Last time, I weighed in about the missing "V Word"... asking why even opponents to the Iraq Mess aren't mentioning the greatest American mistake of the 20th Century, our misguided and disastrous intervention in Vietnam.
Yes, there are differences aplenty. Still, the similarities are so numberous; they imply that at least we ought to be considering what went wrong then... and what mistakes we might be repeating now. The budget-busting, inflation-spurring, readiness-diminishing, alliance rupturing, World-popularity-destroying, and internally-nation-dividing effects are all too similar to blithely dismiss.
Nor should the hypocrisies go unchallenged. For three decades we heard ninnies declare that we "lost Vietnam because politicians interfered in military affairs"... only to see professional military judgements trampled beyond belief in Iraq, by a clade of draft-dodging preppies who always know-better and can never acknowledge a mistake.
Both land wars of attrition in Asia showed diametrically opposite decision-making skills from the agile, quick-effective methodologies used in the Balkans... methodologies that were refined by the US Officer Corps - in collaboration with allies - in direct effort to AVOID quagmires like Vietnam.
Only now, with newspapers mentioning "ink-blot counterinsurgency tactics"... while never mentioning where the technique was last tried (!!) we appear to see an almost psychotic "V Avoidance" from not only the Messopotamia's defenders, but its critics, as well.
Now bear with me while we veer from the "V Word" over to another ghost at the banquet, that nobody seems inclined to mention...
... the "T Word."
I'm talking about Tobacco.
For a while now, I've been trying to picture the some kind of parallel to the jibbering dance-of-distraction that we are seeing from the "it's not proved yet" anti-global warming crowd. Their frantic need to discredit the entire scientific community. Michael Crichton's astonishing claim that "consensus has no meaning" in science. (So a political party that wins questionable elections by slim pluralities somehow has a huge "mandate"... but a belief shared by 90% of reputable scientists can be dismissed out of hand?)
Yes, we have seen this kind of frenetic holding-onto obsolete and reactionary opinions, before. Racism and sexism, for example. In fact (here Brin goes again!) the left has its own loony shiboleths and hypocrisies, aplenty! Though usually less harmful ones.
Then it struck me when we last saw the closest parallel. TOBACCO AND CANCER!
Recall how the behavior on the part of elite "suits" could only be called identical!
Hypocrites and self interested liars would BOTH claim that "there is not enough evidence, WHILE strenuously blocking the research that would get the evidence!
The same anti-science maneuvering, while chest-thumping that science has no such thing as "consensus." The same relentless refusal to see any public good... or the blatantly obvious truth, that some things are so dangerous that better-safe-than-sorry is a reasonable proposition.
In other words, those who say that it is perfectly okay to go about fouling our own nest should be the ones with a burden of proof, called upon to offer evidence, instead of the other way around.
Um, duh? I find myself often wondering... "what would Cotton Mather think?" Or Silas Marner, or the other founding Puritans? Yes, they might not like tolerance of gays... or tolerance of any kind. But let's put that part of it aside. There were other values. Other aspects of conservatism in the American sense. Aspects that conservatives still claim to support... and get away with the claim only because people let them!
Pay-as-you go refusal to go into debt.
A stitch in time, saves nine.
Mind your own business.
It takes a Village.
I could go on and on, but this is another topic. ("How the hell did Democrats become the party of puritan conservative values?")
Getting back to the issue at hand... let's consider the T Word... and whether these dipso-kleptos really are as smart as they think they are.
One the one hand: it is clear to any sensible person what they are doing. They aren't idiots. They KNOW the climate is changing and there will be huge disruptions. Watch land purchases and shifts in the stock market. These guys have a LOT of equities that will be dogs in the new era. they need time to dump them and reposition! That's got to be the core reason for the delaying tactics.
On the other hand,will this really work? Just look at tobacco! The precendents must be terrifying. Because the Tobacco industry stonewalled, they were later judged at fault for billions in liability claims. Today, the entire industry backpedals like mad, spewing warnings about health risks... too late for millions.
Don't these anti-climate-change people realize that this precedent WILL apply to them? Has it even occurred to them that the civilization that's been harmed by their shuffle and delay act may want... well... compensation when the heat hits the fan? Indeed, when the damage looks vastly greater than that from tobacco, can they really trust their lawyers’ assurances that they are personally insulated?
As in tobacco, is this liability thing that may cause a turnaround? A change in attitude, suddely seeing-the-light?
The likelihood, looking ever-greater in this heat wave, that The People may not LET them sit on their new, reconfigured portfolios?
Not when the rivers run dry and the sands begin to blow.
And now for something Completely Different....
A Call For Genius !
I am paying a small shot at fame and a free autographed copy of my first novel… for the name of my first novel… Yes, does that make sense?
My editor tells me the marketing dept. at Ace/Berkley feels that the title we’ve been using all this time is a bit “soft” and instead they’d prefer something grabby, evocative and amazing. Well, right.
Oof. To me, it’s always been THE INVISIBLE SEA. Briefly, the book is about a medical nanotech prototype that gets loose and devours all warm-blooded life below 10,000 feet elevation. No mammals. No birds. Entire nations throw on top of each other as they fight for land. Loads of action, intrigue, surprise twists, our heroes running around at great personal risk, you know the drill. And of course it's impossible to see the machine plague covering the entire world except for a few high islands because the nanos are microscopic. Hence the title. But apparently it’s too artsy.
Here’s what my agent had to say:
>> Very likely they are anticipating how major accounts (esp. Barnes & Noble) will react and order. B&N and a handful of other chains are 50% of book sales. If these few key buyers don't like the title, think it's too "soft", or whatever, well, then you're screwed. They want to be sure that B&N will place a healthy order. To an extent, I see their point. What B&N wants, they tend to get. It is possible that early feelers even have been put out. That happens. In any event, sales and marketing people are very twitchy about things like titles since it makes such a difference to whether they can "sell in" or not.
And my editor:
>> The concern is it doesn't convey the content of the book. Obviously, once you start reading it's apparent how the title relates, but the book needs to attract people from the cover and title alone--otherwise they won't even open the book and find out what "the invisible sea" is. I think something that indicates the nanotech plague / post-apocalyptic / survivalist nature of the book would be ideal.
Sadly, the best I’ve been able to come up with so far are substitutes like THE KILLING SEA or cheesy clunkers that sound like made-for-tv-movies such as NANO PLAGUE or WORLD OF DEATH. Or, when I’m feeling despondent, great stuff like THE TOTALLY COOL GLOBAL MUTHAFUCKA.
I think what they’re really looking for is something broadly commercial like SURVIVOR or even HIGHLANDER, but of course those have been done.
Heeeeeeeeelp! Help me! Aieeeee! Ug! Ohhhh. AYAAAIEEEEEEE!
I think I'd rather re-name our kids...