Journal Entry #6

November 7, 2007

Several years ago, Maureen and I discovered "Young Indiana Jones." It's an exceptionally good series, tracking Indy's exploits through the early years of the twentieth century. We watch while Indy travels Africa with TR, runs away from his parents in Russia and falls in with an aging Leo Tolstoy, encounters Nikos Kazantsakis in a Greek monastery with the world's most intriguing elevator. On the way, Winston Churchill warns him that women should not be allowed to vote. He runs into T.E. Lawrence, Ernest Hemingway, and Albert Schweitzer. Among others. It's been on the history channel recently.

While we're on the subject of good movies, we also loved watching "1776," a dazzling musical about, what else, trying to get everyone on board for the Declaration.

Spent this past weekend in Coralville, Iowa, at ICON32. Enjoyed myself thoroughly. The people there gave most of the credit for the con's success to Gregg Parmentier, who apparently stepped in to rescue a failing operation. I had an opportunity to meet Rusty Hevelin, who's been around a while and has known a lot of the big names in the field. He was especially helpful in the Heinlein panel. While the rest of us were making generalized comments, Rusty could tell personal and up-close stories about Heinlein.

In the previous journal entry, I described a conversation we'd been having locally: If you were in Lincoln's place in 1860, and knew what the cost of the Civil War would be, would you go ahead with military action anyhow? I thought there'd be an avalanche of responses, but there were only six. And they split down the middle.

Ed Grabianowski voted no. His comment:

Once the decision has been made that the Union is worth saving, the extent of the cost becomes almost irrelevant. Where would the line be drawn? One year and 100,00 lives is ok, six years and a million lives would be a little too much? That's the essence of the question being asked. How many lives and years is the U.S. worth? My thinking is, if you're in a position to make those decisions, you can't try to balance the scales. It's an all-or-nothing proposition.

So why did I say no? Because I don't think it was that important to save the Union. It seems that the vast range of cultural and political ideologies in the U.S. have been a weakness rather than a strength. How much money and time has been spent squabbling over states rights, fighting cases all the way to the Supreme Court, making and unmaking laws as we try to unify the views held by Kentuckians, New Yorkers, Kansans and Californians? Maybe it's a pipe dream that the Confederacy would have become the "Conservative States of America," a theocracy where all those who ascribe to such notions are free to go. Meanwhile the U.S.A. would remain a more liberal nation, with laws and policies more akin to some of the forward-thinking European nations.

Randy voted yes. He said:

The question should have been — if the Confederacy knew they were going to lose — would they have separated?

I was a guest on Scott Ryfun's radio show here in Georgia's Golden Isles this morning. Mostly we talked about Cauldron, and how the space program had turned out differently than we would ever have believed, looking forward from 1948. And how the world had turned out differently. We knew, in 1948, that we'd pretty much put warmaking to rest. Who would have thought?

— Jack

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