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Rudy Baum Redux

May 20, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 20

Rudy Baum’s review of Al Gore’s recent book “The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change” caused me to hark back to the Robert Gunning Fog Index, a measure of the readability of written English (C&EN, March 25, page 44). A 68-word sentence by Gore left Baum saying, “Huh?” An earlier sentence by Gore contained 65 words and yet another, 58 words. Those garnered a double “huh?” from me.

Baum, though, wrote one 53-word sentence in the review and then an 82-word blockbuster (half was a quote), indicating that the need for calculating the Gunning Fog Index is alive and well in editing circles.

Basil Constantinos Doumas
Fredericksburg, Va.

Baum’s retirement as C&EN editor-in-chief gave me hope that the frequent liberal spew from the magazine might end. Alas, that hope was dashed when I saw that he is back as a book reviewer.

His review of Al Gore’s book is predictable—one liberal praising another. Baum opines that Gore is a “thoughtful, well-informed commentator” and a man of “prodigious talents.” What nonsense.

Gore’s book is hardly a sage prediction of the future. On the contrary, it is best described as a compilation of progressive policies that have failed in the past and will continue to do so.

The issues we need to push, according to Gore, are interconnecting the world’s economies and other systems (globalism); restricting greedy corporations and rich people (redistribution of wealth); controlling human population and the use of natural resources (sustainability); reducing human impacts on the environment (such as climate change); restricting the ownership of weapons (gun control); and more.

Why is Baum reviewing Gore’s book for C&EN? One looks in vain for the word “chemistry” in Baum’s essay. Book reviews on pertinent chemical topics are fine, but partisan political essays should be published elsewhere.

Baum makes at least one true statement about Gore’s book: “Conservatives of a certain stripe won’t like it at all.”

Robert Lattimer
Stow, Ohio



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