Category: Thought

Self-Publishing Colloquium

Photo by Saliha from Pexels

I’ve been invited to participate in a Twitter self-publishing colloquium by fellow writers Paula Johanson and Celu Amberstone.

Honoured to have been asked, I readily agreed, and then promptly went to the dictionary to figure out what a “colloquium” is, and whether Paula had spelled it correctly. I mean, what the heck kind of word has “uiu” in the middle of it? I should not have doubted her. She spelled it correctly. I cannot spell it correctly without saying the letters “uiu” out loud as I’m writing it.

And what is it? “An academic conference or seminar.” I guess you can have those sorts of things on Twitter, especially now that Elon Musk is running the joint. (With him there apparently you can have, do or say anything you like, world order and democracy be damned.)

It may sound like I’m being a bit flip about the whole thing. (That’s cause I am. ) But the flippedness ends now. (Not really, but a little bit.) Cuz I am in fact pleased to have been asked to participate and have every intention of taking it seriously, or as seriously as I’m able, which is every bit as serious as is required without being one iota more serious than that.

And what exactly are Paula and Celu asking of me? Initially, a series of ten tweets accompanied by a brief blog post (you’re reading that part right now) about the whole (hang on while I recite the letters out loud) “colloquium” (it didn’t work; I had to scroll back up in this post to get the order of the letters right).

But wait! I haven’t even really explained what it’s about.

According to Paula (who should know as she’s the one putting this whole thing together) it’s about “self-publishing your own fiction, and things you have learned.” And for me specifically: “What was it like preparing your father’s book and publishing it? What kind of reaction and feedback are you getting? What skills that you learned working for the CBC are you bringing to your self-publishing?”

So that is what I will be tweeting about tomorrow, Saturday April 30th around noon EST with Paula and Celu.

Paula adds: “I’m sure there’s lots you have in mind to say.”

Perhaps… but not right now. It’s Friday afternoon! And I have to walk the dog, after which I’m going out for wings and a movie with the guys. As you can imagine, there hasn’t been a whole lot of that sort of thing the last couple of years. Now that the damnpenic (sic) is over (hey, I can pretend just as well as the rest of our dumb elected officials) I can do that sort of thing again.

And tomorrow?

Our Twitter Colloquium on Self-publishing, hashtag  #SelfPubCol. I hope you’ll join us!

The Ukraine Strategy

Photo by Gladson Xavier from Pexels

Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) used to prevent war between NATO and Russia. Now it appears to just prevent NATO from fighting back militarily. So Russia can do whatever it wants without fear of military retaliation from NATO.

A question: were NATO to fight back, would the idea of mutually assured destruction prevent Russia from escalating for the same reasons that make NATO hesitant to intervene more directly? If so, then perhaps NATO should have intervened directly from the outset.

There is also the possibility that Putin will escalate anyway and deploy nuclear weapons out of desperation or impatience (or because he’s suicidal or just plain evil), in which case NATO should also have intervened earlier, because it wouldn’t have mattered. And in such a scenario perhaps there is a chance, however slim, that Putin could have been brought to heel.

Of course, nobody has a crystal ball. We don’t know what Putin will do if NATO retaliates directly, or if Putin becomes desperate. So we’re left with Russia and NATO not just capable of destroying one another but much of the rest of the world, and Russia savaging Ukraine because it suspects it can get away with it aware that NATO will stand by (not entirely helplessly but certainly not bringing all its forces to bear) for fear of Putin abandoning all reason and killing us all (or most of us). Which he might do anyway.

And in this way we are held hostage, made impotent, unable to help Ukraine or prevent future similar aggressions from either Russia or China (e.g., Taiwan) or (insert aggressor of choice here). This is obviously untenable. The problem is that the stakes are so high (back to mutually assured destruction) that NATO can’t afford to get the calculus wrong. On the one hand, with NATO’s current strategy, global bullies will probably continue to ride roughshod over the rest of us and it will just keep getting worse until the final fatality, the final bullet in the final head, as it were, could well be democracy itself.

On the other hand, should NATO opt to intervene directly (e.g., fly over zone) the probability is at least medium that the result will be catastrophic for all of us: a third world war, millions if not billions of casualties, with the survivors looking back wistfully at a mere pandemic as a kind of lost golden age.

Emotionally, I want to intervene directly. I want the no fly zone. I don’t want the bully to get away with it. I want the cavalry to show up, kick the bully’s ass, save Ukraine and democracy, and everyone (except the bully) lives happily ever after.

Abba Eban

Intellectually, I know it isn’t going to be that easy. That we have to get the calculus right. That we have to defuse this bomb without blowing everybody up. I believe it to be possible. As Former Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations Abba Eban has said (a version of the quote is often misattributed to Winston Churchill), “Men and nations do act wisely when they have exhausted all the other possibilities.” It is a tragic function of the human condition that wisdom does not always (or even often) come first.

Myself, I do not presume to possess the wisdom required to lift us out of this awful predicament. Maybe sanctions will be sufficient; maybe some other action will be required. I don’t know. I have only faith in the collective wisdom of humankind (sadly after much bloodshed, suffering and tragedy) to eventually get the calculus right.

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