SO MARTHA ASKED, “CAN YOU ENFORCE IT?” – Marilyn Armstrong

Wednesday RDP – COPYRIGHT

Martha wrote a little piece this morning titled “Can You Enforce it? (and Rambling Nonsense) by Martha Ann Kennedy. It’s good reading. Pretty much everything Martha writes is good reading, even when I don’t agree but especially when she waxes lyrical and I feel I’m in Grammarian Heaven.

In this case, much of the post is about getting a copyright on your book. Government and other versions of copyright are almost free or very cheap, so we pretty much all get one. Because just in case someone wants to make our little book into a major motion picture (BILLIONS at the box office, or maybe TRILLIONS) — or even a very minor one ($1500, opened at two movies nationwide and went to cable where it is rarely seen), it would be nice to get a bit of whatever money might accrue.

Most books don’t make much money. Some make a lot, but the number of authors whose books make oodles of money can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Even well-published authors who can count an occasional bestseller in their collection usually need another job. I don’t know if it’s the terrible contracts we sign. Authors are not contract lawyers. I often think our contract lawyers are also not contract lawyers. Their degrees were bought and paid for on the Internet. The cheap kind on which they misspell the name of the university.

I commented how I copyrighted my book as if someone was likely to steal it. Meanwhile, publishers, producers, TV moguls, and the staff of Saturday Night Live steal ideas from people who interview for the show (I know a few of them) or steal the writing of living and sometimes rather well-known authors. They don’t pay anything for the work, so while they are raking in the big bucks, authors can barely pay rent.

The original French Angelique

Anne Golon spent a lifetime fighting to get some of the money from the widely published set of books titled “Angelique.” She kept writing them, too and was still writing when she died last year. She also finally won her lawsuit over her publisher (French courts). By then, she was well into her 90s and had been fighting for her ownership rights for more than half a century.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s books were stolen by everyone and printed by everyone everywhere for decades. I remember when I read them in the 1960s — while I was having my back fused, so I had plenty of time — there was a whole chapter at the beginning of the book saying that unless you could read this section, you were reading a hijacked copy of the book. Of course, if you were reading a hijacked copy, there was no page to read, so you’d never know it anyway.

His son, Simon Tolkien (J.R.R. was long gone by then) recovered the copyrights, got some kind of payment from whatever publishers still existed.

American version

All four of Shirley Jackson’s children spent much of their lives fighting for her rights. They won — maybe twenty years ago? — and now you actually have to pay to buy her books, which I do gladly because she was brilliant and is credited by many authors (including Stephen King) as one of the authors whose work lighted their way.

ALL of these books were copyrighted, for whatever good it did. The theory of big corporations is (1) they have a lot of money while (2) you, the author,  don’t. (3) Even though you legitimately own the rights to the book (which may have been previously published under your name and they are stealing the book AND your name), whatcha gonna do about it, eh?

Funny how rigid the copyrights of corporations are and how flimsy are those of authors, composers, et al, isn’t it? There’s a book about how this applies in the music industry, called YEAR ZERO, a novel by Rob Reid which I have read a few times and written about. It never stops making me laugh and cry. It’s science fiction, but with footnotes. It’s available in print, Kindle, and as an audiobook. I recommend all of them.

As the final thought in her post today, Martha points out that most of us can’t run and would make a tasty snack for any large predator. Here, in charming Uxbridge, we have acquired black bears. We are supposed to call the cops if one shows up in our driveway, probably heading for our trash can, which bears refer to as “brunch.” I assume that our two police officers (it might be one and a half, I’m not sure) will try to shoot the bears being as even counting the trash, there’s not enough for a bunch of hungry bears to eat. But maybe they can fish in the Blackstone? There are trout, I’m told.

I personally think I’m the kind of person who would make a light snack for a bear lacking hunting energy. I don’t think I’d be particularly tasty. Too old and stringy.

GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN HOPEFULLY – Marilyn Armstrong

Friday RDP: ABSENT


I couldn’t have chosen a better word for the day if I had tried.

Garry’s got another audiology appointment in about an hour and I have a doctor’s appointment in another section of the valley at three in the afternoon. Between one appointment and the other, we’ll be absent all day. By the time we get back, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to feel like writing more stuff.

These are two places that aren’t far apart, mind you — but there is no road that goes between Worcester and Upton. To get to Worcester, it’s north on Route 146 to 290, a quick right on Route 9 and voilà.

To get to Upton, you basically have to come all the way back to Uxbridge to pick up Route 16 and head east to Milford, then north to Upton. We have lots of north-south roads, but few east-west roads. No idea why.

Sometimes, living around here is very inconvenient. Getting old in a place that lacks basic services for older people is more and more difficult.

One of these issues is trash and recycling. I know we don’t have recycling locally. We also don’t have a dump and our trash people are having a very hard time finding places to put all that stuff.

Upwards toward Route 98

We’re going to recycle again because I live in hope that at least some of the stuff will actually get used to some better purpose, but I don’t hold out a lot of hope. New England does not have the services it needs to do this job right. Our dumps are full and have been for 100 years or more and it’s a small area without a lot of open lands to build more facilities.

It all costs money to recycle around here. Much of the recycling gets shipped overseas to whoever is actually recycling. It used to be China, but they seem to be overdosing on their own mess, so I have no idea where we are shipping it these days. I suspect it just lives on trucks and moves from one place to another and eventually gets dumped in the ocean or a river somewhere.

Garbage is going to kill us. How depressing is that?

The standard recycling bin here is an open bin with no wheels. Which would be impossible to get up the driveway to the road, so we are paying an extra two dollars a month to used a wheeled barrow to move the plastic bottles and cut-up cardboard every first and third Tuesday to the front. We did this before, but the truck never stopped to pick up the stuff. They kept saying we didn’t have it outside in time, but since we put it out the night before, that’s not true. They just didn’t stop. We were not on their agenda.

I’m hoping it works out better this time.

They will adjust our bill. We get the senior discount but we don’t get a senior assistance program, so we are still — no matter how old we get — required to push that barrel up that long driveway. Not me because I physically can’t do it, so it’s Garry. He’s 76 and I have this awful mental image of 90-year-old Garry pushing the trash up the hill in the middle of the winter or in the pouring rain.

It’s not a happy thought.

Of all the things that are annoying about getting old? Many of them seem like such small things until you realize you can’t do them. Suddenly, they aren’t so small.

So absent is the name of our day. I apologize, but I’ve been writing a lot more than I can manage. I will do the best I can … but if I can’t get it done, I apologize in advance.

I also can’t read and comment on everyone’s blog, even if I love you to death. I don’t have the time to even open all the blogs, much less comment on each. I try to at least take a look, but I’m out of time.

Life has entered our world. Blogging is great, but it won’t get us to the doctor on time or get the dog to the vet or clean the kitchen floor.

Life.

Can’t live with it. Can’t live without it.

GARBAGE – Marilyn Armstrong

Yesterday, I got a shipment from Walmart. It was a heavy box, made up of sports drinks — the ones with electrolytes and all that other good stuff in them. I have to drink them. Not that I like them. Nobody likes them. it. It’s not horrible, but it is not delicious, either, no matter what they tell you on television.

I have a low blood sodium issue, so I can’t drink water or fruit juice. I can only have two cups of coffee, which in my world is one very big cup, and after that, I have to drink that goop. If I don’t, my feet and hands cramp up, my gut knots, and eventually, I will die. I don’t know if this is a common thing or not, but I’ve got it and have to deal with it.

The thing is, the bottles came in a crate big enough to carry me, Garry and all the dogs. I know it was heavy, but more than half the crate was full of plastic air bubble packing, which was barely enough to keep the bottles from rolling around.

It took me a long time to cut up the crate. Longer than it did to unpack and store its contents. This is not unusual.

Along the shore – where all the garbage lives

I don’t recycle. Why not?

Because no one has any use for the recycling and the trash people pay to have it taken away. It used to go to India or other parts out there where they still used it, but they too have run out of viable uses, so it basically goes on trucks and lives there, moving from truck to truck, or from womb to tomb as they say in the trash business.

I know this because I wrote a manual for software for recycling hazardous waste. That was more than 10-years ago, so I’m sure the situation has not improved.

There is a mountain, a monsoon of recyclables we’ve created. We are gullible enough to believe by recycling, we are in some way fixing our environment.

We aren’t. We’re just moving trash from here to there and then back again. The problem is not recycling. The problem is there is too much trash and nothing to be done with it. There is no giant hole in the earth where the garbage goes. That’s why so much of it winds up in our lakes, rivers, and oceans, and woods.

As I was cutting up that huge box, I thought: “Why do they do this? Why do they over-package everything? Surely there must be a better way?”

As long as we keep creating more trash than we can ever use, reuse, bury or burn, the world will keep getting dirtier, smellier, and uglier. This is not intended to encourage you to throw trash in the road or woods, but to make you recognize we have not found a solution to the trash problem. If everybody on earth recycled, we’d still have the same mess.


We need to create less mess. 


We need to stop over packaging everything. We need to create and use bio-degradable packaging, so it becomes soil and not more trash. Plastic bottles don’t need to be plastic. There are other substances which will degrade, but they cost more than plastic.

Ultimately, if we want to live in this world and not be up to our hips in our own rubble, we are going to have to pay for the privilege. Everything can’t be delivered in huge containers because that’s the only box someone could find that day. Containers need to be as small as possible for items. Boxes need to be recyclable. Every little thing does not need a big box with a plastic wrapper.


Our gullibility is such that we think recycling is the magic key to getting rid of the monsoon of trash. The truth is, nowhere remains to put the garbage. Nowhere on this earth.


The whole recycling game is how we fool ourselves into believing we’ve found a solution when what we’ve found is another way to move trash around. This may sound like a minor problem until one day, your city or town doesn’t have anyplace to send their trash and you find yourself living in it.

I somehow doubt shooting it out into space is going to work out, either. I have a mental image of our spaceships trying to forge their way through huge rings of trash encircling the earth.

The garbage of space.

Now there’s a sexy sci-fi book for the future!


RDP#62 – MONSOON 

Fandango’s One-Word Challenge: Gullible