I'd expect the president to say either, but as Goodhart says, good American-capitalists will source making to the cheapest labour available. And that is/has been "the American way", mirrored elsewhere across the globe.
Like all good politicians this speech is worthless political-puff, wait for some real action before pinning any hopes an something being done that makes a difference.


And England never prospered because of colonialism...


Did you read a recent article in WIRED about entrepreneurs and the garage-industries That have popped up?  I forget the term they coined in the article.  It was really fascinating stuff.

In fact, many economists and historians associate "Imperial Preference" - a market closed only to goods produced from the empire with the decline of Britain from the end of the 19th century.

"mirrored elsewhere across the globe"
No I missed the WIRED article, can you find it somewhere?


.  While it may all be all too true, somehow, hearing it from a citizen of The British Empire (India, Ireland, complicity in American slave trade, France, most of Asia, &c) just doesn't sound quite right. One of those "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" kind of deals. heehee
.  But, yeah. We are shooting ourselves in the foot by outsourcing so much - especially the high-tech stuff.

The topic was about the US, the line "mirrored elsewhere across the globe" was intended to cover everywhere else. Much UK business / management theory came / comes from the US.


 I have that excerpt on a t-shirt,

"...The risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things."

-President Barack Obama

You can buy the t-shirt at Maker Shed.

I was able to see and listen to (while at home, then in the car respectively) this and was equally struck by the phrase. Many people do not realize just how much we have farmed out to others, in the area of manufacturing, and actual hands on MAKING of things (not just the help desks ;-).

I do hope this inspires this country to get back INTO making, since that was what if you'll excuse the pun made us a strong country in the first place. We built, innovated, strove, gained ground, pushed forward, learned community, and grew together. And now, we are in a shambles, having given up our most precious commodity, our manufacturers, and traded it in for the dream of paper that means very little once the people lose faith in the fantasy island syndrome.
We can turn this around though, and it will be this generation that does it, if it is to be done. I hope to be around to see it happen, and assist where I can ;-)

I share your concerns, on a grander scale as well. I recently voiced my fears to the team involved in The Clock of the Long Now, and they agreed:

...I cannot help but think, though, that something is missing.

What is missing is hard copy.

The Long Viewer and Long Server will only work as long as we are able to maintain power to the computer network that supports them.

If humanity loses the ability to generate electricity, these projects will be lost.

Even if the loss is short-term, a few years following some global disaster, then there will be a huge loss of information - knowledge and skills will die with those that know them.

Those skills - even things as basic as farming and obtaining metals from the raw materials - need to be preserved in a way that will outlast any traditional or foreseeable computer network.

It needs to be recorded in a form as unmistakeably monumental as the Pyramids or Stonehenge, but even more durable, and in ways less obscure.

Indeed, I picture "the ultimate hard copy" to be henge-like in nature - strong, metres-high slabs of a material such as titanium or a durable glass. Arranged in a spiral or labyrinth pathway, the first slabs will have the most basic skills explained in pictographic forms, images of farming and metalwork, carpentry and building, hunting and weaving, with times of year shown with icons of Sun and Moon.

More and more detailed information would be encountered in a variety of languages as people find the need to venture deeper and deeper into the monument.

Glassmaking, pottery, medicines, animal husbandry, generating electricity, navigation, brewing and distilling, no skill should be considered too basic to be included, and it would be impossible for a single individual such as myself to even begin to list all the subject areas that would need to be covered, or even to decide what order they should be recorded.

What is clear to me, though, is the need for this permanent archive, something that would enable humanity to bring itself back from some unknowable future disaster, at least to the level of being able to preserve and extend life through surgical and chemical techniques, to feed significant populations and to travel and communicate long distances with relative ease and efficiency.

It is also clear that there should be more than one of these archives - humans, being only human, could easily go to war to control a single archive, and fate, being fickle, could also ensure that a single archive could be destroyed by whatever catastrophe also reduced humanity to the point of needing its help.


In reply, the pointed me towards their Digital Dark Age blog, but that is not what I meant - they are talking about saving files. Skills are different, especially the kind of ground-up skills I'm talking about.

If I google for "How to Make Iron", what I get are lots of references to "How to make Iron Oxide" and "How to make Iron-on transfers".

What I do not get is a clear link to the knowledge I need to be able to turn a pile of brown rocks into metallic iron using only what I can find or make from what I find. Come the comet, though, that's the skill-set I'll need.

Amazon is no better at coming up with paper books on the subject.

Heretical though it sounds, even this website is not what is needed, simply because it is digital in nature. Come the comet, off goes the power and this entire, wonderful edifice vanishes with the dot on the CRT.

Somewhere, somehow, we need to gather these skills into a huge and durable text book. With copies.

The questions are, of course, what is stored, where, how, and who pays for it?

I'm going to stop now, I'm depressing myself.

yay for colonizing other worlds and increasing are chances of survival from a single chaotic event? Although, if the Cylons showed up, we would still be in trouble...

I agree up to this point:
Heretical though it sounds, even this website is not what is needed, simply because it is digital in nature. Come the comet, off goes the power and this entire, wonderful edifice vanishes with the dot on the CRT.

What this DOES inspire is the doing. Even if we lost it all (paper may not survive any better then computers). Having a large group of DOers, rather then just "praisers" (oh isn't THAT cool) will keep things going in an absolute catastrophe.

I am a firm believer in getting people to do, and not just record.

As Einstein once said (and this may not be perfect as I am quoting from memory): "I do not know with what kind of weapons we will fight WW III, but WW IV will be fought with sticks and stones."

I do agree that having the books in libraries spread across the world would be of GREAT value, but I do also think that inspiring many to execute the instructions in the book, and then and I am asking for a lot here inspire them to go beyond what is in the books.

Or maybe we there should only be three copies of it...and we can be the new world order!

And risk them ending up in an overwhelming conflagration? I don't know. . .

"Somewhere, somehow, we need to gather these skills into a huge and durable text book. With copies."


I know what you mean though, and it's a good point. Reminds me a lot of the Seed Vault

If we could do that, there's no doubt we could make something similar in nature to what you suggest.

Oh, I know, but I am talking about in extremis here - good as it is, you can't rebuild civilisation with it.

We should start compiling information. It may not be in a usable form for archival, but it would be a good root of information.


9 years ago

I also liked the bit about "we will restore science to its rightful place."

on the bookshelf, to the left of the popcorn?

INdeed, I was watching and I was like BOOYAH

BTW that was the first +1 for Obama in my book, but he's still -9 :P

Hey, but at least he's gaining! Right?

I hope he can stand up to his promises. He sure wants to change a lot. Maybe he can fund my propane engine conversion research.

The president doesn't fund research. government Departments and agencies do that. You will need to learn how to write grant proposals, apply for funding, and do the necessary accounting and reporting once you've received funding.

In your case, one place to start would be the Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy, since your project uses existing, non-renewable resources.

You could also do a Web search for "RFP propane internal combustion", and see if any of the agencies offering grants are consistent with your project.

I might just actually do that. I've gotten a leaf blower engine to run on propane, but I haven't had a chance to experiment with a real car.

Awesome. I saw it too.

And i would put "America" or "USA" somewhere up there