Saturday, August 08, 2020

The Multimedia Novel

When screen sizes went from phone-size to tablet-size, the multimedia novel became a possibility, a novel with embedded media like video, audio, and JavaScript-animated graphics.The possibilities for the multimedia novel are limited only by the available technology and the designer’s imagination and coding skills. Designer-novelists can take this still-new medium in unexpected and experimental directions, exploring immersive techniques like some computer games do with augmented-reality graphics. It's easy to imagine a horror novel silently accessing Alexa to turn off lights in the house at an appropriate moment in the story and add poltergeist effects with any connected electronics and appliances. There are many more possibilities to explore.

Port Aero is a story of the birth of a new theme park in Southern California.

The designers and investors begin with the best of intentions. They want to balance ideas like “It’s a small world after all” with ideas like “In America we speak English.” But big construction projects seldom go exactly as planned or budgeted. Some of the good intentions are met with centuries-old hostility, and the designers and investors are left bickering over what kind of park to build. Do they compromise and accommodate? In the age of Trump, compromise is considered weakness. Should they plow ahead and present concepts that modern cultures need to hear? Or should they act reasonably?

Leith, one of the lead designers, is a workaholic who is content in a loving, stable marriage that doesn’t require much maintenance. Until he realizes that’s just the theme-park version of marriage.

Port Aero is soon to be published. Check back for updates. In the meantime, the video and audio in the eBook can be viewed on YouTube. The eBook will include 40 short video clips and 34 original music cues, along with numerous graphics, photos and concept sketches.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Dear eReader developers

My review of the Kindle iPad app on the App Store:

As time passes, there will be increasing demand from users for the full implementation of HTML5, CSS3, and ePub3 in reflowable-text eReaders. The features that users could be experiencing as they read include video, audio, JavaScript, background images, embedded fonts, and much more. The current requirement that eBooks with embedded media use the fixed-layout format is inappropriate when text-based eBooks include media designed to flow along with the text. That requirement can result in many consecutive pages of fixed-layout text that can’t reflow or be resized. Fixed-layout is for magazine-type eBooks. The current implementation of reflowable text is for text-only eBooks, like traditional novels. There should be a third option available that utilizes all the features of ePub3. Currently, the display of media in reflowable-text eReaders is very haphazard, with images or video halfway off the page or not displayed at all. Scripts in JavaScript are ignored or appear as text in the body text. If a user pays extra for a multimedia eBook, they would like to experience the media they paid for. Please provide users and designers a third option, multimedia-text, in addition to reflowable-text and fixed-layout. Thinking that reflowable-text eBooks don’t need video or audio is like Norma Desmond saying she’d had the eyes of the world but they had to have their ears too. Was she right? Movies don’t need soundtracks? Please allow the eReader to continue to evolve.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Dear Music-Software Developers

Always keep in mind that your software represents in music composition what the brush represents in painting.

An artist picks up a brush, loads paint onto it, and brings the brush to the point of contact with the canvas. What occurs after that point is what matters. The painter usually doesn't need a brush with rows of buttons on the ferrule that adjust the input and output of the paint and he usually doesn't want to set up as many as 64 channels to get the paint out of the brush. He wants to focus on how he applies the paint to the canvas. That's where the art is. Picking up the right brush, picking up paint, and approaching the canvas isn't an insignificant part of painting, but he doesn't want to have to master that part of painting before he can start painting.

I wish software applications would unfold when first opened. I'm always amazed when I open a new program and see that the entire program fills the screen—splat! the first impression of the program is how extremely much the whole program can do. Is that an alpha-male thing? When I'm just starting with a program, I hardly need any of the program. So why is it there taking up space? Demonstration of prowess to attract a mate? Yes, music software can do an amazing amount and can produce truly beautiful sound. But it's mostly designed for performance and mixing. When I'm composing with the staff view, I don't need all that. I want the interface to get out of the way and let me have easy access to instruments that don't sound like the tinny default MIDI instruments. The instruments could even include a touch of reverb so I don't have to dig into the interface to find out how to set that up. Then, at that point I can start creating music, usually with complex harmony like some of Manhattan Transfer's music (eg "A Nightingale Sang," "Birdland").

There are apps for tablets that emphasize creating with the staff view and I'll probably end up using one of them. But why aren't they on the desktop? It's a little strange to be sitting at my computer while working on my iPad. (Isn't it? Or am I missing the point of wireless?) After some frustrating searches for PC software with a simple staff view, I've concluded that I must be among the few of the old-school who compose in the staff view. The piano-roll and dropping loops and beats methods seem alien to me (That's a quarter note? But what note is it? Which octave is it in?). My searches have turned up Sibelius and Cakewalk as applications that include a staff view. Both are accessible, but neither is simple enough to just start clicking notes and playing them back. I started in both creating four chords of whole notes in a piano staff and then moving notes and switching instruments, to see how involved it would all be. Sibelius' interface is the plainest, with most everything tucked up in the ribbon at the top of the screen, but I still have to look up how to do something as simple as scrub with the playhead. That should be just click and drag. While Sibelius' focus is a little heavy on creating beautiful sheet music right from the start, Cakewalk emphasizes recording and mixing. In the default view, the screen is heavy with electronics and I have to manually open the staff view and resize it to fill most of the screen. I used Cakewalk's MusicCreator back in the 00s to create two CDs of public domain music I extensively arranged in staff view. After I learned where things were it was fun to create music with the program. The interface, of course, has substantially evolved since then and I'm back to square one having to learn where things are. I created and played back the four chords a little faster than with Sibelius and remembered that scrubbing was accomplished while holding the J key while click-dragging. Switching instruments was about equally hunt-and-click with both programs. I've seen some apps with a small group of buttons on the side for switching instruments. Simple. It would be nice if simplicity like that could be embraced by software developers for the introductory levels of an application, and from there the user could add complexity as he wants. Starting out with the whole powerful program on display on the screen seems a little like chest-beating.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Redirect $3.8 Billion

Congressman Schiff:

Now is a very good time to stop the annual $3.8 billion gift of weapons to Israel. $3.8 billion? The Israel lobby is very effective, aren't they. Your pro-Israel voters are very strong. But you know as well as they do that PALESTINIANS HAVE SOULS TOO. If you listened only to the lobbyists and those voters you'd think that Palestinians were just another breed of dog. But you know that they are people deserving of protection from oppression to the same degree as Jews worldwide.

The now-13-year Israeli blockade, repeated bombings, and 72 years of settler-colonialism—funded by our taxes—have systematically destroyed the Gaza Strip’s infrastructure and healthcare system. Now is a very good time to stop the flow of military aid to Israel. USCPR calculates that $3.8 billion would provide 76,000 ventilators, 760,000 N-95 masks and 25,888 ER doctors' salaries. Now is a very good time to redirect $3.8 billion where it is needed most.

How many Uzis does $3.8B buy and how many deaths will they result in? How many ventilators are needed in the US and how many deaths will they prevent?

Now is a very good time to argue down the Israel lobby and your pro-Israel voters. They do not have a strong case. You do.

Thanks very much for your laudable work in Congress.


Monday, March 16, 2020

Dear Kindle Digital Publishing

Amazingly, eReaders still aren't able to display multimedia novels in the way that the author-designer intends. eReaders display text beautifully, but in ensuring that the user be able to customize the eReader so his reading experience is the best possible, eReader developers strip out many multimedia elements that the user would otherwise enjoy. The promise of eReaders doesn't stop with beautifully rendered text. They offer the possibility for the novel to move to an entirely new area somewhere between novels, games, movies, and websites. I would like to see an option in eReaders that allows the author-designer to have more control and asks the user to relinquish some control over the eReader's display in order to have an enhanced reading experience. One solution would be to offer something like a "browser mode" in which all the features of HTML5 and CSS3 can be employed offline to enhance the user's reading experience. Currently the only eReader I've found that comes close to this is Sigil's previewer, but even it, as far as I can tell, doesn't allow for audio playback without the control panel. But it does allow videos to be placed anywhere on a page with any level of transparency. It would be very nice if the user were able to see what I see when I'm designing a multimedia novel with Sigil. Please allow eBook technology to continue evolving in this direction.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Campus Protests and Free Speech

Congressman Schiff,

The petition website for the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights collected my name before I had a chance to include a message to you, so I'm following up with this email. USCPR states that AIPAC is a "pro-apartheid, pro-racism, pro-segregation, anti-Palestinian-rights lobby." Is that true? USCPR also states

"President Trump’s Executive Order issued last December encourages government agencies to censor campus organizing for Palestinian rights. Legislation pending in both the Senate and the House demonizes the use of boycotts for justice in Palestine."

Censoring campus protests? Is that legal? Isn't that unconstitutional? I understand that you must have many strong supporters who will not budge in their opinions regarding the Palestinians. And you need their continued support in your opposition of Conservatives on Capitol Hill and in the White House. Your work has been stellar and laudable and historic in your refusal to yield to the massive bullying, and so it comes as a surprise that someone like you would support censoring boycotts and protests. Campus protests were very influential in getting us out of Vietnam and bringing that death toll to an end. Would you have supported censoring those protests?

If your opposition to censorship of campus organizing for Palestinian rights is based on its unconstitutionality, your pro-Israel supporters would be obligated to support you in that, no matter how repugnant they find the topic of Palestinian rights. If they don't support you, they are putting their Israel citizenship above their United States citizenship and should be called out for that if they benefit from being permanent residents in the US.

I hope my occasional emails have been reaching you and aren't filtered out by a well-meaning assistant or by an unyielding pro-Israel assistant. I feel the need to address the discrepancy of someone as highly ethical and moral as you are, supporting the censorship of boycotts on campuses.

Thanks.
John Garvey

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Schiff approved of H Res 246?

Congressman Schiff,

What were you all thinking when you overwhelmingly approved H Res 246?

For what other nation would you make it illegal to protest and boycott their human-rights abuses? Please, list for me the countries for which you would pass the same legislation. You would make it illegal to boycott Russia? Ukraine? France? Israel is no longer exceptional. The laws are the same for Israel as for any other nation.

Your vote to oppose efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel and the Global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement Targeting Israel is reprehensible. What would you do if you had been chased from your home at gunpoint and then other people moved in and the courts issued them a new deed to the property without the new owners paying a penny for your home? Seriously, what would you do if that happened to you? You would say that the nation whose military pushed you out of your home at gunpoint was perfectly justified in doing so? Don't shrug it off. Don't evade the question. Address it. What would you do if it were you?

What does the Israel lobby provide for you?

I'm appalled that the vote was 398 to 17. What were you all thinking? That making boycotting illegal is constitutional? That Russia's disruption of our election process is far more important than the treatment of the people of Gaza? This vote simply makes me shake my head and think "That Israel lobby, they're good."

You know the history of Israel. What other nation would you approve of being retaken after 18 centuries of diaspora? Seriously, which? Not only approving but abetting the takeover. Which nation? South Africa retaken by native Africans? England retaken by the peoples conquered in the Norman Invasion? The US retaken by Native Americans? You would oppose an uprising or armed incursion in any other nation, but you oppose any protesting of Israel having done the same thing.

If your reasoning is something like "God gave the land to Israel forever," consider that you and a large percentage of Jewish people admit that Torah and the history books were redacted and synthesized by the priests and scribes themselves before, during and after the Babylonian captivity. You're overlooking that Israel gave the land to Israel forever. Israel's claim to the land is based on an unwitnessed verbal agreement 4 millenia ago which was not written down until centuries later? Now there's a strong basis for a claim.

The answer to "what were you all thinking" is that you pander to the Jewish voters in your districts. The bloc of Jewish voters in your district is very strong, but they are also very wrong. Israel's exceptionalism faded about the time of the Six Day War. Their privileged status before then was earned by what they had endured in Europe. By 1967, however, the need for a Jewish homeland had diminished, as most Jews were successful and living safely outside of Israel. I know that, as a Congressman, you're obligated to faithfully represent the beliefs and wishes of your voters. But if your voters believe something wrong, it's your responsibility to educate them so that you can faithfully represent them and do the right thing, at the same time.

Saturday, April 06, 2019

Zazzle, show designers a little respect

My email to Zazzle:

I've read through the highlights of the User Agreement changes and everything is acceptable.

One other issue I'd like you to address is deleting a designer's intellectual property when it doesn't conform to Zazzle's restrictions. An example is when a design can be brought into conformity by changing one word in the design and you delete the designer's intellectual property and refuse to allow the designer to make that change. That is an unacceptable policy. I understand that the designer agrees to that action when he signs the contract with Zazzle, but that concession should not be in the contract in the first place. At no time does a design, because it resides on Zazzle's servers, become the intellectual property of Zazzle. The designer retains ownership of that design as long as it is under copyright. If you were to allow me to park my car in your garage, the ownership of my car wouldn't transfer to you because the car is stored in your garage. And so, you couldn't dump my car in a landfill if you learn that it doesn't conform to the restrictions of your garage, because it's not your car to discard. If I learned from an email notification that you had dumped my car in a landfill and it was irretrievable or irreparably damaged, I could rightly take you to court and receive compensation from you for your destruction of my property. The same is true of intellectual property even though it resides on your servers only as ethereal binary code. You have no more right to discard the designer's intellectual property because it's stored on your servers than you would have to discard someone else's car stored in your garage.

You would, however, have the right to have the car towed at the owner's expense to a location where the owner could retrieve it. You could treat nonconforming intellectual property in the same way by simply changing the design's status from Public to Hidden. Such a simple action on Zazzle's part, I don't understand why it hasn't been Zazzle's policy all along. I'm sure your response would be that you don't want to allocate resources to following up on each nonconforming design to see that it has been corrected before being made public again, because there are probably thousands of nonconforming designs in the system at any given time. But is it true that it would require so much manpower to keep up with checking back on all of the flagged designs that it would represent a financial burden to the company? My impression is that you keep a bare-bones coding staff between major redesigns of the site. Glitches in the site can last for years, which indicates that you don't want to take resources from development in order just to correct some bad code. However, the percentage which Zazzle keeps of the selling price of each item is 90% for a great number of items sold; and when a seller increases his royalty percentage, Zazzle raises the selling price of the item. The Incfact.com site lists Zazzle's revenue as $50-100M and the number of employees as 100-500. I believe Zazzle can afford to have sufficient manpower to follow up on nonconforming items made public again. It's even possible that no employees would need specifically to follow up on those items; the items would simply be flagged again if they are made public again without being altered.

Fortunately I haven't had any items deleted for a while, but each time it happened my thinking was "Let me make the change! Deleting my intellectual property without recourse isn't within your rights!" With one item, I had the name "warhol" in the keywords for a product but the name didn't appear anywhere on the item itself or in the title or description. Still, the Warhol Foundation objected and you deleted my intellectual property. An unseen keyword, however, does not fall into the realm of copyright infringement, so the Warhol Foundation had no authority to object to it and it would not have stood up in court. A keyword? Which I could have easily replaced with an acceptable keyword. Your policy of deletion without recourse results, of course, from your desire to heavily insulate yourself from lawsuits. You accommodate copyright holders to an extreme degree in order to protect yourself legally, but it's at the expense of the designer. The typical designer doesn't have the resources to protect his intellectual property on your servers, so he is at the bottom of the food chain. But does your business primarily sell blank items? Of course not. The designs generate your revenue. Your substantial financial success derives specifically from the designers' intellectual properties. Without the designers your business model and net income would be significantly different. But you relegate the designers to the bottom of the food chain. Your unwillingness to allow the designer to make a change to an item reflects your hyperfocus on maximizing net income and, ultimately, laziness.

I periodically look for another POD retailer to migrate to, but none so far equal the control and flexibility of Zazzle's design tool. That superiority should be a good thing, but it results in a lack of respect for the designers and their intellectual properties, as well as website design flaws that are never corrected because Administration either doesn't know they're there or doesn't want to allocate resources to correct them.



Monday, January 07, 2019

Allow boycotting for Palestinian rights

Senator Feinstein:

Subject: Vote no on S.1

Even though the Palestinians and the Israelis have both lost the moral high ground in the conflict, please don't act as if Israel still has the high ground through its "birthright" by voting for S.1, the anti-BDS bill.

Israel was an identifiable Jewish nation from the Bronze Age to the 2nd century ce, but that identity was lost with the defeat of the Bar Kokhba revolt in 136 ce and the establishment of Aeolia Capitolina and the renaming of the Iudea province to Syria Palaestina. Eighteen centuries passed before Israel declared its independence in 1948, and in any other case a nation would not be allowed to reclaim its land after a span of eighteen centuries. Would Iran be allowed to reclaim Babylonia in Iraq after thirteen centuries? No other nation would be aided by the US in reclaiming its land after eighteen centuries.

The justification for reclaiming the land is that God covenanted with Moses, Abram, and Isaac that the land would be Israel's forever. Would unwitnessed verbal agreements made in the Bronze Age be honored with any other nation? It also should be considered that the scroll of the law which was found during Temple repairs during the reign of King Josiah in the seventh century bce - which was likely an early version of Deuteronomy and probably the first time that covenant had been written down - had probably been created by the scribes and priests themselves and later "found" and presented to the King and the people as the writings of Moses from six centuries earlier. A forgery. It's very possible that it was Israel who covenanted with Israel that the land would be Israel's forever.

Regarding birthright, it's probably the case that the reclaiming of Jerusalem by the Muslims under Saladin in 1187 marked the beginning of Muslim control over the land. That represents seven centuries of Muslim possession of the land prior to 1948. Eighteen centuries of loss and seven centuries of possession logically would give the Palestinians the birthright to the land.

You know all of this, I know. And I believe you intend to vote no on S.1. I feel it's important for you to know how at least one of your voters, and probably many others, view the Mid-East conflict.

Thanks very much for being a champion for us.

John Garvey

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Outlawing boycotting? Is that legal?

Congressman Schiff,

Subject: The Israel Anti-Boycott Act

Just the title of the bill, Anti-Boycott Act, indicates how misguided it is. Americans should be free to boycott as a First Amendment right. This bill would criminalize some individuals who support the US Campaign for Palestinian Right’s call to boycott. Please urge Senate leadership not to include the Israel Anti-Boycott Act in the omnibus budget bill.

Your voting record shows that you vote for Israeli interests, and I believe that is to satisfy a strong element in your constituency so that you can stay in office where you can continue fighting the right on other issues. I understand that. Those members of your constituency who are implacably pro-Israel need to stop voting as a single mind and intimidating anyone who won't conform. That isn't democracy.

Please educate your pro-Israel voters regarding important issues:

1. Israel's identity as a nation came to an end with Titus' destruction of Jerusalem in 70, and the Bar Kokhba Revolt was unsuccessful in restoring Israel's identity in 136. The 18 centuries that separate the Bar Kokhba Revolt and Israel's declaration of statehood cannot be ignored. If any other nation attempted to regain their land after 18 centuries, it would provoke a war to protect the invaded nation. Israel is not exceptional. I've read that it's claimed that "Hadrian was only circumstantially connected" with renaming Israel to Syria Palaestina. Claims like that are simply historical revisionism. 18 centuries of non-identity as a nation cannot be ignored or rewritten.

2. The covenants God made with Moses, Abram, and Jacob giving the land to Israel forever are used as the basis for reclaiming the land and justification for murdering Palestinians, forcibly taking their properties, and erasing Palestinian history from the land. I believe a majority of Jews now accept that Torah, Nevi'im and Ketuvim were largely assembled during the reign of King Josiah and the Babylonian captivity and were not dictated verbatim to Moses. If the passage in II Kings 22 regarding the finding of the book of the law during Temple repairs is any indication, those covenants were written by the priests and scribes themselves but presented to the people as the writings of Moses. Forged documents are a very weak basis for reclaiming land after 18 centuries.

Please do not vote pro-Israel this time with the Israel Anti-Boycott Act in the omnibus budget bill. If it precipitates protests from your voters, please consider it a teachable moment.

Thanks.

John Garvey

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Israeli Exceptionalism

A note to Adam Schiff accompanying my signing a petition for the Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act, introduced by Rep. Betty McCollum on November 14:

Israel ceased to be a nation in 135 AD with the Bar Kokhba Revolt, more than 18 centuries ago. The Battle of La Forbie in 1244 ended European influence in the Levant, resulting in Palestine being under Muslim control for 7 centuries prior to 1948. With your admirable record as a Progressive, you should not be promoting Israeli exceptionalism. You should seek to educate the element of your constituency that expects you to be solely pro-Israel. The land was Israel's from the Bronze Age to the second century. A statute of limitations would apply to 18 centuries of Israel not being a nation since then.

Who else would be permitted to reclaim their land after 18 centuries?

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

3D or not 3D, that is not rocket science

I saw an ad recently for "3D print T-shirt" and I thought "They can create T-shirts with 3D printers now? How comfortable would a plastic T-shirt be? Have they figured out a way to print with cotton fibers?" I went to the page the ad promoted and saw that by "3D print" they meant that the picture of the dog's head printed on the shirt is so clear that it looks like it's projecting outward from the shirt. Um, that's not 3D. I know that if I suggested to them that what they meant was "tromp l'oeil," they would have no clue what that was. What they could call it is "dimensional illusion" or "faux dimensional." That's not too hard to understand. And it wouldn't be misleading like "3D print."

Out of curiosity, I searched for ""3d t-shirt"" and got 3,900,000 results. Wait. What? 3.9 million?? I wonder how many of those results refer to an actual 3D T-shirt. Probably close to none. A 3D T-shirt would be one that requires 3D glasses to see the image printed on it appearing to project outward from the shirt. I suppose you could say that "3D T-shirt" means a shirt printed with images of digital 3D models like what they use for computer animation. So, any of the 3.9 million shirts that have images of characters from computer-animated productions could probably be referred to as a "3D T-shirt" or a "3D print T-shirt." But an enhanced HD photo of a dog's head looking at the camera can't. That's a dimensional-illusion T-shirt. I noticed a T-shirt on another page that had the caption "3D cross." The image printed on the T-shirt was a 2D line drawing representing a 3D object from an oblique angle. Nope. Sorry. It's still 2D, even though all the appropriate lines converge at a single vanishing point. You could call it "Perspective cross." But the 3D is only suggested by the perspective. The image on the shirt remains 2D.

Out of curiosity, I searched for ""not 3d" "3d t-shirt"" and got 2,630 results. Mostly the results on the first two pages refer to a T-shirt with the text "3D or not 3D." I didn't look very long, but I did find, on page 3, one person commenting to a T-shirt designer who used a 3D printer to print a design onto a T-shirt: "You ARE NOT 3d printing a 2d design. you are JUST PRINTING." So, then, yeah, okay, if the T-shirt designer had printed a 3D object onto a T-shirt, that would be, more or less, a 3D-printed T-shirt. But none of the shirts I found on the different retail sites I visited had objects projecting from them. They just had 2D images characterized by chiaroscuro shading. Nope. Sorry. Still 2D.


Sunday, August 12, 2018

Application to an exclusive club

My letter to William Johnson, Managing Editor of Lambda Literary, requesting a review of my novel Secreta Corporis:

Dear Mr. Johnson:

I know that a novel that was self-published in 2013 has no chance at all of being reviewed now in the Lambda Literary Review. That is, if you go by-the-book. If you follow established procedure. But if you’ll look at the merits of the book itself and at what the author attempted to do, you may find that the book deserves more than just a perfunctory “Nope. Sorry. Can’t help you. We prefer to receive materials from an established publishing house 3 to 4 months in advance of publication date. Sorry.”

The story initially came about when I merged the Knights Templar referenced in The Da Vinci Code with the male archetypes examined in Brokeback Mountain. While working on the story, I began developing an idea for another novel involving controversial ancient artifacts being unearthed in modern-day Jerusalem. I thought it might be interesting to combine the two stories and move between ancient, medieval and modern-day timeframes. The resulting novel was an unwieldy 169k words, and so I divided it into two novels, the other one being a sequel to this one titled The Talpiot Find, eventually following that up with a sequel titled Ontogenesis. I queried The Talpiot Find for about a year but kept getting “Not for me” responses from literary agents. Querying Secreta Corporis was equally unsuccessful, and so I decided to self-publish both.

I believe the controversial aspect of the ancient artifacts made the books untouchable for the agents. While reading the book The Bible Unearthed by Israel Finkelstein, I encountered for the first time the theory that the book, or scroll, mentioned in II Kings 22:8-13, which was found during Temple repairs, may actually have been a forged document created by the priests and scribes but was presented to the people as the writings of Moses from six centuries earlier. The artifacts I created in the novels represent the rough draft of this scroll on clay tablets that had somehow ended up at the potter’s rather than being returned, unfired, to the clay pile. When the fired tablets were discovered by the scribes, they were immediately discarded in a trash pit, but one tablet was found by a Templar in the 12th century, and that tablet led to the finding of the rest of the tablets in the 21st century. The implications of Finkelstein’s forgery theory are profound: if New Testament writers weren’t aware that the compilation of the Torah had begun with a forged document, serious doubt is cast on their claims of inspiration, which in turn casts doubt on any of the modern religions which hold the writings of Moses and the Apostles to be God-given.

Why would I choose such an unpopular topic for my novels? Modern-day Israel bases its claim to the land on covenants God made with Abraham and Moses giving the land to the Jewish people in perpetuity. To reclaim the land in the 20th century, Israelis forced Palestinians out of their homes and illegally assumed ownership of those properties. Entire towns were evacuated and taken over by Israelis. The anger in the Muslim world caused by the unwavering support of the US for Israel’s claim to the land finally erupted on 9/11 and, to date, everyone in the West remains at risk for an inattentive TSA agent allowing someone to smuggle explosives onto a plane. If it came to be known that the covenants with Abraham and Moses very likely had been fabricated by the priests and scribes themselves during the reign of King Josiah, Israel could no longer claim ownership of the land in perpetuity. Israelis currently claim a “birthright” to the land, but their possession of the land came to an end in AD 136 with the Bar Kokhba revolt and 18 centuries have passed with the land not being an independent nation governed by the Jewish people. Any statute of limitations will have run after 18 centuries. With the final ousting of the Crusaders from the Holy Land at the Battle of La Forbie in 1244, the land came under Muslim control for the 7 centuries prior to Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948. Because the land had been under Muslim control for those 7 centuries, and not under Jewish control for 18 centuries, the “birthright” to the land actually belongs to the Palestinians. If that were understood and accepted by people in the US, the threat of violence perpetrated by radical Muslims would be reduced. If Israel were forced to pay for the properties they have forcibly taken since 1948, the conflict in the Middle East could be resolved.

You can see that what the author attempted to do deserves more than just a perfunctory “Nope. Sorry.” In addition to informing the reader of the dangers faced by gay people in past centuries, I wanted to help make things better by examining the current Mideast conflict, from the perspective of three widely spaced points in time, to try to find some way to untangle it. But the way I’ve found, recognizing that the recovered scroll was very likely a forgery, is distasteful to many readers and literary agents. Still, when one realizes that, after the finding of the scroll, the authority of the priests increased so much that the king was then required to seek their approval, one has to acknowledge that Finkelstein’s forgery theory sounds very plausible.

The five novels I’ve self-published can be seen at https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B002ES921O. (The sixth book, Life Doesn’t Always, is an early version of Tinselfish and is out of print but Amazon’s policy is to continue displaying out-of-print books.) More information about Secreta Corporis and The Talpiot Find can be found on web pages I created for them at http://www.carpecranium.com/secreta/ and http://www.carpecranium.com/thetalpiotfind/. I’m currently working on a sixth novel which examines the political polarity in the US, using the metaphor of theme-park design; I’ve recently begun chapter 14.

All things considered, am I the type of gay author that Lambda Literary wants to tell “Sorry. We don’t review self-published books”? With the scope of my writing and with my style of writing, which can be further examined in the online book samples, aren’t I actually an author who should be allowed into the club of gay authors whom Lambda Literary recognizes? I know there are standard channels for access to that club, but at 62 my number of hoop-jumping years is starting to become limited. I feel that the extent of the research I’ve conducted for each of my novels, the endless editing and proofreading I’ve performed on them, and the volume of information about the art of writing I’ve gleaned from reading authors like John Updike and Umberto Eco, all qualify Secreta Corporis for your consideration.

I was fortunate enough to obtain a short review of my book from a gay author of the stature of Michael Nava, author of the Henry Rios novels. He wrote:
Secreta Corporis is, in the tradition of The Name of the Rose, a marvelously erudite novel that brings the past to life in all its complexity while engaging the reader’s sympathy in the love story of Rolant and Audric, Knights Templar, as they travel in and around the Holy Land at the end of the 12th century. Garvey’s book immerses the reader in Rolant and Audric’s world while never losing sight of the deep bond between them that is the heart of the story. This is not the cartoon version of the past readers get in so many historical novels but a rich and detailed landscape in which the reader can happily lose him- or herself. I highly recommend it.

Please consider including a review of Secreta Corporis in the Lambda Literary Review.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Yo Wikipedia, fix your website!

As a graphic designer, I've been wondering for quite a while about the excessive line length and inadequate margin width of the Wikipedia article template. As desktop monitors have increased in physical size, the line length of the Wikipedia article has increased with it, and I'm surprised that this issue hasn't been addressed long before this.

Just as an example, my desktop monitor display screen is 23 1/2" wide and the resolution is set to the recommended 1600x900 pixels. When I maximize the Google Chrome window on my screen, the line length of, for example, the article on Pyeongchang County is 19 7/8", measured on the first text line of the subsection Train in the section Transportation. (With no photos or indentation at that location on the page, at least as my monitor displays it, the line can extend all the way to the left and right margins.) At 19 7/8", the line can't be read without my turning my head. Because I usually find that a maximized browser window produces web pages that are too big, I generally keep the browser window at about 18" wide. Even so, that results in a length of 14 3/4" for the same line in the article. Although I can read the entire line without having to turn my head, that line length is simply too long. I don't know that many book publishers would design a book with an ungainly 14 3/4" line length, with only 3/8" margins, and many aspects of print design, including this, apply equally to web-page design.

I know that adjusting the width of my browser window while reading an article on Wikipedia is an easy solution to the line-length problem, but that solution has to be considered a work-around. The line length ballooning out to 19 7/8" in a maximized browser window, or even more on a larger monitor than my average-size monitor, recalls old-fashioned web pages from the 1990s, with text stretching the full width of the display screen in a bright color on a busy background with several text elements on the page blinking. Web-page design has become much more sophisticated since then, and Wikipedia's page designs are sophisticated and aesthetically pleasing. Except the line length. That remains a relic from the Old Days.

One solution would be to set a margin in the page template to a percentage of the width of the desktop browser window. If the margins were set to 10% of the browser window width, margins would be 1.8" with my browser window set to 18" wide, producing a line length of 11.125", still a bit wide but better than 14.75". Another solution would be an adjustable margin width for article text. The user would click-drag a margin to where he prefers it and the opposite margin would adjust symmetrically by the same amount. I'm sure Wikipedia's developers could come up with several more solutions. However, if adjustment to the line length is already a feature of Wikipedia, I haven't run into it yet. If it's there, it should be easier to find for the typical reader as, say, an option in the side bar or as a tooltip that appears when the pointer is over a margin.

Please address this issue. Wikipedia is simply too sophisticated a website to require a reader to turn his head to read an entire line of text if his browser window is maximized. Readability is fundamental to a site like Wikipedia, and an excessive line length has a negative effect on readability.