Monday, January 19, 2009

Good News and Bad News

Farmers' markets are more numerous now than they were ten years ago.

With the price of food going up and incomes decreasing, victory gardens are sprouting up again. More people are discovering the fun of growing their own food.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that "15,000 of the world's 50,000 plants used as medicines now face extinction." This is according to a report this week from the international conservation group Plantlife.

Not only are most of the patented, synthetic pharmaceutical drugs used in Western medicine originally derived from naturally occurring medicinal herbs, in addition, the majority of the world's population in the developing world still obtains most of their medicines from plants. Scientists warn that this mass extinction is a result of over-harvesting, loss of habitat, pollution, and invasive species. [Source: Organic Consumers Organization]

And so it goes. One little step forward on one front, four steps back on another.


Meanwhile back in the wild and wacky world of Writerdom, an author has been caught lifting the story of another writer, claiming it as his own.

"All I can say now—-because I am truly mystified and taken aback by this — is that someone must have sent it to me over the Internet ten years or so ago," said Mr. Walsch, the writer who done the dasterdly deed. "Finding it utterly charming and its message indelible, I must have clipped and pasted it into my file of 'stories to tell that have a message I want to share.' I have told the story verbally so many times over the years that I had it memorized ... and then, somewhere along the way, internalized it as my own experience. [1].

He's saying this was inadvertent, a mere slip of the mind, you see. The rightful owner of the material doesn't buy it.

Owning words. Last week I wanted to submit a 7-page story in which I quoted some lines of a song. Looking to get the artist's permission, I queried his manager, who passed me along to another organization who told me to contact the director in charge of administration and synchronization, who replied requesting the name of the book (it was a 7-page story, not a book--had she even read my email?), the expected retail price of the book (it was not a book, madam; read my email), the publisher (it had not yet even been submitted to anyone; read my email!) and expected first print run of the book (for the fourth time, it was not a BOOK!). Only when she got all this information about my "book" could she submit it to the proper people for approval and get back to me on the fee. I ended up expunging the quotes and rewriting the story. Sheeesh.

On an unrelated matter--Silliman's blog posting today says he receives on average 1,700 visits a day to his blog. Over 2 million people have visited his blog so far. I am impressed. The first week of my blog I was amazed that the site meter registered 15 visitors, because no one, to my knowledge, even knew about it. I soon realized that every time I logged in to write something, or add a photo, or edit a post, it registered as a visit. So one could conceivably log in and out a hundred times a day to increase one's site count, ha ha. I know for a fact there are less than four people who read my blog regularly (oops, that should be three. The owner of the blog doesn't count).

Does it really matter. So many good blogs out there, so much interesting material, so much creativity and good writing. (A lot of crappy ones, too, of course.) What's really great is when you connect with one, like what you find, and keep returning--the highest compliment to a fellow blogger.

Brevity, my dear. You must learn brevity...

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