Spinning of His Own?

NY Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman began an animated talk about his new book “Thank You For Being Late” by doing just that to a couple of late arrivals at a recent UCSB Arts & Lectures event; a cute touch which drew the audience in, setting them up for his “folksy” preamble to the real subject of the book as delineated in the book’s subtitle: “An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations.” Many journalists recycle their columns into books, an often lucrative gambit, and Mr. Friedman has been quite successful at it. So, if you are familiar with his NY Times column, you will probably feel right at home in the books he writes and the promotional lectures he gives. It is hard to deny he is a deep thinker about the subjects he tackles, and the myriad ways in which human advancements create problems for many of the inhabitants of this planet is his mainstay. Fans take a lot of comfort in his analysis and recommendations, and as he paced around the stage, interjecting his talk with humor and a good dose of irony, there was much to enjoy. As for hope for the future, maybe not so much. Like many optimistic prognosticators, a good deal of faith is needed to believe that human adaptability will mitigate the usual array of forces that profit from technological advances, to say nothing of more sinister motivations. Like many medical prescriptions, most of Friedman’s have an iffy probablility of working and would likely have unpleasant side effects, if there were any real chance of them being adopted by governments and institutions. But, one can hope… Maybe there will be a placebo effect?