President Obama’s State of the Union calls on America to “Nerd Up”

President Obama's State of the Union calls on America to "Nerd Up"

State of the Union speeches are supposed to inspire the nation and tonight’s call to renew our dedication to science was no exception.

State of the Union = Nerds! Nerds! Nerds!

By Justin “filthy liberal nerd” Rosario

Everyone takes away something different from a speech, particularly one as far ranging as a State of the Union address. Some will focus on the war efforts and START treaty. Others will focus on tax cuts and loopholes. Me? Twenty minutes into tonight’s State of the Union all I could hear was the scream of Ogre, “NEEEEEEERRRRRRRRDDDDDSSSSSS!!!!

And how sweet it sounded. If you haven’t noticed by now, I am a nerd. I love science in all of its geeky glory. I love astronomy, biology, nanotechnology, geology, all of it. I embraced my inner dweeb years ago when I decided being smart was nothing to be ashamed of. It’s time for the rest of the country to join me in total dweebdom and President Obama agrees:

“This is our generation’s Sputnik moment. Two years ago, I said that we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven’t seen since the height of the Space Race. In a few weeks, I will be sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal.”

I grew up reading about the Space Race and wondered how amazing it must have been to be alive at such a time. As a child born in the early 70s, my adolescence was shaded by the knowledge that Japan was more technologically savvy then we were and we had lost our edge. Even their cartoons were (and still are) better!

What happened to the state of the union that we fell behind?

Even as the United States struggled to reclaim our place as smartest kid on the planet, the luster of learning was gone. Teachers were not revered or paid well and our schools declined rapidly. I graduated with kids would could barely write a coherent sentence. But sports stars, and later, reality TV stars, were treated as royalty. President Obama said as much in tonight’s State of the Union:

“We need to teach our kids that it’s not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair; that success is not a function of fame or PR, but of hard work and discipline.”

Other countries understand and appreciate that teachers are the building block of a successful nation:

“In South Korea, teachers are known as “nation builders.” Here in America, it’s time we treated the people who educate our children with the same level of respect.”

Yes. Yes it is. A good teacher can change the world by inspiring the right student. It’s time we had more of them:

“If you want to make a difference in the life of our nation; if you want to make a difference in the life of a child – become a teacher. Your country needs you.”

And it’s more than just education. We need to fund research into the technologies that will control the world over the next century. Solar power, super computers, electric cars and the like will be the greatest job creation engines in our lifetimes. But we have to get there first:

“We’re telling America’s scientists and engineers that if they assemble teams of the best minds in their fields, and focus on the hardest problems in clean energy, we’ll fund the Apollo Projects of our time… With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to have 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.”

I recently wrote that we had no chance to regain our “smart kid” status. At least not until we remember how to unleash our inner nerd. But “The Big Bang Theory” getting renewed for three seasons and this State of the Union speech gives me hope that America can still put the coke bottle glasses back on, dust off the pocket protectors and get back to making science fiction writers work harder to keep up with reality like we used to.

Live long and prosper, you filthy liberal scum!