Last week was the Conference on World Affairs. I generally try to make it to a few sessions, but this year it overlapped with other plans. I even missed the movie (Chinatown), though Ebert was out sick, so it probably wasn’t as entertaining as usual.
Still, I did manage to make it to a few of the bigger sessions on Friday.
First I saw Tim Wirth (former senator from Colorado) talk about global warming. Usually this topic depresses me and makes me want to gaze carefully at the several colors of angst. Wirth did a reasonable job of reframing the topic from depression and powerlessness to opportunity. One practical thing he mentioned was getting state legislatures to let local utility companies get the same RoI for efficiency efforts that they do for building new power plants; he said Idaho has the model program here.
After leaving the senate, Wirth stayed involved in politics, pursuing various things, like global warming, that seemed important to him. I wonder what that sort of career must be like.
Next was Joe Biden. He gave what I would describe as a stump speech. I thought he did a pretty good job (he had the best speaking skills of the people I saw), and was even inspiring toward the end. He also answered a bunch of questions; that was pretty interesting. Also, he quotes Seamus Heaney.
Finally came Paul Krugman, giving the Molly Ivins memorial lecture (she was a regular at CWA). He was interesting and entertaining, though I think he didn’t really say much that you couldn’t read in his columns.
In all it was a great way to spend an afternoon; the content was ok, but also just getting out into a non-electronic community for a while was nice. Also I’ve been needing a change of scenery as a way to stretch a bit and reinvigorate my creativity. This helped.