Tag Archives: Space X

The incredible potential of potential: On Facebook, commercial space travel and the 2012 graduates of SFSU

This week we have arrived at an exciting time when hope, dreams and potential have all come together in a combustible mix.  

We’ve got Facebook’s IPO, commercial space travel’s first big test , and my oldest kid’s college graduation all coming at once.

The excitement is all about the tremendous unknown. Upside? Anything can happen.

Including the downside.

Place your bets.


Is it heresy to say I was rooting for Facebook to come undone on the opening? 

There was a pop from $38 to $43 and a few billionaires were still made, but really, do the 1 percent really deserve more? To me, it just seemed more decent to bet against greed.

Better for the soul.

This is not to say I’m anti-Facebook or social networking (though I do favor Twitter). In fact, Facebook is a great American story of entrepreneurship and the drive to create the next big thing.  

When I was in college, I was romanced by the big ideas of the past. Hegel anyone? I wasn’t  tinkering around in the computer lab anticipating the future and the digital translation of everything in life.

I was thinking about  things like the Great American Novel, not the Great Killer App.

Oh, and I actually had the Facebook in my hands. The printed version. I was thinking about that person I met in the Freshman Union.  I was in the G’s.  So was some guy named Gates.

Over the last few days I’ve had several friends ask me about Facebook, and what could I say?  What’s it going to be worth in 5, 10, 20 years? Remember My Space? These tech things trend out.  Remember when Palm and Blackberry were way cool, then way not?

Speculation is a matter of heat and Facebook right now is both hot and not.  If you’re on it constantly, do you click on any ads?  Does the company really  know how it  will make money on advertising through social networking?

I don’t know the answers to Facebook’s future value. No one really does.

But this I know. If you’re a user, Facebook still knows more about you than you know about it.

So until things become a tad more transparent,  and the lucky buy their Ferraris and SF condos, Facebook remains that nice, nosy little utility of life and any big bet on it is all about faith, hope, and a whole lot of greed.


On Saturday comes the big rocket test for Space X, the big bet on commercial space flight that could bring the Jetsons to reality.

The Mile High Club?  Compared to Space X, that’s like necking in the backseat of a Mustang. With commercial space flight, we’re talking about reaching heights around 240 miles above the earth. 

Travelling in space may seem cool to the astrophysicists amongst us. But not me. Space? This is why God gave us telescopes—so that we can view the cosmos from our Lazy-Boy.  (Oh, actually, there is an app for that now, isn’t there?)

Still, if you’d like to fly non-stop someday from here to the space station,  I don’t want to be the person to say no.  Personally, I’d rather see a bullet train through the state. Or BART get a station in Livermore.

When you consider the billions of dollars needed just to see if commercial space travel is feasible during these very tenuous financial times, I’m wondering if the coolness factor of saying you can do it is enough reason to actually do it?

So I doubt if I’ll  be a Frequent Flyer.

I’m plenty happy  just  getting to Cincinnati every now and then to see my in-laws.  Given that’s like going back in time, who needs commercial space travel?


Lastly, is there anything more hopeful than a graduation?

I’ll be on the field at San Francisco State’s Cox Stadium when my daughter Jilly crosses the stage with a B.S. in Geology.

This is a big deal for a family of liberal arts-types, who last considered science when people still used slide rules. (Youngsters, those really were considered accurate, to the nearest black line).

As a young girl, my daughter seemed destined to follow in her parents’ tradition.  In high school, she took chemistry for jocks (which was a little more than an analysis of Gatorade, but not by much). I knew she could do better, but I didn’t push her. I lectured. She didn’t listen. I made it her responsibility.

Still, here was a girl, and a person of color, who it was assumed, had no talent for the sciences. In today’s tech oriented world, that’s like saying you have no ticket to the future.

But boy, did she prove them all wrong. And all it took was some great professors at SFSU to help her discover that.

So while I’m proud of my daughter, I’m also a little worried about the future of our state’s high ed programs.  

SFSU may have a rockier road  ahead than my daughter.

The one thing about the state schools is they were always  there to assure a level of education for all.

Now with all the cutbacks in the state’s budget, I’m not so sure. 

For state schools, it’s all about resources, and currently there aren’t many. Even my daughter felt the pinch. She needed an extra year to graduate because she couldn’t get into required classes that were either cancelled, full, or not available.

I’m a big supporter of affirmative action. But that’s not the only answer to real educational equality.  You can bicker about college admissions all you want, but it still comes down to resources.

 What, after all, are you vying for admission to?  When budgets are cut, as my daughter found out searching for a basic chemistry course, sometimes it means there’s  “no there there.”

Graduation will be my celebration that there was a there for my daughter at 19th and Holloway.

I have no hesitation, nor doubts here.  My abundant hope is our state system will also be there for the vast numbers of Californians  in the future.