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.


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.