About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Idle Musings

I just feel like ranting about a thing or two today:

The Keystone Pipeline.  I'm a leftie, you read the blog and you know that, I believe in climate change, I believe in not running the AC 24/7 during the summer or leaving store doors open to hot streets while running the AC at 72 degrees in the summer, I believe in rapid transit over cars.  But I'm not a crazy leftie, I do all those wonderful things and then like to fly in business class to London Book Fair so I can have a good healthy carbon footprint just like everyone else.  The environmentalists shouldn't be fighting the Keystone Pipeline like it is the end of the planet.  Yes, the arguments in favor of the pipeline are almost certainly a lot of hooey with regard to the jobs created.  But stopping the pipeline isn't going to stop anything else.  The oil locked in the Canadian tar sands is coming out no matter what, it is getting to market one way or the other, it's happening.  Did you ever see the movie Silver Streak, and the train's roaring along at the end of the movie.  That train is the tar sands.  Now, if Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor had decided to take away the train track, the train was still going to keep coming, maybe crashed or derailed and made a mess of things.  If you wanted to stop the train, you had to get into the engine.  The opposition to Keystone isn't taking control of the engine, it isn't stopping the train, the best you can say is that it might lead to a tidier crash, but the people who are opposing Keystone can't say that for sure, their crash may be worse.

The sequester.  As some background, I've been ambivalent about the sequester.  The big reason for me is that it's so hard to get any defense cuts through normal budget processes, and the sequester doesn't spare the defense department.  We spend more money on defense than the next eight or ten countries combined.  You just can't tell me that with all that money we're spending we can't find ways to spend less and still defend the country.  As an example, why don't we keep one or two bases in Germany or someplace like that to have a nice military hospital and an airfield to help as staging for far away conflicts, and otherwise remove troops from Europe seventy years after World War II and 25 years after the end of the cold war?  I've gotten really super tired of having the SecDef going before Congress to bemoan the sequester and all the harm it's doing and wish Obama, who is after all the boss of things, had told SecDef to shut the f*ck up instead of carrying water for Lockheed.  My opposition to the sequester might be as quixotic or foolish as Bill McKibben's to the Keystone Pipeline because over time, the Lockheed lobbyists will have a lot more money to spend getting their money back from DoD than the advocates for needy people who are losing things in the sequester as well, but it is what it is.

But certainly, if you want to replace the sequester that you helped create, the way to do it isn't by having this constant parade of chicken little forecasts not just about DoD but about everything else.  Because ultimately, a lot of these cuts will take place over time in such a way that they are not discernable to the average person.  Or the departments will find some way to move fungible money around or move job titles around where the craziest cuts don't materialize.  What the average person will see is that we've had the sequester, in spite of chicken little's visit the world hasn't come to an end, and that we can cut the budget.  And they will go from there to deciding that we can in fact run the government without raising taxes or cutting tax expenditures (a.ka. eliminating tax loopholes) or doing anything on the revenue side.  In essence all of Obama's complaining isn't going to help him on the revenue front, it's going to hurt him, he should have just kept his yap shot and his SecDef's mouth shut and everyone else's mouth shut.

But as we've seen time and again, President Obama is not a good negotiator.

I did a tweet about this next subject.  In the good old days, people sent manuscripts and there were rules to follow.  Some of those rules aren't relevant any more.  It doesn't matter if your electronic manuscript is double-spaced, because so much stuff is now being done electronically.  Your editor reading on a Kindle doesn't care what font or size or line spacing you had going in.  If the copy-editor does actually need to look at the manuscript, it's a minute to change the format on a global basis for the file.  But there's one rule that needs to be followed and which many people don't.  You still need a title page with your contact details at the front of your manuscript.  For the exact same reason you needed your address in the old days, only more so.  In the old days, maybe your query got separated from the SASE or your manuscript got separated from your cover letter.  Now, it is 100% sure that they will be.  I will take your attached manuscript, I will put it on my iPad, I will often reformat it into ePub for that purpose to read in iBooks, and there it will sit on my iPad.  Your email?  It will be somewhere in the cloud.  Maybe your e-mail address will be stored as a sent-to address or maybe not or stored under your email address instead of your name.  Maybe I'll want to call you instead of e-mailing you.  Think how much nicer it is for me to go to the front of your manuscript and find all your details there and waiting, vs. having to go and seek out an email from three weeks or three months ago when the submission arrived, only to find that even then, I may want to call you to give the wonderful news that I want to represent your fine first novel, and you've sent me an email that doesn't even have a signature block on it.

We now continue with our regularly scheduled programming.  Thank you for listening to me rant.


Joseph L. Selby said...

Re: Keystone, the pipeline is currently mapped directly over the Nebraska aquifer. If there's a leak (and there's always a leak), the oil will contaminate the largest source of water in that region of the country.

Not everyone who opposes it wants it shut down completely. Some just want the pipeline remapped, which Keystone is refusing to do because it claims the cost to go around the aquifer is too high.

Katie said...

Great advice about the title page, thanks for sharing!