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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Beldar on Ponnuru on Crowley vs. Crichton

In a short post on The Corner entitled "Crowley vs. Crichton," Ramesh Ponnuru writes:

I'm on Crowley 's side, of course. But I am left wondering whether he is, in fact, an "heir to a pharmaceutical fortune."

I agree with Mr. Ponnuru more often than not, and I've read quite a few of Michael Crichton's books, so I followed the link. Unfortunately, I don't subscribe to The New Republic, and senior editor Michael Crowley's relevant essays there are hidden behind firewalls. (They aren't, however, necessarily hidden from Google's web crawlers — God bless them, the New Republic webmasters' ineptitude, and the Fair Use doctrine. And surely Mr. Crowley wouldn't want to deprive people of their opportunity to make up their own minds about his essays via Google's caches, would he?)

In particular, I've read Mr. Crichton's State of Fear, Mr. Crowley's review of which started this (to be blunt, which both participants have been) pissing match. I thought State of Fear was very, very intriguing — and mostly for its scientific value, rather than as literature. And on the subject of science, it's actually Dr. Crichton. His M.D. degree is from Harvard. His other credentials include service as a Visiting Lecturer in Anthropology at Cambridge University; as a post-doctoral fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences; and as a Visiting Writer at MIT. I'm unacquainted with Mr. Crowley's scientific training, but certainly none is suggested in his TNR bio.

Mr. Crowley's latest essay does quote a series of obvious shots — fairly characterizable as "below the belt," albeit also so exaggerated as to be obviously satirical — directed at him in Mr. Crichton's newest book, Next. But having now read Mr. Crowley's very nasty and very non-substantive review of State of Fear — a review that also isn't lacking for cheap shots, although they're generally not funny nor intended to be — I can see substantial justification for Mr. Crichton's ire.

Mr. Crowley's main criticism of the book, one to which he returns repeatedly in his review, is that President Bush has read it, and asked Mr. Crichton to visit him at the White House thereafter, which invitation Mr. Crichton failed to refuse. Ipso facto, Mr. Crichton is a Republican shill controlled by puppet strings leading to Karl Rove. Even worse, according to Mr. Crowley, is that Mr. Crichton fails to revere sufficiently either the New York Times, the rest of the mainstream media, or the portions of the scientific community who are hysterical on the subject of global warming. Oh, the horrors! Thou shalt honor thine eggheads!

But Mr. Crowley makes utterly no effort to tangle with any of the sources listed in State of Fear's very extensive, and entirely non-fictional, bibliography. Mr. Crichton's point in State of Fear is that we, collectively, including our scientists, don't and can't possibly (in any reasonably near term) know enough about our planet's weather and its history to be able to draw compelling scientific conclusions about global warming. I'm not going to try to summarize Mr. Crichton's data and arguments here. But they, and he, don't deserve the sort of ridicule and guilt-by-association techniques that Mr. Crowley directed at Mr. Crichton.

Perhaps Mr. Ponnuru's sensibilities are just easily offended. But if that were the case, and if he indeed read Mr. Crowley's book review that prompted Mr. Crichton's jabs, then one would expect Mr. Ponnuru to invoke a pox on both of their houses. If, by contrast, Mr. Ponnuru is "on Crowley's side" with respect to global warming, then I'm stunned, and seriously disappointed in Mr. Ponnuru.


Update (Sat Dec 16 @ 9:45pm): Thank you, Mr. Ponnuru, for the response and the gracious link!

There are many good comments to this post already, and I encourage others.  Do, please, try to keep them PG-ish, and let's see if we can discuss with civility a pissing-match between literary figures that itself is uncivil (that having been a deliberate choice by Mr. Crichton, I believe for purposes of parody).

Posted by Beldar at 09:58 AM in Current Affairs, Mainstream Media | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Beldar on Ponnuru on Crowley vs. Crichton and sent a trackback ping are listed here:


(1) craig mclaughlin made the following comment | Dec 16, 2006 1:08:47 PM | Permalink

If you've not already read them, you might enjoy Dr. Crichton's speeches on this and various other blog relevant topics here.

(2) Joe made the following comment | Dec 16, 2006 1:20:32 PM | Permalink

Michael Chrichton put one of his critics into his next novel as a child rapist.

I repeat: Michael Chrichton put one of his critics into his next novel as a child rapist.

(3) NYC 2L made the following comment | Dec 16, 2006 2:06:30 PM | Permalink

Beldar: Ramesh has responded to you over at the Corner. I agree that Crowley's original article on Crichton was weak. But Crichton's response, calling Crowley a child rapist with a small penis, is overblown, indefensible, school-yard-level stuff. It's all the more astonishing considering that Crichton is clearly a smart guy who has done his homework on global warming, and could therefore have written an intelligent response engaging the merits of the argument instead of name-calling.

Also, just as an aside, you can subscribe to TNR Digital for free, which gets you access to certain articles (although not all), including the Crowley response to Crichton.

(4) Mark Raven made the following comment | Dec 16, 2006 2:30:42 PM | Permalink


The New Republic does not "hide" its essays. The New Republic simply requires you to subscribe to the publication.

So does the Wall Street Journal.

Using your ill logic, should one then suggest that the Journal Op/Ed page editor "hides" his group's material from non-subscribers?

Further, are you suggesting that John Fund and/or Peggy Noonan will allow their Journal efforts to be posted on the 'Net for free? If so, do you plan to start the Feed and House (in the Hamptons) John Fund and Peggy Noonan Fund Raising effort?

Pay for the New Republic. Pay for the Journal. Isn't that what capitalism, especially Uncle Miltie's trickledownism, is all about?

Also, if you believe that Mr. Crowley, a writer with whom I have no contact, took several cheap shots against Mr. Crichton, is it at all wise, professional, or mature for Mr. Critchton to return the veritable fire in his latest novel? Surely you're familiar with the Biblical lesson that involves turning the other cheek. Or just the common sense logic of read or listen to what people have to say, take what's is of value, and let the rest roll of your back like water off a duck's back.

Ramesh Ponnuru, who's not about to invite me out for a cup of iced java any time soon, simply blogged on NRO that Mr. Crichton's development of a character that seems designed to target or smear Mr. Crowley in his latest effort is both juvenile and in highly poor taste. I credit Mr. Ponnuru for making that observation, one that I had made earlier elsewhere on the 'Net. (Imagine, Mr. Ponnuru and I agree about something! Call Simone Ledeen. chuckle)

I've read a few of Mr. Crichton's novels. Some I liked, others I did not. I've tangled at blogging distance with Mr. Ponnuru. On the issue of class and character, the two of us agree. On just about everything else, Mr. Ponnuru goes his way and I go my way.

Class and character. Both traits are worth a great deal in civilized society. Partisanship, especially blind partisanship when one of the gang questions the basic common decency of a peer, is worth, in my humble opinion, absolutely nothing.

Happy holidays to you and yours.

(5) Tom made the following comment | Dec 16, 2006 2:41:38 PM | Permalink


I think you mean Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to you and yours. And by the way, your humble opinion seems very whiny and arrogant. Remember "Class and Character".


(6) Mark Raven made the following comment | Dec 16, 2006 3:31:20 PM | Permalink


No, I do not whine.

Mr. Ponnuru, on the other hand, usually squeaks for himself.

I'll type Happy Holidays and be done with it.

Type whatever you wish.

BTW: You're not one of those O'Reilly-Gibby boys, are you? If so, please get some new material. Or perhaps Mr. Crichton needs a research assistant? Hey, it's the holiday season, so give of yourself.

(7) DRJ made the following comment | Dec 16, 2006 3:44:21 PM | Permalink

Here's Ramesh Ponnuru's response at the Corner mentioned earlier by NYC 2L.

(8) boris made the following comment | Dec 16, 2006 4:12:15 PM | Permalink

MC whacked the hornets nest pretty hard with State of Fear. Probably taken a bit of hysterical criticism from all the true believers. So if Crowley gets return fire x 10 by standing out from the crowd, tough.

Global Warming: it's a feature not a bug.

(9) rho made the following comment | Dec 16, 2006 4:47:21 PM | Permalink

Crichton calling Crowley a short-d*****d kiddy-d*****r was hilarious. Crowley crying like a broke bitch was pure gravy.

Crowley needed a "3,700 word" essay to say what Crichton did in a handful of sentences in his book--suck it, you needle-d****d bigmouth. Crichton wins.

[Edited by Beldar per my usual blog guidelines.]

(10) Mark Raven made the following comment | Dec 16, 2006 5:34:51 PM | Permalink


Do be sure to express the same interest in the tone and tenor of the effort, if one may or should call it that, of something call rho on this thread.

Thank you.

Happy Holidays to you and yours!

(11) stan made the following comment | Dec 16, 2006 6:18:00 PM | Permalink

I find Ramesh's post to be kind of curious. If he didn't read the book and didn't read Crowley's review, how can he say anything about Crichton's response to Crowley?

If an unprovoked A sneaks up an kicks B in the groin, and B retaliates with a punch in the back, would anyone dare criticize B for ungentlemanly behavior? (And expect to be taken seriously?).

(12) rho made the following comment | Dec 16, 2006 6:25:09 PM | Permalink

Are you really that tin-eared Mark Raven? I'm not interested in class or character, which is why I don't bring it up. However, you did, and did it in an arguably classless way. Me, I didn't find you classless or without character. I found you incredibly tedious and hectoring.

The point is your hypocrisy. Not class or character. Derrrr.

(13) Beldar made the following comment | Dec 16, 2006 9:42:48 PM | Permalink

Mr. Raven: Thanks for your articulate and measured post. Contrary views are indeed welcome here, when, as yours, they're civilly expressed, and yours is one of the best I've received lately. I hope you'll feel free to comment here again. Commenters who can provoke me to respond at this length are rare!

It's hard to argue about this dispute without making at least lengthy quotations from Mr. Crowley's essays, and perhaps as well from Mr. Crichton's books. My own comments on Mr. Crowley's essays were pretty sweeping — to confirm (as is in fact true, and you don't seem to dispute) that Mr. Crowley made utterly no attempt to tackle any of the sources Mr. Crichton relied on regarding global warming, one has to read Mr. Crowley's entire review of State of Fear. It wouldn't be appropriate for me to reprint his essay in full here, and that's probably more than the Fair Use exception to the copyright laws permit. So I chose to offer up a few links to help others who might be interested in this subject, but not sufficiently interested to subscribe to TNR.

If TNR, the Wall St. Journal, NRO, the Weekly Standard, the New York Times, or anyone else choose to put content behind firewalls, that's indeed their privilege — and a choice that one presumes they make as profit-maximizing entrepreneurs. (They've concluded they'll do better financially through subscriptions than through advertising revenues they'd get on unprotected material, and perhaps that's right.) I don't mean to suggest that their work is without value, but then I wouldn't say that about my "work" in blogging here either, and I've chosen to make it rather more broadly, and cheaply, available. Also among their choices is what to do on the websmastering side to secure that which they'd have people pay for. When they've done nothing to prevent web-crawlers from archiving and then re-displaying their subscription-only content, that tells me that they're not serious about preventing people from seeing it. If you or they have further concerns on that score, take them up with Google.


On the underlying question, however: If you'll re-read my post, you'll see that I'm not praising Mr. Crichton's decision to mock Mr. Crowley in the way that he did. My own standards for what I typically write about, and the language I use in that writing, are very different — I've just edited a comment above this one, for example, to bring it into my mostly PG-ish standards for this blog.

My standards for what I read are considerably broader than what I choose to have on my blog, though, and I took no personal offense either at the language or allusions used by either Mr. Crowley or Mr. Crichton in their — sigh, it's crude but the best description — pissing match.

My point — contra Mr. Ponnuru's original post — was that I'm entirely unpersuaded and unimpressed by Mr. Crowley's review of State of Fear and in particular I'm unimpressed by his failure to take head-on that book's main premises on global warming. And I found neither his original shots at Mr. Crichton very apt or funny or meaningful, nor his later ones. They were literate and well-written, but classic examples of ad hominem attacks — attacking Mr. Crichton's literary style was fair game in a book review, but attacking who he's had dinner with isn't. And those who've read State of Fear will immediately recognize Mr. Crowley as having engaged in the techniques that book attributes to supporters of global warming, which is to say, they treat it as absolute gospel, holy writ, and completely unneedful of genuine substantiation.

Mr. Crichton may indeed have behaved badly in response, but certainly not in a legally actionable way. I defy Mr. Crowley to produce one reader of Mr. Crichton's Next who both recognized the broad allusion to Mr. Crowley and then concluded from it that Mr. Crowley is, in fact, a child molester.

I'm reasonably sure that Mr. Crichton's intent, in fact, was not just to make a schoolyard counter-taunt, on a par with Mr. Crowley's — which when stripped of the elegant language pretty much boiled down to "neener-neener, you eat with Bush, you have cooties!" Instead, Mr. Crichton was engaged in parody — a purposeful, and purposefully gross, exaggeration intended to mock Mr. Crowley and his review by making some similarly unfair and inaccurate observations about him. It was along the lines of, "You wanna be nasty? Here's how to be nasty without also being a pretentious goof!"

Whether Mr. Crichton succeeded in his intentions is another issue, and whether he was right to try the parody is yet another. I've not had a millionth of the success as an author that Mr. Crichton has had, and so it's hard for me to imagine myself in his shoes. But when I do try to so imagine, I also think I'd have tried hard simply to ignore Mr. Crowley's review. "Tried" — and perhaps failed, for I've sometimes tried and failed to ignore bloggers who've been critical of my writing.

I'm not commending Michael Crichton's participation in the pissing match. But I'm considerably more sympathetic to it than Mr. Ponnuru, for example. And I very much appreciate Mr. Ponnuru's prompt and civil clarification on his views on global warming (which were as I might have guessed they'd be), and as always appreciate his courtesy in linking to my post. That conduct — civil response, and facilitating your readers' easy reference to your critics — is the sort of thing to which we all ought to aspire!

But I agree that Mr. Ponnuru probably ought to have read at least Mr. Crowley's review of State of Fear before taking sides in the pissing match, because I think he did so on the assumption that only one side was doing any pissing. In all likelihood, Mr. Ponnuru thought of his own brief quip (pretending to wonder whether Mr. Crowley is really "heir to a pharmaceutical fortune"), and decided to share it in a very brief post on The Corner without having dug deeply into the underlying dispute. There's no crime in that, and perhaps we're holding Mr. Ponnuru to impossible standards. I'm quite sure he'd not have written an article, or even a more substantial blog post, without making more inquiries. And indeed, that was part of my original intention in my post — I genuinely wanted to know if he had, and how broad his backing of Mr. Crowley actually was, precisely because I do value Mr. Ponnuru's opinions (even when I don't agree with them).

(14) Beldar made the following comment | Dec 16, 2006 10:42:10 PM | Permalink

By the way: Mr. Crowley's original review of State of Fear was entitled "Michael Crichton's scariest creation: Jurrasic President." That gives you a good idea of its overall tone and tenor — more about Bush than the merits of Crichton's book or the scientific data it presented.

But then check out the original title for Mr. Crowley's rejoinder to Next, as illustrated in the still-remaining title on its web-page counterpart: "Michael Crichton, jurrasic prick." That appears to have been edited to "Cock and Bull" for the "official version" by someone at TNR who didn't want to participate quite so actively in the piss-splashing, but it's a pretty good indication that the pissing is definitely going in both directions.

Finally, I don't know enough about how Google's cache process works to know whether those links to cached pages will hold up. If not, you may be able to find them independently by going to the unprotected "teaser" pages on TNR — here and here — and then doing a site-specific Google search using a string of words from the unprotected intros.

(15) Mark Raven made the following comment | Dec 17, 2006 12:32:05 AM | Permalink


Thank you very much for your measured, thorough replies. I've read both and each has given me a good deal of positive feedback to consider.

My interest in this issue begins and ends, at least for the moment, with, to use your terminology, the veritable "pissing match." I simply have no use for such foolishness. In my work, I deal with children and politicians, and sometimes one struggles to differ between the behavioral patterns of the two groups.

Quite simply, I abhor Mr. Crichton's tactics in this incident. He should know better. Mr. Crichton, apart from being a multimillionaire and a highly successful author, has also dealt with the public for decades now. He's been on the receiving end of, I'm quite sure, more than a few scathing reviews. Accept it. Comes with the territory. It's not all flowers, candy, and Judy Regans bowing at your feet. Ah, the life of a star! Mr. Crichton, not Ms. Regan. Although I hear O.J. ... (Never mind!)

Ironically, sports does play a small role in my position here, Beldar. Not football, though. Instead baseball. Quick story. Dodgers-Giants. Along with Yankees-Red Sox, the fiercest rivalry in the game. Started in New York. Giants at the Polo Grounds. Dodgers at Ebbets Field. Continues today on the opposite coast.

Back in the 1950s, the Giants brought up a kid to play center field. Name of Mays, Willie Mays. Dodgers, always known as a team of RAs (look up the term), featured pitchers that loved to throw up and in to opposing hitters. Call it intimidation. Call it “inside baseball,” if you will.

Every year, beginning in spring training in March and continuing until the final game of the season, Dodgers’ pitchers employed the same pitching pattern to Mr. Mays. Every at-bat, first pitch, the Dodgers’ pitcher of the moment knocked Mr. Mays on his backside. Did Mr. Mays show his anger? Do something foolish like throw his bat at the pitcher? Start a fight with the Dodgers' catcher? Cry to the umpire? His manager? His mommy?


Instead, Mr. Mays got up, refused to brush the dirt off his uniform, picked up his bat, and stepped back into the batter's box. Seemed to work. Mr. Mays finished his 23-year career with 660 home runs, fourth behind Henry Aaron, Babe Ruth, and the individual with the creative pharmacist who, as a result, does not deserve to be mentioned with this trio.

Mr. Mays, you see, knew how to play the game, the entire game, and knew how to play it very, very well.

(Mr. Mays also knew how to quell a near riot on the diamond. Google fellow San Francisco Giant and eventual Hall of Famer Juan Marichal and Dodgers catcher John Roseboro and the date April 22, 1965.)

Back to our squabbling scribes of 2006: Mr. Crowley, with his review, threw a veritable inside fastball at Mr. Crichton. Mr. Crichton, rather than brush it off and move on, chose to act like a petulant child. (Or perhaps Mr. Marichal in 1965.) Rather than ignore Mr. Crowley's review or simply walk away, Mr. Crichton decided to lower himself, and that’s the key here, by extending the pissing contest with this foolish fictional character in his latest novel. Maybe it sells books. Maybe it's just petty behavior. Either way, I find Mr. Crichton's reaction beneath contempt.

I enjoy websites that, for the most part, offer information and intriguing debate. An example and, please, no partisanship is meant here: The Belgravia Dispatch is perhaps my favorite site. Forget about politics. Instead, I value that site’s format and style. That’s my choice. I’m sure others have favorite sites of their own. Beldar seems to have quite a lot to offer at this site.

Conversely, I have no use for the Free Republic, Daily Kos, Democratic Underground, or Red State. All four sites offer an endless pissing match. If I want cursing, I will pop in a movie or watch a Fox television program. Flicks like The Godfather and Nobody’s Fool entertain. If I want screaming, I’ll head to a nearby airport. At least, the planes offer some beauty as a buffer against the sound.

You operate a nice website, and I sincerely appreciate your thoughtful feedback. I just wish, and perhaps this is utter foolishness on my part, more people realized that a strong, persuasive policy and/or political position can be established without foul language, slurs, innuendo, and droning attack. Rather than just use one's computer keyboard to present blog items or responses that personally demean anyone who dares to question our beliefs or display a contrary opinion, we can accomplish even more simply by offering our own case in a calm, decent manner that is respectful to all.

Use intelligence, passion, satire, humor, and/or the well-crafted argument. Omit the bitter, mindless attack.

Thanks for your time, and Happy Holidays to all!

P.S. One final note: Regarding the subscription-only content of some sites (not just TNR or the WSJ but also ESPN and its legendary baseball writer, Peter Gammons), I believe the motivation for the webmastering begins – and ends – with the buck. Also, I know one site that simply employs a lousy webmaster; a deal, of course, that is directly attributable to that organization’s focus on profit. It’s not politics. It’s money. Lex-Nex is the only recourse.

(16) boris made the following comment | Dec 17, 2006 9:23:47 AM | Permalink

After a setup that included "knocked Mr. Mays on his backside" the analogy presented was "veritable inside fastball" (legit pitch) and the MC response was to "act like a petulant child". Huh?

A proper analogy from the setup would be the pitcher deliberately attempts to knock MC on his ass and MC responds on the next pitch with a line drive to the pitcher's testicles. If that seems too nasty or disproportionate it's just the sort of warning a lead character in one of MC's novels would make. There's risk for personal attack and the first one serves as example for the rest.

It's understandable that MC would behave more like the characters he writes about while someone who wimps out on their own setup criticizes him for being too mean.

(17) Mark Raven made the following comment | Dec 17, 2006 10:21:39 AM | Permalink


Willie Mays dealt with his foes, if you will, by stepping back into the box and then, in some 660 cases, knocking one of their next offerings out of the ballpark. Mr. Mays ignored his adversaries repeated attempts at intimidation and realized their efforts amounted to nothing more than part of the game.

Instead, Mr. Mays responded with excellence and the single-minded goal of defeating his opponents with his bat, his glove, his speed, his intelligence, and his cunning. Mr. Mays did all of this within the rules of the game and as a complete sportsman. That, sir, is called class. And integrity. And dignity.

Perhaps, in retrospect, I offered the culturally inappropriate athletic analogy. So I'll try another, more recent example.

Mr. Crichton's actions mirrored those of French soccer superstar Zinedine Zidane during the final of the 2006 World Cup against Italy. You'll recall that Mr. Zidane, after being taunted in the 110th minute by Italian defender Marco Materazzi about the alleged personal interests of the female members of his family, responded by head-butting Mr. Materazzi in the chest and being ejected by officials.

France, sans the star of the 2006 World Cup and a three-time FIFA Player of the Year, eventually lost the final - and the Cup - in a shootout.

Now, and correct me if I am wrong, Mr. Zidane, like each of the members of the 32 teams that participated in the 2006 World Cup, came there for one and only one reason.


Instead, Mr. Zidane suffered defeat. Worst of all, Mr. Zidane personally surrendered his own ability to alter the outcome and achieve victory by reacting inappropriately to feeble "sticks-and-stones" intimidation. Rather than turn, walk away, and then lead France to victory, Mr. Zidane turned, walked back, and deliver his infamous head butt.

Mr. Zidane, due solely to his own juvenile reaction, left the World Cup known by all the globe for his inability to control his emotions, rather than for his superb play not only in that tournament but throughout his entire career. Like Dick Nixon and Watergate or Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, Mr. Zidane will carry that tag for the rest of his life.

Mr. Crichton, meanwhile, has become renowned in much the same manner for his (a) inability to accept an aspect of his craft, namely criticism; (b) willingness to use his novels as a means to wage petty, childish wars on said critics; and (c) failure to control his temper and keep his ego in check.

Like Mr. Zidane, the factual basis, or lack thereof, for Mr. Crichton's critique of global warming matters little. Instead, Mr. Crichton's personal antics triumph any serious study of the matter and also serve to mar his reputation in the long term.

(18) TTT made the following comment | Dec 17, 2006 10:34:48 AM | Permalink

Given the breadth and malignance of the global warming conspiracy Michael Crichton conjured up in "State of Fear," it's practically impossible to respond to the book at all. There have been dozens of substantive, scholarly refutations of the book, but since they all come from scientists (who Crichton says is in on the conspiracy) and since they all rely on scientific means (peer review, long-term modeling, etc.) that Crichton has similarly scarlet-lettered, we have a case that the more SOF is disputed, the righter its personality cult of followers will believe themselves to be.

Crichton's conspiracy theory is accepted a priori by his boosters. Once you reach that point, it's like trying to convince people that the World Trade Center really wasn't taken down by Dick Cheney's controlled demo detonator. It's just something "THEY!" would say.

Assuming not everyone here accepts Crichton's analysis that believing in global warming makes you a pedophile, here are some of the better takedowns.



As for the emphasis Mr. Beldar gives to Crichton's "Dr."-hood, I would ask him to remember that nearly all of Crichton's critics (as in, the mainstream of the professional climate and ecological science community) are doctors as well, and actual real practitioners in their field as opposed to dilettante fictionwriters like Crichton. I would further note that in his autobiography "Travels," Dr. Crichton, apparently as prologue to his screeds against environmentalism, pronounced the Germ Theory of Disease to likewise be a hoax and conspiracy only believed in by the unethical. Is there a REAL doctor in the house?

(19) boris made the following comment | Dec 17, 2006 11:02:29 AM | Permalink

Mr. Crichton's personal antics

In a dispute initiated on a personal level by Crowley somehow it's only Mr. Crichton's personal antics that are a problem. If unprovoked personal unwarranted attacks are ok with you then responding in kind should also be ok with you unless ...

BTW Zidane responded to taunting with a physical assault, hardly comparable. There seems to be a double standard applied here. One suspects it isn't a result of your deep affection for MC that you concern yourself so intently with his "image".

(20) Drugstore Cowgirl made the following comment | Dec 17, 2006 11:08:01 AM | Permalink

Dear Mr. Raven: Please, and I mean this in the nicest way, get your own blog. Your "comments" are long, exceedingly boring screeds. Either learn to be concise or sit down and shut up.

(21) Mark Raven made the following comment | Dec 17, 2006 11:18:29 AM | Permalink


I think you're making a bit more out of my response than is necessary.

As a former athlete of limited skills, I gained great inspiration and valuable knowledge from a coach in my youth. Quite simply, and without raising his voice or using invective, my coach, the winner of seven sectional titles and numerous league championships, spoke quietly and clearly to my teammates and I at the start of each season. His message was quite simple.

He did not care if a player on the opposing team and/or the fans in the stands insulted our mother, father, sister, brother, family, school, last name, number, batting stance, speed (in my case, lack thereof) on the base paths, or the length or color of our hair.

Shut up and ignore them, he calmly told us. Then, get back in the batter's box or on the mound or set for the next pitch and, quite simply, kick their butts.

Between the lines.

Where it mattered.

We were there, as a team, to win the game.

We were not there to start a fight or, worse yet, react to the foolishness of others.

Character. Class. Dignity. One can have all three and still succeed. And nothing, I respectfully submit, silences one's foes quicker than a cool, calm demeanor and proven performance, and success, at the highest of levels.

(22) boris made the following comment | Dec 17, 2006 11:20:26 AM | Permalink

Clue: Sports is not real life.

(23) Beldar made the following comment | Dec 17, 2006 11:20:54 AM | Permalink

TTT, I really don't want to turn this post into a back-and-forth on the merits of global warming. It will rapidly turn into a link-fest. I'll note, very briefly, that the first link you've provided, for example, does address some of the specific points that State of Fear makes, which is something that Mr. Crowley didn't try to do himself, and neither did he provide references to others who have. The page, though, displays some of the same imprecision that Mr. Crichton criticized (e.g., the "correcting" for warm urban areas, which could just as well be manipulation of data to reach an expected result). Other of Mr. Crichton's points it does not attempt to deal with — such as the one repeatedly made in the book that we don't have trustworthy temperature records going back far enough from enough different places to draw confident conclusions (i.e, the margin of error from such reported data as we do have is significantly greater than the twitches in temperature postulated by global warming theorists).

Again, I mention these not to start up a substantive discussion here, but simply in order (1) to show how these topics could have been tackled by Mr. Crowley, who instead chose to do an ad hominem smear job on Mr. Crichton, and (2) to demonstrate that no one in the global warming discussion has "won the debate" in the way that proponents of that theory insist they've already done. "The scientific evidence is all in!" they insist. Many disagree.

Last point, on your mention of "Germ Theory" and Mr. Crichton's scientific credentials: The Andromeda Strain. Other than a quick mention that I'm unaware of Mr. Crowley's science education, if any, I didn't assert that his book review must be nonsense because he lacks proper credentials to discuss the "mainstream ... professional climate and ecological science community." Neither did Mr. Crichton criticize Mr. Crowley for his lack of qualification to discuss scientific matters based on his education and training. Global warming is being argued as something on account of which everyone — literally every nation in the world, and all their inhabitants — ought to make massive changes in their lifestyles. It is being discussed, and ought to be discussed, by folks of all different backgrounds, training, and aptitudes. As a lawyer, for instance, I routinely cross-examine "expert witnesses" on subjects on which I'm not an expert myself, but I'm nevertheless often able to demonstrate that these "experts" are full of crap (for a variety of reasons). Jurors who also lack "expert" credentials nevertheless make binding determinations, after hearing both sides' "experts." And in the arena where I do my work, nobody gets to shout down the other side or tell penis jokes or make overt political attacks to ridicule their opponents.

I rather think your bringing this supposed deficiency in Mr. Crichton's credentials, though, is another attack on a person — more pissing, in short — and it doesn't really advance the discussion. But I do appreciate your civil tone in your comment, and thank you for dropping by.

(24) Mark Raven made the following comment | Dec 17, 2006 11:39:14 AM | Permalink


Allow me to suggest that you not offer your last statement to those at either the United States Military Academy at West Point or the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis.

You, my friend, have obviously never attended an Army-Navy football game. I highly encourage you to read John Feinstein's "A Civil War" to educate you about both this game and its impact on life at the two academies that provide training for the bulk of our military leadership.

Also, have you forgotten that President Bush threw out the first pitch in game three of the 2001 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks at Yankee Stadium. The game, you'll recall, took place less than two months after the horrific 9/11 tragedy?

Happy Holidays!

(25) boris made the following comment | Dec 17, 2006 11:41:27 AM | Permalink

Global warming is being argued as something on account of which everyone — literally every nation in the world, and all their inhabitants — ought to make massive changes in their lifestyles.

At some point in the not too distant future most transportaion will rely on stored electricity rather then fossil fuel. At another point there will be weather control. Past that people will look back at current propsals and concerns as mostly superstitious nonsense. Joe Versus the Volcano type stuff.

(26) boris made the following comment | Dec 17, 2006 11:53:42 AM | Permalink

Mark Raven,

Allow me to suggest that the interplay on display here is part of their game. Allow me to suggest that you are attempting to apply the rules of Bridge to Mumbly Peg. Allow me to suggest that you are not the referee nor the line judge. Allow me to suggest that MC will continue to "score" big where it really counts. Allow me to suggest that in a Tango competition style and class are measured differently than a Vienna Waltz or Cotillion Square Dance.

Allow me to suggest that my analogy where the pitcher deliberately attempts to knock MC on his ass and MC responds on the next pitch with a line drive to the pitcher's testicles was on point and far more apt that your attempts to reframe the issue.

(27) plunge made the following comment | Dec 17, 2006 8:18:10 PM | Permalink

I don't really see how "Dr." Crichton is relevant. Being a PhD. in one thing doesn't make you an expert on everything. Neither Crichton nor Crowley have backgrounds in the relevant disciplines. So why make a big deal out of "Dr." Crichton then?

(28) stan made the following comment | Dec 18, 2006 2:26:05 PM | Permalink

Crichton doesn't have a Ph.D.
He has an M.D. And that carries more weight with me. Also note that he wrote that best-selling novel while in medical school which I find mind-boggling.

Crowley didn't throw a brushback pitch -- which is part of baseball. He threw a pitch aimed behind and below the shoulder -- which is absolute dirty pool. Ballplayers will get their heads out of the way of a pitch aimed at their chin. But a pitch behind and below the shoulder is right where the batter's head will be when he bails out. That kind of pitch is meant to do serious harm and nothing else. It has no place in the game.

(29) Mark Raven made the following comment | Dec 18, 2006 3:41:52 PM | Permalink


Nice reply.

My message remains the same, whether it be in the athletic, business, artistic, or political.

Walk away. And then just defeat your opponent on the field of play, the balance sheet, or the voting box. It is in these places and these places alone that victory matters and yields bountiful rewards.

If you're Michael Crichton, write finer books than Mr. Crowley, books that do not slur your foes but simply sell more copies and, more importantly, inspire more people.

If you're in the batter's box and get knocked down, get up and belt the next offering into the gap for a double.

If you're on the basketball court, avoid the antics of Mardy Collins, J.R. Smith, Nate Robinson, and, most certainly, Carmelo Anthony. Beat your opponent NOT with your fists but, as the great Julius Erving often said, beat them by creating "a move" that leaves others gasping in awe.

If you're in the business world, post higher year-end earnings. Get an executive gig at Goldy. Defeat your business foes in the areas of firm and personal revenue, job title, and the office luxuries that go with such.

If you're at the Juilliard School and fail to win a piano recital or finish second to another in a breakthrough audition, you do NOT break the hands of the person who defeated you. Instead, you practice harder, display more passion, and devote yourself to your life's work.

Do you want to spend the rest of your life being known as "Juan Marichal, Hall of Fame pitcher who slugged a Los Angeles Dodgers catcher with a baseball bat..." or "Michael Crichton, multiple best-selling novelist who developed a fictional character of a child molester to get back at a political adversary..." ???

Or would you rather be known simply as an individual who knew that true excellence stemmed not from reaction, but action and hard work?

(30) boris made the following comment | Dec 18, 2006 4:13:42 PM | Permalink

And then just defeat your opponent on the field of play

This is the field of play.

Crowley vs Crichton and their mighty pens. You keep trying to characterize it as a physical assault in response to fair play. BS. Given your own setup you can't stay on point. It's dishonest.

It's been said "never pick a fight with people who buy ink buy the barrel" ... well they both do so it's a fair fight. Ink vs ink, pen vs pen. That you refuse to get that says a lot about your sense of fair play.

(31) Mark Raven made the following comment | Dec 18, 2006 6:56:50 PM | Permalink


Just how, exactly, does developing a fictional character who specializes in child molestation and naming said fictional character after one of your political opponents and/or fellow writers improve the quality, persuasiveness, and impact of your argument on a topic?

Please offer specific examples to show how making indirect allegations of sexual violence and moral failure towards a political opponent actually enhances your own viability as a writer and the depth and scope of your position on an unrelated political issue.

Would your questioning some aspect of my personal life or me doing the converse to you actually strengthen either of our lines of debate on this or any other topic?

And, if you believe so, how exactly would either of us benefit from being the aggressor in such a situation?

Thank you.

(32) boris made the following comment | Dec 18, 2006 7:47:36 PM | Permalink

As I wrote earlier, you keep trying to re-characterize it as a physical assault in response to fair play. Clearly a gross distortion. Especially since your initial setup included "knocked Mr. Mays on his backside". You are not engaging honestly in fair discussion yet sanctimoniously invoke high faluting standards of behavior applied only to MC, but not to yourself or Crowley.

Lets see some of that classy fairness from you before disparaging the lack of it in others. Hmmm ???

(33) Mark Raven made the following comment | Dec 18, 2006 9:22:42 PM | Permalink


You, personally, criticized my prior example as not matching the setting. Quite true, of course, a baseball field is not the equivalent of a computer keyboard and/or the pen and pad.

As such, and duly noted, I most recently, at the Beldarian time of 6:56:50 PM December 18, 2006, asked you to explain how Mr. Crichton's WRITTEN, creatively or some might even say personally slanderous, actions (i.e. the development of a character as a child molester with the name of your pen-on-page adversary) towards his political foe, Mr. Crowley, bolstered Mr. Crichton's written argument in the matter, in this case, of global warming.

The issue here is not global warming, not politics, not science, not education.

Instead, the issue here remains whether to act or to react and, if one chooses reaction, whether said reaction is a natural part of the reasoned, logical debate process or simply vendetta-based vitriol.

So, again, I respectfully ask how Mr. Crichton, USING HIS PEN in this manner towards Mr. Crowley, has furthered his position in the global warming debate. Please cite specific examples, as requested earlier.

Not to sound like some sort of television game show host or used car salesman, but this will be my final offer. If you respond, I will believe you are interested in sincere, serious debate. If you decline to answer the question, or claim I'm trying to "frame" the discourse to my liking, or that I'm "moving the markers," or that, well, "it just isn't fair," I will respectfully believe that your interests lie elsewhere.

Best I can do. Besides, it would then be time not to react, but simply to move on to other issues. (shrug)

Happy Holidays to everyone!

(34) epobirs made the following comment | Dec 19, 2006 3:39:35 AM | Permalink

Few commenting here seem to realize how often novelists do this sort of thing. The only difference here is that the target of a nasty caricature has responded in public. (Harlan Ellison tells a hilarious story about his experience of putting a caricature of the author of 'Peyton Place' in a Man From U.N.C.L.E. episode.) The funny thing is that without this foofaraw I would never have had any idea the character was created as an attack on a real person, and further I would never have read the article that inspired the attack. Having done so now, I find my sympathies in Crichton's corner.

(Nitpick: Crichton directed 'Coma' and collaborated on the screenplay but it was Robin Cook's highly successful book first. Getting a guy who was himself an MD who understood the details and had a good track record in film made perfect sense but 'Coma' is Cook's concept, not Crichton's, and even Cook owes a fair bit to the work of Larry Niven for the concept of organ theft. But then, Crichton wrote and directed 'Looker,' which owes a fair bit to Niven's 'A Gift From Earth' for one of its major subplots.)

'State of Fear' was not a great novel but it did a good job of presenting some serious ideas in an entertaining way that reached far more people than a purely non-fiction tract could hope to match.

Crowley is pursuing a lost cause. Crichton's 'Next' likely sold more copies in its first day of release than TNR circulation in print, and should easily exceed its online readership number within a month. I have the audio version waiting in my stack of commuting entertainment. When the passage about a guy named Crowley comes up I'll probably laugh out loud rather than remain silent. All thanks to the real world Mr. Crowley.

(35) boris made the following comment | Dec 19, 2006 7:13:21 AM | Permalink

So, again, I respectfully ask

Your question is off point. You seem to perceive a fencing match as a kabuki dance or something. The participants are supposed to jab each other in a fencing match. you don't win style points by turning the other cheek.

It was Crowley who yelled "En Guarde" and thrust the first jab. Now he cries "Unfair!" like a sore loser. As the previous poster asserts, MC fans are just going to buy more of MC's books and as you yourself point out "The issue here is not global warming".

(36) hunter made the following comment | Dec 22, 2006 12:00:14 AM | Permalink

The focus should remain on the devolvement of the Anthropogenic Global Warming movement into a religious system of thought, from a scientific one.
That is Chrichton's main point. the big conspiracy stuff the AGW believers rail against in his book is plot filler, allowing his protagonist to deomnstrate the gaping holes in the AGW belief.
The inability of Crowley to debate, and his rush to whining after getting slapped down after his personal attack, is just par for the course of those who are defending faith-based beliefs.
The intellectual energy it takes to sustain the faith of AGW, despite its non-falsifiable nature, its lack of historical provability, and its ever shrinking predictions, leaves little room for true believers to defend their faith.

(37) ajacksonian made the following comment | Dec 23, 2006 10:45:47 AM | Permalink

When one speaks of long-term climatology and ecology and such, one is no longer talking about a short 100 years or so. In point of fact you must talk to the folks who have that under their scientific purview. And you just may find yourself getting answers that point in a different direction.

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