If you are reading Pat Frank’s Alas, Babylon and wonder what “seven-carbon sons of bitches” are, it probably means Mark Bragg is implying those people are diesel-powered.
This is in contrast to more modern-thinking men, like Admiral Rickover “pounding desks for his atomic sub.” Diesel fuel has more heptane — with 7 carbon atoms — and is thus lighter compared to other fuels like automotive gasoline and jet fuel. The full quote, on what it will take to transform the American defense establishment to deal with the Soviet threat:
“Bold men, audacious men, tenacious men. Impatient, odd-ball men like Rickover pounding desks for his atomic sub. Ruthless men who will fire the deadheads and ass-kissers. Rude men who will tell the unimaginative, business-as-usual, seven-carbon sons of bitches to go take a jump at a galloping goose.”*
Did we get those men? Are they still valuable in a post-Cold-War security environment? Discuss.
*Bantam Pathfinder edition, 1970 – p. 17