Posts tagged ‘Dick Cheney’

Frank Herbert

Frank Herbert

I met Frank Herbert and his wife Beverly at the home of Poul and Karen Anderson in the early 1960s, where we had all been invited for dinner. It was a great evening. There weren’t many people more fun to share a meal with than those four, especially when Karen was creating one of her original recipes (this time with Japanese black beans and I have no idea what else).

We became friendly quickly. I should mention that the Andersons’ home was in those unexpectedly precipitous hills across the Bay from San Francisco, because when it became going-home time the Herberts and I were driven back to the city by another diner, a local resident who knew every hill and curve and preferred to take them all at high speed while turned halfway around in the driver’s seat in order to have a friendly conversation with us. When we got out, the Herberts and I agreed that we had just been through a life-changing experience, and we would be lifelong buddies from then on.

Still, we managed to get together only rarely because of problems of geography, except for the occasional fortuitous occasion — for example, the day in the early ’80s, when I was in Seattle on a book tour. As I was crossing a street on my way to a TV interview, a car pulled up in front of me and a woman stuck her head out the window. “Hello, sailor,” she called. “Looking for a good time?” It was Bev, with Frank grinning over her shoulder from the steering-wheel side.

It wasn’t the best of opportunities for a lengthy chat, but I was glad to see them both looking well; Bev had been diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer and, I knew, was facing surgery. Before the other drivers began honking, the Herberts mentioned that they were building a house in Hana on Maui, and I promised that the next time we were in Hawai’i we’d look them up.

Meanwhile Frank, working as a newspaperman, had started to research an article about the sand dunes of Oregon, and that changed his life. The dunes fascinated him. He never finished the article, but he began writing science-fiction stories for John Campbell’s Astounding, starting with a three-part serial about a dune planet and its inhabitants.

Herbert himself thought it might make a pretty good hardcover book but was disappointed by the responses when he tried offering it to publishers. No book publisher was interested in acquiring the hardcover rights to this rapidly expanding mass of manuscript, however, until an editor at the quite small publishing house of Chilton Books managed to stitch the several existing stories into a single huge novel. He called it Dune, and when he published the result, it became a runaway bestseller, said to be the most profitable sf book ever written.

Frank had written with real people and places in mind, though he gave them invented names for his stories, just as Cordwainer Smith had for his own stories of the imperfectly concealed Middle East. Arrakis was Frank Herbert code for Iraq, The Baron was Dick Cheney, Selusa Secundis was Afghanistan and so on. (I’m sorry to say that I don’t know all the identities for either author.)

To be continued. . . .

Related post:
Frank Herbert, the Dune Man, Part 2

Rush on Ganymede. Illustration by Leah A. Zeldes.

There are quite a few people in this world whom I dislike intensely. A significant fraction of them are described as religious cult leaders, including the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, top man in the Unification Church. However, it is true that some time ago I accepted his invitation to attend some meetings of a conference he had organized as his guest, and have recently written about it in my blog.

This does not mean that I like Moon. What I like is the chance to see parts of our world and its people that I know little about, and sometimes my invitations come from human beings who represent causes or institutions I despise. (This has, for instance, been true of several recent administrations in this country.) I do try to make clear when I write about such things that I am not endorsing my host, and as a matter of fact I thought I had done so here. (I said early on in the piece that I thought Moon was an evil man, with his relentlessly right-wing Washington newspaper and his brainwashed young people confusing him with God.)

But, on the other hand, we only have one planet to share. I wish that the people I have to share it with did not include Moon, Rush Limbaugh, Dick Cheney and several hundred others, but they have as much right to be here as I do. Pity. But if they were whisked away to Mars or Ganymede, who would I have to loathe?

The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder by Vincent Bugliosi.  $26.95.  Vanguard Press.

The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder
by Vincent Bugliosi. $26.95. Vanguard Press.

Vincent Bugliosi, who put Charles Manson away, is probably the world’s most successful prosecuting attorney. He knows all about bringing a charge of murder and getting a conviction, and in this book he argues that George W. Bush, along with Dick Cheney, Condoleeza Rice and perhaps other members of the Bush administration are guilty of the crimes of murder and conspiracy to commit murder under the laws of the U.S.A. He describes how he could prosecute them if he had standing to bring an action, and points out that any district attorney in any state or county from which any soldier was shipped to Iraq and was killed there does have standing. Moreover, any one of them can bring an action at any time since there is no statute of limitations on murder.

Now, do you think there is any chance that any one of these sworn law enforcers will actually issue an arrest warrant and have the cops haul one or more of these malefactors in for the customary fingerprinting, mug shots and residence in a cell?

I don’t. And that makes me wonder what kind of a country we’re living in.

Dick Cheney

  Dick Cheney

I was never a fan of Dick Cheney, but since he has been out of office he seems to have got even worse. Some of the things he says simply can’t be defended.

In just one example, he says that the blame for al Qaeda’s bloody and brutal destruction of the World Trade Center and the death of the thousands of people it murdered belongs to one man alone, namely Dick Clarke, because Clarke had the responsibility for warning President Bush in such matters and failed to do as he was sworn to do.

But that is not simply untrue, it is the opposite of true. On several occasions Clarke sent clear and unambiguous written warnings, one of them just days before the actual attack and they were ignored. That is a matter of public record.

So there are only two possibilities. Either Cheney is flat-out lying though aware that his lies can be proven on him, or he has simply lost touch with the real world.

Either way, whatever he says, he is not to be believed.


Lefty, the Cat

Turns out that cats, like people, have handedness. Females are more likely to be southpaws, males righties, but it can go either way. If you want to know the leanings of the Felis domestica in your house watch it the next time it has a one-paw job to do, like fishing something out of a jar,

You’re Never Too Poor to Swindle

The bloodsuckers are up and about and their specialty now is seeking out the people who are already in terrible financial shape, to whom they promise help. Which, of course, they don’t deliver, preferring to vacuum out and appropriate whatever crumbs of cash the impoverished may have left. (Bernie Madoff was a great villain, but at least he stole from the rich.) So I went back through my files and came up with “Financial traps are flourishing: Tough times have bred five costly come-ons” in the March ’09 Consumer Reports. So if you, or someone you know, has been hit with threats of foreclosure or evaporation of your 401K or the like, you should take a look at it.

I’ll give you just one example. If all your credit cards had been taken away and nobody would give you a new one, Continental Finance Classic MasterCard was more obliging. You probably don’t want its help, though. The maximum chargeable credit line was $300, and by the time the customer got the card $250 had already been taken out of your balance to pay for the account processing fee: $50, and annual membership fee, $200. The $50 of credit that was left you could use as you liked, bearing in mind that an account management fee would have had to be paid every month, with other fees coming due later. So beware!

So long, Fertile Crescent

The Fertile Crescent, which is the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, is the place in the Middle East where our planet’s civilizations were born. It was the home of the world’s greatest early cities — Sumer, Ur, Babylon and more — and it fed them from its rich and well watered soil; it is where many of the stories in the Bible took place and where they invented beer.

It is projected to become a full-fledged desert by the end of this century. There’s a brutal drought going on in the region, but the real enemy is dams — the big ones Turkey has erected along the Euphrates and the ones Iran has installed along the tributaries of the Tigris. Both countries have indicated they’ll go right on building them. Already some of the smaller rivers are running dry.

The Bush-Cheney Alumni Association

No, we didn’t make that up. It’s real. It’s what it says it is, an association of the people who were most closely connected with President Bush and Vice President Cheney over the last eight years, and its purpose, they say, is “dedicated to setting the record straight.”

Maybe so, but I can’t help thinking it’s more like getting their stories together so they’re all giving the same answers to the hard questions. Questions like: When you had the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden and all of Al Qaeda licked and running and it only took one more push to put them away for good, why did you pull the troops out to invade Iraq? And when you did go ahead and invade, why didn’t you immediately seize all the Iraqi explosives and weaponry instead of leaving them unguarded for the terrorists to steal and kill American soldiers with, as they’ve been doing ever since? And about forty other questions about the doings of the most wrong-headed administration this country has seen, ever.

Related post: Little Known Fun Facts