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For All Nails #3: The Ivory Tower
Burlington, NY , NC, CNA
15 September 1968
"Professor Belanger? Mr. Abramowitz is here."
"Ah, thank you. Josh, come in! Beer? Cider? Tea?"
"Tea's fine, thanks. It's been a while, Gerard. I see
you're pretty well settled in here."
"Yes, it may be a less exciting life than being a Deputy
Minister, but I wouldn't be anywhere else in the world."
He motioned to the view of the Adirondacks across Lake
Champlain. "Particularly in the autumn. How was the trip?"
"Oh, three hours from New York, counting the wait in Albany.
The leaves were magnificent going by Ticonderoga and I had a
lovely walk through town from the station. The streetcar was
right there as you said, but I wanted to see Burlington -- very
refreshing after Burgoyne to have a short walk from one end of
town to the other."
"Well, if you want small you could always go back to Fort McKenzie.
It gets cold here in the winter, but not like there! I have to
say I miss the company, particularly yours, but it's not the place
to make a life."
"I quite agree, and that's part of why I'm here. You told me several
times that once the Project was finished, you were coming back here
and never leaving again. Is that still the plan?"
"There's really everything I want here, except maybe for the symphony
an hour away in Montreal. I have problems to work on, some brilliant
students, solid colleagues, and these leaves out my window in September.
Why do you ask? You're not trying to hire me away?"
"No, I was pretty sure you'd say that. In fact, since I took this job
I've been thinking about you, and the life you want to lead. My problem,
and the nation's problem, is that we need men  like you to be working
together in harness to some extent, like we did at Fort McKenzie. The
nation's very security, not to mention our prosperity, depend on our
base of science and engineering knowledge."
"You want bigger and better bombs?"
"Well, yes, but that's only part of it, and I don't see it as being
your part necessarily."
"I did notice that half our old Physics Section seems to have joined
Hinajosa in Michigan City."
"A coincidence, no doubt. But if you ever feel like dropping in on Raul,
let me know and I can arrange a very interesting tour. You can talk about
old times, and maybe help with some of his calculations. But my point is,
if I can't bring you to national research, I want to bring national
research to you. I've gotten hold of a bit of the Science Ministry's
private ledger, you see. I want to find the best people in the universities,
the best reliable ones I mean, and give them the tools they need to do the
"You want to pay me to develop the mathematics of calculation? I'm doing
"But you're not building calculating machines -- you haven't the time.
Suppose you had a commercial firm down the road that was willing to spend
thousands of pounds to try out your ideas? Like that 'calculus engine'
you told me about. Or the vitavision screen typewriter where you change
the words as you go. Or the library in every home..."
"None of those things exist yet, Josh, and no one's going to get an NFA
loan to build something you can't sell for decades."
"The NFA will give the loan if the Science Ministry tells them to. Oh,
I've no doubt they'll get their money back, if only on things we buy back
from these new firms. But those firms' _real_ job will be to work out the
consequences of your ideas, and those of the other people I'm bringing on
board. Of course, anything that ought to move to a Defence Ministry
workshop goes there, and you agree not to talk about it. Some things you
publish, and some things stay within the government. But we'll mostly have
the researchers decide which is which, not the CBI."
"Have you sounded out the University men yet? The Chancellor's a big man
in the Peace and Freedom party [3a] -- he's not going to be happy about
anything to do with the military or the CBI. We just had a student march
demanding military training on campus, and he had the marchers forcibly
removed from the quad."
"I think these things can be worked out. The money for your campus lab comes
from the Science Ministry, the private firm is financed by the NC NFA, no
Defence money to be seen. And the CBI is good at not being noticed when they
want to be. They just quietly check out your students."
"I wonder what they'll think of Contreras . His father is some sort of oil
man in Mexico, and I think he wants to go back there. Are you telling me
I shouldn't talk to him? He's the one who's worked out that theory I told
you about, about calculations that can be done but only very slowly..."
"I think we take things like that as they come. Certainly your mathematical
theories should be discussed with anyone in the world, and your overall
approaches to the machinery. We'll just trust that by being next to you here,
our firm will be the best placed to actually make the things work. I'm not
expecting any Mexican spies crawling through your corridors -- they're looking
for the Bomb, not calculators."
"I'll let you know if there's a man with a serape and a sound recorder in my
garden. Do you suppose if we just gave them the Bomb, they'd be happy?"
"You sound like Volk."
"Volk is an idiot. He has a halfway sensible idea about the Bomb being
too terrible to use, and then goes off on this Masonist nonsense. Yes, we
can win friends by giving money away, but it's a rough neighborhood out
there and we need to be better armed than anyone else. And if the Bomb's
no good, that makes the rest of our strength _more_ important, not less. No,
seriously, I don't think we should give Mercator the Bomb, because looking
for it will keep him busy for a few years. And if Mexico stays peaceful
long enough, Mercator will go the way of Hermion. We can live with Mexico,
just like Germany, but we can't turn our back on any of them and we can't
withdraw within our borders."
"Well, you know I have a soft spot for the Germans -- I don't think Numidia
would still be there as a Jewish homeland  if we'd left it to our cousins
in London. The War has been over for a while, and Germany's giving more
freedom to its clients all the time."
"Do you still have any family in Tunis?"
"You know, second and third cousins, but most of them came to Montreal in
the Eighties with my grandfather. I went there once in '59 -- still a lot of
rebuilding going on but you won't hear a bad word about the Germans there."
"I suppose I should worry about France, but my people have been here for
three centuries now. I guess it's different for your lot."
"If we ever forget that we're the chosen people, someone reminds us. At
least we can visit the Temple as long as the Germans are there. The locals
just don't want many of us moving in... But don't keep me in suspense.
Are you on board for this research idea?"
"Absolutely. We had something in Fort Mackenzie, Josh. Put so many clever
people in one place and something has to happen. Have you got a name for
the private firm yet?"
"No, do you?"
"Arthur Laboratories. Chester Arthur was the greatest man ever to come out
of these parts, I think , though people still say he was crazy. This
university wouldn't be what it is without him, I can tell you that."
"Arthur Laboratories it is. Let's drink to knowledge, and to
our new enterprise."
 OTL Vermont is split with the Western part in NY and the eastern in NH.
Burlington is a somewhat larger city than in OTL because of more farming
in the Champlain Valley and a larger trend of migration to attractive
 Sobel mentions no prominent female leaders in the CNA that I can recall.
We know that the military academies are just being opened to women from
FAN #1. My guess is that womens' lib is even our just behind our 1960's.
Equality in principle, lots of genteel discrimination meaning that leading
female scientists are rare. No PC revolution in language yet, it seems.
 Belanger has written something like Vannevar Bush's 1940's OTL paper
"As We May Think", predicting something like the Web. I am presuming that
there is a lot of clever machinery out there for office work (including
copiers and digital faxes), some scientific analysis (perhaps an analog
machine to do Fourier transforms and such -- I think their biology is
quite good so we'll assume they have the structure of DNA), and
communications, but they have missed the idea of the general-purpose
[3a] The Chancellor of Champlain is Vernor Dean, soon to become a more
 This is intended to be the son of the
oilman in FAN #1. He has done roughly the Hartmanis-Lewis-Stearns work
inventing time complexity for his thesis (with Belanger, who did something
like the Church-Turing thesis though he started with a Post-like model
of "word puzzles") and will soon be getting around to posing the P vs.
NP question, which Belanger has thought about.
 Sobel says millions of Russian Jews moved to North Africa in the 1880's.
Abramowitz' people went to Quebec when the CNA was closed later in the
1880's -- as in OTL there is a large Jewish community in Montreal.
"Numidia" is a Jewish homeland of sorts in OTL Tunisia. There are a few
Zionists in Israel but with less anti-Semitism and another safe haven
the motivation is much smaller. The Germans are actually philo-Semitic,
while the British have tended to back Muslim states against the Germans.
 Chester Arthur is no more unlikely to be born in the CNA than Edison,
Rockefeller, or W. R. Hearst, all of whom are mentioned in Sobel. We
know that he was not important enough for Sobel to mention -- these
hints are an invitation for someone else to flesh out his career.
Apparently he had something of the role of OTL's Morrill (another
Vermonter) in starting or boosting universities.