succumbing to peer pressure

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Brain Candy

Right, so a while ago I finished State of Fear by Michael Crichton and I've been meaning to come back and say a few things. I picked it up because I'm in another library book phase (I occasionally forget that you can get books, FOR FREE, from these places called libraries) and happened to see it while browsing the new arrivals section and Crichton is good for an entertaining afternoon, so what the hell, I brought it home. A couple hundred pages into it I found out about the recent hubub around Crichton's visit to the White House. Well, now I'm intrigued, and am paying slightly more attention to the arguments set forth in the book. The apparent mass media consensus - Crichton is staunchly anti-global warming (as in, he doesn't think it exists), wrote a book debunking the whole thing, and now Bush has had this big secret meeting with him to further back up this administration's point of view. My consensus - um...not so much. Yes, the book cherry picks articles to reference in footnotes about scientists' findings that conflict with global warming theory. Yes, characters in the book argue against global warming and characters defending global warming often come off sounding absolutist and unreasonable. But my overall interpretation is that Crichton makes some valid points - global warming data is incredibly complicated and messy and does not provide black and white answers. Well...duh. Comparing temperature records from 150 years ago is obviously tricky, to say the least. He brings up some interesting ideas about how research should be conducted and funded. Overall, raises some interesting food for thought. As for the resulting controversy and this apparent belief that he has debunked some scientific theory, um, well, how to put this delicately? HE WROTE A FUCKING FICTIONAL NOVEL! Seriously!? This is what we're getting our panties all in a twist about? (here comes the elitist intelligentsia comment) If you're looking to a popular mainstream fiction writer for your information on global warming, you are not being thoughtful about the topic nor are you prepared to contribute to the larger dialogue on the subject*. You're reaching for the McNugget version. And yes, the possibility that that is what our president is doing is scary, but hardly news. What's actually sort of heartbreaking and frustrating about the book is that Crichton has about three pages of really good stuff about how the government and mass media have so successfully kept society in general in a perpetual 'state of fear' so as to more effectively manipulate us into approving whatever current agenda the administration is pushing. Why oh why did he choose global warming as the example of this when there are so many other more glaringly obvious choices? Anyway.

On to other brain candy related topics - I finally embraced today as a do-nothing day and treated myself to Red Eye (as Mark says, Cillian Murphy is a cutie!). Actually, the movie isn't so bad. Sure, it's ridiculous (and it's possible my threshold was already incredibly low due to an earlier viewing of the last half of Elektra) but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Primarily because (ok, in addition to the physical attractiveness of the two leads) Rachel McAdams doesn't suck in all those stereotypical females ways. She kicks a little ass, stays mostly calm, uses her brain, and implements some clever solutions. Yay!

In totally unrelated news, my knee made this sickening wet clicking noise when I stood up earlier. Some parts of my body are totally weird. Like my left shoulder. Anyone who knows me is familiar with the jarringly loud cracking noise it makes fairly regularly. Well, last night I was sitting next to a new friend and it was being particularly loud and we were smooshed closely together on this couch, so it was essentially cracking while pressed up against her arm, which I know tends to gross people out, so I apologized, and she says, "Is that...your...bones?" Yeah. weird.

*to be fair, Crichton does provide several pages of references both for and against global warming. I suppose if this book is way to get people interested and reading more about the subject from more scholarly sources I shouldn't poo-poo that so much. Just like Oprah's book club - things that get people reading and thinking and stretching beyond their comfort zones are generally good. Even if they make me roll my eyes, ensconsed over here in my little ivory tower and all.


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