13 January 2009


I've been suffering inertia, not having anything all that significant to say lately. The end of one year, the beginning of the next, are not supposed to be like that. It's supposed to be a time to reflect on the past and ponder the future and those ought to be natural topics for a writer. Or a blogger. Or a pontificator. Like me.

But my thinking's been more scattershot lately. Not that there hasn't been any. Here's some of it.

Google Books Settlement: Looks like I'm going to get sixty bucks per book of mine that Google has scanned and made available for free online. (Minus my agent's 15 percent, of course.) Big whoop.

This settlement sucks.

It's not likely to happen, but what if a million people read my books for free online. I still get paid sixty bucks for that. That's all. The way Google charges for ads is that you pay for the ad, and then you pay a commission per click after that. A fair settlement for us writers would have looked something like that. Perhaps an initial payment of sixty bucks and then a little something per click after that. If they had wanted to use the old-fashioned publishing model, they could pay per click only after the clicks had added up to the initial (advance) payment.

Sixty bucks is better than nothing. But it's further evidence that the whole model of creating something, then selling copies of it, is a dying form of commerce. What, if anything, will replace it so that us writers and photographers and musicians can earn a living? I have no idea and I am not optimistic about the prospects.

But I am thinking about switching my allegiance to another search engine.

Israel and Gaza: Sure, if a pack of vicious assholes are lobbing rockets into your country you have every right to try and stop them doing so. Some sort of military response is necessary. But a measured military response.

Isn't one of the definitions of insanity supposedly that someone keeps doing the same thing over and over again in the same circumstances, expecting different results? Isn't that what Israel is doing?

Israel needs to battle Hamas on at least two fronts, and by that I mean both militarily and diplomatically. It should do its best to pinpoint the rocket launching sites and the people responsible for launching rockets and take those out as surgically and cleanly as possible.

But when it launches a full scale offensive against a heavily populated area, and the casualty figures on the Palestinian side quickly grow to a hundred times what they are on the Israeli side, what do they expect? That's what they've done over and over again and all it has accomplished is to create more militants, to strengthen its enemies' resolve, to create less sympathy for the country around the world, to provoke further and even less containable violence.

So along with a more measured military response, Israel needs to provide proof that it really is willing to live in peace with its neighbors. It needs to get serious about stopping the creation of new settlements on disputed land. It needs to dismantle the illegal settlements that already exist. It needs to stop its blockade of the Gaza Strip. It needs to make it clear that it is willing to sit down at the negotiating table with whoever is necessary to make peace, no matter how distasteful that might be and no matter what the ugly history it has with those people. It needs to show that it can take the high road, and not simply respond to terror with even greater terror.

The Latest Cosmo: There I was at the supermarket checkout line and there it was and what caught my eye, besides the cleavage which I guess is intended to catch the eyes of female readers - since that's the magazine's target audience - was "What Sex Feels Like for Guys."

I have a pretty good idea of what sex feels like for me. And in spite of being a writer who has written more than his fair share of sex scenes, I'd have a hard time adequately describing it. So I was curious as to what Cosmo had to say about it.

Not much, as it turns out. Certainly not much of interest. It all fell into the category of everything in the whole magazine: how to snare and hang on to a man. And of course it offered generalizations about specifics that are almost entirely individual. One man's welcome finger up his butt during a blow job, is another's "what the hell are you doing, get that away from me."

The whole magazine was pretty much like that. And I'm wondering, for any of you women readers out there, do any of you take Cosmo seriously? Do you know anyone who does? Do you think anyone does?

Or is it a comedy publication? I got a lot of good laughs out of it. Hell, I'm considering a subscription.


freddie said...

I'm a woman who does not take Cosmo or any of its ilk seriously. I love TIme and Newsweek, though.

freddie said...

When I first heard about the Deal, I thought there would be additional revenue for writers. But sixty dollars? I'm so sorry.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

My, you are in a mood. Cosmo offends me more than a porn rag. No wonder young women are so screwed up.

Sixty freaking bucks! Geez, almost makes Cosmo look like a good deal.

Eric said...

There is something about honest to goodness porn rags that at least seems a bit more honest than Cosmo. They aren't as funny though.