"I personally would consider it excellent because into this rather stale provincial environment, this would bring an international spirit," said Czech Republic President Vaclav Havel about something he wants U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to do. What?
Send your answer by noon ET Tuesday to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday's Question (No. 397)—"Pro-Procrastination":
"This is going to cost $30 billion, and there has been no national debate," said Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden, listing two of the reasons President Clinton should delay a decision on deploying a national missile-defense system. What is another of Biden's objections?
"What foreign countries are going to buy our weapons if they know we can shoot them out of the sky 5 percent of the time?"—William Vehrs
"Pizza Hut apparently needs more time to work out the details of the graphic design on the side of the missile."—Jon Zerolnick
"Piece of a knocked-down missile could break someone's windshield. (Democrats will say anything to stop this.)"—Cliff Schoenberg
"The missiles are to be made entirely out of soybeans and soybean byproducts. The influence of Archer Daniels Midland is strongly suspected."—Tim Carvell
"Still two defense contractor bidders on the project. Wait until they merge next year, then pay $60 billion."—Anthony Wright
Click for more answers.
Where does Biden get the notion that there's been no national debate on deploying an ABM? Surely this has been much discussed ever since the day President Reagan, misled by a really cool LEGO project, believed we already had one.
The most charming argument against the ABM to emerge over the past 20 years is the suggestion that such defenses are useless because the delivery vehicle for any rogue state's warhead will not be a missile; it will be a brown UPS van. That is: The nuclear or biological or chemical or LEGO device will be mailed to America. Some assembly required. Batteries not … well, you get the idea.
Indeed, the bomb may already be here. That was the wacky premise of Philip Wylie's 1951 The Disappearance. (Have we already talked about this? Ever since the accident …) After all the women on Earth mysteriously vanish (from the point of view of the men), and all the men on Earth mysteriously vanish (from the point of view of the women), nuclear war breaks out between the United States and the USSR—but only in the Man's World, men being so, you know, manly. (If I recall—and I don't—it is a world where something very much like UPN thrives.) The Soviets detonate atom bombs they'd previously placed off the coast of our major cities. No rockets. No airplanes. No tedious drives to the airport. However, the bomb they'd built in a barn on the edge of Pittsburgh fails to explode. In 1951, that was a happy ending (albeit against a background of mass death); today saving Pittsburgh would be irony.
It's Like a Bullet Not Hitting a Bullet Answer
Biden's objections to moving the ABM forward:
- Such an important decision should be left to the next administration.
- North Korean missile threat insufficient to justify deployment.
- System is not technically proven.
- Deployment will roil relations with Russia.
- Deployment will encourage China to build more warheads.
- China's reaction to deployment will stimulate an Asian arms race.
- Deployment would mean U.S. withdrawal from ABM treaty of 1972.
One More Brown & Williamson Love Song and Follow-Up Extra
Oh, I'm a tobacco plant, and I'm OK,
I'm grown at night and cured by day,
I huff and puff, I stink and sting, I turn your lungs to goo.
I cut down men and women, and nail their children too!
I've forwarded everyone's tobacco song to B&W with this cover letter:
I was so delighted by your tobacco song and by your invitation to compose one of my own that I invited some friends to join in. The first verse of each of their songs is included. What do they win? Do they win a car? Some of them don't drive and would probably prefer cash, although at least one of them would prefer a pony. Where should she pick up the pony? What kind of pony would it be? Could it be a black pony?
We all had a really good time doing this and hope you'll extend the game to other carcinogens and diseases. (Next time, could we write a funny song about colon-rectal cancer? Maybe in the style of a sea chantey?) Or even other causes of death? (Malnutrition? Third-degree burns?) Keep us posted.
Anyone wanting to submit more entries can send them to:
P.O. Box 70004
Louisville, KY 40270-0004
Anyone who's not heard the original song should dial (800) 578-7453; it really is pretty entertaining stuff.
Biden = plagiarism.