Sunday, June 04, 2006

The greatest place on earth...

...is without a doubt the Housing Works Used Book Cafe. Where else can you get biographies of Theodor Herzl, free condoms, and drinks either caffeinated or alcoholic, all in one gorgeous bookstore that would, were it not for the Herzl, lattes, and condoms, testaments to modernity, seem almost too charming. And, in case you're still not convinced, the proceeds all go to an AIDS charity. Can't argue with that.

Speaking (well, blogging) of things you can't argue with, just got back from Al Gore's envirofest, An Inconvenient Truth. When of course the inconvenient truth is that Gore didn't become president when thus elected, and the fact that the world's getting warmer, well, that's also a shame. As we left the theater, the first thing one of the UChicago cohort I was with said was, "el presidente." Amen.

As readers of this blog surely know by now, I'm one of the least enthusiastic Democrats/liberals around, but if there's one thing I'm certain of in American politics (other than the fabulousness of Mayor Giuliani, please don't make me call him "former") it's that we (Americans, the world) would be in a much better spot right now had Al Gore been president. This is not out of any particular love for Al Gore, but out of how things probably would have played out quite differently with him in office. Either 9/11 wouldn't have happened, because with these "ifs" you can never know, but if it had, Gore would have had to respond, and thus "responding to terrorism" wouldn't have come to be associated with "being a far-right, socially-conservative sub-cretin." "Pro-Israel" wouldn't have come to mean "fundamentalist Christian or Jewish neoconservative." Or something like that. In any case, it was sort of depressing to see Gore going through airport security like a normal person when dammit he should fly Air Force One.

That said, before I read and respond to any reviews of the film, my reaction:

1) It is kinda sorta an ad for Apple. Gore has a really beautiful silver laptop. I don't. I want one!

2) It would have been nice to see some meaningful counterargument. While by no means as painful as Michael Moore's indictment of "the current administration" in Fahrenheit 9/11, Gore's movie succeeds in making opponents look absurd, but never addresses where these opponents are coming from, other than greed, willful ignorance, and so on. Even if the movie's conclusion is that these are in fact the motives of Gore's opponents, presumably they themselves present a different story, and hearing that story would have only helped Gore's case.

3) The movie has this "science for idiots" quality that struck me as somehow familiar. Aha, now I remember. Physci! I was half expecting to be shuttled off to a lab to perform some kind of experiement specially tailored to humanities majors, one which I would nevertheless be incapable of figuring out.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Gore's on the board of apple I think.

kei said...

Yessssss, physci! Now I must see this movie. I'm sure if he could, Gore would have added some interactive feature/lab involving some atrocious machine that you have to drag onto some roof of a U of C science building. I hope Don Lamb and Erwin are doing well...

Wes said...

Bottom line is Gore is finally back on his issue and is trying to wake america up to the growing threat of global warming.

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Anonymous said...

You really think that the terrorists would have ‘aborted’ the mission, and say diverted the planes for an impromptu Caribbean vacation (bikini burkas and all), if alerted that the US was now in the hands of El Gore. I wasn’t aware that Al Qaeda was so upset with the election results. -M

Phoebe said...

No, I do think it would have happened anyway. My point was that, as with any counterfactual, you can't imagine everything else would have happened exactly as it did once you change one rather significant factor.

Anonymous said...

It would have been nice to see some meaningful counterargument. While by no means as painful as Michael Moore's indictment of "the current administration" in Fahrenheit 9/11, Gore's movie succeeds in making opponents look absurd,

While not an expert in this field, what research I’ve done makes me think that asking to see “meaningful counterargument” to global warming is akin to asking that news shows covering evolution provide meaningful counter argument. If you stick to the realm of good science there really isn’t one. While there exist some possible explanations for warming other than human carbon emission, the actual fact of warming is really are not in dispute.

Petey said...

"You really think that the terrorists would have ‘aborted’ the mission, and say diverted the planes for an impromptu Caribbean vacation (bikini burkas and all), if alerted that the US was now in the hands of El Gore. I wasn’t aware that Al Qaeda was so upset with the election results."

At the time of the millennium, there was a lot of intelligence chatter of a terrorist event being planned. The Clinton administration took the chatter seriously and set up a couple of task forces to see if the various agencies were coming up with any loose leads that needed follow-up.

At the time of 9/11, there was a lot of intelligence chatter of a terrorist event being planned. The Bush administration did not take the chatter seriously and took no special measures to cope. Therefore they missed the various reports bubbling up through the FBI of arabs at flying schools.

Read Richard Clarke's book. He was present during both time periods.

Would a Gore administration have foiled the plot? There is a reasonable case to be made that they would have had a decent shot at it.