More Interesting Google Searches

Somebody found my website by going to Google and asking "has the Bush Administration given money to Israel?"

The answer to that question is, "but of course". To the tune of about $2.7 billion per year in unconditional grants and far more in loan guarantees. This, combined with the fact that Israel's neighbours get far less money with far more strings attached, feeds a perception that the United States has chosen sides in the Middle East, and that they are Israel's friend, and the Palestinian's (and, by extension, all other Arabs') enemy. After all, the U.S. stands by while Israel bombs Palestinian homes, and builds a wall that swallows great swaths of Palestinian territory.

In the Bush Administration's defence, this is nothing new. Indeed, the $2.7 billion per year that Israel now receives represents a slight cut from the amount Israel received per year while Clinton was in office. Moreover, Israel is one of the very few democracies currently operating in the Middle East, however misguided or downright self-destructive their security procedures may be.

I would like to see the U.S. stand up to Israel on occasion, and get them in turn to stand up to the West Bank settlers who believe the territory is theirs by Biblical fiat. However, given that Israel is a small democracy, surrounded by many enemies and dictatorships, it seems only natural to me that they should receive U.S. support. I have to think that the alternative to the existence of the state of Israel is not really worth contemplating.

In an unrelated matter, somebody found this site by asking Google, "why fantasy?" To which I can only say, "why not?"

Writing Updates

Most of my spare time this week has been spent on three fronts: working on my second website commission, writing a short story named Sealwife (now 2500 words long) and entering in the many revisions to Martin Proctor's Sentinel, the opening story of Ninth Aspect.

The website commission is going well and should be ready for a mid-August grand opening (which primarily consists of me posting here and saying "It's done! Have a look see!". It's not done, yet, so I'm not posting its URL just yet...

Sealwife has a lot of potential, I believe, but I'm finding it frustratingly hard to unlock. This is a case of my rushing in to write the story before starting the research (Erin recommends reading Mercy's Birds and a young adult story whose title escapes me set in an outport of Newfoundland). I do that a lot; I think it's a weakness. The Young City could still use a lot of background research I think, but the story itself demanded my attention and I wrote it anyway. For the most part, the plot worked without the research, and I already knew what I needed to know to achieve plot and character. Sealwife is a greater challenge as I don't really know what life is like on a remote Newfoundland outport, but the basics of the story are already in my head and demand release.

Maybe it's not wise to release it just yet, but I can't seem to stop myself.

At least I know a thing or two about Selkie legends...

Entering in Martin's revisions to Sentinel brings back memories of my fanzine years, and of novelizing Martin's fan script. It's frightening to believe that it's almost nine years since I put pen to paper on that project, but it gives me an appreciation of how much my writing has developed since then. For example, I may use "stare" or grit my characters' teeth too often, but at least my characters today aren't clutching their stomach whenever they get nervous. As Martin says, they're either getting nervous, or they've all had a bad batch of chili.

Martin has a different writing style than I do, and it's sometimes awkward fusing his revisions into my novelization of his work, but it's his work, and I must remember that my job title here is editor, not co-author. That's another odd feeling to be feeling right now: I haven't slipped on the editor's gloves for years, and it's a completely different skill set than simply writing.

Thoughts on the Impending Release of the New Manchurian Candidate

Why, oh why, do Hollywood moviemakers always want to mess with perfection? What could these individuals possibly do with their update that hasn't already been achieved by the original?

That being said, it does look as though Meryl Streep is well cast in Angela Lansbury's role.

The Definition of Lame: The Drudge Report


We're pretty sure that both photos (left original, right altered) are by Tom Tomorrow...

So Tom Tomorrow is attending the Democratic National Convention. He spends a day with Michael Moore, snaps some photographs and blogs about it. Got it so far?

Now Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report comes along and borrows a photograph Tom shot of Michael Moore and Bill O'Reilly meeting on the street. He plants it on his website without credit. Please note, I'm not above trawling about the Internet for photographic material. Where possible, however, I at least try to credit the photographer, even if I do tend to use Teledyn's approach of using first and asking questions later (with the further caveat that I don't use personal photographs and I try to stick to Creative Commons websites, promotional material or newscasts).

Tom Tomorrow notes Matt Drudge's presumptive actions, and here's where things get a little weird. Not only has Matt Drudge used Tom Tomorrow's photograph without credit, he's arbitrarily altered Tom's photograph, obstensibly to make his version look like something that's original to his website. Among the changes: reversing the photograph to make it look as though it was shot from a different angle, changing a red light to look like a green light (there are now two competing green lights in this intersection) and re-reversing traffic signs (an act that makes even less sense since it still appears that the cars are running on the wrong side of the road.

So, let's run this back: not only does Matt Drudge use a photograph without credit, he arbitrarily alters it in order to try to avoid accusations that he's stealing, and he does it in such a dimwitted manner that it's blatantly obvious what he's doing, and that he knows what he's doing is wrong. And yet he does it anyway, bringing both his moral centre and his intelligence into question.

When it was revealed that Jayson Blair of the New York Times fabricated sources for his news items, his reputation was pretty much shot. Taking things without credit, and then trying to duck responsibility for that is fairly similar, in my book. I doubt that I will ever be considering Mr. Drudge as a serious source of political commentary after this little escapade -- not that I really considered him such beforehand.

This little incident does mask the fact, however, that two individuals (Michael Moore and Bill O'Reilly) with passionately opposing beliefs, set their differences aside on the spur of the moment to agree to a format and venue for a debate. And, according to some of the reviews, the debate was lively, hard to understand, but ultimately respectful. Make of that what you will.

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