Change Your Teevee

I have to say that I've been enjoying Obama's YouTube addresses to a somewhat surprising degree. Sure it's nice to be reminded every week that we have an intelligent, engaged President again. But this week, I found a new source of enjoyment in viewing the objects in the background of the video:

True, some books, a plant, a picture, and a window are not exciting in and of themselves. But the fact that they're all somewhat different from the background of the previous week mildly amuses me:

The changes immediately reminded me of one of those "Find all the Differences" cartoons from the newspaper. In that spirit, it would be awesome if at least one background item were altered every week--just slightly. Just because. It'd be idiosyncrasy I can believe in.

But on a more substantive note, I'm pleased to see some videos from the transition team as well. So far, the best ones are from the Energy and Environment Policy group, including this one from Heather Zichal:

Zichal hits many of the major themes here--mass transit, renewables, greenhouse gasses, etc--and discusses some of the administration's goals. Nonetheless, it would be nice to see a little explanation of some of the trade-offs we'll be making in order to achieve a few of those goals. Also, I'd like to see some indication that all aspects of a product's lifecycle are being taken into account when measuring the environmental benefits of their proposals. For instance, when discussing the need to capture solar energy, it'd be good to hear that they've put some thought into making sure the manufacturing of the solar panels and the other energy grid upgrades aren't going to offset the gains we make from acquiring the solar energy itself. It's never been clear to me how much lifecycle analysis went into the production of ethanol before we started producing it. The environmental movement has taken too many hits, sometimes actually deserved, for favoring symbolism over substance. I'm sure this administration will do its best to avoid some of those pitfalls.

That said, paradoxically, my one concern about these videos is that they seem more vulnerable than most to Republican political exploitation. I'm sure they're pretty well-vetted before making their way onto the interwebs, but Republicans have a particular knack for seizing upon some innocuous word or image and then whipping the media into a frenzy of hackery over it. It's true that anything coming out of the Obama administration is game for exploitation, but these videos have a uniquely informal feeling to them that inspires me to think things like, "I hope that isn't the f-word I see on that dude's piece of paper", as I'm watching. Because, if it is the f-word, you know that the next day Chris Matthews will be all over the teevee declaring that the end of the Obama administration began the day the country saw the f-word on that dude's piece of paper (for example).

All concerns aside, I, for one, am pleased to see some serious communication occuring between the incoming administration and the average folk, such as myself. I sincerely hope it continues.

Nothing New byslag at 12:35 PM

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