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It seems that WikiLeaks has something to say. Their 'Collateral Murder' gun camera video was heavily edited and enhanced, as anyone who had the chance to watch the complete footage - originally posted here [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=is9sxRfU-ik] and now blocked due to graphic content. In fairness to YouTube, the propaganda is also now age-blocked [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rXPrfnU3G0]. I have watched both and have come to the conclusion that the WikiLeaks folks have an agenda. This is not journalism. This is not shining the light of truth on dodgy governments. This is blatant agitprop - anti-military, pro-insurgent, and stupidly easy to refute. It's not even a good lie, for Pete's sake!
The military blogosphere has taken the edited footage apart in detail, but it doesn't take an expert, after watching both videos, to see what the Collateral Murder folks were so blithely glossing over and expunging.
In short, the group these journalists were with had at least one RPG and one AK47. Absent the uniform of a coalition nation, the act of carrying the RPG makes the group a valid military target, particularly in an area where there were coalition troops on the ground, some of whom had come under attack from insurgents carrying RPGs. In contrast, the edited footage claims that the man aiming the RPG was one of the slain journalists and his camera. He was ducking around a corner at the time and one end of something was sticking out from behind the building with him. Then he stands up and aims the device. The Apache was circling at the time, so the exact nature of what he was aiming is hidden by the wall of the building. By the time the helicopter came around, the something was not in evidence on camera. However, proves only that they were not holding the device at the time. The insurgents in Iraq are good at dropping their weapons once they realize that holding them might get them killed. Later, one of the soldiers found a live RPG round under one of the bodies.
Then, when the group of insurgents had been shot and the van arrived, it was not marked as an aid vehicle. It was just a vehicle evacuating the bodies and weapons of insurgents. The pilots received authorization to fire on the vehicle, just as they requested and received authorization to fire on the group of insurgents standing at the corner of the building. That needs to be repeated. This is not My Lai. Americans do not simply fire indiscriminately. They ask permission before they do it, if there is doubt or ambiguity. More Americans have been killed by overly restrictive ROE (restrictions on air-strikes, drone strikes, indirect fire support, etc) than is probably good for the morale or health of the troops on the ground.
When authorized, they fired. The altered footage later highlights the children in the front seat of the van, but it noticeably does not also highlight the grunts running with children in their arms, trying to get them to a Bradley for evacuation to Rustimayah. The footage also claims or implies, erroneously, that the children were not treated by Americans, but handed over immediately to the Iraqis. This is also not true. The children were in the care of American medical personnel for days before transfer to Iraqi facilities, as later documents have proven.
One thing I noticed was that I couldn't tell what was in the front seat of the van. In any case, bringing children into a firezone was just as stupid, reckless, and immoral as two journalists walking around with a group of armed insurgents. It was, in short, depraved indifference on the part of whoever was driving the van and whoever decided to embed journalists with terrorists. The children were regrettable collateral casualties, while the journalists, by embedding as they did, made themselves the enemy and therefore valid military targets.
The incident did not occur in some random street full of civilians, but in an area where there had been fighting between insurgents and coalition ground troops. The complete footage shows an area of town that was nearly devoid of non-combatants moving in the open. There were a few civilians (at one point, a figure in a burqa holding the hand of a small child crossed the camera's field of view, but the pilots did not fire on them or even consider it, given that they did not request permission to do so.) The WikiLeaks footage was 17 minutes long and included perhaps 15 minutes of actual camera footage. The uneditted footage is 38 minutes long. The Collateral Murder folks cut out all the context, including the woman and her son crossing the street.
In short, they presented half-truths as the complete truth and therefore perpetrated a complete lie.
I wrote out some goals for myself at the end of this last year. I've also come up with some new ones since then as well as a short list of anticipated milestones. I'm recording some of them here, in no particular order. Some of them are probably going to be prohibitively expensive and so are very unlikely to happen.
Finish all three of my major writing projects:
The Eye of Aethr (Standard Fantasy novel)
The Lost Ones (serialized Military Sci-Fi/Science Fantasy, primary target audience a certain 3d grade nephew)
Another piece just for my beloved Belle
Learn new things:
CPR re-certification (with Belle)
Archery (I can practice in my backyard without breaking any laws!)
Study for, Take, and Pass the GRE (with Belle)
Become licensed for concealed carry in Texas (very low priority)
Network+ certification (also low priority)
Acquire a long gun (shotgun first, possibly also small-caliber rife) and teach Belle to handle them (extremely low priority due to expense and need to service debt first)
Attend a Tea Party Rally or a Second Amendment March associated with the national Second Amendment March this April 19th ( secondamendmentmarch.com )
Become actively involved in 40 Days for Life events in SnoopyBelleTown
Lobby my State and Federal representatives (as the opportunity arises) in favor of greater firearms freedoms
5th wedding anniversary
Finish 3 years with my current employer and then 3 years on the same project with said employer
My folks got us an MSi Wind netbook. My wife loves it. It's tiny (and so is she) so she's excited about it on that level (as well as on many others). We haven't done much with it yet except check email and play Soltaire.
The only problem, visible for now while answering emails, is that the cursor sometimes relocates at random. It's like what sometimes happens in ytalk (at least to me). I haven't found a solution yet.
More later when we get farther into the ownership experience. Today I have to configure my wireless router to accept the netbook computer and nothing else.
For those of you who pray and monitor my journal (hopefully that will be a set of at least 1), please keep the soldiers at Ft Hood in your prayers. There was a shooting today at the Soldier Readiness Center. 12 are dead and 31 are wounded, including the shooter, who was also a soldier.
I have not updated this journal in an exceptionally long time. I blame that on working, writing, LiveJournal, FaceBook, and ihasahotdog.com LOLDogs make me smile. LOLCats aren't quite as fun, mostly because cats are only cute as teeny tiny kittens.
I am writing, as I have been for some time now. The difference now is that I am writing three different stories at the same time. Not one story dovetailing three ways, but three relatively unrelated stories. I'm also trying serial fiction, in part because I want to try it and in part because one member of my chosen audience (one of the three stories is specifically for him) is about 9 years old. I don't want to wait two years while I write a complete novel. I'd much rather write sections, offer them to his parents, and cross my fingers hoping they pass them along without any change requests. It will, eventually, be at least one complete novel or anthology (or both), but it's going to develop in bits, with each new bit set in stone. It will challenge me as a writer, as I will not be able to go back and fix chapter 2 based on chapter 8. I'll have to fact-check each chapter before I publish it.
Yesterday, while driving back to SnoopyBelleTown from MomAndDadTown, I figured out how I was going to end the novel I am currently writing. Huzzah! I still haven't figured out how the climactic scene, the one resolving the main plot, will go, but I know how the last scene will go, and thus how I'm going to resolve the main sub-plot. Now all I have to do is make sure no one who's really important to the last scene dies.
I am trying to decide which of the many, many stories bouncing around in my head needs to find its way to the paper next. Part of my decision has already been made for me. I am still working on the Eye of Aethr and would rather keep fewer than three active writing projects going at once. I can't decide, though, if The Tale of Five Brothers, which already has two complete drafts, should count as active or not.
I already have the bones of four (possibly six) related stories sprouting out of the Tale of Five Brothers. A few of them would flesh out events which are known to have happened during or before the story, but outside the field of the main character's awareness.
Parallel stories: Fire Within, Lion of the South
A few others would recount events before, after, or partially after but mostly before but because of the main story. I think the
Sequels: The Fall of Nine Towers, Point and Edge
Then there's Ghostmarch, which is a sequel what chronologically precedes The Tale of Five Brothers.
I finished it. With the edits and additions, it came out to 39 and some change for the month and 119 and some change for both halves.
Now to see what the family thinks of it.
My mom did the amazing. She wrote a 76 kiloword novel in less than two weeks. I am still plugging away at typing up the last 40k of my novel. If lucky, I will go all the way to 40k this week. At this point, I think, a finishing The Tale of Five Brothers and moving on to The Eye of Aethr is not really all that likely.
I did some research today on various publishers' submission guidelines and learned some things. I knew I liked Baen and Tor for the quality of their books and their attitude toward them. Now I like them more because they have useful, instructive things to say to prospective authors and will read unsolicited manuscripts.
To be published by Baen would be a dream come true for me. It's a recently acquired dream, but true and valid nonetheless.
coherent magic system, magic integral to story, interesting philosophical questions.
synopsis: first 3 chapters, end on paragraph, less than 10k, summary of characters, events, ending. 3 to 10 pages in standard manuscript format
baen, tor (macmillan), Ace/Roc (penguingroup), DAW: open submissions, electronic preferred
random house: agents only
I will not be doing NaNoWriMo this year, as I am still trying to type up the second half of the novel I started last Nov 1. Is anyone else doing it?
I have typed the first 40 or so pages of the manuscript. They're compressing to typescript at a rate of 2 to 1. Twenty typed pages of too many adverbs and too much blow-by-blow of the protagonist's thought processes. Blow-by-blow combat is bad enough, so I try not to tell the reader every little move the characters make in combat. Blow-by-blow thinking? How did I think that was good? I'm going to have to edit the some parts of the first few chapters with a chainsaw to make them readable. I'm just glad I'm into the part where the protagonist interacts with a regular cast of other people. Hopefully
It's official, if it wasn't before: No More NaNoWriMo for me. I can't convince myself it's a good way for me to write good books. It might work if I was a full-time author with a developed writing process. With the unguided, and often under-documented, approach I took, it's a bad idea. I understand the need to let a story tell itself, but that very need will tend to introduce continuity problems if details of the story already told don't stick with the author well enough. If I had begun writing this same story with different initial goals and preoccupations (50k in 30 days and How much do I have to write today to get there?) it might have turned out less self-contradictory and more concise.
The consolation here is that I knew this was a first draft. I understood it could be bad. I just hoped, I suppose, that it wouldn't be quite so bad as it now seems. Still, I'm typing it out more or less as I first wrote it, with notes to myself in the original manuscript.
It's done. I finished it around 12:30 this morning, I think. It's 269 handwritten pages long and between 117 and 120k long by wordcount.
Now I have to type it all out. Fun!
I am now officially a novelist.
I have now written, I think, some 107 thousand words. I stopped taking an actual, line by line count the first or second writing day of this month. I know where the 100k mark is and that each leaf of notebook contains about a thousand words. The good news is that now, at last, on handwritten page 250, the climax and falling action are now fully set up (or at least planned and foreshadowed).
Now that the end is in sight, I am faced with the following dilemma, which I suppose I began to embrace months ago when I began to alternate writing with planning future work and indexing past output: how will I break this work, which I wrote as a single, basically uninterrupted unit, into chapters? Will I use the obvious markers - action occurring in disparate locations - for the macro-chapters? I think, perhaps, I will. Breaking the macro-chapters done by event or theme might require more judgement and discretion.
Additionally, I begin to wonder which parts will have to be fleshed out, which trimmed down, and which completely moved around. I suspect, for example, that I will need to lengthen the early sections because I was most negligent of description. I also suspect that certain fight scenes will need to be re-written entirely. I accept that. This is a first draft. I am prepared for at least some of my readers to detest it. To state the case more emphatically, I am an unknown writer of unknown skill. I am (at least in theory) aware that everyone may find my work at best uninteresting, even my lovely wife, and at worse horrid and not to be pursued.
I resurrected my old Slashdot username today. I used it from (I think) 2001 until 2004, then created a new username because I had left the roleplaying community in which the genmanath character was created. Don't worry, I shan't engage in any sockpuppetry or upmodding of my own comments. That would be abusive. I've left the uid dormant for so long for that very reason.
One thing that bugs me about slashdot is that one can only seen one's own complete comment history by subscribing. I can understand paying for easy access to other's history, but paying for access to one's own? I'd like to know how far back my slashdot history goes and if the two uids overlap in any respect.
I wonder, though, if my first uid is 577922 and my current uid is 899406, what is my real uid? The average of the two? It's a moot point, since they're both in the second half of the six-digit range. If I had one uid with five digits and one with six or seven, I would want to use the five-digit uid.
In the end, though, I think I will keep this UID and let genmanath remain a memory. My karma is better
Color me puzzled. They just keep sending books! With promises of more books on the way! For free!
This week, it's Starfish. Next week, Touch of Evil by C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp.
My booklist is now ridiculously long.
This week: Spirit Gate by Kate Elliott
Last week: Four and Twenty Blackbirds by Cherie Priest
Next week: Starfish by Peter Watts
At this point, I have all of them except Spirit Gate and Starfish saved to my hard drive in PDF format.
This week, Tor has kindly provided us with links to last week's book - The Disunited States of America by Harry Turtledove - as well as this week's book and two pieces of artwork related to the Wheel of Time. One is a big image of the snake-and-wheel. The other is the full, uninterrupted cover art for The Dragon Reborn. Very pretty. The Wheel of Time covers have always been wrap-around, but the back matter gets in the way sometimes. I've just noticed some new things about the art-work. I knew the three ta'verenm, Ba'alzamon, and the Aiel were prominentl featured, but I'd never before noticed the three Defenders of the Stone in the background looking really, really overwhelmed. I'd be overwhelmed, too, if hundreds of Aiel suddenly appeared inside an assumedly inpenetrable fortification. They look very 1550 with their conquistador helmets and breastplates worn over doublets. They're all armed with rapiers and main gauche.
The book is Reiffen's Choice by S.C. Butler. Next week, they'll be sending us Suns of Suns by Karl Schroeder. Interestingly, they've hinted that they might make Mistborn available again.
This is just too interesting to ignore. I think I even have a useful idea to explore. Please pardon the internal rhyme.
RETURN TO LUNA -- STORY GUIDELINES
Please read entire guidelines before submitting to ensure your story fits the requirements!
* Previously unpublished stories only -- no reprints.
* No simultaneous submissions (that is, don't send your story to us and to other publishers at the same time).
* Multiple submissions are okay (you may send us more than one story).
* Set entirely on the Moon.
* Realistic stories showing very possible futures.
* No gratuitous sex or excess violence or anything beyond mild language (these stories will be read by space enthusiasts of all ages).
* Science Fiction (no fantasy, horror or other genres).
* No aliens or faster than light travel.
LENGTH: 2000 to 6000 words.
ENTRY FEE: None.
PRIZES: All winning stories will be published in the anthology RETURN TO LUNA with a potential readership of thousands; the book will be submitted to well-known science fiction editors to consider each of the stories for inclusion in their "best of the year" anthologies, and the book will be sent out for review. All winning authors will be eligible for royalties and will receive free membership to the NATIONAL SPACE SOCIETY for one year. GRAND PRIZE WINNER will also have a review of his or her winning short story featured in NSS's magazine AD ASTRA, and on the NSS and Hadley Rille Books websites.
ELECTRONIC SUBMISSIONS ONLY: Send as an attachment to an email message with subject line "NSS CONTEST" to subs [at] hadleyrillebooks [dot] com. Microsoft Word
FORMAT: We prefer the standard manuscript format as shown here: http://www.shunn.net/format/story.html, except that we prefer single-spaced rather than double-spaced. Please don't do any fancy formatting such as right-justifying, etc. -- leave that to us. Please don't hit Enter (or Return) at the end of each line. Let your word processor wrap the text.
SUBMISSION PERIOD: From now through June 15, 2008.
* How have we set about establishing a lunar base, and then a colony?
* What are living conditions like?
* What is the lunar wilderness like? What kind of exploring to settlers do?
* What are the buildings like and how do people get around the lunar surface?
* What kinds of transportation do they use to travel to and from the Moon?
* What kind of society lives there? What are the challenges to human social structures?
* Are lunar colonies self-sufficient or do they depend on Earth?
* What kind of industries exist and how do the colonists make use of lunar resources?
* Does the colony resemble Las Vegas or is it more like a science outpost?
* Will there be settlements on the far side -- a radio telescope array, perhaps?
* Is the colony located near one of the poles where miners extract ice from the permanently shadowed areas?
* Why have we established a colony on the Moon?
This week, the nice people at Tor sent us Jane Lindskold's Through Wolf's Eyes
I haven't yet looked closely at the two wallpapers. The one appears to be cover art for a mid-fifties edition of The Green Hills of Earth by Robert Heinlein. It looks cool in a very retro-future sort of way. I can't guess from the art what moment they're trying to capture, but the general theme is spacemen with spearguns, complete with scuba tanks, as if space is like the deep ocean, but with less pressure. It's also amusing. One of them has his weapon pointed at another's head, but the guy on the business end of the speargun is looking someplace else entirely and seems not the least bit worried.
Next week, we get The Disunited States of America by Harry Turtledove.
So, just a recap
Lord of the Isles by David Drake
Crystal Rain by Tobias Buckell
Farthing by Jo Walton
The Outstretched Shadow, book one of Mercedes Lackey & James Mallory's Obsidian Trilogy
Robert Charles Wilson's Spin
John Scalzi's Old Man's War
Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn.
I'm chuffed. It's a big, free library of author's I've never read and in many cases have never even encountered before. I have all of these in pdf, if anyone wants a book but didn't get them in time. My personal plan of attack goes like this:
everyone else as the mood strikes me
I figured out at least one or two levels of joke in this year's Thinkgeek shirt. Some of their other offerings are in questionable taste, but the labyrinthine chain lock, the Betamax to HD-DVD recorder, and the caffeinated breakfast cereal are all fun.
The shirt purports to be encrypted at some very high level, so I decided to try decoding it with ROT13 first. The plaintext actually makes sense, so either the joke is that the NSA encryption is just rot13, or the plaintext I decoded is actually a cipher within a cipher. Not sure which. But, as usual, the encoded thinkgeek shirt insults either the wearer, the reader, or both. In this case, the wearer:
BUJUNGNSBBYVNZ decrypts to